Media, FAA faculty’s collaborative film-poem ‘Factories at Sea’ selected for multiple film festivals

Victor Font and Cristobal Bianchi
Victor Font, lecturer of media and cinema studies, and Cristobal Bianchi, assistant professor of studio art, created the three-minute film-poem Factories at Sea. The Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies screened the film followed by a Q&A during a welcome event. (Photo by Isabella Pennebaker, photography intern.)

An interdisciplinary collaboration between two College of Media and College of Fine & Applied Arts faculty members has led to an award-winning visual poem that’s been selected to be screened at five film festivals worldwide. 

Victor Font, lecturer of media and cinema studies, and Cristobal Bianchi, assistant professor of studio art, worked together to create a three-minute film-poem titled Factories at Sea

Described as “a beautiful accomplishment” and an “interesting reflection on our relationship with nature and violence,” Factories at Sea has been accepted in the official programs of the International Festival of Films on Art (Montreal), the London Short Film Festival, Fotogenia Festival (Mexico), and the Chroma Art Film Festival (Miami). It has been selected as a semi-finalist in the Zed Fest Film Festival & Screenplay Competition in California. The film is also pending submission in the Oakland Short Film Festival, with results announced in February.

Still from Factories at Sea
Still image from Factories at Sea.

Going up against thousands of entries, Font said having their film merely selected by the festivals is an honor. 

“In the beginning, the goal was whatever comes from that combination of words and images, if it was good, we would submit it to a festival,” Font said. “But we weren’t sure that was going to happen.” 

Bianchi reached out to Font in the spring to see if he would be interested in helping to convert Factories at Sea, a poem he wrote and published in his poetry book Avistamientos (Editorial Aparte, 2022), into a short film.

Font, whose course specialties include Introduction to Digital Media Production, Cinematography and Sound Design, Smartphone Cinema, Film Production, and Advanced Filmmaking, said that to “visually tell something that would match the poem” was a challenge.

“It’s not like when you grab a script or storyboard for advertising. For me, with a background of non-fiction and fiction, I have never done this before,” said Font, who has been in the production business for more than 25 years. “I’ve never had a poem that I could transform [into] images or find the images that suits well for the poem.”

Font and Bianchi began the project in May and devoted much of the summer to bringing the visual poem to fruition. Both were abroad for the summer—Font in Barcelona, Spain, and Bianchi in Santiago de Chile—but they worked together over Zoom to complete the project. 

Bianchi, who provided narration as well as video clips of his son and father for the film, said Factories at Sea touches on personal topics such as becoming a father, and the passage of time. It also addresses community life and contemporary scenarios full of crises, people, and their possessions. 

Bianchi says unlike mainstream narratives, he appreciates projects that “break the rules.” 

“I like it when I don’t understand things, when they are left open [to interpretation],” he said. 

For Bianchi, poetry is more than just literature but also a performative act. In 2000, he founded the Casagrande art collective in Chile, which has developed a series of editorial and public art interventions in the public sphere. 

The Bombing of Poems, one of the collective’s internationally renowned works, consists of dropping 100,000 poems printed as bookmarks from an aircraft in cities that have experienced aerial bombing during military confrontations, such as Santiago de Chile (2001), Warsaw (2009), London (2012), and Madrid (2018). 

This project is currently in a solo exhibition in Santiago de Chile called “Bombardeos de poemas: Volver a mirar el cielo (Bombings of Poems: Looking Again at the Sky),” in the context of 50 years since the Chilean coup d’état. Font helped Bianchi edit and produce the main video that is projected in one of the gallery rooms at Palacio Pereira’s art gallery. 

Although the film-poem was a novel venture for Bianchi and Font, the duo already foresees a future collaboration, offering another opportunity to see what transpires.

“The art arrives in the process—it’s not before it starts and not when it’s finished,” Bianchi said. “The process is so important like that. In the process arrives the piece.”

Factories at Sea was also completed with the help of Elizabeth Zuba of Brooklyn, who translated the poem into English. 

—Kelly Youngblood