Editor’s note: All week I’ve been sharing the winning films from RHPFF 2017, so I thought it only fitting that we wrap up with director Sou MacMillan’s perspective on how things went, reprinted from her personal blog. Be sure also to visit the Rabbit Heart YouTube channel to watch all the shortlisted films (conveniently arranged into playlists by category) as well as videos of the acceptance speeches and other snippets from the festival. And I just want to say to other poetry film festival directors: I’m sure it’s exhausting to put on something like this, but please do consider trying to document your events also, as Sou does, so we can all take inspiration from them. I’ll do my part by linking or reprinting here. —Dave
Festival? How was the festival this year? you ask. Well!
Let me start here:
Behold the perfect tool for your sustenance, the humble crockpot.
No, wait – lemme start here:
Rachel dearest sent that off from the bus on her way out of Worcester on Tuesday morning, and I blubbed some happy tears when I saw it.
Nonono – wait – listen:
I think I didn’t manage to put down 2016’s show until almost a year after the fact – there was just So Much. Too much, even. Dearest Bill’s heart surgery on October 5th, the flash floods day before show that washed out Nick’s, all that focus on waiting for the power to come back & the last-minute move over to HPCC. It was a rush, for sure, but really, let’s not do it like that again, k? And even with the grant reimbursement* wrapped up and the trophies mailed & the prize payments made, and the 2017 logo set up & stickers ordered, and the new season ready to go, it still sort of dragged on as this stressful pulsing echo, like, for months.** Until about a week before festival, I wasn’t even sure I was ready. I had nightmares about being pregnant in Patagonia (which, of course, was part of Peru, whut) & stamping around about it, y‘all.
And then Rabbit Heart this year? It was AMAZING. Ah-May-ZING.
Some stuff we learned last year was that you really can’t stuff 70+ people into Nick’s without a crowbar and some mad engineering skillz.*** So, armed with that knowledge, we intentionally split the 2017 show, and put together a matinee this year – which I panicked about for a hot minute (Will people come? Will I throw a party, and will people come to it? AND WHAT ABOUT BRUNCH?!) until I realized that it gave us o,somuchmoreroom! to show more films (\o/), and that lots of people nabbed those tickets because they were stoked (!!) and wanted to see more poetryfilm! And they came! We threw a party and people came! And they enjoyed the stuffing out of it! Hello, I am over the moon remembering all the smiles and hugs.
And then – and then – AND THEN! The awards ceremony! Our emcees for the night, Tony Brown & Melissa Mitchell, omg – these two glamorous bastards – I need a moment to get my marbles back in the jar here, because WOW.
Let us all fan ourselves off a minute here -whew!- Ok, steampuk became the theme for the night, Missy was armed to the teeth (check out that hawt whip, y’all), and the tone was set from the moment they stepped on the stage. So. GOOD.
The caliber of film this year made me wicked proud – I’m absolutely thrilled with the judges’ picks.† I can’t even pick the most stand-out-y of the bunch, because I kept falling in love over and over. You should go check out the 2017 Finalists Page and the R<3 YouTube page to see – grab a coffee and your comfiest hoodie, ‘cos you’ll want to be there a while <6
All that said, I need to tell you about the winner of Best Overall Production – Rachel Kann’s Dancing Lesson (Or How to Let the Words Leave You), made with Brad Cooper & Atom Smith – even just thinking about it right now makes all the little hairs stand up on my arms. Because you need to know: the women in that film with Rachel? Dancing like the queens they are? They are not professional dancers or actors. That’s Rachel’s Zumba class. (And I was told the shoot was a dream, and the hardest part of the whole she-bang was getting the colored Holi powder out of the sets three months after the fact. Which, of course, amuses me to no end.) RACHEL’S ZUMBA CLASS! Here – check it out.
There was so much dance this year! And it brought me to a place of joy I didn’t even know about. Sure, interpretive dance is an easy mark for eyeroll – we’ve all been to that one poetry reading, right? But this year, watching the subs roll in was a total game/perspective-changer – we got a ton of really good interpretive dance poetryfilms. The more interpretive dance I saw over the year, the more I realized how much I just love the stuff! And to be able to show films at the showcase matinee? Like Jeremy Hahn and Stephen Beitler’s Dances for the End of the World Ch 2, and videopoem I Am Life/ Soy Vida by Jose Alirio Rojas? It just set me soaring.
But but but! But omg, also the people! My very favorite thing about festival happened again this year – it became a gathering for some of my very favorite people. And getting to meet filmmakers and people new to the festival just leaves me bursting all over. I got to meet the winners of the WCPA-sponsored Shoots! Youth prize, Luz Emma Cañas & Ella Quinn who came in from NYC, I got to meet the producer of the Best Smartphone Production, Eduardo Guerra who came in from NY, I got to meet Nick who came out from CT for his friend Aleksandr Kirienko’s film, and the winners of The Marble Collection’s fundraiser raffle, and the folks who won the Sprinkler Factory’s raffle,†† and I got to meet director Brad Cooper and his lovely friend Linda, and I got to meet Aisha Naseem’s parents and their housemate Alex, and everyone was so lovely! And I got to reconnect with friends who traveled in from afar! Filmmakers Cassidy Parker Knight & Jeff Knight came in from Austin TX, and Rachel came in from LA, and Eric Darby came in from San Francisco, and Linda Jackson and filmmakers Aisha Naseem and Adom Balcom came in from western MA – and friends who came in from right here in town – Molly McArthur and Kerry McGurl who were our perfect ushers, Tony & Missy (natch), #TeamSalli, Sarah Meigs & Alli Jutras (our badass interns for 2017), and Birgit Straehle (who gilded our first place trophy!) & Luis Antonio Fraire, and two of last year’s exquisite judges, April & Ted Desmond, Isaac Baron and Sylvia Bagalio, and Rushelle Frazier and Jenith Charpentier and Angeline Bilotta who were judges this year, and Gary Hoare, who’s been a finalist and winner at R<3 three times now, and Angel, who’s been a judge twice, and Bob Gill (who judged our first year) & Ted Blackler, and and and and AND! It all happened in the company of family – what warm delight to share this with my dear husband Bill, and my brother Allan and my father-in-law Charlie††† who have been pulling this boat along with me for four years now (omg, fam – you are The Best).
And for real, Nick’s took such good care of us – huge kudos and thank yous to Nicole & Sean & the rest of the staff on Saturday for making such good space for us and treating us like a Very Big Deal. They made sure we had the sound and projector up and running, and a place for our red carpet, and that the popcorn & drinkies & treats flowed (Have you ever had a pretzel there?? Seriously. If you haven’t, you’re totally missing out, so you should do that).
What I mean to say is that this year tore me open in all the good ways. All this to say Thank You.
*Thank you WAC & MCC!
**I’m 100% sure some of that had to do with the US elections. That garbage storm is still cascading horrific on the daily.
***So the basement over at HPCC actually solved that problem >.>
†It wasn’t until after festival that I realized that all our winning films were made by women \o/ There’s something here that I have been struggling to put my finger on over the last few years – what is it about poetryfilm that lends women such good license, that allows them to give themselves permission to excel? Jenith & I keep spilling coffee over and spending time on this topic, and it never ceases to keep me feeling alive in my own skin.
††You have an osm arts org that wants fundraiser tickets? Talk to me!
†††Who totally saved our bacon last year with the whole venue thing. Thank you, Charlie!
ps! Omg, guise – LITERALLY, as I was writing this, my phone chirped and told me it made a movie memory out of the bazillionty pictures (ok, 372) I took at Rabbit Heart on Saturday – oh iPhone, you amazing creature, you <6 and it’s totally darling. Here it is –
pps – that song that everyone at festival can’t get out of their head? It’s by Erin K, and it’s amazing. Here – have a listen