Baltic Sea Docs 2014/ 3

Hotel Metropole, Kuldiga, Latvia. Early monday morning, still wonderful ”indian summer”. I am waiting for my colleagues, to take breakfast before we go back to visit Uldis Brauns, Latvian documentary master, 81 years old, a gentle man. We were there yesterday, afternoon and evening, we have a follow-up today, the research team behind a film on the Baltic poetic cinema masters: Uldis Cekulis (producer and cameraman), Arvids Celmanis (sound engineer), Kristine Briede, whose idea it is, and me. More about that tomorrow.

I am thinking back on yesterday morning on the last day of the Baltic Sea Docs 2014, pitching in the morning and individual meetings in the afternoon. Did it go well, yes I think so, will some of the pitchers leave with good results. Well, in terms of financing there will not be a lot of immediate results but contacts have been made that can be developed later on, and Baltic Sea Docs is today also a place where young filmmakers can develop their skills and meet with experienced directors and producers. It is the policy of several producers to use the event – with workshop and pitching – to launch new projects attached to new producers and directors.

One of them was Guntis Trekteris, who presented ”Tal”, about the chess master, with young Stanislavs Tokalovs, who had done his research on the

charismatic world champion and for this occasion had put together a teaser based on archive material about the man, who is said to have survived a serious kidney illness for forty years. Shooting starts soon, I am sure Trekteris, experienced producer, is invited back to potential partners for this work.

First time pitchers were Rugile Barzdziukaite an Dovydas Petravicius from Lithuania who had been to the smelly forest of in the Curonian spit peninsula, where cormorants reside and kill the trees through their acid extrements. The two showed a beautiful trailer, full of humour, introducing tourists, who visit the magic place. ”Acid Forest” (photo), a true Lithuanian poetic documentary with many layers. Surrealistic place, they say, indeed, I was there and can confirm.

Promising, as is the Swedish ”Language of Silence”, presented by producer Anna Weitz and director Frans Huhta Karlsson. The experienced company Mantaray from Sweden together with October Film from Finland (”Steam of Life”) stand behind the personal story of the director whose mother took her life when he was 10 years old. He intends to take the journey back in time to understand more, and it brings him to Finland. A personal note: This is one of the best trailers I have seen for along time: It proves the director’s cinematic skills, it has a structure and changes rythm along the way. It is so difficult to make personal films and not easier to present them visually in three minutes. Here is a good example.

It is difficult to make films and it is difficult to raise money for films, Baltic Sea Docs has for 18 years been there to help further the creative as well as the commercial process. Bravo for that and for hosting and organising such a welcoming and warm event!

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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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