American Documentary Film Festival/ 3

Festivals would not be able to function without volunteers. People who help without being paid. The American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs is no exception. In its third edition the help you get from local people who support the festival is second to none. They drive you, show you around, welcome you in the theatre, ”how are you today” – but contrary to most festivals, where youngsters sign up, here they are retired people, who give a hand… or host a reception or a dinner. It is quite remarkable and extremely nice. We are in Palm Springs that many people have chosen to live in in their so-called third age, enjoying the good weather – I am wearing shorts here, they say we are entering spring from winter!

I was asked to introduce the Polish film ”Deep Love” by young Jan Matuszynski, who was present and received quite an applause for his cinematically brilliant interpretation of the love relationship between Janusz, who got paralyzed when diving and Joanna, his girl friend, who worries as he insists to continue diving and break the record by going down to 100 meters, even if his medical status, as the doctors tell him, does not allow him to do so.

This is what I wrote back in November when I saw the film at DOKLeipzig: ”Deep Love” is a multi-layered story. It is about a man, whose life first of all consists of a passion for diving, a passion that had severe consequences for him when his head hit a rock, making him a handicapped man, who understands what the people near him says to him but can not talk himself and has a paralysed arm and leg. Nevertheless, he wants to get into the sea again and go deeper, encouraged by his close friend and co-diver, yet discouraged by his girl friend, who is afraid of what could happen to him if he realises his wish to go 100 meter down. Here lies the core of the film, the relationship between them, the love story with her in the centre, with her constant care and anxiety. A very strong story but for my taste a bit too dramatic and disturbingly set up with music and sound… on the big screen in Palm Springs, my objections were no longer there, I have to say. Reminding me of how important the watching situation is for your evaluation of a film.

Festival director Teddy Grouya, who is constantly moving from venue to venue, energetic and welcoming filmmakers and audience, has also arranged panel meetings in the morning. The first morning I attended a pitch competition as one of four judges, 7 projects were presented, we will announce the winner later. Yesterday morning I was local journalist Bruse Fessier (us two on the photo) talking to filmmakers about how to draw attention to their works – the one hour session turned into an interaction where some of the filmmakers pitched their projects and got reactions from the two of us. My humble contribution from a European point of view was that you start your marketing the moment where you go public with your project, applying for funding, taking part in a pitch etc. In the US, as we saw in the morning pitch, most projects have reached (almost) the rough cut stage before they are asking for funding.

Share your love
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.

Articles: 3870