Liberated Words offers unprecedented online access to the content of its festival

Liberated Words logoPoetry film festivals vary tremendously in their web presence, some little more than a Facebook page or a mention on the website of a related organization. Given that many are run by just one or two over-worked volunteers, it’s not surprising that putting content on the web would take a back seat to the immense logistical challenges of soliciting and judging submissions and planning the actual, meat-space festival. But for those with paid staff, interns, and/or crazy people who never sleep, bigger things are possible. I’m not sure whether that characterization applies precisely to the organizers of the Bristol, UK-based Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival, which just wrapped up its third annual event this weekend, but they are definitely raising the bar on how poetry film festivals share information and content.

First, information. For the second year in a row, Sarah Tremlett and Lucy English have produced a lengthy (58-page), full-color brochure and published it online via Issuu. (See also the 2013 brochure.) Illustrated by stills from the films and photos of some of the participants, the brochures contain detailed descriptions of each film and the people who made it — in many cases, information not found elsewhere in the web, to my knowledge (at least, not in English). So I learned some new things even about films and filmmakers I was already familiar with, to say nothing about work I hadn’t seen yet. This year’s brochure also includes statements from the organizers of four other, cooperating festivals: TARP, Zebra, Visible Verse, and VideoBardo. I especially appreciated VideoBardo organizer Javier Robledo’s essay (pp. 32-34), a wide-ranging exploration of where poetry film fits in the history of human use of written and spoken language, moving images, and audiovisual media.

As for the films, 21 of them have now been uploaded to the Liberated Words account on Vimeo. I’m not sure why they switched from YouTube, where the 2013 festival films are archived — possibly because so many professional filmmakers prefer Vimeo. But in any case, I applaud their decision to upload their own copies to the web rather than simply organize the various creators’ uploads into a channel or album. This way, their archives are secured against videos going M.I.A. (in contrast to the Moving Poems archives, as I was just complaining yesterday). Presuming the festival continues for a number of years, this online video library should become a very valuable resource indeed — especially given all the information about the films available in the brochures.

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