Baltic Sea Docs 2015/ 2

Sunday in Riga, second day of the Baltic Sea Docs 2015. I am sitting in the lounge of the 11th floor, where the individual meetings are taking place after the remaining 10 projects of the 23 were pitched to the panel this morning. Good atmosphere, good pitches, good but also cautious comments from a panel, where the television editors are hesitating, whenever there is a project that does not fit slots and profiles. Personally, I like it, was a comment that came from the panel in these two days followed by ”but it is not for our audience”. One even said, ”it is too poetic for our audience”! There is nothing new in this, it has been like that for many years. In general public broadcasting has no space for documentaries with a high artistic and experimental ambition… must be difficult to have a job like that! Don’t envy them!

Nevertheless it was a pleasure to experience how the first project pitched this morning, ”Krucification” by Latvian Ivars Tontegode

was positively received. Knuts Skujenieks is the man behind the title, poet and philosopher, who spent 7 years in a gulag: ” While in the Soviet prison camp, Knuts starts to lose any sense of importance of the surrounding world, and instead – he finds himself. Poetry becomes Knuts,and Knuts becomes poetry; he becomes his own words, creating his own world. In its absurdity, the prison camp, instead of being a rehabilitation facility, has turned out to be a factory producing unique and strong personalities. The weakness in Soviet power is revealed, as the camp’s purpose – to destroy its ideological opponents – instead empowers them…” (quote from the catalogue). The clip presented was a fast pace visualization of Knut Skujenieks words including a rapping constructed from his words. The director has found his inspiration in the film “Black Sun” by Gary Tarn from 2005, who firstly recorded the words of the man, who got blinded and then made the pictures and composed the music. A very promising project that could also come out in different versions. Put the clip on Youtube, was my suggestion.

Also very strong and impressive was the Polish “I Would Like to tell you Everything” (photo) presented by producer Maria Krauss and director Zvika Portnoy, who had filmed three prison inmates after consultations with them – or rather had let them film themselves. They had made videoletters to their children, very moving, and having seen an 18 minutes edit made by the director I have no doubt that this will be another strong Polish documentary about the – to put it a bit tabloid – human side of a the beast.

Baltic Sea Docs has become a place for new talent to be discovered and developed, and it was lovely (just one example) to see a totally charming pitch of the Lithuanian young women Giedre Burokaité and Aiste Zegulyte, producer and director, who took everyone by surprise with their clip (and talk) of “People, Animals and Things” about taxidermists to compete on a European level! Just out of film school the two demonstrated that they know what they are doing, and that documentaries should have several layers. “I love surrealism”, as said Grigory Libergal in the panel. Indeed, there is something special about documentaries from Lithuania.

Tomorrow a final report from the Riga event, the 19th edition of Baltic Sea Docs, for the 10th time in Riga.





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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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