In honor of National Poetry Month, on April 15 the Henry Art Gallery and Northwest Film Forum worked together to produce an online video-poetry screening for the Cadence Festival to promote the art gallery’s new exhibition “In Plain Sight.” The project consisted of 12 short films that originated from different countries around the world — from the US, Canada and Mexico all the way to the UK, Ireland, France, Israel and Angola — the films were all equally unique from the next.
For the third Cadence Poetry Festival — and the first virtual one, at that — the goal of the film series was to provide a diverse array of stories that consist of raw and emotional poetic dialogues while also stretching the boundaries of what audiences know of as “poetry.”
These short films, ranging from two to 11 minutes, all presented narratives vastly different from the next. Tackling topics like immigration, race, freedom and much more, these short films work to extend poetry beyond that of spoken and written words. Instead, these pieces provide a glimpse into cultures, individuals and concepts that sweep the globe. Here’s what you missed:
“T.I.A. (THIS is Africa)”
This first film hailed from France and was created by Matthieu Maunier-Rossi and Ronin Cheneau. This story was a beautifully depicted monologue that discussed concepts of freedom and consisted of shots back-to-back in black and white of dancer and choreographer Aïpeur Foundou.
“Polite Safety Notice”
The second film in the series was a black and white animation piece crafted using primarily expressive monoprints that addressed the current state of our climate and change as well as an alarming look into what our future could hold. This short, originating from the UK, was an adaptation piece co-created by Aindri C and Mark Fiddes in respect of Fiddes’ original poem of the same name that won the third prize in 2018’s National Poetry Competition.
“Show and Tell”
Canadian native, Omar Farah, brought viewers the third video of the evening that gave a raw and emotional account regarding mental health within the community of black men. Switching between images and videos of himself performing spoken word, this piece offered a narrative oftentimes swept under the rug.
“Ocean of Interiors”
Alexis McCrimmon, from the US, presented an accumulation of memories throughout her life through a composition of visually and aesthetically pleasing motion images.
Coming from Mexico, this short piece, created by Diego Bonilla and Rodolfo Mata, is presented through the combination of numerous dialogue contributions as well as generated images to address living in the technological age and its impact of data sharing and usage. This poem presents this concept and generates the daunting idea that if continued, could lead to an unfortunate reality.
“The 3 Me’s”
In this stark and impressive animated short originating from Ireland, the creators, Simon Daniels and Felicia Olusanya, offer a poem of the self and what it means to be. Tackling topics like self discovery, acceptance and living beyond a physical form, the animation consists of shape-shifting and vibrant lines that are constantly molded and remolded as the poem is voiced over it.
Hailing from Israel, this film by Shai Alexandroni is an autobiographical account of the life of a famous young poet in Israel Hava Pinhas-Cohen. This piece is beautifully shot and composed to accompany her throughout a day to uncover the experiences and sensibilities she has with the world around her.
“Emmett (til de remix)”
This local poem and film from Tacoma was co-created by Masahiro and Avery Young. They utilize spoken word to tell the life and tragedy of Emmett Till by reflecting on imagery in the past as well as the present. The juxtaposition between current day and the Civil Rights Movement crafts an evocative and moving piece to emphasize the struggles still faced by the black community today.
“63 ACRES: Dear Danny Lyon”
This US short from Stephanie Gray combines images captured by Danniel Lyon back in the 60s with present day moving pictures captured by Gray herself. These pieces are important because they provide an account of the aftermath of the eminent domain that took place throughout Manhattan and addresses the erasure of the lives and businesses that resided there beforehand.
Originating from Angola, Ariel Casimiro films Jaliya The Bird performing her piece of spoken word that is a call to women to reclaim themselves and their lives despite the bounds of the patriarchy. This powerful piece, “Idle Worship,” is a story of reclamation and redemption to assert oneself in the face of oppressors.
This intimate and poignant piece comes from Seattle and reveals the incidence in which Ananya Garg eats a mango for the first time since childhood which leads to the recollection of summers events that took place throughout her childhood.
This other short out of Seattle was created by Kamari Bright, and in it, she illustrates a historical account that evolves into what is known as post racial America. Through this she addresses the misinformation and prejudices present in current society.
This piece written, directed and performed by Seattlelite, Hanan Hassan, is a beautifully abstract personal — as well as cultural — representation of emotional suppression and the effects it places on individuals while also highlighting its consequences.
“Black Girl Poem”
This piece out of the US, from Daryl Paris Bright and Anatola Pabst, features three young black women standing in solidarity while performing a spoken word piece that confronts oppression, sexual harassment and patriarchal values, notably within the African American community. This demonstration of the three women is paired with the depiction of a dancer — and candid animations — as she ventures through the city and struggles with oppression.
From the UK, “Turning” by Linnéa Haviland, is a haunting look at the implications that LGBTQ+ phobia and hate inflicts on individuals. Representations animated and brought to life in visceral color and stark imagery craft a visual poem riddled with fear and isolation that also brings to life the solidarity and strength of these communities.
“2 Black Boys”
The winning piece for the wild card category in the Cadence Festival, coming from the US is Rachel S. Myers and Giovanni Adams’ short that couples music, dance and spoken word to provide the telling of a young boy’s journey from childhood into adulthood as a queer black man. This short provides an intimate and expressive look into coming of age and identity.