We Are Poets: poetry in motion
by Laurence Boyce
28/06/2012 - Making a minor splash on the UK festival circuit (which includes the Youth Jury Award at the 2011 Sheffield Documentary Festival), We Are Poets, directed by Daniel Lucchesi & Alex Ramseyer-Bache, makes its way to UK cinema screens at the end of June. Self-distributed, the film has been a labour of love for both the film-makers and those in the north of England who have struggled to bring wider recognition for the documentary .
The film follows a group of young teenagers in the northern English city of Leeds who are preparing to take part in Brave New Voices, America’s most prestigious ‘poetry slam’. As they practise their poetry, we discover how these members of Leeds Young Authors use the art form to express themselves and their – sometimes complex – lives. By the time they arrive in America, they discover that – despite the anxiousness over their forthcoming performance – poetry affects many more people than they first thought.
Opening with a beautiful and bravura sequence of poetry, the film is a delightful paean to the city of Leeds, the power of spoken verse and a modern youth culture that is often dismissed as apathetic and unengaged. The film deals with important issues such as race, identity and nationalism, but it never feels too earnest or forced. The protagonists are allowed to tell their own stories and the resulting film is a genuinely life-affirming and illuminating look at modern youth culture. Lucchesi and Ramseyer-Bache do a good job at imposing a narrative arc on the film (with the Leeds Young Authors performance in the competition providing the requisite tension) while keeping the structure loose enough to let to give the characters and scenes time to breathe.
The film would be a shoe-in for international festival exposure: children and documentary festivals would obviously be a popular choice. But it really does tell a universal story and – if it gets the right exposure – should find some distributors that are willing to take it on.
A funny, moving and sometimes remarkable film, We Are Poets deserves as wide an audience as possible.