Alisa Kovalenko: We Will not Fade Away

The following are quotes from an interview I made for the IDF in December 2021, with Alisa Kovalenko and Stéphane Siophan, producer of the film:

What do you learn about yourself from filmmaking?

A: We learn to know ourselves through the world around us. We see the reflection of the world in ourselves. Coming into contact with something new, with a new experience, with a new world, always opens something in you, expands your inner space, and opens doors to new rooms. You watch and feel others, but through them you begin to better feel yourself. You learn to listen to others and, at the same time, listen to yourself. Because documentary filmmaking develops in you a unique ability to listen and see more, a capacity for supersensitive perception, it fills and opens up new meanings. We reveal ourselves through the world. The world does not exist without an observer. And it’s incredible how you can be an observer of two worlds in documentary films, the outside-world and inside-world, at the same time. While learning about the world, you always learn about yourself. That’s why documentary filmmaking is the best way to meet and have such an important dialogue with yourself.

Beautifully said… Let’s go back to Expedition 49. Where are you? Finished shooting?
A: I have just returned from Nepal, where I have finally filmed the incredible expedition of the five teenagers I have been following for two years for Expedition 49. It was a tough travel. We climbed up to the Annapurna basecamp, but we were also stuck in Kathmandu in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown. In any case, in the end it was a wonderful journey that changed us all. We have started editing with my editor Marina Maykovskaya, and I feel a bit overwhelmed because I realize that I’ve been filming five different personalities. Now I have to assemble different lifelines and narrative lines into one, but it’s a good challenge! I will keep filming a bit in Donbas while I’m editing, to show how this expedition has affected my characters and which turns their lives take. The expedition itself is only a small part of this teenage adventure documentary, which takes place mainly on the Donbas steppe, in these dying frontline coal-mining settlements. It’s not a mountain film or a typical coming-of-age movie, but a multi-layered story touching upon a generation of children who have spent half of their lives in a war. It’s the story of working-class kids, which I also consider myself to be.

Photo: Alisa Kovalenko

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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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