Ars Poetica 2007

Movies

Film series by Mariana Čengel-Solčanská

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Šimijé

directed by: Mariana Čengel-Solčanská, Slovakia, 2005, colour. 5 min.

This legendary film that won the Azyl 2006 jury prize and travelled around Slovakia on the web is a paraphrase of the Slovak rap culture. You will see the excellent Csongor Kassai and hear an endless stream of four-letter words.

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Monstrance

directed by: Mariana Čengel-Solčanská, Slovakia, 2006, colour, 15 min. 2006

A period-drama film about the power of dogma. A thief steals a monstrance, an object which is a relic of the Roman-Catholic Church. He is unable, however, to sell it because it is an object imbued with respect and fear. After a long pursuit, he finds refuge in a cloister but when his wrongdoing is revealed he falls victim to a dogma which is more powerful than pity and compassion.

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Abel's black dog

directed by: Mariana Čengel-Solčanská, Slovakia, 2006, colour, 30 min.

Abel wants everyone to leave him alone. He has fooled all the village into believing that he got a big black dog. He buys granules for the imaginary beast, he imitates its howls in the night. One day, however, a dog attacks a man...

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Sky over Berlin

Der Himmel über Berlin / Les ailes du désir, directed by: Wim Wenders, Germany / France, 1987, colour., 116 min.

One of the most impressive films from the world cinema of the 1980's. The director, Wim Wenders, set the story of his best-known and most successful film in Berlin, at that time still divided by the Wall. A city whose partitioned parts were connected by the underground and the sky overhead. The axis of this film essay is the story of two modern angels, of whom Damiel gives up eternity for the sake of a flying trapeze artiste, Marion, and becomes human. Wenders's and Handke's angels, however, don't quite conform to the usual concepts. Their favourite hangout is not a church but the Berlin library where the spiritual values created by humankind have been concentrated. The film won the Best Director award at the 1987 Cannes International Film Festival.

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Cléo from 5 to 7

Cléo de 5 à 7, directed by: Agnès Varda, France, 1961, colour, 90 min.

One of the most important films of the French New Wave. The director, Agnès Varda, succeeded, in an almost documentary fashion, in capturing ninety minutes in the life of a famous actress awaiting the results of a medical examination. The film is a thrilling coverage of the transition of a state of mind from desperation to hope, as well as an original documentary about Paris in the early 1960's. The film won the French film critics' award for Best Movie, with Jean-Luc Godard appearing in a cameo role.

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Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf, directed by: Olivier Dahan, France, 2007, colour, 140 min

She was one of the most prominent chanson singers, small in stature (only 147 cm tall) which also gave her the name of Sparrow (Piaf). In the course of her career she showed that she was huge in what she could achieve with her voice. After the untimely death of her sweetheart, she attempted to drown her sorrow in alcohol and drugs, only to die of cancer in 1963. After her death a series of fourteen records was released, her songs influenced numerous chanson singers and to this day have remained the core of the chanson repertoire. The film opened this year's Berlin Film Festival where it was rapturously received by the audience.

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Ján Boleslav Kladivo + Julo Fujak: Fluff Modulation 2006

Fluff modulation - narrates four stories about a not quite certain reality. About the borders between worlds and perceptions. Fluff modulation ponders what actually can and cannot be captured and what can be only subject to assumptions. The whole story is shrouded in the premonition of the end of the "beautiful" days, the end of catatonically benumbing prosperity. The souls settle on roofs, no longer willing to dwell in human bodies, yet in some ways they are unable to give up their interest in our struggles. Just as there is fuzzy semiotics, we can also talk about the semiosis of fluff modulation – i.e., about the semiosis of fluffing of what is not worth noticing for most people. Fluff modulation may be attempting a non-verbal articulation of touching what is "in between", between the apparent and unapparent. I loved taking part in this project, which was primarily Kladivo's initiative: due to the opportunity to become involved in a unpredictably evolving dialogue with him unfolding on the screen – without the urge for blunt poetising, which is seemingly i.e., disturbingly and extraordinarily trite.

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A Prayer

Molba, directed by Tengiz Abuladze, Russia, 1969, B/W, 72 min

A masterful allegory about the struggle between Good and Evil for possession of the human soul. The noble, high pathos of the film emanates from the imagination of Caucasian folklore, from the philosophical convictions of the poet Vazha Pshavel (inspired by his life among mountain men), from the robust musical component and, above all, from the majestic visual musicality, occasionally complemented with poetry and sparse dialogue. A formally astounding work: the graphic-photographic rarity of the images (in some scenes figures appear to be cut by light out of darkness), the rhythm derived from poetry, the enchanting visual composition of the ascetically untamed wilderness, the austere architecture of mountain abodes and fortresses, the symbolic orchestration of movements and gestures.

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Glass Lips

Szklane usta, directed by: Lech Majewski, Poland, 2006, 115 min. (original sound, simultaneous translation).

The film features a young poet being treated in a psychiatric asylum. We get to know him through his words, his obsessions, his dreams and apprehensions. Images submerged in hospital reality, distorted experiences from the past, are subjected to autopsy in his complex psyche. Majewski endeavours to convince the viewer that the imaginary world is much richer than the real one. Can life be lived intensely without moving from place to place? The simultaneous showing of images and events points at new dimensions of film narrative. The viewer discovers various versions of events and motives, much like the hero in Borges' Garden of Forking Paths.

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The Wishing Tree

Drevo želanija, directed by: Tengiz Abuladze, Russia, 1976, colour, 101 min.

This poetic film about people possessed by desire depicts the atmosphere of a Georgian village at the beginning of the 20th century with a peculiar artistic vision and temperament. The story is framed by a folklore motif of tragic love. The village life is concentrated around a spring under a "burning tree" bearing pomegranates. Stylised and symbolic shots alternate with specific and realistic human characters and situations. From the opening shot of a white horse in a green meadow with red poppies, you are exposed to a fantastic communication of colours. Suddenly, the film's message about man's hope for a meaningful life in the world of beauty and fulfilled miracles comes to seem achievable.

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Eden and Afterwards

L´Eden et aprés, directed by: Alain Robbe-Grillet, Slovakia / France, 1970, colour, 93 min.

A film by A. Robbe-Grillet, one of the French "nouveau roman". Even if you are no fan of experiments, this of images built around a miniskirt is really worth seeing. The author deliberately questions the principles of logic, rational cognition, film story and drama. Eden is a faked human life balanced between the play of feelings, relationships, love, rejection and fear. And then there is the world of actual hallucinations, vision, psychedelic experiences which is in parallel to our own world. This markedly metaphorical film with a crime sub-plot is an exemplary probe into Robbe-Grillet's original visual world.

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Aezop

Ezop, directed by: Rangel Vulchanov, Czech Republic / Bulgaria, 1969, colour, 93 min.

A film about the life of the great Greek sage and fabulist, Aesop, a former slave who wins his freedom thanks to his intelligence. He had to die as the society of his time was not interested in people like him. The film was banned for 22 years. Around the mythical persona of the Greek fabulist (6th century BC) the authors played out their own version of history. What is inspiring is the unconventional form of varying temporal and semantic planes, commentaries by the chorus, fancy costumes and props, the fusion of various genres and layers of styles. The Czech film stars provided the film with refinement, appropriately contrasted with the expressions of the extras played by Balkan gypsies.

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Faust

Lekce Faust, directed by: Jan Švankmajer, Czech Republic / France, 1994, colour, 89 min.

Multi-layered, unique and captivatingly imaginative rendition of the Faustian myth. The main motif is temptation, manipulation and the inability to escape from angst, and the surrender to evil which makes its way inconspicuously into our everyday lives. Utilising his typical method of combining live acting with animation, Švankmajer develops an etude on the Faustian theme using a wide range of images of the Faustian myth from puppet shows to the classical work of Goethe. Spatial collages enhanced by the motion of the film medium endeavour to transcend the rational constraints of modern men. His films give an apparently solid form to pre-conscious images and the author's imagination blows away original themes inspired by funfair stories, fairytales, myths, and piles them up into illogical connections and meanings.

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Few People, A Little Time

Parę osób, mały czas directed by: Andrzej Barański, Poland, 2005, colour, 104 min. (original sound, simultaneous translation).

Jadwiga Stańczaková is visually impaired. She lives with her father whose overconcern makes her into a dependent person. Her friendship with the poet, Miron Białoszewski, an eccentric man and an original writer, completely transforms her life. Miron's helplessness in everyday matters awakens her and teaches her to be independent. In the role of secretary, she makes tape recordings of texts dictated by him and copies them on a typewriter.

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Sekerezáda

Siekierezada, directed by Witold Leszcynski, Poland, 1985, colour, 78 min.

A poetic film with a hibernal atmosphere of a forest hermitage which originated from the director's captivation with the book by Edward Stakhura (poet, writer and restless wanderer who took his own life), whose world is a summary of lyrical impulses (the joy of watching the sun rise or seeing a glass of water at the right moment). The film is attractive in its palpable study of solitude of a man "from nowhere" who arrives to stay with forest workers to try for one last time to cling to the human community, only to encounter his death on the railway tracks (much like Stakhura himself in 1979).

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Man with the Big Wings

Un seňor muy viejo con unas alas enormes, directed by Fernando Birri, Cuba / Spain / Italy, 1988, colour, 77 min.

A parable with the magical atmosphere of G. G. Marquez. In the wake of a cyclone, a strange "angel" appears on a ship and becomes an attraction, idol and an opportunity to make money. After some time, attention turns to a spider-woman, the main attraction of a travelling funfair. The excellently composed soundtrack is packed with rhythm, yelling and roaring, mixing multiple sound planes. You will revel in carnival orgies of movement – a happening of sounds, colours, rhythms and lights creating a hedonistic relaxing atmosphere of folk-fest.

Events

Mamapapa: Prophets of Alphabet

Mamapapa / CZ is independent initiative open to theatre artists and performers aiming to influence the climate and open possibilities for meetings, co-operation and further development of professional artistic projects of innnovative young artists and to connect information centres and initiatives through (database) networking. The project Prophets of Alphabet is inspired by the historical journey of St. Constatin (Cyril) and St. Methodus, who created the first script for Old Slavonic—the glagolic (cyrilic) alphabet—the deep roots of Slavic literacy and identity. The project freely retraces the steps of St. Cyril and St. Methodus, in travelling through several central European and Balkan countries and will result in an interactive multimedia mosaic of visuals, stories, songs and local interpretations of the glagolic alphabet.

Special lecture

Robert Pinsky: The Situation of Poetry

A major highlight of Ars Poetica 2007. The US Poet Laureate (for unprecedented period of four years), leading academic (Berkeley, Princeton, Boston University), as well as the single poet who made it to become a pop culture icon of our day, and starred in the Simpsons series, will present his vision of poetry and her potencies in this new millenium. Slovak premiere.

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Open Meeting with the Slovak Publishers and Editors

Thursday sept-27, 15.00 A4 Club

Open meeting with the selected publishers and editors of Slovak literature. Unique opportunity for both aspiring and established authors, as well as literary fans to explore the exchange of views between festivals international participants and Slovak literary community.

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Open Discusion on the Contemporary Condition of the Poetry

Do you care about current "poetic condition"? Is poetry in crisis or in a creative struggle? Unique opportunity for both aspiring and established authors, as well as literary fans to explore the exchange of views between festivals international participants and Slovak literary community.

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Green Pig and Pink Frog

Workshop for children

Beyond seven mountains, across seven vales, there is a country where almost everything is upside down. The pig is green, the frog is pink, the Sun shines at night and the Moon by day. Of course, sand flows and water is scattered. It is simply a fairytale country. But this Upsidedownland has one flaw – it remains unfinished. And therefore, we must finish it together. We are going to do everything as it should be, upside down. And we will also sing, recite poetry, play, dance, draw but, above all, invent things. The green pig and pink frog are looking forward to seeing you.

Concept: Petra Fornay
Co-starring: Marek Piaček and Monika Horná

For children aged 3 +, 60 min.

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Book Presentation· Ivan Štrpka: Tichá ruka. Desať elégií

Ivan Štrpka (1944) studied Slovak literature and Spanish language studies. He worked as an editor and dramaturg in Slovak TV and as a deputy editor-in-chief and editor-in-chief in several literary magazines (Literárny týždenník, Kultúrny život, Romboid). His first collection of poems was published under the title A Short Childhood of Spearmen (1969). Followed: Tristan Talks Trash (1971), Now and Other Islands (1981), Before the Metamorphosis (1982), News from the Apple (1985), Everything is in the Shell (1989), The Beautiful Bare World (1990), Flatlandia, Southwest. Death of the Mother (1995), Intergames. Beheaded Puppets (1997), Master Mu and Female Voices (1997), Voices and Other Poems (2001), Silent Hand. Ten Elegies (2006). A poet, essayist, prose and lyrics writer, Štrpka is together with Laučík and Repka a part of a very influential trio of Slovak literary personalities called Osamelí bežci (The Lonely Runners).

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Piotr Sommer: Lyrický činiteľ a iné básne

Piotr Sommer (1948) was born in Walbrzych, Poland. MA in English (University of Warsaw), in 1973. Since 1976, Anglo-American poetry editor, at Literatura na Swiecie (Literature in the World), a monthly promoting foreign literatures in Polish translations (since 1993, editor in chief). He has taught mostly at American Universities, but also at the University of Warsaw, the University of Krakow, as well as at Arvon Foundation (England). He published eight books of poems in Polish as well as two books in translation — in English and in German; another one is to appear in Slovenia. Piotr Sommer has himself translated a number of contemporary American, English, Irish and Scottish poets into Polish. He has published eight collections of his own poems in Poland, as well as an anthology of contemporary British poetry, and a book of interviews with British and Irish poets. He also writes poetry for children.