7 min., 2022
a film by Lynne Sachs with poetry by Paolo Javier
A market and playground in Queen, New York, a borough of New York City, become the site for the shooting of a film inspired by Paolo Javier’s Original Brown Boy poems. Wearing the tell-tale masks of our daunting now, five New York City performers search for a meal while speaking in verse. The film itself transforms into an ars poetica/ cinematica, a meditation on writing and making images in the liminal space between a global pandemic and what might come next.
Paolo Javier is a poet who thinks like a filmmaker. I am a filmmaker who thinks like a poet. In Swerve, we’ve come up with our own kind of movie language, or at least a dialect that articulates how we observe the world together as two artists using images, sounds, and words. The first time I read Paolo’s sonnets in his new book O.B.B. aka The Original Brown Boy, I started to hear them in my head, cinematically. In my imagination, each of his 14 line poems became the vernacular expressions of people walking through a food market full of distinct restaurant stalls. I re-watched Wong Kar-wai’s “Happy Together” – a favorite of both of ours – and immediately thought of the Hong Kong Food Court in Elmhurst, Queens, a gathering spot for immigrant and working-class people from the neighborhood who love good cuisine. As we all know, restaurant owners and workers experienced enormous economic hardship during New York City’s pandemic. Nevertheless, the market and the playground across the street become vital locations for the shooting of my film inspired by Paolo’s exhilarating writing. Together, we invited performers and artists Emmey Catedral, ray ferriera, Jeff Preiss, Inney Prakash, and Juliana Sass to participate in a challenging yet playful endeavor. They all said “Yes!”. On a Sunday this summer, they each devour Paolo’s sonnets along with a meal from one of the market vendors. Wearing the tell-tale masks of our daunting now, they speak his words as both dialogue and monologue. Like Lucretius’s ancient poem De rerum natura/ On the Nature of Things, they move through the market as Epicureans, searching for something to eat and knowing that finding the right morsel might very well deliver a new sensation. The camera records it all. “Swerve” then becomes an ars poetica/ cinematica, a seven-minute meditation on writing and making images in the liminal space between a global pandemic and what might come next.
Made with the support of cinematographer Sean Hanley, sound recordist Mark Maloof, editor Rebecca Shapass, and production assistants Priyanka Das and Conor Williams.
Premiere: BAMCinemafest June, 2022
Screenings: Museum of the Moving Image “Queens on Screen”
Chicago Underground Film Festival
Camden International Film Festival
Woodstock Film Festival
On the set of Swerve
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“’SWERVE is shot in Elmhurst, Queens, a richly diverse immigrant space that saw its residents endure our country’s ground zero phase of Covid-19. SWERVE brings tremendous visibility to an Asian food court and workers otherwise invisible and ignored by the city. Some of the film’s performers have lifelong ties to the nabe. Together we all honor the resiliency of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, underscoring the vitality of poetry and cinema in these fraught times’” – interview with poet Paolo Javier in QNS/ Queens News Service by Tammy Scileppi
QNS/ Queens News Service: “‘SWERVE’: NYC performers wax poetic in a new film shot in Elmhurst” byTammy Scileppi , June 23, 2022
“SWERVE is a lovely, serene cinematic meditation on postmodern/avant-garde/post-colonial poetry construction in general and specifically it’s a terrific incitement to read Javier’s book and seek out more of Sachs’s fascinating body of work” – Herbert Gambill, Mystery Catalogue
Mystery Catalogue: “New Lynne Sachs Short “Swerve” Debuts at BAMcinemaFest” by Herbert Gambill, June 23, 2022
“Sachs and Javier make a meal out of zipping around table to table where a pandemic may have kept some customers away, but as people begin feeling their way back into the world, the sensations of reconnecting are conveyed in phrases that may come across as no sequiturs individually but coalesce into something greater as the feeling behind intonations and delivery transcend the statements themselves.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
Moveable Fest: Interview: BAM CinemaFest 2022 on Crafting a Clever Turn of Phrase with “Swerve” by Stephen Saito, June 24, 2-22
Movie Blogger: Review: Swerve (Short Film, 2022) by Paul Emmanuel Enicola, June 24, 2022
The Filmstage: Exclusive Trailer for Lynne Sachs’ Swerve Brings Poetry to Elmhurst, Queens by Jordan Raup, June 2, 2022
Hometown Source: Short Redhead Reviews for the Week of June 24, 2022
WBAI-FM Cat Radio Café: Lynne Sachs & Paolo Javier on ‘Swerve’ (a film), Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer, July 12, 2022
Filmwax Radio: Lynne Sachs and Paolo Javier in conversation with Adam Schartoff, Ep 722: Lynne Sachs & Paolo Javier • Rebeca Huntt, June 17, 2022
Book Launch for Paolo Javier’s O.B.B.
Please join us on Sunday, October 17, @ 2pm ET to celebrate the publication of O.B.B. a.k.a. The Original Brown Boy, by Paolo Javier, and the debut of Lynne Sachs’ short video, Swerve, which adapts poems from the book. The reading will take place at the Moore Homestead Playground in Elmhurst, Queens—a neighborhood park and location of Sachs’ video—and Javier will be joined by Stephen Motika, Aldrin Valdez, and the cast and crew members of Swerve—Emmy Catedral, ray ferreira, Inney Prakash, Jeff Preiss, Juliana Sass, and Priyanka Das. Swerve will be playing as a video installation inside of HK Food Court, located across from the park at 8202 45th Avenue, from 12 noon to 6 pm.
This event is generously funded by NYFA’s City Artist Corps Grant and co-sponsored by the Queens Museum. Free and open to the public! The Moore Homestead Playground is located on the corner of Broadway, 45th Ave, & 82nd St, and off the Elmhurst Ave R train and Q60 and Q32 bus stops.