Beijing Short Film Festival

Lethokuhle Msimang    -- November 29, 2017

What began as a spontaneous submission to Spittoons literary magazine has resulted in a number of serendipitous encounters throughout my stay in Beijing. It was, for example, to my great fortune to find myself working in collaboration with ambience producer and DJ  Yang Wenliang through the Spittoons recent attempt to host an event aimed at connecting poets and musicians. The idea was to have poets submit a number of works to the “Spit-tunes (an adorable spin on the magazines title) then have these  musicians select which poem or poet they wished to work with. After reading and translating my poem Dear Vincent, Wenliang chose to work with me. At the time I had not yet heard Yang’s music, but he too had not yet heard me read. Its one thing to read poetry, its another to hear how its delivered. We had not rehearsed before performing together for the first time, but it was quite evident soon after that we would if not should continue to work together. 


Shortly after my performance with Chisom Onyxhi, Wen and I would perform at  The Bookworm reusing the poems Fear and Selfish,  previously written for ArtX. The result of this was an uncharacteristically dark and eery performance for the both of us. I was all together pleased with the turnout, however it challenged me into reconsidering the atmosphere of my work. 


Our performance at The Bookworm was brief, almost as if to compensate for our next showcase at Beijing’s International Short Film Festival which went on for almost 40 minutes. The collaboration was visually striking, and I felt for the first time a depth of emotion I’d never felt in any of my previous readings. Perhaps because this time I had a moment to sing. A reminder I suppose that music was after all, my first love. The pieces I’d chosen to perform where written over a period of two months and unintentionally came together as a kind of ode to one person or better yet a period of reflection from which I felt defeated into coming to terms with myself and from which I wrote; Fear, Selfish, Be Yourself, Love In That Sunken Place, and Tunnel Vision.  These Poems along with Wenliang’s delicate score were performed over the black and white short film Maria’s Silence by Italian filmmaker Cesare Bedogné. The tapestry of these distinct mediums weaved together in one performance is something I feel rather proud to have been a part of.  See more