A new documentary film on Pablo Neruda, vital and dynamic:
Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling
We are making a groundbreaking documentary on the Chilean Nobel Laureate: his life, poetry and fight for social justice. Help us complete it by making a tax-deductible donation to the project. In return, you can receive a DVD of the film when it’s finished as a thank you, and more. This is a grassroots film. Please, join the hundreds who have made a donation already, so the world can experience the power of Pablo and his poetry.
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This will be the first feature length documentary on Neruda in English. In fact, there has never been a documentary on him in any language with the dynamic scope as ours, but we need your help to complete it.
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“Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling” is an artistic portrait of Pablo Neruda’s potent poetry and monumental yet fallible life. The Chilean Nobel Laureate is considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. He was also an exiled senator, an ambassador to France, and a presidential candidate. After his sad childhood on Chile’s southern frontier, he eventually shone on the world stage, with friends ranging from Pablo Picasso to Arthur Miller. An incurable romantic, incorrigible womanizer, and committed leftist, his passions and contradictions found poetic expression in an aching lyricism and powerful political verse. In the first decades of the 20th century, Neruda wrestled poetry down from the rarified atmosphere of the salon and gave it to the people: a communal voice rooted in oral tradition, fired by raw passion and the struggle for justice.
The documentary’s aim is to display the power of Neruda’s poetry to evoke emotion and foster social consciousness. It hopes to inspire and ignite strong feelings through an artistic, prominent, insightful display of the complete range of Neruda’s oeuvre, from his classic love lines to his simple meditations and strong and subliminal political verse. The intent is to raise social awareness by demonstrating how, through his words, Neruda gave voice to others, and how for Neruda, poetry was a rallying cry for the social function of art: a way to bear witness to social and environmental wrongs. We want viewers to see—and feel--how poetry can illuminate them intellectually, spiritually, and socially.
In order to achieve this, we use the theme of “the poet’s calling,” the word “calling” inferring duty while connoting a natural impulse. We explore Neruda’s sense of his calling to use the power of the pen to highlight wrongs and instill ideas.
The film is composed of stunning shots of his native land, captivating poetic sequences, and unique archival material. Our interviews are crucial to the storytelling, especially with their breadth of variety. These include his few living close friends, students, bestselling Chilean author Isabel Allende, and legendary poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
A construction worker in Santiago tells us that “many generations of Chileans feel [Neruda] speaks for them, through his poetry. Whether it’s the romantic Chileans or the combative Chileans like he was. He’s part of our national legacy. Neruda represents all of us, not just the worker. He represents the student, the housewife, the executive, perhaps, that feels attracted to poetry.”
Along with how we use his poetry to tell the story, the creative implementation of the interviews limit the amount of vocal narration. A gripping original score, composed by the award-winning Chilean Quique Cruz, further drives the film.
We aim to artistically bring the poet and the poetry together. His beloved sea becomes a visual touchstone, just as it is a frequent metaphor in his verse. With that, under the arc of the “poet’s calling” theme, we focus on his specific relationships with love, nature, and politics—and the legacy they all create. These points of emphasis help structure the story.
Neruda’s near-mythical personal life also provides many valuable lessons, along with inspiration and disappointment. Striving to seamlessly weave them into the narrative, we show how his personal life, politics, and poetry all intersect.
Dynamic in scope, the film is designed to be lyrical like his poetry, but not biased or hagiographic.
On Neruda’s Centennial, July 12, 2004 Producer Mark Eisner screened a cinematic exploration of the poet. The documentary won the Latin American Studies Association’s Award of Merit in Film. That original film serves as the seed for this more ambitious film. “The Poet’s Calling” has received a grant from Latino Public Broadcasting and support from Chile’s Department of Foreign Relations.
Please help us complete this film and share it with the world. Click here to donate.
Why a film on Pablo Neruda right now? Because Neruda’s impact is alive and potent here in the 21st Century. His work still pertains to our society and sensibility, on all continents. It still resonates, is still so relevant and important--his love poetry, his political poetry, all the poetry in between and outside. As well, the lessons and the entertainment from his monumental personal biographical story are timeless. So are his political activities, and how he used poetry to promoted justice.
He is consistently found at the top of poetry bestseller lists right now. When you go to The Poetry Foundation’s website, the first poem in their “Most Popular Poems” section is Neruda’s “Sonnet XVII” (the translation happens to be by the film’s producer Mark Eisner). Why this documentary now? Because it’s time for a film that illustrates the important—for many reasons—personal history and poetry of one of the most popular poets being read in the United States—if not the world—right now. His popularity actually seems to be constantly increasing, at least in the United States. Perhaps more than any another poet, he shows up in our current culture, pop to haute--from Lisa quoting him in The Simpsons to superstar singer Taylor Swift writing that he was the inspiration behind her recent multi-platinum album “Red”, to Placido Domingo playing Neruda in the Los Angeles Opera’s 2010 original production of “Il Postino” (an international tour followed suit).
Murals all around the United States and the world feature his image. His romantic verses still evoke the same provocative emotion as they ever have, his lines are still told by one love to another, sales of his books spike just before Valentines’ Day. This is not just in the United States, but globally-- in his time few other poets had been translated into as many languages. There are no geographic boundaries for this film.
please help us make this film happen now.