For her June “Third Form” column at Connotation Press, Erica Goss reports on the first Body Electric Poetry Film Festival. I’m continually frustrated by the paucity of reviews of poetry film festivals, so I was especially glad to get Erica’s impressions of this one (and of the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, which I’ve never visited). One thing I didn’t realize was that the festival organizer, R.W. Perkins, played a crucial role in keeping open the venue in which it was held:
A town that values culture should have an independent theater, but the Lyric Cinema was in danger of closing is doors last year. They needed a digital projector, which costs approximately $150,000, a steep price for a small business. Enter Kickstarter, with a high-energy video by R.W. Perkins. The Lyric raised the money for its projector, remaining a favorite place for movies and off-beat events (like The Body Electric).
I was also cheered to hear how well attended the festival was. Perkins obviously really knows how design and promote a popular event, even if it includes the dreaded word “poetry” in its description.
The thirty-four video poems that appeared in The Body Electric ranged from sensitive, emotional stories such as “Writer’s Block,” “The Barking Horse,” and “Husniyah” to edgy, animated videos (“Anna Blume”) to the tragically comic (“Portugal.”) Some featured exquisite, hand-made drawings (“Afterlight,” “Becoming Judas.”) I cannot emphasize enough how much these beautifully crafted videos benefit from seeing them on the big screen; for example, details of Cheryl Gross’s drawings for “Becoming Judas,” done in archival ball-point pen, are simply not visible on a tiny computer screen, and the complex layering of text, still images, photographs and rapid film clips of “The Mantis Shrimp” gain strength and power when viewed in the theater.
Read the rest of Erica’s review, which also includes examples of six of her favorite films from the festival.