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“People on a Bridge” by BEATA POZNIAK DANIELS an experimental short film

January 1st, 2014 · No Comments



“People on the Bridge”

New experimental film by Beata Pozniak Daniels spans generations, genres, cultures

By Maureen McCabe

HOLLYWOOD(Hollywood Today)1/1/14/—Beata Pozniak Daniels has long been drawn to the intersection between the visual and literary worlds.  An accomplished actress (Marina Oswald in Oliver Stone’s JFK, Irene in “Young Indiana Jones”, President Luchenco in “Babylon 5”), she is also a performance artist, sculptor, painter, published poet and women rights activist.  Pozniak Daniels is fascinated by the way different artistic media can be combined to more fully bring order out of the chaos that  seems to be the usual state of the human condition in the 21st century, a theme she is drawn to again and again. Under Discordia Productions she is doing a range of projects from experimental films to fine art to poetry and theater events.  The intertwining of poetry, film and acting are beautifully illustrated in her latest artistic endeavor: an experimental short film called “People on the Bridge.”

 “Creativity? Possibly going back to Khaos (or Chaos) a Greek goddess creating the world…  to experiencing a volcano in one’s mind…  as Nietzsche said: “One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star”  – Beata Pozniak Daniels

It’s no secret that the visual arts have had a long tradition of inspiring and influencing each other.  From their experiments with color and light, to the staging and tricks of composition, films and paintings have borrowed from each other with great effect for decades. In one iconic example, Alfred Hitchcock personally credited Edward Hopper’s “The House by the Railroad” with lending its towering, ominous look to the Bates’ house in Psycho. The haunting lonesomeness of Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” is revisited in Terrence Malick’s sweepingly desolate landscapes in Days of Heaven.  Martin Scorsese was quoted as saying that Caravaggio “sort of pervaded the entirety of the bar sequences in Mean Streetshttp://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jul/25/caravaggio-scorsese-lachapelle-peter-doig and the artist’s love for chiaroscuro illuminates countless other Scorsese films as well. More recently, Christopher Nolan’s Inception was said to be based on M.C. Escher’s and Salvador Dali’s surreal illustrations. And at Comic Con last year, Guillermo Del Toro told the Huffington Post that the immense robots in Pacific Rim were based on Francisco Goya’s 1808 painting “Colossus,” which depicts a massive giant menacing a toy-sized village. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-scheidt/pacific-rim-costumes_b_1663227.html 

While the inspiration of the fine arts can clearly by seen in individual shots and scenes in many movies, it’s rarer to find a work that has inspired artists working in differing mediums.  The “Girl with Pearl Earring” is one such case.  Johannes Vermeer’s enigmatic painting of the girl with a blue headband and pearl drop earring inspired Tracy Chevalier’s revisionist novel of the same name, which in turn was developed into the Peter Webber film starring Scarlett Johansson. 

 Forming the battalion out of letters they walked proudly armed with metaphors of progress…  poetry in chaos…  poetry in motion …   Poetry Discordia” – Beata Pozniak Daniels

 A similar intertextuality is at play in Pozniak Daniels’ “People on the Bridge.” Based on a poem written by Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska, the films features visuals of Pozniak Daniels performing, intermingled with images of a 19th century Japanese woodblock print.  The print, also entitled “People on a Bridge” by Hiroshige Utagawa provided the original inspiration for the poem, and  such was its power that Vincent Van Gogh, who had it in his collection, was inspired to  paint himself a copy of it in oil.  In a letter to his brother Theo, Van Gogh claimed that he envied the Japanese for the “enormous clarity that pervades their work.  It is never dull and never seems to have been made in haste.  Their work is as simple as breathing and they draw a figure with a few well-chosen lines with the same ease, as effortless as buttoning up one’s waistcoat.” 

Noted for his use of striking colors, unique vantage points and seasonal allusions, Hiroshige produced drawings which were later turned into woodblock prints.  “Sudden Shower over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake” is one of his undisputed masterpieces from his last and best known series “One Hundred Views of Edo.” It depicts six figures caught in the middle of an old wooden bridge during a sudden rainstorm, while in the background a solitary boatman poles his raft downstream past the area known as Atake, apparently impervious to the storm.    The six figures on the bridge illustrate a variety of ways to escape the rain, huddling under hats, mats and umbrellas, either singly or in pairs. For the film project  Pozniak Daniels brought on  a renowned animator and  visual effects specialist, Mark Sawicki ( “The Dark Knight Rises”, “The Black Dahlia”, “X-Men” ) who beautifully made all the characters in the painting come alive. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0768105/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 The impressionistic feel of the piece also owes itself to the way that Hiroshige has depicted the precise moment in which the rain falls over the bridge with his dynamic use of parallel lines and dramatic composition. Van Gogh’s “The Bridge in the Rain” uses many of the same techniques, although his brushstrokes softened the bold lines of the woodcut and he used brighter, more contrasting colors.

Decades after Van Gogh, the woodcut inspired Nobel-prize winning poet Wislawa Szymborska to write “People on the Bridge.” Translated by Pozniak Daniels, the poem details the images of the woodblock in language as spare and striking as the lines of the original print before delivering its final, devastating realization: that the figures on the bridge are both frozen and fluid, that despite the transitory nature of their dash in the rain, they will forever be running through the downpour. 

            This interplay between the infinite and the immediate is one of the things that drew Pozniak Daniels to both the original work and Szymborska’s poem.  In the film, as Pozniak Daniels’ expressive voice recites Szymborska’s words, images from the print and the poem mirror each other, creating a hauntingly beautiful meditation on the symbolism of time. The old wooden bridge becomes a powerful connection between widely varying places, historical periods and cultures.

  “I’m inspired by the ‘discord of the world’ in which I see a uniquely 20th-century style that declares anything goes and anything is possible.”  - Beata Pozniak Daniels

 This sense of connection is one that Pozniak Daniels constantly strives to express in her art and activism.  Szymborska, who died in 2011 at the age of 88, is virtually unknown in this country, despite being a Nobel Prize winner, something Pozniak Daniels aims to see changed.  (Famously private Szymborska, upon learning she had just received the Nobel Prize, was said to have put her head in her hands and wail, “Why me?”).  In a well received poetry performance last year, Pozniak Daniels read from Szymborska’s poetry in English and Polish at the Armand Hammer Museum. Roman Koropeckyl, UCLA professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, who also was part of the show, said of Szymborska, “her genius was that she would make the reader stop, wonder, re –cognize.  She made us see the mundane, prosaic world anew.”   The same could certainly be said of Pozniak Daniels as well. In her stunning first directorial effort, “Mnemosyne,” (co-written by the late screenplay guru Syd Field) http://www.beata.com/newpage/filmography/2002-mnemosyne/index.html  “The multitalented Pozniak rapidly intercuts news footage of violence with live models and her own sensual sculptures to express a fierce moral sense.” wrote F.X. Feeney in LA WEEKLY. Using a similar technique in “People on a Bridge,” the result is poignant, evocative, and quietly urgent.

Pozniak Daniels, who never stops in finding a new voice in her projects, is also currently reading an audiobook for Random House about the history of Catherine the Great. She is also producing a documentary “An Unknown Country” directed by EMMY Award winner Eva Zelig coming out in the summer 2014. As Pozniak Daniels says in Theodore Roethke’s voice “I wake to sleep and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I have to go”…


HOLLYWOOD(Hollywood Today)1/1/14/–An experimental short film based on a poem “People on the Bridge” written by Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska and narrated by Beata Pozniak Daniels.  Visuals of Beata performing are intermingled with images of a 19th century Japanese woodblock print entitled “People on a Bridge” by Hiroshige Utagawa which provided the original inspiration for the poem.

Beata Poźniak Daniels

Beata Poźniak Daniels

The bridge symbolizes a powerful connection between places, historical periods and cultures. Szymborska’s musings on our inability to come to terms with the infinite trajectory of time are set against the powerful image of Utagawa’s art. This poem was performed live by Beata at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.


See reference for the pix above http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshige_Utagawa

Genre: Experimental
Dir: Beata Poźniak Daniels
Role: Poet
complete credits »

Photography Lida Hadas


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