Alina Rudnitskaya: Civil Status

I am in Riga for the Baltic Sea Forum (BSF) for new documentary projects to be pitched this coming weekend.  The BSF, however, includes a hig quality film programme for the general public at the Cinema K. Suns in Riga.

One of the films to be shown is ”Civil Status” by Alina Rudnitskaya, a brilliant observational documentary filmed at the Civil Registry office in St. Petersburg, where people come to have births, marriages, divorces and deaths registered. ”It’s like a theatre here”, one says in the beginning of the film, and it indeed is, the Theatre of Life. This has obviously been the aim of the director – to catch these emotional moments, where people come to have their divorces registered or to get married. The young women working in the office have a job that shifts from being verbally attacked and called idiots, to situations where they are subject to flirt, or where they master the happy ceremony of marriage. Faces, joy, sorrow, fun, despair… the camera stays sometimes at a distance and sometimes it goes very close.  That close that we are watching a couple having a dialogue of reconciliation, or to be more precise, she tells him ”that there was nothing between us”, and begs him not to sign but walk home and give it another chance. Dramatic scenes like this are in the film.

It’s all very well composed, rythmical, with atmosphere conveyed,  and lives up to what a documentary should be: multilayered and universal. And about Life.

Russia, St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studio, 29 mins., 2005

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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