Mrs. Bovary de Porrentruy by Ariane von Graffenried

This brilliant piece from Switzerland was just announced as Best International Poetry Film at the prestigious ZEBRA Festival in Germany. It is a gritty, contemporary retelling in verse of Gustave Flaubert‘s historic novel, Madame Bovary.

The film concept and editing are by Yannick Mosimann. The soundtrack is by the musical duo Fitzgerald & Rimini – Ariane von Graffenried and Robert Aeberhard. Ariane’s powerful text and voice are at the wrenching heart of the film, the poem translated to English by Anne Posten. Other collaborators are in the YouTube notes.

The judges were Rosa Maria Hopp (editorial director MDR), Federico Italiano (poet) and Maria Mohr (filmmaker and film educator). Their comments:

Hemmed in by the mountains, this film not only features a protagonist trapped in the dreariness of daily life but also an image frozen in time—sometimes the 16 mm image is torn, sometimes doubled. And then, there’s that battered post rock over and over. It’s a perfect whirlwind of cinematic elements, interwoven with the three languages of the extraordinary poem that fuels them. And in between, there’s that “disturbing woman.” Hardly any phrase encapsulates this film as well as, “Mrs. Bovary from Porrentruy isn’t who she wants to be / Her needs are big, her life’s petit.” (source)

In posting here, I have given the abbreviated English translation of the title. Zebra Festival gives its original as Fitzerald & Rimini – D Frou Bovary de Porrentruy. That title format suggests the film may have first been conceived as a music video. Indeed it can also be heard just as a music track. And what a tremendous meeting this is of music video and poetry film.

There were 25 finalist films in the international competition. These were selected from around 1,200 entries from over 90 countries. Winning films in other categories at the 2023 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival are here.

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