Filmkommentaren

DocuDays 20th Edition 2023 Opening

Written 02-06-2023 23:47:45 by Tue Steen Mller

DocuDays 20th Edition 2023 Opening

I was in Kyiv last night. Again. For the opening of the 20th edition of the DocuDays ua International Human Rights Documentary Festival. Online via Facebook. It was like it was before in the Zhovten Cinema: An opening with speeches in Ukrainian and English including one from a representative from the main sponsor of the festival, the Swedish Embassy in Ukraine (bravo Sweden for the continuous support), clips from the many competition programmes, a hall full of spectators…

And yet it was different. Of course it was. Ukraine is at war. The film program illustrates this and there were strong emotional moments of demonstration and commemoration during the opening ceremony:

The whole hall of spectators stood up with signs “#free Maksym Butkevych”, the human rights activist and journalist, who was working with the festival and who was captured by the occupiers and sentenced to 13 years of prison for “his support for IDPs during the war in Donbas and because of his history as a journalist for the BBC…”being “labelled as a neo-nazi and British spy” (Wikipedia).

Dary’a Averchenko, head of the festival’s communication department, made a speech that commemorated film editor Victor Onysko “who died defending Ukraine”. His widow Olga Birzul curated a program “Editing Transition” in memory of her husband. On the festival website (https://docudays.ua/eng/2023/news/intervyu/kritichniy-poglyad-na-kino-musit-buti-bazovoyu-navichkoyu-olga-birzul-pro-programu-montazhniy-perekhid/) there is an interview with Birzul, who for many years took part in the programming of the festival. I remember Roman Bondarchuk, director and art director of the festival characterized her as “the soul of the festival”. A quote from the interview: 

… First of all, I wanted to talk in detail about the whole variety of montage in this programme: as a technique, a political gesture, a reconstruction of memory and a time machine. I tried to show the scale of this phenomenon. After all, montage is the grammar of the film language. Before the emergence of montage theory, cinema was pure entertainment. After that, it became an art. 

At first, I chose three films, as you say, political ones: The March on Rome by Mark Cousins, Private Footage by Janaína Nagata and Arcadia by Paul Wright. Together with their critical optics, they all are just suited for a montage cinema slot. But I couldn’t get Lea Glob's beautiful Apolonia, Apolonia out of my mind. I felt that conceptually it was a bit out of place. It's a personal and even confessional film, which, by the way, also includes a lot of politics and activism, but at the same time, editing stops playing a major role there. The film is not cut up or used as a method of researching reality. In Apolonia, Apolonia, we see the other side of documentary cinema – a work with time…

Ahhh, clever words. The festival opened with the film by Alisa Kovalenko, reviewed/ praised on this site, “We Will not Fade Away”, a masterpiece.

https://docudays.ua/eng/

still: we will not fade away 

 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona: Camilla Nielsson

Written 31-05-2023 11:16:15 by Tue Steen Mller


Camilla Nielsson: President”You’ve got to have love for your characters and do everything you can to give them confidence in the job you’ve been assigned”. Said Camilla Nielsson to me in an interview back in November 2014, published in a Danish Film Institute magazine on the occasion of her film’s showing af IDFA that year. I refer to ”Democrats” that we followed quite intensely on this site on its road to festivals – and awards – around the world.

Love for characters, I was happy to meet again Paul Mangwana and Douglas Mwonzora, the protagonists of ”Democrats”, in Nielsson’s new film ”President”. Their job in ”Democrats” was to create a constitution – Mangwana on behalf of ZANU-PF, Mwonzora for MDC-T. Two very different characters and temperaments I got to like thanks to filmmaker Nielsson and her cameraman Henrik Bohn Ipsen. In ”President” they are side characters, Mangwana furious in a long scene, where the members of ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is questioned on their impartiality by the opposition party MDC-T, and the elegant cool Mwonzora being present in several scenes as one of the sympathetic strategists working hard to win the presidency for Nelson Chamisa.

 

 

Camilla Nielsson succeeds to make Chamisa and his people interesting to follow. With a clear structure and very much based on the “reading” of faces – the film is full of lovely close-ups – that cameraman Ipsen gives us. Example: We study Chamisa in cars taking him to meetings with the people at the election campaign; sometimes you sense he is nervous, sometimes he is happy with people’s warm reception of him, sometimes he is reflecting or is in sadness like when he has met the family of one of the six, who were killed by soldiers confronting MDC supporters with water cannons and bullets. There is a rhythm in this, the dramaturgy of the film plays constantly with emotional contrasts. Jeppe Bødskov is the editor, great work.

Character-wise, with more charisma I find with Nkululeko Sibanda, who is the spokesperson of Chamisa, passionate and it´s almost heartbreaking to see his reaction, when he discovers he has been fooled to let the police bring MDC staff into a van “for protection”. “Did I make a mistake?”. And you find other personalities as the man with the hat, who says that this is “not an election, it’s a selection”. Or, the images of Justice Chigumba, chair of ZEC, when she sits in the court room like a sfinx attending the post-election court case by MDC against the same ZEC, accused of fraud and manipulation… Stone-face and yet a couple of times with flickering eyes. Advocate Mbofu is proceeding for MDC, we viewers have followed the MDC collecting evidence like “how come the voting results are identical in 16 cases”!!!

Not to forget the press conference given by Mugabe, where he indirectly declares his support for Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is now the president of Zimbabwe. He answers with humour as he sits there, an old weak man, a statesman, could not help like him at that moment…

In another interview Camilla Nielsson has said that she prefers character to story. That’s where her huge talent comes forward again as it did in “Democrats”, the talent as a true vérité filmmaker, who brings us “the feeling of being there” as Leacock said. In scenes that are full of energy. Far away from journalism and yet, Nielsson and Ipsen are covering the presidential election of Zimbabwe with nuances, one-sided?, well no doubt where the sympathy is – with those who want democracy, change change change as Chamisa declares again and again in the mass gatherings where the people show their palms – but the two were at the inauguration of Mnangagwa. The film ends with him looking at us viewers. What’s next? Yes what’s next with the film, can it/will it be shown in Zimbabwe. It took time for “Democrats”, “Camilla Nielsson against Zimbabwe”!

Photo: Henrik Bohn Ipsen, from the film.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Honorary Heart of Sarajevo to Mark Cousins

Written 16-05-2023 12:30:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Honorary Heart of Sarajevo to Mark Cousins

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the art of film, director and writer Mark Cousins will receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award at the 29th Sarajevo Film Festival. 

This will not be his first encounter with the city - his first visit to Sarajevo was during the Siege, in the mid 90s. He and the Edinburgh International Film Festival had visited the Obala Art Centar cinema, where they showed films in support of Sarajevo’s besieged citizens. That cinema will come to be the birthplace of the Sarajevo Film Festival. 

„Taking films from the Edinburgh International Film Festival to Sarajevo during its siege showed me why movies matter. Most things I've done since have been influenced by those scary, inspiring weeks in 1994. Going back to Sarajevo for the first time, after 29 years, will open a dam of emotions for me. The Honorary Heart of Sarajevo will take pride of place in my home and remind me of the need to take risks, to act in solidarity. I can still learn from the young man I was and, far more so, from the pioneering people in Sarajevo who understood that movies aren't just a pastime. They are a crucial part of our lives. I'm so grateful“, said Mark Cousins.

Mark Cousins is a Scottish-Irish filmmaker. His themes are the inspiring power  



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Mansky & Titarenko: Eastern Front

Written 13-05-2023 13:21:25 by Tue Steen Mller

Mansky & Titarenko: Eastern Front

This film has been shown at numerous festivals and now the audience In Barcelona gets the chance to watch it and meet one of its directors, Vitaly Mansky, in the Q&A. At a session the day before, entitled “Documentary filmmaking against the backdrop of war”, Mansky will be on stage together with Alba Sotorra Clua , Barcelona based director, who has made fims like the documentary feature film Game Over (2015), which received the VIII Gaudí Award from the Catalan Film Academy and Comandante Arian (2018), nominated for the Gaudí Awards for Best Documentary in 2019.

I have seen "Eastern Front" and it is a strong documentary from the frontline at the same time as you get some impressive and positive insights to what a group of volunteer medics perform to help injured soldiers get to hospital before it is too late - often it is. Yehen Titarenko, charismatic co-director with Mansky, filmmaker, is on the screen driving the car through muddy roads OR he is with his medic friends in quiet Western Ukraine, where they go to relax and celebrate a baptism, and talk talk talk about what this war has meant  and means to them. A quote from the description of Titarenko on the website of DocsBarcelona: 

“On 24 February 2022, Yeyhen and his friends decide to volunteer to join the first aid battalion on the eastern front of the Ukrainian war. They are willing to provide all necessary support and evacuate the wounded. For six months, the hand-held camera follows them with showing the rawness, fear, hatred and bitterness of war with shocking proximity and without intermediaries…”

“Eastern Front” will be shown in Barcelona the 25th of May, the day before Mansky and Alba Sotorra will have the mentioned dialogue, moderated by Marc Marginedas, about documentary filmmaking in the midst of armed conflicts:

What are the challenges when filming a war or bringing real stories to the big screen against the backdrop of an armed conflict? What role does the documentary gaze play as a political positioning and what is the implication behind directing documentaries while highlighting the more human side of war? How does the filmmaker find hope in the midst of war? What filmmaking decisions do they make to show the rawness and violence, but at the same time, hope? How does one write the script/editing of a war film from a perspective, where hope prevails? When does the filmmaker realise they are in front of a great sequence in the midst of the conflict?

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Mantas Kvedaravicius Mariupolis 2

Written 08-05-2023 21:09:29 by Tue Steen Mller

Mantas Kvedaravicius

In 2011 I attended a Summer School in Neringa Lithuania for film students. A film by Mantas Kvedaravicius was shown, his first.

”Stasys Baltakis, teacher at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the film school of the Country, introduced the film and its director. ”He is not a film director, he is a thinker”, he said about the debutant Kvedaravicius, who made the film over a period of years, now completing his PhD (and a book) on the affects of pain. And the film is about pain, about people in Chechnya, families whose members disappear or have undergone torture. Shot illegally, and with one year in the editing, the film expresses pure love and respect for the characters without turning to sentimentalism…

The camera catches magical moments inside the houses, the characters tell their stories of pain and torture, mainly off the picture, car trips give the narrative a flow and information about how a devastated city looks, at the same time as the Russian authorities have done a lot to lighten up mosques and other buildings. Pure facade for the invisible violence, it seems. While watching the film you sense a growing anger and sadness witnessing the life of people, who wait and hope…” (from the review of Barzach, 2011)

”Kvedaravicius, whose last film (his first) ”Barzakh”, a masterpiece, took place in Chechnya, has again created a tense work of a beauty that lies in the aesthetic choices he has made with the camera, that he and two others have operated. You enjoy frame by frame, scene after scene, sequence after sequence the way he has placed the camera and the naturalness with which the editing takes you around.

How shall I leave this praise of a film that develops and towards the end brings images of exploded cars and destroyed buildings, and has scenes where the population is taught how to put out fire… I want to and will remember the shoemaker repairing shoes and having conversations with clients and family. A location that comes back, with peace, a statement of survival of humanism, as this great director has delivered with what is only his second film…” (from the review of Mariupolis, 2016)

And now Mariupolis 2, shot by Kvedaravicius, shown at festivals and awarded as the best European documentary at the EFA ceremony in Reykjavik in December. The film was before that shown at IDFA where it was introduced like this: “In 2022, Mantas Kvedaravičius returned to the ruined city of Mariupol in Ukraine to film the people he met for his 2016 documentary Mariupolis. There, he was killed in early April by Russian troops while documenting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His fiancée managed to escape with the footage. After his death, producers and crew gave their all to edit his final, unfinished film and show it to the world.”

Watching the film I can only echo what was written about the two previous films. Mantas Kvedaravicius shows his respectful approach to human beings in need, he stays with them, no sensationalism, he follows them when they clean the ground after the Russian bombings, when they gather to eat in the cellar, where they pray and sleep, when they prepare a soup outside, where two men transport a generator at a place, where two corpses lie on the ground, accompanied by the sounds of bombings around all the time, “let’s go to the mass grave” someone says referring to the airstrike in March of the Theatre of Mariupol, where civilians had found shelter.

The great director Mantas Kvedaravicius created with this film what one of the legends in documentary history called “the sense of being there”, with love and respect. RIP


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Stonys & Briede: Bridges of Time

Written 03-05-2023 10:35:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Stonys & Briede: Bridges of Time

This is a text I wrote for the premiere of the film, 30th of June 2018:

Wow, it's tomorrow at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival that Bridges of Time has its premiere. The film, a co-production between the three Baltic countries, is introduced like this by the festival: "Kristīne Briede and Audrius Stonys’s meditative documentary essay portrays the less-remembered generation of cinema poets of the Baltic New Wave. With finesse, they push beyond the barriers of the common historiographic investigation in order to achieve a consummate poetic treatment of the ontology of documentary creation."

A fine intro, however, I would make it a bit longer with these words: "This is a film for all cinema lovers. It tells about the Baltic poetic documentary cinema that was created during the Soviet Union. In opposition to the USSR propaganda films. It was a wave of a personal free visual language that celebrated life and humanity. Together with Latvian Kristine Briede, Lithuanian director Audrius Stonys, who in his own work continues the tradition for a poetic look at reality, has picked magical moments from unique long and short documentaries to let them meet the old masters as they look today or when they were in front of the camera decades ago. The directors in the film about this special artistic phenomenon in film history are Herz Frank, Uldis Brauns, Ivars Seleckis, Andres Sööt, Robertas Verba, Henrikas Sablevicius, Arvis Freimanis, Mark Soosaar."

I have been invited to come for the premiere in Karlovy Vary, which I do with great pleasure as someone whose professional life changed completely in the 1990'es, where I discovered the Baltic documentary on the island of Bornholm where a festival, Balticum Film & TV Festival took place until 2000. Today it is my joy to go to Riga every year to take part in the Baltic Sea Docs that is a continuation of the adventure on Bornholm, as is the collaboration of the three Baltic countries cinema-wise with this celebration os something very special - the film will be followed by a superb retrospective of the primarily short documentaries made by the masters in the documentary. 


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Arunas Matelis: Wonderful Losers

Written 02-05-2023 12:02:43 by Tue Steen Mller

Arunas Matelis: Wonderful Losers

This is a text that I wrote in October 2017 when Arunas Matelis film had its world premiere:

… with the subtitle ”A Different World”, a film that many of us, who think Lithuanian Arunas Matelis is a great artistic documentary film director, have been waiting for – will have its premiere at the Warsaw International Film Festival that takes place October 13-22, a festival for fiction, shorts and documentaries. Arunas and his wife Alge, from their Studio Nominum in Vilnius, have produced a film of high quality (I have seen it just before final cut) that deserves to travel the world because of its cinematic qualities and its invitation to us viewers to look into – as the subtitle says- a different world. It’s (also) a film on professional cycling that touches upon existential questions. Here is the synopsis from the site of the film, link below:

”For spectators, cyclists in the back of the race are simply the losers. They are called water carriers, domestics, gregarios, and Sancho Panzas of professional cycling. Moreover, they have no right to personal victories - these sportsmen sacrifice their careers to help their teammates. We follow the magnificent world of the race from the point of view of the doctors' team situated in a claustrophobically small medical car surrounded with wounded cyclists. The life of the medical team in race reminds one on the frontline of war. Cyclists crash, rise and race again. And amongst this fight, many magnificent things happen. This film-odyssey reveals the untold world of the wonderful losers, true warriors, knights and monks of professional cycling.”

From a production point of view the credits show an amazing list of co-producers (with 10 cinematographers!) – let me mention them from the credits: Stefilm Italy, Dok Mobile Switzerland, Associate Directors Belgium, VFS Films Latvia, Dearcan Media N.Ireland/UK, Planet Korda Ireland, SUICA Films Spain, Arturas Jevdokimovas for Kino Kontora.

Normally you say that too many cooks spoil the meal – having known Arunas Matelis and his work for more than 25 years I can assure you that this is a film that has his signature.

Wish you good luck with the premiere!

http://www.wonderfullosers.com


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CPH:DOX 2023 Scores Biggest Audience Ever

Written 24-04-2023 13:03:32 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX 2023 Scores Biggest Audience Ever

The 20th anniversary of CPH:DOX became a record breaking year for Denmark’s largest film festival. During the festival, the audience number reached 125,680 – in total. Audiences flocked to the cinemas – both in Copenhagen and in the 28 municipalities that were part of the festival this year.

With an audience of 125,680, CPH:DOX 2023 became the most visited edition of the festival ever. Over the past 20 years, CPH:DOX has grown from a small Copenhagen event with just under 12,000 visiting guests to one of the world’s leading documentary film festivals with a large and engaged audience, both in the cinemas and online on the festival’s new streaming platform PARA:DOX.

Niklas Engstrøm, Artistic Director of CPH:DOX, said:
“With this year’s edition of CPH:DOX, we have finally stepped out of the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic which has left its mark on the festival and its ability to reach a live audience every year since 2020. The 20th anniversary of CPH:DOX was really a celebration – of documentary cinema and of the film festival as a social event. The most wonderful thing is that the massive interest by our local crowd goes hand in hand with rising international attention, and I’m happy to see how so many of the films premiering at CPH:DOX are now continuing their journey in the international festival circuit and market”.

The most popular film in the cinemas during CPH:DOX 2023 was ‘A Storm Foretold’, Christoffer Guldbrandsen’s long-awaited film about Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone, while ‘After Work’ by Erik Gandini became the most streamed film at the festival’s online platform, PARA:DOX. Both films were screened in the festival’s world premieres-only main competition DOX:AWARD.

International attention on the raise
CPH:DOX 2023 not only offered a strong film program with +100 world premieres. The festival also offered a wide range of activities for professionals, including the ever more popular pitching forum for the international film industry, which moved to a bigger venue to accommodate the demand. This part of the festival has made headlines and received praise in a large number of leading international media, including VarietyScreen International and Deadline among others.

Katrine Kiilgaard, Managing Director of CPH:DOX, said:
“Since 2017, CPH:DOX has worked purposefully to develop the industry activities, and we are very happy to see that it is really bearing fruit. We have presented more projects, welcomed more professionals, conducted more individual meetings and given out more awards than ever before. But more importantly, CPH:DOX has attracted a critical mass of the most important players in the industry to meet the most talented filmmakers, making Copenhagen a hub for the further development of the documentary genre and a place not to be missed by the industry”.

Facts about audience interest in CPH:DOX
Overall, the film program at CPH:DOX 2023 was seen by an audience of 125,682.
The first edition of CPH:DOX in 2003 attracted a total of 11,706 visitors to the cinemas, but since then interest has been steadily increasing to 51,800 in 2012 up to the previous audience record of 117.720 in 2020. During the corona pandemic in 2020, CPH:DOX was quickly transformed into a digital festival – in a time of crisis when large parts of Denmark were shut down. In 2021 and 2022, CPH:DOX continued as a hybrid festival with film screening in cinemas and online as well.

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Honorary Award to Helena Třetkov

Written 14-04-2023 20:14:26 by Tue Steen Mller

Honorary Award to Helena Třetkov

DocsBarcelona will pay tribute to 73-year-old filmmaker Helena Třeštíková, one of Europe's leading contemporary documentary filmmakers. Her extraordinary career of more than fifty titles will be recognised with the Honorary DocsBarcelona Award 2023, an award that celebrates "a prodigious production strongly linked to her homeland, the Czech Republic. Today, her films are already a legacy and a first hand document of the last half-century of the country's history. Třeštíková will receive the award at the opening of the event, which will celebrate its twenty-sixth edition from 18th to 28th May and will bring more than thirty documentaries to the CCCB and the Aribau Cinemas.

Helena Třeštíková briefly held the post of Minister of Culture of her country in 2007 and delved into the life and work of fellow Czech director Milos Forman with Forman vs. Forman, a film premiered in 2019 at DocsBarcelona and the Cannes Film Festival. With a powerful focus on human relationships and social issues, Třeštíková has built an extensive filmography where time-lapse shines, a resource often used by the filmmaker to follow her characters through decades of their lives.

DocsBarcelona recognition will be completed with a retrospective at the Filmoteca de Catalunya, which will include three of her most celebrated titles: *Katka(2010), a portrait filmed over fourteen years of a drug-dependent teenager struggling to overcome her addiction; Private Universe (2012), in which Třeštíková films a Czech family over nearly four decades against the backdrop of the fall of Stalinist socialism and the entry into the European Union, and the recent René - The Prisoner of Freedom (2021), the sequel to René (2008), in which the filmmaker reunites with her protagonist, a young man she filmed for twenty years in a juvenile prison. The film is a portrait of an outsider who is highly critical of society and the system in which he does not fit in.

Třeštíková will also offer a masterclass with an intimate and carefully chosen selection of the sequences from her filmography that have most influenced her. The session will be hosted by Marga Almirall, from Barcelona Women's Film Festival, coorganizer of the envent.

Copy-paste from DocsBarcelona website.

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Jon Bang Carlsen: Dreaming Arizona

Written 22-03-2023 15:23:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Jon Bang Carlsen: Dreaming Arizona

”Most of what follows is true, but reality and dreams are like conjoined twins, if one dies both will perish”, a text from, who else, Danish master Jon Bang Carlsen, a text he could have used already almost 50 years ago, when he made “Jenny” and started his personal and unique storytelling in film after film, a gift to Danish cinema. And yet he always renews himself, this time working gently and caring with teenagers, who live in a small town in Arizona, Winslow is the name; at the same time as he is keeping the sound and the image of some of his favorite narrative elements, in this case the freight trains - do you remember his film on his mother, “Livet vil leves” (1994) (“Life will be Lived”), the trains were there and the fascinating sound of them passing through the landscape. As in Winslow. The film, before the title comes up, starts with that sound, it is never silent in Winslow, these damn trains as one of the girls say.

Her name is Makenzie, who in the film is joined by Amber and Kristin (both Navajos), Sydney and Bryson. The five get together on the stage of the local cinema to do this “documentary fantasy played by real people” as Bang Carlsen puts it. On a stage in front of the silver screen, where dreams can be dreamt and realized through the wonderful cinema language. They get together with Makenzie, who sells popcorn in the cinema, as the one taking the floor to tell her story asking the others to do the same. And they do. It becomes “our” story, which is not a happy one. Makenzie’ s father left to live with Sydney’s mother, Bryson would like to meet his grandfather who lives as a homeless, Kristin suffers from her sister’s loss of a child, Taylor, Amber wants to leave mother and child to go to study journalism in Los Angeles… To put it briefly and to say that from there they and the director go on to perform a visual poetic trip or - using the title of one of Bang Carlsen’s previous works - “invent reality”.

And visually it is breathtaking beautiful, I was thinking, when I saw the film on the big screen in the theatre in Copenhagen. Estonian cameraman Erik Põllumaa is visualizing as his director wishes him to do; Bang Carlsen is a cinematic painter.

The yellow school bus is there, white horses, one of them in Makenzie’s story passing by in the street in front of the cinema, the Navajo landscapes familiar to Amber’s story, Bryson in the church: “I call for your help but there´s no answer”, Kristin and the others in front of a closed mine from where Taylor comes out on a white horse, Sydney and Makenzie arguing on the stage and in the swimming pool hugging each other, stories after stories are connected to the five protagonists and to the magic screen up there, where Rose appears… there is a story about her, who lived in Winslow in the sixties, no spoiler from me.

“We all got baggage, we are not alone in this battle called life”, says Makenzie, who has a conversation with Amber leaving the hard stories of their childhood that they all carry and have put into the film. … played by real people, oh they play so well. Authenticity!

Denmark, Estonia, Norway, 2022, 76 mins.

Still: cph:dox


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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Mia Engberg: Hypermoon

Written 09-03-2023 17:10:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Mia Engberg: Hypermoon

First a flashback to 2013 where I saw the director’s “Belleville Baby” and wrote (on this site): “Swedish Mia Engberg’s”Belleville Baby” is beautiful. Why, because it has a feeling, an atmosphere, a personal tone (the director’s own voice and her text is excellent) and a well told story from the past, where the director fell in love in Paris, lived with him for some time, experienced him becoming a criminal, because of his immigrant background, an honest film that also includes reflections on the fimmaker wanting to convey the good story, whatever the subject of the story thinks... it is so well made with a mix af material – super 8 blurred images, photos, newsreels and tv-reports from riots in France, home video from the director with her small son, all framed by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydike. An essay film on remembering, and remembering different moments and events, maybe they never took place. Impressive work by Mia Engberg.” She made in 2019 ”Lucky One” according to CPH:DOX, I have not seen that.

And then... 



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Masters of DOX - ZagrebDox 2023

Written 05-03-2023 15:04:01 by Tue Steen Mller

Masters of DOX - ZagrebDox 2023

Here is a copy-paste from the website of Croatian ZagrebD0x (March 26 - April 2), a good read:

Master, expert, maestro, connoisseur, virtuoso... The ‘title’ can be given both to a craftsman and an artist, but one thing is for sure: with it we address only the best in our business. Masters of Dox, a long-time programme section of the ZagrebDox International Documentary Film Festival, has been made up of films by authors at the top of the world film for years, but not necessarily documentary! The 19th festival edition brings six new titles directed by prominent film artists, undoubtedly masters of their craft.



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Latvian Nat. Film Prizes: Lielais Kristaps

Written 24-02-2023 21:08:29 by Tue Steen Mller

Latvian Nat. Film Prizes: Lielais Kristaps

Sunday is the ceremony, where Latvian film is to be praised in all categories you can think of, also for camera, sound, editing etc. and what is attributed to fiction filmmaking. I have a heart for Latvian documentaries so I limit myself to mention the five nominated in the section “long documentary”. I have seen three of them. They are:

Bach against Covid / Bahs pret Covid (Latvia)Directed by Ivars Zviedris

The director is – for me – a true documentarian (btw. the title of one of his films) and it is no surprise that he makes this film, as Baltic Sea Docs manager, critic Zane Balcus wrote to me: Ivars Zviedris manages to capture current issues in society – be it political, economic, or social processes or shifts… Here he has filmed during the Covid period documenting visual facets of lockdown and its imprint on the life of the film’s protagonist – the cello musician Normunds who plays his instrument for the tourists in Riga Old Town…

Hecuba's Question / Hekabes jautājums (Latvia) Directed by Pēteris Krilovs, Iveta Budreviča

Krilovs… have followed his many films, and his “Klucis. Deconstruction of an Artist” is for me a masterpiece in storytelling. This one Zane Balcus gives these words: ”This film Krilovs has directed together with Iveta Budreviča, close friend of the film’s main protagonists. Through associative representation of a dream told by Krilovs at the start of the film, the directors draw us into the world of the musician Rolands Ūdrītis, who after the tragic accident a few years back has not recovered, and his wife Ilona Balode. We are asked to imagine and then follow how their life goes on and what strength is needed to endure and keep up the hope.”

My Mother the State (Latvia, Iceland)Directed by Ieva Ozoliņa

Fascinating universal story, straight forward and emotional, about looking for a sister and finding out that you have not only one but four sisters “scattered all over the world”. It’s an incredible story and the protagonist is one, who never gives up in her search for family and herself.

Before the Light / Svārstības (Latvia) Directed by Kristīne Briede

Kristine Briede made the magnificent “Bridges of Time” with Audrius Stonys, she is one of the most knowledgeable I know from the Latvian documentary scene but what I did not know, but now saw, she is also one who points in fine cinematographic language at an incredible story from nowadays Latvia – as it is written in an introduction of a review in the magazine Kino Raksti: Would it be normal for us if women were allowed to work as doctors or teachers only under the supervision of men? Why then is this considered normal within the Lutheran Church and in the work of a pastor?.. The personal service stories of three women - Dace Balodes, Rudīte Losāne and Agrita Staško – are being unfolded.

The Land / Zemnieki (Latvia) Directed by Ivars Seleckis

Ivars, my hero, my friend, known him for more than 30 years, I am biased, here is what IDFA wrote when it was shown there last year: In The Land, Ivars Seleckis’s measured, observational images capture the cycle of the seasons in a rural community in Latvia. Fifty years ago Seleckis shot another film in the same region: The Corn-Bins (1973), which documented a major shift in the country’s agriculture. The upscaling of farming had already been started under Stalin—because groups were easier to control than individuals—and these huge farming concerns ushered in the collapse of traditional agriculture… how is it today, Ivars goes back to meet the farmers of today. 

Still: "Bach against Covid", the cello musician Normunds. 


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J.Leth & A. Koefoed: Music for Black Pigeons

Written 19-01-2023 12:24:53 by Tue Steen Mller

J.Leth & A. Koefoed: Music for Black Pigeons

Lee Konitz er på vej ud til en bil i Sisimiut. Han peger til højre og spørger kvinden, der følger ham ud, om der er et barn i barnevognen derhenne? Svaret er ja, faren er lige inde og hente noget. Babyen sover og snorker, siger hun. Konitz går hen og lytter, vender sig om og ønsker barnet et langt godt liv. Mageløst. På dette tidspunkt i filmen er vi som tilskuere bekendt med Konitz, alt saxofonisten med den lange karriere og kolossale karisma. Vi har mødt ham i hans lejlighed i New York, set ham trisse rundt samme sted, hvor han leder efter mundstykke til sit instrument. Han er heldigvis til stede hele filmen igennem.

Thomas Morgan står ud af sengen i sin lille lejlighed i Brooklyn, tænder for noget musik, gør morgengymnastik. Han er bassist og øver aldrig hjemme. Han forsøger at undgå det automatiske, når han spiller, siger han til kameraet i et af de mange typiske Jørgen Leth’ske tableauer, som vi kender helt tilbage fra ”66 Scener fra Amerika”. Det tænker jeg på, da Morgan af Leth bag kameraet bliver spurgt, hvad han føler, når han spiller. Laaang pause, længere end Andy Warhol i nævnte film, afbrudt af Leth, som for at hjælpe spørger den stakkels bassist på andre måder før Morgan endelig kommer med bud på et svar. Mageløst.



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Mantas Kvedaravicius

Written 17-01-2023 16:34:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Mantas Kvedaravicius

In 2011 I attended a Summer School in Neringa Lithuania for film students. A film by Mantas Kvedaravicius was shown, his first.

”Stasys Baltakis, teacher at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the film school of the Country, introduced the film and its director. ”He is not a film director, he is a thinker”, he said about the debutant Kvedaravicius, who made the film over a period of years, now completing his PhD (and a book) on the affects of pain. And the film is about pain, about people in Chechnya, families whose members disappear or have undergone torture. Shot illegally, and with one year in the editing, the film expresses pure love and respect for the characters without turning to sentimentalism…



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Overture IDFA Forum 30 Years

Written 11-01-2023 12:21:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Overture IDFA Forum 30 Years

Memories… Names, film projects, episodes. 30 years of IDFA Forum! Actually I don’t remember the first time I was there. Was it the first edition? At the time I worked at the National Film Board of Denmark and had a seat in the Board of the EU Documentary office. But I remember that Dane Thomas Stenderup, representing the EU office based in Copenhagen traveled a lot to Amsterdam to meet with Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen and Ally Derks and other team members...

... to talk about how to set up, what has now become the most important documentary meeting place in the world. Documentarians in the world unite. 

An event that many came love and many came to hate: Is there really money to pick up, many said? Is it a financial market? A meeting place? Many thought, what even is this pitching? It is absurd to think you can present your film idea in 7 minutes. You have been working on it for years! But it turned out that the pitching itself was followed by conversations, discussions, networking. It became obvious that you had made yourself visible, inspired, and engaged, a lot of work waited for you.

I have talked with many veteran documentary filmmakers, who remember the first time as a scary one, a kind of exam; at the same time as it was a good start for gaining the knowledge they needed to build their international careers. And again and again I have heard, even among the skeptical, comments like: “You have to go to the Forum every year”, “You have to show your face otherwise people will think that you are not in the business any longer”! It became the meeting point and being sentimental, I sat there as an observer for the plenary pitch session thinking: “Wow all these people are involved with documentaries! What a show of solidarity!

A few words about the projects: I was part of the selection team for the Forum projects several times when EDN (European Documentary Network) existed as a partner for the Forum. It was always great fun, and a challenge, to find a balance between the more creative films and those that had television as a clear target for their presentation. You knew to expect strong journalistic BBC documentaries in the run for a pitch seat and that they would get it, whereas a personal poetic documentary from Serbia would have difficulties getting a place at the table. Fair enough for commercial thinking but let me at this point stress that Adriek and the team have been great in their continous flexible search for changing the original model – shifting from one huge plenary session to smaller group meetings with the chance to go deeper with each project. Here is a quote from an IDFA article from 2019: “…the Forum is adjusting to changing financing structures, while opening up to also include films with less clear-cut narratives and new ways of storytelling.” Meaning less boring formatted projects, more surprises, more experiments – that’s how I see it.

The editors and pitchers: The Forum must also be entertaining – we observers sit there expecting some show elements from both sides of the table. When Viktor Kossakovsky was pitching you had someone, who knew how to catch attention with a globus for “!Vivan las Antipodas!”. There have been people “dancing” their project – and honestly I miss the at times tough dialogues between Arte’s Thierry Garrel and BBC Storyville’s Nick Fraser. Representing the auteur tradition and the investigative journalistic/historical. Later on, Iikka Vehkalahti from YLE joined the table with competent and humorous support, when appropriate, for the artistic documentary. Not to forget wonderful Diane Weyermann, always pleasant to listen to hear. RIP. Who has taken over from these docu-stars? Far too often you hear “thank you for the pitch” and/or “we have a meeting later today!” Boring and incompetent.

As I write this (August 2022) I am sitting in Skopje at the MakeDox festival and there is a Forum taking place for Southeast Europe. In the beginning of September, there is the Baltic Sea Docs and later the same month there is the Nordisk Panorama… and so on and so forth. These are many regional alternatives to the IDFA Forum and many represent first steps for filmmakers before being selected for the Forum in Amsterdam.

The IDFA Forum of today: It’s the full package. You arrive. You can be trained for pitching. You can have your trailer checked and improved. You can have all kinds of information on the market. You are invited to sessions and receptions to meet colleagues and funders…the “only” thing the Forum does not deliver… you don’t learn how to make films…but it can give tools and inspiration.

Tue Steen Müller

August 2022


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Kvedaravicius & Bilobrova: Mariupol 2

Written 30-12-2022 14:32:47 by Tue Steen Mller

Kvedaravicius & Bilobrova: Mariupol 2

This text is written by filmmaker Maxi Dejoie:

On December 10th, Mariupol 2, the last documentary by Mantas Kvedaravicius and Hanna Bilobrova, rightfully received the award for best documentary of the year at the European Film Awards ceremony. After it was premiered in May at Cannes Film Festival, Hanna Bilobrova’s name was removed from the credits as the film’s co-director. During the European Film Awards ceremony, neither Hanna nor her name were nowhere to be heard nor seen. In a “normal” situation, this action would be very upsetting. What makes this specific situation even more disgraceful, is the fact that Hanna risked her like to retrieve the backpack which contained the footage realised by Mantas and herself in Mariupol under Russian occupation, and went through an infernal odyssey to locate Mantas’s body after he was executed by Russian soldiers/criminals, and managed to take him through Russia, back home to Lithuania where he could receive a proper and decent burial, close to his family.
As fellow documentary filmmaker, especially one that shared more than credit as co-director, I feel particularly upset by this event that I find unfair (to use an euphemism) and believe that it sets a dangerous precedent.
If there is anyone who believes that acknowledging Hanna’s contribution to the making of Mariupol 2 would make it any less of an extraordinary achievement, or Mantas Kvedaravicius’s sacrifice any less historic, I believe they would be wrong, as to recognise Hanna Bilobrova’s role as the film's co-director would be simply a necessary act of justice and morality, something that should be a given in an “artistic” industry as ours, but apparently it is not.

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CPH:DOX lancerer ny streamingtjeneste

Written 07-12-2022 14:35:18 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX lancerer ny streamingtjeneste

I dag lanceres CPH:DOX’ nye, helårlige streamingtjeneste PARA:DOX, som byder på et udvalg af verdens bedste dokumentarfilm og et stort vidensunivers med aktuelle podcasts, talks og artikler, der sætter filmoplevelserne i perspektiv.

Viden, perspektiv og store filmoplevelser. Det er omdrejningspunktet for CPH:DOX’ nye streamingstjeneste PARA:DOX (paradox.dk), der går i luften i dag med støtte fra Novo Nordisk Fonden og Det Danske Filminstitut. På PARA:DOX er fiktionsfilm og tv-serier smidt på porten til fordel for et stærkt udvalg af tidens bedste dokumentarfilm nøje kurateret af CPH:DOX’ programredaktion. Over 100 film er tilgængelige fra i dag, og nye titler tilføjes hver måned...

 


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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: 



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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

Still: 07:15 - Blackbird by Judith Auffray


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What is a documentary?

Written 02-11-2022 19:14:46 by Tue Steen Mller

What is a documentary 

At my first day in Zelig Film school i met a man named Tue Steen Müller that immediately asked us to present ourselves and talk about a documentary we saw. I briefly explained what brought me to love films and especially documentary. And while hearing all the other future 'cinema people' answers my mind started drifting about in how many aspects a movie can create a connection with people. So when the man who lived in the cinema industry for a long time asked us newbies to write 3 words that described what we think a documentary is I immediately wrote down the word Adventure. Adventure is the key word of my life, and since every form of living organism, human or not, is living one, a documentary is the mean of trying to take that content and bring it to the World. A documentary is definitely something different for the ones who make it and the ones who watch it. From my point of view as an, hopefully, future film maker I see a mean of taking my passion into something that can be an insight of an aspect of society, the care for a dear friend and his issues, an event i care about, a challenge i want to win in researching, respecting and sharing the realities and truths of a story that will cause a reflection in the watchers mind. Until now i've always been on the other side of the picture, watching and enjoying the love that film makers bring in their movies. Trying to get the knowledge out of it and make it mine, using cinema as a door that lead to inspirations through a storytelling that will answer all the questions that comes in my mind. Documentary as a viewer is about intriguing my curiosity and finding myself surprised from how much Adventures can be different. Quoting one of my favorite movies 'To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.' and that is what i want my movies to be. 

Riccardo Brugnara 

The Truth about Documentary  

When a group of 25 students are being asked ‘What is Documentary?’, the word ‘truth’ comes up multiple times. This makes sense, you would say. You could even say that this is what differentiates documentary film from fiction, being about a true story. We could define this as a characteristic of documentary, but somehow this does not seem right. What even is truth? When is a film enough truth to be considered a documentary? 

For me, this aspect cannot just define documentary film, but it is one of the fascinating parts of it. It is interesting that documentary is indeed about a story that is true, but it is more than that. It is a lens to see a small part of the world through. Because it only gives a frame to look through, this makes it possible to focus on certain elements without viewing the whole event. This means the film is a version or a part of the truth that interests and moves the maker, and therefore highlights this specific part of it. It is about observing a subject, reflecting on it and finding the perspective that moves the most. 

Because that is for me what documentary should be: moving. Moving in the literal meaning of the word; to activate the viewer to take action or change their thinking or even their behaviour. But also moving in the broader sense, that is opens the viewer to emotions. These could be either positive or negative, but it is the impact of emotions you feel from a film, that sticks with you. It is like with people in real life. We tend to forget what people look like or what they said, but will always remember how they made us feel. The stronger these feelings, the better the people stick with you. I think the same applies to documentary. The ones that moved you, that make you feel strong emotions, are the ones that have an impact and will be remembered. 

The big impact emotions have in documentary, also makes the medium highly subjective. This case, together with the fact that it is not possible to portray the whole objective truth, is the beauty of documentary film. Having to choose the perception and perspective of the film, gives the maker the ability to control the focus of the narrative, and therefore of the topic. For the viewer, this could mean a completely new way of seeing someone or something as they would never see it by themselves. To be able to be blown away by a film, discover and feel new things, even if they might think to know the ‘truth’. To play with the interpretation of the truth, and finding the perspective and form that moves the most, that is for me what documentary is. 

Annieke Boer


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Zelig Film Fest Bolzano

Written 29-10-2022 12:49:30 by Tue Steen Mller

Zelig Film Fest Bolzano

Zelig Film Fest Bolzano

10 films, 28 graduates… 5 films were shown last night, 5 will hit the screen tonight. I am not here to review the films but I will not refrain from saying that the general quality is high, that I do appreciate the policy of the school to have a diversity of themes from the students and I say Bravo to the school making a Fest out of the presentation of the graduation films. They deserve it!

Here are the introductory words on themes, from the school, to the 10 films of the Fest: …From the remote villages of an island of the Indian Ocean to the urban periphery of Barcelona; from the historical venues of the magnificent Odesa in Ukraine to the small alleys of the city centre of Genua, in Italy; from cold winter of Hamburg and of the internal Austrian landscape, to the sunny streets of Palermo, Sicily, until the remote rehearsal locations of a particular theatre company in the undergrounds of Milano: as for every three years, ZeLIG films are an insight into humanity, into the diversity of contemporary society and they will make you laugh, cry, smile.

Matilde Ramini is one of the students graduating from Zelig Documentary School, she presented as director the film “Fuoritempo” at the Zelig Film Fest that takes place 28-29 of October at the Filmclub Bozen (Bolzano). Three years ago she was asked by a teacher, me, to write a small essay answering the question “What is a Documentary”. She wrote in Italian, here are the two first paragraphs from a fine text: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4679/

La scorsa settimana la lavagna bianca della ZeLIG traboccava di sostantivi, verbi ed aggettivi. Non si è trattato (solo) di una lezione di grammatica inglese, bensì di mettere nero su bianco le parole che ci sono venute in mente quando Tue ci ha chiesto di pensare al documentario. Il risultato è stato un puzzle semantico, nella cui incompletezza e contraddittoreità ci possiamo rispecchiare in trenta.

Una cosa è emersa chiaramente: fare documentari significa esercitare la settima arte. Non inferiori alla fiction, i documentari sono film in piena regola e come tali è la loro estetica e la loro poetica visiva a caratterizzarli. La creatività e l‘abilità di sottrarsi ad una certa pretenziosità estetica sono per alcuni di noi le principali caratteristiche del documentarista e della documentarista…

Looking forward to the five films of tonight, starting with “Dear Odesa” by Kyrolo Naumko, who is in Ukraine whereas his mother (protagonist of the film) and his sister will be present at the screening.

The Zelig website gives you information about the graduation films, including credits, technical information, trailers, bios of the film team members and director’s introduction: https://film.zeligfilm.it/en/ What more to want?


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Aegean Docs 10th Edition/ 3

Written 06-10-2022 09:02:05 by Tue Steen Mller

Aegean Docs 10th Edition/ 3

An important film was programmed last night in the cinema in Myrina:

A Jewish Life

Direction Team: Christian Krönes, Florian Weigensamer, Christian Kermer, Roland Schrotthofer. Israel, Austria, 114 mins. 2021.

 

Annotation: Marko Feingold, born in 1913, grew up in a Jewish working-class neighborhood of Vienna. Fateful twists and turns helped him survive the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Neuengamme, Dachau and Buchenwald. After the War he (illegally) aided tens of thousands of survivors out of Europe to what would become Israel. At the age of 105, A Jewish Life is his story, in his own words shortly before his death.

After the film there was a short skype Q&A with Christian Kermer. I asked him how it was possible to have a 105 year old man talk so well and precise. The answer was that the film crew spent 14 shooting days with him with some breaks, when he was not feeling good. The story of a man, told by himself, a man who remembers as we should remember, a man who talks about Austria and Anschluss that was welcomed by most Austrians… A dark spot in Austrian post-war history.


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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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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Balcony Movie

Written 16-09-2022 18:44:28 by Tue Steen Mller


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

Poland 2021 
101 minutes 
director: Pawel Lozinski

The work of one of the most important European filmmakers, the masterful cinéma vérité as a direct embodiment of the legendary idea of the great documentary master Dziga Vertov - "life caught suddenly". It won the Grand Prix of Semaine de la critique in Locarno and continued its journey to all leading festivals of the world.

Within each scene of the film, precisely and strictly defined by the author's point of view, and in a poetic way imbued with fine melancholy, we observe the world placed in a very narrow frame. And that world is surprisingly complex and rich - ranging from Shakespeare's line "All the world's a stage" to the provocative statement, associated with Andy Warhol, made in a world that discovered wonders of film and television: "Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." Random passers-by, close and distant neighbors, the author's wife, a man with no money, children and dog walkers, they all pass through this micro world - some indifferent and not looking back, without any awareness of the presence of the author on the balcony above, some involved in a shorter or longer dialogues, apparently simple, but actually layered and filled with a deep sense of the meaning of their existence caught in these moments of "movie glory". In that narrow time frame, concentrated on destinies of people who emerge from nowhere and soon disappear from our view, we become aware of the phenomenon of time and change that define it. The film was shot in more than two years and, even when we meet some familiar faces again, everything before us is in a constant change as in all truly great films.

An amazing documentary manifesto by a great master of the art of conversation and of uncompromising face to face communication with life.

 

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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Pawel Lozinski

Written 15-09-2022 12:01:59 by Tue Steen Mller

I Have No Idea How Much They Loved It – but I think they did, the audience for the masterclass with Polish Pawel Lozinski. We (Lozinski and I as the moderator) enjoyed a lot what we were asked to do: Choose 7 shots/sequences from your films and talk about them. Mostly about the form, the aesthetical choices after setting up the clip with some background information on content.

”Birthday” from 1992 was the first shot, the film that won the first prize at the festival on Bornholm, Baltic Film & TV Festival. It was the first film of Pawel Lozinski, a tough one on the famous Jewish Polish writer Henryk Grynberg searching for the remains of his father, who was killed during the war. Shot on 16mm film.

Later on Lozinski made the film ”The Way It Is” from his neighbourhood (1999), ”Chemo” from 2009, which is a film he decided to do when his mother got cancer, the controversial ”Father and Son” (2013) that was meant to be a film by Marcel and Pawel together, but Marcel decided to make his own version… It did not make the conflicted relationship between them easier!

If that was the reason for Lozinski to make ”You Have No Idea…”, I asked him. Could be, he said about the film that was shown in the cinema later that same friday.

As a small gift to the audience, ”Sisters” (11 minutes) was shown, a film that Pawel Lozinski shot when he had a break in shooting ”The Way It Is”. What are you doing, the sisters asked the director when they met in the courtyard. I am making a film about interesting people in my neighbourhood, he answered. Are we interesting, they asked. See the film, Yes they are!


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Magnificent7: Heddy Honigmann in Memoriam

Written 14-09-2022 10:57:00 by Tue Steen Mller

Heddy Honigmann died May 21 this year 70 year old. Some of her films have been shown at Magnificent7. On Sunday the 18th at 6pm one of her masterpieces, “Oblivion”, from 2008 will be shown for us to remember a magnificent documentarian.

Here are some quotes about Heddy Honigmann:

In August 2007 Allan Berg and I started filmkommentaren. The first post/review of a film published was „Forever“ by Heddy Honigmann, a lovely film where the director takes the viewer to the cemetery Père Lachaise in Paris. An essayistic film about Life and Death made by the Dutch master, whose films I have followed with pleasure during decades – do you remember ”Metal and Melancholy”, ”Oblivion”, ”O Amor Natural” and the recent ones ”Buddy” and ”Around the World in 50 Concerts”? And many more. (Tue Steen Müller)

”In 1994, the director made ”Metal and Melancholy”, also from Peru, seen through the taxis and their double-job drivers. This new film from Lima is melancholic as well, and beautiful, but you also feel a well-documented anger on behalf of the people you meet who struggle every day to survive”. A humanistic, political film for a big audience. Thank you! (Tue Steen Müller)

Heddy Honigmann is a documentary filmmaker who breaks through impenetrable walls with her warm, carefully measured and dedicated communication with people in her films. This time, she decided with considerable courage to make a film about people who have already entered the second century of their lives. Contrary to the incidental news that someone anonymous until then or someone famous, celebrated his hundredth birthday, this great film directly confronts us with fascinating characters full of passion, spirit and life. This is the unique document about active life of people at the beginning of their second century, valuable because it reveals to us people that we could read about in legends, but very few people could meet them in person. Heddy Honigmann masterfully introduces viewers to the active lives of her enchanting heroes who never cease to amaze us - from a woman who, as a bewildered girl, watched one of the greatest evils in history, to a man who passionately seeks an answer that will change the destiny of humanity. A sensational drummer, sexologist, philosopher, doctor, characters whose vitality gives this film a wonderful, exciting inner rhythm. (Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about ”100 UP)

A precious documentary that reveals to us the depths of human experience and wisdom…. Could go for all her films …

On the 18th there will be a text by about “Oblivion” by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic.

http://magnificent7festival.org/en/index.php


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022

Written 12-09-2022 17:29:21 by Tue Steen Mller

"We haven't seen so poetic documentary for a long long time! Beautiful shots, true beauty of the nature and people, true beauty of the documentary!"

A visit "behind the scene" is this email text from from Svetlana and Zoran Popovic to me, who had asked the festival directors to watch "The Wind that Moves Us" by Pere Puigbert from Catalonia, Spain.

Just one example of our many exchanges of comments during a selection process, this time for the 18th edition of Magnificent7 that I am proud and grateful to be part of.

I put that to tell you, dear Belgrade audience, that we who select have promised each other that we film lovers must be full of enthusiasm, joy and respect before we say "yes, we must have that film", "yes, we must have this film for you the audience, who deserve to be treated with the best of the best".

The camerawork of Pere Puigbert in "The Wind that Moves us" is excellent, nature and man, every image is a composition as are the ones of Austrian master Nikolaus Geyerhalter, who returns to the festival with his stunning "Matter Out of Place" about rubbish here, there, and everywhere on the planet, we live. His film is a true proof of the director's aesthetic ambition to sometimes even turn the unattractive scenes of reality into surrealistic paintings while at the same time as he sends this message: Shame on us, what can we humans do better?

People... documentaries about us who have different lives, different opinions and who like to express them, to open up if we are asked in a gentle way. By, for instance, a man on a balcony. So happy that Pawel Lozinski will visit the festival with his awarded "Balcony Movie" that he shot over a couple of years catching moments of joy and grief pointing his camera from his balcony to those passing by asking questions about how they feel, how they live, what are their plans for the day. Crazy Poetry? Indeed! Existential and Philosophical. Absolutely!

Philosophy, Yes... "Young Plato" by Irish Declan McGrath and Neasa Ni Chianáin is a film from Belfast, a superb observational documentary, uplifting and hopeful from a city with a bloody past AND with a charismatic teacher, a fan of Elvis Presley, who take care of the kids with love. Teaching love. Oh, they know how to talk, these kids, and welcome back to Neasa Ni Chianáin and David Rane who were here with "In Loco Parentis".

Two films are shot during the Covid pandemic: "Zoo Lockdown" by Andreas Horvath and "A Provincial Hospital" by Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov and Zlatina Teneva.

Who has not dreamt of being in a zoo when there are no visitors? To observe the animals? Do they behave in a different way, are they happy that nobody watches them all the time or do they miss the curious tourist glances? It's a lovely film and we hope many will bring along (bigger) kids to the cinema to watch the film, that was made when the Salzburg Zoo was closed because of Covid-19.

Ilian Metev, whose "The Last Ambulance" we enjoyed years ago at the festival, is back with his film colleagues Chertov and Teneva. Metev himself was in lockdown in London while the film was shot but the material provided again included a doctor – doctor Popov, who with humour and warmth encourage the covid patients at the ward to cheer up and decide to live on. The film is, as we have witnessed multiple times at the festival, crossing the line from reportage to become a documentary with great, caring protagonists who work under – an understatement – unbelievably hard conditions.

Going behind the news, the dry documentation facts, is "The Treasures of Crimea", a documentary thriller, simply. With footage from court rooms, with a focus on to whom belong the treasures that came from a Crimea that while the exhibition took place in the Netherlands was annexed by Russia in 2014. Where to send back the treasures? Dutch author Oeke Hoogendijk is fantastic to make a dramatic story out of the controverse – there are tears and laughter and wonderful protagonists.

It is not enough to have interesting and fantastic stories. You have to know how to tell them, how to use the cinematic tools at your disposal – the French call it to be an "auteur". We offer you 7 documentary authors; we hope that our excitement will be yours as well. Love is all there is!

Tue Steen Müller

Copenhagen

September 1, 2022


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Baltic Sea Docs 26. edition

Written 06-09-2022 07:46:27 by Tue Steen Mller

Monday morning. Copenhagen ariport. Departure for Riga. Beautiful weather. Arrival one hour later at 9am, 20 minutes ahead of time. Hugging friends upon arrival at the hotel, shaking hands with newcomers. Lovely to see - after years - Ukrainian Darya Averchenko, her husband Roman Bondarchuk and their third child, wee Luca, and Scottish Emma Davie. Same procedure as previous years: group sessions where projects are talked about. After two years of corona the majority of filmmakers are present but there are also some who turn up on the screen taking part via zoom. It works all right. 18 projects, good quality, preparing for pitching thursday and friday.

And in the evening film screening at the K Suns. "Fragile Memory" by Ukrainian Ihor Ivanko. Beautiful, touching meeting between the director and his grandfather Leonid Burlaka, who suffers from dementia. And film history it is with clips from many of the works he filmed employed by the Odesa Film Studio. And a look into a family with a worried grandmother, who sees her husband fading away. The film is superb in creating a balance between the private and the public, waiving a flag for a sustainable protection of the film reels.

It is easy to see how good a cinematographer Burlaka was in his active life, it is even easier to see how fine an artist he was as photographer, pure poetry, pictures of the family and from the many travels he was allowed to go on by the Sovjet authorities.

A grand opening it was with a zoom link to the director interviewed by BSD manager Zane Balcus. 


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Sarajevo Film Festival/1

Written 14-08-2022 10:42:14 by Tue Steen Mller

After two years I feel privileged to be back to a festival that has given me so many fine moments. The atmosphere in the city of course, a city that celebrates cinema with its many genres, a festival that greets talents, have loads of workshops, gives out awards to well known figures in world cinema, this year from Ari Folman who is here with his new film on Anne Frank to Danish Mads Mikkelsen, who is also on house walls with his saying that a Danish beer is “probably the best in the world” – I am not so sure!

The first days for me have been occupied by being part of a small “Dealing With the Past” tutor team that works with four projects, which are to be presented to an audience today, an audience of filmmakers, who hopefully are seduced by the power of the stories pitched in words and images on the small stage in Hotel Europe. Filmmaker and journalist Robert Zuber will be leading the pitch, online from den Haag the amazing editor Natasa Damnjanovic has put the visuals together, online from Paris is film director Mila Turajlic and I have mainly given advice on how to structure the presentation. “Dealing With the Past” this year have as contributors filmmaker Mladen Ivanovic, film producer Jovana Blanuša, and two journalists from BIRN Aida Trepanic and Enes Hodzic. BIRN stands for Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. Will get back to you after the presentation with info on the content of the four stories presented. For me, the only one in the team who does not speak the language, these sessions have introduced me to war history through personal stories – information and emotion like documentaries should give.

The “Dealing With the Part” also includes film screenings. I will be moderating a couple of them, new films, high quality. More will follow.

 


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DANISH DOC FILM HERITAGE

Written 07-07-2022 20:29:32 by Tue Steen Mller

The Danish Film Institute is launching another large-scale effort to make the Danish film heritage widely available, this time focusing on the key period of documentaries from 1960-1990. 

Danish documentaries are on a roll, both at home and abroad. Real life told in film is compelling.

But while Danes in their twenties and thirties have an abundance of images of their lives right at hand, most of the population is cut off from watching documentaries from the time they came of age. Most Danish documentaries from 1960-1990 currently exist only as hard-to-access analogue material.

That’s about to change. Over the next four years, 700 of the best works from the period will be digitised and disseminated in Denmark and the Nordic region. This extraordinary effort will ensure the distribution of film narratives from a watershed era in the history of Danish documentaries that would otherwise be lost and forgotten.

'Denmark on Film' in a Nordic perspective

Since the establishment in 2015 of the Danish Film Institute’s streaming site for historical documentaries, 'Denmark on Film', more than 2000 films have been made available online, drawing a steadily growing number of viewers.

Greenland and Iceland are already on board. Now, the new project will help turn the site into a 'Nordic Nations on Film', where Swedish and Norwegian film archives can also make their documentary film heritage available, contributing to a stronger shared understanding of Nordic culture. 

Danish Film Institute CEO Claus Ladegaard says, 

"As sources of diverse, easily communicated experiences and understanding of how society has developed over the last half century, documentaries are unrivalled. Documentaries provide a vivid introduction to who we were, what moved people in the past, how we built our society and what shapes us today. This project is uniquely relevant as a platform for the Danish Film Institute's ambitions in film dissemination. It’s about raising awareness of history, stimulating dialogue and debate, and creating a shared horizon of interpretation.”

Explore the historical streaming site Denmark on Film, which includes a section of English-language films, Welcome to Denmark.

About the project

The project is made possible by grants from the Aage and Johanne Louis-Hansen Foundation and the Augustinus Foundation, which are each contributing 5 million kroner (approx. 675,000 euros) to the digitisation and dissemination of the selected films. 

In addition, the A.P. Møller Foundation is donating 3.5 million kroner (approx. 470,000 euros) to the establishment of a new Nordic web portal for Danish, Swedish and Norwegian documentaries to promote cohesion in the Nordic Nations and bring international exposure. The Danish Film Institute itself is putting 6.1 million kroner (approx. 820,000 euros) into the project.

The project, which will begin in January 2023, will be operated in partnership with the National Library of Norway in Oslo and the Swedish Film Archive in Stockholm.


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Rue du Premier Film

Written 20-06-2022 15:37:09 by Tue Steen Mller

Rue du Premier Film

Lyon. June 2022. Rue du Premier Film... a visit I had been looking fwd. to, the museum of the Lumière Brothers in the villa of their family, the Cinema on the same side of the street, the café on the other side and the library. Lovely to be there with the museum as the highlight with the possibility of watching the film again at the right place, the place where the workers were leaving the factory in 1895. Three versions. A documentary, yes, but also a fiction as the employees of the Lumière factories were directed to leave the factory, which is no longer there but the museum includes a model of how the usines looked like and where exactly was the exit of the film. Documentary? Fiction? How stupid of us that we still have this discussion with current films. Yes, FILMS they were, made the brothers Louis and Auguste all over the world and fantastic to be reminded of the audience reaction, when The Arrival of a Train at la Ciotat was shown. The train was "targeting" the spectators, who fled the cinema in fear!

The museum is very well organised in the rich villa with chandeliers, paintings by the father Antoine, his bedroom is shown, and there is a video library where you can study loads of the one minute films shot on 35mm by photographers working for the brothers. And for those who are interested in cameras and the development of them, it's all there. I am sure Danish documentary father Jørgen Roos has visited the museum and enjoyed the camera collection.

It was first of all a pleasant stay in this holy place for the cinema, you get the impression of how entertaining it must have been to discover he possibilities of Cinema. A treasure it is, well kept and welcoming at the same time as it is non-commercial. 


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Alexandru Solomon: Cold Waves

Written 19-06-2022 21:40:35 by Tue Steen Mller

The Romanian director – and cinematographer – and producer - and festival organizer of One World Romania – Alexandru Solomon is being celebrated at the Transilvania International Film Festival in Cluj that runs now and until the 26th of June. I discovered that through FB where a fascinating clip is shown of his 2007 masterpiece “Cold Waves”, one of the three films at the festival. I know how good a filmmaker Solomon is but had forgotten if I had seen this cold war film. Luckily it is available on https://dafilms.com, the excellent platform for quality documentary films, praised on this site again and again.

155 minutes, divided into three parts that take you to Radio Free Europe’s fantastic achievement bringing radio broadcasts to Romanians, who were fed with the daily propaganda of Ceausescu. The RFE people were in constant danger of being caught and brought to silence by the regime’s Securitate. RFE operated from abroad – Germany and Czech Republic – and Solomon includes the protagonists in his film, both those who were outside and those who stayed in the country, and those who remember what RFE meant to them. Here is the synopsis from DocAlliance site:

”During the 80’s, Radio Free Europe was the secret relief and confidant of its Romanian listeners. The Radio was Ceausescu’s most important enemy; he even hired Carlos the Jackal to close it down. All the protagonists of this story confront themselves once more in COLD WAVES: speakers of the radio, along with terrorists, listeners as well as party and Securitate officials, Romanians, Germans, Americans and French alltogether.”

“…The world has changed, there are different wars now. But if you listen to the voices, you may get a better picture.

The film played for 12 weeks in Romanian theatres. It deals with the love and hate story between Radio Free Europe, the Romanian audiences and the communist regime.”

The film? Totally fresh, full of fine cinematic solutions, I was never bored, I met some charismatic people, who fought for freedom from communism, but I also met a man who worked for Securitate and denies that the service did anything wrong and had nothing to do with the deaths of three of the RFE leaders. He is now (in 2007) in the Romanian parliament! In other words: Great film!

Romania, 155 mins., 2007 


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Pere Puigbert: El Vent Que Ens Mou

Written 31-05-2022 16:42:04 by Tue Steen Mller

The google translate of the Catalan title goes like this: “The Wind that Moves Us” for the film, that won the first prize in the DocsBarcelona Latitud category. And I don’t hesitate to say that this was so well deserved, actually I think it is the best film I saw at DocsBarcelona 2022, the 25thedition. Far from the journalistic tradition of Catalan documentary, much closer to the Baltic tradition of poetic documentary that I have praised so many times on this site: Few words, images that carry the film, slow film, excellent camera work, a tribute to the world we live in, to the small things in daily life that we often forget about, to the connection between man and nature, the wind that moves us. Filmed in the Empordá region in Catalonia, the Girona area.

Landscapes manipulated by the wind, trees, sheep, apple orchards. An old woman who cries when she thinks about her beloved, late husband, she is now alone, lonely?; no she has her children and grandchildren, and the small blond boy plays a role in her life. “Get the broom”, she says, and he does and he also tries to help her when she frees the walnuts from the shells with a hammer. Otherwise he tumbles around being observed by the camera of his father, director and cameraman, who makes films (from his website) “inspired by nature”. So often his images makes me think of paintings, nature morte or surrealistic landscapes à lá Yves Tanguy or Salvador Dali.

What is a story, it is often discussed at pitching sessions. Here “a pregnant woman eating an apple in the shade of a tree” is a story in all its calmness and insisting on the image. The action? The woman caresses her stomach and it is beautiful because the director-cameraman has put the camera in the right caressing place. The film is full of sequences like this. It is Cinema.

Catalonia, 78 mins., 2021


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DocFests in Belgrade and Warsaw

Written 13-05-2022 18:11:32 by Tue Steen Mller

Beldocs in Belgrade started two days ago, Millenium Docs Against Gravity takes off today. The latter in 8 cities and with an online version from May 24.

Both have industry sections and both have a focus on Ukraine. In Belgrade it makes me happy to see that “Outside” by Olha Zhurba closes the festival – and that excellent “Museum of Revolution” by Srđan Keča was the opening film. Both documentaries have been reviewed on this site. In Warsaw is shown “House of Splinters” shot in Ukraine by Simon Lereng Wilmont and co-produced by Ukrainian company Moon Man.

High quality program at both festivals – Let me highlight (Warsaw) “Young Plato” from Ireland by Neasa Ni Chianáin and Declan McGrath as well as the lovely “Skál” by Cecilie Debell and Maria Tórgard, a love story from Faroe Islands. In Belgrade you can only welcome a retrospective of films by elimir ilnik and the great documentary by Mantas Kvedaravičius“Mariupolis” (PHOTO on FB link) from 2016. (I just read that the film material Mantas was shooting in Mariupolis has been edited and will be shown in Cannes.) In memoriam of a fine filmmaker murdered by the Russians in the war.

… and then Belgrade has a Danish focus without any actual reason but thanks for that and for showing Jørgen Leth’s classic “The Perfect Human” and “The Five Obstacles”, made together with Lars von Trier. More about Beldocs here:

https://www.beldocs.rs/en/films/

Back to Warsaw where the festival runs all year round as it says: with an online platform, with distribution in cinemas and a considerable number of audience. To quote the site of the festival:

The cinema section, taking place in seven cities (for the tenth time in Wrocław!), attracted 65 295 attendees. Viewership numbers of the online section add up to 40 418 e-tickets. Assuming that most people don’t watch movies alone, our online audience must have been larger: international festivals multiply online viewership numbers by 1.7. Therefore, our online edition reached a total of 68 711 people. The total number of attendees of the 18th edition of our festival, which ended last Sunday, is 134 006.

Take a look at the program:

https://mdag.pl/19/en/warszawa/sections


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DocsBarcelona 2022

Written 02-05-2022 20:38:33 by Tue Steen Mller

The programme is out for the 25th edition of DocsBarcelona. Twenty-five editions!!!

Which means that I have become 25 years older as has the founder of it all Joan Gonzalez, who back then in a workshop in Granada proposed to EDN (European Documentary Network), represented by Anita Reher (now head of Nordisk Panorama after years at Flaherty in the US) and me, to establish what became DocsBarcelona.

I have been there all the time to see with admiration how Gonzalez has expanded what in the beginning was a so-called industry event and later a festival and then much much more.

Here is a quote from this site last year in December:

The L’Acadèmia del Cinema Català included on December 2 six new Membres d’Honor to salute their contribution to the film industry in Catalonia. One of them was Joan Gonzàlez, director of the festival DocsBarcelona and producer of more than 100 documentaries, and with a background at the TVE and TV3. In 1996 he created DocsBarcelona that also exists in Medellin and Valparaiso. DocsBarcelona distributes documentaries to more than 80 places in Spain, and now DocsBarcelona headed by Gonzàlez is working on “nextus” that aims at making documentaries part of the school curriculum.The prestigious award to Joan Gonzàlez is the first one given to a documentarian... continues

 



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Hugues Le Paige & Jacques Bidou

Written 04-02-2022 16:40:18 by Tue Steen Mller

A tour down memory lane together with important names in modern documentary history. 10 years ago – on this site – I wrote about Belgian writer, director and journalist Hugues Le Paige :

”The director of this film (Le Prince et son Image – aka Francois Mitterrand) used to be a strong and passionate commissioning editor at RTBF, the French language Belgian public broadcaster. He left when the channel decided to be less active in the commitment to the creative documentary. Le Paige then wrote articles and a book about the overall decline of the public broadcasters involvement - as a colleague said to me some days ago: he predicted the crisis as it unfolds right now. For this blogger, in the early days of the EDN (European Documentary Network), it was always a pleasure to have le Paige in a pitching panel with his commitment and critical constructive encouragement to the filmmakers to fight on for quality against mainstream sensationalistic tabloid.”

I now follow Hugues Le Paige’s blog-notes (IN FRENCH), always very interesting, his knowledge about for instance Italian politics is massive.But he also writes about his old profession, this time about a book :

A propos de l’ ouvrage «  Il était une fois la production » (Editions Hémisphère) de Jacques Bidou avec la  complicité de Marianne Dumoulin :

This is a quote from his review/presentation about Jacques Bidou, a key person in French documentary as a producer fighting especially for what is called the «militant cinema » and/or the auteur cinema. 

«Bidou, c’est d’abord la génération emblématique du cinéma qui émerge en 1968, date à laquelle il intègre la première promotion de l’INSAS à Bruxelles qui aligne alors, comme enseignants, les plus grands noms du cinéma contemporain. 68 : engagement, militance et cinéma, rencontre avec Chris Marker,  10 ans de production dans la sphère du Parti Communiste ( notamment avec Unicité). Enfin, et pour toute une vie, la création de JBA production en 1987. Jacques Bidou va d’abord être un des principaux acteurs de la renaissance du documentaire ( on regrettera qu’il ne s’y appesantisse pas  davantage dans ce livre) avec la complicité des responsables de création dans des chaînes comme Arte, ZDF, Channel 4  et quelques autres partenaires publics européens. C’est l’époque du légendaire triumvirat des Thierry Garrel, Eckart Stein et  Alan Fountain, qui, hors des « grilles » et des contraintes, fondent une télévision de sens et de création pour les réalisateurs ET les spectateurs, une télévision qui ne se conçoit pas sans l’apport déterminant de la production indépendante qui, en Europe, est largement issue de 68. Bidou en est l’un des exemples les plus accomplis. A partir des années 80, le cinéma militant a fait son temps et montré ses limites,  les nouveaux producteurs concilient engagement et écriture forte : le point de vue  s’exprime par le regard  et le langage d’un auteur. Le documentaire est à nouveau cinéma. Cette télévision basculera dans la fin des années 90 sous le rouleau compresseur de l’ultra libéralisme dominant. Mais ceci est une autre histoire.”

Longing to read the book by Bidou – for Le Paige click below if you want to follow his blog-notes.

https://leblognotesdehugueslepaige.be/bidou-defricheur-de-films/


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Laila Pakalnina: Homes

Written 17-01-2022 16:22:40 by Tue Steen Mller

”I call my method of work “Fishing in the river of time”. As life is extremely talented, we just put camera, set composition and wait. And life happens. So film happens…”

From an interview with Laila Pakalnina in connection with the big retrospective of her films in Centre Pompidou in 2019. I have followed her film life for years, am a big admirer and the admiration grew after the masterclass at Baltic Sea Docs 2021, where she announced a new film to come up, “Homes” – MY film she said, 2 hours, black & white, no music, and the cameraman talks!



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FIPADOC 2022

Written 10-01-2022 22:01:54 by Tue Steen Mller

FIPADOC 2022

It’s all there: Competitions, Industry events, a focus on Benelux – and it’s all superprofessionally conveyed at the website – www.fipadoc.com

Is it like any other international documentary film festival? Yes, with national and international, short and long films and the industry including presentations and possibilities to meet colleagues. 

No, where the festival differs - there is a category named “Impact Documentary”, one called “Smart” (VR, web…), ”European Stories” (France is leading the EU this first half year, happy to see ”Altsasu” and ”Dida” here) and there is an homage to Heddy Honigmann, one more I think of the many dedicated to this great ”auteur”.

A quick look at the international competition that brings high quality to the screen, with no rules about world premiere etc., except for ”unreleased in France”, in other words the films have their French premiere in Biarritz.

Among the titles, that I have seen, are ”A Thousand Fires” by Saeed Taji Farouky, Sergei Loznitsa’s ”Babi Yar. Context”, the CPH:DOX winner beautiful ”The Last Shelter” by Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou, master Pawel Lozinzki’s charming and thoughtful ”The Balcony Movie” and my favourite Danish documentary of 2021 ”President” (PHOTO) by Camilla Nielsson. Another Danish documentary that will have its premiere in Danish cinemas end of this month (if the cinemas re-open...) is talented Andreas Koefoed’s ”The Lost Leonardo”.

https://fipadoc.com/en/selections/4/1


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Peter Kerekes: 107 Mothers

Written 18-12-2021 21:38:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Peter Kerekes: 107 Mothers

2017, on this site: High expectations. What else can you have with a project from Slovak film director Peter Kerekes, who won a big award at the Karlovy Vary festival the other day. Let me remind you of the many innovative, entertaining and thought-provoking films by the Slovak director, who refrains from making observational documentaries, has developed his own style, as you can see in the short film “Second Chance” from 2014, “Cooking History” (2009), “66 Scenes” (2003) and “Velvet Terrorists” (2013) that he made with colleagues, among them Ivan Ostrochovsky, who is the script writer of the awarded project “Censor” with these words from the jury:

 



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DAFilms launches Best Of 2021

Written 14-12-2021 20:23:53 by Tue Steen Mller

An article by the always competent Vladan Petkovic in Cineuropa – link for the whole text below – gives me the opportunity to praise the DocAlliance platform as so many times before. Due to the pandemic, I guess, DAFilms has had ”a busy year in film for the platform, which has acquired a record number of films and mounted a wealth of retrospectives”. In other words, if I am right, the film lovers have turned to the home screen, small or bigger, as the pandemic have made them stay at home instead of going to the cinema or to the local festival. And/Or the platform has again offered great retrospectives of films by Minervini, Chytilova and Marc Isaacs. Anyway the platform offers superb access to high quality artistic documentaries for very little money.

And these were the best of DAFilms 2021:

Homelands [+] - Jelena Maksimović (Serbia) (2020) 

Point and Line to Plane - Sofia Bohdanowicz(Canada) (2020)
I Was at Home, but... [+] - Angela Schanelec(Germany/Serbia) (2019) 
Those That, at a Distance, Resemble Another [+] - Jessica Sarah Rinland(UK/Argentina) (2019) 
Exemplary Behaviour [+] - Audrius Mickevičius,Nerijus Milerius(Lithuania/Slovenia/Bulgaria/Italy) (2019) 
I Never Climbed the Provincia - Ignacio Agüero (Chile) (2019)
The Filmmaker's House [+] - Marc Isaacs (UK) (2020) 
The Viewing Booth - Ra'anan Alexandrowicz(Israel) (2020) 
Days in Sintra - Paula Gaitán (Brazil) (2007)
The Other Side [+] - Roberto Minervini(Italy/France) (2015) 
The Vodka Factory - Jerzy Sladkowski (Sweden) (2010) 
The Portuguese Woman [+] - Rita Azevedo Gomes(Portugal) (2019) 
Hashti Tehran - Daniel Kötter (Iran) (2016) 
Casa Roshell - Camila José Donoso(Mexico/Chile) (2017)
White on White [+] - Viera Čákanyová(Slovakia/Czech Republic) (2020)
The Kiosk [+] - Alexandra Pianelli (France) (2020) 
Comrades in Arms - Catarina Henriques(Portugal) (2021) 
The Blunder of Love - Rocco di Mento(Germany) (2021) 
Daisies - Věra Chytilová(Czechoslovakia) (1966) 
Extinction [+] - Salomé Lamas (Portugal/Germany) (2018)

https://dafilms.com

https://cineuropa.org/en/newsdetail/419724/ 


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Joan Gonzlez is Honored

Written 12-12-2021 19:23:26 by Tue Steen Mller

Joan Gonzlez is Honored

It was a happy and proud man I talked to the other day. A man who had been honored, and wanted to share his joy with me. So well deserved the honor! First an edited and translated version of a press release and then my words, a speech I could have held had I been there:

The L’Acadèmia del Cinema Català included on December 2 six new Membres d’Honor to salute their contribution to the film industry in Catalonia. One of them was Joan Gonzàlez, director of the festival DocsBarcelona and producer of more than 100 documentaries, and with a background at the TVE and TV3. In 1996 he created DocsBarcelona that also exists in Medellin and Valparaiso. DocsBarcelona distributes documentaries to more than 80 places in Spain, and now DocsBarcelona headed by Gonzàlez is working on “nextus” that aims at making documentaries part of the school curriculum.The prestigious award to Joan Gonzàlez is the first one given to a documentarian.

 

For many of us it never goes beyond the words, when it comes to put into reality all the good intentions about promotion of the documentaries. Few have had the strength and courage to link all the elements of the chain from production to the meeting with the audience. Joan Gonzalez has and what he has done for the genre during the many years of existence of his company Parallel 40, based in Barcelona, deserves respect and admiration. In Catalunya, of course, and in Europe and in South America.

Training, production, distribution, film commission administration, festivals, tv management – it is all happening or has happened under the umbrella of Parallel 40, and with a clear goal statement, here taken from the site of the company: ”Parallel 40's mission is to contribute to society's cultural enrichment through the audiovisual medium.”

Joan Gonzalez is a visionary, some will say a dreamer, I will add that many of his dreams have and will come through. Step by Step as his slogan is. When I met him in Granada 25 years ago for the first EDN documentary workshop in Spain, he was one of the participants and made his first documentary pitch. Not very convincing. But he was thrilled about the format, and he took it all to Barcelona, and became the organiser of what is now a very well established event, DocsBarcelona. At that time he was managing a local tv station and doing a lot of training, which is still very much on his agenda. 

He is definitely a talent scout, his office is full of talented carefully picked young people, who get the injection of documentary enthusiasm from their director.

A man with high ethical standards, who is not afraid to use the word ”trust”, when he describes, what he wants people to associate with his company. He has lost some battles with this attitude but he has always come back full of optimism and with new ideas.

On a personal level: Joan is a dear friend, I have always enjoyed his company, I have loved to work with him. To share with him our common passion FCBarcelona and go to the Camp Nou, to sing Jacques Brel with him in his car, and to meet his lovely family: Montse, Berta and Marti.

Congratulations!  


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

De Sousa Dias & Schaefer: Journey to the Sun

Written 24-11-2021 18:43:23 by Tue Steen Mller

... their first names are Susana and Ansgar, well known by

the editors of this site due to their films “Still Life“ and „48“, (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1938/).

This new film by the Portuguese couple demonstrates again how perfectly they know how to combine aesthetics and history with sound that include stories told by now old Austrians „who were sent to stay with host families in Portugal to recuperate after the Second World War“, when they were 6 or 8 or 10 years old.

You don’t get their names but your hear their voices and you are slowly taken into their experience. What they remember from the early post-war journey to the sun. It was for most of them a positive stay in rich homes, where they got close to families and maids and cats and dogs, in houses like palaces unlike the bombed Austria that they had left – there were 5000 who went. Memories for life.

The journey is told from beginning till end after 10 months stay. The boat trip, the arrival where families picked their kids, the language barriers, the joy of being there with a couple of testimonies, that tell another side of the stay. „I was locked up for 10 months“, says a man, who stayed with a priest. But others say „I never felt homesick“, „there was caressing and hugging that I did not know from home“. They wrote letters to home, they were sent after being censored as the letters arriving – astonishing!

Some remember how important religion was for the families, they took part in ceremonies, and one remembers to have met poverty – a barefooted boy who lives in a cave! In contrast to the one, who had met Salazar, who sent 6 pineapples to the kids every year for christmas or new year. 

And then the touching Goodbye´s, back to Austria, hard for many of the kids. One tells that when she came home, she spoke only Portuguese and could not recognise her mother.

The film is as excellent as their previous archive based works mentioned above. The two have their very special way of storytelling, where scratched images from chronicles bring witness of the time as does lovely family photos and films from the wealthy families archive. If you can say so – “small” sounds accompany sometimes the images, there is never a direct illustration of the words, except when the Austrian “kids” say that here is my mother, or grandmother, or talk about “the doctor” who always wore a suit even on the beach – the fotos of the girls stay long, you are invited to look at them, “enter them” as Sousa has put it and think your own story or your family´s – for instance on how you looked at that age, and for me as well how my two meter tall uncle from Argentina was also always in an ironed white shirt and perfect suit. Or my father standing on a boat in 1931 going from Buenos Aires to Southampton.

This is what the emotional “Journey to the Sun” does. It broadens out its theme through the montage and brings childhood memories into a historical context that could be of today, where kids are taken away from their roots. In this case they come home to Austria to find themselves and create an identity.   

Portugal, 2021,107 mins.

www.idfa.nl


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Niels Pagh Andersen: Order in Chaos Launch

Written 23-11-2021 13:17:57 by Tue Steen Mller

I have already posted (on FB) advertising texts about Danish editor Niels Pagh Andersen and his book launch at IDFA sunday morning through a debate with IDFA director Orwa Nyrabia. The launch was set up as a masterclass with the two as part of the IDFAcademy with access by accredited guests. 90 minutes followed by sales of the book in the foyer of the big hall in the Compagnietheater – outside you can see one of the canals in a sunshine that makes the beauty of the city significant.

Andersen... impossible to make „a normal“ report of his live performance so I have chosen to quote the editor, who was nicely dressed up for his „book birth“ and started asking Nyrabia if he could walk while talking. Permission given. And here goes some sentences I put down on my paper:

I started with a kind of unofficial mentorship with Danish star editor Christian Hartkopp. I did everything. „The Pathfinder“ was my real debut, fiction, it was Oscar nominated. After that I did all kind of things but I was losing my dream. And myself.

Second life... I learned something with documentaries. You need to be humble when you are moving in the real world with ordinary people.

From analog to digital… brought a lot of bad habits. «They» are postponing the decisions and end up with too much to choose from. We need structure and we need chaos.

I am helping making the director’s film… to find the director’s tone…

Sometimes it helps to take a walk together. The creative dialogue. Ambition: «We can dance».

I want to work with something I don’t understand. Life is a learning process. (The Pirjo Honkasalo experience ”Three Rooms of Melancholia” as an example). I am curious and not afraid. We can always go to the shrink and have our narrative adjusted!

… Niels was talking about ”the authentic now” that I find difficult to write short about, it is so well described in the book as is what he means by ”subtext”…

Why? The longing to see the world. The film tempo has gone down. More slow films. 

My audience is more intelligent than me. 

Screenings... the worst screeners are directors. They only see how they would have made the film.

… and you know what, you should buy the book!

 https://orderinchaosbook.com 


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IDFA: Amsterdam Global Village

Written 19-11-2021 08:40:18 by Tue Steen Mller

Full house at beautiful Tuschinski last night – for a 25 year old film, a classic in world documentary history, Johan van der Keuken’s Amsterdam Global Village. 4 hours (!) plus one hour with the film’s producer Pieter van Huystee, Nosh van der Lely, the partner of van der Keuken, who took the sound and did a lot more, in a conversation with Carlo Chatrian from the Berlinale, accompanied on the stage by Bolivian Roberto, one of the key persons in the film who came with his son, who is ”being born” in the film, now he is a good looking 25 year old man.

With Roberto who left Bolivia to come to Holland, fell in love with a Dutch woman – the film crew went back to his village in the mountains to meet his mother in one of the many beautiful sequences in the film. The mother, who is still alive, Roberto said last night, cries and cries as she misses her son, it’s very emotional as it is in the sequence from Chechnya, where – sorry forgot his name – the charismatic Chechnyan living in Holland goes back to meet his family and do some humanitarian aid helped by Dutch organisations. The mother & son theme is there again – and there are awful images of corpses from what was the first Chechnyan war.

Amsterdam – the movements of the camera catching the city, its buildings and its people. The pizza courier, Khalid, on his moped plays a major role, he goes around, he buys hash in a coffee shop, he sees beautiful naked women at the photographer, for whom he delivers photos when developed... the red-haired woman and her son going back to the house, where she lived before she – Jewish – went into hiding for years during the war, and to the house, where her son was hiding. She tells her story sooo captivating... and the female dj at work, van der Keuken goes constantly close caressing the protagonists with an editing, done by late Barbara Hin, that gives a constant surprise of innovative solutions that goes with the flow through the canals and out to the outskirts, the industrial areas of the big city – not to forget as Pieter van Huystee said after the five hours that I (and my back and my bum!) survived.

Documentaries – all about people, yes, but it depends on how close you can get to them and on your cinematic skills. I was not bored for 4 hours. Shot on film, you see it. 

Thank you IDFA for this choice – to revisit a grand film.  


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DOK Leipzig 2021

Written 22-10-2021 13:30:55 by Tue Steen Mller

“At this year’s edition of DOK Leipzig, a total of 63,250 euros in prize money will be awarded. In addition, there are non-cash benefits worth 10,000 euros that filmmakers will be able to use in developing their films…”

A quote from today’s press release from the classic documentary and animation film festival in Leipzig. The 64th edition! A festival that I have loved to attend many many times, a couple of times as a juror and/or sitting in the marketplace’s always well organized video library or going to the cinema. And having a good glass of wine or a beer with the currywurst. This year the festival shows 170 films in the cinemas (October 25 – 31) followed by DOK Stream, 70 films as video on demand (November 1-14). And I will be online, alas.

A quick look into some of the sections with some name-dropping. There is a retrospective that is – as usual at this festival – serious and well curated historical. Here is the intro: “With the division of Germany, Hitler’s empire finally disappeared from the map. But in the new states, the old Germans lived on: perpetrators and onlookers of the mass murder of Europe’s Jews. For both the GDR and FRG, dealing with the Holocaust became a moral touchstone – a standard by which they measured themselves and their neighbour. We look at German-German alternating and counter views, at films about guilt, at images of “Jewishness” that show “Germanness”.” There are films by Heynowski, Farocki, Alain Resnais, Jean-Marie Straub..

In the international competition I will definitely look fwd. to watch the long awaited film by long time friend Diana El Jeiroudi, entitled “Republic of Silence”, 183 minutes,… “Diana, who lives in exile in Germany with her husband, sorts out: the recent history of Syria and its people, whom it has scattered to the four winds.”

And some films I will recommend from the 170: Stefan Pavlovic “Looking for Horses” (reviewed: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4948/), “The Balcony Movie” by Polish Pawel Lozinski, “Flee” by Danish Jonas Poher Rasmussen (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4890/)

, and from the same Danish production company Final Cut for Real “Our Memory Belongs to Us” by Rami Farah and Signe Byrge Sørensen. Pavlovic film is in the DocAlliance competition, the other three compete in Audience Competition for long films where the festival has decided (wisely I think) to have a jury from the audience, I guess to avoid the voting after each screening on paper to be collected and counted.

And then an homage to Avi Mograbi with the title “Secret Agent Avi”, haha, not funny honey and why only three of this master in modern documentary?

And if I may continue my light-grumpy mood… why are there no films from any of the Baltic countries or Russia? DOK Leipzig has always been looking to the East including films from USSR & now Russia. No correspondents any longer? 

… not to forget, DOK Leipzig has a fine industry section, makes a priority out of having good talks and Q&A’s and a special DOK Neuland exhibition that you who go should visit.

https://www.dok-leipzig.de


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Ji.hlava IDFF 25 Years!

Written 21-10-2021 14:09:22 by Tue Steen Mller

25 years, still alive and kicking, young and fresh – is the impression I get from going through the website of the film festival in the Czech provincial town that is full of films, of Cinema from October 10 till October 31. 

The festival’s visual logo is lovely, copy paste from the site: - The official spot of the 25th Ji.hlava IDFF has been designed by the poet and filmmaker Khavn, who thanks to his desire to trespass the borders of film expression, belongs among the most prominent personalities of Philippine cinema. His work was presented in the section Translucent Being at Ji.hlava 2006.“Khavn is a prominent figure on the contemporary independent scene in the Philippines, and the Ji.hlava IDFF has been following his predominantly provocative and surprising work for fifteen years. Khavn himself has also been collaborating with Ji.hlava: he is currently leading the Ji.hlava Academy workshop for emerging filmmakers, and has been among the jurors and authors of the festival diary," says Marek Hovorka, the director of the festival. And be aware that on the website you will also find a thought provoking poem by Khavn.

They make excellent press releases at this festival, so my job is to pick and copy paste so it fits the format of a film blog like this. Here are some more words from Hovorka: ” “We want to draw on the experience of the last two years. In 2019, Ji.hlava had a very festive and summer-like atmosphere, while last year we took the online opportunity to attract thousands of new viewers and bring documentary cinema to their attention. This year we would like to combine these two aspects,” explains Marek Hovorka, commenting on the hybrid concept of the festival, which will for the first time take place both live and online.”

… with  three hundred films including the latest Czech and international documentary cinema, a unique retrospective of Romanian experimental film, and a section dedicated to the American thinker and essayist Susan Sontag.

The main Opus Bonum international competition features fifteen titles. Eleven films will be screened in their world premiere, and four will have their international premiere at Ji.hlava… I only know one of the film, reviewed two days ago on this site: Andrei Kutsila’s «When Flowers are not Silent ».

The 25 short docs in Ji.hlava's Short Joy competition section – all in world or international premiere – are now available online for free at dafilms.com and the jury is audiences across the world. The voting starts today and ends on October 24…Chapeau for having a short film section ».

There are so many other sections, let me just point at the non-competitive « Constellations » that include films by Sergei Loznitsa, Pawel Lozinski, Marc Isaacs and Jay Rosenblatt.

Do your research, lucky you who are able to be in cinemas in Ji.hlava, lucky you who can watch online without being geo-blocked – take a look at

https://www.ji-hlava.com/

Congratulations!


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Diane Weyermann Passed Away Yesterday

Written 15-10-2021 11:29:37 by Tue Steen Mller

Diane Weyermann Passed Away Yesterday

So sad news. Only 66 years old. Lucky us who met Diane and learned from her generosity, passion and knowledge. Always with a smile. My wife and I visited her briefly in Venice CA, had brunch in the sunshine and saw her beautiful house. And talked about ”her” times in Europe working for George (Soros) as she put it. Staying with this flashback, in 2012 I wrote the following on this blog:

Hot Docs gives a Doc Mogul Award every year and there shall be no objection, not at all, on the contrary, to the choice of recipient this year. For this blogger, when he was at EDN (European Documentary Network), Diane Weyermann was a key person for the development of the documentary scene in a new and free Eastern Europe way back in the middle of the 1990’s. She came to many of the EDN workshops in the region and she was precise, warm and generous in her support to documentary films, when she launched the Soros Documentary Fund in 1996. Personally I remember having made an interview for DOX with Diane in New York and met a committed and modest person with a big love to the creative documentary. And a woman with a working and walking pace (down the streets of Manhattan) that was quite different from the Nordic tradition! She managed to transform the Soros Documentary Fund into the Sundance Documentary Fund before she went to (taken from the HotDocs site) “Participant Media, where she has overseen such documentary projects as the Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning FOOD INC., WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN”, STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE, JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS, DARFUR NOW, and the Academy Award-winning AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.” In the funds and in the company, Weyermann has been involved with the production of over 300 documentary films from around the world. The most well deserved documentary recognition I could think of.

RIP.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jrgen Vestergaard: Filmliv

Written 14-10-2021 13:11:04 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Jrgen Vestergaard: Filmliv

Jørgen Vestergaard er enestående i dansk filmkunst. Lige siden han instruerede sin første film i 1963 er han gået sine egne veje som instruktør af dukkefilm, dokumentarfilm og spillefilm. Og hans egne veje førte ham tidligt tilbage til Thisted, hvor hans værksted, atelier, hans familie, rækker af filmfolk i kortere tid og han selv gennem år husedes i en landejendom nær byen.

Fascineret og videnlysten besøgte Jørgen Vestergaard tidligt i sit filmliv sammen med sin hustru de tjekkiske dukkefilminstruktører Jirí Trnka og Karel Zeman og fascineret af mestrenes stop motion metode og hjemme igen begyndte de to at lave dukkefilm, vist nok på den tid som de eneste i Danmark.

Det her fortæller forlaget Knakken i Thisted bag på bindet på sin fornemme udgivelse af en bog på 320 sider som Jørgen Vestergaard har skrevet om produktionerne af sine 60 film til nu. Og der fortælles videre at han selv, hjemme i filmværkstedet med hustruens hjælp med tilskæring og syning af de små kostymer, forstår jeg i min senere læsning, herefter lavede dukkefilm om en række fortællinger af Andersen, Poe og Lorca.



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Baltic Sea Docs 2021: Courage

Written 09-09-2021 08:06:32 by Tue Steen Mller

I wrote this in connection with CPH:DOX festival in April/May this year. The other day it was screened in K-Suns cinema in Riga. First time for me to see it on a big screen. And Aliaksey Paluyan was there on the screen to talk to the audience that gave him a well deserved long applause. Again, what a difference there is to see a film on the big screen:

One of those is the Belarussian film “Courage” that premiered at the Berlinale, will be at Visions du Réel in Nyon in competition and here it is in the category ”Change Makers”. At the Baltic Sea Docs 2020 Aliaksey Paluyan pitched the film and apologised that ”if I am not present tomorrow, it is because I have been arrested while filming the demonstrations”. The film has been praised for its, yes, courage; I can only add that is an original approach to the theme that makes it go far beyond reportage. Content:  

”Art, civil disobedience and political protest are three different sides of the same revolution for the Belarusian democracy activists Maryna, Pavel and Denis. In the eastern nation, which is often called Europe’s last dictatorship, president Alexander Lukashenko has been solidly in power since the collapse of the Soviet Union. But now the people have had enough. Since last year’s elections, the protesters have defied the risk of imprisonment and abduction and have gathered to protest. For several years, Maryna, Pavel and Denis have run the Free Theatre for political performing arts. But when peaceful protests take hold on the streets outside, the stage suddenly becomes much larger.”


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Baltic Sea Docs announces the programme

Written 25-08-2021 15:19:01 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Docs announces the programme

The 25th Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries will run on 1-12 September in Riga and online, with a total of 18 film projects to be presented at the training and pitching forum, as well as a programme of masterclasses and film screenings.

Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries, established in 1997 in Denmark, will be hosted in Riga for the 17th year where the forum for documentary industry professionals has been complemented with a public film programme.

“We are very happy to see that over the 25 years Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries has retained its position as an important and necessary event 



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Stefani: Days and Nights with Dimitra K

Written 18-08-2021 14:07:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Stefani: Days and Nights with Dimitra K

If you want an excellent written and precise analysis of the latest work of Greek filmmaker Eva Stefani, click below and read Neil Young’s text written after the Thessaloniki Doc Festival, where Stefani won an award. As “Uncle Tue” to Eva I can’t lean back and pretend that I don’t know her.and love her work as the fine film documentarian she is, no a film auteur she is, always independent, always taking her time to film, always searching for a film language that fits the subject of her film. So I am biased. Therefore let me write some words on Eva, who deserves much more attention at festivals around that she gets at the moment. 

I have known Eva for more than 20 years. When the Storydoc workshops in Greece, initiated by Kostas Spiropoulos, existed, she was a tutor together with – among others – Czech-French Stan Neumann and Scottish Emma Davie. These three academic filmmakers with quite their own non-academic (maybe except Neumann) way of storytelling bonded so well together. Sometimes irritating the moderator of the sessions – me – who had to say “silence please”, when they small-talked, being bored. It could be the reason for me being called “the uncle”, the one who lifts the finger to create order. Eva has a long filmography but also a career as a visual artist exhibiting at several biennales and places like Documenta. And she has written poetry and books on the documentary genre.

Below you have a link to the website of Eva and you will notice, how she shifts in film durations – there are none of the films that fit the television slots we know – 26 or 52 minutes. Her films have had a good life on festivals like “The Box” from 2004 that got an award at Cinéma du Réel. That film is just of many that communicates Eva’s interest in and sense for people, which is so obvious in the new film about Dimitra, the prostitute she has followed for a decade - as a friend and close observer of the big woman, who likes her job and set up standards for the profession far from today’s tragic trafficking. Eva 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.

https://evastefani.gr/bio

https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/days-and-nights-of-demetra-k-thessaloniki-review/5160876.article

Greece, 2021, 72 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CINDOC-TBILISI 2021 HYBRID EDITION

Written 17-08-2021 10:33:31 by Tue Steen Mller

CINDOC-TBILISI 2021  HYBRID EDITION

From the organisers of CinéDoc-Tbilisi: This year we have fully embraced the hybrid festival format, reaching out to audiences through different platforms (Georgian Public Broadcaster, Adjara Television, DAFilms and virtual cinemas on our website) and selecting the best documentaries from our past editions within a “Best of” – CinéDOC-Tbilisi program.

While we all thought that the pandemic would be temporary and we could continue to organize cultural events as we did in the past, we had to again adapt to a new reality in 2021.

We are very glad to have again the Georgian Public Broadcaster as a partner. After the successful screenings of six documentaries in 2020, this partnership has developed into one with more impact. As a premiere
in the history of our festival, both the opening as well as the opening film “Sunny” directed by Keti Machavariani of CinéDOC-Tbilisi will be broadcast on the 15th of August, by the Georgian Public Broadcaster.

In cooperation with this broadcaster we will also screen a selection of 10 gripping, award-winning creative documentaries, such as “Honeyland”, “The Three Rooms of Melancholia” (PHOTO), “Don Juan”, “Sonita”.

A new partner this year is also the public broadcaster of the Adjara region: Adjara Television. We are so glad to be able to screen 15 creative documentaries on this channel, among them award winning internationalfilms and also many wonderful Georgian documentaries, directed by talented filmmakers like Levan Koguashvili, Nino Orjonikize and Vano Arsenishvili, Giorgi Mrevlishvili, Mariam Chachia, Vakhtang Kuntsev- Gabashvili, Shalva Shengeli, Levan Adamia, Toma Chagelishvili.

A third platform for our “Best of” edition is also the European video on demand website DAFilms. We will screen documentaries via DAFilms embedded onto our website and this platform will dedicate a special focus to our festival.

Last but not least, we will again host the “Focus Caucasus” competition, a competition for the newest documentaries from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Ten films will compete for the Focus Caucasus Award (7000 GEL) and the Special Jury Award (5000 GEL). All films will be screened online during weekends and will be followed by moderated online discussions.

Our young audience will also have the chance to watch films on our website, within the CinéDOC-Young section. We encourage parents and teachers to recommend the wonderful selection of documentaries to their children and pupils, they are easily accessible and free of charge.

We look forward to meeting you all at our online discussions and we are sure that, despite the difficult situation in the country, documentary films will entertain you, they will make you reflect on many issues around the globe and... they will also bring hope to all of us for a better future in the years to come.


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nordisk Panorama Forum 2021

Written 26-07-2021 13:23:04 by Tue Steen Mller

Nordisk Panorama Forum 2021

A mail arrived this morning : ”We are thrilled to announce the projects selected for Nordisk Panorama Forum and wish to congratulate all who made the cut!”

Sent by the Nordisk Panorama people announcing what is going to happen in Malmö the 20th and 21st September. Selected from more than 100 new documentary projects ”a selection of 24 brand new documentary projects will be pitched to around 70 attending decision-makers and 24 observer+ projects have been selected for special access to meetings with decision-makers.”

As always an inviting and professional presentation – I have looked into the selection and will do some name dropping, first with a link to the previous post about the Baltic Sea Docs (BSD) that takes place a couple of weeks before the Nordisk Panorama. Because a film project from BSD 2020 has been invited to join:

”Podnieks on Podnieks” to be produced by (of course) the Juris Podnieks Studio, run by Antra Cilinska who was the editor of the late legend of Latvian cinema. Anna Viduleja is to be the director of this important homage to Podnieks, who died in 1992 in a drowning accident. Including archive material with the director never seen before. Had he lived he would have been 70 years old in 2020. With this presentation at Nordisk Panorama it is my hope that many more will get to know a man, who should have a well deserved place in film history for his works like the series ”Hello do you Hear Us” that was broadcast on British television.

What else… I am curious to see what Göran Hugo Olsson comes up with ”Israel and Palestine on Swedish TV 1959-1989”, description goes like this ”a feature documentary about how the ”mother of all conflicts” has been depicted on Swedish Television from 1959-1989”. And Magnus Gertten is going to make a film on Cornelis Vreeswijk entitled “Some Walk in Broken Shoes”, I started humming ”Veronica” when I saw this on the list. Otherwise new films by Mira Jargil, Mikala Krogh and Eva Mulvad, Yrsa Roca Fannberg and many others I don’t know. Yet.

https://nordiskpanorama.com/en/industry/forum/forum-projects/?mc_cid=8dd23e7aa1&mc_eid=d1f812251c&type=selected 

   

 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

BSD 25 Years

Written 18-07-2021 12:10:33 by Tue Steen Mller

BSD 25 Years

In Riga, capital of Latvia, a cinematic celebration will take place, September 1-12: For 25 years filmmakers from the countries around the Baltic Sea have gathered at a forum, that started on the island of Bornholm, then toured the Baltic countries to end up, from 1997, in Riga. It will be a celebration of the region’s documentary cinema with screenings, masterclasses and pitchings. Film history it indeed is as I can say having been with the event since the very beginning in 1990, where the Baltic Film & TV Festival started on Bornholm to add in 1997 a so-called industry part for film projects to be pitched, discussed and developed and eventually co-financed.

For this 25th edition 18 projects have been selected to be ”discussed, developed, pitched, and eventually co-financed”. Well known producers, who have been at BSD (Baltic Sea Docs) several times before, will attend and new talents will enter the scene of documentaries. There are projects from the three Baltic countries, of course, but also from Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland – and Uzbekistan. The latter as a result of a collaboration with the CinéDoc Tbilisi Pitch, where the project manager of BSD, Zane Balcus, picked the project of Elyor Nemat, ”Dedovshina”. On top of that because of the growing number of co-productions there are also film projects with Bulgarian, French, Irish and Romanian participation.

Some name dropping: Finnish director Kira Jääskeläinen comes with a project she has been working on for years, ”The Cello”. Giedre Zickyte, who is winning awards all over for ”The Jump”, comes with ”Irena”. Ksenia Okhaphina, who made the masterpiece ”Immortal”, comes back to the BSD with a fascinating title ”Manifesto of Tenderness”, Vlad Ketkovich is producing, a true veteran of BSD. Local master director Laila Pakalnina among many titles the recent ”Spoon”, is with producer Uldis Cekulis to present ”Scarecrows” and producer Guntis Trekteris brings forward ”Stranded” (PHOTO) that has a very inviting logline, ” An attempt to look at the life of a half-million Baltic Russian community in 2020, through the stories of 3 generations of women in the director’s family.” Director is Stanislavs Tokalovs. At the Ex Oriente workshop recently I met Oksana Syhareva and Anna Kapustina from Ukraine, happy to see them at BSD with exciting ”Up in the Air”.

… and for many other strong film projects to be pitched at BSD, click.

https://dokforums.gov.lv/industry/selected-projects-2021/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Biograffilm Festival Bologna

Written 08-06-2021 21:13:56 by Tue Steen Mller

Biograffilm Festival Bologna

With the subtitle “International Celebration of Lives” the festival started June 4 and runs until June 14. It has a section called ”Meet the Masters” and Leena Pasanen and her festival staff earns respect for bringing cinematic ”celebration of lives”, as it is being done by Helena Třeštíková and Heddy Honigmann, the Czech and the Dutch director, who have beautiful films on the their long filmography. In Bologna their films are presented.

Otherwise there is a section for Italian films, one for “art and music” (including Barak Heymann’s film on Dani Karavan, who died last week), ”Larger than Fiction” and of course an international competition. With important films like ”Courage” by young Paluyan from Belarus, Antonia Kilian’s strong ”The Other Side of the River”, IDFA-winner ”Radiograph of a Family” by Iranian Firouzeh Khosrovani, Danish ”Flee” by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Swedish ”Arica” by Lars Edman and William Johansson Kalén – and ”President” by Danish Camilla Nielsson, her second amazing film on politics in Zimbabwe. Not to forget ”The Last Shelter” by Ousmane Samassékou, winner at the CPH:DOX.

The audience in Bologna can not complain – they get the best of the best. 

https://www.biografilm.it/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona 2021

Written 24-05-2021 09:53:32 by Tue Steen Mller

... has been running for some days and goes on until May 30 in a hybrid version: online and with screenings in cinemas. I was not there last year and the same goes for this year, alas. At the 24th edition. I will for sure do everything to be there next year for the 25th celebration of an event that I have been part of from the very beginning. It has been a true pleasure to be part of the industry sessions for the first many many years, and now also as Head of the Programming committee. This year is my last year in this position, I leave with pleasure the chair to Pol Roig, a true film lover and connaisseur, who these days are busy introducing films and directors - as well as leading Q&A's. Go to https://docsbarcelona.com/ and see the selection we did for this year. 

Anyway, if not in Barcelona, you can take part actively from your home, which I have done introducing seventeen (17) 45 mins conversations between filmmakers with rough cuts of their films asking for feedback. We called it "artistic consultancies" = talk about content and structure and storytelling. Far from the usual pitching. I asked directors, producers and consultants to comment, they did, they were very well prepared for these private meetings as were the filmmakers of course and it is my impression that the latter left with inspiration, encouraged to work on for the next cut. Face to Face. From South America to Europe, from Mexico to Ukraine, from Costa Rica to Georgia, from Copenhagen to NY, from Italy to Switzerland... As a technical analphabet I am now a fan of zoom, it worked so well also because of my partner in crime at DocsBarcelona, Neus Perez. Thank you for your warm professionalism!

https://docsbarcelona.com/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Krakow opens wirh Polański, Horowitz..

Written 20-05-2021 10:55:58 by Tue Steen Mller

The opening ceremony of the Krakow Festival and the international premiere of the film “Polański, Horowitz. Hometown” by Mateusz Kudła and Anna Kokoszka-Romer will be held on the 30th of May at 8 p.m. at the cinema Kino Kijów. The film is a colourful story about childhoods, friendship, the common Jewish fate of the protagonists and, most of all, about Krakow – a place that, despite the passage of time and many changes, remains their home.

For the opening of the festival, we try and select spectacular films, as well as such which constitute a kind of common denominator for the festival programme. In the film “Polański, Horowitz. Hometown” there are many threads that are particularly dear to us — emotions, humour, nostalgia and Krakow as the witness of the events, but also as the setting of the film, explains Krzysztof Gierat, the director of the Krakow Film Festival...

 



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Camilla Nielsson: President

Written 08-05-2021 15:56:56 by Tue Steen Mller

Camilla Nielsson: President

”You’ve got to have love for your characters and do everything you can to give them confidence in the job you’ve been assigned”. Said Camilla Nielsson to me in an interview back in November 2014, published in a Danish Film Institute magazine on the occasion of her film’s showing af IDFA that year. I refer to ”Democrats” that we followed quite intensely on this site on its road to festivals – and awards – around the world.

Love for characters, I was happy to meet again Paul Mangwana and Douglas Mwonzora, the protagonists of ”Democrats”, in Nielsson’s new film ”President”. Their job in ”Democrats” was to create a constitution – Mangwana on behalf of ZANU-PF, Mwonzora for MDC-T. Two very different characters and temperaments I got to like thanks to filmmaker Nielsson and her cameraman Henrik Bohn Ipsen. In ”President” they are side characters, Mangwana furious in a long scene, where the members of ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is questioned on their impartiality by the opposition party MDC-T, and the elegant cool Mwonzora being present in several scenes as one of the sympathetic strategists working hard to win the presidency for Nelson Chamisa.

 

 



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Baltic Sea Docs 2021 announces call for projects

Written 07-05-2021 19:44:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Docs 2021 announces call for projects

Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries (BSD) is the most important documentary training and pitching event in the Baltic countries, taking place in Riga, Latvia. The 25th edition is scheduled to take place in a hybrid form from 1 – 12 September 2021, with the industry events held mostly online. The call for projects is open now and will close on 11 June. 

BSD is looking for applications from independent production companies from the wider Baltic Sea region countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden), Eastern Europe and Caucasus region, and from other countries if the documentary subject relates to the region. The main focus of the BSD is on full-length creative documentary projects, but cross-media applications are also welcome to apply. The international selection committee will select 18 projects to be pitched for the international broadcasters, sales agents, film funds and other industry representatives. 

 

 



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CPH:DOX Forum/ 2

Written 30-04-2021 21:10:38 by Tue Steen Mller

I knew it from visits to Kiev, the film project ”Expedition 49”, presented by director Alisa Kovalenko and producer Stéphane Siohan, with film and ArtdokFest festival director Vitalyi Mansky as ambassador recommending. But I had not seen the teaser they had produced especially for the CPH:DOX presentation. Absolutely great, 7 minutes of energy in images and a fine and personal voice-off by the director, motivating why she wants to make this adventurous documentary – adventurous as the five teenagers picked to go to the Himalayas with an old explorer are full of life and will, ”…in search of themselves, stuck in their bleeding little town, Zolote-4, Donbas, a shithole place shaken by the rumble of a lingering war with Russia and the haunting collapse of the coal mines…”. Very charming and dynamic presentation avoiding the usual pitch clichés of events like this: ”We are looking for funding blablabla”. Obvious that is, hope they will be succesful, the talent is, yes, obvious!

And of course I took a look at the pitch trailer of “Handheld”, which is a film about one of my heroes… read this text from the website of CPH:DOX: ”Pioneer of direct cinema, Albert Maysles redefined documentary film in practice and in meaning. With unfettered access to his entire filmography, personal archives, and never-before-seen footage, oldest daughter Rebekah will trace her father’s life.” It is especially the latter I look forward to see, the personal and not-seen-before as I am sure it will confirm the passion and curiosity of the Albert Maysles we have had the pleasure to meet in Denmark on several occasions. Old of age, young in spirit, I remember the tribute Jørgen Leth made to him at the European Film College in Denmark. Lovely, probably not filmed. In the clip there is a wonderful moment with Rolling Stones in the studio where bass guitarist Bill Wyman asks Maysles to leave… it’s disturbing to have you here!


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX Forum

Written 30-04-2021 13:40:27 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX  Forum

In between watching films, mentoring for the CinéDoc Tbilisi, having the first corona vaccination and being tested in mouth and (luckily not so often) nose… I had the pleasure to check some of the pitches at the CPH:DOX Forum. More than 30 projects, well presented on the website with all necessary information, with an ”Ambassador” to recommend each project and with trailers that included presentations of what the producer/the filmmakers wanted in terms of financial and/or creative support. I have no idea of what happened at the individual meetings, hopefully good contacts were made. Chapeau for the Forum organisers, professionalism at highest level.

… and there he was again the forever young Jørgen Leth, together with talented Andreas Koefoed with an energetic and inviting teaser for their upcoming film on jazz, „Cold and Warm“. A quote from the description of the project, „Cold & Warm“ is like a grand catalogue of great musicians. For them, music is a way of being. Through images, music and words, we discover the art-form that keeps them alive. What does it mean to play? How does it feel to listen? As director Jørgen Leth poses existential questions to the musicians, long pauses occur. Because is it even possible to put the emotions of music into words?...“ Jørgen Leth praises the looseness of jazz and sees the film as a collection of notes. I was totally seduced.

… and Mads Brügger was there with „Double Trouble“ in his usual staged style and with a fascinating project, read this: „A feature length documentary about the secretive world of political decoys. The film explores how various dictators and strongmen have been using doubles as stand ins for themselves. The aim of the film is to find as many former real life political decoys as possible, and bring them all together for a lavish dinner at a luxury hotel, where they will be in character as their old masters.“

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX Artists and Auteurs

Written 19-04-2021 21:01:18 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX  Artists and Auteurs

The CPH:DOX programme is launched. The festival runs from April 21 to May 12. The cinemas are scheduled to re-open in the beginning of May so the festival intends to be part of this (cross fingers…) festive celebration of watching (also) documentaries on a big screen. Otherwise the festival’s 177 films will be available (for those who are in Denmark) online as well as an enormous line-up of events. Check the website: https://cphdox.dk/film/

On this site – www.filmkommentaren.dk – we will follow the festival from now on with recommendations of films to be watched. It will be in English as many of the films will show up to be watched at other festivals around the world.

… this one will not recommend individual titles as such but stress that the festival pays respect to the masters of the documentary genre as it unfolds right now: Fred Wiseman is there with City Hall (classic duration from Wiseman: 275 mins., already mentioned in a previous post is Kossakovsky and his Gunda, Sergey Loznitsa is the master of historical event interpreted through his unique and creative treatment of archive like in State Funeral, Avi Mograbi is back at his best with The First 54 Years. An abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation, not to forget Notturno by Gianfranco Rosi and Ulrike Ottinger’s Paris Calligrammes (Photo).

There are many other auteurs and artists in this section, the ones I mentioned are all established filmmakers who keep the flag high for the documentary. Check it out.

 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX Virpi Suutari: Aalto

Written 10-04-2021 16:10:50 by Tue Steen Mller

The CPH:DOX programme is launched. The festival runs from April 21 to May 12. The cinemas are scheduled to re-open in the beginning of May so the festival intends to be part of this (cross fingers…) festive celebration of watching (also) documentaries on a big screen. Otherwise the festival’s 177 films will be available (for those who are in Denmark) online as well as an enormous line-up of events. Check the website: https://cphdox.dk/film/

On this site – www.filmkommentaren.dk – we will follow the festival from now on with recommendations of films to be watched. It will be in English as many of the films will show up to be watched at other festivals around the world.

Finnish director Virpi Suutari is a true auteur. At the Belgrade festival Magnificent7 we had the pleasure to screen “Entrepreneur” and “Garden Lovers” with the presence of the director. Now she presents – for the Danish audience - ”Aalto” that CPH:DOX presents in this way:

”Scandinavian architecture and design are known and loved for their clear lines and consideration for the individual human being. The couple Alvar and Aino Aalto deserve much of the credit. In an exquisite film which – just like their own life works – brilliantly combines aesthetics and humanity, we are not only told the story of how the architect and the designer set new standards in their respective fields. Through the letters they sent each other, we also get an unusual insight into the love life of the two highly gifted people, as well as their work and shared family, and not least their unique personalities, which at times collided in a way that sent sparks flying.”

And I add a couple of words: Suutari’s personal style is one of élegance, the film is simply a pleasure to watch and again composer – although not mentioned on the festival website – Sanna Salmenkallio must be praised for her extraordinary film music.


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocuDays Ukraine 2021 Online

Written 02-04-2021 23:37:07 by Tue Steen Mller

DocuDays Ukraine 2021 Online

Yes, online again this year for the 18th International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival that I have visited several times with many memories in and outside the cinema. Yesterday Ileana Stanculescu from CinéDoc Tbilisi reminded me and Lithuanian Audrius Stonys of our common experience in Kiev 8 years ago where the snow was a true challenge for many, including me who was almost carried up the hill to the hotel Rus by the young and fit filmmaker and festival director Roman Bondarchuk…I arrived, many did not, many came late. But we had a great time.

This year I have no idea how the festival weather in Kiev has been as I have been sitting in my armchair in Copenhagen – I attended with my laptop. 



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Copenhagen Jewish Film Festival

Written 22-02-2021 22:34:23 by Tue Steen Mller

Copenhagen Jewish Film Festival

… is in its second day, it’s online, it goes on until March 1st and it has an interesting programme of fiction and documentaries. The films can be streamed in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Faroese Islands. For that reason I might as well continue in Danish…

og starte med at prise festivalen for sit valg af film, som omfatter nye og ældre film, som det fremgår – mere ros – af den klart oplysende og fint layoutede hjemmeside med adressen https://www.cjff.dk

Det er som skrevet online det foregår, jeg har set to film, begge i fin kvalitet og ved alle film er der enten en introduktion og/eller en Q&A tilknyttet, hvor kompetente navne som Hanne Foighel (nyder hende altid i DR’s Orientering), oversætterparret Jørgen Herman Monrad og Judyta Preis, overrabbiner emeritus Bent Melchior optræder ligesom der er samtaler med instruktørerne bag filmene. Jeg overværede én her til aften, hvor instruktøren Itzik Lerner talte om ”Crossings”, der først og fremmest følger unge mænd og kvinder som gennemgår den ofte hårde basis-uddannelse, som skal gøre dem til gode checkpoint-soldiers. Jeg havde nok forventet mig mere af Lerner efter hans bosætter-film fra 2015, ”God’s Messengers”.

Så var der mere bid i ”Paradise Lost” af Ibtisam Salh Mara’ana, en film fra 2003, produceret af instruktøren og producenten Duki Dror. Filmen tog mig til ”Landsbyen Fureidis (Paradis), (som) er den eneste palæstinensiske landsby ved Middelhavet, der ikke blev jævnet med jorden, da staten Israel blev oprettet i 1948. Her er instruktøren Ibtisam Salh Mara’ana født og vokset op. Fureidis er fattig, afsondret fra de øvrige arabiske israelske byer og omgivet af israelske landsbyer og kibbutzer.” Instruktøren er i billedet, taler med familie og andre borgere i landsbyen, som alle vægrer sig ved at tale om Suaad, som blev arresteret af israelerne for at ”vifte” med det palæstinensiske flag i aktioner for datidens PLO. Instruktøren opsøger Suaad, som er bosat i London og en fin og følsom dialog føres mellem de to om konservatismen og angsten for at sige israelerne imod i den lille landsby. Om at stå op imod magten. Fin film med en ægte tone. 

Andre film: ”Mayor” af David Osit, anmeldt på dette site, http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4728/, ”Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words” fra 2021, Ada Ushpiz (som er aktuel med filmen ”Children”, premiere i DOKLeipzig) og hendes ”Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt” fra 2015 – eller Margarethe von Trotta’s spillefilm ”Hannah Arendt”, eller Polanskis Dreyfuss-film, eller (!) Orson Welles ”Processen” efter Kafka. Det er et vidtspændende program. Spillefilm og dokumentarfilm. 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

John Webster: Donner Private

Written 10-02-2021 14:19:44 by Tue Steen Mller

John Webster: Donner  Private

 I am hooked from the very first moment. Director John Webster puts a pillow behind the back of Jörn Donner (1933-2020) as the start of the last interview Donner did. He sits in an armchair, it’s December 2019, he has a tumor in his lungs, nothing can be done about it, he dies end of January 2020. He is visibly in pain but not more than he is able to talk to Webster behind the camera in sharp and precise sentences, interesting from start till end. There is never a dull moment in this documentary where Pirjo Honkasalo contributed with a script and the planning of this last interview...



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Dusan Hanak Retrospective

Written 28-01-2021 10:48:49 by Tue Steen Mller

Dusan Hanak Retrospective

This is a copy-paste of a press release from DocAlliance's excellent platform DAFilms, written by Martin Černý:

The DAFilms streaming portal is paying tribute to Dušan Hanák, one of the most important Slovak directors, by presenting thirteen digitally restored films in what is the first online retrospective focused on his work. Hanák’s creative start dates to the 1960s, when the Czechoslovak New Wave began to attract interest with the films of Miloš Forman, Věra Chytilová, and Jiří Menzel at the head of the list. He made his first feature-length film – 322 – in 1969, one year after Czechoslovakia was occupied by Soviet-led troops. Despite the exceptional international success of his debut film, his next two works – Pictures of the Old World and Rosy Dreams – were relegated to the censor’s vault for many years. They were not acknowledged until after 1989, when they once again became accessible to public audiences. Originally condemned to be forgotten because of how they depict the raw reality of life under a totalitarian regime, today these films are admired for the filmmaker’s experimentation with documentary methods and how he portrayed life without any embellishment.

 

 

 



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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Bar Mario Closed

Written 20-01-2021 15:54:23 by Tue Steen Mller

Bar Mario Closed

I got a mail this morning that made me sad but also made me think of many many good visits to the bar next door the Zelig Film School in Bolzano. The mail came from Stefano Lisci, here is the beginning: 

… Ciao Tue, It's Stefano Lisci from Zelig. How are you? Here in Bolzano I am a little bit tired for the corona...but good! I write to tell you that Bar Mario had to close! Marina and Paolo had the corona virus, it was a long convalescence, especially for Paolo that was positive for 3 moths. Now they are good…

”Those who have visited the film school know what I am talking about, for those who don’t know: The Bar Mario is next door to the Zelig film school and for students, staff and teachers this is the place you go in the breaks to have a coffee, or where you drink a beer at the end of the day. And where you will meet the captain Marina, the cook Roberto and Paolo – who live there behind the door on which ”privato” is written.

Here is a quote from an article on this site written in 2016, where the film ”Bar Mario” that Stefano directed, had its premiere:

”Bar Mario” is a film that enters to the ”privato”, to the world of the three, in a chaptered, visually impressive story that takes us viewers on board a ship that has crossed mountains to be here, among mountains. The father of Marina, Mario, was a sailor and she has taken over his job to conduct the ship of life in good and harsh weather. She, and the film, does so in a warm, sweet and compassionate way. And with the fun and atmosphere that reigns in the Bar.” The film went to several festivals in Italy, well deserved, and now, as the bar is closed (and the cook Roberto has passed away last year) – and small local bars like this all over have to close due to the pandemic – I can only recommend you to watch it – Stefano had put it on line, price a bit more than 3$:

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/barmarioilfilm/499952078

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3746/


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nicolas Philibert Interviewed

Written 17-01-2021 14:52:55 by Tue Steen Mller

Nicolas Philibert Interviewed

… In le Monde by Jacques Mandelbaum, film critic at the newspaper since 1995. You have to be a subscriber of le Monde to read the whole interview. I have taken the liberty to quote from the excellent meeting with the great French filmmaker:

« Nicolas Philibert, 70 ans, est une figure tutélaire du documentaire en France après quarante ans d’activité dans le domaine. A toutes fins utiles, un rappel de son parcours pour la route. Démarrage en 1978 avec La Voix de son maître, coréalisé avec Gérard Mordillat, entretien avec douze grands patrons de l’époque et chronique discrète de la mutation capitaliste en cours, pas suffisamment toutefois pour n’être pas censurée durant treize ans. »

« … Nicolas Philibert a pris la direction régulière, depuis quelques mois, du quai de la Rapée, dans le 12earrondissement de Paris, où est accostée la péniche de l’Adamant, centre psychiatrique de jour dépendant des hôpitaux de Saint-Maurice (Val-de-Marne). »

« Filmer le désordre mental : Rien d’évident toutefois, pour beaucoup de raisons. La première, naturellement, consiste à filmer le désordre mental. Terrain instable, souffrance humaine, fragilité de tout, risque avéré du pittoresque. La seconde, non moins prégnante, est la pandémie qui sévit depuis dix mois. Nicolas Philibert, qui habite à Paris, s’estime à cet égard relativement chanceux : « Contrairement à beaucoup de mes collègues qui se sont arrêtés au milieu d’un tournage, la période du premier confinement a été pour moi celle de l’isolement nécessaire à l’écriture du projet. Je n’ai donc pas trop souffert. J’ai programmé mes journées. Une heure de marche rapide le matin, puis lecture et écriture. J’ai aussi mis à profit ce temps libre pour filmer ma mère, qui a eu 100 ans en avril 2020. Ça a été très important pour moi d’aller la voir régulièrement, même si je ne sais pas encore le devenir de ces images. » »

« Moi, je me fous de faire un film de plus. Faire un film avec de l’acquis, ça ne m’intéresse pas. Je veux être dérouté, questionné. Je veux qu’un tournage m’attire et me fasse peur. Et affronter cette peur en filmant . »

« La pandémie touche le quotidien de tout un chacun. L’activité du centre en est, pour le moment, fortement impactée. Par ailleurs, la maladie a, pour certains patients, de fortes répercussions psychiques. J’intègre naturellement ces éléments à mon écriture. »

https://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/2021/01/11/nicolas-philibert-je-veux-qu-un-tournage-m-attire-et-me-fasse-peur_6065920_3246.html

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1931/


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

dok.incubator 2021

Written 15-01-2021 17:22:07 by Tue Steen Mller

dok.incubator  2021

Andrea Prenghyova wrote me a couple of days ago, asking if I could mention that the 10th edition of her dokincubator is coming up. Really, 10th edition (!), I thought, and I dare say that Prenghyova has managed to put the training initiative on the map of popular workshops in Europe. I don’t recall having met filmmakers, who have been critical to the content of the workshops that have high class professionals as tutors, not only editors but also a marketing specialist like Freddy Neumann and the producer Christine le Goff. But for those who want to know more than, what can be read on the website of dokincubator I have picked a quite from one of the interviews Prenghyova has made, one published today: 

In an interview with Steve Rickinson from Modern Times Review, published today, link below, Andrea Prenghyova says:

„There are two most important things that distinguish us from other training programmes and workshops. First thing is that we are the workshop which is coming quite late to the filmmakers – at the stage of the rough cut. Therefore, we are able to work with the real material and to participate in the real creative process. This is very important…

The second thing that distinguishes us is our quite special methodology, we are learning through doing – we are a very pragmatic workshop, but at the same time, we cover various aspects. On one side you get a very high quality of your creative process and on the other, you also get quite a wide perspective on your film – you test your film…”

https://www.moderntimes.review/we-are-simply-looking-for-good-films/

https://dokincubator.net/introduction-to-applications/?utm_source=sendinblue&utm_campaign=submission_deadline_January_27th_2021&utm_medium=email#.YAG56uB7nOQ


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Michael Apted 1941 2021

Written 09-01-2021 14:30:35 by Tue Steen Mller

Michael Apted 1941  2021

“I wanna be a jockey…” is a sentence that my wife and I always remember, when we talk about and recall the UP series by Michael Apted, who passed away yesterday. We got acquainted with the series at a festival in Cork, Ireland in the 1990’es, where we could not stop talking about the children, who have been filmed since 1964, 9 episodes, with 7 years in between, and with 63UP as the last one from Apted’s hands, a magnificent piece of documentary film history – about Life lived and about the English class society. The 14 children were chosen from upper and working class, it is fascinating to follow their journeys. Tony (on the poster) had a short carreer as a jockey, went on to become a taxi driver keeping his charm and cockney accent. Andrew became a solicitor, John a barrister – and Bruce, touching Bruce, who from the start wanted to be a missionary « to help the poor people in Africa » and did not think he would ever get married, did get into charity work and did get married and did have children. Jackie, Lynn, Sue are the women in the series, Suzy took also part but did not want to be in the 63UP. In the enormous amount of articles about the series – and also in the films – you often hear the children as grown-ups reflect on what it has meant for them to be on television every seven years. Apted regrets in many interviews the lack of gender equity – and says that made him be very careful when selecting female stars for his many fiction films.

Neil, however, is the most exciting person to follow in the series. A lively energetic kid with a bright future, we assume, leaves the society, wanders around as homeless, has mental problems, but comes back, becomes a politician and wants to help others as his close friend Bruce, who helped him, when he was down. Does voluntary work at the church.

I had the privilege to be a juror with Michael Apted at the Moscow International Film Festival – for the documentary competition when that started in 2011 – with Russian Alexander Gutman as the third man in the jury. We watched 7 films, were invited to stay 10 days in the Russian capital, so my wife and I had lot of time with Apted and his wife Paige Simpson. He was a true English man with the most wonderful voice (as you can hear it in the series) and with a typical sense of humour. Without me saying so the organisers of the festival called me “expert”, which made Apted salute me every morning at breakfast with “Good Morning Expert”.

5 years later we visited Paige and Apted in Venice California in their beautiful funkis house. The 63UP was on its way, the expert and his wife were trying to get information about what had happened since 56UP. A wedding, an illness, a new place to live for the jockey… We have not yet seen the 63UP that came out in 2019. Was that the last episode as Michael Apted is no longer among us? RIP.

“'Give Me the Child Until He Is Seven and I Will Show You the Man'.

You can buy the series on Amazon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_(film_series)#Andrew

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2012/may/07/56-up-its-like-having-another-family

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iKOrjqEb5I


Categories: TV, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lithuanian Documentarians Honoured

Written 29-12-2020 14:52:08 by Tue Steen Mller

Lithuanian Documentarians Honoured

… well, they are so far nominated « For Promoting Lithuania Globally », the directors and producers Arunas Matelis and Giedre Zickyté, by an organisation GLL (Global Lithuanian Leaders), that  is a non-profit association for professional individuals that identify with Lithuania and care about its future. If you click below you will find more information about the categories, where Lithuanians who have done something important for the country and its culture are listed as nominees to awards being given out in the month of January.

This information gives me the chance to salute two good friends I have known for one and two, almost three decades. Arunas from the time of Balticum Film & TV Festival in the 1990’es, Giedre from this century. Both of them filmmakers with an international network, ready to overcome all the trouble making coproductions gives, for their own works and ready to step into helping colleagues to make their film sas Arunas did with “Lobster Soup” and Giedre with “The Earth is Bleu as an Orange”. Two films from Spain and Ukrainia. It’s a generosity that many other filmmakers could learn from, commitment and the ambition to get the films out to as many as possible whatever country. Here follows the motivation for the nomainations:       

Arunas Matelis: For the first Lithuanian representation on global film distribution platforms with documentary “Wonderful Losers. A Different World“. This year, the documentary of Arūnas Matelis “Wonderful Losers. A Different World'' was uploaded to online film distribution platforms of more than 90 countries including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Kanopy. In the USA, the film has reached TOP 3 among iTunes documentaries. The film features the backstage dramas of cycling competition Giro d’Italia, it has been awarded at 14 international film festivals, in 2017 it received the title of the best Lithuanian film, and in 2018 it represented Lithuania in two categories of Academy Awards.

Giedre Zickyte: For captivating story-telling of dramatic history of Lithuania through the documentary "The Jump" and its victories at Warsaw, Rome and New York film festivals. The Documentary “The Jump" tells the story of Lithuanian soviet sailor Simas Kudirka who during the Cold War made an attempt to escape the Soviet Union by jumping from the Soviet to the American ship. The film captivated the global audience by the thrilling story and the way it is told. At the international Warsaw A Class festival, it was awarded as the best documentary. Documentary “The Jump" has become the first Lithuanian film invited to Rome Film Fest and DOC NYC 2020 in New York.

https://gllawards.lt/en/nominees-2020/?fbclid=IwAR3um3y5B9hpO6L8Jip4oz_iXj9Bu4c1omM53znWrwqVSne_hUAK5ZO1vhU


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Magnificent 2020 Belgrade/ 2

Written 23-12-2020 11:33:00 by Tue Steen Mller

Magnificent 2020 Belgrade/ 2

Just a quick note of enthusiasm. They had less than a week to announce the 16th edition of Magnificent7 that is running right now in Belgrade. I am not there as at the 15 first editions but contrary to pandemic scepticism from the two festival directors the three screenings so far ("Gunda", "Patrimonium", "Bitter Love") have had audiences from 100 to 200 people in the Dombank Hall Theatre where you can keep distance - and watch films on a big screen. On the photo you see Svetlana and Zoran Popovic celebrating the 100th film screening, which was the film by Audrius Stonys and Kristine Briede, "Bridges of Time". 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Best of DAFilms 2020

Written 17-12-2020 13:47:34 by Tue Steen Mller

Best of DAFilms 2020

The https://dafilms.com/ is an excellent vod for documentary lovers. Not only bringing new documentaries to their subscribers but also giving us a chance to go back in film history to pick important works. The seven members of DocAlliance, all of them festivals, deserve much credit for standing behind the vod, they are CPH:DOX, Doclisboa, Docs Against Gravity FF, DOK Leipzig, FIDMarseille, Ji.hlava IDFF, Visions du Réel. DAFilms celebrate its 15th year and have made a... "special program "Best of DAFilms" is created by the DAFilms viewers themselves according to what they watched and searched for the most this year. The year’s most highly rated films will be complemented by significant new releases handpicked from the catalogue by DAFilms curators as well as personalised recommendations for exceptional titles that you don’t want to miss. Among twenty select films include No Home Movie by Chantal Akerman and Walden by Jonas Mekas. The works of both these filmmaking celebrities were presented as part of two rare retrospective programs in 2020."

"2020 has been an exceptional year for the film industry in every way imaginable, from new productions and festivals to online distribution. Although this stress test brought upon the cultural sector by the pandemic continues, we still had the chance to see a lot of prominent titles and present retrospective programs in homage to several filmmakers. Among the most successful of them were screenings of films by Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa and Canadian director Peter Mettler. And thanks to online distribution, several short films such as All Inclusive and Shooting Crows have managed to pique audience interest,” says the program’s curator, Veronika Likov, weighing in on this year’s activity.

And here is the list, go to the website and then to the titles to watch, it's pretty much cheap. Here is the list, I have highlighted those I would recommend you to watch. Make your own film festival:



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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

IDFA Awards for Feature-Length Docs

Written 26-11-2020 20:15:44 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Awards for Feature-Length Docs

 

 



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Awards Today!

Written 26-11-2020 13:41:16 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Awards Today!

Yes, IDFA awards today. Many, really many and bravo for also giving awards to editing, directing, cinematography... Here is the list of awards to be given in two of the main catagories:

In the Competition for Feature-Length Film, four awards will be presented: IDFA Award for Best Cinematography, the IDFA Award for Best Editing, the IDFA Award for Best Directing and IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary. In the Competition for First Appearance, two awards will be presented: the IDFA Award for Best First Appearance and the FIPRESCI Award in First Appearance.

Luckily there are still many days for me to watch films... I had hoped to be able to "have done" the 10 in the Feature-Length category. I have watched these 5:

Renzo Martens "White Cube", Claire Simon's "The Grocer's Son...", "Inside the Red Brick Wall" by the Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers, "Nothing but the Sun" by Arami Ullón, "Radiograph of a Family" by Firouzeh Khosrovani... All films of good/high quality, some for the content, some for the treatment, for the aesthetic solution. So far I have not said to myself "why is this film selected?".  

For the First Apperance I have - so far - seen "This Rain will Never Stop" by Ukrainian Alina Gorlova. She just received an award at the Festival dei Popoli in Florence, the film is amazing in content and form, I must be a favourite!

In the archive section I have seen: "The Foundation Pit" by Andrey Gryazev, "Irradiated" by master Rithy Panh, "Paris Caligrammes" by Ulrike Ottinger, "Radiograph of a Family" by Firouzeh Khosrovani... Of course Rithy Panh's horror story is unique in creative treatment of archive but it is so hard to watch, unbearable. Readers of this blog will know how much I loved Ottinger's film as well as "Radiograph of a Family".

In mid-length I saw only "Anny" and Helena Trestikova is one of the best documentarians of our time.

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ulrike Ottinger: Paris Calligrammes

Written 23-11-2020 12:01:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Ulrike Ottinger: Paris Calligrammes

Loved that match. Watching the film, more than two hours from Paris. Images of today, images from the city in the sixties, accompanied by Ottinger’s voice unfolding her personal memoirs. AND then one hour talk – with a couple of clips – with the director (born 1942) and film critic Pamela Cohn analysing and asking questions. „It’s the most difficult film, I’ve ever done“, Ottinger said, „here I had to be direct personal, contrary to my many other films“. For the film Ottinger made a huge research in archives, public and private, she mentioned, she had seen 400 films (!) and spent two years in the editing room with Anette Fleming – „my wonderful editor“.

Ulrike Ottinger had a great time (1962-69) in Paris, were she met painters, 

 



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Andrei Ujica: Things We Said Today

Written 18-11-2020 17:30:22 by Tue Steen Mller

Andrei Ujica: Things We Said Today

... "then I will remember things we said today". Beatles. "The influence they had on our generation", as said Ujica, who is from 1951, I am four years older, and also I grew up with Beatles. And enjoy very much to remember those days in the beginning of the 60'es, where I met with my friend listening to and talking about John, Paul, Ringo and George. It's a brilliant film project that Ujica has, "A time capsule of New York between August 13-15, 1965, framed by The Beatles' arrival in the city and their first concert at Shea Stadium, narrated from the perspectives of two teenagers." I have never met Ujica personally, but I have met his editor and sound editor Dana Bunescu at a workshop in Gori Georgia. Already there she mentioned that she was working with Ujica on this film AND they had worked together before, a quote from the blogpost I wrote:

"Did you see it : ”The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaucescu” (director : Andrei Ujica, editor and sound designer Dana Bunescu) from 2010, 3 hours long, a true masterpiece. You have to ! Archive the whole way through, no commentary, no explanations of where we are and when and why. Chronological.

Dana Bunescu, who is here as an editing tutor, a scoop to have her, open-minded and direct in her approach to the young filmmakers. Bunescu was working on the film for three years and what a material she had and put into a film, that is never boring but takes you in, because of its sense of rythm and use of sound, of music – Bunescu is a master in sound and it’s been an eye-opener to see her here in Gori talking about sound but also putting a recorder on the table to catch sounds that she might be able to use on another film occasion!"

At the pitch at IDFA, Ujica and his producer showed material, please show more, this is a film that will have an enormous success, I am sure, and not "only" for "our" generation. Ujica and Bunescu, archive masters!

... and to complete this hommage to the two, let me remind you that Ujica made two other films before "Ceaucescu" in his Romanian trilogy, "Videograms of a Revolution" (1992), "Out of the Present" (1995), and that Bunescu is the editor of several of the feature films of the "Romanian Wave" and also took part in the editing of the new excellent documentary "Collective" by Alexander Nanau. 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Documentary Poetry/ DunaDock

Written 15-11-2020 15:02:00 by Tue Steen Mller

Documentary Poetry/ DunaDock

The other day I was in Budapest for the DunaDock workshop... well online of course, me sitting in Copenhagen. I was invited by the engaged Hungarian documentarians Diana Groo, Julianna Ugrin and Klára Trencsényi and their helpers. To do tutoring at the workshop and a talk, as part of the (also online, cinemas are closed in Hungary) Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. Klára Trencsényi was my host at the talk; I have known her for many years and have praised her films on this site – ”Corvin Variations” www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/2162/, ”Birds Way” http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1056/, ”Train to Adulthood” http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3395/. Right now Klára Trencsényi is in the editing of ”Wardens of Memory”, shot in India and about the Cochini Jews – and much more. The film project was pitched at DocsBarcelona this year, online, by the director and Julianna Ugrin, who has a long filmography, including ”A Woman Captured” by Bernadett Tuza-Ritter.

Anyway, for the talk I chose the title ”Documentary Poetry” and the participants in the festival and in the DunaDock workshop (more about that below) got the chance to watch in beforehand ”Bridges of Time” by Kristine Briede and Audrius Stonys, produced by Lithuanian Arunas Matelis, Latvian Uldis Cekulis and Estonian Riho Västrik. There are several texts on this site about this remarkable film on poetic documentary cinema.

I had 90 minutes, where I showed clips with words in between making again a lot of reference to the Balticum Film & TV Festival that was held in the 1990’es on the island of Bornholm in the middle of the Baltic Sea. It was here during a decade that my interest in and love for the Baltic documentary filmmaking and filmmakers were born. And for Russian and Polish…

I showed a clip from ”Paradise” – the boy eating his morning porridge and falling asleep – the graduation film by Sergey Dvortsevoy, whose four documentaries I consider to be outstanding and whose second feature film ”Ayka” is equally excellent. And then I went to Audrius Stonys – clips from ”Antigravitation” and ”Uku Ukai” – before the two clips from ”Bridges of Time” with Uldis Brauns, the man behind the masterpiece ”235.000.000” from 1967, of which a director’s cut is now being restored and digitized. If you want to watch the class, there is a link below, English spoken and clips with English subtitles.

About the DunaDock workshop that was run via Zoom: five projects, three tutors (Hanka Kastelicova, HBO Europe, Noemi Schory Israeli producer, and me), and a pitch session that included Christian Popp from FIPADOC and Brigid O’Shea from DAE, Documentary Association of Europe, who awarded two of the five projects. Go to the FB of the DunaDock and read much more, link below as well. 

DunaDock is for sure one of many workshops/training sessions, where talent is found and advised on how to enter the documentary community. In this session there were – behind the five projects – participants from Moldova, Kosovo, Pakistan, Germany and Hungary. Again go to the FB page to see who were the winners.  

https://www.facebook.com/dunadock

https://www.verzio.org/hu/node/3302


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Vadym Jendreyko: The Woman with the 5 Elephants

Written 06-11-2020 18:34:36 by Tue Steen Mller

It’s from start till end beautiful. It is seldom that form and content go so well together. Because the director succeeds to catch the charisma of Swetlana Geier, the translator of Dostoyevsky (and many other big Russian authors) from Russian into German. Her life story, born in Ukraine 1923, living in Freiburg in Germany from the mid 40’es until her death in 2010. Her travel to Ukraine with her granddaughter. And first of all her approach to translation and the works of Dostoyevsky. To language, read this quote from the film:

"My teacher always said: ‘Nose up in the air when you translate.’ That is to say, one doesn’t translate from left to right, following the text, but only after one has made the sentence one’s own. It first has to be internalised, taken to heart. I read a book so often that my eyes ’gouge holes’ in pages. I basically know it by heart. Then the day comes when I suddenly hear the melody of the text."

The scenes on the first floor of the house, she lives in, are magnificent. She sits with Hannelore Hagen on each side of the table at a window that opens to a view of a tree outside. Hannelore Hagen types what Swetlana Geier dictates. And later comes in – to sit in the chair of Geier - Jürgen Klodt, who knows about language, the musicality of German language. He comes up with suggestions for change to the old lady on the other side of the table, who uses her pencil to make marks in the manuscript that Hannelore Hagen has typed. It’s wonderful. Old-fashioned. Conversations. "You could also use conjunctive!". It has a calmness of poetic dimensions. The director pays respect to the profession – and her life. We get to know the tragic death of her son, and she speaks so touching about how she was there at his coffin. Her face, her eyes, her way of conveying fascination, you can imagine how good a teacher she must have been. Strength. Wisdom.

No more from me, the film is a must, and it is easy to get hold of it. Click the website (with excellent articles) below to see how to get hold of it.

https://5elefanten.ch/en/

Germany/Switzerland, 2009, 92 mins.


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Message2Man

Written 02-11-2020 19:29:24 by Tue Steen Mller

Message2Man

You might ask why there is a photo of Fellini on top of this post about the St. Petersburg festival that starts tomorrow. The answer is simple, the festival wants to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Federico Fellini. To send that message to its audience, simply, even if the main focus is on documentaries, as usual. Good choice!

The festival is super-active on facebook posting photos and texts on the films that are in the competition and out of competition. The best you can do is to check the fine website - https://message2man.com/en/.

Nevertheless the festival – like so many of us – is depending on the google 

 



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Artdocfest/ Riga Announces Competition Films

Written 30-10-2020 11:06:22 by Tue Steen Mller

Artdocfest/ Riga Announces Competition Films

Zane Balčus, film critic and journalist, colleague and manager of Baltic Sea Docs, writes for the FNE, Film New Europe, that I can only recommend warmly you to subscribe to if you want daily film news from Eastern and Central Europe. With her permission I copy paste the article:



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IDFA Academy Announces Program

Written 26-10-2020 20:22:29 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Academy Announces Program

I have copy-pasted a FB post coming from the Head of the IDFA Academy Meike Statema.The IDFA Academy program is as always very inviting – the 60 selected young filmmakers, even if all is online, will get food for thought as you can see from this clip:

…Highlights of the program reflect this approach. In addition to the Opening Session by the always-exciting French director Claire Simon and Gianfranco Rosi's highly anticipated masterclass, discussions and lectures will focus on issues such as filmmaking in a limited space with the UK director Marc Isaacs, or on numerous initiatives created by cinema collectives and digital platforms in order to support arthouse theaters during the pandemic. 

Other events will deal with more traditional topics. For instance, Mila Turajlić and Carine Chichkowsky, director and producer of the 2017 IDFA winner The Other Side of Everything,(PHOTO) who are taking part in IDFA Forum with their new project, will lead a session on how to get financing partners on board for a project while still maintaining artistic independence. Aswang producer Armi Rae Cacanindin will speak about international co-productions, and directors Maite Alberdi and Firouzeh Khosrovani will provide insight into writing and researching for project proposals. Finally, sales agents Anaïs Clanet of Reservoir Docs and Liselot Verbrugge of Deckert Distribution will tutor the participants on topics related to sales and distribution…

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Heddy Honigmann and Marln Viayo

Written 21-10-2020 12:36:24 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA  Heddy Honigmann and Marln Viayo

In August 2007 Allan Berg and I started filmkommentaren. The first post/review of a film published was „Forever“ by Heddy Honigmann, a lovely film where the director takes the viewer to the cemetery Père Lachaise in Paris. An essayistic film about Life and Death made by the Dutch master, whose films I have followed with pleasure during decades – do you remember ”Metal and Melancholy”, ”Oblivion”, ”O Amor Natural” and the recent ones ”Buddy” and ”Around the World in 50 Concerts”? And many more.

So it is wonderful to see that the director has a world premiere coming up at the IDFA (16 November – 6 December), placed together with 7 other in the Dutch Competition category.

The title is ”100UP” and the life affirming website description goes like this:

”A doctor from Lima still works in the hospital, in New York a sexologist still sees clients, while elsewhere in the city a student attends lectures at the university. On the other side of the world, a spry Norwegian helps with lambing and a distinguished Dutchman is working fanatically on an online platform for human rights. What do they have in common? They’ve all passed their 100th birthday.

In this documentary, seven colorful centenarians give us a glimpse into their lives today and their rich pasts. All are still very active, even though the clock is ticking, bodies sometimes fail to cooperate, the loss of loved ones is painful, and some worry about the world’s future.

Heddy Honigmann visits these very old citizens of the world and asks them about life. What do they expect of it? Each tells their story in their own way, sometimes with humor, occasionally with a touch of melancholy, but always with the wisdom reserved only for the very eldest of us.”

A very promising annotation and I am going to watch it, unfortunately not in Amsterdam as the Dutch government does not allow Copenhageners to enter due to the pandemic, but online as most of my film watching is now.

Yesterday IDFA also announced other competitive sections – student films, kids and docs and short documentaries. In this category I find with pleasure a new film by Marlén Viñayo entitled ”Unforgivable”. The director is from El Salvador and charmed us with ”Chacada” at many festivals, including DocsBarcelona, where it won an award, ”a touching story – full of humour – about five women, single mothers, poor, who have quite some stories to get rid of in the theatre play, they are performing together.” Was what was written on this site.

”Unforgivable” (36 mins.)… here is a clip from the website: ”Geovanny is incarcerated at the San Francisco Gotera prison in western El Salvador, which is exclusively dedicated to detaining gang criminals. In 2017, almost all inmates converted to evangelical Christianity. Like them, Geovanny has withdrawn from his gang. But while the church has no difficulty accepting his violent past, the fact that he loves another man is regarded a sin for which he can’t be forgiven.”

A veteran and a newcomer at IDFA. That’s how it is with this festival. As the artistic director Orwa Nyrabia wrote on FB: So much to see, so much to hear, so much to talk about, so much to just stay silent after. This year in documentary film is tremendous… Indeed, I will come back with more information about the IDFA program later.

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sergei Loznitsa:The Natural History of Destruction

Written 20-10-2020 15:17:09 by Tue Steen Mller

Sergei Loznitsa:The Natural History of Destruction

I take the liberty to copy-paste from the excellent Filmneweurope – a news note by Aukse Kancereviciute. It goes like this:

VILNIUS: Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa is starting production on his archive documentary project The Natural History of Destruction / Natūrali naikinimo istorija. The film is produced by Germany‘s LOOKS Filmproduktionen GmbH in coproduction with Lithuania‘s Studio Uljana Kim and Atoms & Void (the Netherlands).

The Natural History of Destruction is inspired by German writer W.G. Sebald’s 1999 book of the same title. Sebald describes the phenomenon of mass destruction of the German civilian population and German cities by massive Allied air raids during World War II. In particular, he examines the perception and processing of this phenomenon in European post-war literature.

Loznitsa often deals with 20th century European history and the memory of the greatest tragedies of that time. His 2012 film In the Fog won the FIPRESCI prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and he won Best Director in Cannes Un Certain Regard for Donbass (2018). In 2013 Sergei Loznitsa launched the film production and distribution company ATOMS & VOID. 

The film was awarded a grant in the Eurimages October 2020 round. It is supported by the Lithuanian Film Centrewith 77,000 EUR; the Netherlands Film Fund with 50,000 EUR; and German entities RBB / MDR with 90,000 EUR, MDM with 100,000 EUR grant, Medienboard with 70,000 EUR, and BKM with 80,500 EUR.

The production is planned to be finished in September 2021 with no premiere date announced yet.

Photo from his previous ”Donbass” 

https://www.filmneweurope.com


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ji.hlava Festival Goes Digital with Big Program

Written 15-10-2020 20:03:51 by Tue Steen Mller

Ji.hlava Festival Goes Digital with Big Program

I got a press release from Prague/Jihlava yesterday. It’s about the 24th edition of a festival that I have visited several times – in connection with the Ex Oriente workshop organised by IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) and once to be a juror. This year it’s all online as you can read below in the clip from the press release. Read and go to the website to check the quite exciting program of new films and of classics, thematically organised. 

”Ji.hlavaIDFF kicks-off in two weeks! Despite the recent forced shift of the event to digital space, the full-fledged festival programme with over 59 world and 26 international premieres remains. What can the viewers look forward to? The programme features over 220 films: from the latest of Czech and international documentary crop, SouthKorean film retrospective, comprehensive showcase of Afro-American docs as well as new documentaries focusing on topics that are more than relevant these days:coronavirus pandemic, China and HongKong, climate change,and films asking the fundamental question–where is our home?

The 24th Ji.hlava IDFF will take place between October 27 and November 8, 2020. “We are sorry that we can’t screen the films in cinemas but we want to see the current situation as an opportunity. One positive aspect is that everyone will be able to get to see the films,” says Marek Hovorka, the Festival Director. “Fifteen years ago, the same year when YouTube was launched, Ji.hlava IDFF founded the first VOD portal dedicated to documentaries. Today, DAFilms.com is one of the leading European VOD platforms,” describes Hovorka the partnership with DAFilms, which will be the festival’s this year’s streaming platform.“The uniqueness of this programme is in the fact that apart from over 220 films available to the Czech viewers, we will offer more than 80 films from Ji.hlava’s competitions to audiences worldwide, released in their World, International or European premieres, ”says Diana Tabakov, the Executive Director at DAFilms. This year’s Ji.hlava will not only focus on films. “In order to bring the unique atmosphere of Ji.hlava to online audiences, we have prepared several simultaneous live streams, all-day live service from the festival’s Lighthouse studio at the Ji.hlava’s central Masaryk square as well as an interactive environment interconnecting the audience with the filmmakers,” concludes Marek Hovorka.”

www.ji-hlava.com


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Patricio Guzmn: The Cordillera of Dreams

Written 13-10-2020 12:23:04 by Tue Steen Mller

Patricio Guzmn: The Cordillera of Dreams

He speaks slowly. With a calm voice. The totally mastered personal text of Patricio Guzmán takes the viewer back to the Chile that he left after the coup d’état in 1973. All his films, he mentions in this third part of a trilogy (Nostalgia for the Light and The Pearl Button are the two first) deals with his beloved country. This time with the „Cordillera de los Andes” as the metaphoric background – with stunningly beautiful images of the mountains, the rocks with or without snow, a wall as he says, a mystery as one of his interviewes says, where stories are hidden; history, the traumatic past of a country that is still suffering from the dictatorship of Pinochet.

 



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Benoit Felici: The Real Thing

Written 08-10-2020 13:43:26 by Tue Steen Mller

Benoit Felici: The Real Thing

- with the subtitle: Real Life in Fake Cities.

I met Benoit at a café in Paris, in lively rue Montorgueuil. For a good long talk about Life, politics and Cinema. We know each other from way back, when he was a student at Zelig Documentary Film School in Bolzano. It was in February so no words about pandemic.

Benoit made a very succesful graduation film at Zelig, “Unifinished Italy” (2010) that travelled the world and won many awards for its originality in style and subject (“Italy, home of ruins: A foray into the unfinished, Italy's most prominent architectural style between the end of WW2 and the present day.”). Now he lives in Paris, has a child, teaches film at a university and makes film.

He told me that his newest film, “The Real Thing – Real Life in Fake Cities”, where he worked (again) with colleagues from Zelig, Bastian Esser on camera and Philipp Griess as production manager, was invited to be screened at the Copenhagen Architecture Film Festival. Great, I said, we can meet and I can show you Copenhagen. The festival was scheduled for April/May but was postponed because of the pandemic – till now where the film will be shown at the festival on Saturday at the Danish Cinemateket. Sold out. And there has been a screening in Aarhus October1st.

As original as “Unfinished Italy”, with superb camerawork, this film has also toured all over – festivals like HotDocs, BAFF (Buenos Aires), Ambulante Mexico and as you can maybe see on the poster several broadcasters have picked it. Including arte. So he has reached an audience. Here is the director’s own film description from his website, link below: “The Real Thing is a journey into a copy of our world, Seeking the monumental copycat architecture of China and other countries around the world, Residential areas where people live an everyday life in places simulating other places… mirrors in which a certain image of the world is reflected…”

As written on this website Copenhagen Architecture Festival has a strong focus on films, so Benoit Felici is in good company with directors like Pedro Costa and Patricio Guzman.

The two websites are excellent, with photos, teasers, production notes – super-informative.

http://www.benoitfelici.com/?portfolio=archi-faux

http://therealthing.film/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Marc Isaacs: The Filmmakers House

Written 07-10-2020 14:07:44 by Tue Steen Mller

Marc Isaacs: The Filmmakers House

”My headline is ordinary people”. Director Marc Isaacs is behind the camera skype-talking with his producer, who gives him the information that the broadcasters of today only want to give money for more commercial/sensational stories. Not ordinary people stories. Isaacs decides to make his film anyway, in his own home. The result is “The Filmmaker’s House” that premieres at the Sheffield Doc Fest in ten days, and later goes to IDFA in Amsterdam, where his film is in the Masters Section together with works of, among others, Viktor Kossakovsky, who years ago in a similar no funding situation made a film not in but from his house, “Tishe!” Don’t give up, don’t take no for an answer, just take your camera” as I heard Portuguese Pedro Costa say the other day.

 



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Gianfranco Rosi at IDFA

Written 05-10-2020 13:37:03 by Tue Steen Mller

Gianfranco Rosi at IDFA

No doubt, Gianfranco Rosi is one of the most interesting directors of our time. And a very good choice it is to make a retrospective of his films at the upcoming IDFA in Amsterdam. And according to tradition to have the director make his Top 10. Very appealing it is, click the IDFA link below and you will get the whole list.

Pleases me so much to see that Rosi also favours Robert Kramer’s 255 minutes long ”Route One/USA” that was quite an eye-opener for me, when I was at the celebration of the National Film Board’s 50 year anniversary in 1989 in Montréal. 

And Bunuel’s ”Los Olvidados”, and de Seta’s ”Banditi a Orgoloso”, watched decades ago at the Danish Film Museum – loves that Rosi also includes ”10 shorts by de Seca” from the 1950’es. They will for sure be on my list, when/if I can visit the festival (right now it does not look so good…).

Happy to see Susana de Sousa Dias ”48” on the list. The Portuguese director does not get the attention, she deserves for her amazing archive films. But – see link below – she has been an important director for the editors of this site. 

Final great words from Orwa Nyrabia, IDFA’s artistic director:  "Rosi handles every shot like a jeweler would treat a unique pearl, with great care, patience, and with utmost respect, like a sacred object. Then he puts his pearls into a hidden thread, he keeps on examining the way they are ordered, the dialogue between each one of them and the others. What we see in the end is a film, a creature that seems so coherent you cannot see the thread anymore, you cannot imagine that a complex matrix of artistic choices was behind what you see, you even have to think: did he just find the film somewhere? Has it always been there, this way, on its own?"

The photo of a younger Rosi is taken from the catalogue of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade 2010, where Rosi came to present his ”Below Sea Level” in the Sava Centre in front of more than 1000 spectators.

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1938/ (About Works of Susana de Sousa Dias)

https://www.idfa.nl/en/article/134787/gianfranco-rosi-hoofdgast-op-idfa-2020


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pedro Costa/ 2

Written 04-10-2020 16:28:35 by Tue Steen Mller

Pedro Costa/ 2

Contrary to colleague Allan Berg, who sat in jury with the Portuguese director in Bilbao in 2003, I have never met Pedro Costa.(See link below). I had hoped to do so last night at Cinemateket in Copenhagen, where he was announced to be present to introduce and talk about two of his films, ”Colossal Youth” and ”Vitalina Varela”. But he did not come for family reasons. Instead a young man from Cinemateket, Oscar Pedersen made a good introduction. Obviously he knows about Costa and his many films that are now being shown in Copenhagen. 8 films.

BUT – most important – I saw the two films, all together I was in the cinematic universe of Pedro Costa for almost 5 hours. Which was quite a unique experience. In the cinematic universe that he has created around Fontainhas, the now-vanished Lisbon neighbourhood that he first began chronicling over two decades ago. In the cinematic universe with non-professional actors. Vitalina Varela, who Costa met in connection with “Horse Money” (2014) is the protagonist in the film that carries her name – it’s her story (she came from Cap Verde to Lisbon to meet her husband but she came too late, the husband had died 3 days before her arrival) that is the starting point for the film and she is the one who has – so to say – made the script.

I know that because I decided to meet Pedro Costa virtually, where there are 

 



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Audrius Stonys Conversation

Written 30-09-2020 12:40:36 by Tue Steen Mller

Audrius Stonys  Conversation

There is only 4 hours drive from Vilnius in Lithuania to Riga in Latvia… but the pandemic prevented us to meet face to face for the conversation organised by the Baltic Sea Docs Zane Balcus during the event in the beginning of this month. But everything was – like the conversation with local producer Uldis Cekulis – recorded and now you have the chance to get acquainted with the documentary film poet Audrius Stonys and (some of) his work. Stonys is a constant inspiration when he talks about the background for the 7 films we picked for the conversation. Films like “Antigravitation”, “Uku Ukai”, “Flying over Blue Fields”, “Ramin”… and the latest work that he did with Kristine Briede, “Bridges of Time”. He mentions three directors who have inspired him, Jonas Mekas, Henrikas Sablevicius and Herz Frank. The latter “opens” the conversation – that lasts around 80 minutes and is introduced by Zane Balcus.

Here is the link: https://vimeo.com/463029306/e3924b411c

Photo: Agnese Zeltina. 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Patricio Guzmn

Written 27-09-2020 11:07:52 by Tue Steen Mller

Patricio Guzmn

PATRICIO GUZMÁN

by Tue Steen Müller

2010. Patricio Guzmán in Damascus. The great director behind the film historical classic The Battle of Chile from the beginning of the 1970’es met the audience of young wannabee filmmakers and older people, who remember the dramatic period where the government of Salvador Allende and ”la pouvoir populaire”, as the French speaking director put it, tried to unite the Left and introduce democracy in Chile. We all know how that went.

In 1973 Guzmán films The Battle of Chile, the 5-hour documentary on the end of Allende’s government. After the military coup, Guzmán is threatened to be executed and spends two weeks arrested inside the national stadium, unable to communicate his whereabouts to anyone. He leaves the country in November 1973. He lives in Cuba, Spain and then France, where he makes In the Name of God (Grand Prize, Festival of Popoli, 1987), The Southern Cross (Grand Prize, Festival Vue Sur les Docs, Marseille, 1992), Chile, Obstinate Memory (Grand Prize Festival of Tel Aviv, 1999), The Pinochet Case (International Critic’s Week, Cannes, 2002), and Salvador Allende(Official Selection, Cannes, 2004). In 2005, he makes My Jules Verne

THE BATTLE OF CHILE

About The Battle of Chile Guzman in his Damascus address to the young filmmakers said that it is a film on words. It is a film on the quality of the politics of the people from the base – the working class. The five hour long film had an editing time of three years. Cuban film people came to watch at the editing room and said that they had never seen such a high political culture. The films deals with the period from 1970 and to the military coup and is about ”le pouvoir populaire”. Guzman referred to the East german political filmmakers, who were filming in Chile at the time, Heynowski & Scheumann, and told that their cameraman filmed the bombing of the presidential palace, whereas Pedro Chaskel, the editor of Guzman, filmed the flight over the palace. The two teams exchanged footage... (for buying dvd’s of the films, consult the site of Guzman).

The attack on La Moneda was watched by Salvador Allende surrounded by his guards and is a iconic scene in Guzman's film. "How could a team of five - some with no previous film experience - working with one Éclair camera, one Nagra sound recorder, two vehicles and a package of black-and-white film stock sent to them by the French documentarian Chris Marker produce a work of this magnitude?” (Pauline Kael in The New Yorker).

NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT

In an article to be read on the website of the BFI, 2012, critic Geoff Andrew writes: “A couple of years ago, at the Cannes Film Festival, I fell in love. The object of my affections was a film – Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz), by Patricio Guzmán, the exiled Chilean documentarist famous for the three-part 1970s epic The Battle of Chile (La batalla de Chile) – and my desire was to programme it in an extended run at BFI Southbank. It took a while, but my dream came true, thanks to the UK distributor New Wave Films; not only that, but we’re accompanying the run with a retrospective of Guzmán’s earlier work and welcoming the director on-stage for an interview with the season’s curator, Michael Chanan. What, you may ask, were the characteristics that gave rise to this love at first sight? My first response, admittedly somewhat predictably, would be beauty; visually, Nostalgia for the Light is quite wonderful to behold. But rest assured that its beauty is more than skin-deep; it is notable for its quiet, deeply compassionate humanity. Still, many films are beautiful, and I don’t fall in love with each and every one of them. The real reason for my ardour, I suspect, was the fact that the film stood out from the crowd, from its mysterious opening scene to its profoundly moving ending; in short, it immediately struck me as unique. That’s extremely rare in an artform as genre-oriented as the cinema. And what more could one possibly ask of a love-object?...

Guzmán is often considered as a political filmmaker but in connection with the release of Nostalgia for the Light he writes: "I'm not a sociologist. Neither am I a politician. I make films that are metaphorical and poetic; I interpret reality through my own personal way of looking"…”

The opening of film festivals is something that veterans like me normally avoid because of boring official speeches and/or a moderator trying to be funny and/or blonds or brunettes in high heels being there for their looks, knowing nothing about what the film festival is there for.

In Leipzig 2012 it was different because of the ambition of the festival director to make a long and reflective and personal statement. The year before Claas Danielsen attacked television for their poor programming and funding of the creative/artistic documentary and this year he had chosen a more soft approach asking the audience "to see and hear with the heart" - and act. The emotional speech was given with passion, commitment and point of view. He referred to strong films in the programme and the debate they raise - Danish Armadillo and Into Eternity were the ones mentioned. Names coming up were Sarkozy and Gert Wilders... in connection with the profiling of the festival programme that has a lot of political films as well as films touching upon the xenophobia of today´s Europe.

An opening night that continued in an atmosphere of seriousness and dignity by the showing of Patricio Guzmán's masterpiece Nostalgia for the Light. Like Joris Ivens did in China with his last film, L´Histoire du Vent, where he placed himself in the open land desert. Guzman goes to Atacama desert in his native country to visit the astronomical observatories, to examine the light with the aim to make an essay on the past and on memories. An intelligent reflection, total beauty in camerawork and touching when he meets women, who look for the remains of the dear ones, killed an buried during and by the Pinochet regime. A woman tells how she found the foot of her brother, the foot with the sock, and his teeth forming a smile that she remembered.

Under arkitekturfestivalen i Kødenhavn CAFx 2020 vises i Cinemateket tre af Patricio Guzmáns film som en trilogi:

Lysets Nostalgi (2010) / 12. oktober kl 14:15 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6VDlxFYmKg

Perlemorsknappen (2015) / 11. oktober kl 14:00

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPnbCuGKohU

The Cordillera of Dreams (2019) / Dansk premiere / 12. oktober kl 16:45

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpMbsXuQs7Q  

CAFx 2020
Læs mere om festivalen på www.cafx.dk - Copenhagen Architecture Festival 2020 rummer 100 arkitektur-arrangementer i København, Aarhus og Odense fordelt på film- og debatvisninger, udstillinger, guidede ture, workshops, konferencer, talks. 

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Hubert Sauper and Awards Tonight

Written 24-09-2020 13:56:03 by Tue Steen Mller

Hubert Sauper and Awards Tonight

A film is written four times. When a script is made. When the film is shot. When the material is edited. When the audience sees it… Words from Hubert Sauper, who was invited to have a conversation with festival programmers Cecilia Lidin and Martijn te Pas at Nordisk Panorama. One hour with clips from his “Darwin’s Nightmare”, “We Come as Friends” and the most recent “Epicentro” from Cuba. Well prepared by the moderators, who during the session were trying to come in with questions – difficult but no problem as the director talked so well and interesting, especially about “We Come as Friends” that (as “Darwin’s Nightmare”) is available online, for free, for the audience in the Nordic countries. The fine thing about the talk was that he related to the clip, gave the context and told how it was shot: A naked black boy is given white socks by missionaries, who ask the black people to dance… Sauper told us that he was about to break down watching this colonialist humiliation, this “moment of truth”; a friend who was with him grapped the camera and shot the scene. A mild and generous Hubert Sauper invited us to experience some of his ways of filmmaking. And I have to see “We Come as Friends”.

Tonight I have been invited to put on my festive slippers for the Award Ceremony. Online. Will do my best. Wonder who will win the main award, Best Documentary. „The Cave“ by Feras Fayyad must be the clear favourite, but it could also be „Songs of Repression“ by Estephan Wagner and Marianne Hougen-Moraga or „The Painter and The Thief“ by Benjamin Ree. Or could I hope for „Bitter Love“ by my old friend Jerzy Sladkowski who with cameraman Wojciech Staron has created another lovely story from Russia. I have not seen all 14 films in this competition so there could be a dark horse somewhere.

https://nordiskpanorama.com/en/festival/programme/competition-films-2020/docs-in-competition-2020/


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Pedro Costa

Written 22-09-2020 13:46:40 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Pedro Costa

PEDRO COSTA

Efterhånden gik det op for mig, hvad det var for en kapacitet af indsigt og erfaring jeg og Marc Recha sad i jury med, Pedro Costa fra Lissabon og dengang lige så meget fra Paris. Det var på festivalen Zinibi i Bilbao november 2003, dokumentarfilm konkurrencen og vi tre havde travlt med at se film og snakke længe om dem.

Omsider om lørdagen fik jeg mulighed for at se en stor del af Costas arbejde som var en præsentation uden for konkurrencen, først hans No Quarto da Vanda som en installation, som en udstilling af en stor del af det optagne materiale, No Quarto da Vanda x 2, i alt 120 min. Det var i en dvd-projektion i en lille udstillingssal over for museets biograf. Og derefter så jeg så den tre timer lange film. Den var berømt, og jeg havde da hørt om den. I Paris eller Amsterdam? I Paris, vil jeg tro. Den havde da vist også været vist på en Natfilmfestival i København.

Men jeg fik den ikke set, og lige nu forbandt jeg den ikke med den mand lige overfor, hvis kloge og lange taler, når han omsider sagde noget, jeg begærligt lyttede til. Sjældent mødte og møder jeg mennesker, som i det præcise udtryk og vældige omfang udtrykker, hvad jeg troede og tror eller ønskede jeg selv tænkte. Costa er et højt begavet, meget følsomt, ansvarligt, præcist og muntert menneske. Og hans film, de to, jeg nu havde set og som jeg nu igen kan se under arkitektur festivalen, No Quarto da Vanda om den hårde virkelighed for en narkoman som bor i et fattigt Lissabonkvarter som er ved at blive fjernet og Où gît votre sourire enfoui? om klippearbejdet ved det tredje gennemklip af Danièle Huillets og Jean-Marie Straubs Sicilia! De to film, indså jeg, hørte nu for mig til de store dokumentarfilm i verden. Det gør de stadigvæk. Sådan er det med Pedro Costas egensindige film.

Det kan jeg få bekræftet når Pedro Costa kommer til København 3. og 4. oktober til arrangementer i Cinemateket i forbindelse med CAFx 2020, Copenhagen Architecture Festival. 

http://cafx.dk/program/



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Categories: Cinema, Festival, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Dokufest Prizren 2020

Written 26-08-2020 13:35:43 by Tue Steen Mller

Dokufest Prizren 2020

It is a post-festum post this one. I was in the jury at the Sarajevo FF, I was writing a bit about the lovely MakeDox in Skopje so I had no time to follow DokuFest in Prizren, a festival I visited in 2016 and has followed and written about from distance since 2010 : The festival ended August 25.

„I was at the DokuFest(ival) in Prizren in 2016. Great experience with good films and an atmosphere of generosity in a beautiful place. », I wrote on this site in 2016.

I met the generosity again this year as Eroll Bilibani gave me online access to watch films. I did so for a couple of days and was very much impressed by the winner of the competitive section „Balkan Docs“:

 



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