Astra Film Festival

… in Sibiu, Romania celebrates its 25th edition. For that reason Cineuropa brings an interview with the founding director Dumitru Budrala. He looks back and makes a status on the state of the documentary art. Here is a quote – but read it all, link below – including a question:

You said that documentary films are “lifeboats in a sea of alternative facts”. Can you elaborate on this opinion on the power and usefulness of the genre?
The audience potential of documentary cinema is amazing, as it can reach both a wider public and a specialised, niche audience. At every edition, Astra Film Festival offers a host of thematic sidebars that explore reality by proposing an intimate, detailed portrait of humanity. These films are a shortcut to social consciousness and a tool for change, “a therapy for the mending of society”, as Cristi Puiu [a jury member at Astra 2018] puts it. Both in Romania and around the world, daily events in the social and political landscape leave a mark on the very essence of the human condition. Reality is more spectacular than fiction – or, as they say, “life beats film”. Documentary has become more and more relevant because people feel the need for an alternative source of knowledge and new tools for understanding reality in a world where fake news, intolerance, cynical dissimulation and the redaction of the past are becoming more and more invasive…

Looking at the programme a thematic choice catches my eye, “On the Road to Europe” that features 10 films that deal with how Eastern European countries have been dealing with the post-communism reality. I was reminded of the fine films by Vuk Janic “Last Yugoslavian Football team” (for a football freak what a great team it was and what a tragedy that all went into pieces, at least football-wise), Hungarian Tibor Kocsis “New Eldorado”, a perfect illustration of new capitalism, Latvian Kaspars Goba’s “Homo@Lv” from 2010 (homophobia, intolerance) and Marcin Latallo’s “Our Street” from 2006, the deroute of working class family.

A clever so-called side-bar in a cleverly curated festival that runs until the 21st of October.

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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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