As part of this year's Poetry International festival, London's own Southbank Centre teamed up with the bosses of Filmpoem, PoetryFilm, and the Zebra Poetry Film Festival to launch Shot Through the Heart, a competition for short films based on poems.
Seeing that in addition to the category for adults, there was also a category for film-poems made for children on the theme of love, my wife and I couldn't resist giving it a go. I wrote a poem, she composed piano music, and after more than forty hours of painstaking stop-motion animation, we combined it all together and entered our film. Our jaws dropped when it was announced that the judges--a collection of 24 children from six London primary schools--had selected our film "Buttons" as the winner.
The film-poem genre is a slim but highly enthusiastic and truly international one. It is largely comprised of serious filmmakers and equally serious musicians and poets. As a result, the sub-genre of film-poems made specifically for children is something of a subset within a subset. Yet this kind of thing has been going on successfully for some time, from cartoons of Dr. Seuss books made in the 1970s to the recent Emmy-Award-winning "A Child's Garden of Poetry" produced by HBO in cooperation with the US Poetry Foundation. There are also many fine examples from all over the world, in different languages, of filmmakers setting poetry to film with children in mind.
As part of the prize, I will screen and discuss the process behind making our film "Buttons" and screen other children's film-poems at the end of a day of celebrating poetry for young people at the Southbank Centre on Saturday, July 19th.
For your enjoyment, here is a peek at a hand-picked selection some of my favourite film-poems suitable for children.
"Streamschool" („Patakiskola") by Péter Vácz
"Of Care" by Ruah Edelstein
"Four Years From Now Walking With My Daughter" by Liam Owen
"The Jumblies" by Edward Lear - a new animation by Robert Duncan
"Balada Catalana" (with English subtitles) by Laen Sanches
"About BIGMOUSE" (English version) by Constantin Arephyeff
"Suddenly" by Tim Verdinek, by young people of the Slovenski filmski centre
Bonus: "Buttons" by Robert Peake and Valerie Kampmeier, which won the Children's category at "Shot Through the Heart"