Poetry of Resilience

A film by Katja Esson

US | 2011 | 40 minutes | Color | DVD | English | Subtitled | Order No. 121061


Academy® Award nominated director Katja Esson’s (FERRY TALES, LATCHING ON) exquisitely made film explores survival, strength and the power of the human heart, body and soul—as expressed through poetry. She highlights six different poets, who individually survived Hiroshima, the Holocaust, China’s Cultural Revolution, the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Iranian Revolution. By summoning the creative voice of poetry to tell stories of survival and witness, each reclaims humanity and dignity in the wake of some of history’s most dehumanizing circumstances.

POETRY OF RESILIENCE gives us an intimate look into the language of the soul and brings us closer to understanding the insanity of war and how art will flourish, in spite of any obstacle.This film is recommended for courses in poetry studies, literature, peace and conflict studies and genocide studies.


“[A]rtful, engaging… The writers use their poetry not only to bear witness to these atrocities but also to examine internal scars that often are beyond healing.”

Ernest Hardy The Village Voice

“Katja Esson's moving and evocative documentary ‘Poetry of Resilience’ should inspire anyone who might be in need of a way to voice the distance between their self and a most difficult experience.”

David Strathairn, Actor

“This film creates a lyric on its own. Highly recommended.”

Brian Turner, Acclaimed Solder-Poet


  • Woodstock Film Festival *Winner Best Short Doc
  • IDA DocuWeeks, Los Angeles *Academy Award Qualification
  • Cinema for Peace, Berlin *Nomination for Best Documentary
  • Sarasota Film Festival
  • Miami International Film Festival
  • Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Missoula
  • Palm Springs International Short Film Festival
  • San Francisco Women’s Film Festival
  • Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
  • Reykjavik Shorts&Docs Festival


Katja Esson

Katja Esson is an Academy Award-nominated writer/director based in New York City.

Born and raised in Germany, Esson brings a quirky European sensibility to the distinctively American subjects she chooses. Her documentary short, FERRY TALES, which turns the unlikely setting of the Staten Island Ferry Powder Room into a celebration of sisterhood received an Academy Award®-nomination in 2004 and premiered on HBO.

In 2006, Esson completed HOLE IN THE SKY - THE SCARS OF 9/11 (New York im Schatten der Türme), which premiered on ARD and received the Gold Award at the World Media Festival. A Season of Madness (2006) is a narrative short film based on a short story by best-selling Author Hanan al-Shaykh.

Her documentary, SKYDANCER, is about the Mohawk ironworkers who are responsible for constructing America's cityscape; the film is a provocative examination of Native American life in the 21st century. Other credits include VERTICAL TRAVELER which explores the pioneering spirit of New York City through the metaphoric story of the city's unique relationship with elevators; LATCHING ON about the politics of breastfeeding in America; and "HOOKER, HARLOT, WHORE, about the history of prostitution in Europe. POETRY OF RESILIENCE is about six international poets who have survived - and written about - some of the world's most unspeakable crimes against humanity. The film received a Cinema for Peace Award-nomination during the Berlin Film Festival in 2012. Esson's films have screened at film festivals around the world and been broadcast on HBO, PBS and ARTE among others.

Esson has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council of the Arts and the Jerome Foundation. She has been nominated for the Rockefeller Media Arts and the USA Artist Fellowships and is a recipient of the the Simons Public Humanities Fellowship.

Esson is currently in production with Cantineros De Cuba, a film that reflects on the story of Cuba, a country undergoing its greatest transformation since 1959. She also has created, written and directed two 5-part series for ARTE: Backroads USA (2013) and American Rivers (2016). (03/19)


Shopping Cart