Kingston film is poetry in motion

Who is Bruce Kauffman? bridges filmmaking and literature 

Who is Bruce Kauffman? will be premiering at KCFF this weekend.
Credit: 
Screenshot from Who is Bruce Kauffman?

Who is Bruce Kauffman?—a new film set to premiere at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday— brings literature beyond the page.

The project, which was first conceived two years ago, has its roots in the Skeleton Park Arts Festival. Inspired by the film LIVE in Kingston’s tribute to the local music scene, the film aims to bring Kingston’s poetry community to the big screen.

The film is an anthology, providing a string of short films that create a tableau of the Kingston poetry scene, featuring individual artists and local figures. “We have presented this film in a way that really gives a unique way to access poetry,” director and producer Greg Tilson said.

Tilson paired filmmakers and poets together to bring a new kind of life to the ideas behind the written word, activating poetic imagery through film. 

At the heart of this project is the title feature on Bruce Kauffman. 

A Kingston-based poet, his work is meditative, challenging the reasons behind what we think, believe and feel. Given his work and role in Kingston’s poetry community, he’s earned the esteem of his peers.

“For the past year and a half, a film crew has been following him around Kingston to represent a day in the life of what he does. He’s very much dedicated most of his life to the poetry community, and that’s where his heart is,” Tilson said.

Tilson paired filmmakers and other contributing poets together, believing the story they could tell through blending two different mediums would have a stunning effect on audiences. 

There are a number of contributors from the Queen’s community, including: Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Literature, Armand Garnet Ruffo, music professor and professor of Composition and Theory, John Burge, and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Film and Media,  Clarke Mackey.

“I was honoured to work with artists of this calibre. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be part of such a large collaborative project with so many talented and often underground artists in Kingston.” Tilson said.

The filmmakers intentionally built off the messages and ideas embedded in the featured poets work, setting their ideas in motion through visuals and sound. Representing their work through film enables audiences who would’ve been otherwise intimidated to cultivate for viewers new to the poetry scene.

“We’re trying to merge [poetry and film] to make it easier for people to come sit down and for seventy minutes and take a look at how these amazing filmmakers interpret these poems […] then see how you interpret them yourself.”

“Our job is to try and help share those stories and the enjoyment and inspiration that we’ve experienced,” Tilson said.

Who is Bruce Kauffman? premieres Friday, March 1 at The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, doors opening at 8:15. Tickets can be bought at the doors, through the websites of the Kingston Canadian Film Festival and Who is Bruce Kauffman?

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