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Two contemporary poets, one from America (Lyn Hejinian), the other from Russia (Arkadii Dragomoshchenko) are asked to begin a correspondence based on a list of ordinary words such as 'home,' 'book,' 'poverty,' 'violence.' They reflect on each word, considering its conventional meaning and what it means to them personally.
The resulting extraordinary five-year dialogue is by turns poignant, profound and funny. Both poets move seamlessly from present to past, a move echoed by the use of striking new and archival footage from both countries. Narrative, travelogue, and memoir are combined in a fusion of image, sound and word that is a total sensual experience. As the film progresses and intimacy grows, both the similarities and differences between Russian and American ways of grasping the world are revealed. Letters Not About Love becomes both a revealing portrait of two cultures and a compelling exploration of language, communication, and the art of mutual understanding.
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"The film is a history lesson, a social studies tract, a poetry workshop...libraries, high schools and universities would do well to challenge viewers with this absorbing, insightful and demanding film. Highly recommended."
Vivienne L. Lipsitz, Director of Media Services
Port Washington Public Library
"Hejinian and Dragomoshchenko engage in an exemplary cross-cultural dialogue...one of the most significant poetry-related films of our time, and one that would make an excellent choice for showing as part of courses in creative writing, poetry, or poetics."
Charles Bernstein, David Gray Professor Poetry and Letters
"A powerful representation of the potential of art simultaneously to respect difference and to bridge it..."
Andrew Wachtel, Pearce Miller Research Professor in Literature
Chair, Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literatures
"The delicate merging of private maps - home, grandmother, local weather - in this intimate and formal correspondence of two poets, one in America, one in Russia. A beautiful and moving film."
poet/author of "The English Patient"
"Rich in texture, detail and visual nuance, this film's passionate attention to material culture and environment offers inspiring cinematic poetry and techniques for students of Visual Anthropology."
Peter Beilla, Professor of Visual Anthropology
San Francisco State University
"By the end of this short, 60-minute film, a deep intimacy has been established - between the poets, between their cultures, and between film and audience."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"..a rare embrace of the political and the personal...It is a true and literal fusion of cinema and poetry."
AWARDS / SCREENINGS (partial list)
Best Documentary Feature, South by Southwest Film Festival
Special Award for Cinematic Poetry, American Anthropological Association Film Festival INPUT '99 Selection, XXII Int'l. Public TV Screening Conference
Gold Apple Award, National Educational Media Network
International DOCumentary Association's October Film Festival
Dziga Vertov Visionary Artist Award, Huntington International Film Festival
Denver International Film Festival
Hamptons International Film Festival
Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival, England
Viennale, Vienna International Film Festival
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Jacki Ochs Jacki Ochs' film work includes both experimental and documentary genres, which have been broadcast worldwide. Her film Vietnam: The Secret Agent about the chemical Agent Orange received many awards including the John Grierson Award for Best New Director from the American Film Festival, Special Jury Prize from the Sundance Film Festival and a premiere at the New York Film Festival. Other awards she has received include a NYFA Fellowship, two MacDowell Colony Fellowships and the Guggenheim Fellowship. Articles about Jacki's work have appeared in many major US news and film publications including the New York Times, LA Times, Plain Dealer, Film Comment, Cineaste, International Documentary Magazine.Jacki Ochs has been Executive Director of the Human Arts Association, a not for profit arts foundation, since 1976. The foundation has produced music, dance and multimedia productions as well as sponsoring many film productions. In addition she has taught documentary film production at SUNY Purchase and at Pratt Institute.Recently Jacki was Executive Producer for award winning film Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, released Fall 2005, and produced 9/12: From Community to Chaos in 2006. In 2007 her film Vietnam: The Secret Agent received a NYWIFT preservation grant. It will be re-released on DVD in Fall 2010.
Heart of the Sea Hailed as “remarkable” by Teacher Librarian and “enthusiastically recommended” by Video Librarian, HEART OF THE SEA is a breathtaking portrait of surf legend Rell "Kapolioka'ehukai" Sunn, founding member of the Women's Professional Surfing Association and beloved breast cancer activist. With exhilarating water scenes and captivating archival footage of surf culture, HEART OF THE SEA is an important look at Hawai’i’s integral part of America’s rich cultural heritage. Subject: Asian and Asian American Studies
Edifying and intimate, TRINIDAD acquaints viewers with three extraordinary transwomen whose paths cross in an unlikely setting—the unassuming town of Trinidad, Colorado. Against the backdrop of the town’s history of transgender surgery, TRINIDAD invokes the passions and gender politics of these three individuals as they search for a place of empowerment and belonging.
As civil rights for LGBT and other minority groups are won violent backlashes have been known to increase. Today LGBT people are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crimes. PUZZLES tells the story of a hate crime in a gay bar called Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford, MA when a teenager entered and brutally attacked its patrons. As a result two different worlds collide, a homophobic hate crime offender and his victims. Puzzles explores the correlation between American economic desperation and homophobia, intolerance, and, ultimately, violence.
Holy Land (Theatrical version)
"Holy Land" is an unprecedented, multi-character documentary about a tumultuous year in the West Bank. The film zeroes in on the explosive issue of the Israeli settlements: its protagonists are both Israeli settlers and the Israelis and Palestinians who oppose them. It's a cross section of the West Bank never seen in one film: right and left, secular and religious, from Hasidim to Hamas.
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