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 filmmaker, born in Germany and based in Miami. Known for her intimate character-driven documentaries tackling race, class, and gender, her credits include WMM release FERRY TALES, which turns the unlikely setting of the Staten Island Ferry Powder Room into a celebration of sisterhood (HBO 2004). In 2007, HOLE IN THE SKY - THE SCARS OF 9/11 received the Gold-Award at the World-Media-Festival. Her 2011 film SKYDANCER, a WMM release, about two Mohawk ironworkers torn between the Akwesasne reservation and New York City, received nominations for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography at the Shanghai Film Festival and premiered on PBS and ARTE in 2011. Katja’s POETRY OF RESILIENCE, a WMM release, was nominated for the Cinema for Peace Award in 2012. Her five-part documentary series BACKROADS USA (2014) and AMERICAN RIVERS (2016) premiered on ARTE and PBS in 2018. A Simons-Public Humanities Fellow at Kansas University, her films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian. Katja’s work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Knight Foundation, ITVS, IDA Enterprise, NYSCA, the Redford Center, Sundance and the Ford Foundation. (10/23)


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