The inaugural Filmpoem Festival was held on 3rd-4th August 2013 in Dunbar in East Lothian, Scotland, over a weekend drenched in sunshine. Robert Peake, the distinguished American poet, was one of the attendees and writes: “I had a tremendous time at the Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar, Scotland and wrote a bit about this groundbreaking event for Huffington Post. In the article, I also give a sample of some of the outstanding films that screened during the festival. Hats off to Alastair Cook for making this such a memorable and momentous event for those of us besotted with this unique emerging genre”

“Of all the places for a new artistic genre to establish a beachhead, the small Scottish fishing village of Dunbar must be the most photogenic. Avant-garde filmmaking has been incorporating elements of poetry since the end of the Second World War. However, the use of video and film as a means to add a new dimension to a single written poem is recent. Such works have been proliferating across the Internet thanks to hubs like the US-based Moving Poems, Alastair’s Scottish Filmpoem project and the personal site of Belgian artist Swoon.

However, despite major film-poem festivals like Zebra in Berlin and Felix in Antwerp, Filmpoem, established in 2009, had yet to host its own major multi-day festival-until now. It was worth the wait. Over two intensive days of screenings and discussions, poets and filmmakers from all over the world converged and convened in the Dunbar Town House on August third and fourth to experience some of the most innovative works in this emerging genre. Described as “slim, but international” by founder Alastair Cook, the group of sixty enthusiasts in attendance was dense with heavy-hitters in both poetry and film.

Scottish poet John Glenday appeared to discuss the experience of having one of his poems developed into filmpoems by five different accomplished filmmakers. Above all, though, it was the quality of films that stand on their own in representing the unique and exciting possibilities of this new medium – for poets, musicians, and visual artists throughout the United Kingdom.”

The festival was standing room only for the whole weekend and we hope to build upon this success!  We asked for feedback on post-it notes and here are a small selection

much filmpoemtic splendour, I’m enjoying myself….

Completely engaged with these filmpoems

Infectious – pleasantly! Inspiring, indulgent.

Fuelling my growing interest in this genre as an artist / poet / filmmaker / photographer 

Thank you so much for making it happen and making it free.  Amazing day!

Alert to the voice, mesmerised by the motion of pictures – a feast of filmpoems!

Poems with pictures, arresting funny absorbing influence.

Nice atmosphere with good curation, amazing Filmpoems.  Thanks a lot!!!

A real privilege to be here + for so many artists to share their work / themselves with me.  Loved it.  Thanks.


All images and films are copyright Alastair Cook 2023 unless expressly indicated otherwise.