by Amy Flessert
On Thursday, November 7th, the English department screened two short films, The Persistence of Poe, a documentary about Edgar Allen Poe’s life in Richmond, Virginia, and Ravenmore, an artistic rendering of Poe’s famous poem The Raven. The 25-minute documentary film explored Poe’s childhood growing up in Richmond, and his many subsequent returns throughout his adult life. Though Poe did not die in Richmond, he was a resident at the time of his death. The two films were written and directed by Christine Stoddard (made in collaboration with co-writer/director David Fuchs), who was also on hand to talk about her work.
Stoddard got the idea to make a documentary on Poe when she attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. She was surprised to find out that Poe was a native of the area, and felt that it was a topic to be explored. Originally, Stoddard planned to make an experimental film about Poe, before realizing that a documentary about Poe’s life in Richmond was a story that needed to be told. Her desire for a creative piece about Poe was later developed into Ravenmore, a five minute dance set to a reading of The Raven.
Stoddard began working on the documentary in 2010 as an undergraduate student after applying for and receiving a research grant from her university. The project took her almost three years to complete. Stoddard mentioned that the research and the logistics are what took the longest because everyone working on the project was a university student like her. She also encouraged other students to apply for grants like she did, mentioning that if students have an idea, “the money is out there and available.”
The film screening was not only a fantastic look at Poe’s fascinating life, but it was a great opportunity for students to be inspired by Stoddard’s work and dedication to her project.