~ Filmmaker: Juan Bullón ~

Escribimos/We Write by Juan Bullón et. al.

An exemplary anthology videopoem from Seville-based poetry filmmaker Juan Bullón’s creative writing workshop. Be sure to click the CC (closed captioning) icon if you need the English translation (which is very good). As Juan told me in an email last November:

This year, with some of the students from my Creative Writing workshop, we decided to create a single piece, and although the stories that each one recites are more or less different, I think it can be seen as a single work made up of a few very personal poems and stories. Besides, all the authors are in the video, we all act. Another bet we made was to use as few verses or words as possible of what each one had written on the image, trying not to be so graphic so that the image and text could walk in parallel instead of chained.

The poems and authors in order: DICEN/THEY SAY by Juan Bullón; ESFINGE NEGRA/BLACK SPHINX by Carmen R. Hiraldo; DE CÓMO UN GRAMÁTICO APENADO SE QUEJA DESATENTO/HOW A SAD GRAMMARIAN COMPLAINS DISTRACTED (COOL) by Carmen Galeto; MAULLIDOS Y ESPANTOS/MEOWS AND HORRORS by Manuel Rodríguez de los Santos; SABER/KNOWING by Pedro García Ordiales; and ÚLTIMO DESPACHO/LAST DISPATCH by Juan Bullón. To read the original texts, go here, and for the translations, go here.

Your Dog Dies by Raymond Carver

When I saw this videopoem by the Spanish director Juan Bullón the other week, I immediately knew I had to include it in a screening I was curating for REELpoetry/Houston TX called Poesía sin fronteras / Poetry Without Borders. Though otherwise focused on Latin American poetry, the theme of the program was “translation, otherness, identity and death in cinepoetry from across the Americas”, and it made sense to close with a gringo poet’s take, especially given how well Bullón’s choice of mirrored images echoed some of the other films in the program. Also, it was good to end on a slightly lighter note than some of the more melancholy, slow-moving films. I’m happy to report that the audience loved it.

As part of the extensive notes in the online version of this program, I asked directors to share any thoughts they might have on translation and/or poetry filmmaking. Here’s what Juan told me:

I’m a Spanish film maker and writer. I write with creative, narrative or poetic intention for about twelve years. I come from the audiovisual world (television and advertising mostly). In recent years I have attended several creative writing workshops. Now, far from audiovisual as a profession, I dedicate myself to writing and coordinate a creative writing workshop in Seville. It is a workshop to experience the fact of creating and feeling literature. We try to go beyond writing or correct narrative, poetic, autobiographical or reflective texts, beyond knowing techniques and writing tricks. Creativity is the goal without end. We give great importance to reading aloud as a way to recognize and work the literary voice of each one, and also, we experiment with the audiovisual format as another way of learning to know how to interpret our texts, to voiceover them, and act on them. Video-poems are another part of the creative process and the recognition of each as an author, it is another way of creative knowledge. The essential is to pose, think and act, and in our case, create from writing to let go and leave our point of view, and be able to share it. And this ability to narrate and tell should be transferable to another means of expression, as another complement, as another revelation of our creative capacity.

Transferring our texts (or those of other authors) to an audiovisual format, relying on the image and music to create these video-poems is a challenge where the fundamental is the literary burden of the text. We do not consider it as a struggle between the greater or lesser relevance of the image, music or text. The written is the important, it’s essential, then, the interpretation and performance of these texts with a suggestive audiovisual dress. The direction and production of these video-poems must be guided by the simplicity and speed of creation in the event that they are self-produced or by taking advantage of what the internet offers with the royalty-free images and music that can be used and shared, with that democratization of the media. In turn, the video-poems we make are posted on the internet for anyone’s free enjoyment, helping to fill in that great library of Babel.

Moving the texts to an audiovisual format is a part of the creative process, a moment of enjoyment and self-knowledge. The important thing is to act, to be and to write it.

Visit Juan Bullón’s YouTube channel to see more of his and his students’ work.