Cadence: Video Poetry Festival 2020 [Online] Announces Award-Winning Films, Including “Sue Sada Was Here” as Best in Show

April 20, 2020

Northwest Film Forum’s third annual Cadence: Video Poetry Festival hosted another sensory feast of video poetry from across the globe, reaching international audiences through five themed showcases presented online, as well as a street-facing installation at Common Area Maintenance in Seattle, WA. The festival featured a competitive selection of video poems in five categories:

  • Adaptations/Ekphrasis: Videos created to bring new meaning and dimension to pre-existing poetry.
  • Collaboration: Video poems created in collaboration between a video artist and writer.
  • Video by Poets: Poets creating video from, or as, their writing.
  • Poetry by Video Artists: Video artists using text visually or through audio intrinsic to the poetic meaning.
  • Wild Card: Video work that’s poetically informed or poetry that’s visually informed that doesn’t neatly fit into one of the other categories and/or exceeds 5 minutes.

Cadence is awarding two additional prizes:

  • Best in Show: Best overall with a cash prize generously sponsored by Henry Art Gallery.
  • Northwest Artist: An extraordinary representation of the caliber of video poetry in the Pacific Northwest region.

Cadence 2020 brought together the voices and visuals of 80 artists from 20 countries, all of whom, for the first time in the festival’s three-year run, were able to tune in and experience the screenings from wherever they call home,” says Northwest Film Forum’s Artistic Director and Cadence Co-Director Rana San. “We are devastated by the worldwide pandemic that forced us to close our theatre, and encouraged by our artistic community’s resilience—coming together to further dialogue and deepen alliances through media. Cadence will continue to grow and adapt to support the generation and exhibition of new video poetry in the region and beyond.

Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Cadence Co-Director, adds, “One goal of this video poetry festival is to further artistic dialogue around the medium, something we were concerned would not take place as deeply this year with our youth and adult workshops and artist residency being postponed. In the end, shifting online actually allowed us to include more of the amazing video poem submissions and, in an extension of Northwest Film Forum’s public series of virtual talks, the festival facilitated a conversation with 27 of the artists from all over the world. The interaction and engagement unique to the constraints of quarantine has been inspiring, but it is the video poems themselves, available to more viewers than ever before, that truly thrill us.

Full details about all award winners below, with juror acknowledgements, filmmaker statements, and prize details.


Cadence jurors Amber Flame, Angella Kassube, Jordan Stempleman, and Gretchen Burger⁠ selected winners in four categories. Winners will be featured on the Poetry Northwest website.


Somewhere between fear and anxiety
(Stephen Howard Bean, Ireland, 2020, 4 min)

“(There Will Be Monsters)… this film is such a wonderful play of music and film that it completely reworks the adaptation into something new, something haunting. The use of the actor’s face and voice, when it turns suddenly personal, direct, is a brilliant piece of artistry. The whimsical words of a well-known poem hang full of meaning in this setting.” – Amber Flame, Cadence Juror

The inspiration for the film came from Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. This film adaptation of Carroll’s remarkable flight of fancy Jabberwocky exposes the darker underbelly of the Mother/Child relationship and reflects the filmmakers own artistic interest in ‘order and interpretation’ which centre in this homage to the Victorian writer.” – Stephen Howard Bean, Director of Somewhere between fear and anxiety

“Jabberwocky as a “nonsense” poem often registers in a playful manner but through this interpretation, the filmmakers have taken an entirely different perspective. A woman, in this instance a mother, is doing something ordinary, tending to her face i.e., cleansing/makeup etc. Her mind wanders to a place where the words of Jabberwocky go through her head and one wonders if what you’re seeing is a psychological drama being played out or a flight of the imagination. The words of the poem were narrated as the Mother’s thoughts not as a recitation and therefore without intonation. Did those words inspire her thoughts or did her thoughts invoke those words?” – Jean van Sinderen-Law, Co-Producer and Cast of Somewhere between fear and anxiety


The Flame In Mother’s Mouth
(Neely Goniodsky & Dustin Pearson, Seattle, WA, 2019, 2 min)

Beautiful interpretation and beautiful poem. I watched it over and over and still kept finding new things in the poem and in the visuals. The voiceover, music/audio and the illustrations and animation supported the poem, yet left room for the viewer’s own interpretation of the poem and film. The poem was still the most important part of the piece.” – Angella Kassube, Cadence juror

The film was produced by the Visible Poetry Project and through their platform I met Dustin Pearson who wrote the poem The Flame in Mother’s Mouth. It was a fantastic collaboration, as soon as I read the poem it brought so many visuals and movement into my mind that I knew this was the poem I wanted to work with. The deeper I got into the project, the more I found the intricacies, dualities, the pulls and pushes between love and overprotection, destruction and wholeness, rebellion and closeness. This is what I felt the poem introduced, so it was interesting to walk the fine line between those opposites.” – Neely Goniodsky, Director of The Flame in Mother’s Mouth

Collaboration Honorable Mention:
Evelyn (Perry Jonsson & Kevin Mclean, UK, 2018, 4 min)


Cry of the Loon
(Kai Carlson-Wee, US, 2018, 4 min)

The poem within this video was exceptional. “We are given a few years to laugh at the danger.” A gorgeous and meditative experience about mortality and the power of observation and attention. This work displayed such incredible harmony of all cinematic and narrative elements: sound, image, and poem.” – Jordan Stempleman, Cadence Juror

I made the film Cry of the Loon after my grandpa passed away in 2015. One of my favorite memories of him was up at the cabin in Northern Minnesota, where he used to take me and my brothers down to the shore at sunset and call to the loons. He used to make his hands into a flute and he would call out and the loons would call back and as a kid this seemed like a kind of magic, a secret language he had with the loons. Making the film was my attempt to contribute to that idea, and maybe communicate with him in some way.” – Kai Carlson-Wee, Director of Cry of the Loon

Video by Poets Honorable Mention:
(Kamari Bright, Seattle, WA, 2018, 3 min)


Entre Les Images
(Vito A. Rowlands, Belgium/USA, 2020, 4 min)

The materiality of the film surface, the images drawn from archival photos and early iconic films, the animation of the images and film surface, the hand painted colorization, the narrated poem and the music all are powerfully and seamless[ly] crafted together to deliver on the title – between images.” – Gretchen Burger, Cadence Juror

“Entre Les Images is a found footage film composed of preserved 35mm nitrate film frames from over 100 silent films, a large number of them irrevocably lost or only partially preserved, with nothing to mark their presence outside of these majestic few frames. As a whole, they represent the hopes, dreams, and promises of tumultuous times that left their scars on its media, perpetuating life and death between every frame. Putting these frames back into motion allowed me to find new meaning for myself and hopefully for you as well. I invite you to get lost in the images, as I did.” – Vito A. Rowlands, Director of Entre Les Images

Poetry by Video Artists Honorable Mention:
The Prophetess
(Marco Joubert, Canada, 2020, 3 min)

Three additional awards were given by Cadence Co-Directors Rana San and Chelsea Werner-Jatzke.


2 Black Boys
(Rachel S Myers & Giovanni Adams, US, 2019, 5 min)

As poetry adapted for film, inspired by a stage play that became a screenplay, this is a wild card winner for sure—an art project that has found true expression through video poetry. Cyclical imagery creates a coming of age story woven through fragmented lines that leave a deep impression of love and admiration. From the start the audio sweeps us into a dance that wraps its arms around the tenderness of this video poem’s torso.” – Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Cadence Co-Director

“2 Black Boys is a short film directed by Rachel Myers, an exploration of childhood, identity and love. The poetic narrative in the film is based on Giovanni Adams’ experience as a black, queer, Christian man crossing lines of identity, affinity and ideology. The film was inspired by the award winning play Love is a Dirty Word by Adams. Myers also served as a producer on the film. The film began its festival circuit this year at OUTFEST and is thrilled for the honor with NW Film Forum and CADENCE. A poem, a dance and a song. 2 Black Boys muses on growing older, race, gender and queer identity. The language in Giovanni’s writing and performance dances the line in self-reflection like a song, opening a window into the rich beauty of his experience and removing the filter of “other” often placed on sexuality in black, gay romantic life. As a filmmaker it was impossible for me not to imagine what these moments might feel like in images. Rhythm in the language and the music in the original work create the score and the dance sequences which were derived out of those patterns, the void for what can’t be spoken. Gio is an unbelievably talented artist and I wanted the film to capture the complexity and intricacy imbued in his writing and performance, the combination in how we experience life and memory unfolding at once. How there aren’t clear lines when we talk about who we love and identity and that layers of the past, childhood and intimacy are woven together to form the dialogue of who we are.” – Rachel S Myers, Director and Writer of 2 Black Boys

The play and the film are rooted in my experience growing up black and queer in the American South. The film is all about escaping the boxes that society tries to put us in, especially with regard to race, sexuality, and identity. I’m sure during this time of quarantine, many of us can relate to that feeling.” – Giovanni Adams, Writer & Actor in 2 Black Boys

Winner receives:

Wild Card Honorable Mention:
The Pearl Diver’s Tale
(Yokna Hasegawa & Shin Yu Pai, Japan & Seattle, WA, 2020, 9 min)


Still Life with Small Objects of Perfect Choking Size
(Erin Lynch & Keetje Kuipers, Seattle, WA, 3 min)

This film has that strange grey area between disgust and delight locked down.” – Amber Flame, Cadence Juror

“Still Life… tingles the senses, taking the experience of the poem off the screen and into my body. I hear the crunch and feel the give. I love its use of found footage and ethereal soundtrack. Between the words emerges a push-pull between the desire to hold on and submission to let go. A delightful example of work coming out of our region.” – Rana San, Cadence Co-Director

I created this video last summer out of conversations with the poet Keetje Kuipers, whose wonderful poem forms the video’s title and its text. The archival footage used in the video is from a vintage instructional film that teaches how to preserve and mount insects. I found so many resonances between these insects and the things being done to them and the poem’s considerations of time, violence, and change, ending with the line ‘everything undone from within.’ The insects became for me the small objects of the poem’s title, as well as its still lives. As I rewatch the video again now, I find myself thinking about the wider applications of the genre of still life for this moment. Time, in many ways, seems to be frozen. In this time of still life, I feel like I myself am a small object, and as such, I find myself attuned to other small objects around me.” – Erin Lynch, Director of Still Life with Small Objects of Perfect Choking Size

Winner receives:


Sue Sada Was Here
(Cindy Mochizuki, Vancouver, BC, 2018, 9 min)

Legacy, lineage, literature—this film embodies the true imprint of tragedy and the power of togetherness, how our histories move us through space, speak through us over time, across generations. We want the living lineage of women in our families to support each other this way. To place our head in the hip curve of our mother’s mother along with all the beautiful ghosts we’ll never know and the horrifying realities we’re all too familiar with that prevent us from sharing literature and world views. Sue Sada Was Here is a perfect choreography of language, bodies, and camera.

This film was made in 2018 and features performances by 10 Japanese-Canadian women, ages 8 to 85 at that time. The film is in response to a heritage museum called the Roedde House, which in the 1890’s belonged to Gustav Roedde who was a German printmaker. As artists, we were asked to make a work for this space that would be housed there and I was very interested in looking at other forms of writing and texts that could have existed at that time, and came across the writing of the late Muriel Kitagawa (1912-9174), who was a Japanese-Canadian writer, poet, and activist. Reading the letters that she wrote back and forth to her brother just before the internment broke out on the West Coast of Canada, I was struck by the resilience that text could hold to maintain these ties between family members in moments of the unknown, moments of fear just before the internment. This dance film brings together these women, and in my mind they all embody Sue Sada, or Muriel, and her writing. Sue Sada was one of the many pen names that Muriel took on when she published her work. This film is a configuration of text and moving images, dance, and history, passed between multiple generations of women.” – Cindy Mochizuki, Director of Sue Sada Was Here

Winner receives:

Meet the Jurors

The four main juried prizes were selected by filmmakers, writers, and artists Amber Flame, Angella Kassube, Jordan Stempleman, and Gretchen Burger.

Amber Flame is a writer, composer and performer, whose work has garnered artistic merit residencies with Hedgebrook, The Watering Hole, Vermont Studio Center, and Yefe Nof. Flame’s original work has been published in diverse arenas, including Winter Tangerine, The Dialogist, Split This Rock, Black Heart Magazine, Sundress Publications, FreezeRay, Redivider Journal and more. A 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, Jack Straw Writer and recipient of the CityArtist grant from Seattle’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Amber Flame’s first full-length poetry collection, Ordinary Cruelty, was recently published through Write Bloody Press. Flame joins the Hugo House in Seattle as the 2017 poetry Writer-in-Residence, and is a queer Black single mama just one magic trick away from growing her unicorn horn.

Angella Kassube is an avid poetry reader and freelance Art Director/Designer/Animator from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has worked in the film and video industry for more than 20 years. In 2008, Angella co-founded Motionpoems, a non-profit poetry film production organization, and was the executive producer for more than 30 poetry films during Motionpoems’ first 5 seasons. Angella has designed and animated poetry films for Thomas Lux, Dean Young, and Robert Bly. Her films have screened in film festivals in Berlin, New York City, Minneapolis, and Rome. Angella believes poetry films have a place in education and has worked with high school students and poetry teachers to help them create their own poetry films. She happily met her future husband, Norwegian poet Dag T. Straumsvåg, through his work with Motionpoems, and will be moving to Norway during the next few years.

Jordan Stempleman is the author of nine collections of poetry including Wallop, No, Not Today, and COVER SONGS COVER SONGS COVER SONGS OFF DAYS (forthcoming, Magic Helicopter Press). He co-edits The Continental Review, serves as the faculty editor for Sprung Formal, and curates A Common Sense Reading Series.

Gretchen Burger is an artist, educator, filmmaker and, long ago, she was a poet. The co-founder of the creative agency FEARLESS, Gretchen has turned her creative pursuits to embodied immersive storytelling and creating public art projects, exhibitions and curriculum to facilitate understanding of the invisible digital ether pulsing around us. Gretchen has an MFA in experimental film and video installation from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and has taught at The Art Institute, Seattle University, Cornish College of Arts and Northwest Film Forum.

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