I had the great privilege of going to Havana, Cuba with UBELONG, an International NGO which facilitates service learning and volunteering abroad for local development projects. A week before President Obama’s historic visit to meet with Raúl Castro, I was there to document the expedition of 30 Americans. It was a transformational trip because I was able to talk directly with Cubans. I was able to see a Havana already in transition to accommodate the influx of Americans. I saw first hand how people lived and heard how they felt about President Obama and the Rolling Stones' upcoming trip. More than anything, there was hope in the air. Read more about my reflections on a three-part blog post. Come back again when a short documentary will be completed by early May.
Engaging People is a documentary series about civic engagement which explores the lives of effective change-makers and concerned citizens seeking to understand what makes an actively engaged citizenry and what would create a more participatory civic life and culture.
Engaging People shows citizens, who instead of blaming others for social dysfunction decide to take an active role in solving societal problems directly in their own communities, ultimately effecting systemic change, creating ripple effects to create a more democratic society.
For more information go to EngagingPeople.tv
Media Advocacy comes in all shapes and forms and extends the term "advocacy" to be inclusive of all things media. Visual stories can be told in motion, with just one image or a sequence of many. Add in audio, music, or any print or digital medium, share with others—online or face-to-face—and a strong emotional connection can have impact and engage people to act. Get more information.
I was honored to create a film poem for the Poetry Storehouse First Anniversary Contest along with two other filmmakers. We were asked to create a film and poets were to submit new poems in response to the films.
Jessica Piazza, one of the judges of the poetry portion of the contest told Moving Poems;
"At the Poetry Storehouse, we believe multi-genre work is truly special. The best ekphrastic art will draw from the spirit of two (or more) separate works to truly create something new, ideally allowing the very best of multiple genres to shine in a single work. …I was excited to see the new life our entrants would breathe into our video offerings. How would they respond, I wondered, to Lori Ersolmaz’s semi-expressionist land- and water-scapes? We could not be happier with the answer to that question. We were looking for poems of individual merit, of course, but more importantly we wanted pieces that paired with the visual imagery to tease out ideas, nuances and feelings that neither poem nor video could evoke on its own. And we found them."
Backward Like a Ghost, by Amy Miller was the overall winner in the category based on my film. Also, Muscle Memory, runner-up by Michael Biegner was chosen, as well.
Take a look at how different audio, words, narration, music and motion graphics alter the overall tone, emotion and feeling. It was a fantastic visual journey to take with these talented poets.
You can read more about my artistic process and how I used the film as a social commentary at Moving Poems Magazine.
In response to the Ebola virus 2014
Poem and Voice
by Tara Skurtu
Courtesy of Poetrystorehouse.com
Animals, People and Places of South Africa
I always have a sense of excitement when I am in the process of creating a new filmpoem. I had been wanting to develop a piece from Luisa Igloria's work ever since I read about her practice of writing a poem each day on Dave Bonta’s website, Via Negativa. The biggest difference I had in producing this piece over others is that I edited it backwards. I can’t say for sure why, but it was easier for me to reconstruct the poem visually starting with the end first and moving backward towards the beginning. You can read more about my artistic process on Moving Poems.
Mainly an experimental landscape film, I found myself on foot during late winter and early spring of 2011 scouring nearly every mile of Sandy Hook Park in New Jersey. A well-known barrier reef and popular beach location, it played an instrumental role in the defense of New York Harbor from the late 1800s to World War II. Worn out after each day I shot on location, I got the sense of what life may have been like for a soldier on this United States artillery base. It's a beautiful, yet rough and tough terrain, hence the name—Fatigue. But, the film goes further to examine the cold realities of war. With many artifacts left behind, including state-of-the art gun batteries from the late 1890s to Nike Missiles, it's now largely left in a state of disrepair. Somehow this seems disrespectful to the men who originally guarded this special place and the citizens who supported it up until the Nike Air System was deactivated and Fort Hancock's harbor guarding ended in 1974.
These film poems are my shortest pieces, based on film abstract expressionism and reflect my visceral emotions to current events. I often use poems for remix from the Poetry Storehouse and sometimes reflect on the films at Moving Poems Magazine. Most of the visual imagery is my own original footage shot on a Canon 7D DSLR, smaller digital cameras and sometimes my Samsung smartphone.
Dave Bonta, editor of Moving Poems, The Best Videopoems on the Web says of "As IS" "Lori H. Ersolmaz made this video, which blows me away. The moments of darkness between lines (read by Nic Sebastian) is reminiscent of a trailer for a blockbuster movie, and the taut, rhythmic correspondence of (mostly) abstract images to words, combined with the dramatic soundtrack, added to that impression. Poetry is an edge-of-your-seat adventure, this film suggests. Well, I’ve always thought so."