New Acquisition: Jean Sousa’s Film Poem Octet

Posted January 12th, 2021 in Announcements, New Acquisitions, New Digital Files, News / Events

A new series of short films by Chicago-based artist Jean Sousa is now available to rent from Canyon Cinema, individually or assembled as a single, 32-minute suite.

As Sousa describes: “The Film Poem Octet is a series of digital media works inspired by the poetry of my late aunt, Alice Gonçalves Sousa. Written in narrative style, Alice’s poems express the challenges particular to women coming of age in mid-20th century America and growing old in a generation with limited options for women. Several poems are an expression of her feelings of anger, loss, and regret, and reflect the spirit of Fado, the urban folk music of her Portuguese heritage. The goal with this work is to amplify Alice’s poetry, and use her words to make something new through the coalescence of text, sound, and image.”


The Film Poem Octet includes:

Alvaro (2015, 6 min)
It’s Over (2018, 1.5 min)
Promises (2016, 4 min)
Elusive Beauty (2015, 5 min)
The Losing Battle (2019, 5 min)
The Flame Still Burns (2017, 3 min)
Mirrors Today (2018, 2 min)
The Last Chapter (2019, 5 min)

Alvaro (2015, 6 min, color, sound)

Alvaro is a meditation on loss and embodies the Portuguese spirit of Fado, the urban folk music of Portugal, that accompanies a portion of the film. The poem, “Alvaro,” written by Alice Gonçalves Sousa, expresses the degree to which she was devastated by the death of her brother. The film includes imagery taken from inherited archival photographs, as well as material objects, furniture, clothing, the things that are left behind after a person passes. Nature and the seasons are a metaphor for the fragility of life and human emotions and are an expression of the loss that one feels when a loved one is gone. This film is a tribute to my Aunt Alice and Uncle Alvaro.

It’s Over (2018, 1.5 min, color, sound)

As trains move in opposite directions on separate tracks, people depart from their shared direction and emotional bonds. A single image film, It’s Over provides an abrasive visual trope for breaking up with a singular finality.

Promises (2016, 4 min, color, sound)

An attempt to convey the emotions felt when things fall apart, this Film Poem provides a litany of expectations and disappointments of a failed relationship. The reflections of clouds in the pond reference both dreams and a degree of narcissism and self-interest expressed in the poem.

Elusive Beauty (2015, 5 min, color, sound)

Elusive Beauty is about the fleeting and ephemeral nature of beauty. The words moving across the screen are like the entrance and exit on a stage while the dancers slowed down movement suggests the changes that take place over time as part of the aging process.

The Losing Battle (2019, 5 min, color, sound)

The Losing Battle is inspired by a poem that uses the metaphor of war for a lover’s quarrel. My intention with the film is to amplify the emotional tone of the words, through repetition and staccato editing of image and sound in an attempt to convey the physical discomfort of being in an argument without winners, only losers.

The Flame Still Burns (2017, 3 min, color, sound)

As a flame consumes oxygen and destroys everything in its path, this film expresses the extent to which the poet was consumed by a fiery anger. A difficult relationship with her mother was perhaps the basis for this disturbing and unflinchingly honest poem.

Mirrors Today (2018, 2 min, color, sound)

Mirrors are like windows, they provide a reflection of the world or they fabricate lies. Shades both reveal and conceal. This short film poem utilizes the metaphor of window, mirror, and shade. Both a reflection on aging and a fantasy of youth and beauty that only exists in one’s memory and imagination.

The Last Chapter (2019, 5 min, color, sound)

Using the linear narrative of a book and a train journey as an analogy for life, The Last Chapter captures the melancholy of the late years in a life that has not been fully realized. This work is based on a poem that communicates a sense of surprise that it has all passed so quickly.

Note: All films in this series also available to rent individually.