Pablo Neruda: The Poet's Calling
Red Poppy, a 501(c)3 non-profit, is striving to complete a groundbreaking documentary on the life, poetry, and politics of the Chilean Nobel Laureate poet, Pablo Neruda. The film is a lyrical tapestry of rare archival footage: stunning shots of his native land, captivating poetic sequences, and compelling interviews with his few remaining close friends, notable poets, critics, and the common man and woman “in the street”. It is driven by a fantastic original score, composed by the Chilean exile, Quique Cruz.
Compelling biography represents an idea larger than its individual subject, even if the subject seems to be larger than life. In the case of Neruda, we use the theme of el deber del poeta, the poet’s duty, obligation, calling. For Neruda, poetry was a rallying cry for the social function of art, a way to bear witness to suffering and injustice.
The Poet’s Calling will be an intimate portrait of one of Latin America’s most colorful characters. It will introduce a broad new audience around the world to the universal power of Neruda’s poetry, while offering those already familiar with him a beautiful cinematic tale providing further insight on the man and his words, without omitting his follies.
“The greatest poet of the twentieth century—in any language.”
—Gabriel García Márquez
Pablo Neruda was raised on the Chilean frontier just above Patagonia at the beginning of the 20th Century. From that green earth of snow-capped volcanoes, he grew to be a public poet, a statesman, an activist and Nobel Laureate. He attained almost mythic stature in his lifetime. An incurable romantic, incorrigible womanizer, and committed Leftist, his passions and contradictions found poetic expression in an aching lyricism and potent political verse. He invented a new poetic voice, distinctively Americano, rooted in Latin America’s native cultures and untamed geography. From 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.
“Poetry is like bread,” he wrote. “It should be shared by all, by scholars and peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity."
Red Poppy’s mission to promote the power of Latin American poetry: the power to evoke emotions and foster social consciousness. We are producing this movie with the goal of achieving, to some degree at least, those objectives.
Why a film on Pablo Neruda right now? Because Neruda and his work still pertain to our society and sensibility, still resonate, are still important—his love poetry, his political poetry, the lessons and the entertainment from his personal biographical story. Neruda’s impact is alive and potent here in the 21st Century. He is consistently found at the top of poetry bestseller lists. 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 Red Poppy’s president Mark Eisner). Now is the 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 today.
Another indication of Neruda’s endurance—his popularity seeming to be constantly increasing in the United States, at least—is how often Neruda shows up in our current culture, pop to haute—from 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 Los Angeles Opera’s 2010 new production of Il Postino (an international tour followed suit). Great cloth banners of Neruda’s words were hung in San Francisco in tense political times in the first years of the 21st Century. 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.
Some poetry has a rare power that allows it to continue to resonate generation after generation, be it for a lyrical potency whose beauty doesn’t diminish over time, or more universal-political facets that find significance in every age. Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling will explain to its audience why this phenomenon occurs, what has made him so vital in both the past and current centuries, on so many levels, to so many people, everywhere.
The film is close to starting is post-production and we need your help to complete it.
We have already raised over $100,000 that helped fund the production of the film. We also received a grant from Latino Public Broadcasting, which not only provided monetary support, but helps us towards getting a broadcast on the (US) Public Broadcast System, which would bring the film to so many viewers. We plan for our feature length version to play at festivals, and perhaps a small theatrical run. We will work towards foreign and educational distribution. As an organization, we will launch a powerful outreach campaign to get the film shown in schools and with various groups, creating a curriculum to go along with it.
Neruda may have been a “people’s poet”; this is certainly a non-profit, “people’s film”. And we need your help to finish it. Click here to join in. We have produced nearly 95% of the material needed for the film. Now we’re working to quickly raise the money to pay one of the country’s best story editors to help us get the arc and angles all right and everything nice and tight yet still dynamic. Then we’ll be ready to start the final editing process. Right now our goal is to first raise $50,000 as soon as possible to get the editing going. If you believe in this project, we hope you will make a contribution.
Red Poppy has official 501(c)3 status with the United States Internal Revenue Service. Any donations made to us to support the completion of the documentary is tax-deductible (minus the value of any gift you receive) to the full extent allowable by United States law.
Please, if you are passionate about Neruda and his poetry, if you want to see this movie yourself and if you want people around the world to see it as well, please support us. No donation is too small, no donation is too big. And you’ll get some great incentives for your contribution, including, basically, a pre-order of the DVD.
CLICK HERE TO BE A PART OF THIS PROJECT
Again, our priority right now is to start the editing process. While that begins, we can concentrate on raising the finishing funds, including paying for the rights to the archival material. We will be approaching certain foundations and other possible sponsors, but right now we really need your help to get us started to the finish line. We need to keep the momentum going. And the more we have to show, the easier it will get to raise the additional money that will bring us to full completion.
Again, if you feel strongly about Neruda, if you want to make an impact, if you believe in the power of many people coming together, each lending a hand, we truly hope you’ll join us