The Flickering Cave

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The Flickering Cave

The Flickering Cave The 10th Edition of the Linking Worlds Project

© 2023, Elin Babcock; Magdalena Brzezinska; Carmen Camilleri; Edward Cromarty;

Dmitry Finozhenok; Jim Fleckenstein; Judith Gutlerner; Aki Halme; Abeer Hassan; Iwona Hetman-Pawlaczyk; Rob Howard; Yulia Ivanova; Anthony Kolasny; David S. Leibowitz; Agneta M. Lindh; Anna Łosińska; Roman Łosiński; Sole Afra Martinez; Lia Mastrodonato; Guðný Sigridur Olafsdottir; Renske Oort; Mieke van Os; Ola Porebska; Deisy Rey; Marjorie Rosenberg; Sonia Roychowdhury; Peter Sansom; Cathy Silk; Arevhat Simonyants; William Strnad III; Teresa Wozniak Tallman; Julia Teplova; Zita Toth; Erato Tsouvala; Dąbrówka Ujec; Natasha Vanderlinden; Simona Vasilache; Alicja Węcławiak No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. The title of the volume was inspired by Judith Sornberger’s Watching Movies at a Theater Again.


Cover Art: Magdalena Brzezinska

Poznan, Poland

20. 10. 2023

Foreword With every edition of this unique Linking Worlds project, I hope to foster optimism and hope that can spread across continents. However, for the past couple of years, it has become increasingly challenging. The world has once again become an arena for several ruthless military conflicts. Yet, brought together and transcending differences in ethnicity, gender, religion, or views, with a shared belief in the power of goodwill, empathy, and art, we trust that we have again succeeded in building bridges that span divides. This time, our theme was cinematic experiences. Quite a few of us decided to share our early memories of the mesmerizing magic of motion pictures. Were we idealizing our early years? Were we trying to escape the pains of reality? Did we want to get lost in the flickering cave? Maybe. But we did so to gather the strength to boldly face the days ahead and to dare to open up to fellow travelers along life’s winding road.

Magdalena Brzezinska

AI prompt generated image, Midjourney. AI Image prompt by: Agneta M. Lindh CC BY-NC 4.0.

Fearless, sharp, and witty Olivia Gillingham takes on the legacy left by her grandfather. The oddest map she'd ever seen, a seemingly unpredictable pocket watch, and a notebook full of scribbles with the year 1603 on the first page. The last entry was on April 4th, 1889. The day her grandfather died. If this was her legacy, why hadn't he told her about it? She drew her thumb over a minuscule text written in the margin. "Listen to water, talk to stone. Three bricks, four and counting. Remember the cat's smile. Choose wisely. Trust no one. Dearest girl, I'm so sorry." The big clock on the estate office struck seven, the door sneaked open, and a head peeked out: - When are you? The voice was urgent. - Kent, England. Olivia got on her feet and collected her grandfather's things. Now hers. The young man stared at her: - Not where. When? Date. Year. You know. - Eight of August 1889. He shook his head. Mumbling. - Hm. It didn't work. Or did it? He looked closer at the girl before him. - Olivia? Olivia Gillingham? She hesitated. - Yees ... - It's time to go, come on Liv! He reached out his hand towards her. I'm Jake, by the way. Suddenly the arms of the big clock began to whirr. As it did, the pocket watch in Olivia's hand started buzzing. Jake's smile grew wider and wider. - O, yes. It’s working. It is really working! Come on, quick now. The courtyard is caving in to Time! Choose wisely. Trust no one. Together they jumped through the door to her grandfather's office as the courtyard behind them melted away. The last thing she heard was locks clicking and clocks ticking. Choose wisely. Or not. Jake shouting Come on Liv, rushed through her mind as an increase in speed propelled them forward. How did he know? How on earth did Jake know when only one person ever had called her Liv? Agneta M. Lindh, Sweden

My Favourite Screen Couple Zita Tóth, Hungary/Scotland

Fred & Ginger

With ease they swayed Through scenes of many stories Tapping into fame.

Zita Tóth, Hungary/Scotland

Romance in the Arthouse Cinema A weekend in Brussels, a friendship hesitantly budding, early still. Both insecure and shy, slowly, carefully opening up. Is he really nice, is he the one? Strolling through cobbly streets and autumn parks, getting to know this new person on my side. He brings me to the Cinema Galeries, to see ‘The shop around the corner’.1 As the black and white romance develops on the screen, my uncertainty about our own romance fades. This cinema, these red velvet chairs, this movie, I am entranced. I like his taste, his knowledge, I like him! Years pass by. A weekend in Brussels, with him, and our three young children. He brings us to the Cinema Galeries, to see ‘The adventures of the little mole’.2 As the little mole tells his wonderful wordless stories, I look around, left and right. This cinema, these red velvet chairs, this movie, all entranced again. I love our life, our family, and him!

Art and poetry by Renske Oort, The Netherlands/Germany

1 Lubitsch, E. (Director). (1940). ‘The shop around the corner’ (Film). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 2 Miler, Z. (Director). (2005). ‘The adventures of the little mole’ (Film). Krátký film Praha.

Woody Allen Pencil and charcoal on paper, 30x40 cm Lia Mastrodonato, Italy

Movie Lines Growing up in New York City, movies were an important part of our social life. A typical date would be a dinner and a movie. The city was filled with many movie theaters. You could find the most recent mainstream movies, the offbeat movies, the low budget experimental ones and even the old classical movies. Whatever movie you chose, you could depend on having to wait on a long line to get in. You needed to be at the theater at least an hour before the show if you wanted to get a seat. Sometimes a theater would stretch a rope along the street to keep the lines in control. They would snake around corners and were often several blocks long, especially if it was a new popular movie. Meeting friends, we would always say to one another, “If you get there before we do, save us a place on line”. Since these theaters were very large, you would usually get in, but there were times we were turned away or waited till the next show. When a show would almost be sold out, someone from the theater would walk up and down the lines and announce that there were only first or second row seats left. We never minded siting in these rows if it meant we could get into see the movie. There were always people who waited till the next show if they didn’t get in. They’d sit on the pavement, making themselves comfortable. Movie lines were exciting. People didn’t just quietly wait, there were conversations all around you. People in front and in back of you would be busily engaged in discussions. It was an important part of the culture. You would join the discussions and forget about the long wait. It was encouraged and even expected that these strangers waiting on a line would interact. At times, I would be silent so I could listen to all the discussions around me. People would often draw you into their discussions if they saw you watching them. We met many people on these long movie lines. It was part of the experience of going to a New York City movie. A few years later, I met a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. She was smiling and said to me, “I met someone on line who I really like!” I was happy for her and asked for details, assuming she met this person on a movie line.

Anna Łosińska, Poland

“What movie did you see?“ I asked her. “We didn’t see a movie” she replied. I thought that was even better. After meeting on line they left to be together somewhere. “So where did you wind up going?“ I wondered. She was looking strangely at me as if I was making no sense. “I don’t think you understand, Judy” she said shaking her head with laughter, “We met ONLINE through a computer chat room.” “Oh” was all I could say. I felt embarrassed. Today, everyone knows what “online” means, but back then I assumed it referred to a real line I hope that somewhere there are still movie lines where people can meet to have meaningful discussions and get to know on another. Perhaps one day you will meet someone special on a movie line.

Judy Gutlerner, USA

Marjorie Rosenberg, USA/Austria

Movies and Me Marjorie Rosenberg, originally from New Jersey, currently living in Graz, Austria

Movies or films, as they are more commonly known in Europe, have always played a big part in my life. I can remember my Dad taking me to see “The Red Balloon” as a child but the story was so sad, I cried through it and he was sorry that it had made me sad. Later I enjoyed films that touched an emotional chord such as the film adaptation of “Carousel”, another one that tugs at the heart. I only got to see “The Wizard of Oz” on TV and it was years later when I discovered that the first part was in black and white and the colour (very early for its time) only showed up when Dorothy landed in Oz. However, throughout her journey down the yellow brick road, I was always on edge waiting for the Wicked Witch to appear. Years later, we watched the video in my living room with a group of friends and, as two of us were singers, we drove everyone else crazy as we simply had to sing along to most of the songs. A very vivid memory of movie-going was being taken to the drive-in by my parents. My brother and I sat in the backseat in our pajamas, obviously in the hope that we would fall asleep and my parents could enjoy a night at the movies. I don’t remember most of the films but they were movies that appealed to my parents rather than to us. I do recall seeing a number of westerns and am guessing that “They Came to Cordura” was among them as my mother’s first cousin, Elie Siegmeister, was the composer of the film score. As a teenager, we spent a lot of time at the movies, sometimes even sitting through a “double-feature” which basically meant “two for the price of one”. Most of the movies were forgettable but a date just wasn’t a date unless it included going to the cinema, at least in the cold months when a trip to the Jersey shore wasn’t in the cards. When I was living in New York City in the late 1970’s, a friend of mine took me to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” which played at midnight at a theatre in Queens. This was supposedly, “the place” to see it and we came armed with newspapers, water pistols and learned to do the “Time Warp”. I am sure we saw the film at least ten or twenty times which was nothing compared to some people in the group who went to see it on a regular basis. I can also remember waiting in line to see movies in New York, the only place I have ever lived with two lines – one to buy the tickets and then the one called “The Ticket Holders’ Line” where you got to wait again to get into the theatre. Of course, if the audience wasn’t happy after the hour or so waiting, being New Yorkers they made it clear. However, the one time I went to see a new movie (which meant the long lines) it was “Superman” which was a big hit among that discerning crowd.

Marjorie Rosenberg, USA/Austria

Other highlights in my movie-going career would have to include seeing “Jersey Boys” with a friend in an empty theater here in Graz which shows films in original languages. As there was no one in the theatre to annoy, we got to accompany Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons since keeping still through the music we grew up with was just not possible. This lovely cinema in Graz also had the latest “Star Wars” movies two years in a row. My partner is not a big movie fan but agreed to go as there were robots, rocket ships, 3D glasses and popcorn involved. Now with streaming, I tend to watch movies on TV but with all the hype, I felt I had to go and see “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie”, both of which I am glad I saw. Luckily the New York Times had an article on “who was who” in “Oppenheimer” which helped to explain parts of the movie. A group of us, all wearing pink, went a week later to see “Barbie” and it was simply fun. The next movie I plan on is one I can watch in the comfort of my living room, namely, “You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah” which I am guessing will be reminiscent of 7th and 8th grades. But after a day of working at the computer or doing housework, I can’t think of a better way to just switch off and relax. I can’t actually imagine a time without movies and one of the things movies do is to bring people together. They become vehicles to engage audiences, get people talking, and, in many cases, make people think. All of us need a break now and then to sit back and just focus on the screen in front of us. I hope everyone greatly enjoys the next movie they see and I am curious as to which ones will be making their way here in the near future.

Poetry and art by Marjorie Rosenberg, USA/Austria

Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Did You Hear That? One of my most memorable moments at the movies was a time in which I don't recall the movie. It was a hot summer day as an early teen. A favorite escape from the heat was the Como Park movie theatre. It was walking distance away and I'd often attend with my sister and younger brother. Having limited funds and feeling the movie show treats were too expensive, we'd go across from the show like most of the kids, purchase our sweets, and smuggle them into the theatre. It must have been a common practice considering the large isle selections in the convenient store. This time we three decided to pool resources and purchase a 2-pound bag of peanut M&Ms. The intrepid smuggler for this mission would be my brother. Would the ticket attendant confiscate the contraband from such a young innocent child? My poor brother looked a little pregnant with the huge bag of candy hidden away in his small frame. The ticket attendant wasn't too much older than me. It must have been his first summer job and without emotion simply let us pass. Mission accomplished! We moved into the darkly lit room scoping our seats. Not too high in the back and not too close to get a stiff neck looking up. Dead center in the sloping theater able to capture the wide screen in viewing. When settled in, the lights dimmed as the coming attractions were featured but there was still too much light to not hide our deed quite yet. A little longer passed as we anticipated our sweets. Finally, everything went dark, and the main attraction started. It was at this time my brother brought out the treats. He wanted to open it himself. With a tug, the sealed plastic bag would not open. With a second more forceful tug, nothing budged. "Let me help", I said, but he was only more determined. Then, it happened, like a volcanic eruption releasing red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and brown M&Ms bursting onto the hard cement floor making the sound of hundreds of kerplunk marbles being released, an avalanche of bouncing M&Ms greeted movie attendees below with their shoes becoming obstacles as in a pinball machine. "Well, it looks like you opened them", I laughed. It could have been from a Laurel and Hardy skit. All through the movie, in the silent moments, we could hear some of those oddly round M&Ms pulled by gravity rolling down as someone moved a shoe or made some adjustment. As we heard the rolling sound, we'd look at each other and smiled knowing guiltily the cause of the disturbance. Now, many years later, I always get peanut M&Ms when I go to the movies. It brings back those early memories of sharing summer times with my siblings. Movies provide a space to have a shared experience with people that are dear even if you can't recall the movie.

Anthony Kolasny, USA

David Scott Leibovitz, USA

The Call of the Prairie" On each three Saturdays of the summer months, my sister, Isabel, eighteen months and nine days older and I, and me, Anna, would go to the picture show. She jangled our four quarters as we skipped down the cracked sidewalk from our house, out to the main road, right to downtown and the picture show. First stop. Sav-ons drug store and over to the candy aisle. "Here, your candy money and..." Isabel said, stopped, and stared. I heard my money ping to the floor. It rolled around like a top swirling its way under the counter before she could finish, "... don't drop it." As if her words were going to bring it back. A man, standing next to us, slid his gold-tipped cane under and brought the coin out covered with dust-bunnies double the size of the ones under our beds. I scooped up my candy money. While Isabel, in her polite voice thanked him, I picked out my five new candy choices. I am a wiz at remembering what I had bought before and got my stash. The man looked at his watch. "Oh. Goodbye. The Saturday show is starting soon. Must go." Isabel stared at me. "We're going to be late."

Isabel quick-grabbed her choices for she always picked the same: Hershey's Kisses. Jujubes Beads, Red licorice vines, Butterfinger bar, and Double Bubble Gum Balls that stuck our upper and lower teeth together. Out and running, we slid up to the ticket booth, protruding like the prow of a ship from the theater doors. Mrs. Merker exchanged our sweaty quarters for half of the double red tickets. The other half, she put in a hat. "During intermission, the Varsity will have a drawing. Look at your tickets. If they call your number on the end there," she pointed to the tickets Isabel was holding. "the six-digit number, you will win a prize." she said. At the door Isabel gave the tickets to be stamped and handed mine to me. "Don't lose it." Passing the lobby to our seats, I slowed close to the confection counter. Buttered popcorn's aroma reached out to grab me. To make me stop and wish I had spent the quarter on a bag.

Isabel jerked my arm and said I was dawdling and making her late. We got our usual spots, checked for floor gum. None. Next the seats. We yanked our red velvet seat bottoms down and jumped on them. If we drawled, Isabel's words, it would snap back up like an alligator's mammoth mouth.

David Scott Leibovitz, USA

The multi-colored circle lights above dimmed, the curtains opened and the first of two feature films started. "The Call of the Prairie." The star, Hopalong Cassidy, or Hoppy, dressed completely in black, was riding down a mountain towards the screen on Topper, his all-white horse. So close he came that I squeezed against the seat back, fearing he wouldn't stop. Our western adventure was over in one hour when Hoppy lassoed two varmints, tied them over their scraggly horses and rode into town to the hoops and hollers of the townspeople and the thanks from the sheriff. The End. Lights up.

Man-with-cane came on stage. The same man that was at the drug store, had Mrs. Merker's hat in one hand and a microphone in the other. "Where is your ticket?" Isabel said seeing me fumbling. I found it stuck on the floor to one of her gum balls just in time to read it.

Man-with-cane slowly called out the numbers. Everyone had the same first three, some groaned losing the fourth, more moans with the fifth. A few waited for the last digit. He hesitated, dramatically waving the ticket like a bird, before it landing close enough to read. "Seven."

I screamed "I've got it," I yelled and jumped up and down. "Come up, little lady," Man-with-cane said. On stage the big house lights blocked out the audience. I looked out at a blur. "Here is your prize. Four tickets to the Varsity. Four tickets to Hoppyland, an autograph poster from Hopalong Cassidy, and a free set of cowboy... well, for you, cowgirl boots from the Grange. The movie was over, the ten cartoons were next and over, the second featured film, a love story, yuck, was over, and we walked home. With the Varsity tickets, we could spend more money on candy. The poster is going over my bed. I can take the whole family to Hoppyland, me wearing cowgirl boots. I envisioned my life career, my black leather shirt and skirt, cowgirl boots, my pure white horse. My poster "Cowgirl on the Prairie."

Elin Babcock, USA

Carmen Camilleri, Malta

Movie Magic Seeing a movie Helps me feel groovy Just a simple flick Heals when you’re sick When I feel low or the day is slow I can alter my mood With a film that’s viewed To be filled with laughter For hours after Remembering a scene Shown on the big screen A soda and snack Always takes me aback To my days as a child When I was beguiled Sitting with friends My mood always ascends Sharing an interlude Changes my attitude For that moment in time Feeling sublime Enjoying the story Oh, this is glory Getting a break For sanity sake Warms up the soul Makes me feel whole So on with the show To clear feelings of woe The few hours spent Always leaves me content Rob Howard, Poland

Magdalena Brzezinska, Poland

Exiting the Movie Theater

As credits roll And music resonates, We don our coats Like proud silk capes To join the slow, shuffling crowd. Toes point up On the inclined floor In parallel to Exuberant chords And heels bounce lightly to the beat. Hope proved not false (it was a close shave). We feel as the hero: Invincible! Brave! Catastrophe cannot best us. Chins up, shoulders back With exultant eyes, We step out the door To squint in surprise At the sunlight. And gently, I laugh.

Natasha Vanderlinden, USA

Anna Łosińska, Poland

Aunt Barbara and Movies at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans Morning writing. My dog Charlie, quiet, asleep at my feet. What use are the senses in the here and now without the primal? Loneliness. Rain again. It’s been such a rainy summer. Petrichor: the sharp smell of earth that fills the air after rain on dry ground or concrete, especially in hot summer weather. Conduit to familial memories and familiar streets. Write. My childhood in New Orleans in the late 1950s and early 1960s was defined by family rituals and street names: sleeping on wooden floors beside a large fan after watching TV’s Morgus and his monster movies on Rosemary Place; red ant bites before those red beans and rice Mondays on Mound Avenue; and the laughter and loud non-linear stories over chicory coffee in the yellow kitchen on Polk Street. Grandma’s death and wake and tomb in Greenwood Cemetery. On 1 November each year, we arrived to find a red rose in an empty bottle of Dixie Beer her lover had left. Grieving. New Orleans. 1963. It was the year of my maternal grandmother’s death, and Kennedy’s assassination. Some time after, one of my mother’s sisters, Aunt Barbara, moved into a double-shotgun house on South Dupre Street in Mid-City. Her new residence was a short distance from her alma mater, Warren Easton High School. I would occasionally spend weekends at her place, most especially in the summer. Morgus left New Orleans TV in 1963. Lament. Removal of Canal Street streetcars in 1964 made my aunt weep. Morgus returned in 1965, followed later that year by Hurricane Betsy. My late Aunt Barbara was obese, struggling with weight all her life. She never married, and mostly lived alone in her last years. Lord she had a sweet and pleasant disposition. I came to appreciate the vocal complexity of Aunt “Put”: a hint of the melodic tone of the Cajun accent in St. Charles Parish where the family had lived, with a paucity of New Orleans Yat dialectical timbre. The tempo was hers. In this moment, I can hear her. The only other sounds in the present: the clock on my desk, and Charlie’s dream sighs and easy breathing. Transcend space and time. Hear the dead. During my stay she would take me to Pontchartrain Beach, the French Quarter, and Audubon Park. In her house I would spend hours reading her collection of Harlequin romance novels, learning something of love imagined. Perhaps it was word sensuality enough as I approached and entered puberty. But for me, the most sublime event was when she and I took in a movie at the Saenger Theatre on Canal Street. I can’t remember what films we saw. Incidental celluloid. Chick-flicks. God I was entranced by the beauty of that interior space, and intrigued watching my aunt watching the movie. The Saenger was and is an atmospheric theatre built to resemble an Italian Renaissance courtyard, complete with a simulated starlit night sky ceiling and a

Yulia Ivanova, Russia

movie screen framed by an ornate and elegant proscenium. Though film was the centerpiece offered, I was distracted, drawn to tears streaming down my aunt’s fulsome cheeks, a gathering flood that flickered in the light of the images in the art of art. Shakti and Shiva. Death and resurrection: the Canal Street Line, restored in 2004; the Saenger, damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, renovated in 2013. Keening, waiting. My Aunt Barbara died of complications from her girth. The gastric bypass was evidently insufficient. I’d last spoken to her weeks before her death when I was in California. Later, my mother recalled that her little sister was afraid. My mother explained to her that she would be thin and without pain; that my aunt would be with “mom’n’em”: “mama, daddy, our three brothers, and [Great Aunt] Tassie.” A half-dream in November 1996: my dad, my maternal grandma and Tassie waiting for my mom as she neared death during heart surgery, waiting atop a treeless hill buried in fog. In our family, there have always been signals from the other side. One weekend, during a powerful thunderstorm, lightning struck above the house on South Dupre and the silver crucifix that had been in grandmother’s coffin at the wake flew from the wall in my aunt’s bedroom. My mother’s family took it as a sign from heaven. With haste they opened the tomb and returned the crucifix to the dead. My sister and Aunt Barbara were both awoken from sleep and observed a female form in a flowing white gown moving down the hallway toward them. Then the figure vanished. It was my grandmother, always close, looking in on her children, and her grandchildren. Twice I experienced the smell of floral perfume that accompanies her visitations. She watches. Transcend space and time. See the dead. Wait. I’m blind in sleep and in dreams. Aunt Barbara you’ve come back with Duke the Chihuahua and Snow Boy, your Pekingese I looked after. My fingertips recall their textured contours. You always appear in a recurring dream, in which I’m standing in the lobby of the Saenger Theatre. Fragrances assail me: rich buttered popcorn advancing in waves like golden notes, cigarette odor from the mouth of a grey green-eyed concession girl, garlic perspiration escaping the armpits of a yellow-skinned usher, and the aroma of Juicy Fruit gum pouring from the cavernous purse of a frail old woman. Listening for the start of the movie, I’m waiting for you. Outside, a warm rain is falling on Canal Street. The other smells all vanish, and the air is filled with the heavy petrichor of a New Orleans summer. Aunt Barbara, from the end of the lobby you enter, young again, curvilinear like the female forms that grace the Saenger’s Italian courtyard. You smile and the lights go out. Darkness. That’s my body asleep at the desk. The clock’s movement has ceased. Charlie is awake and watching me. I’m outside myself seated before a black screen. The movie will soon start.

William Strnad, Poland

Magdalena Brzezinska, Poland

Cheshire Cat Leningrad. Early 90s. Food disappears. Rumors are circulating around the city that somewhere on Vladimirsky Prospekt tomorrow there may be meat. Queues for sausage go from hours-long to days-long. It is impossible to cook normal soup from what the coupons sell. We add margarine to make food high in calories. Veterans and families with children are being distributed humanitarian aid packages from Germany. The indestructible block of communists and non-party people disappear. In their place there are now many parties, platforms and factions. New faces are appearing on radio and television. The monologue of state broadcasting is replaced by a discussion. People on trains listen with bated breath to the speeches of deputies of the First Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR. The ingratiating “Party, let me steer” is replaced by furious criticism of the Communist Party, the process of rehabilitation of victims of the communist regime is again gaining momentum. Socialism loses its charm, and people are seriously discussing the “500 days” program, leading us to a bright capitalist future. With the light hand of Kuryokhin, the idol of the country of the Soviets, grandfather Lenin, becomes a mushroom. The Iron Curtain disappears. The first timid flocks of tourists are heading abroad: without an exam at the district communist committee, without being accompanied by a comrade from the authorities. Those who returned talk about the miracles they saw and the cheerful faces of ordinary Parisians. An acquaintance of mine, already working in an American company for an unimaginable five thousand dollars a month, explains to me, who saw the Internet for the first time: “This is a corridor with doors, if you open one, there may be what you are looking for, or a new corridor.”. There is a boom in video services in the country; in our physics department dormitory we have our own cable network running at night. They show everything they can find non-stop: cartoons, horror films, westerns, sitcoms. Censorship disappears. Thick literature magazines publishing prohibited articles are in great demand. The first editions of classics of Russian emigration, authors of the Silver Age are being published. Soviet people, who proudly bore the title of the most read in the world, are surprised to discover that they are completely unfamiliar with world literature. Speculators with heavy briefcases are scurrying around the House of Books on Nevsky Prospekt. Each of them contains dozens of books that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. I’m constantly shaking up my library to find at least something to sell to the “Used Bookseller”; there’s a catastrophic lack of money for books. The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic disappears. There is a “velvet revolution” in the country; former dissident Vaclav Havel becomes president. Demonstrations dedicated to the withdrawal of Soviet troops are taking place everywhere. The Soviet Central Group of Forces, and then the Warsaw Pact, are ordered to live long. The Soviet Union disappears. A new, completely different life begins. As we hoped then.

Dmitry Finozhenok, Russia

Guðný Sigridur Olafsdottir, Iceland

I never sketched a bird before Someday… I will learn the birds’ language, I will communicate with them, And I have so much to ask! Please bear with me! Hear me out! And let’s just think together. When a bird from the East meets another one from the other side of the world, How do they feel about each other? How do they look at each other? Do they feel different? Do they even have this distinction between Western and Eastern? Does their mind make them any better than us? Is our mind a blessing or a curse? And I wonder who put this classification? When we see each other, our minds start checking the differences, Our minds start judging, Do they do the same thing? Do they recognize they all have wings, eyes, feathers, and tails? Do they know all their colors are beautiful? Or do they feel some colors are better than others? Some colors are prettier? Do they realize they are all not perfect? Or do they think they are? Do they all speak the same language? Do they have accents? When they travel to other countries, Do they become distinguished and discriminated against by other birds? Do they have borders, cultures, beliefs? Do they look down? ON US!

Yulia Ivanova, Russia

Do they see the smoke? Do they smell it? Do they hear the FIGHT? I mean really, DO THEY? Because if they don’t, and if they are any different from us, Maybe that would be the reason they have wings, Maybe that’s why they can fly, Probably that’s how they get to be... FREE! I would love to believe they are, Without even knowing their language, Without asking them, I will love this song without learning its lyrics. And I just noticed I never sketched a bird in my life, Should I? I believe I should! I owe birds a sketch then! And they owe me an answer! Looking at the sky once brought this thinking to my mind, So overwhelmed by what’s going on in our world these days, So in need to find people who might be thinking the same way. In the East, our information about the West came from Movies, along with readings and books. Nowadays, it comes more from the media and the internet, and the amount of Hate and Lies there is unbelievable, Among all the mess of too much information, I chose to stick to MOVIES, taking a break from the world, It’s the only way I can find some calm in this chaos!

Abeer Hassan, Egypt

Sole Afra Martinez, Argentina

A lit candle does not flicker A lit candle does not flicker, but burns with a solid, warm honey glow. It is only when the flame is about to fade out that it becomes a flicker. As the dying fire starves for the last drops of wax the paling light paints the walls with wild, dancing shadows. And then there is only darkness. That swansong of sparks and embers holds such allure. From the time of cave paintings to romantic soirees, the dance of light and fire has captivated our eyes and our hearts. We watch a great bonfire split into sparks too small to resist the night. And then there is only darkness. The dance of flames evolved through the magic of Hollywood, and the flickering caves now reflect glimpses of fictive lives. One heart reflects a hundred fictive heartaches until the end of the last reel, the end credits, the curtains. And then there is only darkness. A heart’s fire is the all-consuming zeal and passion for life. When divided into sparks it too despairs and fades. Apathy is the heart’s embers and ash, depression the tiny sparks dying along in the night. And then there is only darkness. We are the last inch of the candle in a flickering world where heroism is reserved for the capes on silver screen, and true love is a story arc in a movie. We are the awakening, the joined purpose, the Star. As we shine together, there is no darkness.

Aki Halme, Finland

This flickering cave

Life is a flickering cave, You don't know what is waiting ahead. It can be stormy and rave, And it can explode your little head. Life is a flickering cave, It glitters and invites to explore. As ocean covers with wave To show that you can swim, not float. Life is a flickering cave, Sometimes, it's dark in despair. But hope makes it better and brave, If you believe, then you'll see God's care.

Art and poetry by Arevhat Simonyants, Uzbekistan

Overcome the Masks of Life

In celluloid dreams, there is a world of disguise, Where masks and faces intertwine. The silver screen, a realm that belies, The truth within the human heart too often confined. With every frame, there is a new story that unfolds, Like a canvas painted with secrets tightly sealed. In a make-believe world, where emotions are bought and sold, Are the masks we create in life and film, so the truth can be concealed. From the actors' craft to a global stage we must shift, To where humankind and our planets woes enthrall, A metaphor in every plot-line's drift, The disguise unveils the truths that our hearts befall. Within the shadows cast by those masks, we often stray, Falling from nature's pure grace, our world being left in pain, Global warming's specter, come what may, The truth emerges, the damage done, we can no longer feign. As the reel unwinds, hope's light does gleam, For movies mirror life and life’s noble quest, So let us shed the masks, revealing what we must redeem, And in this truth, bring forth our very best. Let us learn from screens, both grand and small, So we may face the world with courage and with grace, To heal the wounds, repair the earth, stand tall, For in our hearts, the masks have found their place. In movies and in life, we all must choose, To show our faces true - whether joy or strife, So that in that choice of world we can infuse, Love and hope; and overcome the masks of life.

Art and poetry by Jim Fleckenstein, USA

Magdalena Brzezinska, Poland

Life and film swing

You go through life as if it were a movie Alternating between all film genres Featuring all kinds of characters Once you act as its director At other times as an actor/actress You are all the movie scenes in one Deep down you do know that your best role is yet to come In your imaginary world you wear manifold masks But at the cinema of your daily making It`s your own feelings and actions that matter Regardless of the variety of reviews…

Iwona Hetman-Pawlaczyk, Poland

Guðný Sigridur Olafsdottir, Iceland

Movies If your life were a movie, what genre would it be? Do we get to decide? I think we do, although not always knowingly. If you believe you have no power over your narrative, you are probably right. If you believe the opposite, you are not wrong either! Once you know this, you can have a delicious time co-creating what kind of movie you are playing in. I want to remember the funniest bits, like the time I climbed onto a snow and ice covered fir tree in my ski boots. Near the top, I had an amusing thought that there is no way down, and I laughed so hard that all I could do was to cling to it. I don’t remember how I got down, but I bet not graciously at all. Adventure is a tempting genre, let me set the scene: four friends hire an old sailboat and set off sailing, wind is picking up, they are struggling to keep control. Suddenly a gust of wind won with the mainsail, and they all end up in water, one of them can’t swim. Then you grow up and choose different adventures, life partner, occupation, place to live. Motherhood provided so much comic material, like when I was heavily pregnant and sank into a beanbag. I asked my 4-year-old son to help me up, to which he said “I would need a forklift for that.” Too true! Motherhood also sat heavy on my shoulders, crushing with the responsibility for bringing up little humans to be good, happy people, regardless of the stage they find themselves at. The greatest achievement would be for them to know that they control what kind of movie their life is. They seem to be writing they own script quite well, so cheers to that!

Ola Porebska, Poland/Australia

Erato Tsouvala, Greece/Austria

I sometimes imagine my life is a movie I wonder what it is like I wish it was red and green and a bit magical And full of hope Like "Amelie" I could write a script made up of stories collected all my life Create a fairy-tale scenery, like in a dream Sometimes a nightmare Sing a song that wins an Oscar or 1st Audience Award in Cannes Mostly, I am afraid I will get the Golden Raspberry at most Although that is something The worst-case scenario: my film is unnoticed And I am not the main character But just an extra in my own life

Alicja Węcławiak, Poland

Puente Internacional Simón Bolivar; El puente de la triste oportunidad (The Bridge of the Sad Opportunity)


As a whole road of experiences told as poetry As a structure of narratives that we are assembling Life is Life goes on End every night Start again in the morning Expecting the ending we go on building personal stories As a movie We perform everyday a different chapter Embolden our soul to the unexpected Building roads Being brave Experimenting with the good and not so Good Life as a time to experience , A time to free ourselves Life as poetry Deserves sound and rythm to Enjoy it, to live it, to Discover it in every breath!

Art and poetry by Deisy Rey, Venezuela

"All Quiet on the .... Eastern Front"

Do you remember the title of a film you wanted to watch and never managed to do it? Or the film you stopped watching and never got back to? My favourite film I have never managed to finish watching and never will is " All Quiet on the Western Front" based on the book by Erich Maria Remarque. I read the book many years ago and was immensely impressed by it and therefore so curious about the film. I've tried several times: watching, stopping, watching, stopping.....Stopped.... I knew the end. Paul got killed. So will be Pietia in a new remake, "All Quiet on the Eastern Front."

Art and poetry by Dąbrówka Ujec, Poland/The Netherlands

Abandoned places and their secrets. You get a feel of the unique stories abandoned buildings tell us about their surroundings and what they tell us about ourselves. The empty rooms, the bare walls, the windows that stare at the moon, and the winds that whisper to the trees. Abandoned buildings are intriguing. The texture and light that leaks through the cracks, the worn footsteps on old staircases, the rust on dusty handrails. They are beautiful in their own humble way, so they can be a source of many stories. They are like old photographs, they hold such history that they make you wonder how did they get old? But nevertheless, they are beautiful places, inspirational places, full of history, full of life: they are treasures waiting to be explored.

Art and story by Erato Tsouvala, Greece/Austria

Flickering early morning light

Watercolour pencil on paper 2023,, 30x30 cm

Peter Sansom, The Netherlands

in this flick’ring cave where distilled childhoods ripen rich essences flow

Cathy Silk, The Netherlands

Guðný Sigridur Olafsdottir, Iceland

This Flickering Cave: Glowworms and Starlight Imagine the darkness of a cave illuminated by the bioluminescence of glowworms like the stars and galaxies in the night sky. Sparkling on the passageways of water, they bring life to the cave, and resemble the networks of neurons that enlighten paths of imagination in the human mind. The colors of the glowworms vary including red, green, blue, orange, and yellow. In comparison, the colors of the stars may be blue, blue-white, yellow, orange, and red. The only difference in color between the two being the green of life itself, in that a star originates from the blackness of its physical spectrum and can only glisten from blue to white (Helmenstine, 2022), whereas the glowworm can shine in a beautiful greenish color. It is the glowworm, in lighting the paths of streams in the cave that reflects the intertwining neural networks of the brain, which are in constant metamorphosis adapting to changes in environment. Let’s now make a relationship in the watching of film in our classrooms to the beauty of the glowworms in the cave and the stars in the night sky. In film the primary RYB colors are red, yellow, and blue, and the primary RGB colors which when mixed together to make white are red, green, and blue (Lackey, 2015). Thus, in film, exist the basic colors found in the glowworms in our cave and the stars flickering in the night sky. Like starlight, the colors of the film must glow in the darkness of the classroom, to be assimilated and given meaning in the imaginations of students. Likewise, in accordance with nature the neurons in our brain are blue, green, yellow, and grey (Peters & Folger, 2013). Grey is the combination of white and black, white being the combination of the primary RGB colors, with the darkness of space. In its experience with the outer world, and imagination, the neural networks of our brains form the rivers of the cave lit by the glowworms to provide meaning to the films we watch in our classrooms. The meanings formed become memories which our imaginations tint with the natural hues of the world around us. It is the responsibility of the teacher to let color shine through the darkness to provide meaning to students, the red of kindness, the green of respect for life, the warmth of yellow, the creativity of orange, the blues of our environment, all combined to provide the white of human meaningfulness and social harmony. Edward Cromarty, USA References Helmenstine, A. (2022). The Colors of the Stars from Hottest to Coldest. Science Notes. Lackey, R. (2015). 5 Common Film Color Schemes - Learning Cinematic Color Design. MZed, Education for Filmmakers. Peters, Alan & Folger, Claire. (2013). A website entitled “The Fine Structure of the Aging Brain”. The Journal of comparative neurology. 521. 10.1002/cne.23280.

Mieke van Os, The Netherlands

Explanation of my painting, reverie and writing Film: Die verlohrene Ehre der Katharina Blum. A film of Margarethe von Trotta and Volker Schlöndorff (1975). In brief: the story ”The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum” was written by Heinrich Böll and first published in 1974. At the time of the first publication, a well-known tabloid newspaper had already attracted attention to its inhuman journalistic methods and denigration of individual people. The 27-year-old Katharina Blum works as a housekeeper. She meets a man at a carnival party and spends the night with him. The man is a fugitive terrorist and so she becomes the terrorist’s sweetheart and the main subject in a police investigation, every detail of which is subsequently sensationalized in tabloid press. Insulting articles are published about her, the medium invades all areas of her life. This goes on until the reputation and life of Katharina Blum and her family are ruined in just five days! Actuality today: The story shows how reality is alienated and shortened in tabloid journalism. Since the introduction of mass media, they have been used specifically to manipulate large groups. How far can the media go in their reporting, and what power can language develop in this context? Besides, there is not only discussion about the tabloids, but also about women and their social role and how the mass media create an impossible double standard for women. One can ask: how would the text and film appear if Katherine were a man? Undoubtedly relevant to this day, the book and film recall media politics and the dangers of social conformity and call for more individualism and critical thinking. But the question is not only why in this case a publisher is allowed to engage in such practices that are in no way compatible with freedom of press. Irrespective of this - in a broader sense - all people must put up with the accusation that they are taking freedom of expression ad absurdum and even endanger it by tacitly accepting such practices. It’s also a warning against how violence can develop and escalate completely from such a power of the tabloid press and social media nowadays. To be honest, upon re-reading the book recently, it does not really appeal to me and the film is also less impressive than I experienced at the time (1979), when I was about 19 years old... Nevertheless, the movie and book are relevant in an age of ‘post-truth’, social media trolling and resurgent misogyny.

Mieke van Os, The Netherlands

Rethink – reframe Maybe we have, now that we have the freedom to have an opinion about everything and everyone, really lost something. Everyone is talking about it, knows so well, how to determine for another how to do that, how to live life. You can say whatever you want, but is it necessary? Not today, let’s agree on that, okay? If you feel that everything and everyone rolls over you and one another, then you can try not to take it all to heart and try to put it into perspective, but yeah, what’s all... Rather slow down the pace of quick exchanges and the speed of your judgment and listen just a little longer and then take a good look first, very intensively and then even more and then say nothing nothing, once and more. Maybe you don’t believe that something really matters, but it does matter. That something can matter is just what you have to believe, only,

Mieke van Os, The Netherlands

what matters, that doesn’t matter that much, who matters and feels valued, is what matters. Who are you? Do you dare to be the pacesetter, the one who dares to advocate a different attitude: approach him or her or them in an unbiased and impartial manner, and to act accordingly to that yourself to let the other be himself. Recharge yourself in peace, in silence, with an open look outside, heart on, take it easy, then we will meet again and regain what we lost.

Mieke van Os, The Netherlands, 2023

Julia Teplova, Ukraine/UK

Hidden Figures I love old movies from the late forties and fifties. They just don’t make them like that anymore. People hear that all the time from older folks. I agree in many respects. Of course old motion pictures don’t have the special effects and outrageous plots current movies do. However, newer flicks cannot match the intrigue and depth of shows like Friendly Persuasion or To Kill a Mockingbird or Sabrina or My Man Godfrey. Some new cinematic endeavors are okay, though. I enjoy action and an occasional comedic venue. I’m not that dated. There is one movie I have purposefully avoided watching since it was released seven years ago. The name? Hidden Figures. Of course I knew what the story was about. Three women of color helped launch the NASA program to get man into space. The United States was behind, and without these women’s efforts the program would have been in trouble. I’ve avoided the movie because the thought of these gifted, hard-working women being denigrated because of their sex is painful to me. It brings up memories of my education and engineering career. My slights. My silent endurance. No one documented my struggles or persistence. The best I think is that people thought I was weird. Maybe they still do. In Hidden Figures, this group of three women of color, have been honored with a fantastically popular film, and yes, I’m a bit jealous. It is my past too and no one made a movie about me. And I am a bit afraid. Afraid that the docudrama would trivialize the experience. Like sure, here we are, women, hear me roar, I can do anything. Being a woman in a traditionally man’s field in the seventies was tough. Last week, Hidden Figures was playing on the old flick channel. It was halfway over. I thought I could try to watch a few minutes of it. As silly as it sounds, it was a very deliberate choice to tune in. I asked myself if I was ready. Assuring myself I could change channels if it got too overwhelming for me, I began watching. Five minutes in, I was hooked. These women more than endured the discrimination. They soared. I felt the courage and pig-headedness they showed. I was there with them, turning a deaf ear to the insults and indignities. But not a blind eye. They knew what was happening and chose to rise above it. Knowing what these women endured, what all people who are different experience, is captured in this movie. Inspiring doesn’t begin to describe these women and choices they made. They are heroes, as are all people who choose to persist. As was I. As are all the different people today and the tomorrows. Hidden Figures touched me and my unique personhood. For that, it gets a place of tribute next to my celebrated old movies from the fifties and sixties.

Teresa Tallman, USA

“How Green Was My Valley”

“I thought when I was a young man that I would conquer the world with truth. I thought I would lead an army greater than Alexander ever dreamed of, not to conquer nations, but to liberate mankind. With truth. With the golden sound of the Word.” (Mr. Gruffydd)

Art and quote: Simona Vasilache, Romania/Japan

Magdalena Brzezinska, Poland

INT. RYAN AND LIVIA'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM – NIGHT The room is dimly lit, with a soft glow emanating from the bedside lamp. In the distance, there is the sound of a door closing. Exhausted by a whirlwind of emotions, Livia lies in bed and turns off the light. LIVIA (speaking loudly, her voice tired) Goodnight, Ryan. Ryan enters the bedroom. As Livia is on the brink of sleep, Ryan hesitates. RYAN (softly) Little Bird, you think we could talk? Livia, barely awake, forces herself to open her eyes. LIVIA (sleepy) Sure. RYAN I've been thinking about what you said, and you were right about almost everything. Livia nods slightly, her apprehension growing. LIVIA (dully) So it's a deal? You live your life and give me and my baby as much of it as you feel you can? RYAN Well, yes and no. I modified the deal a bit. LIVIA (surprised) Oh? Ryan takes Livia's hand and slips a ring onto her finger. She raises her hand to her eyes. She sees a single opal engagement ring, slightly too big. RYAN Will you marry me? LIVIA (voice choking) Why are you doing this, Ryan? You're breaking my heart. RYAN That's the exact opposite of what I was hoping for. LIVIA We've talked about it. We both know you're not ready. Livia sits up, her emotions overwhelming her. RYAN No, Livia. I am ready. I may not be ready to commit or to be a father, but I'm one hundred per cent sure I want you to be my wife. If that's what you want, too. Livia is silent, so Ryan continues. RYAN Look, this is easy: I, Ryan, choose you, Livia, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward. Isn't that what we've already been doing? For better or for worse? In sickness and in health? LIVIA Well, Ryan, there's the "till death do us part" tricky bit. That's where most people fail.

RYAN (smirking) As for the death bit, I could have perished a couple of months ago, as previously demonstrated. No, Livia, you won't scare me off. When I made the decision, suddenly everything made sense. Ryan looks at Livia with calm confidence. RYAN (continues) Unless you don't want to. It's your call. LIVIA Just so that I'm clear: you'll still be away a lot… RYAN Most likely. LIVIA … doing whatever dangerous things you do. RYAN If they let me. LIVIA You'll have as much space as you need… RYAN If you let me. LIVIA … but we'll be married. RYAN Pretty much that's what I meant. LIVIA Sounds fair to me. As long as you remember to give me a heads-up and a while to walk away with dignity if it comes to it. Ryan nods his head. RYAN Okay, so let's start over. May I have the ring back for a moment? Livia hands him the ring, and Ryan drops to one knee, taking her hand. RYAN Livia Hughes, you've put up with my absence, my bullshit, my classified information, my damage, my ego... By the way, did you notice that I put this in alphabetical order? And I have entries for each letter if you're interested. LIVIA I would be interested in "s." RYAN (grinning) Funny. It was "surgery," actually. Anyway, you've seen me at my best and at my worst. Will you take a chance on me? LIVIA (seriously) I will, Ryan Tyler. FADE OUT.

Magdalena Brzezinska, Poland

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