AFTER - A performance film. 90 minutes.
AFTER is both a feature length festival film and a 60 minute film for an international television audience. The film is an exploration of poetry of the Shoah and contemporary poems exploring current realities. AFTER Features some of the world’s greatest poets including Leonard Cohen. Cornelius Eady, Alicia Ostriker, Edward Hirsch, and Yehuda Amachai.
In AFTER each poem has its own story, structure, main character(s), and cinematic approach. For example, the story adapted from an autobiographical poem takes place during anhomicide investigation where the man (spoken-word poet Taylor Mali) is the lead suspect in his wife’s death. In reality, Taylor was a suspect in the death of his wife Rebecca, later ruled a suicide. Feeling as if his every word was taped and every act watched, Mali uses this device to write about his tragic loss. Only in the middle of the poem, do we find that Rebecca is the child of survivors. The poem is set in the police department, and we find his wife “alive” in the film, where we follow her last hours. In another work, Leonard Cohen is seen in rare archival film of his life in Montreal, as we hear a kind of love song to the past. Renowned American poet Alicia Ostriker reads an intimate work about the mysteries of courage, that points to Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler. She questions her own lack of courage as she moves around her New York apartment. African- American, Pulitzer Prize nominated poet Cornelieus Eady reads a stunning, visionary anonymous poem found after the war in a sealed jar in what was the Warsaw Ghetto. Contemporary German poet Tobias Schaffer walks the dark, history-laden streets of Berlin and addresses his contempt for Neo-Nazis. Contemporary poet "Kino”, rants a poem about current existential threats and longs for a global awakening, as she cabs through Brooklyn streets at the break of dawn.
The locations in AFTER resonate like a character in a story. Whether in an empty railroad car at Bergen-Belsen sitting in the snow, a suburban shopping mall, on a tumultuous cab ride with a young poet or a highly stylized feature-like recreation of the story inside a poem, each place carries with it a whole world of emotion and meanings.
There is still one ambitious centerpiece poem to be filmed by poet Yehuda Amichai, considered by many to be Israel’s greatest living poet. The scene will have a a ten-minute running time in the film. It will be a feature-like work based on his powerful poem “Open Closed Open”, where Amichai (played by an actor) walks among his ghost-like ancestors.