American Documentary Film Festival/ 2

Opening night in Palm Springs: Julie Cohen’s ”I Live to Sing”, or in xhosa language: Ndiphilela Ukucula. A warm film with three black, young upcoming opera stars from South Africa, who tell their stories, which are sad and uplifting at the same time. They came out of the poverty of the townships, their parents experienced the apartheid regime, they got into the Cape Town University opera section, were taught by Kamal Khan, a charismatic and dedicated teacher for them and they have now started what seem to become very succesful careers for all three of them. The film director deserves much credit for having found a tone in the film, where you laugh and enjoy the three wonderful main characters and their background. And see them develop their skills and personalities. Hilarious are the scenes with the bass baryton Thesele and his parents, who the filmmakers take to watch him and the others perform in Tales of Hoffmann – and to the first flight tour ever for them. Linda, the soprano, who do not have her parents any longer – you see her train with Khan in extraordinary, touching scenes, and you see and hear the tenor Makudupanyane, a charming boy, who will make it as a singer and maybe also as a composer.

At least that was what he told us in the audience after the screening, where the three of them with Khan came to the stage for a Q&A after each of them had performed for a full hall in Camelot Theatres. The audience, we, enjoyed this grand night full of applause from start till end. A feel-good film in the best sense of the word, well put into a historical frame: Robben Island, Mandela, Verwoerd (OMG, what a quote from this man!), and the three of them actually not interested in politics. From the stage, with a smile. Thesele said that having seen the film again, he realised that he has to follow his father’s political engagement…

I am here as a guest to take part in the festival as a juror and panelist in an atmosphere of superb hospitality in the desert where Palm Springs is situated and where the sun seems to shine all the time!

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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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