Ekphrastic flicks premiere at DAC

Apr. 25—MALONE — "Moving Stills: A Fusion of Film and Poetry" premieres tonight at the Downtown Artist Cellar, 410 East Main Street, Malone.

It's a unique collaboration celebrating National Poetry Month, and the event will showcase poetry inspired by artist/filmmaker Michael C. Hart's 12 short films, which serve as a catalyst for poets: Tyler Barton, Isabelle Bohl, jim bourey, Sylvia Karman, Erica Kelso, and Ethan Shantie.

"We're thrilled to bring together these two vibrant art forms in celebration of National Poetry Month," bourey, event organizer, said in a press release.

"This collaborative project highlights the intersection of visual and literary art, exploring the ways in which images and words intertwine to evoke emotion and meaning."


Hart has an extensive background in photography and looks at his moving images as an extension of the photography.

"Because I do a lot of static shots with the video," he said.

"So, that's reminiscent of photography, but there is always movement in it too. So, that's where we came up with the moving stills."

Hart and bourey had conversations about collaboration possibilities, and bourey proposed the idea of merging film and poetry after Hart's screening of his films at his Pouring Lights Studio last fall.

"They're pretty cool," bourey said.

"They're little art films. After the viewing, I was thinking about National Poetry Month, and I thought a lot of people do ekphrastic poetry for National Poetry Month that kind of combines the art and poetry. I asked him if he would be interested in doing something with those films with some poets from the North Country, and he agreed. I found five poets and myself, and we divided up his 12 short films. We each took two, and we wrote ekphrastic poetry for them."

"It started just like that, and it took off," Hart said.

"I thought it was a really good fit because jim is associated with the finest poets in the area. My work is kind of adaptable and would accept the spoken word aspect of it. The poems are actually embedded into the film."

The 12 iPhone shorts average about four minutes long. The shortest film is two minutes, and the longest one is eight minutes.

Hart explores the landscape, built and natural, in the Malone area.

"It is quite environmental," he said.

"I sort of find myself in the woods or near a pond where there are geese or something and that motivates me. The stories just come out of the movement is around me and I can kind of steer it to where there is bit of a story line going on."

Hart's films inspired the poets, who recorded their poems and sent their files to Hart, who used Premiere Pro to edit the films.

"That turned out pretty well," he said.

"I have an eight-track recorder to make my music. All the music that you hear was made by me and maybe another person or two here and there. The music is all in-house."

Hart did the films in the last two and half years, and the poetry project started about three months ago.

"I'm just really super happy, and I'm really interested in how it's going to be received," he said.

"It's kind of unusual. They do voice overs and stuff, but straight-ahead poetry, you know that's a little different. It's very potent. There's a lot to take in, you know, 12 films. I purposely put some black space between them, 15 to 20 seconds of black, and then they have an eight-second countdown so people can kind of get settled and focused. It's a little bit of a cleansing opportunity."

Hart has screened some of the shorts on the festival circuit including the Lake Placid Film Festival.

Refreshments will be served and admission to "Moving Stills" is free, with donations appreciated to support future poetry events.

"Now, we decided they needed a premiere night, and we're going to have the program (tonight)," bourey said.

"It's really kind of cool, a little different. Usually, people will show the film and then do the reading. He was able to blend them in. It's pretty cool. The samples I've seen are very, very interesting. His films are music and picture things from the Malone area. They really resonated with the poets that we got to work on this.

"Being kind of first in the door on this, I took his longest film. I wrote a 'Concerto for a Small Town.' It's got like three movements and a couple of other little things thrown in."

Email: rcaudell@pressrepublican.com