"This documentary will give us our Neruda, vigorously, diversely, enchantingly brought back to life.”
—Julia Alvarez, bestselling novelist
Few poets have captured the global imagination like Pablo Neruda. His name and legacy have become almost synonymous with liberation movements, and with the language of erotic love. Yet few know much about the flesh-and-blood man behind the poems. Through lyrical filmmaking, we aim to bring this towering literary figure to a broader audience.
This project is the first feature-length documentary in English to take an intimate look at the complete Neruda; weaving together his poetry, his politics and his tumultuous, controversial personal life.
We hope our film will demonstrate art’s power to stimulate emotions and broaden perspectives. We will also explore questions such as what the legacy of one of the most iconic resistance poets of the past century can offer us in our current political reality, and is it possible reconcile one of the greatest love poet's acts of misogyny?
In the end, through a documentary film as rich and accessible as his best-loved works, we hope to show viewers that, at the heart of it all, Neruda’s poetry is simply about the wonder of being human.
Next public screening of the film-in-progress will be on March 24, 2019 as part of the Brooklyn Library’s LitFilm Festival. More information, click here.
Please help us make this happen.
More About the Film
When praising the film's potential, Julia Alvarez argued that a critical factor was that Mark Eisner, the developer of the project, "is not just a poet himself, a biographer of Neruda
, a translator and an editor of an anthology of translations of Neruda poetry, but he is also a man whose passion for Neruda makes him the ideal lens through which to immerse ourselves in the life of the poet and his times.”
Eisner in fact has shown that he can successfully communicate the beauty and rich complexities of Neruda's story in his recent biography, Neruda: The Poet’s Calling
"Mark Eisner's definitive biography of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda reads like a beautifully written novel: attentive to scene, momentum, and rich with evocative details.”
— Cristina García, Dreaming in Cuban
"Neruda: The Poet's Calling
unfolds as a masterful weave of biography, literary criticism and cultural history, a scrupulous portrait of a genius as vast and contradictory as the continent he loved."
— The Barnes & Noble Review
"Eisner brings alive Latin America’s greatest poet... Empathetic but unflinching when occasion calls for criticism, Eisner weaves his subject’s stanzas that resonate with the poet’s personal stories. A definitive biography and instant classic."
— Library Journal
But as Julia Alvarez explained, despite all the new translations and even Eisner's biography, without Eisner's current efforts on the documentary, we have still been "missing a vital component: the visual Neruda, put in historical context, his voice incanting his poetry as no other voice can."
Our project will use the creative components of filmmaking to deliver Neruda off the page, in all his dynamic dimensions, vividly portrayed on screens around the world.
The film is built around two key elements. The first is a series of priceless interviews with more than a dozen of Neruda’s closest friends and associates in Chile, the people who witnessed his most important moments and knew his secrets. These are augmented by fantastic interviews of Chilean trainworkers, market-goers, and students; internationally known writers, such as the legendary poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the Pulitzer Prize–winner Ariel Dorfman; and scholars from around the world.
The second key element is Neruda’s poetic voice itself. Many of his poems were autobiographical, and his poetry—as heard in both rare archival recordings of Neruda and new readings by actors—will drive the film’s narrative. Some voiceovers will play over stunning footage of Chile’s rich landscape—the misty forests, snowcapped volcanoes, glacial lakes, and roiling ocean that were the nutrients of Neruda’s poetic sensibility—as well as of the three unique homes he designed and filled with his surreal, highly personal collections of oddities. Other readings will be filmed as stylized, dynamic set pieces, with the performers on camera, to bring the poems to the screen in a fresh way.
Seldom seen archival footage and photos will round out the story of the private and public man. And an original soundtrack by the Latin jazz fusion group Quijeremá (led by the award-winning musician Quique Cruz, who grew up near Neruda’s iconic ship-shaped home in Isla Negra) will add a primal, ethereal mood. The filmmaker’s aim is to immerse viewers in a poetic experience as sensuous and rich as Neruda’s most loved works.
The project is nearing the post-production process. Over the past decade we have sourced an extensive amount of archival material from all corners of the world and shot hours of fantastic material. There is little left to shoot, mainly just three additional enticing, engaging, dynamic enactments of Neruda’s poems to be portrayed on the screen and woven into the narrative.
Then we will fine-tune the story and begin the vast editing process, artistically assembling all the visual material so that it brings out the narrative in the most captive way, evoking the poetic essence of Neruda. From there, with proper funding we’ll be able to accomplish the final post-production steps dealing with sound design, color correction, graphic design, mastering, etc. It is a serious investment of time, resources, and finances, and we are certain it will be worth it.
If you are a filmmaker or production company and are intrigued by this project, please let us know