Filmkommentaren

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

 



Read more / Ls mere

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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.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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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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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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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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!



Read more / Ls mere

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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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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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:

 

 



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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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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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

Srgio Trfaut: Paraiso

Written 12-11-2021 09:40:33 by Tue Steen Mller

White plastic chairs are being arranged in a circle in front of a palace. A show is to begin. A show with lovely people - with a twist from the Beatles text: “All the lovely people where did they all belong, all the lovely people…”. Came to my mind watching Sérgio Tréfaut’s film shot in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where the director is born, the country he left when a teenager, the country that he has returned to live in. 40 years later. And even if the film is not a political film, as Tréfaut wrote to me, many of the lovely old people singing and dancing have passed away during the pandemic, the film being shot just before covid took over. Read how the director introduces his documentary:

”Elderly people gather every day in the romantic gardens of Catete Palace, the former official residence of the presidents of Brazil from 1867 to 1960, and presently the site of the Museu da República. After sunset, they would tell each other the meaning of life, singing love songs. This film was suddenly interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and became a tribute to a decimated generation.”’

This is of course the aftermath, the tragedy but also the strength of a film, when you see it now, a documentation of a before-Bolsonaro-wonderful-life through songs, performed by people with heart, passion and moving hips, being together on the plastic chairs with the director following some of them to their homes, up the stairs, through many doors and gates to unlock. I read that the singer are called "serestas", coming from serenades. 

I wrote «documentation», wrong, it is a documentary film, “a little film” Tréfaut wrote to me, maybe for him but for me primarily a warm film, a big tribute to Life and Love that all the songs circle around, made with a big heart. CORAZON is the word; in all the songs you hear that word. 

Portugal, Brazil, France, 74 mins., 2021


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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Srdan Keca: Museum of the Revolution

Written 07-11-2021 09:35:16 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.

The film competes in the Luminous section of IDFA with five screenings.

Below a link to a „Creative Dialogue” about the film organised by the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film). Takes place this coming Wednesday 10/11 at 5 pm.

https://dokweb.net/activities/online/2021/upcoming


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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKLeipzig Awards 2021

Written 30-10-2021 20:40:44 by Tue Steen Mller

DOKLeipzig Awards 2021

"Father" earns Golden Dove in International Competition at DOK Leipzig

 

Golden Dove in the German Competition for “A Sound of My Own” | Audience jury awards “Dida” a Golden Dove

The award-winning films of the 64th edition of DOK Leipzig have been chosen. The gala award ceremony for the Golden and Silver Doves was held on Saturday evening before a live audience at Leipzig’s CineStar. 

The Chinese documentary “Father” by Wei Deng has won the Golden Dove in the International Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film. The director’s first feature film is a portrait of generations about his father and grandfather that depicts tradition and change, violence and alienation in Chinese society. “Sincere, poignant and haunting – the narrative goes beyond what is visible to the eye. It shows the complexity of life and becomes a pure homage to humanity,” the jury’s statement reads. The Golden Dove, which includes 10,000 euros, has been sponsored by Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk since 2013. The award was presented by Dr Ulrich Brochhagen, head of MDR’s department of history, documentaries and eastern Europe. The film that earns the Golden Dove in the International Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film qualifies for nomination for the annual ACADEMY AWARDS®, provided it meets the Academy’s standards.

The Silver Dove for the best long documentary or animated film by an emerging director in the International Competition went to Karol Pałka for his first feature-length film, “Bucolic”. This Polish documentary observes a mother and her daughter in their secluded life in the countryside. The jury was impressed by the director’s “fresh and innovative cinematic approach” and highlighted the “sensitive depiction of characters” in the film. “It moves effortlessly around a magical universe with the utmost delicacy and modesty,” said the jury. The 6,000-euro award was sponsored by 3sat. 

The winning long documentaries in the International Competition were selected by Grit Lemke, Anocha Suwichakornpong, Alex Szalat, Katarína Tomková and Raed Yassin. Honourable mentions by the jury went to the documentary “Republic of Silence” by Diana El Jeiroudi as well as to Sarah Noa Bozenhardt and Daniel Abate Tilahun for “among us women”. 

In the German Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film, “A Sound of My Own” by Rebecca Zehr was awarded the Golden Dove. This 



Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Maradia Tsaava: Water Has No Borders

Written 28-10-2021 14:56:04 by Tue Steen Mller

Maradia Tsaava: Water Has No Borders

First some background:

Since the end of the civil war in the early 1990s, the region of Abkhazia has been acting independently of Georgia. This has turned a massive dam into a border. But the hydroelectric power station also connects the two political entities: Because over a distance of fifteen kilometres the water flows freely, underground, from one side to the other. When a young journalist gets stranded here, stories of division emerge.

On the way back from a reportage trip to the dam, director Maradia and her cameraman’s car breaks down. Ika takes care of them. For decades, the joyous engineer has worked – in cooperation with his colleagues on the Abkhazian territory – on the maintenance of the plant. Maradia, representative of a whole generation of Georgians who know this place of longing on the Black Sea only from stories, becomes curious. But while the workers take the bus across the border every morning, the film crew is thwarted by bureaucracy. Time and again they are denied passage. This turns out to be fortunate for the film, because waiting for the permission, in the cafeteria of the dam, in driving around the river, the stories of people emerge whose lives are shaped by the secession. They talk of legal and clandestine border crossings, weddings and funerals and of life in the here and there. (Written by Marie Kloos, taken from the website of DOKLeipzig).

And then my evaluation:

… of a film that is shown at DOKLeipzig (world premiere) and is in the international competition section. A film that took me by heart and mind. The latter because again you are faced with the stupidity of humanity, another border, in this case a border at a dam with a tunnel that reaches both sides – Georgia and Abkhazia. A separation of people, of human beings who can not visit their relatives. Every morning Georgian workers cross the border to meet checkpoints with permits in their hands and then in the evening they go back again. Yet water has no borders and the two sides profit from the power of nature: electricity is provided.

… of a film that impressed me visually. It must have been the best job ever of cameraman Nik Voigt, who is giving the viewer stunning images of the colossal dam architecture and its mountain surroundings, the blue sky and more often the clouds, the fog, different angles and then down to the tunnel or filming the power of the water of the Enguri river. Up and down. With the accompanying noise, thanks for having some longer silent sequences that invite the viewer to “just” reflect and enjoy.

… of a film with wonderful persons introduced by and/or talked to by the director Maradia (also called Maro) Tsavaa. I hate the word “character”, therefore “persons” or protagonists, real people from the real world. I want to mention the three that appear first in the credits: Irakli Pipia, Roza Tsotsonava, Luda Akobia Holodova. All three with stories about relatives, about childhood and upbringing, about hard lives, about (Roza) being allowed to cross the border one time, three years ago to go to a funeral! About finally getting a fridge for the food she serves with Luda in the cafeteria. Politics – some officials can get the permit, “we can not ». But it is not only bitterness, it’s also memories from before the separation, when the river was surrounded by villages.

Number one, however, is Ika, who is close to the director all the time and who drives and walks her close to the border, who likes a beer or two, who is full of joy and yet says, sarcastically and with sadness in one of the excellent sequences with him and the director in his car : « Hurray we are alive ». Cut immediately to the two, Ika and Maro, dancing wildly to « Long Tall Sally » ! The film’s comment to Ika and his enjoying Life. Great. And after that a dancing girl, georgian music. A film that took me by heart and mind.

Georgia, France, 2021, 85 mins.


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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nikola and Corina Ilić: Dida

Written 27-10-2021 18:19:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Nikola and Corina Ilić: Dida

Full names: Nikola Ilić and Corina Schwingruber Ilić – I had seen (some of) their previous short works, the lovely ”Rakijada” and the aesthetical perfect ”All Inclusive”, both films that have travelled to short film festivals all over – and I have been in love with Belgrade and rakija for many many years. And I have met the fine directors.

So now you know why I was positive before the screening, and that impression stayed after having been with the son Nikola, his mother Dida and his granny, not to forget Corina, married to Nikola and with him in the hard and sweet life with mother and granny. The latter, who in the beginning of the film is very much present, a strong person who takes care of her grown up daughter in their small flat. Not an easy task for the old woman, who tells Nikola to step into her role, when she is no longer there. The problem is that Nikola and Corina live and work in Switzerland and Dida has problems dealing with life’s many challenges. And she feels lonely now that granny has passed away in a film that is shot over – at least – 4 years. Nikola and Corina move into her place, get their own appartment in Belgrade, help Dida in all thinkable ways, it’s not easy when she has spent her full pension after two days buying «things» at the Chinese market. The fridge is empty.

Dida visits the two in Switzerland but returns to Belgrade and the stray dogs, she feeds. Nikola and Corina give her a dog, she is happy but does not really know what it means to take care of a dog... «She’s getting on my nerves», Nikola says, a lady moves into Dida to help, good, but still «don’t go, stay with me» says Dida to her son and Corina.

Family Life, social reality, generations it’s all there and I enjoyed to be there because of the tone of the film, which is far from being crying but full of warmth and the humour that comes from Dida, primarily, from her original take on life. I am sure spectators will identify with family situations like these. And love the film like I did. Hvala!

Switzerland/Serbia, 2021, 78 mins.

DOKLeipzig 2021, in Competition for Audience Award. 


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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.dok-leipzig.de


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ji.hlava IDFF 25 Years!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations!


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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Andrei Kutsila: When the Flowers are not Silent

Written 19-10-2021 12:42:14 by Tue Steen Mller

There is still a media focus on Belarus – but now it seems that the first priority is the latest criminal action by Lukashenko and his regime: the flying in of migrants to Belarus pushing them on to the Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian borders, where they are met with wire and walls financed by the EU, including the country I live in, Denmark… Humanity?

There will be films about this. But luckily we are still met with not only reports but also films made by Belarussian filmmakers on the situation on the background of what happened primarily in August 2020, where the big demonstrations took place and was met with brutality and detainment of thousands of people; hundreds are still in prison and many of those, who are not suffer from nightmares and traumas.

Andrei Kutsila’s new film gives the audience a close look at the human consequences of living in a country being in opposition. The film is dedicated to the bravery of the women, mothers and grandmothers including family of the director. It is moving and heartbreaking to witness the goodbye scenes of a family, where the father, whose one leg was hit by a grenade leaves for Poland, being in facetime contact with his wife and kids. “Will dad walk again”? As well as following Oksana in conversation with her son Sasha about what is a state and what is a country, and why does the EU countries not help more; being hit by lack of energy and apathy constantly studying the atrocities documented and conveyed on cell phones. Two families but also footage shot in front of the prison, where women are hoping and waiting to hear from their men. 

And yet, the flowers are not silent – young girls pick them everyone as Pete Seeger sang – Oksana writes on a piece of paper that she goes to demonstrate – don’t tell dad! And Kutsila catches beautiful moments with Oksana and her mother enjoying the taste of a pear picked by her father, hugging each other, “I’m so happy to have such a young mother”. There is love in that film not only despair. “Long Live Belarus”, “You Must Go”.

Poland, 2021, 71 mins. 

The film won main documentary award at the Warsaw Film Festival two days ago. Kutsila has made several impressive films, for instance “Summa”, here is a link to a review on this blog: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4410/.


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Samir Karahoda: Displaced

Written 17-10-2021 20:17:31 by Tue Steen Mller

With the working title ”Table Stories”. The producer Erol Bilibani asked me for feedback on the film – no objections, on the contrary, love it. The film shows perfectly how strong a short film can be if you master the short format and if you know the film language that fits. Making a film with table tennis as the direct subject, you have to know where to put the camera to make it interesting to watch, to find the visual line and to find the right rythm in editing, a rythm that works with the sound of the table tennis ball. That the film is much more than a sports film is obvious – also from the title - but I will leave that to the audience… Instead a qoute from an interview with the director on Europe House (https://europehouse-kosovo.com/kosovo-is-a-small-country-but-with-great-stories-samir-karahoda-author-of-the-film-no-place/ :

... ” After having its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Samir Karahoda’s “Displaced” won Best Short Film award at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and qualified directly to compete for Oscars 2022.” 

Content-wise I have copy-pasted this text, taken from the website of the Kosovo Cinematography Center:

“After Kosovo’s independence the first internationally recognized sports federation was the one of Table Tennis. Two local Ping-Pong enthusiasts see this as a great opportunity and start self-financing the training sessions for young players. One of them returns to Kosovo after seven years of exile in Germany, in a hope that postwar country will offer prosperity and new business opportunities. He works as a house painter, while the other character of the film is a professional bartender. Their scarce leisure time is completely invested in supporting the local team to prepare for international competitions. 

The challenges they will face goes beyond ones imagination.

Their professional Tennis Table is in constant move, on a tractor, searching the training venues. Garages, warehouses, private basements and wedding salons turn into training rooms, usually for a short period of time, and usually getting evicted after 2 weeks of training. Within one year they move to at least 10 unusual locations.

Main characters of the film always meet in a local bar to discuss solution for their training space. At a bar, young people - usually unemployed, discuss complex world politics and other bizarre themes. Our main characters, although sportsmen in spirit that lead a healthy life, powerless to find a solution end up joining the odd conversations on American foreign policy, corruption in powerful states, religion and other bizarre themes over a alcoholic beverage. 

15 years later, the Table Tennis team still trains in the hallways of the sport center.”

Kosovo, 2021, 20 mins.


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Diane Weyermann Passed Away Yesterday

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

Diane Weyermann Passed Away Yesterday

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

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

RIP.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Camilla Nielsson: President

Written 06-10-2021 09:36:34 by Tue Steen Mller

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

A brilliant film awarded at the Sundance Film Festival as the best cinéma vérité film, made in a style that directly places it alongside the legendary "Primary", an achievement that changed the history of film and the world.

Camilla Nielsson is an extraordinary author, not only for her exceptional talent, for her documentary education at the very sources of the revolutionary American direct cinema movement, for her style of a true filmmaker, for her ability to touch the very essence in multitude of events and characters, but also for her exceptional courage, sacrifice and dedication. She had to became part of a persecuted group while making her previous film "Democrats" in drastically controlled conditions of censorship and pressure she almost had to flee because of frightening threats. Finally, the film was banned. The country of events was Zimbabwe. However, when a new phase of the fight against dictatorship was announced, that irresistible documentary challenge brought the Danish author back to African soil, to the very center of the incredibly exciting, dramatic and dangerous adventure of democracy - the presidential election. Camilla Nielsson introduces us directly to all events, follows all important phases, follows how hope is created and grows as a wonderful energy that overwhelms the participants. It follows dramatic skirmishes in which the film crew also participates in a manner of war reporters. Camilla Nielsson and her crew participates in the dark moments of crisis. And most of all in finding strength.

A film that is watched breathlessly as a great story about the cruel collision of a drastic dictatorship and the supreme ideals of democracy.

Denmark, USA, Norway, Zimbabwe 2021, 115 minutes

… And you also get the link to the review in filmkommentaren: 

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4916/


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Andrei Dăscălescu: Holy Father

Written 05-10-2021 15:47:01 by Tue Steen Mller

This text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic

This is an exclusive road movie in search of answers hidden deep in silence and oblivion.

Andrei Dăscălescu is facing a situation that announces a major, important change in his life. Face to face with his worried wife, unprepared to directly express his own condition and emotions, he takes a camera that he uses more successfully than words and resolutely and bravely undertakes a great documentary endeavor. With his film skills, he tries to break through the invisible walls between the present, the past and the future, and sets out to meet his father, who has renounced the world and left the son in that renunciation. The journey takes us to spaces of deep devotion, to the Holy Mountain, and confronts us with long-buried secrets and conflicts. This is where the unusual friendship between the father, a monk crucified between his duties and family history, and the son begins. A camera helps him to behold and understand his own father and the rest of the world. This is a touching film quest for a father, but also for what it really means to be a father. And finally, a quest for how to become a father himself. This is a dramatic search for reconciliation and a story about the true courage of future parents ready to face the legacy they need to pass on to their child.

A film that enchants you with its warmth and intimacy, as well as with its amazing documenting the deep need to create an inner space for the new life to come.

Romania 2020, 85 minutes 


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Heddy Honigmann: 100UP

Written 05-10-2021 09:01:14 by Tue Steen Mller

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

One of the world's most important authors took on an incredible, unusual endeavor and made a unique film in her elegant style. 

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. 

A precious documentary that reveals to us the depths of human experience and wisdom. 

Netherlands, Belgium, Norway 2020, 92 minutes

http://www.magnificent7festival.org/en/100up.php


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Kim and Bouillot: The Man Who Paints Waterdrops

Written 04-10-2021 12:17:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Oan Kim and Brigitte Bouillot are their full names.

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

A superb documentary work that ranks in style with the films of some of the most important French authors.

This is a story that introduces us to the dark inner spaces of a man crucified between Korea and France, to the spaces of a personal history inextricably intertwined with the history of a nation, to the spaces of colours, paintings and painting, to the immeasurable space between the painter and the fluid surface of the canvas, to the microcosm of innumerable droplets. This is an exciting personal search and a refined essay on art and the artist. Together with Brigitte Bouillot, Oan Kim tells the story of his father, one of the most important contemporary artists in South Korea. This is the story about the dilemmas and secrets that the son faces when trying to make a study of the father, a study in which close up shots of his always unusually pensive father are intertwined with the shots of his work. This precisely captured meditative peace is filled with additional flow of oneiric fragments of drama and unrest. Authors create together the film as a perfectly constructed puzzle where the last, smallest piece will give the final meaning to the whole story. In a musically precise rhythm, in a slow pace, the authors build a real cinematic tension that keeps the viewers nailed from the beginning to the end of the film.

This is a film about a secret hidden in depths of a torn being who turned into a charismatic artist so that he could testify to the world about the beauty that rises above the dark abyss.

France, South Korea 2021, 79 minutes

http://www.magnificent7festival.org/en/kapi_vode.php


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Marc Isaacs: The Filmmaker's House

Written 03-10-2021 13:30:09 by Tue Steen Mller

"The Filmmaker’s House" is masterly made film by one of the most important documentary authors in Great Britain, created in facing a space that we usually think of as a set of walls and things.

What makes the house we live in? Marc Isaacs presents his own house primarily as a place where film ideas and films live. And one of these films he makes in front of us and introduces us to unusual people who come from different parts of the city and the world, and invade at different times, announced and unannounced, creating together events in which they have different roles. All of these events unfold gradually - from simple everyday situations to unexpected ones, and each one brings some surprising blend or dramatic twist. Everyday life before us alternately becomes an amazing film and a surreal show. How brilliantly documented the unpredictability of life! Marc Isaacs's films are astonishing precisely when the author allows charismatic people to seemingly create their own stories in front of his camera which also participates in the events. Behind that illusion, the author carefully directs and guides the flow of the film with discreet directions, provoking and encouraging his heroes. They become a part of his house and his everyday life, he and his camera become an oneiric part of their existences.

This film is a manifesto of the power of documentary film to create captivating cinematic stories from simple scenes of reality.

Great Britain 2020, 75 minutes

http://www.magnificent7festival.org/en/kuca_filmskog_autora.php 


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Mohamed El Abudi: School of Hope

Written 03-10-2021 13:01:55 by Tue Steen Mller

This text is written by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic

Morocco. Vast desert. People living under tents. And a house like a grain of sand, the grain that becomes a pearl in a shell. 

Mohamed El Aboudi comes to his native Morocco to follow a young teacher who arrives to the wasteland and tries to establish a school among the nomads - a school for children who by birth are not meant for education, yet only to repeat the lives of their fathers and mothers. This is the story of a name inscribed above the door of the small house in the desert, a name that brings joy, arouses curiosity, triggers children’s play and opens the way to new knowledge. The film introduces us to fascinating, cruel landscapes with a few people and children, while they carry together the centuries-old burden inscribed in the books of ancestral laws. Mohamed El Aboudi, with great talent of documentary observer, in a refined manner, discreetly, carefully not to interrupt the newly created sensitive bonds between the teacher and his students, reveals a whole world hidden behind tradition and customs, behind strict laws of survival. Gradually and always with respect, the author approaches school, classes and wonderful moments of school breaks, but also parents and families, their everyday routine, as well as dramatic events in which all fears about the survival of hope become fears about the survival of the community, nature, planet. Collisions of desires and prohibitions, games and obligations, joys and worries build an unusual saga of striking scenes and characters testifying how precious is the striving for new knowledge. A saga about strivings that are the only ones that truly change the world. 

An enchanting documentary made about the school as a wonderful saving oasis.

Finland, France, Morocco 2020, 78 minutes 

www.magnificent7festival.org


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Mladen Kovačević: Merry Christmas Yiwu

Written 02-10-2021 14:21:12 by Tue Steen Mller

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

This is not a film about China. This is a film about people's dreams. This is a film about everything that makes a dream about China.

Wonderful and enchanting, this film immediately breaks through all barriers and introduces us to the very center of the intimate circle of dedicated manufacturers of New Year's decorations. The city of Yiwu, hidden by the shadow of huge Shanghai, every year in December, before Christmas in the western world, becomes one of the most important points on the map of the world for the success of Christian holiday. In that place, series and series of magical, shiny, colourful balls and decorations for Christmas trees around the world are created. This film reveals to us human touches that create colourful Christmas glow. With masterly created long one shot-scenes, Mladen Kovačević brings us closer to faces and secrets, personal stories, hidden desires, hopes. He introduces us to people who become close, dear, interesting to us. At the same time, this is a testimony about leaps in time, about the people who face the world that came out of their vague ideas about the future in which they turned up miraculously. All individual stories exceptionally fit into a vivid, dynamic composition of constant change and never-ending discoveries. Life captured by discreet observation is revealed to us in its exciting fullness and beauty.

A superb modern documentary that amazes with scenes shot for a real cinematic experience.

Serbia, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, Qatar 2020, 94 minutes

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


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Magnificent7 Salom Jashi: Taming the Garden

Written 25-09-2021 20:50:20 by Tue Steen Mller

Magnificent7  Salom Jashi: Taming the Garden

In this text the directors of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade (October 2 – 6) gives their reasons for showing the film at a special screening followed by their intro-review for the film that is shown on the last day, October 6 at 6pm.

Nature, the planet and all of us have been hit by numerous tragedies again this year. They continue to threaten to destroy not only our civilization, man as a species, but all life on Earth. Fires of unimaginable proportions and consequences ravaged Greece, destroying in front of them all living beings. Thousands of acres of virgin forests have been destroyed in the north of the island of Evia. Also, an ancient olive grove was burned near the village Rovies, and in it a 2500-year-old olive tree called Nymph, still fruitful. It was described in ancient times by the geographer and philosopher Strabo. It was among the oldest trees in the world. “This 2500 year old three in the Greek island of Evia saw civilizations rise, crumble and fall. It couldn’t survive this one. But perhaps it glimpsed the crumbling.”

We dedicate this special projection to the olive Nymph with the deepest sorrow.

Below the intro/review of the film written by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:



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Magnificent7 2021 Belgrade

Written 23-09-2021 23:07:22 by Tue Steen Mller

 Magnificent7 2021 Belgrade

”My headline is ordinary people”. Director Marc Isaacs is behind the camera skype-talking with his producer, who gives him the information that the broadcasters of today only want to give money for more commercial/sensational stories. Not ordinary people stories.

For me being involved in the extraordinary festival Magnificent7 I have always been drawn by extraordinary films about ordinarypeople. ”Filmmaker’s House” by Isaacs is a film like that, including warmth and love and respect for its characters. Ahh, I don’t like the word ”characters”… better is human beings caught by the camera in a film that is intelligent, playful, fun to watch, lovely human beings, who are who they are – on the stage of the Real and Extraordinary Life.

Absolutely the same you can say about “Merry Christmas, Yiwu” by Mladen Kovačević: Intelligent, playful, respectful… I don’t recall to get so close to  



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Mads Hedegaard: Cannon Arm and The Arcade Quest

Written 18-09-2021 12:31:17 by Tue Steen Mller

To sit in a cinema watching documentaries! In Malmø where the 32nd Nordisk Panorama takes place. Anita Reher, my colleague from the time where EDN (European Documentary Network) was alive and kicking, invited me to be a juror in the competition for new talents called New Nordic Voice. Thanks. To sit in a cinema… have not done so for a loong time. 

The festival opened Thursday night as always at this Nordic gathering in a good atmosphere.

To be honest I considered not to go to watch a film having read that it dealt with a man, who would beat a record of playing arcade games… what is that?

I went and liked the film a lot. I did not learn anything about arcade games but I met some great personalities, “heroic outsiders”, they are called in the describtion below that I have taken from the website of the Danish Film Institute. I would add artists to characterise them. The protagonist Kim “Kanonarm” Købke who is not, to say the least, a big talker. During the film he mumbles, hmmm, strange sounds come from him while he is playing – and still the line I remember so well is “oh, some wonderful plants” said by the player, while he is out in the dark peeing in a small break from the ambition to beat the record! One of his friends (Michael) Dyst is a writer, who reads some of his fine poems in between the arcade games. Reminds me of Yahya Hassan. And Carsten (Tommy Lauridsen) who has dedicated his life to analyse the music of Johan Sebastian Bach! There are other personalities in the Bip Bip Bar on Fælledvej in Copenhagen and there is a lot beer and music. And fun. The film has a flow with energetic scenes put together in a way so there are also pauses from the sound of the arcade machines. Here is the synopsis: 

 «A film about friendship and arcade games that will put a smile on your face and tug at your heartstrings. With the help from his friends at Bip Bip Bar, Kim Cannon Arm attempts to be the first in the world to play an arcade machine from the early '80s for 100 consecutive hours. With its collection of heroic outsiders, dreams about legendary world records, quirky hairdos and brilliant players, the documentary praises solidarity and the attempt to achieve the sublime.”

Quite a refreshing documentary!

Will come back with more small reports but not about the films from the competition – the jury still have 6 long documentaries to watch before deciding the winner.

Denmark, 2021, 97 mins.


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Baltic Sea Docs 2021: Courage

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

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

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

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


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Baltic Sea Docs announces the programme

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

Baltic Sea Docs announces the programme

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

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

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



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Stefan Pavlović: Looking for Horses

Written 24-08-2021 11:40:02 by Tue Steen Mller

The film received the Special Jury Award at the Sarajevo FF’s documentary competition. And before that also an award at Visions du Réel in Nyon. The first feature documentary of the director, a gem, a very original work by a young director, who surprised me through the whole film, putting texts on the screen, having a sequence that takes the viewer from the lake that is the main location of the film, to Canada, where the director lived with his family after they moved from Bosnia. The texts on the screen are informative or they express that Stefan does not understand all Zdravko says. As communication is a theme of the film – Zdravko lost one eye and most of his hearing during the war in the beginning of the 90’es, Stefan fights to express himself in Bosnian but fails most of the time suffering from being a stutter due to the many languages he knows – if I get it right.

But it does not matter, they build a beautiful friendship with the camera as the tool and they have wonderful conversations, where Stefan often asks Zdravko „what does ... mean“. What do you think about this film, Stefan asks Zdravko, it will be good, is the answer. Zdravko has been living at and on the lake for 18 years in different places like at the church on the island. He is quite a character knowing how to come up with sounds that make fish come closer, he is followed by a dog, and he knows where the wild horses are. As the director puts it on his website: „Where for the fisherman the lake stands for a withdrawal from a fractured country, a land of war; for the filmmaker it precisely means the return to that broken place, the land of his parents“.

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! 

https://www.stefanpavlovic.com/lookingforhorses.html#img3

The Netherlands, Bosnia & Herzegovina, France, 88 mins., 2021


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Documentary Awards at Sarajevo FF 2021

Written 20-08-2021 11:07:39 by Tue Steen Mller

Documentary Awards at Sarajevo FF 2021

Jury:

Cecilia Lidin (Film Consultant, Denmark)

Jean-Pierre Rehm (General Delegate of FIDMarseille – International Cinema Film Festival, France)

Mila Turajlić (Director, Serbia)

HEART OF SARAJEVO FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM

LANDSCAPES OF RESISTANCE

Serbia, Germany, France

Director: Marta Popivoda

Award in the amount of 3,000 €, sponsored by the Government of Switzerland

The cinematic solution to tell the story about 97 year old Yugoslav partisan Sonja Vujanovic is admirable. And her story is amazing and she talks so well, to the beautiful flow of images created by Ivan Markovic, edited superbly by Jelena Maksimovic. I watched and listened to the powerful old lady’s anti-fascist journey from Belgrade to Auschwitz. What a woman. Courage. The director and co-writer, the grandchild Ana Vujanovic, however, want to link the partisan’s story to their own activism of today. For me it becomes a bit “gemacht”, does not catch my interest… get me back to the old lady, I was thinking. 

SPECIAL JURY AWARD

LOOKING FOR HORSES

Netherlands, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Director: Stefan Pavlović

Award in the amount of 2,500 €

SPECIAL JURY MENTION

THE SAME DREAM

Romania

Director: Vlad Petri

HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD

LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES

Turkey, Germany, France

Director: Ahmet Necdet Çupur

Best film of the Competition Programme - Documentary Film dealing with the subject of human rights. Award in the amount of 3,000 €, sponsored by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Very good choice – a family film made by the director/cameraman who returns to the village in Turkey, where his siblings want to break away from the strict conservatism performed by the father. Made with love and painful understanding. You often feel embarrassed being with the family – that’s strong.


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Stefani: Days and Nights with Dimitra K

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

Stefani: Days and Nights with Dimitra K

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

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

Below you have a link to the website of Eva and you will notice, how she shifts in film durations – there are none of the films that fit the television slots we know – 26 or 52 minutes. Her films have had a good life on festivals like “The Box” from 2004 that got an award at Cinéma du Réel. That film is just of many that communicates Eva’s interest in and sense for people, which is so obvious in the new film about Dimitra, the prostitute she has followed for a decade - as a friend and close observer of the big woman, who likes her job and set up standards for the profession far from today’s tragic trafficking. Eva is there with the camera, asks questions to Dimitra, laughs with the charismatic woman, go with her to conferences about prostitution and prostitutes, to political meetings, sees her with her dozen of cats, hears her family story – in a film that falls in two parts, first one in Dimitra’s brothel, second one in her flat in the middle of the city. The film is a true evidence of how important it is to be close to and like the one you are filming and have curiosity to human life as it unfolds outside normal circles. Eva Stefani wants to learn about life when she films and in this case she gives the audience the wonderful opportunity to meet Dimitra, a strong and yet vulnerable woman taking us around in the streets of Athens. Could you move a bit Dimitra so Acropolis can be seen in the picture… Dimitra, can you turn on some light… they collaborate Dimitra and Eva Stefani, the unique Greek filmmaker.

https://evastefani.gr/bio

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

Greece, 2021, 72 mins.


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CINDOC-TBILISI 2021 HYBRID EDITION

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

CINDOC-TBILISI 2021  HYBRID EDITION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Parramon & Arzallus: Altsasu

Written 11-08-2021 10:47:54 by Tue Steen Mller

… with the subtitle Gau Hura – That Night.

The film, completed in May 2021, was shown at DocsBarcelona. In a cinema. I could not be there but was told by festival director Joan Gonzalez that the film after the screening was met with a two minute standing applause by the audience. Already when we in the selection committee - in the beginning of this year - chose the still unfinished film for the festival it made a big impression on me, a Dane, who had never heard this scandalous story from a place called Altsasu in Navarra, which is considered Basque even if it formally is not. The work by Marc Parramon and Amets Arzallus is an example of a down to the smallest detail researched piece of investigative journalism turned into an emotionally strong character born documentary about abuse of power from the Spanish authorities. The producer Alejandro García de Vicuña, from Marmoka Films, sent me a link to an English subtitled version. I have watched it a couple of times, amazed of its quality and shocked by its content. Here is a logline quote from the background dossier sent to me by the producer: „ A bar fight in a small town in the Basque Country becomes an act of terrorism. This is the story of the fight for justice of some families against a great political, legal and media construction, which draws from a past of conflict, and from which they cannot escape.“

 

 



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Nordisk Panorama Forum 2021

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

Nordisk Panorama Forum 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

BSD 25 Years

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

BSD 25 Years

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Blunder of Love & Bless You Awarded

Written 13-07-2021 17:26:22 by Tue Steen Mller

The winners of the Doc Alliance Awards have been announced on 13 July at Cannes Docs, the documentary-focused industry programme of the Cannes Film Festival. Doc Alliance is a network consisting of seven of the most influential European documentary film festivals, each of which nominated two films for the awards.

This year’s Doc Alliance Award — Best Feature Film went for the first time to the category nomination by DOK Leipzig: “The Blunder of Love” by Rocco Di Mento, which competed for the Audience Award at the festival in 2020. In his search through family archives, Rocco Di Mento unearths old 8mm home movies, an unpublished novel, various love letters and a whole host of long-suppressed feelings – a mixture that begins to develop a dynamic of its own. The issue becomes not just about the search for the love of one’s life, but also the question of what holds people together beyond their relationship status and degree of kinship.



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Doker 2021 The Winners

Written 28-06-2021 13:42:35 by Tue Steen Mller

Doker 2021 The Winners

The Doker festival in Moscow ended last night. I managed to watch and write about 8 of the films, one short and seven features shown in the main competition. I am a fan of the festival that I have visited once as a juror, and been a juror online (with deliberations via email!) at the first edition of the festival in 2015. Of the flms I saw (online, links from the organizers), 3 of them I have written about, 2 others I have seen but they did not reach the blog in a written form. First the jury’s motivation (the jury: Nikolaus Geyerhalter (Austria), Jordana Berg (Brazil), Maya Kuzina (Russia)): 

 



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Doker 2021 Graboy The War of Raya Sinitsina

Written 26-06-2021 14:26:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Doker 2021 Graboy The War of Raya Sinitsina

They make good documentaires in Israel. Here is one more, awarded at the DocAviv. The Best Director award as well as Best Cinematography. And I understand why: The debutant Efim Graboy works brilliantly with several layers and in different styles and it all comes well together in the good story that Raisa, 94 years old, but strong and not afraid to say her opinion or show her emotions, delivers to Fima, the name she uses for the director.

The language is Russian, the location is Israel (Tel Aviv?) and Raisa´s story goes back to the siege of Leningrad and the WW2, where she was a nurse. There are some, but not many, archive images from Leningrad, we know them from many documentaries, last one Blockade by Sergei Loznitsa. I was not scared in Leningrad, she says, I was young, but I am afraid now, she says, the charismatic war veteran with the many medals, still dedicated to celebrate Victory Day May 9 and still active at the veteran meetings, where fewer turn up. They have died but their faces stay on photos on the wall – and some are at home like the man, who turns 100 and gets a visit from Raisa and two other old Russian women. Raisa is a proud veteran, when she shows the director a greeting from Putin himself but now at the end of her life, she is more and more occupied with her dreams that she reveals to Fima. They bring her back to her youth and closer to Fima, whose camera again and again catches the emotions of Raisa. In many fine poetic situations. It feels like a fine choice, when the director places her in fields of sunflowers. Or at an empty concert hall playing cello for the first time in decades.

I was happy to have met Raisa Sinitsina. And it reminds me about the words of Lithuanian Audrius Stonys : We make documentary films to keep people alive…

Israel, 2021,

https://www.midff.com/main


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Doker 2021 Higgins&Carrier Wandering

Written 24-06-2021 21:15:22 by Tue Steen Mller

Doker 2021 Higgins&Carrier Wandering

… with the subtitle ”A Rohingya Story” takes place in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangla Desh, the biggest in the world with 700.000 people from the Muslim minority in Myanmar, before named Burma. They fled from genocide, and ended up here. In a humanitarian catastrophy, where they fight to survive.

The film by Olivier Higgins and Mélanie Carrier is excellent. Heartbreaking in content and brilliant in storytelling. The cinematography is superb, the camera is treating the refugees and their devastating environment and living conditions with beautifully composed and framed images and the film gives the viewer the necessary information through the voice off by Kalam (Kala Miya). The directors (on the Doker website) tells about how the film came about:

 



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Doker 2021 Dr&Haragonics Her Mothers

Written 23-06-2021 13:09:07 by Tue Steen Mller

Doker 2021 Dr&Haragonics Her Mothers

Oh, I Iove that film because it gets so close to the couple Virag and Nora that you can really sense their love to each other and the small and bigger crisis they experience, when they, a lesbian couple, succeed in adopting a girl, two and a half years old, Meli(ssza) and start bringing her up. I love when the directors Asia Dér and Sári Haragonics stay long at a scene, where Nora argues that she does not want to give Meli chocolate when she picks her up in the kindergarten – this is what Virag does. Chocolate or not chocolate, this is a normal situation that everyone can recognise, also this grandfather. The same goes for the goodnight scene, where Meli wants Mommy (Virag) to put her to bed and not Dada (Nora). 

It’s not that easy, words to that effect, says Nora, sad, with lesbian parenting. Especially not in Orban-instan, with a prime minister of Hungary, who is visually quoted with one of his stupid male chauvinistic comments. 

I love that film because I can´t help love the couple thanks to the presence of the camera in the discussions and dialogues in the house that also includes three dogs! They are taking lessons in German, will they end up in Austria… is that a better place to be for lesbian couples? First of all, however, the film conveys the joy and happiness of the two, when they are able to add the motherhood to their love. 

The rythm of the film is calm, no running after dramatic situations except for some footage from demonstrations framing the political landscape in Hungary. Whatever sexual orientation you might have, you can identify with the small or big problems you face in a family.

Hungary, 2020, 75 mins.

https://www.midff.com/main


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Doker 2021 Roman Hodel The Game

Written 20-06-2021 22:11:54 by Tue Steen Mller

In my visit to DOKER online I left the main competition to have a look at the short film competition and my eyes stopped at “Das Spiel”, “The Game” in English, a film for a football fan like me, who right now follows what happens at the UEFA European Championship. With great enthusiasm crossing fingers for Denmark.

The film is Swiss and lets the viewer follow the referee on the pitch and his work with sound access to what he hears from his linesmen and says to them and to the people at the room of VAR, where you find the video assistant referees, who can suggest a change a decision of a refeee, sometimes by letting him run to the screen to study a replay of what could be a foul. Penalty or not penalty.

The focus is on one referee, who runs and runs, talks to the players, gives cards that are red or yellow under great stress having players and fans go against him. There was years ago a feature doc named “Kill the Referee”, this one is a short super-professional film – with the words of the director:

“By closing in on family relationships and on player-referee interactions, the film allows the audience to experience the sheer unbearable pressure of a referee while getting to know the person under the referee jersey: Fedayi San — a human being with fears and doubts.”

(I googled Fedayi San, who is a FIFA referee and has been at international Games, but he is not at the competition that runs right now.)

Will I have more understanding and sympathy for the referee after this film –maybe not all the time, but I am indeed on his side, when the players complain constantly when everyone can see that there is a foul.

“They are like kids”, he says when he picks up his father after the match. 

Switzerland, 2020, 17 mins.

https://www.midff.com/


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Doker Jessica Nettelbladt: Prince of Dreams

Written 18-06-2021 15:56:20 by Tue Steen Mller

Doker Jessica Nettelbladt: Prince of Dreams

Let me give you a brief content quote from the Doker website:

”Erik was born as a girl but always felt like a boy. As an 18-year-old, he began the process of gender reassignment. This is where ‘Prince of Dreams’ starts too. Shot over a full 10 years and with no filter. Isolation, bullying and anxiety have followed Erik throughout his life, while he has struggled with recognition from his surroundings and himself…”



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Doker 2021 Andr Jindrich: A New Shift

Written 18-06-2021 15:30:28 by Tue Steen Mller

Doker 2021 Andr Jindrich: A New Shift

It’s a good film. Not because of the theme (a mine is closed, miners are without job, what to do?) that is pretty much known. This time it takes place in Silesia, a region that has also been described before, mostly by Polish filmmakers – No, it is good because of the miner Tomas, who becomes the IT programmer Tomas. The director has followed Tomas for four years in his struggle to get a new education – his doubts, his warm realitionship to his children, his dating to find a new partner, his café talks with friends, his passion for Banik Ostrava, the football team he supports.

I write Tomas as I get close to him and his positive attitude to life. He is himself, when he is at interviews for IT Jobs, grounded and charming and funny, also when he talks to a full theater in Prague at a TED arrangement about him succeeding. It made me for a moment think “is this a corporate film” as it of course puts a positive light on the retraining program Tomas is part of. But why bother as this for once is a positive and authentic film. It is the director’s first film, well told (dramaturg is as always in Czech  documentaries Jan Gogola) and being in both DOK Leipzig and Ji.hlava festivals is quite a good start! And now a Russian premiere, congratulations, waiting for the next film from the director.  

Czech Republic, 2020, 91 mins.

This is an edited repeat of a review from this site.

https://www.midff.com/main


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Doker 2021 Billie Mintz: Portrayal

Written 17-06-2021 11:27:53 by Tue Steen Mller

Doker 2021 Billie Mintz: Portrayal

The Russian documentary film festival has chosen quite a story to open its 2021 festival. Well crafted and told, full of layers and conflicts with several strong characters. With the young Roman Lapshin as the one in focus. He wants to confront the artist Oz Almog, who had a world-wide success with portraits of well known Jews through exhibitions named "Index Judaeorum".

 



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Doker 2021

Written 14-06-2021 15:24:19 by Tue Steen Mller

Doker 2021

 

The festival starts on Friday June 18 and goes on until June 27, the Moscow International Documentary Film Festival, that is close to my heart, because of the dedication, thoughtfulness, independence and competence of those, who are running it, the team, that is described like this on the website:

The DOKer team is a community of like-minded people: directors, cinematographers, sound directors, producers and specialists in other fields, but all passionate enthusiasts for nonfiction cinema…

I was at the festival in 2019 in the short film jury, where awards were given not only to Best film but also to Best Directing, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound. Respect!

 



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Biograffilm Festival Bologna

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

Biograffilm Festival Bologna

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

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

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

https://www.biografilm.it/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tatyana Soboleva: The Russian Way

Written 04-06-2021 21:51:26 by Tue Steen Mller

Tatyana Soboleva: The Russian Way

”After twenty years abroad, Natalya comes back to Russia and tries to change the life in her native village by using Western experience, but the authorities don't want that and the villagers fear them.”

This brief description is connected to the vimeo link sent to me by Tatyana Soboleva, whose film was premiered a couple of days ago in Moscow. A film that Soboleva has worked on for years with dedication and stubbornness

like her protagonist, who wants change as a true activist on a pretty difficult mission to say the least, in the village Norino. Going from door to door Natalya collects signatures in order to approach the authorities, personified in Detkin, who is briefly seen in the film at a gathering, where the wonderful fatherland Russia is song about and where Natalya is praised for her activities, leaving the meeting sad as she got no chance to address the audience. Together with her companion Mikhail, who later that day – a text is saying on the screen – on the order of Detkin - is arrested for not being long enough in Russia. Would have love that theme to be a bit more developed. 

But the activities… Natalya protests to the cutting down of the forest. She organises cleaning up of trash and garbage that visiting people have thrown in nature. With a few villagers helping. She wants the road going through the village to be paved. And she donates out of her own pocket a medical station.

She is not alone and the scenes from the meetings held in her beautiful wooden house are caught by the camera of Soboleva. Marina and Nikolay are with her as is Oksana, who is to take care of the medical station if I got it right. Marina is a powerful, charismatic character who comments on Natalya’s letter to Detkin and the authorities – “be short and concise”. She is also the one, who has taken care of the collect of money for getting a container to fill up with the garbage. Until a meeting where her husband says that his wife whould not collect and have the money with her. “She’s freaking out”. In the house at the meetings is also Mikhail, who has such a wonderful face sitting there saying nothing being the one driving Natalya around. Their relationship is close and warm – and as the film full of respect and an eye for situations that can illustrate how life is in a remote village, where the car with bread stops at nighttime to sell to the inhabitants.

It’s Natalya’s native village, she wants “to give back” but as an academic living abroad for decades, she does not really fit in any longer as Marina is saying in a scene – and her outsider position is strongly underlined by Tatayna Soboleva, who with her camera films Natalya, who is taking photos with her cellphone. Documenting life. Two observers, the director and the protagonist, depict, in a non-aggressive melancholic tone a piece of life in a place called Norino in Russia.

PS. It’s not easy to make films in Russia if you are a director like Tatyana Soboleva with a “documentary heart”. I was told by her: The film is supported by Current Time TV and if it is to be shown in Russia it has to be marked as “an organization performing the functions of a foreign agent”.!!!!!! 


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sun&Sea (Marina) An Opera-Performance

Written 02-06-2021 11:18:18 by Tue Steen Mller

... by three Lithuanian artists; One of them Rugilė Barzdiukaitė, who stood for the direction and scenography, was to kind to invite me knowing my enthusiasm for art and culture in her country. The texts were made by Vaiva Grainytė, translated from Lithuanian by Rimas Ugiris and the Music and musical direction by Lina Lapelytė. 

It's a one hour show where (in Copenhagen) we the audience were "watching from scaffolding above the stage, looking down on a sandy beach, complete with sunbathing visitors, a mosaic of towels, bright bathing suits, and plastic toys." A quote from the website of the CC, Copenhagen Contemporary, where you may also find the libretto, song by the opera singers lying on the beach - here is the link: 

https://copenhagencontemporary.org/en/sun-sea/?fbclid=IwAR1U2jQrh_Wr8KAK8hLtolHqM9zQ51A3CKY35uknEStBorAnA0no2X_fg2s

Yes, from above, lovely, joyful making us remember our behaviour when at the beach with children, with playing badminton, building sand castles, talking, caressing...

Here are some few words from the libretto:

”Hand it here, I need to rub my legs...‘Cause later they’ll peel and crack, And chap.Hand it I will rub you... Otherwise, you’ll be red as a lobster...Hand it I will rub you...”

”What a sky, just look, so clear!Not a single cloud...What is there? – seagulls or terns?I can never tell... O la vida, la vida”

”What’s wrong with people – they come here with their dogs, who leave shit on the beach, fleas on the sand!...”

”I flew to a Portuguese corrida –A short trip, just for fun.But then the pilot had to land the plane in London:So I called up my friends. And stayed over for a couple of days. And from that day on, Linda and I never been apart.”

The libretto is wonderful - I sang it for my wife this morning (!), the whole performance is amazing. I asked Rugilė afterwards if it was hard for the singers/actors, especially the kids. No, she said, the kids are the survivors, they find new games. When I was there there were 4 shows in a row, no problem the director said but we have had 8 in a row... The opera-performance won at the biennale in Venice.

Yes, the Lithuanians know how to surprise and make poetry out of something ordinary, going to the beach that we aill all do very soon.

PS. I knew Rugilė Barzdiukaitė from her - also original - multilayered documentary "Acid Forest" that I praised here 

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4379/

 


Vurdering:

 
Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona 2021 Awards

Written 30-05-2021 18:19:57 by Tue Steen Mller

DOCSBARCELONA 2021 Awards

DocsBarcelona Award for Best Film : Gunda, directed by Victor Kossakovsky. New Talent Award: Inside the Red Brick Wall, directed by Hong Kong Documentary Filmakers. Latitud Award: El secreto del Doctor Grinberg, directed by Ida Cuéllar. Amnistia Internacional Catalunya Award: Room Without a View, directed by Roser Corella. Audience Award: The Return: Life after ISIS, directed by Alba Sotorra. DOC-U Award: La ermitaña, directed by Anna Hanslik. Docs&Teens Award: El niño de fuego, directed by Ignacio Acconcia. Young Jury Reteena Award: The Return, Life After ISIS, directed by Alba Sotorra. Docs del Mes Award: Honeyland, directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov.

Industry Awards

Public Pitch Award: Unbound, directed by John English and Tom Garner. Speed Meetings Award: Touche, directed by Martina Moor. Doc Series Award: Queen of Chess, directed by Bernadett Tuza-Ritter. Rough Cut Pitch Award: Age, directed by Gustav Ågerstrand, Åsa Ekman, Oscar Hedin y Anders Teigen. Public Pitch Award: Ole mi coño - The Riposte to Digital Violence, directed by Patricia Franquesa. DAE Award: Pepi Fandango, directed by Lucija Stojevic. FipaDoc Award: The Click Trap, directed by Peter Porta. East Doc Platform Award: Unbound, directed by John English y Tom Garner. DokFest Munich - Doc Around Europe Award: Ole mi coño - The Riposte to Digital Violence, directed by Patricia Franquesa. San Sebastian Lau Haizetara co-production forum: The Click Trap, directed by Peter Porta.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Letitia Popa: What is documentary

Written 30-05-2021 15:33:12 by Tue Steen Mller

Letitia Popa: What is documentary

This essay is written by Romanian film student Letitia Popa. It follows essays written by students from Zelig Film School in Bolzano according to the same exercise described below:

What is a documentary? A few weeks ago, me and my colleagues from the Documentary Department at UNATC Bucharest, participated in a workshop with Tue Steen Müller. We had interesting discussions on what it means to make documentaries and what future prospects we might have, after graduation. He proposed a very interesting exercise; to describe what a documentary is, in only three, firsthand words. Afterwards, I was asked to write an essay reflecting on what it means for me to make documentaries, reflecting on these words. I found it very interesting that after taking a look at what we came up with, I could place these words together in 5 different piles. 

 



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Essays

CinDOC Mentoring & Pitch/1

Written 26-05-2021 17:50:27 by Tue Steen Mller

This is a quote from a text posted here some months ago... when the mentoring program started. At the next post you will find the awarded projects at the pitching session of yesterday, a long and fine day with 66 people on zoom from the very beginning and only a few who had to leave at the end of the day - very pleased to moderate for four hours, an easy job as all is so well prepared by the Cinédoc Team and the pitchers were ready after training by Cecilia Lidin and Martijn de Pas. Chapeau to everyone attending and for the funders of an event of importance - the Swiss SDC and the Civil Society Centre in Prague. And first of all good luck to the filmmakers, there is sooo much talent.



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CinDOC Mentoring & Pitch

Written 26-05-2021 17:17:23 by Tue Steen Mller

This post starts with a quote from a text I wrote, when the Film Mentoring Program of Cinédoc Tbilisi started:

"I have not talked to anyone, who prefers zoom to face-to-face meetings. On the other hand the zoom or teams or skype make it possible to see and talk to each other in these times of pandemic. And it works well as I experience right now being part of the Film Mentoring Program of the International Documentary Film Festival CinéDOC-Tbilisi. The cast are 15 young and younger filmmakers from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan – and 5 mentors: Gitte Hansen Schnyder, Audrius Stonys, Sergey Dvortsevoy, Phil Jandaly and me. Organised by Ileana Stanculescu and Artchil Khetagouri, and their excellent team, who I know from the festival and from summer schools, online and physical. It’s super-professional and with warmth and enthusiasm in the spirit of ”we want to help”. 

The set-up is new and exciting for me: Each mentor works with 3 filmmakers 3 x three hours with weeks in between, where the filmmakers write or film or think… So far I – and the other mentors – have had the first round of individual meetings plus two times group meetings  with 3 filmmakers, who are not the ones with whom you have face-to-face meetings." And then after hours and months of pleasure a zoom pitch took place yesterday - for four hours where the filmmakers presented their projects. 66 (including the filmmakers) were there from the start welcoming projects from Caucasus and Central Asia, and only a few had to leave the session. There were major doc festivals, funds, a couple of producers and one broadcaster, Current Time TV. So no comments on slots etc. Cecilia Lidin and Martijn de Pas had done the pitch training. The Swiss SDC and the Civil Society Centre in Prague gave support. Here comes the list of winners: 



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DocsBarcelona 2021

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

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

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

https://docsbarcelona.com/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Krakow opens wirh Polański, Horowitz..

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

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

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

 



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