Excerpts from films and videos




Film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & Anselm Spoerri. "Nobody gives you freedom, you have to take it." IMAGO Meret Oppenheim is an award-winning film about the major Swiss artist Meret Oppenheim, whose fame rests on the surrealist masterpiece, the Furlined Teacup. This feature-length documentary creates a moving portrait of this inspiring woman through a poetic presentation of the themes that dominated her life and art. Beautifully narrated by Glenda Jackson, a two-time Academy Award-winner, the film explores her creative crisis & transformation, Paris of the Surrealists, Jungian psychology, Nature, feminism, the playful and the androgyne. A film about a woman, who was able to transform herself after a long crisis. A meditative film about her, without her, that tells the story of her life and art, based on her words, letters, poems and dreams. An intimate film about Meret Oppenheim, who for many in Europe has become a role-model. IMAGO Meret Oppenheim had a successful theatrical release in Switzerland, becoming the best attended documentary of the year, and it had a cinema release in Germany. The film has been invited to several important film festivals in Europe and America. IMAGO has been awarded the prestigious Prize for Outstanding Quality by the Swiss Film Board and has received the Gold Apple Award at the National Educational Film and Video Festival in America, one of the key festivals for special-interest media. IMAGO Meret Oppenheim had its North American theatrical premiere in Boston in October 1990 and was reviewed by Jay Carr of the Boston Globe. This short extract from IMAGO covers Meret Oppenheim's Paris years.





Leonora Carrington (born 1917) is an English-born surrealist artist and writer who has lived in Mexico since the Second World War. She is the last surviving original member of the celebrated group of 20th-century women Surrealist artists who came together in Paris which included Leonor Fini, Frida Kahlo (co-opted by André Breton), Lee Miller, Meret Oppenheim and Remedios Varo. This video is an excerpt from the film Gifted Beauty (Ragg Film, 2000) which examines the work of all six artists along with that of the contemporary Norwegian artist Vilde von Krogh. It features the interviews with Leonora Carrington (in Mexico City and New York City) used in the film made by filmmaker and assistant director Pamela Robertson-Pearce, along with her footage of Mexico (the Day of the Dead and Leonora Carrington's sculptures in the boulevard on Paseo Reforma, Mexico City). Gifted Beauty was directed by Anne Kjersti Bjørn, with music by Maia Urstad and animations by Gustav Kvall.





Borderline is a work in process: by this I mean that Borderline is still evolving as I continue using video to respond to my new environment, the remote Tarset valley in rural Northumberland. Everything you see was filmed within four miles of where I've lived for the past five years. In sharing this with you I hope that you too can see why it interests me - this land of extreme contrasts and subtle changes. First shown at Northumbria University's conference Northernness: Ideas and Images of North in Visual Culture in June 2009. The whole of the present version of Borderline can be seen on this Vimeo link.




Trailer for my film portrait of Benjamin Zephaniah, which draws on both live performances and informal interviews. It shows him performing his poetry for different audiences and talking about his work, life, beliefs and much else. You see him live on stage at Ledbury Poetry Festival, Newcastle's Live Theatre, Hexham's Queen's Hall and Brunel University, and engaging with school children at Keats House in London, where he was writer-in-residence. All the poems and songs from the film and videos are included in the accompanying book from Bloodaxe, To Do Wid Me: Benjamin Zephaniah live and direct.





30 poets from around the world read to you in person... This is a new concept in publishing from Bloodaxe Books: your own personal poetry festival brought into your home. This trailer features 5 poems by 5 of the poets: Benjamin Zephaniah, Imtiaz Dharker, Brendan Kennelly, Jackie Kay and C.K. Williams. This DVD-book edited by Neil Astley was published by Bloodaxe in 2008. All the poems read by the writers on the films are in the anthology which comes with the films. The filmed readings last a total of 6 hours, and can be played on 2 DVDs pouched inside the back cover of the book.





This video is an excerpt from a film featuring a visit I made to Samuel Menashe with editor Neil Astley in the tiny New York apartment where he has lived since the 1950s. Now in his mid 80s, Menashe still knows all his poems by heart, and between engaging digressions on poetry, life and death, he recites numerous examples with engaging humour, warmth and zest. The poems included in this clip are 'Daily Bread', 'Family Silver', 'Night Music (pizzicato)', 'Improvidence' and 'Voyage'. The film was issued on DVD with Samuel Menashe's New and Selected Poems (2009) from Bloodaxe Books in the UK.





Excerpt from videos of two live performances on a DVD issued by Bloodaxe Books with John Agard's Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (2009). Here John Agard and fellow Guyanan Keith Waithe perform 'Flute Boy', a piece specially written by Agard for his flute maestro friend. Then Waithe accompanies Agard's performance of his poem 'Marriage of Opposites'. Finally, the third poem in this excerpt is Agard's much celebrated 'Half-caste', now on the syllabus in many English schools.





Two live readings and an interview with the Jamaican 'dub' poet. Published by Bloodaxe Books on DVD with Third World Girl: Selected Poems by Jean 'Binta' Breeze.





The winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer suffered a stroke in 1990, which deprived him of most of his speech and left him unable to use his right arm. But he is also an accomplished classical pianist. Unable to speak more than a few words, he can still express himself through music, despite only being able to play left-hand piano pieces. Swedish composers have written several left-hand piano pieces especially for him to play. This film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley combines contemporary footage of Tranströmer, including his piano playing, with archive film and recordings of earlier readings. The English subtitles to Tranströmer's readings of his poems in this film are Robin Fulton's translations from New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011).





Ruth Stone is a true American original. Now aged 94, she is still writing poetry of extraordinary variety and radiance. We filmed her in Vermont in 2008 and 2009. Ruth is almost blind but knows many of her poems by heart, and recites (or sings) several poems in this excerpt from the September 2008 filming (prompted occasionally by editor Neil Astley). Born in Virginia in 1915, she has lived in rural Vermont for much of her life. In 1959, after her husband committed suicide, she had to raise three daughters alone, all the time writing what she called her 'love poems, all written to a dead man' who forced her to 'reside in limbo' with her daughters. The poems are all from her retrospective What Loves Comes To: New & Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, USA; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2008): 'In an Iridescent Time', 'Orchard', 'The Talking Fish', 'The Excuse', 'Advice', 'I Have Three Daughters' (which she sings), 'Metamorphosis', 'Bargain, 'Mantra' and 'The Season'.

I am continuing to film poets for DVD and website use by Bloodaxe Books. To see many more of these poetry videos, go to: