Winners of the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival 2020

The international jury – Maren Kames, Tom Konyves und Martina Nix – awarded four awards:

The ZEBRA Award for the Best Poetry Film 2020, donated by the Haus für Poesie, goes to: 

Évian (DEU 2020)
Director: Ghayath Almadhoun
Poem: „Évian“ by Ghayath Almadhoun

The statement by the jury:

"In videopoetry, the verbal aspect (whether it is a performed poem, a voice-over or on-screen text) is always incomplete; it is up to the image or images to complete the text by providing an unexpected but entirely appropriate context. When the verbal element in a videopoem is of an unusually high quality, the selection of an unexpected but entirely appropriate context becomes an even greater dilemma for the artist. For seven sublime minutes, a vision of an endless sea surrenders its meaning: it has witnessed a heartbreaking story of the needless death and abandonment of a people, a story that would be reenacted in at least two generations, a story that could only be told if this image of the deep “stands behind” the words of the poem. And it does. Like a visual representation of the unconscious, it is a big unknowable that flows without a break, wave after wave, thought after thought, bearing the words of the poem, words like “a boat carrying refugees died of a heart attack” and “when the first rescue ship arrived, the Mediterranean Sea had drowned/ They found the water gasping for breath/the waves soaked through” or “On the eight o’clock news that evening, as the waters of the Mediterranean Sea flowed gently from the television on to the parquet floors of sitting rooms…” It doesn’t end there. Other words now. Another time, another place. Painful words. Words of evidence. All on the back of the hypnotic roll of the sea. The sea is present. It is a bold, daring gesture. We award the 2020 ZEBRA-Award for the Best Poetry Film to Évian by Ghayath Almadhoun."

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The Goethe Film Award 2020, donated by the Goethe-Institut, goes to:

Cos Endins / Inside the body (ITA 2019)
Director: Eduard Escoffet and Gianluca Abbate
Poem: „Cos Endins / Inside the body" by Eduard Escoffet

The statement by the jury:

"A perfect interplay of sound design, spoken word and experimental image. In the repetitive lines and the reproduction and overlap pinging of images, and a person moving forward in the constant rhythm of a breath, almost mystical as in trance the experimental film develops a pull in which the viewer is thrown back on himself, on his inner, his thoughts and his body. A grandiose idea, as a backdrop, to combine Matera, one of the oldest cities in the world, with experimental image editing and an extraordinary sound design.

The Goethe Film Award goes to Eduard Escoffet, Gianluca Abbate for their experimental film Inside the body, which lifts the viewer over the present and invites them to reflect on their own being."

The Award for the Best Film for Tolerance 2020, donated by the Federal Foreign Office, goes to:

A Barcode Scanner (IRQ 2019)
Directors: David Shook
Poem: „A Barcode Scanner” by Zêdan Xelef

The statement by the jury:

"The attribution of poetry having a voice, having a space in resistance against oppression, inhumanity and despair often ends up to be a banal platitude, easily spoken out by those happening to live in safer areas of the world. It becomes even more empty and flat when it’s spoken out to enhance the value of poetry itself. As if literature or art in general would be the real thing to defend and save. What if a voice doesn’t initially intend to be resistant? Political? Revealing? What if that voice only speaks about what’s right in front of the eye and what’s right in front of the eye stays the same, day in, day out, muddy street, then tent block, then muddy street, and just doesn’t change, because the world has some valuable reason to keep things right where they are, sorted and shelved like products in a super market? Then the poetical voice and the cinematographical eye become mediums against oppression and despair by simply and clearly scanning what’s there, repeatedly and impeccably, like the barcodes of a condensed everyday life experience – tent block, then muddy street, then tent block.  

From the safe space of our jury we award the Prize for the Best Film for Tolerance to A Barcode Scanner by David Shook, based on a poem and the voice of Zêdan Xelef. Thank you both for the sharp usage of your infrared rays, that reach far beyond a simple technical decoding process."


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The Ritter Sport Film Award 2020, donated by the Alfred Ritter GmbH und Co. KG, goes to:

The Opposites Game (USA 2019)
Director: Anna Samo and Lisa LaBracio
Poem: „The Opposites Game” by Brendan Constantine

The statement by the jury:

"It is a 5 minute mini drama. It shows how a fight about poetry becomes poetry. While fighting it is activating a wild stream of moving images on screen and in the heads. It is literally a poetry film. And it manages to do a miraculous thing: it is playful and lively and colourful and funny. It is entertaining. It is frankly childish. And it‘s being all of that without depriving the actual object of its deadly seriousness. On the fly by all of that it’s playfully subverting its own title, occasion and structure – showing how some things in life grow beyond simple binaries and opposites mostly don’t lead to truth. The poem is dedicated to Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the mass shooting in Tuscon, Arizona.

We award the Ritter Sport Film Award for a technically, aesthetically and literary outstanding poetry film to The Opposites Game by Anna Samo and Lisa LaBracio, based on a text by Brendan Constantine."


The ZEBRINO Award for the Best Poetry Film for Children and Youth 2020 goes to:

Know Snow (RUS 2020)
Director: Maria Dubrovina
Poem: „Know Snow“ by Anastasia Shakhova

A special mention goes to:

La mujer imaginaria / The imaginary woman (COL, EST 2019)
Director: Laura Benavides
Poem: „La mujer imaginaria / The imaginary woman“ by Laura B. Ramírez

"The Goethe Film Award, according to its statutes also honours a poetry film for its innovative potential. As much as “innovation” is an often asserted and requested attribute for assessing artistic works t is just as difficult to say clearly what this “new” exactly is. Since the jury of the ZEBRA poetry film competition agrees that innovation cannot and should not be reduced to the techniques and formal language of cinematic design, we would like to highlight a film work that has disturbed, touched and impressed us all at once, with its wild narrative in the best sense of the word. A piece of animation art that is just as fragile, raw and intimate as it is powerful and challenging. With these words fired like a volley in the film: broken, thick, uncertain, deviant, miracle, cynic, dark, angry, pink, dyke, queer, speechless, villain, obstinate. For the brave irreverence with which a female voice is given space to break new ground and the evidence that is provided of how standardized, long overdue narratives can be undermined, leveraged and replaced by livelier, more unpredictable stories and voices, we would like to give Laura Benavides an honourable – and grateful - mention for her film “La Mujer Imaginaria”- ("The imaginary Woman") based on the text of the same name by Laura B. Ramírez on which it is based."

Festival Poem 2020: 

Following the ZEBRA’s call for entries, international film makers have made film versions of this year’s Festival Poem, "Lethe" by Batswana poet TJ Dema. The three best film versions by Thelma Tunyi and Shanley Fermin (USA), Aleksandra Łojowska (Poland) and Emilia Strzałka (Poland) were shown at the festival.