Cinema Poetica

The Timberline Review is excited to host Cinema Poetica, a film festival celebrating the intersection of cinema and poetry, an emerging short-film genre. In Cinema Poetica, intrepid poets and filmmakers are encouraged to make films not “polished,” but ever more raw, primitive, visceral, surprising, intuitive.

The Challenge

  • Make a short film featuring a poem you’ve written, or one you wish you’d written, and have permission to perform and film for this contest. (The lawyers tell us if it’s not your own poem, the permission must be in writing and signed by the author of the poem or the person or entity that has the right to give that permission.) Or maybe just do your own poem, okay?
  • Let the poem be your guide. Shoot in real time. Shoot in real locations. Shoot in color. Incorporate location sound into your film. If you’re going to use music, make your music on camera. Use natural lighting. Use a handheld camera.
  • Forget about special effects and optical filters, car chases, stunt doubles, FX, studio overdubs, 35 mm stock, or spaceships, unless… no, absolutely no spaceships.
  • For basic editing, here’s a good (and free) app designed specifically for mobile devices — Adobe Premiere Clip.


  • Films must include a poem narrative and not just include the poem but be grounded in it. In other words, dramatize your poem.
  • Make all film submissions through Film Freeway. Ready to submit?
  • Regular submission period runs August 1st through September 30th, 2017.
  • Maximum running time is 4 minutes.
  • Poems can be in any language, but if not in English, you must provide English subtitles.
  • No filmed readings, please.


All films will be evaluated by an independent group of filmmakers and poets. Films judged to best exemplify the Cinema Poetica challenge will be screened at the festival, receive additional recognition, and be considered for the Grand Prize* and Audience Favorite awards.


Grand Prize winner receives a $250 cash prize and possible publication in The Timberline Review.* Audience Favorite receives a hand-drawn broadside of the poem. Top ten finalists receive recognition and promotion on The Timberline Review website (

The Main Event

Films to be screened on October 28, 2017, at ALAF (Ashland Literary Arts Festival), to an adoring public of indie publishers, authors, filmmakers, editors, and artists celebrating the independent spirit of film, literary, and visual arts. There is no festival admission fee. All are welcome. Prize winners, if present, may be invited to join a public conversation with our judges and editors about filmmaking and poetry.


Get more information about the Ashland Literary Arts Festival at and contact if you have any other questions.

Full submission guidelines at

Cinema Poetica is sponsored by The Timberline Review, a literary journal published by Willamette Writers, a 501(c)3 organization, based in Portland, Oregon. Timberline Review editorial staff, members of the Willamette Writers Board of Directors, and their immediate family members are not eligible for the Grand Prize. All films remain the property of the submitter.

*To be considered for publication, poem must be previously unpublished in the English language.

Special Thanks

Brian Padian, Cascadia Publishers, Mercuria Press, and our partners, Willamette Writers, Ashland Literary Arts Festival, and Film Freeway.

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