Film in verse: Aotearoa’s first Poetry Film Festival

Aotearoa’s first ever poetry film festival is happening on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 November this year, with screenings of international and local short films.

During the day, films will be shown at the Memorial Theatre at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. These are free events and open to the public.

Evening sessions will be held at Lighthouse Cuba. As well as the screenings there are a number of talks on poetry and adaptation.

“Poetry films are usually quite short and quite abstract,” says Associate Professor Alfio Leotta from Te Kura Tānga Kōrero Ingarihi, Kiriata, Whakaari, Pāpāho—School of English, Film, Theatre, Media and Communication, and Art History. “There are so many ways you can approach it, which adds to the creativity of the form.”

Dr Leotta is the director of the inaugural Aotearoa Poetry Film Festival. The full programme is available on the film festival website.

There are other specialised poetry films festivals all over the world, but nothing in New Zealand—until now.

“It is great to see the first New Zealand festival entirely devoted to poetry film finally coming to light! It has been so exciting to see such a variety of submissions in terms of style, themes, and creative approaches,” says Dr Leotta.

The organising committee, supported by the University in collaboration with Lighthouse Cinema and Wellington UNESCO City of Film, put out a global call for submissions and received 250 entries.

A panel of four judges and four committee members narrowed the submissions down to 36 films to screen at the festival. The festival will also feature a retrospective of 14 poetry films produced in Aotearoa that will screen out of competition, bringing the total up to 50.

The three categories films could be entered into the competition were Best International Poetry Film, Best New Zealand Poetry Film, and Best Student Poetry Film. The 36 films in competition will be whittled down to 14 finalists, and the judges will decide the overall winners for each category, to be announced at the end of the festival.

“Poetry film is a quintessentially interdisciplinary medium bringing together literature, sound, music, and moving images,” says Dr Leotta. “The festival has provided the opportunity to foster and reinforce interdisciplinary connections both within the University and outside of it.”


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