Nejc Saje, Jeffrey Young
“I’ve got the fire, and if I’m lucky, others will get this fire through me.”
Pumpkin on the Hot Roof of the World explores the life and work of the legendary Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun (1941–2014). Combining documentary techniques with imaginative sequences and the author’s work, the film creates a multi-layered portrait of one of the most influential and internationally renowned poets of the last half-century.
Šalamun burst onto the Slovenian/Yugoslav literary scene in the mid-1960s with the appearance of his first book, Poker, which made him overnight the voice of his generation. Two years before, at the age of 22, the publication of his first poem landed him briefly in jail. These experiences galvanized his convictions as an artist, and for the next 50 years he dedicated his life to poetry and to the freedom of creative expression.
In his lifetime Šalamun published 50 books of poems. His work, translated into nearly 30 languages, has influenced countless poets and readers around the world, particularly in the United States, where he has his largest and most passionate readership. The recipient of numerous literary prizes and distinctions, Šalamun was equally famous as a mentor to young poets and as a passionate champion of poetry on the international stage. His poetry continues to reach readers through new translations of his enormous body of work. How did this poet, writing in a language spoken by only two million people, become so influential and admired around the world?
Pumpkin on the Hot Roof of the World follows Šalamun at home and abroad during 2012 and 2013, in what were to be the last active years of his life. The film takes the viewer on a journey to discover the power of Šalamun’s poetic vision, the sources of his inspiration, and his profound message as an artist. Poetry, to Šalamun, has the power to heal the world. But the journey of the true poet can be dangerous. In a series of candid, in-depth interviews, Šalamun relates the formative stories of his life as an artist and shares his unique insights into the creative process. Other voices, including close family members and other poets and artists who knew Šalamun well, add their views and observations. What emerges is the story of a man who lived his life for the sake of art and who passionately sought to pass the fire of creative inspiration to the world.
Šalamun’s work has been described as a “poetry of quest.” In this same spirit, the film is a journey to explore the nature of poetry and its significance, with Šalamun as our guide and point of focus. By exploring Šalamun’s life and quest as a poet, our film raises important questions about the nature of freedom, creativity and love. Our intention is to inspire audiences with the story of Šalamun’s exceptional life and work. Now is the time to share the vision of the true poet with the world.
Directors: Nejc Saje, Jeffrey Young
Producer: Viva Videnović
Production: Strup produkcija (Slovenia), Pigeon Point (Czech Rep.)
Financial support: Slovenian Film Center