Friday, May 14, 2010


Yesterday I received confirmation that my short film, Hidden Depths - Poetry for Science, is to be screened 'in full' at next month's International Polar Year Science Conference in Oslo. This makes me deeply happy. The PolarCINEMA event will showcase films from twenty-three countries. Each production will have environmental advocacy at its core, with a special focus on our Polar regions; there will be documentaries, cautionary environmental tales, feature films, etc... Gulp. This is a slightly 'whelming first for me and I'm going to have to trust that my 13 min 12:08 sec experimental arts film will cope with being projected onto a full-sized cinema screen. (My sons reassure me that the resolution I used will be plenty high enough for this, but still... I have only ever made this one film and have only ever watched it on my little black lapdog!)

I blogged about the making of Hidden Depths way back in February (gosh, February seems like a hundred years ago). It was a huge learning curve for me and very nearly fell into the 'give it up/it's too hard' basket.. Circumstances around its production felt spectacularly stressful. It occurred to me this morning that were I to try and pick up this same project again today, chances are I'd find I no longer have a clue where to start? Technically at least, I feel sure I'd have to start again from scratch.

How can this be so, one has to wonder? Well, I imagine it has something to do with the fact that every now and then our obstacle courses really do become our opportunities. We somehow find what we must in order to manage - or even rise above - the knots and hindrances; this seems especially true when a situation comes along that requires 'more' than we feel we are qualified, or able, to give. A short film might come across as a rather prosaic illustration of this point, especially in light of the The Big Picture, but I suspect the same principle of grace holds true for many of life's challenges?

Looking back, it is clearer to me now that the wrestling I was engaged with back in February might stand as a metaphor for so much more than 'just that'. At the time, just about everything felt impossible and I was sure I wouldn't be able to bring the project through to completion. And then something almost magical happened; there was a kind of 'declaratory moment', a point at which something shifted and the 'way in' made itself apparent. It ended up becoming one of the most exhausting and exhilarating creative adventures I've been on. Those who know me well would add that a good dollop of stubbornness helped - which seemed amusingly incongruous at the time, given the content of the film and the fact I think of it as a meditation piece?

Stubbornness and meditation - can the two go hand-in-hand? Apparently, yes. Whew. However this came about, I am ever so grateful.

DVD cover for Hidden Depths - 2010

Here's the short background blurb that will accompany the film:

"HIDDEN DEPTHS presents a chapter of ArtScience collaboration between Claire Beynon (New Zealand artist & writer) and Samuel Bowser (New York-based polar biologist).

Audiences will embark on a lyrical under-ice voyage in the company of a science diver, a pteropod, a flotilla of silver & white bamboo boats and an ancient giant of the uni-cellular world – tree foraminiferan, Notodendrodes antarctikos. Painterly and metaphorical in its approach, this short film addresses polar themes in a novel and thought-provoking way. HIDDEN DEPTHS is - as its subtitle suggests – ‘poetry for science.’


I won't be anywhere near Oslo in June, of course. . . why, it's half a world away from wonderful old Dunedin. Somehow this matters not and is right the way it is. In some inexplicable way, the fact I can't be there seems integral to this story's overall unfolding. Besides, I have good reason to stay close to home and I will be able to go to Tasmania with it for the Antarctica Imagined conference at the end of that same month. Yay. ; )


  1. Am 'deeply happy', too, on behalf of you and this beautiful film, Claire. Thanks for sharing the process(inspiring and/but phew!), then and now.

  2. Thanks ++ for being there, Pen, Mim & T. Clear - and for your warm responses to this news. Being me, I had a wobbly moment about 'putting it out there' (here on the blog, I mean) but you have reassured me that it's okay to share and even celebrate these surprises when they come along. You're awesome (is this an especially Kiwi term, I wonder?)
    L, C xxx

  3. Wonderful news all around, Claire--so fine that your work is being recognized and known, that the solution for all those impossible things before breakfast were inside and could rise to the surface when you needed them. Now, on to Tasmania! xo

  4. Congratulations Claire! You ARE definitely amazing! That is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful (happy dance!)

  5. What a rich life you have. Congrats Claire.

  6. Fantastic! Congratulations to YOU, Claire.

  7. You are very generous, Vesper Sparrow, John, Mary & Kay. These kinds of things become all the more meaningful when we're able t share them with friends. Thank you.

    Trish & Rob - lovely to see you here. Welcome and thanks for your good wishes.

    L, C