Filmkommentaren

WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

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

WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

Filma Film Fest Ukraine:

WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

migration as a result of military conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://filmafest.org/en/


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Mila Teshaieva & Marcus Lenz: When Spring Came to

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

Mila Teshaieva & Marcus Lenz: When Spring Came to

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

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

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

Germany, 2022, 66 mins.

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


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Mila Turajlic and Labudovic

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

Mila Turajlic and Labudovic

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



Read more / Ls mere

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Lea Glob: Apolonia Apolonia

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

Lea Glob: Apolonia Apolonia

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

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

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

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

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


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Alina Gorlova: This is Not Putin's War

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

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

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Verzio Documentary Moments

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

Verzio Documentary Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.verzio.org

Foto: Anna Rubi 


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Verzio DocLab 2022

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

Verzio DocLab 2022

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

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

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

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

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

  • Up in the Air (Ukraine)

  • Your life without me (Hungary)

  • 2158 Stories (Denmark)

  • The pursuit of grief (South Africa) 

  • Albada / From the morning (Venezuela) 

  • Under the dance floor (Hungary)

  • Dreams at sunset (Hungary) 

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

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

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


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Verzio Budapest 2022

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

Verzio Budapest 2022

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

“Taming the Fire”

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

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

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

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

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

photo: Oksana Sarkisov


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European Film Awards Documentary

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

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

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

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

The House of Splinters. By Simon Lereng Wilmont

Mariupolis 2. By Mantas Kvedaravičius 

The Balcony Movie. By Pawel Lozinski

March on Rome. By Mark Cousins

Girl Gang. By Susanne Regina Meures 

Congratulations!


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AWARDS AT THE 26TH JI.HLAVA FF

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

AWARDS AT THE 26TH JI.HLAVA FF
 

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


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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/ 2

Written 31-10-2022 11:55:25 by Tue Steen Mller

Zelig Film Fest Bolzano/ 2

Here is how the director Kyrylo Naumko introduces his film “Dear Odesa” on the website of Zelig (https://www.zeligfilm.it/it/):

I did not notice exactly how and when life in Odesa became unbearable. But, probably, last 2 years I had a terrible feeling of disgust mixed with love. I was irritated by many things: the mayor who was a bandit, the widespread apathy of most residents of Odesa to the problems of the city, and chaotic construction. Plastic balconies on the facades of historic buildings, air conditioners, huge advertising signs – all these are pimples on the body of my beloved city. A city that could once breathe freely. Until recently, this worried me almost the most in life. Now, after the war started, the only thing I want is for this city to just stand. Just exist. Please.

Ukrainian documentaries are shown at festivals all over the world in this time of war, in solidarity with Ukraine. The film by Kyrylo Naumko was shot before the invasion in February. It is a young man’s declaration of love to his city, nicely created with atmosphere and with three fine protagonists – the mother of the director, his friend Mykata and the director himself. Should definitely be taken by festivals with or without a focus on Ukraine.

The film team included cinematographer Hannah Hütter and editor Lydia Gasparini. Deservedly praised on stage by the audience and the supervisor of the film Robert Rombout.


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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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Awards of the 10th Aegean Docs

Written 07-10-2022 15:44:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Awards of the 10th Aegean Docs

The Best Foreign Film Award of 1.000 euros. Shared equally to:

Maija Isola (Finland), Leena Kilpelainen.

and

 Looking for Horses (Bosnia-Herzegovina/France),Stefan Pavlovic

 

 

Best Greek Film Award of 1.000 euros with the support of Greek Film Centre:

The Bet (Greece)Maria Leonida.

The Award of Best Production, 500 euros is awarded to:

Ksenia Gapchenko from Russia for the film “How to Save a Dead Friend” of the director Marusya Syroechkovskaya, Sweden/Norway/ France/Germany

Ksenia Gapchenko, with emotion, told us: 

«On February 24th a country where my mum was born and I spent my childhood, was attacked by the country of my father. For me it was a great tragedy. I decided to leave Russia. Since April I’m not living in Moscow, the city I once loved a lot. 

I condemn violence and war. I’m trying to start my life in Europe with my daughter, who is my support, love and the best companion.

I hope for peace in Ukraine and freedom for Russia».

Best short film award of 500 euros:

Menores (Spain),Juan Trueba

Honorary Distinction «10 years AegeanDοcs»

The jury of AegeanDocs awards the honorary distinction "10 years of AegeanDocs" to director Eva Stefani for her valuable contribution to the establishment of Creative Documentary in Greece.

Honorary Distinctions are also awarded to:

A Jewish Life(Austria), Christian Kermer & Christian Krienes, Austria for their contribution to saving the memory of the Holocaust 

The Other Half (Greece), Georgios Moutafis for his dedication to researching and documenting the refugee drama.


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What is a Documentary?

Written 06-10-2022 15:42:01 by Tue Steen Mller

While in the Greek island: Two mornings with film students from Romania, organised by Ana Vlad, documentary teacher at the university and a film director I have known for many years. Pleasure to work with her. I asked the students to take part in the game I have introduced on many occasions. Armine Vosgarian put the words together in an essay like this:

“Write down the first 3 words which come to your mind when hearing the word documentary.”, says Tue Steen Müller, the visiting lecturer for today. I haven’t written a single word on the zoom chat. My keyboard wasn’t responding to any commands. I even hit it, but no use. Ironically, I was chosen to write a tiny essay on the words that popped  on the chat. This was the first time I saw most of the students, online or offline, so I can’t grasp the meaning of those words in terms of the projects they are working on, but, from the discussions held during the session, I understood that forces such as: curiositypatienceand love drive us in our documentarian journey.

Curiosity drives every artist. There was another word used such as insight which is a consequence of curiosity focused towards one’s inner self. Curiosity is the first impulse of a child and this innocence is what saves the artist. This was one of the key elements we learnt in acting school. If you lose your curiosity, you are not willing to learn anymore, to love anymore and to, eventually, live anymore.

Some terms as authenticitytruthand purity were put on the table. One of the students placed Werner Herzogbetween words like reality and trust. Here we leave space for philosophy. If we are in search of truth as artists, we are saved, as long as we know we can never embrace it in its completeness. If we listen to Aristoteles, everything we see is a copy of a divine plan and art is a second hand copy. The purity and authenticity comes with the strength of the artist when he is open to the world. Even when he isolates himself from everything, he has to be open, like a medium for ligth or darkness, whatever suits him. 

Others proposed the terms like realand human. We, humans, are real and authentic through our continous struggle of moving on. Some believe that is human to forget, some say is human to forgive.

  We, as documentary makers, can participate in the process of our characters healing. While we observe and express our own emotions when choosing the angle and shots of that character’s space, we are entrusted with their exorcism. We are like guides. I believe the process is quite different from the fiction film because we hold a heavier responsibility.

  The connection we create with the characters who are human beings, breathing beyong our pixels, contributes greatly to the path of both the filmmaker and the one portrayed. When making a documentary, you are responsible for the message. We are still under the protection of the large umbrella of poetry and free expression, but all the politics brought on screen weigh more than in fiction. Even in feature films, we ingest the message differently when we see the words: based on real events. 

  In documentary making, we have a mission. We will never be able to point out the truth, but we have to try, relentlessly, to show what our characters believe to be the truth, especially when their voices were rarely heard.  If we doubt the people or the situation we chose to portray, then. with empathy and honesty, we have bring our own truth that counterpoints them.  

  Documentary is life, more than anything, with all its complexities and we need courage to hold on to it. Lord Byron sayd something like truth is stranger than fiction. Well,  we have a saying in Romanian. “Life beats film”


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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/ 2

Written 05-10-2022 12:14:46 by Tue Steen Mller

It’s your night, Kostas Spiropoulos, the director of Aegean Docs, said to me. He knows that the two films shown last night are very much appreciated by me, and written about on www.filmkommentaren.dk

They are “Looking for Horses”, quote:

"Stefan Pavlović did it all on his own. In one scene he helps Zdravko get his hearing aid correctly set in another with the camera on a tripod he films himself and Zdravko at the table, close together; Stefan puts his head on the shoulder of Zdravko in a scene of joy and sadness, a beautiful and warm moment among many in a film full of poetry, a chamber play set on a lake, a film that caress its viewer – like the horses are caressed. Documentary at its best! 

Pavlovic took part in the Q&A via skype.

And ”How to Save a Dead Friend”, directed by Marusya Syroechkovskaya. The producer Ksenia Gapchenko was there for a long and good Q&A. Quote:

The title could also have been “Marusya and Kimi” putting the focus on what it is, a love story, with a start, a middle and an end – told in a film language that is touching, that is sweet and funny – and sad as it evolves, with the self-destruction of Kimi, who dives more and more into using hard drugs and “looks at the camera and not at me” as Marusya says. A tragic love story, yes, but full of warm scenes with the two, scenes you can only characterize as poetic.


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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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Nordisk Panorama/ The Forum

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

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

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

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



Read more / Ls mere

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Nordisk Panorama/1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Matter Out of Place

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

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

Austria, 2022 
110 minutes 
director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter

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

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

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

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


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Zoo Lockdown

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


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

Austria 2022 
73 minutes 
director: Andreas Horvath

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

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

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


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magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 The Treasures of Crimea

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


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

Netherlands 2021 
82 minutes 
director: Oeke Hoogendijk

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

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

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


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 A Provincial Hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Young Plato

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 The Wind that Moves Us

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


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

Spain 2021 
78 minutes 
director: Pere Puigbert

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

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

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

 

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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 Ukraine

Written 11-09-2022 16:13:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Docs 2022: Four films were screened made by Ukrainian directors and/or about Ukraine directly or indirectly. And at the pitching forum there were projects like "Little People" by Ivan Sautkin, "Iron Man (One Day I Wish to see You Happy)" by Maryna Nikolcheva and "The Blessed Ones" by Andrii Lysetskyi. One of the tutors was Roman Bondarchuk who was there with Darya Averchenko and their youngest child Luka, 18 months. So naturally there was a focus on the country at war, also "outside" the film event with a photo exhibition portraying Ukrainian refugees in Latvia; the mayor of Riga talked as did the Danish photographer of the portraits, the director of the Danish Cultural Institute in the Baltic countries with long speeches by the Latvian and Danish foreign ministers, all condemning the war - outside on the square facing the Russian embassy.

All three film projects named were awarded at the closing ceremony on a boat on the Daugava river, "Iron Man" through an invitation to the producer Oleksandra Kravchenko to come back to Baltic Sea Docs... She was there before with what became the amazing "Roses. Film Cabaret".

I got a copy of "Estonian Film", a special edition made for the Cannes Film Festival with a focus on Ukrainian Film, excellent with articles/interviews with filmmakers from the country including two important documentary voices, producer and industry head of DocuDays Darya Bassel and veteran Serhiy Bukovsky, whose last masterpiece on composer Silvestrov was reviewed on this site (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4714/)

A couple of quotes from the interviews made by Maria Ulfsak and film consultant at the Estonian Film Institute Filipp Kruusvall:

... While big businesses are leaving Russia, while governments stop buying Russian gas and coal, film festivals and other cultural events seem to be totally disconnected from reality. They say we are "above" this, culture is not politics. You know what I think about this? It's a luxury to have the possibility to take such a position. You don't have the luxury of being apolitical, or think that art and films exist in another universe, where we all can calmly reflect as friends on the genocide that is happening right now in front of our eyes. When it's about your life or death, you don't have this luxury. You know deep inside that culture is politics... (Darya Bassel)

... I guess documentaries will rocket. This genre already reacts quickly to current events in life. Also, in feature films, the theme of war becomes the main one. In many cases, this will be rather superficial, declarative. It will take decades for a deeper artistic understanding of this subject... We continue to meet with our students online. Many are filming what is happening right now. Hopefully, soon we will collect all the filmed material into one extensive war anthology... (Serhiy Bukovsky).

Slava Ukraini!

 


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Baltic Sea Docs 26. edition "Mental Health...

Written 08-09-2022 06:44:04 by Tue Steen Mller

... in the Times of War" was the title of a seminar at the Baltic Sea Docs. Including as moderator Rebecca Day, Ukrainian filmmakers Roman Bondarchuk, Ivan Sautkin, Anna Machukh, CEO of Odesa International Film Festival and Latvian producer and cinematographer Uldis Cekulis. The seminar took place at the Welton Riverside Hotel that faces the Daugava river with a fine look to the impressive very much discussed National Library, which I find a fascinating piece of architecture.

Roman Bondarchuk said that his problem was to re-find the level of sensitivity, when you and your family are trying to establish a peaceful life and when you can only plan two years ahead, being in exile.

Ivan Sautkin told that he during Maidan for the first time had seen a dead body, that he had sleepless nights, that he and his family - four kids - were trying to do their best in a situation, where there is no job and thus no money. (Anna Machukh presented results of a survey that documented that 44% of the Ukrainian film people were without job) he was referring to the Babylon'13 site where you can find lots of visual material from and about the war but also about Maidan and Ukrainian culture. Short documentaries.

Bondarchuk told about how the organisers of the DocuDays festival were in constant contact organising and informing, and about the war archive that is being built, including evidence of the war crimes committed and being committed by the Russians. "We try not to think about our mental health". My comment: It is indeed impressive how active the DocuDays people are in conveying information, trying also to convince festivals around the world that there are numerous competent film curators who can help putting together programs with Ukrainian documentaries.  

Uldis Cekulis showed clips from "Ukrainian Sheriffs" (director Bondarchuk) with my favourite protagonist, the mayor of the village where the film takes place... the mayor who was kidnapped and tortured by the enemy. He and his wife are now living in Latvia.

The seminar was organised by Lelda Ozola Creative Europe Latvia together with her colleagues from Lithuania and Estonia. Well done! 


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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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What is a Documentary?

Written 23-08-2022 09:17:28 by Tue Steen Mller

Life People Reality Subjectivity Perspective Rhythm Observation Truth Poetic World Imagination Discovery Unfiltered Raw Story Real Unique Relationship Experiences History Time Communication Values Changes Memory Passion Revelation Era Generation Commitment Achievement Care Psychology Environment Makedox

What are the three words that come to your mind when I say documentary? Was the question I put to the participants of the development workshop in Skopje, arranged by the brilliant team of Makedox led by Petra Seliskar.

Greek producer Mina Dreki put together a small essay from these words, that came out as a kind of a manifest - a gift to the festival from its participants:

"Documentary filmmaking is not about the truth, it is a poetic commitment and creation, unfiltered or not. Through our subjectivity and perspective, we observe, we experience, we communicate our reality. Through our imagination and passion, we discover the connection between time and changes, people and relationships, experiences, and history. We act as a bridge between raw stories and revelations, our job is to add rhythm and share it with the audience and our era, as if we share our own values. Our world, all generations need unique stories. Documentary filmmaking cares about life, people, and us."

From, tutoring together with Ieva Ubele, producer from Latvia and head of the Beldocs Industry.


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Srdan Keca: Museum of The Revolution

Written 22-08-2022 13:00:28 by Tue Steen Mller

To safeguard the truth about us, were the words architect Richter used, when he presented his plan for a Museum of the Revolution to be built in Belgrade in 1961… Director Srdan Keca takes this - with great propaganda archive material - as the starting point for his version of the truth as he sees it in a film that is quite as unconventional as Richter wanted the museum to be. Keca works with several layers surrounding three people, who live in and around the basement of the museum, that is what was left of a vision, conveyed in magic luminous sequences of light coming in to the place, light spots of hope, where Milica and her mother Vera stays together with the old woman Mara, who has no contact to her daughter, who she “gave away” to the social system. In the darkness of poverty they are. Kecha stresses this with compassion, when his camera caresses them, often by taking away the sound staying long on their faces. 

The love relationship between Milica and her mother is beautiful, their life is a constant struggle to survive as polishers of car windows to earn some money to send to the father, who is in prison. The architectural point of view stays in the picture: Modern conventional ugly buildings are constructed now in Belgrade along the river of Sava. Keca paints with his camera in a film that asks the question: Is this what we want to safeguard?

Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, 2021, 91 mins.


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Mijke de Jong: Along the Way

Written 16-08-2022 09:23:04 by Tue Steen Mller

Zahra and Fatima are twins and the protagonists of the Dutch film that was shown last night at the one year old Cineplex that is now the main screening venue for the Sarajevo Film Festival. The film’s title is “Along the Way” and it was shown as part of the Dealing With the Past program. I had the pleasure of introducing the film and moderate the discussion with the assistant director Natascha Erfanipour. An easy job as the young Dutch woman with Iranian roots spoke lively about how the film came to become the drama it is, a drama yes, but with so much authenticity that I took for a documentary the first time I saw it. But the twins are acting and they are acting so well – but it took time to get to this, explained Erfanipour with a smile. But all – almost all – is based on their own stories, told to the film team, made into a precise script to be followed. In some scenes they had to be angry with each other, that was difficult for them…

The story is one of those, we have met so many times in these hard times, a refugee story: the twins buy themselves way to Istanbul, get separated from mother and siblings, work to save money for the ocean trip from Turkey to Lesbos, they succeed, they get to the camp everyone knows, Moria, and they reach Athens to have a very emotional meeting with the mother and the daughter. In Istanbul they meet Rahim, a young man, who is a smuggler and for whom Zahra works to collect money to cross the EU…

There are more to be experienced, some personal statements from refugees not to be revealed here but I hope you get the chance to watch this fine film “based on a true story” with Zahra and Fatima, who in real life are now waiting for getting asylum in Germany and at a longer perspective to be filmmakers. Wish them all the best!

The Netherlands, 2021, 80 mins. 


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Anna Shisova: The New Greatness Case

Written 15-08-2022 16:58:41 by Tue Steen Mller

One of my Russian friends wrote this to me not long ago: “A few days ago…Two women and their five children aged 7 to 11 were detained at the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow yesterday. The children drew a poster “No War” and went with it. All of them were detained by the police. At first they were kept in a paddy wagon and then they were brought to the Presnenskoye police department. They were going to leave everyone at the station but then children and their mothers were released. Now parents are waiting for a court, fines and are afraid of deprivation of parental rights, they are looking for a human rights lawyer…”.

Surprised? No, I guess not, if you follow the reports coming from Russia. I used to go to Russia for film events and I know a lot of filmmakers, friends with whom I have talked about Life that passes while you are not busy doing something else than making films. Always being careful not to get into trouble when demonstrations take place. As Anna Shisova, the director of “The New Greatness Case” chosen for this Human Rights Day said in an interview: “For 10 or 20 years, the legal system in Russia has drifted in a totalitarian direction. We have many new laws. One of those laws says that if you say something bad against authority, you can be put in jail. Another law punishes extremist organizations, which means you are guilty if you say something against authority within a group.”

Words I have heard again and again when visiting St. Petersburg or Moscow. Often said with a twist of irony making fun of the regime and its leaders.

After February 24 2022 I have not travelled to Russia – and many filmmakers have left the country. The brutality has grown, demonstrators are knocked down and imprisoned. And the brutality in the war against Ukraine is indescribable. There is no need for irony – there is a need for constant good journalism AND documentaries like “The New Greatness Case”.

The film: Anya Pavlikova. 17 years old. She is in a court room behind the terrible glass room, we know so well from films about and news from Russia. Her parents sit in front of the glass room. The camera catches the nervous face of Anya , she seems to be on the edge of a breakdown. Fear! A judge enters the room and reads out the verdict: Anya is sentenced to 3 years of prison for her participation in a group of youngsters called “The New Greatness”… The beginning of a superb film.

Anna Shisova’s documentary is what a documentary should be: It documents and it interprets, it asks for reflection, it has a strong emotional impact on the audience. It tells the story of youngsters, who were chatting on the internet discussing all kind of matters including social and political. And it stays with the parents and makes a gripping portrait of the mother.

We know all that, what we did not know, at least that goes for me, is the skills with which the regime works with informers, who - as the film shows so well – infiltrated the youngsters, invited them to have their own “office” and pushed them to go for demonstrations with leaflets. Until they were arrested for wanting to go against and overthrow the government etc. Anya was one of them caught by the surveillance cameras set up by the secret service people. In a room that comes back again and again with the main informer in the picture. Absurd!

Contrary to many other films on opposition from Russia, like the ones on Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, “The New Greatness Case” goes with Anya to her family, especially to her mother who turns fear into a hunger strike and herself into one of the many political activists, we hear too little about.

The film has been characterized as “a chilling portrait of the intensified crackdown on dissent and free expression in Putin’s Russia” (Sheffield DocFest). True!

Below is the link to the UN declaration of Human Rights.

Read the paragraphs and tick the ones you find relevant for a discussion after the film screening. Quite a lot I would say!

 

https://www.ohchr.org/en/human-rights/universal-declaration/translations/english


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Sarajevo Film Festival/ 2

Written 15-08-2022 09:33:57 by Tue Steen Mller

It was presentation day for the four stories at the TSM, True Stories Market. It took place at the Atrium of Hotel Europe; four people, two women, two men on stage and a full house of interested people, among them film producers and directors, who might be interested to make the stories into films or tv programmes.

Moderator was film director and journalist Croatian Robert Zuber, who had a fine way of connecting the four stories and asked the right questions at the right moment.

First in line was Enes Hodzic, journalist from BIRN (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network). Working title for the story “Forbidden Monument” referring to the fact that the local authorities do not want a memorial to be raised in the city of Prijedor, where 102 children were killed during the war in the beginning of the 90’es. Hodzic showed a very emotional interview clip with Ešef Dzananovic, who survived three concentration camps to know afterwards that two sons, 4- and 9-year-old, his sister, 17, his wife and his mother had all been killed. 30 years later he is still searching for their remains – the neighbours witnessed what happened, he says, but do not want to tell anything… Unbearable!

Also from BIRN was Aida Trepanic, whose story also is from Prijedor in the North East of Bosnia, in Bijeljina where notorious Akran and his Serbian Volunteer Guard killed, among others the husband of the woman, who witnessed the murders taking place – also caught by the camera of the photographer Ron Haviv. The woman does not want to be seen, she is afraid of the consequences her children could meet visiting the street, that now bears the name Street of Serbian Voluntary Guard!!! With a manipulated voice she is telling her story. Amazing and touching.

Serbian Jovana Blanusa from a company called Next Game in Belgrade told the fascinating story about Marino Zurli, a journalist, filmmaker, writer, who after the Second WW committed his working life to bring families together, who had been split because of the war. He conveyed his discoveries through the paper Arena with photos and texts, but he also made films from his discoveries – as the company of Jovana did, one was shown as part of the presentation. “The Hero from Arena” is the working title of a film to be about “a discreet hero of great deeds”.

Finally filmmaker Mladen Ivanovic from Montenegro, studying at the Zagreb film academy, showed a 7 minutes long clip from a film he has almost finished but wants to extend to a feature or eventually use as a pilot for a series about pits in former Yugoslavia. Pits which are difficult to recognize as nature has done “its job”, covering the killing fields, the concentration camps where – in this story – the Ustasha fascists came to pick up the people to bring them to a place to be executed. Ivanovic is definitely a talented filmmaker, the film he showed, from which the 7 minutes were taken could go to festivals when finished and from that he can make a longer film than this “Depths of Velebit”.

Tough stories, yes, but should be told as many have said after the presentation as the right-wing politicians in this region and elsewhere want to rewrite history and erase stories like these from the collective memory. 


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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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Film Talks

Written 08-08-2022 21:28:44 by Tue Steen Mller

On August 10, 17 and 24, you can enjoy three pre-recorded IDF Industry Sessions which we have prepared in collaboration with CinéDoc-Tbilisi. Watch them on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!

August 10 at 6 pm (CEST)
Protagonists in Fragile Situations - Extended Q&As about I'll Stand by You


Virginija Vareikytė and Maximilien Dejoie talk about their journey of being co-directors and how they found the story of the film I'll Stand by You and its protagonists - two women on a challenging mission. They discuss challenges that are connected with difficult topics and how to keep their artistic vision during the whole production. Moderated by Tue Steen Müller.

August 17 at 6 pm (CEST)

Benefits and Challenges in Co-productions - A Case Study of The Last Shelter 


Estelle Robin You in conversation with Tue Steen Müller about her experience with co-production between Mali, South Africa and France. She was in a position of a lead-producer of The Last Shelter and could watch closely the artistic side of the project. Estelle stresses the importance of good and strong relationships between director and protagonists and strong partnerships with other productions and/or training programs.

In cooperation with the French Institute in Georgia.

August 24 at 6 pm (CEST)

How to Prepare Film Material for Editing - A Case Study of Nelly & Nadine


A conversation between Phil Jandaly and Tue Steen Müller. Phil Jandaly discusses his role as an editor during production of Nelly & Nadine. He shares his experience with creating a structure of the film, working with different archive material and editing them with newly-filmed scenes. He stresses how they wanted to keep the mystery during the whole film while keeping the whole aesthetics of the film and overall intimate story.

In cooperation with the French Institute in Georgia.

The Film Mentoring Program of CinéDOC-Tbilisi and these sessions are supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

The IDF Industry Sessions series is supported by Creative Europe MEDIA, Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Czech Film Fund, Prague City Hall and APA - Audiovisual Producers' Association.


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Niewiera & Rosolowski: The Hamlet Syndrome

Written 05-08-2022 09:30:55 by Tue Steen Mller

… first names Elwira and Piotr, Polish directors, awarded for previous works “The Domino Effect” and “The Prince and the Dybbuk”, both praised on this site for their originality and professional skills. The same goes for this new film that demonstrates how literature, theatre and cinema can be welded together to create a tension that for this viewer has been sitting in mind and stomach for days the two times I have watched it on my MacBook Pro – the third time will be in a cinema. A promise to the filmmakers.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, I asked the 11 year old grandchild this morning if he had heard about him. Indeed he had, “it is him with “to be or not to be”, the everlasting sentence, that is the core of the theatre play five Ukrainians perform with Roza Sarkisian, theatre director as the observant and often provoking master on the stage – together with the film directors who came with the script after having casted the protagonists.

One by one, following their monologue or dialogue rehearsals on stage, the film takes the viewer out in “the reality”. Katya who is meeting witnesses to document the war in the country – she was in Maidan and she was volunteering in the horrors in the Eastern part of the country. She sits with a microphone in a quiet garden with a woman, who tells how she was tortured by the occupiers. In a very emotional scene with Katya and her mother the latter expresses her anxiety not knowing what Katya was doing as a soldier.

These combined scenes are extraordinary: Slawik and his father, on stage in a phone call, where Roman, actor, “plays” his father, followed by Slawik meeting his father playing table tennis and having their conversation. ”You took ten years of my life”, the father says. And Rodion who has suffered because of his sexuality – with his mother in rainy weather who talks about how difficult it has been for her to accept that his son is “different”. Rodion performs a magnificent monologue on stage. “To be a LGBT in Donetsk”, where he comes from.

Why am I Hamlet is a question the five have a quick answer to. Oksana, feminist, who plays a central role in the last scene of the theatre play. No spoiling. 

The five have all been going through therapy. A quote from an interview with Elwira Niewiera in Business Doc Europe June 2022: “All five characters underwent therapy after their experiences of war, which was a core consideration in their participation both within the stage play and the film. “We made the decision that they are the right protagonists to go through this process…because all of them made therapy before. This was very important for us,” says co-director Elwira Niewiera, adding how once the actors immersed themselves into the play, it then became “an artistic process.”

Yes, the reason for the film to be so strong, so intense, so extraordinary in conveying the traumas, is that the filmmakers and their protagonists have made an artistic interpretation, what they have experienced before February 24 this year – the play was performed October 2020.

And after February 24, after the brutal invasion from the Russian barbarians… reading the text at the end credits, unbearable at the same time as you more than respect their courage: Katya, Slawik and Roman are in the army, Rodion sews military uniforms in Lviv, Oksana acts at a theatre in Poland and is involved in humanitarian aid.

Poland/Germany, 2022, 85 mins.


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Docu Talents from the East 2022

Written 29-07-2022 20:44:32 by Tue Steen Mller

This is a copy paste of a text from the Sarajevo FF site, an event organised by the Jihlava FF. High quality projects, know some of them and know talents like Goran Devic, Vlad Petri, Diana Fabiánová and Lesia Diak. The latter is part of the CinéDoc Tbilisi Mentoring Program. As for Diana Fabiánová she was a star at Ex Oriente with the film "The Moon inside You" that reached an audience all over the world. If time allows I will be at the presentation. Here is the copy-paste:    

Nine new creative documentary projects, in production or post-production, will be presented as part CineLink Industry Day on August 15, in order to stimulate their further conversion and enhance their market exposure. The Open presentation will take place at Hotel Europe – Atrium from 14.30 – 15.45.

The most promising project receives the Docu Talent Award in co-operation with Current Time TV. The award is accompanied by a prize in the amount of 5,000 USD. DAFilms Distribution Award 2022 will be awarded to a project selected by the jury in the amount of €3000 as an in-kind Doc Alliance distribution award. It covers release on DAFilms (including Americas,  Europe,  Asia) for two years. The jury consists of Natalia Arshavskaya (Current Time TV), Martichka Bozilova (Agitprop), Ben Dalton (Screen International), Nina Numankadić (DAFilms), Jarmila Outratová (Ji.hlava IDFF).

„The selection of films included in Docu Talents from the East that are being completed by the emerging generation of Eastern European filmmakers is formally very diverse and explores social, political and purely personal topics. It is surprising that a region often associated primarily with rural films from poor regions can geographically encompass literally the entire world: from Tokyo and Iran to Europe, New York and Salvador.

Our selection pays special attention to two Ukrainian women filmmakers. While Olha Tsybulska started filming YOU KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE ABOUT WAR spontaneously at the outset of the war, the very personal DAD’S LULLABY by Lesia Diak looks back on the war after several years and shows how it can destroy even an exceptional human personality.

All of the selected films do not only explore the phenomena of our day-and-age, but also ask questions about how our choices shape our own future – whether as an individual, a particular social group or an entire society.”  says Marek Hovorka, director of the Ji.hlava IDFF.

Projects were selected by representatives of the Ji.hlava IDFF. 

The complete list can be found below.

WHAT’S TO BE DONE?
Croatia | 75’
Director: Goran Dević
Producer: Hrvoje Osvadić
Production Company: Petnaesta umjetnost

Is it possible to be a worker and revolt against the capitalism? Is the outcome of every possible riot known in advance?

SO FAR FROM MIKULOV
Czech Republic | Slovakia | 75’
Director: Marie Dvořáková
Producer: Pavel Berčík
Production Company: Evolution Films, s.r.o.

A small-town photographer from Europe takes New York by storm. But at what price?

YOYOGI
Estonia | Japan | 74’
Director: Max Golomidov
Producer: Volia Chajkouskaya
Production Company: Allfilm

A witty and sensitive observation of people visiting Central Park of Tokyo – Yoyogi.

STREET POETS
Poland | 60’
Director: Edyta Adamczak and Michał Mądracki
Producer: Edyta Adamczak
Production Company: MML studio

Young, urban poets of the Brazilian favela in the city of Salvador. Jeopardised youth. A film about non-material wealth, which becomes a source of unusual human power and lets us believe that we all have this power within us.

BETWEEN REVOLUTIONS
Romania | Iran | Croatia | Qatar | 71’
Director: Vlad Petri
Producer: Elena Martín
Production Company: Activ Docs

Two women, former classmates and friends, one Romanian and one Iranian are writing letters to each other, reflecting on their lives, between two revolutions that changed their lives and societies forever.

THE BOUNDARIES OF FIDELITY
Slovakia | Czech Republic | 80’
Director: Diana Fabiánová
Producer: Silvia Panáková
Production Company: Dayhey, s.r.o.

A married couple’s search for a way how to preserve a long-term, honest relationship in environment, where infidelity is normal practice.

DAD’S LULLABY
Ukraine | 72’
Director: Lesia Diak
Producer: Lesia Diak
Production Company: /

He fought for his country, now he is fighting for his family.

YOU KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE ABOUT WAR (WORKING TITLE)
Ukraine | 33’
Director: Olha Tsybulska
Producer: John Emil Richardsen
Production Company: Montevideo Tromsø AS

A reflection about survivor’s guilt, traumas and how war is the new normality for young creative people in Ukraine.

TOMORROW
Hungary | Portugal | Belgium | Iran | 50’
Director: Khosro Khosravi
Producer: Khosro Khosravi
Production Company: DocNomads

A middle-aged divorced Budapesti man who eagerly deals with organizing his life after separation in his big house, on the other hand, finds it hardly possible to avoid loneliness.

 

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Baltic Sea Docs 22

Written 26-07-2022 15:06:13 by Tue Steen Mller

The projects to be presented in the yearly documentary gathering, number 26, since 2005 held in Riga Latvia, have been selected with Latvian Zane Balcus as the head of the Forum, she rightfully describes in the following way:

“This international event for professional documentary filmmakers is the only one of its kind in the Baltics and is held in high regard throughout Eastern Europe. Every year, the BSD gathers over 100 professional filmmakers from the Baltic Sea region, as well as from Eastern and Central Europe. Participating in the forum is an invaluable way for filmmakers to find funding for the production of their projects and to further ensure that their films reach a wide audience across Europe.

The forum is held in English and participation is free of charge.

In addition to the public pitching session, the forum holds preparatory workshop and seminars that is open to not just BSD participants, but also to students and representatives of the Latvian film scene. Apart from the professional activities, a programme of the highest quality documentaries is offered to the general public in Riga and the largest Latvian cities.”

The latter – the film program – has not been published yet, the same goes for the so-called decision makers BUT 18 projects from Lithuania (2), Estonia (2), Georgia (3), Latvia (3), Finland (1), Poland (3), Germany (1) and Ukraine (3). Projects from Russia and Belarus have not been invited.

For the workshops leading to the pitching session the Baltic Sea Docs have invited the following to be tutors: 

Roman Bondarchuk | film director, cinematographer | Ukraine
Emma Davie | film director | Scotland
Phil Jandaly | film editor | Sweden
Tue Steen Müller | documentary consultant | Denmark
Mikael Opstrup | documentary developer | Denmark
Laila Pakalniņa | film director, producer | Latvia
Dagne Vildunaite | film producer | Lithuania

Brief annotations to the selected projects you can find here:

https://dokforums.gov.lv/industry/selected-projects-2022/


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Turkan Huseynova: Papanin

Written 23-07-2022 13:55:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Turkan Huseynova is a young filmmaker from Baku. Last year she took part in the Jihlava FF with her documentary “Papanin”,

Which appeared in the “Joyful Section”. Well placed even if the film refers to a district in Baku that is to be demolished. Huseynova visited with her camera, made the film in beautiful black and white, you sense that she is a photographer, who knows how to compose images in a fine framing. Another proof of quality is that she as a true documentarian can get close to people, gain their trust and have them talk. The 19 minutes include a love story told by an old man, who lost his wife. Beautiful.

Huseynova is now participating in the Mentoring Program of CinédocTbilisi.

Proud to be her mentor, new film will come from her. As with "Papanin" with love as a central theme.

Azerbaijan, 2021, 19 mins.


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Sarajevo FF Documentary Competition

Written 22-07-2022 14:00:58 by Tue Steen Mller

1. DIARY OF A BRIDE OF CHRIST / TSCHODENNYK NARECHENOI CHRISTA, Marta Smerechynska (Ukraine, 2021, 90 min.) – World premiere

2. LIGHTS OF SARAJEVO / SVJETLA SARAJEVA, Srđan Perkić (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2022, 68 min.) – World premiere

3. LITURGY OF ANTI-TANK OBSTACLES, Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk (Ukraine, USA, 2022, 12 min.) – World premiere

4. PAYING A VISIT TO FORTUNA / FORTUNA VENDÉGEI, Mátyás Kálmán (Hungary, Croatia, 2022, 74 min.) – World premiere

5. SHADOWED BY THE PLANE TREE / ÇINAR AĞACININ KÖLGƏSINDƏ, Aynur Elgunesh (Azerbaijan, 2022, 18 min.) – World premiere

6. THE CHALICE. OF SONS AND DAUGHTERS / O TAHTAI. SAVENDAR TAI SEIANDAR, Cătălina Tesăr, Dana Bunescu (Romania, 2022, 83 min.) – World premiere

7. THE FILM FACTORY / TVORNICA FILMOVA, Silvestar Kolbas (Croatia, 2022, 15 min.) – World premiere

8. TOO CLOSE, Botond Püsök (Romania, Hungary, 2022, 85 min.) – World premiere

9. BABAJANJA, Ante Zlatko Stolica (Croatia, 2022, 14 min.) – International premiere

10. RETREAT, Anabela Angelovska (North Macedonia, Germany, 2022, 30 min.) – International premiere

11. WE, ... COMPOSITION / WIR, ... KOMPOSITION, Visar Jusufi (Kosovo, Germany, 2022, 15 min.) – International premiere

12. BIGGER THAN TRAUMA / VEĆE OD TRAUME, Vedrana Pribačić (Croatia, 2022, 91 min.) – European premiere

13. ANOTHER SPRING / JOŠ JEDNO PROLEĆE, Mladen Kovačević (Serbia, France, Qatar, 2022, 90 min.) – Regional premiere

14. A PROVINCIAL HOSPITAL / EDNA PROVINTSIALNA BOLNITSA, Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov, Zlatina Teneva (Bulgaria, Germany, 2022, 107 min.) – Regional premiere

15. ATONAL GLOW / ATONALURI GABRZKINEBA, Alexander Koridze (Georgia, 2022, 67 min.) – Regional premiere

16. BEAUTY OF THE BEAST, Anna Eszter Nemes (Hungary, Serbia, 2022, 47 min.) – Regional premiere

17. FRAGILE MEMORY, Igor Ivanjko (Ukraine, 2022, 85 min.) – Regional premiere

18. LIVING TOGETHER / ZUSAMMENLEBEN, Thomas Fürhapter (Austria, 2022, 90 min.) – Regional premiere

19. MICROBIOME, Stavros Petropoulos (Greece, 2021, 27 min.) – Regional premiere

20. NO PLACE FOR YOU IN OUR TOWN / NIAMASH MIASTO V NASHIA GRAD, Nikolay Stefanov (Bulgaria, 2022, 81 min.) – Regional premiere

21. RIBS / REBRA, Farah Hasanbegović (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal, 2022, 9 min.) – Regional premiere

22. MUSEUM OF THE REVOLUTION / MUZEJ REVOLUCIJE, Srđan Keča (Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, 2021, 91 min.) - B&H premiere


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Robert Kirchhoff: Dubcek

Written 09-07-2022 15:07:04 by Tue Steen Mller

This is a copy paste of an article at FNE from yesterday:

Slovak director Robert Kirchhoff is currently in postproduction with his creative documentary All Men Become Brothers / Všetci ľudia budú bratia. The film is produced by Kirchhoff´s atelier.doc and coproduced by the Radio and Television Slovakiaendorfilm (Czech Republic) and the Czech Television.

The production took place from 2018 to 2021 on locations in Kyrgyzstan, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Turkey and Slovakia. Personalities of domestic and foreign politics and culture, such as Romano Prodi, Umberto Eco, Pavel Kohout, Karel Vachek, Jáchym Topol, Petr Pithart, Eugen Gindl, and many orhers will appear in the film.

The figure of the Slovak politician Alexander Dubcek (1921-1992) is followed throughout the 20th century in situational circumstances revealing the internal conflicts of the personality of the politician, as well as of the society.

„The filming and organisation of the film were extremely demanding. They concerned an extensive collection of material including work with archival sources and protagonists from different parts of the world, where Dubcek left his mark. It also involved hundreds of hours of material in the range of 60 terabytes,“ director and producer Robert Kirchhoff told FNE.

The estimated budget of 372,864 EUR is supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, Creative Europe and the Czech Film Fund.

The international release is planned for November 2022, while the domestic premiere in Slovakia and the Czech Republic is scheduled for the spring of 2023.


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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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DOK Leipzig News

Written 15-06-2022 13:30:09 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig News

DOK Leipzig will host its 65th edition in local cinemas and venues once again — a decision that signals the festival’s continued commitment to bringing back cinema culture and shared festival experiences.

From 17 to 23 October, DOK Leipzig will screen new documentary and animated films from around the world, along with creative XR works and thematic film programmes. The team looks forward to welcoming numerous international filmmakers and guests to Leipzig, where works will be explored with audiences at film talks and master classes. Turning the focus back to on-site events is the festival’s response to the need for direct exchanges among visitors and industry professionals — which were missing in the last two years due to pandemic adjustments.

However, some of the online features will continue in a reduced format, including recorded film talks. Selected films will again be available on demand throughout Germany via "DOK Stream" following the festival, with this year’s lineup focusing on the award winners.

DOK Industry is also prioritising a return to physical attendance at events for film professionals. Some areas will still be accessible online, such as livestreams of project presentations and talks, along with two days of post-festival digital networking for participants.

As in previous years, this year's festival poster design was created by Leipzig graphic artist Stefan Ibrahim. It features the key to an old East German-style lock, which many audience members may still recognise. Further key imagery will be sprinkled throughout the festival’s in-person and online offerings for audiences to discover.

“We deliberately allowed for many interpretations with our design," festival director Christoph Terhechte says. "The films and works in our programme are united by their curiosity about the world. They open up new perspectives and previously unknown worlds, so to speak. But the key is also always a symbol of home — people who have to leave their homes often keep their apartment key as a symbol of connection to their home, their origins and past. As a festival with an East German history, we opted for a key style from the German Democratic Republic."

A number of festival themes have already been selected. DOK Leipzig will emphasise its long-standing connection to Eastern Europe with a programme of current feature-length films that offer insights into life in the region’s countries. The festival will also increase support for networking among documentary and animation filmmakers through new formats. Additionally, four of the programmes will explore the different artistic styles of animated film.

This year’s Retrospective will focus on documentary works by female filmmakers from the GDR. The Homage is dedicated to renowned Serbian documentary filmmaker Mila Turajlić, whose work explores the historical significance of moving images. Two other programmes feature films that address the climate crisis, resource scarcity and environmental activism.

From today through 15 July, festival fans can secure Early Dove accreditation at a discounted rate for access to film screenings, talks with inspiring guests and industry events.

Free tickets for film screenings are available to anyone who takes part in DOK Leipzig's audience survey. The festival wants to get to know viewers better by gathering feedback from past and future visitors. The English version of the survey is available from 20 June via dok-leipzig.de.

Films and XR works can still be submitted until 1 July. The deadline for the DOK Co-Pro Market is 21 July.


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AWARDS of the 62st Krakow Film Festival

Written 07-06-2022 16:22:46 by Tue Steen Mller

DRAGON OF DRAGONS AWARD for the contribution into development of the world animated film

JARMO JÄÄSKELÄINEN (Finland)

KFF RECOMMENDATION to the European Film Award in a documentary category 

BOYLESQUE, dir. Bogna Kowalczyk (Poland)

INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION 

Having watched all the competitive films the International Documentary Jury of the 62st Krakow Film Festival consisting of: Till Brockmann – chairman (Switzerland), Christine Camdessus (France), Ohad Milstein (Israel), Petrula Veljanovska (North Macedonia), Agnieszka Zwiefka (Poland) has decided to award the following prizes:

THE GOLDEN HORN for the director of the best film – Denis Dobrovoda for The Cathedral (Slovakia)

THE SILVER HORN for the director of the film with high artistic values – Shaunak Sen for All That Breathes (USA, United Kingdom, India)

THE SILVER HORN for the director of the film on social issues – Laura Sistero for Tolyatti Adrift (Spain)

SPECIAL MENTION for The Hamlet Syndrome directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski (Poland, Germany)

SPECIAL MENTION for Fragile Memory directed by Igor Ivanko (Ukraine, Slovakia)

The FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Jury consisting of: Nino Kovačić (Croatia),  Yun-Hua Chen (Taiwan), Giuseppe Sedia (Italy) has decided to award the International Film Critics Prize to Hirotoshi Takeoka  for Adamiani (Japan, The Netherlands)

INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION

Having watched all the competition films, the International Short Film Jury consisting of: Juliusz Machulski – chairman (Poland), Olga Lucovnicova (Moldova), Andrea Martignoni (Italy), Anita Reher (Denmark) and Amer Salmeen Al Murry (United Arab Emirates), has decided to award the following prizes:

GOLDEN DRAGON for the director of the best film – Jay Rosenblatt for How Do You Measure A Year? (USA)

SILVER DRAGON for the director of the best documentary film – Raúl de la Fuente Calle and Amaia Ramirez for Maldita. A Love Song to Sarajevo (Spain)

SPECIAL MENTION for Hardcore directed by Adán Aliaga (Spain)

SILVER DRAGON for the director of the best animated film – Diana Cam Van Nguyen for Love, Dad (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

SPECIAL MENTION for A Goat’s Spell directed by Gerhard Funk (Germany)

SILVER DRAGON for the director of the best short fiction film – Karolina Porcari for Victoria (Poland)

SPECIAL MENTION for The Swarmers directed by Alison Kuhn (Germany)

Jury Award for the Best European Film (Krakow Candidate to the European Film Award 2022 in the short film category) – Diana Cam Van Nguyen for Love, Dad (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

The International Federation of Film Societies (FICC) Jury consisting of: Eugene Dugan-Brause (United Kingdom), Ritesh Basak (Indie), Karolina Nowacka (Polska) has decided to grant the Don Quixote Award to the film Parizad directed by Mehdi Imani Shahmiri (Iran) and the Special Mention to the film: Love, Dad directed by Diana Cam Van Nguyen (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

INTERNATIONAL DOCFILMMUSIC COMPETITION

Having watched all the competition films, the International DocFilmMusic Competition Jury consisting of: Włodek Pawlik – chairman (Polska), Roman Gutek (Polska) and Robert Kirchhoff (Slovakia) has decided to award the following prizes:

GOLDEN HEYNAL for the director of the best film – Lucie Králová for Kapr Code (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

SPECIAL MENTION for Cesária Évora directed by Ana Sofia Fonseca (Portugal)

NATIONAL COMPETITION

Having watched all the competition films, the National Competition Jury consisting of: Piotr Stasik – chairman, Daria Kopiec, Kuba Mikurda, Anna Sienkiewicz-Rogowska, Małgorzata Szyła has decided to award the following prizes:

GOLDEN HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best film funded by the President of the Polish Filmmakers Association – Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski for The Hamlet Syndrome (Poland, Germany)

SILVER HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best documentary film over 30 minutes – Bogna Kowalczyk for Boylesque (Poland)

SILVER HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best documentary film under 30 minutes – Marcin Lesisz for The Rocking Horses (Poland)

SILVER HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best animated film – Marta Pajek for Impossible Figures and Other Stories I (Poland, Canada)

SILVER HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best short fiction film – Michał Toczek for A Dead Marriage(Poland)

The Award of the President of the Polish Filmmakers Association for the best film editing – Milenia Fiedlerfor The Voice (Poland)

Maciej Szumowski Award for remarkable social awareness patronized by ZAIKS– Bartłomiej Żmuda for God and Lunaparks’ Warriors (Poland)

The Award for the best short and documentary films producer in Poland funded by the Polish Producers Alliance (KIPA) and FDR Studio –Magdalena Kamińska and Agata Szymańska (Balapolis) for the film The Hamlet Syndrome (Poland, Germany)

Best Cinematography Award under the patronage of The Polish Society of Cinematographers funded by Black Photon – Wojciech Staroń for the film The Voice (Poland)

THE AUDIENCE AWARD

Boylesque directed by Bogna Kowalczyk (Poland)


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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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DocsBarcelona Films

Written 27-05-2022 12:00:46 by Tue Steen Mller

There is quite a distance from “The Territory” by Alex Pritz to “Maija Isola” by Leena Kilpeläinen. Both are films that have seen selected for the Official Panorama competition program of this year’s DocsBarcelona. “The Territory” is a product made according to the standards of National Geographic, “Maija Isola” is a classic creative documentary on the life of the Finnish artist, whose name is connected to the world famous brand of Marimekko. “The Territory” comes with awards from the Sundance festival, “Maija Isola” has been to design and architecture festivals. “The Territory” is full of music and sound effects, no second you are left alone as a viewer, the sound tells you what to think and feel of the important topic: the Amazon being deforested and the fight to survive for the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people of Brazil. For me a complete over-kill sound-wise, whereas the makers of “Maija Isola” chose to ask the brilliant composer Finnish Sanna Salmenkallio to guide us through the fascinating life of Maija Isola. 

To be honest I had never heard of Maija Isola before so I thought, why the film had been chosen. 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!

Diversity has always been what the DocsBarcelona festival has been seeking, I can say so having been involved in the selection until this year. I have written about the fine “Fire of Love”, I liked “Dreaming Walls” about Chelsea Hotel in NY, there were great moments in the French “Penelope My Love” on autistic Penelope and her mother, the director of the film, “A Thousand Fires”, “President” and “Nelly and Nadine” are masterpieces written about on this site before, the same goes for “Myanmar Diaries”, whereas “Aya” is too much staged and made up to be at a documentary film festival.

There are still some films to be seen and some I have forgotten about. That’s how it is at a festival. Awards will be announced tomorrow.

 


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Sara Dosa: Fire of Love

Written 22-05-2022 14:15:22 by Tue Steen Mller

Katia and Maurice. Volcanologists. Scientists and Filmmakers. A couple. Married in 1970. Decided not to have children. That would have prevented them to do their work or with a better phrase: to Live their Passion. The dangerous passion that killed them. A quote from Wikipedia:

”In June 1991, while filming eruptions at Mount Unzen in Japan, they were caught in a pyroclastic flow, which unexpectedly swept out of the channel that previous smaller flows had been following and onto the ridge they were standing on. They were killed instantly along with 41 other people…”

Click above and you will know what a pyroclastic flow is.

Which you actually don’t need to know, it’s enough to watch the unique footage they shot during their work, Katia getting closer and closer to the lava, challenging nature, taking photographs, documenting – with Maurice filming. When they were not rushing from one volcano to the next, they wrote books and made films from their 16mm footage. To earn their living.

I have been to 23 eruptions, Maurice says, so no problem if I die tomorrow…They lived to be 49 and 50. But they live on thanks to this fascinating love story narrated by American Miranda July, whose mesmerizing voice puts it all together information-wise and creates atmosphere.

Love story – the film also includes lovely, charming tv interview clips where the flirt is obvious. He, the performer, she always smiling, what a charisma. Away from the volcanos there was burning love. 

Canada, USA, 2021, 93 mins.


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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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Marusya Syroechkovskaya: How to Save a Dead Friend

Written 09-05-2022 11:56:02 by Tue Steen Mller

Filmed by Kimi Morev and Marusya Syroechkovskaya 

Edited by Qutaiba Barhamji

Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, 103 mins., 2022

I have previously posted a beautiful text by Marusya - http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/5021/

 

where she writes about her film. 

I write this using her first name. I met her in Moscow in 2019, and in Riga, and in Prague talking about/pitching her film that I am totally in love with and have seen a couple of times. Together with producer Ksenia Gapchenko.

The title could also have been “Marusya and Kimi” putting the focus on what it is, a love story, with a start, a middle and an end – told in a film language that is touching, that is sweet and funny – and sad as it evolves, with the self-destruction of Kimi, who dives more and more into using hard drugs and “looks at the camera and not at me” as Marusya says. A tragic love story, yes, but full of warm scenes with the two, scenes you can only characterize as poetic.

Poetic: When I met Marusya in Moscow, she tried to explain – in vain – the system where you can create music by touching the image. I still don’t understand it but the film shows me, when Marusya’s fingers on a photography go from the head of Kimi to his arms and hands, to his legs and feet. Amazing!

Not to forget the many faces of Marusya being filmed by Kimi, caressing her, teasing her saying that he wants close-ups of her pimples, or caught when she is posing for the camera or dancing as if she was Anna Karina in a Godard film.

The music plays an important role in the film. Nirvana, Kurt Cobain – it’s not my generation’s music, I am older, much older, from the generation of “happiness is a warm gun in hand” as Lennon sang. 

As the film progresses Marusya, they were married and divorced, continues to film Kimi, she becomes more and more one who documents, what happens to him, who “has been in and out of a mental hospital five times in two years”.

It’s not easy for her so she also turns her camera, her shield, towards Andryusha, the 18 year older brother of Kimi, a lost soul, who reflects on how much better and easier it is to die from an overdosis…and she follows a couple of times their strong mother introduced up-front in the film at the funeral of Kimi: He had so much pain, Marusya, she says.

The love story is told voice-off by Marusya, the right solution, with breaks of documentary archive material from riots in the streets where demonstrations are being “handled” with brutality – and with clips from new year speeches of the President of Russia.

That is not so important for me, when I think about the film I return to the sequences of love and hope and passion of the two. How – funny and sad – how Marusya sees how their life could have been, followed by the surrealistic floating ending of the high-rise buildings, where they were together. Superb, simply.

I knew in beforehand how good an editor Qutaiba Barhamjiis is – what he has done here is extraordinary. There is so much tense energy in all the scenes. He lives in France, Marusya and Ksenia have left Russia, wish them all the best whereever they are.


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Sidabrinė gervė 2022

Written 05-05-2022 16:23:57 by Tue Steen Mller

The national award ceremony in Lithuania takes place 6th of June. With many categories and a lot of nominations attached. I take a look at the ones for Best Documentary that has a very strong line-up. 

I had seen four of the five but got a link to the fifth Mončys. emaitis iš Paryiaus (Re. Linas Mikuta, Prod. Jurga Gluskinienė), a well-made classical (good cinematography, fine mix between archive, shots from France and Lithuania including interviews with his sister and sons) bio about the interesting Antanas Moncys, who performed his sculpturing art in – primarily – Paris but kept his cultural roots in his works, being a samogitian, i.e. from a region in the North-East of Lithuania. Shame on me who has been to Lithuania so many times, being ignorant about Moncys, but now I know about a great artist working from wood and at the next voyage I will try to visit the museum dedicated to him in Palanga.

No further intro needed to  Mr. Landsbergis. Sugriauti blogio imperiją (Re. Sergei Loznitsa, Prod. Uljana Kim)that I saw at IDFA, where it received the main award and where the protagonist, professor Landsbergis, was present to talk to the audience after the screening for more than an hour. Charisma is the word. What a man!Read more here: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4991/

And I am getting sad to write about  Pavyzdingas elgesys (Re. Audrius Mickevičius, Nerijus Milerius, Prod. Rasa Miškinytė), such a great film (English title: Exemplary Behaviour), read all about it here: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4648/ The sadness comes from knowing Audrius M. and his long preparation for a film that he could not see finished himself, he died in 2017.

And ”The Jump” by Giedré Z, an international film success, loads of festivals and awards already, an amazing achievement by the director, who has been present at so many festivals to meet the audience and has taken care of the national distribution herself.  Šuolis (Re. Giedrė ickytė, Prod. Giedrė ickytė, Uldis Cekulis) Read more: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4125/

Švelnūs kariai (Re. Marija Stonytė, Prod. Giedrė ickytė) – ”Gentle Warriors”, a debut of the young talented director with Giedre Z. as producer. I saw it being pitched, I saw a very promising rough cut but have not seen the final film that also has had a fine distributed in Lithuania. 


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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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Marusya Syroechkovskaya: How to Save a Dead Friend

Written 11-04-2022 20:35:09 by Tue Steen Mller

Filmed by Kimi Morev and Marusya Syroechkovskaya 

Edited by Qutaiba Barhamji

Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, 103 mins., 2022

With the subtitle … a message from a silenced generation here is the director’s personal statement:

”On the 24th February 2022, Putin and his government expanded his cruel and devastating war on Ukraine. 

I fled Moscow as the ensuing crackdown on opposition voices inside Russia increased to drown us all out. 

Honestly, I was scared for my wellbeing amidst the establishment of a new law against “fake” news (even calling the war in Ukraine a “war” or expressing disagreement with it now means the threat of up to 15 years in prison); people being getting arrested, beaten, and tortured (not only while protesting but one can also get arrested just standing on the street); the police coming for you at your house; those against the war finding a “Z” graffitied on their door... 

There is a website created by the so-called Committee for the Protection of National Interests with a constantly updated list of “traitors --enemies, cowards and runaways”, from whom, according to Putin, society must cleanse itself: "Any people, and even more so the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and simply spit them out, like a midge that accidentally flew into the mouth”. 

Putin is brilliant at isolation, gaslighting. He excels at separating and dividing. He is the poster image for an abusive relationship, but this relationship you cannot leave. I can only agree with a fellow filmmaker Erika Lust with her portrayal of Putin as a great example of a destructive and exploitative patriarchal mindset - violent and oppressive, abusing power and violating human rights in the name of greed. 

By allowing Putin to stay in power for so many years, allowing him to methodically destroy Russian civil society unchecked as he shut down independent press, and any possible horizontal ties between people all these years, we, the Russian people, fertilized the ground for this terrible war. 

We didn’t stand up for ourselves, or when we tried, our voices were not loud enough. 

However, there is no point and no use in self-pity. Our responsibility now is to not stay silent, to keep doing whatever we can to stop this violence by any possible means. And to offer a narrative to the endless stream of Russian lies and propaganda. 

There are no doubts Ukrainian people will win this war and Ukraine will rebuild itself. But I can't see how Russia will be able to move forward. Putin has taken care of that. 

So, for the moment, I am a citizen of nowhere, somewhere, anywhere except Russia...and although this love story was born on the ground sown by an autocratic government, it is a love story that could happen wherever voices are silenced. 

March 24, 2022


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Marusya Syroechkovskaya: How to Save a Dead Friend

Written 11-04-2022 20:30:05 by Tue Steen Mller

Filmed by Kimi Morev and Marusya Syroechkovskaya 

Edited by Qutaiba Barhamji

Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, 103 mins., 2022

Kimi passed away on the night of November 4th, 2016. 

He wasn’t just my lover and husband, he was also my best friend, my dreamy soul mate. But he was giving up -- on his future, dreams, his looks even...he was sinking more and more into self-destruction, and it was hard for me to see how the person I love so much destroys himself. He didn’t accept any help from anybody, it was impossible to get through to him, and the only thing I could do was just to be with him. 

How do you keep someone who does his best to disappear? I wanted to be there for him, but the whole situation hurt me a lot as well. Then my camera provided me the distance I needed, making everything looked not real. Maybe filming for me became the same as drugs became for Kimi—an escape from reality, from everything that didn't work out for us. This experience made me think about the nature of film as a medium that captures time and keeps everything and everyone in one collective space. It reminded me of watching old wartime newsreel footage and realizing that although these people died a long time ago, somehow, they are still here, alive in the footage. Was it maybe the way to save Kimi? Or maybe I could save him if he somehow becomes music? Maybe scanning Kimi’s body with the sonification app VOSIS and turning it into music is also a way of keeping him and letting him stay for as long as possible. In the end, music and his poems are is what left of him. 

I also wanted to save the time, space, and things that formed me and Kimi as we were growing up, and HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND is also a tribute to films of Gregg Araki and Harmony Korine; artwork of David LaChapelle; to lots and lots of music: from post-punk and grunge to emo and witch house; to Windows Movie Maker transitions, early web aesthetics, and internet forums - back when the internet wasn’t yet controlled by corporations and censored by the government, when it was a place where you could freely express yourself and find belonging, occupying your dial-up for hours. 

How do you find a language for the film that spans 12 years and wasn’t meant to become a film while it was shot? The idea was to give a feeling of how it was to grow up in the 00s, to dive into sunny summer days and kaleidoscope of formats, pulsating visuals, and sounds coming from all directions. 

As time passes, as we see a chain of similar New Year addresses by presidents, the winter dark days take hold, isolating people from each other in their apartments. Our immediate outside world, once so enticing now becomes more and more violent, with less music and fewer friends around. Colors become muted, less saturated; cuts become longer. And Kimi is fading away into the darkness. 

When you lose someone close — someone who knew you well — part of your story disappears along with him. All that is left to do is to pick up the remaining memories before they turn to digital dust. 


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One World Film Festival Prague

Written 05-04-2022 12:32:41 by Tue Steen Mller

It was sunny in Prague. It was the first time for me to be able to follow the One World Festival as I have always been (with pleasure) linked to the East Doc Forum of IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) that runs (almost) parallel. I enjoyed the privilege it is to be a juror, watching films and asked to pick what you and fellow jurors find are the best. On our way to the cinema at the FAMU film school Hungarian colleague Enikö Gyureskó and I were stopped by young Ukrainians with very little English understanding asking for directions. And at the FAMU the screenings, we attended also had Ukrainian and Belarussian students, who had arrived a couple of weeks or days before. They are young and are being helped. Hope the best for them!

It was sunny in Prague. We watched 10 films, three of them were directly connected to the elections in 2021. One was “Candidates”, another “First Time Voters” and a third one had the long title “Points for the President aka Attempt at Contrarevolution”. The three did not make this juror happy, content-wise first of all, depicting a homophobic, xenophobic and racist society. The latter goes back to the Velvet Revolution and Vaclav Havel – it seems there is nothing left of his “truth and love” approach and vision. The director Martin Kohout puts a focus on a lot of funny bizarre moments in the election campaigns and there was a lot of laugh in the cinema. “Czech dark humour” was the answer, when I asked the festival people WHY. Yes, but when the laughing shadows for the political dark situation? Maybe I am too serious but I was shaken by what I saw and heard. So much more today after Orban’s strong victory in the neighbouring country.

Nevertheless there are and has always been strong filmmakers with a humanistic approach and sense of Cinema in Czech Republic and Slovakia. Let me point at two films of fine quality among the ten we saw; they were not awarded: Vera Lackova’s emotional “How I became a Partisan” with the director as the main character searching for the fate of her great-grandfather AND Linda Jablonska´s “Leaving Beginnings Behind”, following four women from they leave a youth custody centre to enter “the real world”, a film shot over many years, social with warmth and understanding.

And now to the two films awarded, I have copied the text from the website of the festival:

The Czech Competition category is a traditional part of the festival. The jury making the decision about the best Czech documentary is made up of representatives of international film festivals. This year’s members comprised Danish consultant and documentary film critic Tue Steen Müller, Enikö Gyureskó, who is the coordinator of the best-known Hungarian documentary film festival Verzió, and Maryia Trafimava, and activist and collaborator for the Watch Docs Belarus festival.

The Czech Competition Jury Award for the Best Film was presented to director Martin Mareček’s film Out In Force. The jury agreed that this winning film manages to create an impressive experience that stays with the viewer for long after watching the film. It makes one wonder about its topic in a non-deductive, non-partial way and it evokes strong emotions. The jury appreciates the arc of the storytelling and the thoughtful attention to the character development also because the film was shot over many years, and with patience. The jury members add: “We are pleased to see that because of the much controversial nature of the main protagonist, there is a respect for all the characters, and that the director gives a deeper look to the protagonist’s personality.”

The Czech Competition Jury Special Award went to director Helena Třeštíková’s film René – The Prisoner of Freedom. In its reasoning, the jury said: “What is the meaning of it all? I think this is what we all try to find out, is it not? This is the theme of many documentaries. It takes time to get close to an answer to the question and if you are like the protagonist of this film, many personal complications are brought to the screen. Doesn’t our society often let down unique and complicated people on their way to finding their purpose in life? It needs a great director with a unique eye and a lot of patience to understand the ups and downs of this very charming and special person.”

https://www.oneworld.cz/2022/festival

 


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East Doc Platform 2022 Awards

Written 01-04-2022 18:06:56 by Tue Steen Mller

The East Doc Platform Award went to the Polish project The World is not (a) Mine by Natalia Koniarz about inhabitants working in inhuman conditions mining metals on the Cerro Rico mountain. The Ukrainian project Up in the Air by Oksana Syhareva has three awards including HBO Max Award. The documentary follows a young Ukrainian aerial gymnast with ambitions to open his own modern circus studio, while fighting his possessive mother, who is his trainer and a head of the circus studio. The awards were handed on March 31 at the Gallery of Art Critics during the East Doc Platform Partner Awards Ceremony and during the One World & East Doc Platform Closing Ceremony. The 11th edition of the East Doc Platform, the largest co-production, funding and distribution platform tailor-made for Central and East European documentaries, took place from March 25 to March 31 at the French Institute in Prague. See the awarded projects and juries statements.

East Doc Platform Award

The Institute of Documentary Film announces the main EDP prize – East Doc Platform Award associated with the financial support of 5 000 € for the best project in development and production. The granted financial support will help the filmmakers in further development of their documentary film. The East Doc Platform Award 2022 jurors were: Hanne Biermann (Deckert Distribution), Fatma Riahi (Al Jazeera Documentary Channel) and Alex Szalat (Docs Up Fund).

The award goes to The World is not (a) Mine (dir. Natalia Koniarz, prod. Maciej Kubicki, Poland)

Jury statement: “We were happy to see a very high quality among the projects being pitched, so it was particularly difficult for us to select just one of them. But it is especially the very cinematographic approach of showing the vastness of a place that seems to have been abandoned by the rest of the world, contrasted with the incredible narrowness of the shafts of the highest mine in Bolivia, that immediately caught our attention. Natalia Koniarz's project promises to be a parable about nothing less than the meaning of life, about our interaction with nature, but most importantly about how we treat each other. Therefore, the jury is very pleased to hand the East Doc Platform Award 2022 to The World is not (a) Mine.”

East Doc Platform Award Special Mention

goes to Last Letters of My Grandma (dir. Olga Lucovnicova, prod. Frederik Nicolai, Belgium, Moldova, Netherlands) 

“For its high cinematic language and the richness of its story, linking the past and present, the jury also decided to give a special mention to the project Last Letters of My Grandma.”



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Oeke Hoogendijk: The Treasures of Crimea

Written 23-03-2022 07:58:44 by Tue Steen Mller

I have a lot of respect and admiration for the work of Oeke Hoogendijk. In 2020 we played “My Rembrandt” in Belgrade at the Magnificent7 Festival and five years earlier her “The New Rijksmuseum” opened the same festival. Hoogendijk has found her niche, documentaries on art and the art world, and she manages to make drama out of what happens behind the doors, where money talks.

This time the locations are primarily court rooms, where a very actual battle is being performed: In 2014 the Allard Pierson Museum hosted a beautiful exhibition “Treasures of Crimea” with artworks from the peninsula chosen by Valentina, who had walked from llocal museum to local museum to pick the best of the best for the Amsterdam museum… In 2014 Crimea was annexed by Russia, so to whom should the exhibition’s artworks be returned? The director of the museum chooses to take the issue to court - To Ukraine as Crimea belongs to that country or to the annexed Crimea, to the museums, that gave permission to the loan.

It is actually quite exciting to follow the lawyers representing both sides making their arguments – but it would have been dry and boring if the film had not included the true protagonists, the women from Crimea primarily, from the small museums that they have dedicated their life to. But also the lady from Kyiv, who wants the artworks be sent to the capital of Ukraine. They express motions, especially Valentina, who feels guilty that she convinced her colleagues to give the loan. But (my comment) how could she know what would happen to Crimea?

The court room sessions take time, years (with appeals after appeals) while the exhibition’s artworks stand in a storage waiting for a judicial decision to be made. At the time when the film was finished no final decision was taken – in October 2021 the Dutch court decided that the 300 pieces of art should be returned to Ukraine. 5 years after the exhibition…

Netherlands, 2021, 82 mins.


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Antoine Cattin: Holidays

Written 23-03-2022 07:38:38 by Tue Steen Mller

I know Antoine Cattin from his “The Mother» and other films he made with Pavel Kostomarov. I don’t know if the Swiss director still lives in St. Petersburg but the film that he presents at CPH:DOX takes place in the wonderful city. Here is the precise catalogue description of the festival:

”Russia is one of the countries in the world that celebrates the most public holidays. Across a selection of them, the lively and marvelously detailed 'Holidays' lets us in to the lives of ordinary people on the streets of the great, inscrutable country of the East about which we hear so much and know so little. All at an upbeat balalaika pace and with a liberating dose of black humour. We are in St Petersburg: Here we meet a poor Kazakh immigrant living in a room full of cockroaches and bedbugs. There is the tough, female head of municipal affairs who works her employees to the bone. There's the xenophobic tram driver. And then there's the young urban climber who climbs the city's towers and roofs. Parts of the film are shot by the subjects themselves, and we are everywhere at once without a loss of detail or nuance. Antoine Cattan's cinematic mosaic also tells of national divisions, xenophobia, class differences, religion, gender attitudes and the next war, which in Russia is always luring in the shadows.”

Yes, it is up and down Nevsky Prospekt – and it is up on the roofs and it is on the square of the Winter Palace, but it is also with Kazakhs in small komunalka appartments and in the office of the lady, who is taken around to check if the snow is removed and who sits with flowers and left-over pizza boxes talking about sex with a colleague on March 8, the women’s day. One of several gem scenes of a film that otherwise suffers from wanting to have too much, making me ”talk” to the film: Take it easy, let the scenes develop! Old age reaction, maybe.

Switzerland, 2022, 87 mins.


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Olha Zhurba: Outside

Written 22-03-2022 13:09:12 by Tue Steen Mller

… She has been following Roma from meeting him on Maidan in 2014 until today, where the boy has grown to be a teenager turning 18 very soon. He was living on Maidan, he was in an orphanage, he has problems in reading, he had teachers in Maidan, he has teachers in the orphanage, he has done stupid things and risks to be put in jail if he repeats it…

That’s what I wrote in 2019 after an emotionally strong presentation in Kyiv by Olha Zhurba of her documentary project ”Roma” that now premieres at CPH:DOX. After a long period of editing with the participation of Danish Niels Pagh Andersen and succesful fundraising that brought Danish and Dutch companies in as co-producers with an Ukrainian company and thus guaranteed that the film will have a considerable distribution not only to these countries but to festivals all over. And hopefully to broadcasters. In Kyiv in 2019 Olha Zhurba had followed Roma on her own with no financial help and she said she was not sure if there was a film…

Later on she wrote to me: (Actually) I always believed that there will be a film, even when I was losing Roma or he kicked me off; deep in my heart I had that filmmakers’ confidence and strong believe that this film will be because people must see it!  I didn’t know when it will be and if it will be good but each day I felt gratefulness to the process that were changing me in a better way. It was my power to move further…

…people must see it, she writes, yes absolutely. The end result is great, shifting from now and then, having (excellent narrative solution) the ”now” being phone calls from the director to Roma, who is ”outside” as he has been through his whole young life. From his locked-in position, due to robbery, he is asked to remember and he does so making the audience ready to piece together his role at Maidan in 2014, his stay with brother Kolya, who has been in jail several times, his relation to his mother, his stay at the orphanage, his fun with girls, his meeting with an American woman (OMG!), who has adopted his two sisters, his drug abuse…

Roma is a clever and charming boy/young man. He can reflect on his own situation, he can verbalise – already when he was a school boy – what he wants, when he gets older, what could ”have saved” him from all the shit he gets into.

Roma, declared ”useless” by some of the Maidan fighters, is seen looking for his mother on Maidan. He finds her briefly, she is in a bad state – and he finds together with Kolya her grave in one of the many fine scenes of a film that was finished before the Russian invasion – one can’t help thinking about that when the Maidan Square comes up every night on television right now. And when I read that Olha Zhurba is in Kyiv filming.

Did I say that this is a Must-See at CPH:DOX.


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Roy Andersson

Written 21-03-2022 13:38:02 by Tue Steen Mller

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I visited Cinemateket in Copenhagen to watch "Being a Human Person", a portrait of Roy Andersson (made by F. Scott, 2020, 90 mins.). We have been fans of the Swedish auteur (here the French word fits perfectly) since his short films came out, especially "World of Glory" (in Danish "Dejlig er Jorden"), a stylistical prologue one can say to the four feature films, scenes that do not necessarily "continue", scenes of fantastic precision, with locations built up in his studio in Stockholm, Studio 24, the building where Andersson lives and works with his dedicated staff. The film takes the viewer to the studio, there are clips from his films, conversations with the master himself and his colleagues, shot during the time where Andersson is finishing his "About Endlessness" - with many delays due to the director's health that is heavlly influenced by his alcoholism. He is going to a rehab but leaves after 10 days. Money is running out but the film is finished and he wins (again) the main award in Venice.

It is a very honest film in that respect and you feel priviliged to have been invited inside to see the studio and meet the people. Andersson is as vulnerable as many of his protagonists, he is nervous, he is generous and he keeps coming back to the importance of art, the importance of making films that interprets what it means to be a human being. You can't help admire and love this man!

I remember that Roy Andersson gave me a book that he published and edited with texts, photos, reproductions of painting. All growing out of his humanistic approach to the world and its inhabitants. The idea was that all school children in Stockholm should be given a copy of it, I don't know if it ever happened.

The films of Roy Andersson are timeless poetic reflections. You laugh and cry. And are stunned by the artistic creations of every scene, in the film portrait you see how they are set up.


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Lina Luytė: Blue/Red/Deport Picnic in Mori

Written 18-03-2022 15:22:02 by Tue Steen Mller

The point of view of the director, Lithuanian Lina Luytė, is clear from the very beginning. A boat with refugees is approaching the coast of Lesbos, the island where the infamous refugee camp Moria is situated. The one that burned down in 2020 with a new one being built that is as bad as the first one, reports say. The boat gets closer to the coast where people stand shouting “get away”. “Don´t come near”. Disgusting… 

Here is the catalogue text for the strongly recommended film that has been shown at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival and will be shown in Copenhagen at the CPH:DOX, link below for when and where. 

“Afghan filmmaker Talib Shah Hossaini wants to make a film about everyday life in Europe’s largest refugee camp, Moria. This is where he lives with his small family while they wait for the authorities about whether they can stay in Greece. Meanwhile, he casts his wife, their daughters and his friends as actors in his homemade no-budget film. Despite the inhumane conditions in the chaotic camp and a myriad of obstacles along the way, the deeply sympathetic Talib maintains his composure. Meanwhile, the line between reality and film-within-a-film is blurred when Talib and his wife are instructed on how to conduct themselves in the asylum interview that awaits them. Comic and tragic moments lead up to an incredible scene when Talib’s film is finally shown to the camp’s other residents…”

The title of Talib Shah’s flm is ”Picnic”, the title of Lina Luytė’s film is ”Blue/Red/Deport”, that refers to the three possibilities of the refugees in the camp, with a smile explained by one of the daughters of Talib Shah, who is - as the catalogue text says - ”deeply sympathetic” but also a man who shows his desparate situation to the Lithuanian director, who goes around with him, films the camp, how it looks, how the family lives, how they get water, how they cook, how the kids manage to overcome, how his wife conveys the situation – and how the filming takes place with sometimes many takes of a scene, especially the one where uncle Norullah, who has been in the camp for a year has again been rejected asylum. Or the tough one, where Talib Shah gets totally upset with his children as they don´t perform well falling in the water. There is a fine flow from the film being made by Talib Shah and the respectful observation of Lina Luytė. 

And the end – the screening of “Picnic”, a fiction taken out of reality, the audience looking at the film, children, children, children, their faces, what do they think, what do they take from their stay in this horrible place… and the reactions from some of spectators after the screening. This is how it is.

Germany, 2022, 81 mins.

https://cphdox.dk/film/blue-red-deport/

 

 

 


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Myanmar Film Collective: Myanmar Diaries

Written 15-03-2022 14:04:13 by Tue Steen Mller

From the website of the film (link below): A hybrid film about life under the regime of terror in Myanmar in the aftermath of its military coup of February 1st 2021, told through personal stories by a group of anonymous young Burmese filmmakers.The film is built up of short films by ten young anonymous Burmese filmmakers.

I don’t want to echo all the superlatives that have already been attached to this at the Berlinale awarded and praised film. I agree. I sit here with my MacBook after having watched the film twice and want to characterize ”Myanmar Diaries” as beautiful! Is that the right word to a film that has the goal to raise awareness about the horror regime and the courageous Civil Disobedience Movement, that wants to spread knowledge about the violence, the killings, the arrests in a dictatorship led by General Min Aung Hlaing.

Yes, it is beautiful even if I sit remembering scenes, where I was shouting to the computer images ”no, don’t do that”, when a soldier raises his club to beat a person, who is lying in the street, or when I with one in a room am looking at what happens on the other side of the street, where a person has been hit by a sniper. Or when a woman takes a razor blade to the artery of her hand. ”No, don’t do that!”.

The scoop of this film is that it – as a hybrid – mixes documentary and fiction so well, having a sequence – you could also say one of the 10 films – upfront with a beautiful female voice whispering that she wants to have a butterfly tattoo made, when ”all this is over” – words to that effect. When the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It’s a wish, a vision and a theme that visually comes back in the narrative, also as a small animation… and then later a cut to a street scene reality, where a grandmother talks in the street to the soldiers in their military cars. The editing of the film is like that: it goes from scenes that tell about nightmares, losses of a dear one to scenes like the one I still have in my ear, a kid constantly shouting to the soldiers ”don’t touch my mum”. The camera is directed to the entrance of the house,where a group of soldiers are about to enter to pick the mother up. The scene ends when a soldier discovers the filming.

A girl who lives with her mother discovers that she is pregnant. She wants to tell the boyfriend but he has also something to tell her. He wants to go to the jungle, join the guerilla, it’s too dangerous to stay in the city. She never gets to tell him, he goes, we see guerilla training, and armed young people walking in the mountains. “Do You Hear Us?”

Beautiful – as a statement, a cry for help and as a Film. Composition, framing, rythm, music, it’s all put so well together by filmmakers who hopefully survive to come back with Butterfly-Films. Watch the film, I am going to reveal the start of the film. Beautiful!

Production : ZINDOC. Creative producer Petr Lom, producer Corinne van Egeraat.

The Netherlands, Norway, 70 mi

http://myanmardiaries.com/

 


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Kostas Spiropoulos: Arcadia, Champagne dOrient

Written 14-03-2022 13:36:58 by Tue Steen Mller

A film about wine and greed... is the subtitle of this film that in many ways is closer to a fiction film than to a documentary. It is grandiose in its set-up and although it’s not always succesful in mixing the (much of it wonderful) archive with reenacted scenes , there is a drive in the narration based on diaries and documents of the time that made me enjoy the conflicts in the family with father Spyridon, the sons Nikos and Vasilis and the poor mother. They searched for fame, they got it, they were stubborn but had to deal with politics and politicians which had drastic consequences. With the wine as the loser, alas. In a good meaning: a fascinating old-fashioned documentary drama to be enjoyed.

And when I write old-fashioned I have to continue with some flowers to Kostas Spiropoulos: I can see how much he has enjoyed to make the film, to tell this story, how much effort and care he has put into the research to find the great archive material and turn some of the new scenes into b/w sequences. Is that old-fashioned, I am afraid so, when I think about the fast, non-aesthetic use of news material of today. Also chapeau for some of the composition of landscape images and interiors, there is thought about colours and framing. Paintings.

Une coupe de champagne, voilà!

Greece, 2022, 80 mins.

Read more here, also about the screening times in Thessaloniki.

https://www.filmfestival.gr/en/section-tdf/movie/1228/14248


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Ivars Zviedris: See You Never Ever

Written 11-03-2022 14:21:10 by Tue Steen Mller

I am a big fan of Ivars Zviedris, Latvian director and cinematographer. His «Documentarian» and «Latvian Coyote» are films that I think high of and now there is his new work that was awarded at the National Cinema Ceremony, where Zviedris received the Best Documentary Director – the lielaja-kristapa - award.

Ivars Zviedris is in a way a classical documentarian – I have the impression that he graps his camera to go to film trusting his intuition and eye for situations. And People. It is obvious that he has no problems in getting in contact with those he wants to film, those whose stories he wants to convey. He is curious and pretty far from having an academic approach. He listens.

I have chosen to bring to you the synopsis of the film by copying it from the catalogue of the Riga FF. It is precise and thank you for calling the people in the film «protagonists» and not characters...:

The film begins with the closing of the oldest prison in Latvia – the Brasa Prison was built in 1905 and cannot ensure normal functioning. Inmates are leaving the place that has long been their only home. 

Our protagonists reside in Ward 207. They have really inhabited it – there is even a fish tank in the ward! They are not from a different planet. Humanity of the inmates may contrast with their records of committed crimes. All have their small pleasures and big plans. All are longing for changes and being afraid of them. Likewise, the term of imprisonment is running out for several of our protagonists. They are getting ready for life at large. They know how to survive in extreme circumstances but are unprepared for living a normal life. One’s return to the big world is one of the most accentuated marginal situations. 

Latvia, 2021, 80 mins.


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The 24th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

Written 10-03-2022 18:30:25 by Tue Steen Mller

There are many excellent documentary film festivals in Europe. The one in Thessaloniki is one of them. It runs until March 20 with a very rich program including tributes to Latvian director Laila Pakalnina and Finnish Virpi Suutari. Voices from the North to be screened at the Mediterranean Sea. Bravo!

It’s not the first time Pakalnina has been dedicated a retrospective. When she had one in Paris at Centre Pompidou, she was quoted to say “”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…” Well this ”just” means quite sme preparation and her work with her DOP Gints Berzins is second to none as you will see in “Spoon” and “Homes”, for me both wonderful personal films. 19 films from Pakalnina will be shown in Thessaloniki.

A tribute is given to Virpi Suutari, 6 films are shown, also the one about “Aalto”, the world famous architect and his wife. It was shown – among many places – in Belgrade at the Magnificent7 and I wrote on this site: “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.” As Pakalnina Suutari is a true auteur.

The festival also – of course – has competition programs and I am happy to find there the Danish/Ukranian new film Simon Lereng Wilmont “A House Made of Splinters”, the director’s second film from Ukraine, the first one being “The Distant Barking of Dogs”. And in a side program called “Top Docs” I find a film that I will see one day on a big screen, “Republic of Silence”, by Syrian Diana El Jeiroudi, a dear friend who has been working on this film for 12 years, the duration is more than 3 hours, a dark cinema hall is needed for the projection, hoping for a screening in Copenhagen one day.

And there is so much more to enjoy in Thessaloniki, below some links for you to study, high quality.

https://www.filmfestival.gr/en/section-tdf/section/1223 (Pakalnina)

https://www.filmfestival.gr/en/section-tdf/section/1233 (Suutari)

https://www.filmfestival.gr/en/section-tdf/section/1222 (Intl. Competition)

https://www.filmfestival.gr/en/section-tdf/section/1232 (Top Docs)


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Docudays UA at the Krakow Film Festival

Written 08-03-2022 11:58:11 by Tue Steen Mller

08.03.2022news
The Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival is the largest documentary film festival in Ukraine. This year’s edition was to begin on 25 March in Kyiv. It’s no longer possible due to Russia’s brutal attack and the ongoing war. The organizers of the Krakow Film Festival decided to support their friends, stand up to cruel fate, and hold a part of the Ukrainian festival in Kraków’s… Kijów (Kyiv) cinema. 

From the very first moments of the Russian invasion on Ukraine, our friends behind the eastern border have been in our thoughts. The relationships with festival organisers and filmmakers have long gone beyond the professional area. – says Barbara Orlicz-Szczypuła, Head of KFF’s Programme Department – We quickly decided to invite the Docudays UA festival to Kraków – and in a completely different role than before.

The latest Ukrainian documentary films – qualified for Docudays UA’s prestigious national competition – will be presented during the Krakow Film Festival at the turn of May and June. In addition, to the extent possible, KFF will invite the organisers of Docudays UA and the filmmakers behind competing films, which will be judged by an international jury, while the awards will be presented during the final gala. The films screened in Kraków will be treated as domestic (Ukrainian) premieres, allowing them to maintain the status of international premieres and provide creators with an open path to apply to other prestigious film events.

For the past several days, we have been in constant contact with the organisers of Docudays UA who – unfortunately – remain in the most vulnerable regions of Ukraine. Just a few hours ago, we were relieved to learn that several of them managed to safely get to Poland. – adds Barbara Orlicz-Szczypuła. 

  • Mizh nebom ta horamy (Mountains and heaven in between), dir. Dmytro Hreshko
  • Neskinchennistʹ za Florianom
    B (Infinity According to Florian), dir. Oleksiy Radynski
  • Plai (Плай Plai. A Mountain Path), dir. Eva Dzhyshyashvili
  • Privoz ( Привоз), dir. Eva Neymann

Traditionally national competition is the first program we announce. This year it was announced one day before Russia invaded Ukraine. – says Darya Bassel, programmer and head of industry at Docudays UA – In my introduction to the programme that was published on Docudays UA website I said: “This small, but extraordinarily powerful programme brings together the authors who see reality deeply, poignantly, with humour and love. And their work fills me with faith not only in the great future of our documentary filmmaking, but in the future in general.” And it still is.I am happy that these films will meet their audience on a big screen in Kijow cinema. I hope by the time of the screening our country will be free from Russian terrorists and we all can celebrate together and praise love, courage and freedom. I am extremely thankful to our colleagues from Krakow Film Festival for their support. 

I spent several hours watching these films with a heavy heart – concludes Krzysztof Gierat, director of the Krakow Film Festival. – They show Ukraine from before this criminal aggression, but the echoes of the war in Crimea are present there, and the threat to the entire country becomes increasingly real. It’s very painful when I try to imagine these places and these people now. I believe that we will show these films together with our friends from Kyiv and talk to their creators after the screenings. The presence of films, projects, and guests from Ukraine will be an expression of the Polish and international film community’s solidarity with our neighbours.

In addition, the latest Ukrainian documentary projects – which were to be presented to international industry representatives during Docudays UA in Kyiv – will be invited to participate in KFF Industry (event program for the film industry) and CEDOC Market (co-production market for Central and Eastern Europe organised by the Władysław Ślesicki Foundation).

Whole ticket sales income will be donated to the Docudays UA festival.


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Artdocfest/Riga 2022

Written 01-03-2022 17:14:07 by Tue Steen Mller

Artdocfest/Riga 2022

Press Release:

The 2nd International Documentary Film Festival Artdocfest/Riga starts this Thursday, March 3rd. As a sign of solidarity with Ukrainian colleagues and the people of Ukraine, the festival program includes a special selection of documentaries dedicated to Ukraine and telling about events since 2014.

The program dedicated to Ukraine includes 5 films. Directed by Iryna Tsilyk, The Earth is Blue as an Orange (2020) (PHOTO) tells about the efforts of a single mother and her four children living in the frontline zone of Donbass to preserve humanity by making a film about their life during the war. The film received a special award at the Artdocfest/Riga festival last year and won awards at many international festivals. The film Ukrainian Sheriffs (2016), directed by Roman Bondarchuk and co-produced by the Latvian film studio VFS Film, is a look at the recent history of Ukraine through the life of a small southern village. The program also includes the film Rodnye (Close relations) (2016) by Ukrainian-born director Vitaly Mansky. His family still lives there, and as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, its members had to make a choice, as a result of which some of them became implacable enemies. The film directed by Alisa Kovalenko Alisa in Warland (2015) is a very personal story about the director's trip to the east of Ukraine at the beginning of the war, getting into hot front points and being captured by separatists. In turn, the film by Danish director Simon Lereng Wilmont The Distant Barking of Dogs (2017) touches on the theme of war and children and tells about the life of 10-year-old Oleg in eastern Ukraine, in the war zone.

The two competition programs of Artdocfest/Riga “Baltic Focus” and “Artdocfest” also include the Ukrainian-Latvian film This Rain Will Never Stop, in which the young Ukrainian director Alina Gorlova makes a powerful, visually arresting journey through humanity’s endless cycle of war and peace.

“We were waiting for Alina in Riga, at the Latvian premiere of the film. Instead, she is now in Kyiv, experiencing the horrors of the Russian invasion and sleeping in a bomb shelter. The circle of active documentarians is relatively small, we are all well acquainted with each other, and what our friends and colleagues in Ukraine are now experiencing is incomprehensible and touches us very personally. That is why we decided to include films dedicated to Ukraine in the festival, and donate the proceeds, in cooperation with Lithuanian co-producers, to the heroes of the film The Earth is Blue as an Orange," says festival producer Ieva Ubele about the decision made by the festival team.

Screenings of the Artdocfest/Riga festival will traditionally be held at the Splendid Palace cinema. Movie tickets can be purchased at the cinema box office or on the website www.splendidpalace.lv. The screenings will be organized in the "green mode" (upon presentation of a document certifying the fact of vaccination or previous Covid-19 disease).

The full program and detailed information about Artdocfest/Riga can be found here.

The international festival Artdocfest/Riga is supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia and many international foundations. The partners of the festival are the American TV channel Current Time TV, the German TV channel Deutsche Welle and the cinema Splendid Palace.


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Tomasz Wolski: 1970

Written 21-02-2022 16:27:34 by Tue Steen Mller

Wolski is one of the excellent documentary film directors from Poland, together with Pawel Lozinski and Wojciech Staron and many many others. I say so from having seen ”Ordinary Country” (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4759/and now ”1970”.

Poland has a long tradition for documentaries and today there is – seen from outside – what I would call ”a documentary culture” that brings forward new talents, based on film schools, festivals, training initiatives, a film institute and broadcasters. Even if I don’t know how much political influence is executed from the latter nowadays?

I watched Wolski’s ”1970” the other day and was impressed by its originality in telling the story about the incidents in December 1970, where protests were performed strongly from citizens, who went to the streets due to extraordinary rise in prices for food and other everyday necessities, or on strike as did the workers at the shipyard cities up North. As in ”Ordinary Country”, Wolski uses archive – visual and oral, here recordings of tapes, authentic conversations by high‑ranking communist officials, in some dark rooms, a crisis group put together to lead a brutal battle against the demonstrators. The scoop is that the director has invited puppet maker Robert Sowa to make micro scale figurines of the group members to accompany the recordings. It works perfectly to have the story be dramatic, told by the communists and their voices in the dark rooms, and with the archive footage being quite strong; people were killed during the few days the rebellion lasted before it was knocked down.

To read more about the film go to

https://www.krakowfilmfestival.pl/en/new-issue-of-focus-on-poland/

the magazine Focus on Poland, where you will find a well illustrated case article on the film and its use of animation of the small puppets, size 20-28 cm. On how they were made etc. etc.

Focus on Poland is published by Krakow Film Foundation and with competence edited by two fine ladies, who are everywhere to promote Polish documentaries and animation films and who of course are closely linked to Krakow Film Festival: Barbara Orlicz-Szczyputa and Katarzyna Wilk.

Poland, 70 mins., 2021


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IDFA Docs for Sale - Films

Written 19-02-2022 14:45:15 by Tue Steen Mller

I have for years (decades?) benefited of having access to the Docs for Sale catalogue of IDFA to be kept up to date on new films as a programmer and first of all as one, who writes on this site, where time and energy does not allow me to review all the good films so here is some catch-up with some titles I have enjoyed and would like to recommend:

A Jewish Life

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

Catalogue: 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. I was happy to meet this extraordinary man, who talks so well, with stunning archive in between. A true document.

The Balcony Movie

Director: Pawel Lozinski, Poland, 101 mins.

Catalogue: Can anyone be a movie hero? Can the world be locked in one film frame? Director Paweł Łoziński is watching people from his balcony as they are passing by: sad, thoughtful, glued to their phones, young and old. Neighbours, random visitors or simply passers-by. The filmmaker accosts them, asks questions, talks about how they deal with life. Standing there with his camera for over 2 years he has created a space for dialogue, a lay confessional of sorts, where everyone can stop by and tell their story. The protagonists carry secrets and mysteries, and are not easy to label. Every story is unique, and life always surpasses imagination. I saw this masterpiece for the second time on Docs For Sale, first time I had a link sent from the director – in this case I recommended the film to my colleagues at Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade, where the film will be screened in October this year.

Brotherhood

Director: Francesco Montagner, Czech Republic, 97 mins. 2021.

Catalogue: Jabir, Usama and Useir, are three young Bosnian brothers, born into a family of shepherds. They grew up in the shadow of their father, Ibrahim, a strict, radical Islamist preacher. When Ibrahim gets sentenced to two years in prison, for war participation and terrorism, the three brothers are suddenly left on their own. The absence of their father’s demands and strict commandments, changes their lives drastically. Brotherhood is an intimate exploration of the transition from youth to manhood, the search for identity, finding love and yourself. The film has so many of those „authentic now»s that editor Niels Pagh Andersen talks about in his book «Order in Chaos». I would add the importance of being multi-layered and not flat and fingerpointing at the father.

Cuban Dancer

Director : Roberto Salinas, 98 mins. Italy, 2021.

At 15 Alexis is already a promise of the Cuban National Ballet School when he discovers his family wants to move to the United States. Determined to continue dancing, Alexis will have to leave behind his teachers, his friends and his first love to get ahead in the difficult world of North American ballet, while yet staying true to his roots. I knew this film from different workshops and was happy to see the final result, full of life reminding us that documentaries are about people and that a film becomes better if the people are full of passion and energy and joy as this Cuban family is !

Writing With Fire

Directors : Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh, India, 94 mins. 2021

In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India's only newspaper run by Dalit women. Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions, be it on the frontlines of India's biggest issues or within the confines of their homes, redefining what it means to be powerful. Oscar nominated, already awarded on several occasions, a film with protagonists you can only love for their courage and energy. 

www.idfa.nl


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Magnus Gertten: Nelly & Nadine

Written 12-02-2022 16:05:41 by Tue Steen Mller

Magnus Gertten: Nelly & Nadine

 

"This is a film reel from April 28 1945…" beautiful material, black & white... of people arriving with the “white buses” to Malmö from German concentration camps. The third film by Swedish director Gertten digging into the 35mm footage bringing out of anonymity individuals as (title of the second one) “Every Face has a Name”. The director introduces the film with this first sentence of this paragraph. With a clear slowly put forward and precise voice. Stopping with the face of Nadine Hwang, one of the protagonists of this amazing love story about Nelly and Nadine, told by Sylvie Bianchi, the grandchild of Nelly.

That is one of the huge narrative successes of the film that Sylvie also becomes a protagonist with her own personality caught by the camera of Caroline Troedsson, who goes close to her face, when she step by step discovers the life of her beloved grandmother, whose life was never talked about at home for reasons that had to do with the love story betweeen Nelly and Nadine, two women. Sylvie’s mother did not like Nadine, it is being said.

Sylvie is such a wonderful person to have in the film. One thing is that she is the one who tells the story, another is that she is so much part of it: The camera catches her reluctance to open the big suitcase in the attic of the farm, her overcoming that obstacle, helped by her husband Christian, the farmer, her investigations in archives in Paris and Bruxelles, her listening to recordings of Nelly singing, her emotions watching the photos and the S8 films that was part of the huge written and visual inheritance from Nelly to her daughter ending up in the attic of a farm in Northern France. This farm (full of cats) and especially the fields are treated with love by the camera of Caroline Troedsson. 

Throughout the whole film the editor Jesper Osmund combines the landscape images with quotes from the diaries that Nelly wrote, full of love and poetic sentences. But also combined with b/w landscape images shot by legendary Belgian documentarian Henri Storck (”Borinage”), often connected to the diary paragraphs from the Ravensbrück camp, where Nelly and Nadine met each other one christmas, when Nadine asked Nelly to sing ”Un Bel di Vedremo” from Madame Butterfly. Just one of the many scoops late in the film: The image of the harvesting machine in the fields with Christian driving it to the music of Puccini. Marvellous.

Nadine came from the camp to Malmö without knowing if Nelly was alive, as the latter was taken from Ravensbrück to Mauthausen. They met again and settled in Caracas Venezuela, where they had a fine social life with parties according to the many photos with work in a bank and at the French embassy. This is where Nadine becomes a photographer as Nelly calls her and where they decide to put together in writing their experiences from the camps and their love to each other. They tried to have it published, in vain. (After the film, why not make a book as well, suggestion from this reviewer…). The numerous photographs taken by Nadine brings together a portrait of Nelly.

It’s an understatement to say that the film is rich. As well as saying that it is extremely well put together. Elegant montage, a true flow, you are never bored, care for the detail, taking its time, no hurry and using the old editing trick: give the necessary information but leave a lot open to be discovered as the love story unfolds. I was moved, had some tears in the eyes, when Sylvie was moved.

PS. Languages, how lovely to hear Swedish, French, Spanish and English in the same film. PLEASE PLEASE don't make stupid dubbed versions. Respect for languages!

Sweden, 2022, 92 mins.

And links to reviews of the two previous films in the trilogy:

”Every Face Has a Name” (2015)

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3084/

“Harbour of Hope” (2011)

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1778/


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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docpoint Finest Market 22

Written 05-02-2022 13:55:18 by Tue Steen Mller

The festival in Helsinki is running until the 6th of February with a national and international competition, a Finnish and an international selection, a retrospective of the master Pirjo Honkasalo – it’s all very good in terms of films to be shown – from Kurdish-Swedish Hogir Hirori’s strong ”Sabaya”, winner of several awards, to Pawel Lozinski’s original ”Balcon Movie” and the much talked about Indian ”Writing With Fire” by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh with brave female reporters, who have started a newspaper against all gender and official power odds. The best of the best the festival have tried to collect without having any exclusive restrictions like world premiere or alike.

I am not in Helsinki but have accreditation to the FinEst Market until the 13th of February inviting me to watch Fin-nish and Est-onian completed doc features, or short films or ”Works in Progress”. Very well presented, easy to operate. Good initiative, hope many will use it.

I went to ”Works in Progress” to watch a couple of projects that I knew from other pitching sessions as this is also meant as a pitching with clips from the films to come and comments from director and producer:

„The Long War” is the upcoming film by Russian Alina Rudnitskaya produced by Finnish veteran Pertti Veijalainen. The 23 minutes material shown demonstrates Rudnitskaya’s cinematic skills having long sequences letting the patriotism come forward through youngsters and kids, who swear their loyalty to the fatherland as does the archbishop (?) at one of the stations, where the war-train with material taken back from Syria stops. Rudnitskaya has a long, very strong sequence, where soldiers visit a grave of a fallen colleague taking off their headgear, placing a rose, hugging the parents. I am sure this will be a good film.

I also have great sympathy for ”The Cello” by Kira Jääskeläinen, who travels to places where the old cello she found in a container (!) must have/could have been, tracing its origin and journey through the 20th century. Making the director come back to play the instrument as she had been doing before. It’s a long way, she wants to go finding archive that fits but she will take her time and allow surprises to come forward in a project that is very original and promising.

One more that I did not know in beforehand: Suvi West and Anssi Kömi’s ”Homecoming”, fascinating because of the women in the film, who in museums in Finland and around Europe are looking for Sami heritage. What I saw was a very fresh and emotional in tone depiction of colonialism.

https://watch.eventive.org/docpointfinestmarket2022


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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/


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Saeed Taji Farouky: A Thousand Fires

Written 20-01-2022 20:07:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Let me start with a quote from a mail sent to me by good friend, excellent French producer Estelle Robin You, who has been working with the director for years to make this film meet the audience:

”A Thousand Fires” tells the story of two loving parents, working hard in the hand-drilled oil fields of central Myanmar, to give their son a better future. It is a story of the human scale of the oil industry and the marks it leaves on the body and soul. It is a story of transformation, reincarnation and generational clashes.»

Written in November 2020. In late August the film wins an important award at the festival in Locarno and the jury motivates:

"We are honoured to bestow the first award in the memory of the late Marco Zucchi. A Thousand Fires presents, through compelling audio-visual language, a poor and dignified life that is tied to the soil. Saeed Taji Farouky combines ethnographic observation with cinematographic language of pure physicality: close-ups of the hard working bodies and nearly abstract images of the natural elements: fire, smoke, oil, dirt. We enter the spiritual life of the protagonists through the associative editing, evocative sounds and expressive landscapes. A touching portrait of a family struggling and hoping for a better life so far away from the Western audience brings us closer to humanity. "

The film is right now in competition at the FIPADOC 2022 in Biarritz that starts tomorrow and runs until January 26. The international competition that includes ”A Thousand Fires” is very strong with the new films by Pawel Lozinski (Balcony Movie), Helena Trestikova’s sequel to the films about René, Danish Camilla Nielsson’s ”President”, Sergei Loznitza’s ”Babi Yar”, Andreas Koefoed´s ”The Lost Leonardo” that premieres in Denmark next week and another gem that has Estelle Robin You as producer, ”The Last Shelter” by Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou. Mentioning the 6 films of the 11 selected that I have seen.

If you are in Biarritz, go and watch “A Thousand Fires” that takes place far away from the West, as the jury states above – yet, the family is like any other family: Mum says to Dad that he again has forgotten to put his sandals on when he is going out; could have been my wife and I in our small garden house. And their care for the son, who moves to the city to become a football player, see how difficult it is for mum and dad to cut the strings to him – the grandparent’s love to their baby grandchild. Does it ring a bell. We all live on the same planet, but gosh how different the living conditions are. To be remembered as is the director’s amazingly beautiful images that correspond to his love to the family.


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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Vareikyte & Dejoie: Ill Stand by You

Written 19-01-2022 17:25:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Their full names being Virginija Vareikyte and Maximilien Dejoie, a Lithuanian and an Italian, who is also the cinematographer, which makes me start by praising the camerawork for a film that is so much subject-related:

It tells the story of two women, a psychologist and a police officer, who tried to tackle the extended problem of suicides in their hometown in Lithuania and succeeded, by creating the most successful suicide prevention program that their country has ever seen… to quote the directors.

It could have been an informative prosaic film giving the facts about the mentioned program through a voice-over and interviews; instead the directors chose to make a creative documentary that also gives the necessary background to understand that the film’s main location is Kupiškis, a small village or town in the North East of Lithuania, where the suicide rate is high.

I started praising the camerawork, as you all the time sense that there is thought about the composition of the image and about how to film the meetings of Gintaré and Valija with the clients. In full discretion. Which of course could not work if the directors were not able to bring the best out of the two wonderful wonderful lively and caring women. There is charisma on the screen! And ability to convey their calling to the many volunteers, who are connected to the program. One of them is Biruté, who herself lost a son, who took his own life. She is in the film as the one who towards the end comes to see Jonas, an old man who is followed by the directors. Always positive Gintaré talks to him in uniform and without uniform, we hear phone calls to him, he has clear plans for how he will hang himself… but there is a happy ending for him when the three women come to visit and we the audience see him.

Also bravo to the editing done by Virginija Vareikyte and Italian Francesca Scalisi. There is a fantastic key scene in the film, where you see the two ladies hugging each other in a pavillion with rain pouring down outside. I think it is after they have been noticed of a client who took his/her life. ”Are we normal”, one of them says, to what you can only answer, No, you are so extraordinary… cut to the two on their way to Jonas with images from the countryside of Lithuania, beautiful nature with the more or less dilapidated wooden houses, with serious reflections from Gintaré, shifting to a bursting into laughter the next moment. The focus on the two ladies is the right choice for the film, you get close to them and not ”only” their mission. Lovely!

Lithuania, Italy. Switzerland, 73 min. 2021

 


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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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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Mikael Opstrup & Salom Jashi and Football

Written 14-01-2022 15:31:20 by Tue Steen Mller

Mikael Opstrup & Salom Jashi and Football

The other day there was a El Classico football match: Real Madrid against FC Barcelona. Mikael Opstrup sent me a text message expressing that he did not feel fantastic before the match. He felt UNCERTAIN about the result to come, me too, a Barca fan like Mikael.

In his fine book “The Uncertainty” that was launched at IDFA November 2021 Mikael has a chapter “What’s football got to do with it” where he argues in an excellent way for the similarities between the not-to-be-foreseen real life dramas in documentaries and football.

Let me take it further using Mikael’s definition of ”character”: For me (Mikael) a character is a person with a past, a present and a future.

Back to El Classico: For me (Tue) the main character of the match could only be Karim Benzema, a super-star as centre-forward for the Madrid-club. With a past. When you watch him you know of his Algerian background, his friendship with also Algerian Zinedine Zidane and his involvement in a sex-video court case that held him out from the French national team for a long time, whose manager he called “a racist”, when he was left out... he is back again now.

The present? He showed his skills by scoring twice and making teammates better than they are. He won the match for his team. And future, i.e. what has not happened yet... the naughty son of immigrants, captain of Real Madrid will lift trophies very much due to his fantastic football skills. Or will it affect him that he has been sentenced for the sex tape case, a fine and a suspended jail verdict, that he has appealed. What will happen?

Thanks Mikael for giving me the opportunity to write this small piece about our common passion football.

And thanks to you and Salomé Jashi for the IDFA conversation round the book and its themes. It was obvious that you know and like each other, the atmosphere was joyful and engaged, Salomé demonstrated that she is not “only” a great director, who has been given so much admiration for “Taming the Garden”, she is also a great tutor and her questions to Mikael were put in a gentle way so he had time and possibility to develop, what he has written in the book.

Also, we learned that Mikael is not a big fan of the kind of “staged documentary” that Danish Jon Bang Carlsen makes if he does not know the rules of the game in beforehand, that a character is a person and can not be a house or a tree, that it is difficult to include “multiple characters” in the definition, that people who have no doubt in life are boring (agree!), that the term “story” always creates confusion when we talk about it. Mikael reflects on this in his essayistic book that I can only recommend you to purchase:

Order here: mikaelopstrup@outlook.dk

The price is 10 Euro + shipping (approx. 10 more Euro in Europe).

And have a good time watching the IDFA presentation:

https://www.idfa.nl/en/info/idfa-2021-in-videos 


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Polemics

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

Sergei Loznitsa: Mr.Landsbergis

Written 07-01-2022 13:56:08 by Tue Steen Mller

Jury words IDFA 2021 on the film:

“It is not easy to bring history to life. It is even more difficult to make it thrilling, urgent, and totally enriching, to make it feel like we are living through it as it happens. On every level of craft, the winning film represents a monumental achievement that fully explores the role one man, one nation, and one historical moment can play in the still-unfolding story of the global struggle for freedom and self-determination. The 2021 IDFA Award for Best Film in the International Competition goes to Sergei Loznitsa’s stunningly complete and gripping Mr. Landsbergis..."

And Marta Balaga in Cineuropa (29.11.2021): It's an unusual film for Loznitsa, who actually decided to have a proper, traditional talking head in the story, but only one, as he sets out to interview Vytautas Landsbergis, the first Head of Parliament of Lithuania after its declaration of independence. Loznitsa's voice can also be heard in the film a few times – apparently for the first time ever – and it feels like a sign of respect towards his protagonist, now almost 90 years old. He likes him, he appreciates him, he wants to spotlight his part in the events that ultimately brought the country its freedom. And while the film's more conventional structure (with some added intertitles) makes it feel like a history lesson at times, it does come alive when the archive footage kicks in…


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Categories: Festival, 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

Ana Barjadze: Bitter Sugar

Written 14-12-2021 12:42:09 by Tue Steen Mller

Ana Barjadze: Bitter Sugar

More than well done by Georgian young director Ana Barjadze and her producer Irina Gelashvili, who have now won the Adami Media Prize, ”Project Pitching Winner”. What that is you can read by clicking below – and via another link you will be able to get detailed information about ”Bitter Sugar”, the project of the two which was awarded. Here is the brief, call it a logline, text:

Nika, Gika, and Levan - three brothers from a small, dying Georgian town - navigate life, only relying on each other, while their absent mother provides for the family from abroad.

This will be a full-length documentary drama. The project is now ready for the production stage and we are looking for international partners. We won a grant from the Georgian National Cinema Center for Filmmaking. The project has been developed on a variety of platforms, including through the Cinedoc mentoring program (where it received pitching prizes at the Doclisbo and Ji'hlava Film Festival). The project was presented at the Kyiv International Film Festival and at the Golden Apricot festival in Yerevan. We are also invited to the IDFA festival for the market of producers (producers).

https://www.adamimediaprize.eu/adami-project-pitching-nominees/bitter-sugar

The ADAMI Media Prize was created in 2015 to encourage filmmakers, journalists and audio-visual media professionals in the EU Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) to promote topics of migration, tolerance and cultural diversity. The prize is open to broadcasters and audio-visual media producers in the six participating countries, rewarding outstanding TV, film and online programmes that deal with diversity-related issues. Alongside the prize, ADAMI organizes networking events and fosters exchange among media professionals in Eastern Europe and the EU…

The word ADAMI derives from the Georgian word adamiani, meaning human being, based on the first human, the biblical Adam. Above all, ADAMI is about people. Behind all TV programmes and media productions are people; they create and distribute images of people, made for people -- images that shape Europe's future.

More information: https://www.adamimediaprize.eu/about-adami


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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

Ai WeiWei: Rohingya

Written 09-12-2021 17:28:17 by Tue Steen Mller

Almost a million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar live in the biggest refugee camp in the world, Cox Bazaar in Bangla Desh... Ai WeiWei has made a film from the camp. Danish editors Niels Pagh Andersen and Charlotte Munch Bengtsen watched, what footage Chinese camerapersons came back with and made what the director wished the film to be:

A slow, quiet meditative film with long sequences, no close ups (almost) but panoramic images and a recreation of sound as the sound that they had to work with came from the camera. Danish Henrik Gugge Garnov was the one who helped with that.

I got this information from what I would call a master’s class after the screening of the film in the Danish Cinemateket two days ago. Niels Pagh Andersen entertained the audience with his pedagogical skills answering questions from the audience that was, like me, impressed by the film, which is simply beautiful allowing or I would prefer to say inviting us to go ”into” the well composed images, study and learn above the life of refugees, who survive in the poor society they have formed with schools, churches, crafts, funerals, everyday activities like cooking, eating, washing the dishes, washing clothes in water that are taken up from underground, playing football.

In mostly stunning images you watch the human beings in the camp doing something– you study and think about their situation compared to your own, and you wonder what will be of the many children in the film, when they grow up. Are they to stay here, do they have a chance to leave the poverty, settle and build a decent life for themselves and their family? You see the energy of the children, when they play with or without a football, or when they go to get water for the family – and you think they will make it. Hope?

Editor Niels Pagh Andersen, called ”the skinny romantic” by Ai Weiwei, and his co-editor let us leave the film full of the atmosphere the film establishes so well. Far from reportage, far from pouring information towards the spectator, it’s a film that finds humanity in the life of refugees. 

Signed by a refugee as he is himself, Ai WeiWei. 

2021, 122 mins.  


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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Karim Kassem: Octopus

Written 06-12-2021 17:18:33 by Tue Steen Mller

The IDFA website intro to this remarkable hybrid documentar-fiction goes like this: ”The aftermath of the explosion that took place at the Port of Beirut in August 2020 is revealed in quiet stillnes, from the destroyed buildings and the despair of local residents to the cautious first sounds of reconstructions.”

Thanks to the director for choosing a totally different approach to the catastrophy in Lebanon’s beautiful capital. It surprised me in the beginning as there was no talking, no dialogue, no facts concerning the human and material consequences BUT ”merely” an invitation to look and think, while watching superbly framed image compositions of faces and buildings and wounded apartments, with this little ”action” = the mark of an octopus on a piece of wood, a symbol of what… maybe adaptibility according to my encyclopaedia, life goes on, Beirut will survive but how; there is nobody home when the man knocks on doors in a spoilt appartment building but a lift takes the viewer to the top, to blue sky or blue sea… hope?... there is something mysterious about an octopus.

And there is something surrealistic in the atmosphere in the film that invites you to look at faces of people in Beirut, in shock maybe and/or reflecting on what Life can do to you…or. Still kids are playing in the streets.

A fascinating intelligent work! 

The film was shown at IDFA and won Best Film Award in the Envision Competition.

Lebanon, Qatar, United States, 2021, 64 mins.

www.idfa.nl


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Nidal Al Dibs: Homemade Stories

Written 29-11-2021 15:26:39 by Tue Steen Mller

Nidal Al Dibs: Homemade Stories

The website intro text to the film, which was in the Envision Competition at IDFA:

„As the revolution turns into war; Nidal, a Syrian filmmaker, is forced to leave the country. He locks his Damascus home door and travels with his wife and daughter to Cairo, at the time celebrating a successful revolution. He is invited by friends to open an old cinema theater which they are about to renovate. Nidal, whose refuge in Cairo keeps extending indefinitely longs for his home and city and finds refuge in navigating personal family home videos and memories as he discovers a new space: an old locked cinema in the heart of Cairo. He attempts to make a film about longing to his home by filming the cinema, to tell a story of hope. Perhaps also of despair…”

Yes, but also a film about the love of a father (and mother) to their child Salma, who sees herself in Damascus on the videos her father shot, who dances and sings and bring Life into a story that is not uplifting to say it with an understatement.

Yes, and also a film about compassion and friendship. As the apartment in Damascus is empty, a friend moves kindly Nidal asking if he can move Salma’s bed into the bedroom as his daughter does not like to sleep alone.

Yes, but of course also an hommage to the Cinema, the place to dream dreams. Paradiso.

The producer is Cairo-based Mostafa Youssef, Seen Films, I think it was in his offices that I was for a workshop in 2012 – I read that the office/studio recently was burnt down in a fire accident!? Alas.   

Syria, Egypt, 2021, 69 mins.

www.idfa.nl


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Ruslan Fedotow: Where are We Headed

Written 27-11-2021 16:39:23 by Tue Steen Mller

The winner of the IDFA Award for Best First Film and the IDFA Award for Best Cinematography. No objection from my side. Observational documentary cinema with a location so well known, the Moscow Metro. And yet a film with several layers because the filmmaker demonstrates his skills in choosing the people he and his camera met in the Moscow Metro. Choosing and making decisions on whom to stay longer and on whom to stay short in the montage.

Where are we headed, a long and fun sequence with two drunk men in the train, to your house, one says, to my home, the other sasys but where is it, pure Samuel Beckett… and the red-haired woman who stares at the dog sculpture  - one of the many in the Moscow metro – and caresses it again and again. Why?... and the man who is violently put down on ground by police or guards… the same who tells a man in xmas clothes that he can not play between 5 and 8… and the many songs that are related to Russia and Russian culture as the film is (also) about the Russia far away from Kremlin and politics, Putin, however, is on the television screen in the metro, it’s him the man on the FB link is looking at New Year’s Eve.

The director’s point of view – or better tone or better wish or even better love towards the people, he has been filming, comes clearly at the end of the film: There is sunshine of the faces in the train and there is a long sequence shot of an elderly couple in love. His hand caressing her chin, she takes it away with a flirting smile. Lovely ending scene. In sunshine.

Belarus, Russia, 2021, 63 mins.

www.idfa.nl


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IDFA Winners 2021

Written 26-11-2021 08:16:28 by Tue Steen Mller

Mr. Landsbergis wins IDFA Award for Best Film in the International Competition and Octopus wins IDFA Award for Best Film in the Envision Competition

Last night, IDFA announced the winners of the competition programs during the IDFA 2021 Awards Ceremony. The ceremony took place in Amsterdam’s Compagnietheater, in addition to being live-streamed.

The 34th edition of IDFA has run as an in-person event, with twelve special online screenings for audiences, and an extensive library of films, talks, and consultancies available to online guests around the world. To date, IDFA has received over 100,000 cinema visits.

... and the winners were:

 

 



Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Festival, 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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IDFA: Kapanadze & van der Horst

Written 23-11-2021 18:14:11 by Tue Steen Mller

A debutant and a veteran director, two very good films, award candidates I guess, I watched them, I give you some brief texts about them. Recommendations: Ketevan Kapanadze’s ”How the Room Felt” and Aliona van der Horst ”Turn Your Body to the Sun”.

An informative quote from the site text of the Georgian film: In the Georgian city of Kutaisi, a local women’s football team constitutes the heart of a group of female and non-binary queer people, who get together regularly to hang out, to party, to hug each other, and to discuss existential issues…

I had a smile on my face during the whole film because it is full of warmth and atmosphere, I loved watching and listening to the young women/girls, seeing them drink, dance, SMOKE (OMG!), expressing their feelings towards each other, being happy, being sad – hanging out as said above. Of course the film relates ”to a society that’s not known for embracing its LGBTQ+ community” but the film is far from being a campaign film or a journalistic report, it is an observational film about individuals to whom you get close – Lara (or is it Lana), Anuka, Anano, Sopo… and it is amazing to know that this is a first film, when you see the many tableau-like scenes, where nothing happens, and scenes full of poetry, so well set up and told. Talented film language.

The debutant is in the International Competition as is Dutch Aliona van der Horst with her touching, aesthetically superb «Turn Your Body to the Sun». An informative quote from the site text: The incredible life story of a Soviet soldier of Tatar descent who was captured by the Nazis during WWII. Today, his daughter Sana is tracing the path of her silent father, trying to understand what made him the man she knew as a child, through his diaries, as well as various personal and public archives and registries…

The daughter and her sister are on the train to Siberia, where the father was in a camp for 14 years! An incredible story, as written above and a Film that masters the many layers, giving the audience the necessary information to follow a man, who was in the Soviet and German army ending up in the American around D-Day. When he came back from the camp, where he was sent punished for being a traitor, he suddenly said ”I saw Notre Dame”. One of the beautiful moments that stand out in a narrative, where van der Horst succeeds brilliantly to make the fabulous archive alive, colouring those pieces that were b/w, and making the letters and diary fragments fine pieces of literature… they arrive to the camp in  Siberia in a poetic film that I feel happy to have seen. 

How the Room Felt, Georgia, 2021, 74 mins.

Turn Your Body to the Sun, Netherlands, 2021, 93 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 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mikael Opstrup: The Uncertainty

Written 19-11-2021 21:40:43 by Tue Steen Mller

Subitled: «A book about Developing Character driven Documentary»

”I am painfully aware that this book is risky business. I am trying to rationalize the irrational, to break down the bumpy documentary film process into conscious decisions and structures, yes even into budgets and financing plans. I plead guilty and ask for forgiveness.”

Words from Mikael Opstrup in the beginning of his book. A yes to forgiving Mikael. I have known him for at least 20 years and been working with him as a tutor and moderator in numerous documentary events – in Buenos Aires, in Damascus, in Ramallah and every year in Riga at the Baltic Sea Docs. I have a lot of respect for his skills and now that respect also includes that he has taken time and energy to write a book. You are more than forgiven Mikael having done this fine work that hopefully will find many readers, who like you and I love documentaries. Total recommendation from my side.

No pictures, no references to films, with texts divided into chapters and to be honest it is a demanding read with points I don’t agree with and/or don’t understand, but it does not matter, as it is well written and inspiring. You get your brain in action! 

As you I am addicted to a genre that has many doors to enter, one of them being the Character driven Documentary, a sub-genre, an ”art beyond control” as you put it contrary to ”the documentaries where you use interviews, archive, voice over, animation etc. (which) are to a certain extent under your artistic control.” That sub-genre is the focus.

The book is full of definitions based on reflections. Mikael raises questions and tells the reader what he means with „character”, with “driven”, with “script” followed by a super-interesting chapter in the book called “the documentary potential”. Mikael asks himself and the reader if a text written for the director him- or herself, or the film team could be called so, “the documentary potential” and reflects on that. I buy that, much better than script. 

That is for me the main quality of the book, the reflections conveyed in the essayistic style that Mikael has chosen, i.e. based on the many personal experiences that he has had during the decades, he has been in the documentary world.

And conveyed with the humour that I know you have Mikael, hope the English language catches the many fine, sometimes non-pretentious subtle sentences that call for a smile in a serious context. I knew that side of you but not the more – in a good sense – sentimental, where you write about Life and the search for Happiness, your closeness to your family that now also includes you as a grandfather! Like in the best documentaries you include yourself in the existential matters that we deal with every day. Great!

Questions raised and discussed come back in chapters called “the story”, “directing », « subtext”, “filming”, “editing”, “looking for moments”… At the end of the book Mikael turns to a more informative style writing about pitching and trailers and what you can expect at a Forum like the one here at IDFA… to end with a chapter “What’s football got to do with it?” 

“I am fascinated by football and Character driven Documentary for the same reason: it oozes of real-life drama. We do our best to control it, but we cannot. For the same reasons that we cannot control our own lives.”

We have watched many football games together and right your are, the Uncertainty is always there.

Mikael, good luck with the book and thanks for the huge effort. A gift to the Forum delegates and the rest of us, film lovers.

Denmark, Published by Mikael Opstrup, 1st edition 1000 copies, 48 pages.

Mikael says:

BUY THE BOOK
Write me for a copy: mikaelopstrup@outlook dk


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

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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IDFA Starts Tomorrow

Written 16-11-2021 12:51:25 by Tue Steen Mller

… the 34th edition and this is what the IDFA staff luckily communicated the other day:

”IDFA is delighted to share that the festival continues in person next week, and cinemas remain open. Following the measures laid out by the Dutch government in tonight’s national press conference, which largely support the cultural sector, the festival can confidently announce that from November 17 to 28, all films, talks, and performances will go on in full, with the utmost health and safety measures in effect.

"We highly appreciate the acknowledgement of culture's importance in the new regulations, and it makes us believe in our responsibility even more: to organize a safe festival, as we keep on serving the resilience of the international film community, and the cultural life of Dutch society through such trying times," said Orwa Nyrabia, Artistic Director.”

Surfing the IDFA website I took time to read the paper ”Policy Plan 2021-2024, a good read, not that long. I picked a paragraph from the ”Manifesto” that actually reflects my choice for the 3 full days I will be at IDFA, from Thursday till Monday, with mask and corona pass:

”IDFA is also proof that an ever-growing number of people are looking for high-quality, artistic sourc- es of information and reflection. This is why, now more than ever, IDFA stands for documentary film as an art form, for aesthetics, beauty, imagination and inspiration. It also stands for documentaries with a different visual language and structures, for films that depict unknown cultures or are filmed from a non-Western perspective, and for interactive documentaries that are innovative and pioneering…”

The link to the Policy Plan: 

https://d25cyov38w4k50.cloudfront.net/downloads/Policy-Plan-def.pdf

 

 


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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