ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival

“Film, I believe, lends itself particularly to the poetic statement, because it is essentially a montage and, therefore, seems by its very nature to be a poetic medium.” Maya Deren

The ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival is one of the biggest international events dedicated to provide a human with a message a poem keeps via expressive means a film can share.

The Festival was established in 2002 inBerlin, Germany and it goes every two years showing best of short films based on poems, i.e. poetry films which deal with the content, aesthetics or form of poems. The ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival is a project of the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin in cooperation of the interfilm Berlin, it is supported by the Capital City Cultural Fund (Hauptstadtkulturfonds), the Goethe Institut, the German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) and Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG.

The ZEBRA Festival is a platform for sharing ideas and developing new ones. But it is not just a place for film-presentation and film-watching, it is a strong competition as well. The Festival  offers filmmakers and poets from around the world the opportunity to exchange ideas and define positions. Authors, poets, filmmakers, artists are to send a video up to 15 min. long and not older that three years which are visual realisations of at least one poem. It can be animation, documentary, fiction – genre of a film does not matter. The international jury makes a selection of films which are allowed to take part in the competition. Every partner of the project gives its prize, they are ZEBRA Prize for the Best Poetry Film, donated by the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin; the Goethe Film Prize, donated by the Goethe Institute; the Ritter Sport Film Prize, donated by Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG; the prize for the Best Film for Tolerance, donated by the German Foreign Office; ZEBRINO – the prize for the Best Film for Children and Young People; and the Audience Prize.

The ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival deals with a very exciting phenomenon as poetry films which are a specific genre of poetry displayed on a screen, distinguished by its time-based, poetic juxtaposition of text with images and sound. In ‘Six Memos for the Next Millennium’, Italo Calvino proposed “two types of imaginative process: the one that starts with the word and arrives at the visual image, and the one that starts with the visual image and arrives at its verbal expression’. Cin(E)-Poetry (also known as poetry video and poetry film) put both process of the imagination on display simultaneously. They combine the verbal energy of poetry with the visual richness and diversity of experimental cinema. Through a synergy of expressive words and images, successful “cinepoems” produce associations, connotations, metaphors and symbols that cannot be found in either their verbal or their visual texts taken alone. They might be thought of as imaginative interpretations of ‘readings’ or poetic texts in visual terms – and vice versa.

The films which are selected for the competition usually illustrates either a question, or statement which can be deep inside of each viewer, which is needed to be asked or claimed by a viewer himself and make to rethink some positions or prejudice. The thoughts which films’ directors or authors share touch every human soul awaking further questions and thoughts.

Nastasia Rozhkova

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