Filmkommentaren

Aegean Docs 10th edition

Written 01-10-2022 09:15:55 by Tue Steen Mller

Lucky us, my wife and I, to be invited to Aegean Docs on the island of Limnos. The 10th edition of a special documentary film festival that takes place in 9 (nine!) islands in the North Aegean Sea: Lemnos, limnos, Ikaria, Agios Efstratios, Samos, Fournoi, Oinousses, Psara, Chios.

The organiser is Storydoc that you can read about in many posts on this site – it arranged training sessions with international names taking part as tutors, Stan Neumann, Niels Pagh Andersen, Emma Davie, Mikael Opstrup, Iikka Vehkalahti, Erez Laufer, Madeleine Avramoussis.

Storydoc is run by Kostas Spiropoulos and Chara Lampidou.

The opening night includes two films that I have reviewed – here are some clips from the texts:

Leena Kilpelainen: Maija Isola (Finland)

… To be honest I had never heard of Maija Isola before so I thought, why the film had been chosen (for DocsBarcelona, ed.). Watching yesterday, the answer was given. What a life (1927-2001) she had as an artist, a traveller, many men, constantly in the process of creating, with the connection to Marimekko as the backbone. She tells the story herself via her diaries and via her daughter, who lives in a house full of the mother’s creations, it’s a chronologically told adventurous film with lovely archive footage from the places, she went to, Paris being number one, but also Algeria, New York and sometimes back to – mostly – snowy Finland. It is simply a pleasure to be with clever, reflective Maija Isola in her search for what is the meaning of it all. And despite the many love stories her happy moments being alone. It’s a film with many layers and a huge respect for the audience. "Master of Colour and Form" is the subtitles to the film, indeed, we see that!

Eva Stefani: Days and Nights of Demetra K(Greece)

… Eva (Stefani) is there with the camera, asks questions to Dimitra, laughs with the charismatic woman, go with her to conferences about prostitution and prostitutes, to political meetings, sees her with her dozen of cats, hears her family story – in a film that falls in two parts, first one in Dimitra’s brothel, second one in her flat in the middle of the city. The film is a true evidence of how important it is to be close to and like the one you are filming and have curiosity to human life as it unfolds outside normal circles. Eva Stefani wants to learn about life when she films and in this case she gives the audience the wonderful opportunity to meet Dimitra, a strong and yet vulnerable woman taking us around in the streets of Athens. Could you move a bit Dimitra so Acropolis can be seen in the picture… Dimitra, can you turn on some light… they collaborate Dimitra and Eva Stefani, the unique Greek filmmaker.


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Curiosity and Love... Magnificent7

Written 29-09-2022 19:42:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Total trust can only come from curiosity and love, Heddy Honigmann said in an interview. The director who passed away this year continued by saying that she loved the people, she films. That is so obvious in her “Oblivion” from 2008, that was shown at the Magnificent 7 in Belgrade as a tribute to the great filmmaker. A screening with around 200 spectators and a long warm applause following. Honigmann: One of my producers once said that I should film horrible people… but why should I… I want to film nice people.

Curiosity and love… could be the words characterizing this year’s edition (number 18) of the festival in Belgrade. Pawel Lozinski’s “Balcony Movie” is indeed carried by the director’s interest in people passing by, interest and love, caring and searching for an answer to the question “what is the meaning of life?”

The same goes for this year’s discovery, “The Wind that Moves Us”, where Catalan Pere Puigbert in his first feature length documentary declares his love to nature and people and lets his grandmother declare her love to her late grandfather, beautiful!

Curiosity and love is what drives the Elvis Presley fan, magnificent teacher Kevin when he inspires the kids in the Belfast school to understand the world around them in “Young Plato” and what makes Dr. Popov and his colleagues in the Bulgarian “A Provincial Hospital” be the heroes they are in the film by Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov and Zlatina Teneva.

And there is no doubt where Dutch director Oeke Hoogendijk puts her sympathy and love in “The Treasures of Crimea”, when she films the woman, who asked colleagues at the Crimean museums to have their treasures go to the exhibition in Amsterdam.

Curiosity and love, well you could not make “Zoo Lockdown” without that as Andreas Horvath has done. 


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Nordisk Panorama/ The Forum

Written 29-09-2022 16:50:27 by Tue Steen Mller

The 29th edition of the Forum for Co-Financing of Documentaries. I was there for the two days, where 24 projects were pitched to a panel of TV-editors and Film Fund/Institute consultants with another 22 listed in the catalogue as observers, who could - as those behind the 24 mentioned - have individual meetings in the hours following the public show.

Is it a show? For us in the audience? Yes and no, depending on those pitching and those responding. And on the moderators skills. They were good, Cecilia Lidin and Mikael Opstrup. Well prepared, knew in beforehand who could be interested, always supporting towards the filmmakers at the other end of the table. Professional in other words creating the special family-like Nordic tone. That has the bad side that noone dares to be critical which sometimes creates a monotone atmosphere, where one editor says that he/she agrees with the previous one and "Thank you for the pitch" and "We can talk more in an individual meeting". Fair enough but boring for the audience.

I will now bring in some comments on some of the projects, mostly those where I simply look forward to see the film.



Read more / Ls mere

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Nordisk Panorama/1

Written 28-09-2022 17:43:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Nordisk Panorama in Malmø. In Sweden. Sunday. Had our passports ready in the train for border check. But no check. 5 minutes to the Scandic Hotel and voilá you are at the very well organised Nordisk Panorama with a fine selection of documentaries and short films to be shown in cinemas around the city - and with seminars, many of them at the hotel.

I managed to go directly to an inspiring meeting with Finnish composer Sanna Salmenkallio, who has made music for films like "Three Rooms of Melancholia" by Pirjo Honkasalo and for several films by Virpi Suutari. The one hour long session was moderated by Gitte Hansen, who is also one of the selectors of films for the festival. The focus was on the music Salmenkallio made for the film by Suutari on the architect couple Aalto, a masterpiece it is, very much because of the music. If you want to know more about the composer, visit

https://www.nordicfilmmusicdays.com/sanna-salmenkallio-fin.html

And then two films: The Danish produced "The Killing of a Journalist" by Matt Sarnecki, a shocking investigative documentary (edited by master Janus Billeskov Jansen) about a totally corrupt, criminalised political Slovakia. A thriller to watch with a courageous journalist and his girl friend as victims of a detailed planned murder - an example of a journalistic documentary of highest quality.

And then "How to Save a Dead Friend" in the Panora Cinema in an almost full hall. The director Maruysa Syroechkovskaya and her Swedish producer Mario Adamson were there and I - as moderator - had an easy job to have the audience put questions to the young director, who is travelling from festival to festival with a film that deservedly is short listed for a European Film Award in the documentary category. Marusya has written about the film here: 

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/5021/

I will have the chance to meet the Russian producer Ksenia Gapchenko at the AegeanDocs Festival in Lemnos next week, also there the film will be shown.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Matter Out of Place

Written 21-09-2022 13:00:46 by Tue Steen Mller

This text is written by Magnificent7 directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Austria, 2022 
110 minutes 
director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter

A grandiose fresco about the state of our planet. After extraordinary films Homo sapiens and Earth, the great Austrian documentary filmmaker once again shows traces of man around the world, traces that are increasingly becoming an unavoidable testimony of our existence.

The title “Matter out of place”, or abbreviated MOOP, refers to marking everything that does not originally belong to the soil, no matter how small, and the term was created through a project "leave no traces" initiated in the USA.

All over the planet, regardless of the level of development and wealth, culture or religious differences, man is extremely and irresistibly productive in the production of all he declares that he does not need. And the scale of what man rejects litters the planet and surprises more and more with its persistent accumulation and long-lasting existance. Through visually superior scenes Nikolaus Geyrhalter takes us on an incredible journey from highly civilized Austria to poor suburbs somewhere in Nepal, from the tourist paradise of Maldives to the shores of Albania, on land and sea and under the sea. Distant, extremely aestheticized, often surreal scenes reveal to us incomprehensible and unmeasurable human interventions in open spaces - gigantic landfills and sophisticated, somewhat monstrous waste processing factories. The author creates a powerful documentary film that, as it develops, confronts us more and more with intractable problems and with the astonishing arrogance of the human species. The film explodes in the final sequence in complete counterpoint to the previous course as an important promise for a different world.

Certainly one of the most important documentaries of the 21st century.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Zoo Lockdown

Written 20-09-2022 09:08:03 by Tue Steen Mller


This text is written by Magnificent7 directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Austria 2022 
73 minutes 
director: Andreas Horvath

This is an exciting visual adventure by an exceptional Austrian photographer and filmmaker who exclusively introduces us to the world closed behind the long-locked doors of the Salzburg Zoo, to the world like from fairy tales and dreams.

The unexpected circumstances of the lockdown during the covid 19 pandemic left permanent residents of Salzburg Zoo without daily visits and noisy presence of visitors. In addition to the very discreet staff that maintains the basic living conditions, animals are left completely alone most of the time and left to their own devices. Through a series of surprising scenes the author virtuosly transforms the architectural particularity of the garden, full of glass partitions that relieve the impression of confinement and enable communication between animals, while making the space fluid, unreal and dreamlike. The presence of animals from a solid and unquestionable existence in life and on the screen often passes into unusual states between reality and apparition. Thoughtful, precisely chosen shots, with scenes sometimes as if from another, to us unknown world, very carefully study these creatures that we often take for granted and awaken in us the awareness of the equality of all living beings, in which man doesn't have and shouldn't have a privileged place . The secret of creatures remain undiscovered and exciting, and even the reappearance of people, daily visitors, who in their false superiority turn this place into a so-called zoo, trivializing the world, does not manage to change that.

A remarkable cinema experience, an impressive story almost without a single word about life and living beings with whom we share the that we live on.


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magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 The Treasures of Crimea

Written 19-09-2022 09:15:25 by Tue Steen Mller


This text is written by the Magnificent7 directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Netherlands 2021 
82 minutes 
director: Oeke Hoogendijk

The work of a prominent Dutch director famous for her magnificent films dealing with the world of art, which introduce us to the exclusive spaces behind the splendor and beauty that we admire.

This film brings before us one of the most controversial issues related to archaeological and artistic heritage. Impartially and always respecting the need to listen to the other side, author Oeke Hoogendijk follows, since 2014, a process full of twists and turns, the battle of lawyers, laws and regulations. The priceless archaeological and artistic treasure of Crimea presented at an exhibition in the Netherlands has suddenly become the subject of an intractable controversy - to whom it actually belongs after the political changes that took place during the exhibition. The discreet and, for many, imperceptible museum director in Amsterdam decides to become an unexpected hero by asking the question, ready to stand up for silent, wonderful objects and provide them with unlimited shelter. Before us, through a series of exciting portraits of the main participants and unexpected events the story of the incredible fate of objects of a long-lost nation is developing and becoming more and more complex. Superb camera and editing as in great feature films, with a masterful director’s work by Oeke Hoogendijk, create a saga about archaeologists and their love, about the nightmare that the Scythians unknowingly experience centuries after they disappeared in the labyrinths of history, about valuables that deserve to be preserved by those who gave them themselves in return.

An unexpected, thrilling cinematic experience that takes you from the excavations of Crimea to the cool, contemporary designed spaces of the Netherlands and back.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 A Provincial Hospital

Written 18-09-2022 09:36:13 by Tue Steen Mller

This text is written by Magnificent7 festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Bulgaria, Germany 2022 
102 minutes 
directors: Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov, Zlatina Teneva

This film begins its festival life right after its premiere at the big festival in Karlovy Vary, as a new great film by Ilian Metev, a young European author with an English documentary style. This time he is with two other young filmmakers. A documentary that amazed Europe with the magnificent courage of documentary authors to enter a dangerous place and come face to face with things that the whole world wanted to run away from.

This exceptional film stands opposite to everything we saw during the covid 19 pandemic - this is the work of three directors in a completely unexpected relationship. Metev is in isolation in London, and two young colleagues, Ivan Chertov and Zlatina Teneva, bravely enter a space that everyone was afraid of and many were horrified. They spent more than two months in the isolated covid ward of a hospital in Bulgarian city of Kyustendil. All three of them, with immeasurable creative efforts, shape a story about exceptional characters and destinies transposed into a film that throws us into the very center of humanity's greatest battle in the XXI century. By brilliant precise focusing on charismatic heroes, through carefully established direct contacts, authors discretely convey the dramatic atmosphere of the place and events. They are empathetic observers who share devotedly doubts and anxieties of their heroes, in their numerous efforts and sufferings, as well as in their rare but astonishing feats.

This film goes beyond the study of an epidemic. With simplicity of observation and communication, it develops the story of a modest provincial hospital into a supreme parable about life, suffering and hope.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Young Plato

Written 17-09-2022 08:58:34 by Tue Steen Mller

This text is written by Magnificent7 directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Ireland, Great Britain, France, Belgium 2021 
102 minutes 
directors: Neasa Ní Chianáin and Declan McGrath

A remarkable continuation of dealing with school and growing up problems from creative and life tandem - director Neasa Ní Chianáin and producer David Rane. If you enjoyed watching their previous hit, magnificent documentary "In loco parentis", this new one continues to reveal the beauty of direct, wonderful relationship between teacher and students. This time an experienced documentarian Declan McGrath joined them in a role of co-director.

To discover Plato in one of the most troubled areas of Belfast, in a poor area divided by religious and economic problems and conflicts, seems quite unreal. In this incredible life story, elementary school pupils and their teachers try to stop the tide of all kind of aggression and conflicts, current and those from the past; to stop or at least mitigate them with wisdom and thoughts of philosophers. The enthusiastic headmaster calls upon ancient thinkers for help, his only allies in the battle against entrenched frustrations and violence they cause. He offers his anxious and confused pupils a precious, almost magical tool - a mental distance that lifts them high above the harshness of reality. The filmmakers focus all their attention on the dynamic, witty headmaster, a fan of Elvis Presley, and his relentless struggle to establish this new perspective with pupils as an invisible but solid and salutary platform from which children can see the world as it is and see themselves in it without fear.

This is a wonderful documentary manifesto about the power of human thought and the power of speech and conversation, a documentary that bears witness to the exciting connections of past, present and future.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 The Wind that Moves Us

Written 17-09-2022 08:39:06 by Tue Steen Mller


This text is written by the festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic.

Spain 2021 
78 minutes 
director: Pere Puigbert

This film with its beauty has conquered the whole of Spain going from festival to festival. Awarded as the best Spanish film in Valladolid and winner of the Latitud selection at Doc Barcelona.

If you want to hear the wind that makes all nature tremble, you must learn to respect the silence. The young poetically inspired Catalan author testifies about that deep respect through his exceptional visual style and brings us an enchanting meditative silence as the fullness of nature's breathing. "I am passionate about creating poetry through the camera (when I shoot) and through the assembly of images (when I edit)," says Pere Puigbert about himself, talking about the discreet yet powerful forces that move him in his work. With this film, he takes us to beautiful spaces of his native Catalonia, where we can completely surrender to the slow, soothing rhythms of nature. In changing of seasons, in carefully chosen details, we discover the fullness and intensity of life. A wise, gentle, caring grandmother who leads her great-grandson through secrets of the world, a dedicated shepherd, his flock and a dog, and a young woman pregnant with a new life will be our guides through meadows, orchards, groves and wastelands. Touching walnut shells, ripe apples, flickering leaves, sheep's fleece, they touch the secrets with which nature pulsates and they get empowered by energies that permeate the entire planet.

A film for a magnificent cinematic experience, an unrepeatable journey into spaces of primeval beauty and energy.

 

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