Thursday, September 4, 2008

NEITHER MEMORY NOR MAGIC: the life and times of Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti.

A sneak preview of the documentary film NEITHER MEMORY NOR MAGIC will be shown on September 28 at 8 PM, at the Bowery Poetry Club. Director Hugo Perez will discuss the film, narrated by Patricia Clarkson, after the screening. Sliding scale tickets range $10 to $25.

NEITHER MEMORY NOR MAGIC explores the life and times of Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti. From the final notebook poems, found posthumously in his coat pocket in a mass grave, trailing back to his premonitory writings of the late 1930s, poetic verse intertwines with archival footage to form this trenchant narrative. Despite his awareness of thickening hostility around him, Radnóti's patriotism resounds in his identification as Hungarian. Though his story is tragic, it is not one of defeat; it celebrates a man who continues to write, most prolifically, until his demise. A unique literary insight into the Holocaust and the lives of its victims, Radnóti's notebook recounts his last six months in a Nazi work camp and on a forced march before being shot. It is the story of perseverance in the face of persecution and the triumph of art over despair. His poems reflect his final experiences, yet the film's roots delve much deeper. They cover the loss of a mother and fraternal brother who died at his birth, the love of a happy marriage, and the will to create art.

Perez portrays a man and the times,  investigating the personal and the historical.  Shedding light on the anti-Semitism which precedes the war, he challenges viewers to look critically at their own era. Perez draws parallels between Europe in the 1930s and contemporary society, finding Radnóti's experience of genocide and war relevant to the inhumanity of today. Still, the film pays homage to man and his poetry. Taken from a line in one of Radnoti's poems, the title Neither Memory Nor Magic summons the present, in this evocative cinematic success.

Writer director Hugo Perez is a recipient of the 2008 Emerging Artist Award from the Tribeca Film Institute/RENEW Media. The personal insight and craft he has applied to films of his Cuban heritage before extend to Neither Memory Nor Magic, which interweaves poems in English and Hungarian. Radnóti's poetry blends avant-garde, expressionist, and classical styles. His verse has made him a hero in his native land. Narrator Patricia Clarkson can be seen currently in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Ira Sach's Married Life (2007). This sneak preview will benefit Bowery Arts & Sciences, the non-profit wing of Bowery Poetry Club. Patricia Clarkson has helped raise support for the organization before.

Hosting between 20 and 30 shows a week the Bowery Poetry Club (BPC) is proud of our place in the lineage of populist art: the Yiddish theater, burlesque, vaudeville, beat poetry, jazz, and punk that gave the Bowery its name. Located in HoBo at the corner of Houston and Bowery.

Gary Glazner
Bowery Poetry Club
212-614-0505 office

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