Filmkommentaren

WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

Written 24-11-2022 12:35:05 by Tue Steen Mller

WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

Filma Film Fest Ukraine:

WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

migration as a result of military conflict

After February 24 we all began to live in a new reality shaped by the full-scale war waged by Russia against Ukraine. The passage of time is now marked by shelling, air-raid alerts, curfews, and most recently, by blackouts. The lives of people and all other creatures have become ultimately precarious. Cities and villages are smashed into ruins, and whole ecosystems are perishing. Thousands of Ukrainians (often with animals and plants) have to flee the war to other cities, regions, and countries. To express solidarity with every human, every living being who has lost or had to flee their home, we decided to make migration in armed conflict the topic of this year’s only “Filma” program.

As a feminist collective, we encourage you to show solidarity with groups who experience discrimination. That’s why it’s important for us to screen these films,where directors tell the stories of their own migration experiences, or keep their creative concepts as non-stigmatizing, non-exoticizing as possible. We believe that this solidarity is impossible without comprehensive critical re-evaluation of the systems of oppression (such as colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism, etc.) and power structures. That’s why every film on the program marks our attempts to discuss complicated, often silenced topics, including the bio- and necropolitics of EU/West imposed on migrants during waves of migration in the second half of the 2010s and at the beginning of the 2020s; apartheid against Palestinians and the settler colonialism of the State of Israel; the telling inaction of the international community in regards to wars of aggression waged by Russia in the 1990s–2020s; the impact of the legacy of colonialism on the armed conflicts and ethnic cleansing in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and in the Near East.

Our program consists of eight films arranged to make up a single meta-story about the loss of home and the long way back to the homeland. We would like you to start with “Remember the smell of Mariupol” by Zoya Laktionova, and then move on to “My Favorite Job, 2022” by Sashko Protyah. In Zoya’s film, the author travels through the memories of her hometown that become entangled with horrendous images of war.

The story of volunteers filmed by Sashko Protyah demonstrates how courage and grassroots self-organization saves lives even when it is deemed impossible. In both works, the authors reflect upon the loss of their hometown Mariupol which was occupied and virtually destroyed by Russia in the spring of 2022.

We recommend you next watch “Newsreel 63 – The Train of Shadows” produced by the Slovenian collective Newsreel Front, “Purple Sea” by Amel Alzakout and Khaled Abdulwahed, and “Landscape of Terror” by Kasia Hertz. The authors of the video essay “The Train of Shadows” reflect upon the ethics of cinema by telling the intermingled story of railways, migration, and cinema. In this work, Amel Alzakout combines her chronicle of migration through the Mediterranean sea with reflections on the fragility of life, her relationship with her husband, and the dehumanizing nature of the contemporary media. Kasia Hertz filmed the stories of refugees who survived the inhuman conditions and violence at the border between Belarus and Poland at the end of 2021. Each film shows how perilous, if not deadly, the road of those seeking asylum may be.

Then check out the films ”I Swam Enguri” by Anuna Bukia and “The Turtle’s Rage” by Pary El-Qalqili. Along with the characters of her film, Anuna crosses the border from occupied Abkhazia to Russia and witnesses the aftermath of the war in her home city of Sukhumi. Pary El-Qalqili tells the story of her Palestinian family to show how devastating the trauma of forced displacement can be.

We conclude this cinematic journey with the film “5 Exchange Lane” by Anirban Dutta. “The Turtle’s Rage” and “I Swam Enguri” both depict a journey to an occupied home which is filled with disappointment and sorrow. However, the story of the Cole family taking their journey accompanied by the film director is filled with the fragile hope of regaining memories of home, of reconciling with the pain of its loss.

We named the program “When Trees Bloom at Home Again”, because we believe that every place has the power to restore itself. And that like trees, the feeling of home will sprout and blossom, despite all attempts to destroy it. We dream that all those who want to return will see that bloom again.

https://filmafest.org/en/


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Mila Teshaieva & Marcus Lenz: When Spring Came to

Written 21-11-2022 11:45:51 by Tue Steen Mller

Mila Teshaieva & Marcus Lenz: When Spring Came to

The Russian massacre in Bucha in Ukraine is well known and talked about. This film documents the cleaning up after the Russians left. It’s not nice to look at. Corpses in black plastic bags being collected and transported, names spoken out of murdered citizens, registration of the deceased, insight to apartments, where the Russians took siege, mourning, of course there is a sad atmosphere but there is also a will to carry on with life. Documentation of war crimes in Bucha has been collected. It’s terrible. The film, shown as part of the Luminous section at IDFA, documents, there are talks with survivors, it is important that the filmmakers were there and were there so quick after the massacre in March this year.

Allow me to change language and quote the Ukrainian author Serhiy Jadan, who spoke at a book fair in Frankfurt. How do you speak/film about Butcha when the war is over:

La poésie après Boutcha et Izioum est certainement possible, voire nécessaire. Cependant, l’ombre de Boutcha et d’Izioum, leur présence, va peser de tout son poids sur la poésie d’après-guerre et va largement déterminer son contenu et son ton. C’est une prise de conscience douloureuse mais nécessaire du fait qu’à partir de maintenant, le contexte des poèmes écrits dans notre pays sera celui des charniers et des quartiers bombardés... 

Germany, 2022, 66 mins.

Photos: Mila Teshaieva (radioeins) Marcus Lenz (wild films) Serhiy Jadan 


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Mila Turajlic and Labudovic

Written 19-11-2022 11:58:23 by Tue Steen Mller

Mila Turajlic and Labudovic

Serbian director Mila Turajlic is my cinematic historian, when it comes to tell me about the history of Yugoslavia and Serbia. At IDFA she presented her two new films “Non-Aligned: Scenes from the Labudovic Reels” and “Ciné-Guerrillas: Scenes from the Labudovic Reels”, plus had a live documentary performance about the reels together with her colleague Maja Medic. But let me take a flashback to the filmkommentaren archive, where you can find words about her previous films “Cinema Komunisto” and “The Other Side of Everything”. About the former: 



Read more / Ls mere

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Lea Glob: Apolonia Apolonia

Written 18-11-2022 00:08:24 by Tue Steen Mller

Lea Glob: Apolonia Apolonia

Main award at IDFA 2022 for Danish director Lea Glob for a film she has been working on for 13 years. A huge achievement to say the least. I saw the film two days ago at home online and was planning to write a review, but after this announcement of to night it was much easier to let the jury speak as well as quote the fine description from the IDFA website:

"This film has characters who breathe life and take us on a journey, opening us up to the worlds of culture and art, of business and politics, of the mechanics of a success story. It is infused with love..." the Jury statement.

"When Danish filmmaker Lea Glob first portrayed Apolonia Sokol in 2009, she appeared to be leading a storybook life. The talented Apolonia was born in an underground theater in Paris and grew up in an artists’ community—the ultimate bohemian existence. In her 20s, she studied at the Beaux-Arts de Paris, one of the most prestigious art academies in Europe. Over the years, Lea Glob kept returning to film the charismatic Apolonia and a special bond developed between the two young women.

The result is a fascinating portrait, spanning 13 years, of a young woman trying to find her place in the art world. Apolonia is confident in her talent, but her path is not always an easy one. Life is not a storybook; one of the lessons Apolonia learns is that women painters have to make more sacrifices and overcome greater obstacles than their male counterparts do. This also applied to the friend she lived with for a long time, Oksana Shachko, one of the founders of the feminist action group Femen. Apolonia’s resilience is put to the test." the IDFA website.

Apolonia, Oksana, Lea... three women, three approaches to life and art and society... three women from different parts of this crazy world we live in... three women full of life and hope... living on the edge... life and death.


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Alina Gorlova: This is Not Putin's War

Written 15-11-2022 20:34:17 by Tue Steen Mller

Alina Gorlova: This is Not Putin's War
I am often asked how boycotting the protesting Russian cinema will help win the war.
I found a good example to talk about it with.
I came across the project of a documentary film by a Russian director, which is currently being presented in the industrial section of the IDFA Forum. For those who don't know, it's a section of upcoming films where producers and directors look for partners and funding.
The Russian director presents her new project called "Dom". 
€ 704,140 budget
How will a boycott of Russian cinema help us win the war? I think it will help us a lot to win the war if we lose our illusions. Creating a false picture of the aggressor country is absolutely not going to help us win the war. We found ourselves in this situation because Russia lulled the world community and even Ukrainians into complacency.
But let's analyze the logline of this project, for example:
"A lost generation of young Russians arrives in Tbilisi Georgia. Forced to leave their homeland by Putin’s war and repression, they live as digital dissidents searching for a new home."
Putin's war.
This is not Putin's war.
This is not Putin's war.
This is not Putin's war.
This is a war of Russians against Ukrainians. Putin has been in power for so long because he nurtured the Russians' chauvinistic and imperial sensibilities. The definition of itself as a superior nation, its culture as great, and its main language as the main one are very pleasing to the people of Russia. Understanding this situation is key. Opposition Russians are speculating on the word "Putin" themselves, probably hoping to attract more attention to the project. "Putin's war" is the creation of a false reality.
Again. I believe that, unfortunately, the authors of the project are engaged in manipulation.
I don't know why this happened to Russian society; I think it's not my business. But this is the task of their directors. That is why the use of the phrase "Putin's war" from the very beginning is hypocritical. When Putin leaves, Russians will not automatically start repenting. I suspect that they will start preparing for a new war. That is why the statement about putin's war is dangerous.
Further, the project description states:
"We are guilty of having allowed a monster to grow: "Putin's Russia", which is now destroying not only its own country but also its sister country."
You could leave no comments here, but you can't)))
First, in the sentence, the emphasis is shifted to the destruction of Russia. How does this monster destroy Russia? What did the authors mean? Excuse me, is Russia bombing Moscow? Killing its children and civilians? Have you turned any of your cities into Mariupol? In an attempt to make the project description more interesting and add sacrifice to their heroes, the authors completely muddled the issues.
And the highlight of this text is the presentation of Ukraine as a sister country of Russia. This is a classic narrative of Russian propaganda to justify aggression on the territory of an independent and, for them, at most, a neighboring state. It's even hard for me to find the words here.
The perception of Russia and Ukraine as sister states supports the propaganda narrative. And supporting the narratives of Russian propaganda will definitely not help win the war.
I don't care about the creative component of the project, I haven't seen any of the director's films, but the description of the project is infuriating and disorienting. Ukraine has not yet won this war. Supporting Russian propaganda narratives is harmful in this way.

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Verzio Documentary Moments

Written 14-11-2022 20:02:51 by Tue Steen Mller

Verzio Documentary Moments

When you have been watching scenes and footage from 8 projects at the Verzio DocLab Budapest last week there are moments of what you could call authentic truth that stay in your mind. Let me mention 4 of them:

A mother draws the curtain and lets in the sunshine to the room, where her grown-up son sleeps. She caresses him, he looks at her and the dog that also waits to be included in the moment of happiness. The severely disabled son smiles. Anna Rubi caught this moment that will leave no one untouched when “Your Life Without Me” comes out and will create debate in Hungary that “still lacks humane state care”.

Black & White, a mother and her daughter Erin (MacPherson), the director, sits next to each other with a cup in hand. None of them talks but you sense in this moment that something is wrong because of the framing and because the scene stays long. That unique cinematographic moment will stay in “The Pursuit of Grief” – the mother has lost her husband, the daughter Erin her father.

One-two, One-two-three, wife and husband train dance steps in their kitchen in “Dreams at Sunset” by Ibolya Simó. The scene is fun to watch – and touching as you have just been told that their two sons have passed away, one after cancer, the other took his own life. They now want to make reality out of “it is never too late to start living”, a sentence from the catalogue.

Another dance scene moment in a house in Budapest where the director Sára Timár dances with her old father thus showing her love to him, who used to be an important person in Hungarian dancing. This poetic dance moment followed in a scene, where a visit to the cellar reveals that something completely different had been going on… “Under the Dance Floor”, working title of the film-to-be.

Young filmmakers with an eye for people and situation. You need to be curious and have the skills to get close to achieve moments like these.

www.verzio.org

Foto: Anna Rubi 


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Verzio DocLab 2022

Written 12-11-2022 20:16:05 by Tue Steen Mller

Verzio DocLab 2022

From tuesday till saturday 8 film projects were being worked on in Budapest as part of the Verzio Human Rights Film Festival. The filmmakers came with their material and were met by mentors and colleagues, who gave them feedback in order for them to develop their projects and make - for their presentation today - a scene that could prove their film skills and tell the audience, what the film would be about. No trailers, no money talk, a brief verbal presentation and then the scene - or two - edited during the four days.

It was pure pleasure to be part of the mentoring team (Austrian director Michael Seeber, Spanish editor Diana Toucedo, Hungarian editor Brigitta Bacskai) walking from room to room in the infamous CEU Library, where there are no students due to the conflict between the Hungarian government/Victor Orban and the university founded by George Soros - that resulted in the move of the university to Vienna. But that's another story you can google on your own...

It's amazing what can be achieved creatively in so few days and it was my impression that the panelists (representatives from the festivals FipaDoc in Biarritz, Biograffilm in Bologna, from KinoDok in Czech Republic, Claudia Rodriguez Valencia from Colombia, Danish film consultant at the Swedish Film Institute Jannick Splidsboel, Hungarian film directors Asia Dér and Klara Trencsenyi, whose wonderful film "The Missing Tale" had its Hungarian premiere at the Verzio festival two days ago) appreciated the non-classical-pitch situation.

Also during the week there were two so-called masterclasses. The two editors Diana Toucedo and Brigitta Bacskai talked about their profession and I had the pleasure to have a conversation with Michael Seeber, who is a very knowledgeable person in the European film scene, having made documentary films and tv series and fiction. Seeber had chosen the title of the conversation, "Pursuing focus in our films — The creative possibilities", showing clips we did both of us. Seeber showed a text clip from his upcoming film on Ida Halpern, Austrian ethnomusicologist, looking fwd. to see the final result.

The titles of the projects presented, look out for them:

  • Up in the Air (Ukraine)

  • Your life without me (Hungary)

  • 2158 Stories (Denmark)

  • The pursuit of grief (South Africa) 

  • Albada / From the morning (Venezuela) 

  • Under the dance floor (Hungary)

  • Dreams at sunset (Hungary) 

  • El cielo esta azur y el mar esta tranquilo (Spain)

    The workshop was organised by Péter Becz, filmmaker (by the way making a documentary in Denmark about a Hungarian chef based in DK!) assisted by Hanna Kadar and Anna Bölcsföldi, two great young women who made our stay effective and enjoyable.

  Still: ...Hungarian film directors Asia Dér and Klara Trencsenyi, whose wonderful film "The Missing Tale" had its Hungarian premiere at the Verzio festival two days ago) appreciated the non-classical-pitch situation.


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Verzio Budapest 2022

Written 08-11-2022 20:26:24 by Tue Steen Mller

Verzio Budapest 2022

The International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival starts tonight. The director Oksana Sarkisov writes the following strong welcome words with the headline 

“Taming the Fire”

In 2022, the phrase “world on fire” is more than a metaphor or a reference to some past or remote incidents. The war in Ukraine and its global resonance, the growing number of casualties and millions of refugees and internally displaced people worldwide, the deepening energy crisis, and the alarming consequences of climate change are transforming our daily lives, and with it, the whole planet. For a thinking and engaged mind, it is impossible to stay adrift and look aside. Camera in hand, documentarists continue exploring the world’s most pressing problems, giving each abstract concept a human dimension and a personal, poignant, subjective touch.

This year, Verzió features powerful visual stories of courageous journalists, women overcoming traumatic violence, young generations exploring complex family histories and identities, and activists resisting dictatorships and corporations while advocating for radical change to build an inclusive, peaceful future. We prepare a special program, Solidarity UA, which highlights the complexity and richness of Ukrainian society, and commemorates the life and work of Mantas Kvedaravičius, who was brutally killed while filming in Mariupol.  

Filmmakers are increasingly involved with the stories they document, reflexively expanding the potential of documentary’s testimonial power. Intense observation and thorough research are continuously enhanced by new media. The possibilities offered by VR and animation change the ways we think and relate to the very notions of “document” and “documenting.” Beyond formal experiments, what unites these films is the urgency of the issues addressed.

The hot topics at this year’s festival are symbolized by burning flames. Fire implies danger, but it also brings warmth and light, and can gather a community together. We hope that Verzió will serve as such a gathering for all those concerned with today’s burning topics and those willing to face these pressing issues head on.

Welcome to the 19th edition of the festival. Feel the warmth of human connection and join the community of documentary film enthusiasts.

photo: Oksana Sarkisov


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European Film Awards Documentary

Written 08-11-2022 14:49:48 by Tue Steen Mller

https://europeanfilmawards.eu/en_EN/selection-documentary-current

Click above and you will see the shortlisted documentaries for the European Film Award in the documentary category.

Today the nominations for the award to be decided in Reykjavik on the 10th of December were announced:

The House of Splinters. By Simon Lereng Wilmont

Mariupolis 2. By Mantas Kvedaravičius 

The Balcony Movie. By Pawel Lozinski

March on Rome. By Mark Cousins

Girl Gang. By Susanne Regina Meures 

Congratulations!


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AWARDS AT THE 26TH JI.HLAVA FF

Written 04-11-2022 13:51:19 by Tue Steen Mller

AWARDS AT THE 26TH JI.HLAVA FF
 

The award for the most notable international documentary film was granted to 07:15 – Blackbird by Judith Auffray, the best Czech documentary is Kapr Code by Lucie Králová. The award for the best Central and East European documentary and for the best sound design went to Croatian film Deserters by Damir Markovina. The award for the best debut went to Bloom by Canadian director Fanie Pelletier, and Javier Codesal from Spain received the award for original approach for his Greater Gospel. The Swiss director Mateo Ybarra received the students' prize as well as the best editing award for Over Our Hills. The jury of the Testimonies section appreciated Into the Weeds: Dewayne "Lee" Johnson vs Monsanto Company by Canadian director Jennifer Baichwal. The best experimental documentary film is The Sound of Time by Venezuelan director Jeissy TrompizGlasswork by Zdeněk Picpauer was named the best Czech experiment. The Contribution to World Cinema award was granted to legendary Slovak filmmaker Dušan Hanák. See all awards and jury statements here


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