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Weimar: Lit-collage, Aline Helmcke, Frame to Frames book tour, judging – Poetryfilmtage

I am very excited and honoured to be part of Weimar Poetry Film Award / Poetryfilmtage – (Friday 31st May and Saturday 1st June) this year. I will be judging and also presenting the newly published Frame to Frames : Your Eyes Follow / Cuadro a Cuadros : Tus Ojos Seguen bilingual, ekphrastic poetry anthology, with QR link to poetry films (Saturday at 11 am).

It is my first time at this well-established festival, https://poetryfilmtage.de/ and I would like to thank director Guido Naschert for inviting me to be a juror,  and I am really looking forward to meeting the other two esteemed judges – Rike Bolte and Pierre Guiho https://poetryfilmtage.de/jury-2024/. It will also be exciting to meet some of the finalists in person, whilst also taking in events that include short documentaries from around the world, young poetry filmmakers and German-language poetry films.

See Flyer_Poetry_Film_2024-web

This year there were 479 films from 51 countries submitted, and so the directors have been busy selecting finalists! The three festival directors are: Guido Naschert, Ana Maria Vallejo and Catalina Geraldo Vélez. Guido has a background in philosophy and literary studies and is a curator of the competition and international programme, and manages the Literary Society of Thuringia. Together with animator Aline Helmcke he founded the Poetry film Magazine (first published 2015) and the Weimar Poetry Film Award (originating in 2016) http://guidonaschert.de https://www.literarische-gesellschaft.de/

Ana Maria Vallejo http://anavallejo.de/ is also a curator, animator and filmmaker. She loves papercuts, collage and experimental films. She’s co-founder of the Weimar Animation Club and co-curates the competition with Guido. Catalina Giraldo Vélez  https://gatomonodesign.com/ is a Professor and Head of Visual Design at Bauhaus University. She is also an animator and co-founder of the Weimar Animation Club.

It is easy to see that animation is a leading subject here. Looking at the background to the festival, they say: ‘Since 2014, professionals and students at the Bauhaus University have explored the connection between moving images and poetry and produced a large number of poetic animations.’ If you would like to combine the art of animation with a contemporary student appreciation of Weimar as a place to live and learn see: https://www.luciaschmidt.org/das-leben-in-weimar-2019/. However, reflecting on the marriage of art and craft (across the visual, verbal and sound design) in poetry film animation, it is equally important to situate the festival against its heritage, where philosophy, politics, literature, aesthetics, design and craftsmanship seem to have moved hand in hand.

The highly acclaimed German polymath, poet, playwright, novelist, theatre director, metaphysician, and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was invited to the ducal court at Weimar in 1775, and became associated with the city for the rest of his life. Whilst leading German poet and classical playwright Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805) spent his final years in Weimar, exchanging philosophical talks with Goethe, his friend and collaborator. Apparently, it was here that they  replaced their espousal of  the earlier Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) literary movement that extolled the individual, emotional expression and nature over the cult of Rationalism, with a new humanism or Weimar Classicism (Weimarer Klassik) (1772–1805). It has been said that this new humanism sought to resolve or bridge the binary differences between, for example in poetry the emotional or subjective approach and the objective clarity of the intellect and Age of Enlightenment.

In 1919, a new approach to arts education in post-WWI Germany heralded the combining of the fine arts with industrial craftsmanship, and the merging of the School of Fine Art with the craft-based School of Arts and Crafts into the Bauhaus Art School. It was led by director architect Walter Gropius following his Bauhaus manifesto. It aimed to unite art, craft and technology to create functional design for the people. He brought artists to teach such as Paul Klee and László Moholy-Nagy (whose work crossed all media, painting, sculpture, metalworking, photography and photomontage).

In visiting the festival then, these historical factors – the aesthetics of art, politics and philosophy are inevitably embedded all around you; but are also reflected in much of the subject matter in the poetry film screening programme. Philosophy, art, craft, design are all present in the animations and films being shown, and once outside in the street, reflected back to the viewer through time. As Anna Maria Vallejo said in an interview with Magpies Magazine ‘At my masters I discovered animation as a place where both fields – moving images and fine art – find each other’.

Love, Hannah Hoch, 1931


Echoing the emphasis on animation the main theme of the festival this year is ‘Lit-collage’ or photomontage, which is really exciting to me. Though I am not known for collage in my own poetry films, my dissertation (some years ago now) on Women Artists and Text (across all media) began with the German Dada collagist Hannah Höch (1889–1978), and it is not difficult to see how the central exhibition at the festival on this subjectDrehmoment by German visual artist and filmmaker Aline Helmcke (co-founder of the festival) bears a strong comparison to Höch’s work. Aline is a visual artist and director specialising in drawing, collage and animated moving image, and her drawings are particularly sensitive and experimental. Helmcke manages to create psychological tensions in her animations, something I don’t often see, for one example go to: junger janssen https://ahelmcke.com/portfolio/animation-junger-janssen/

She studied Fine Art at the Berlin University of the Arts and Animation at the Royal College of Art in London. Her work has been shown at film festivals and exhibitions and is also active as a film curator and university lecturer, currently at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee and the Hochschule für Kunst und Design Burg Giebichenstein Halle. https://ahelmcke.com/

I feel really lucky to actually be able to see this exhibition. The very title, which translates as ‘Torque’ in English (or pulling power in relation to an engine, or in terms of physics, the measurement of a rotational force). With Dadaist overtones, it conjures up concepts that relate to the visual tensions that occur from the cut-up process, the collisions or recombinations that tell new or fragmented narratives. And, of course, these factors take you beyond the visual to political positioning, and socially constructed understandings of gender. The festival programme beautifully illustrates her fractured, Dadaist photomontage style, or see Helmcke’s Brace Brace (2019) with flailing, disembodied legs https://ahelmcke.com/portfolio/cut-out-brace-brace/ or her animated collage loop https://ahelmcke.com/portfolio/animation-animated-collage-loop01/

animated collage loop, Aline Helmcke, 2016

One of my favourite stop motion animations by Catalina Giraldo Vélez is from the poem The Picture in the Picture in the Picture by German author and musician Marlen Pelny. Here, the poem (spoken by Pelny) narrates the nostalgia of, and problems with, searching for memories, with the intangibility of looking back; whilst the drawers of a filing cabinet, (or pages of a notebook and a paperback) uncertainly open and close. https://www.movingpoems.com/filmmaker/catalina-giraldo-velez/


Unfortunately, some wonderful workshops in stop-motion, text collage and sound collage have already taken place in April, when the festival began. However, on Friday evening the Lit Collage theme continues, with the workshop instructors Bas Böttcher, Kay Kalytta and Franka Sachse,‘taking the stage for a multimedia jam session; where spoken word meets sound and video art.’ And later, Aline will present a programme featuring collage animations of note, so I am really looking forward to an exciting Friday evening experience. As a poetry filmmaker with an art-school background myself, I am fascinated by the moving canvas of the animator’s eye. The way that animated shapes and colours can provide a playful often humorous or tragic world, accompanied by appropriate, carefully placed sound effects creates a constantly mesmerising screen. And one that really shows the artist’s free imagination at work, where anything is possible, perhaps the best medium for depicted storytelling. As Anna Maria Vallejo said: ‘My main interest lies in films in which narration can work differently… or where I feel curious because they show a weirdness or mysterious beauty.’

Frame to Frames : Your Eyes Follow / Cuadro a Cuadros Tus Ojos Seguen

I am thrilled to be driving to Weimar with copies of Frame to Frames in my hot little hands. I am also really looking forward to being interviewed by Guido and discussing a bilingual book-film linked project especially with ekphrastic poetry films, and sharing films and artist’s thoughts on the experience. I will be announcing this separately so for the moment leave you with a brief description of the Press details and all the forthcoming tour dates. I hope to see you at Weimar on Saturday morning if you are interested in bilingual (English and Spanish), ekphrastic poetry film. Congratulations to all the filmmakers who took part.

Described as an innovative and unique project – Frame to Frames : Your Eyes Follow / Cuadro a Cuadros : Tus Ojos Siguen is a bilingual (English and Spanish) ekphrastic poetry book with a QR link to a 17-film screening of poetry films made from the poems. The concept of a book-film arose from Sarah Tremlett’s Frame to Frames : Your Eyes Follow ekphrastic poetry film prize, where poetry filmmakers respond to works of art.  The 2023 edition II of the prize was screened at FOTOGENIA Film Poetry and Divergent Narratives Film Festival, Mexico City in December 2023. The accompanying colour publication of the poems, synopses and stills from the QR-linked films alongside artists’ biographies, was also launched at the same time, under the imprint Poem Film Editions (co-founded by Sarah Tremlett and Hungarian poetry filmmaker and translator Csilla Toldy), with a print date of April/May, 2024. The festival painting Huapango Torero (see book cover) by non-binary Mexican artist Ana Segovia was selected by Sarah Tremlett as a prompt, and was chosen by many of the artists. This painting (a revision of an original work), where a boy holds a flower up to a bull, is a call to end animal cruelty, machismo and bullfighting.

The Frame to Frames project celebrates three creative forms: art inspiring art, translation and transmedia. So often in watching poetry films the poem passes you by, but the book allows you to press pause, really take in the poem on the page then return to the film. Here, it is possible to see how words and meaning can be transformed through the filmmaker’s process.

See https://vimeo.com/929116208 for a bilingual documentary on the making of the project from five of the poetry filmmakers.

TheFrame to Frames project has screenings at: FOTOGENIA, Mexico City, December, 2023; REELpoetry, Houston, April, 2024; The International Poetry Film Festival of Thuringia, Germany, May, 2024; ‘We Need to Talk about Ekphrasis Now’ Leeds Trinity University, July, 2024; Bristol Literary Film Festival, August, 2024; Maldito Festival de Videopoesía, Albacete, Spain, November, 2024.

Sarah Tremlett, UK and the following artists are available for your festival screening and book presentation: Patricia Killelea, US; Tova Beck Friedman, US; Alejandro Thornton, AR; Colm Scully, IRL; Janet Lees, UK (Lois P Jones and Elena K Byrne, US); Martin Sercombe, (Thom Conroy) NZ; Pamela Falkenberg & Jack Cochran, US; Csilla Toldy, HU, IRL; Finn Harvor, CA; Javier Robledo, AR; Beate Gordes, DE; lan Gibbins, (Judy Morris); Carlos Ramirez Kobra, MX; Penny Florence, UK; Meriel Lland, UK; Ana Pantic, RS;