Baltic Sea Docs Riga/ 3

I have mentioned so many times the old masters like Herz Frank, Ivars Seleckis, Mark Soosaar, Henrikas Sablevicius, Uldis Brauns and their younger students like Audrius Stonys, Arunas Matelis (who are no longer the young generation but masters who belong to the Baltic poetic tradition), but there are always directors, who sing with their own voice, in this case with many voices like Laila Pakalnina, who has made long and short documentaries, and feature films, conceptual and not conceptual, provoking in subject and style(s). Always surprising.

… and always a gift for a moderator at a pitching session, like me at the Baltic Sea Docs this year. I had no idea what Pakalnina wanted to say or how she wanted to present her project called ”Spoon”, and I was wonderfully amused as was the audience and the panel of decision makers, who were asked to get active. But first the catalogue text for the film:

”Men can drill very deep, down to where oil is. Large groups of qualified men equipped with machines can extract oil and make it travel far, to a place where other qualified men can transform oil into useful plastic. The plastic is then moved away to a factory, where more men can turn it into spoons, which will be even further transported to all sorts of eateries, and, likely, will be available free of charge. This meaningful life will last for one unceremonious meal.This film is going to be about a plastic spoon, society, and society’s progress. About the steps that must be taken so that people can end the spoon’s journey and throw it into the bin…”.

And it was at this point the panelists became actors in a documentary film pitched to them:

The last scene of the film, the throwing of plastic spoons into a bin was shot yesterday, sunday morning on the 11th floor of the Hotel Albert. Where the 20th edition of the Baltic Sea Docs 2016 took place. Take a look at the photo – From the left to the right: Arte’s Valérie Theobalt, MDR’s Heribert Schneiders, Estonian Television’s Marje Jurtshenko, IKON (The Netherlands) Margje de Koning and DR/TV’s Jan Daae.

The film is to be shot in black and white by Gints Berzins, who had been on the hotel location to decide, where the camera should be placed and whose few super aesthetic panoramic shots were shown on the screen while the discussion of the film took place.

Pakalnina was accompanied on stage by Lithuanian producer Dagne Vildiunaite, not present was the Estonian producer Kaspar Kallas. With Pakalnina being Latvian this is going to be a true Baltic coproduction supported by the film institutions, I guess, and maybe some of the spoon throwing decision makers from the photo. From my side thanks for the show and mind my words, there is no risk in supporting Laila Pakalnina. You will get quality, whether you like the style she chooses for storytelling or not. 

Photos: Photo: Agnese Zeltina… thanks!

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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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