Awards According to Filmkommentaren

This is written four hours before the official award ceremony of the 59th (!) International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, DOKLeipzig. I have no idea of what the jury for the international competition will choose as their favourite(s) – i.e. who will receive the prestigious Golden Dove that Wojciech Staron gor last year for his ”Brothers”.

But I have seen all twelve films in that competition category and will bring my impressions and favourites from a selection I have found a good mix of auteur and issue documentaries.

If I was to give an award for the film that made me think, made me irritated because of its constant insisting on the aesthetics – beautiful framing of black & white camera work, loong shots – and a superb sound score, that as the film passer before my eyes and ears became almost physical, the winner would be Sergey Loznitsa with his ”Austerlitz” (photo), that has me watch summer dressed tourists visit concentration camp turned into museums.

If I was to give an award for the film that made the biggest

emotional impact on me with its amazingly done montage and camera work, conveying a deep respect for children who are, as says the catalogue, labelled as ”autistic”, it would go to Miroslav Janek, who describes the creative skills of five children.

If I was to give an award to the most interesting personal film in a political current context, it should go to Vitaly Mansky, who with ”Rodnye” (Close Relations”) visits his family in Lviv, Odessa, Sevastopol – he himself lives now in Riga as he is a persona non grata film-wise in Russia. An interesting insight to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. It’s a very down-to-earth interesting road movie, that Mansky has made, his best film in many years.

These are my three favourites but let me mention four more of high or good quality: The surprise being the Croatian ”Dum Spiro Spero” by author Pero Kvesic, a man who suffers behind the camera from reduced lung capacity. It’s a wonderful simple film, it has a tone, he talks so well behind the camera going around in his house, where wife and sister-in-law and son do also live, not to forget the two dogs. One could hope for one of the many awards be given to this film, produced by Nenad Puhovsky.

Also Ukrainian Serhiy Buhovsky has made a personal film with himself behind the camera and his mother in front. ”Imagine this is a feature film, not a documentary, you play an actress”, son says to mother. She was an actress when younger, there are beautiful clips from films with her and quotes from calendars, where she is giving the son advice on what to eat when he comes home – she was always working. Behind it all, however, stands the deceased father, also a filmmaker. The film, ”The Leading Role”, has its charm and is unpretentious as the mentioned Croatian autobiography is. In this one son and mother also try to realise one of the father’s scripts, if I got it right.

”The War Show”, praised by colleague Allan Berg, in Danish, on filmkommentaren, is also in the international competition. The film by Andreas Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon, is going to festivals all over, fair enough, definitely international quality, even if I do not fully share the enthusiasm that meets it.

The same can be said about the French ”A Young Girl in her Nineties” by Yann Coridian and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi that is shot in a geriatric centre where Alzheimer patients live. A charming and clever choreographer does dance workshops there and you see how his presence and dancing does well to Blanche Moreau, 92 years old woman. But his intervention with other patients is also caught by the camera. The film has great moments.

I have mentioned 7 out of 12 films, nothing wrong with the remaining 5, they are just not award candidates, I think.

Tomorrow you will get the official juries verdict from this very nice festival.

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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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