The idea for The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival began when poet and filmmaker R.W. Perkins realized he was the guy who could make it happen. "I'm a video poet and had a lot of success with my stuff overseas -- I was noticing a lot of really talented filmmakers being showcased in Germany and the United Kingdom," Perkins explains. "I'd seen a few of these (festivals) pop up in the U.S., but not too many. I was thinking, it would be kind of cool if someone would do that here -- and one day it dawned on me, I'm somebody."
Perkins acted on this revelation, and the result is Saturday's Body Electric Poetry Film Festival, a single evening in Fort Collins that will showcase short, cinematically-expressed poems from around the globe.
As a fairly fresh art form, video poetry isn't just about a poet and a camera, Perkins emphasizes. "We sort of view ourselves as kind of a new breed; we're not totally separated from poetry, because we're not. We're all influenced by the written word," he says. "A lot of people get the impression that it's just poets standing in front of a camera performing their poetry -- but it's artists who want to bring a visual element to their poems."
If anything, he explains, the pieces created are more in line with filmmaking. Poetry is at the center of the work, but the short-film format -- with pieces usually running two to ten minutes in length -- is how it connects with the audience.
Though the festival is just a single evening presentation of films, the Body Electric saw many more submissions than anticipated -- a promising sign for a fledgling festival. After putting out a call, Perkins says he received 237 submissions from all over the world, which meant that choosing the line-up involved some difficult decisions.
"As someone who considers themselves more of a creator and not much of a curator, I looked at things that I found to be important as a filmmaker or video poet," says Perkins. "I really wanted to key in on the history of both art forms, really -- I wanted to focus in on people who really studied their craft and wanted to present the art form in the best light possible."
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The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival will open with an introduction to the art form, followed by ninety minutes of shorts. Booger, a local poet and host of Fort Collins' seven-year-old First Friday Poetry Slam at the Bean Cycle, will then do a reading before the showings recommence. A question-and-answer session with seven filmmakers from around the world will close out the night.
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The festival starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 4 at the Lyric Cinema Cafe in Fort Collins. Tickets are just $10 and can be purchased at the venue's box office. For a full program of film selections, visit The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival's website.