Baltic Sea Forum 2014/ 2

Are you on drugs was the question, jokingly asked by panelist Esther van Messel from First Hand Film, when Russian producer Vlad Ketkovich was pitching the project ”My Beliefs” to be directed by Tatiana Chistova. Could be… Ketkovich, wearing a t-shirt with ”army” on the front, talked loud, laughed and performed, he did not need a microphone to talk about the young Russian people, who do not want to go to the army and therefore meet with a commission to express why not. The trailer presented was a hilarious – and sad at the same time – observation of what goes on in the room, where they ask a panel of officials to be transferred to civil service duty. And the two of them, director and producer, did a fine humorous dialogue to convey a project of great potential.

… All in all there was a good atmosphere in the room with a panel of broadcasters and distributors and sales agents – and all chairs for observers were full. And pitchers who were able to being out their personality.

This was the first day of the Baltic Sea Forum with 12 projects and it was

obvious that Russia of today and Russia/USSR is the theme of the 2014 edition contrary to other years where many non-actual – for instance about art – subjects have been brought to the table.

The morning started with ”Dangerous Liaisons. Russia’s Soft Power” presented by the company Mistrus Media and the two investigative journalists Inga Dagile and Sanita Jembarga. A quote from the catalogue text: ”Through an in-depth investigation into the links between the protagonists, NGO’s, the media and Russia’s funding system, this film will try to deconstruct the Russian propaganda machine”. Well received and a willingness from the panelists to come up with ideas for the narrative construction.

At the end of the day ”Era of Dance” from another Latvian company, VFS Studio, was pitched. Elina Karule from the company talked about the influence that the electronic dance music in Riga had on the democratisation in the USSR in the 80’es, being one more element to make the Empire fall. The producer Uldis Cekulis stressed that there is rebirth of that music going on now, so the film will combine the past and the future.

Russian veteran director Vitaly Mansky was there with producers Simone Baumann and Guntis Trekteris – and everyone in the panel welcomed him and his personal story, from the catalogue: A Russian director born in Soviet Ukraine returns to the country of his birth, revealing an utterly personal story of his family then and now – a look at Lviv, Odessa, Harkov and Crimea from an individual living in Moscow.

Russia, USSR… and yet the warmest applause, as I heard it, went to ”Inga Can Hear” by Kaspars and Ieva Goba about a 15 year old girl who is the only hearing person in her family. A classical, non-political warm humanistic documentary is coming up.

Sorry, don’t find space for text on the other 7 projects but I dare say that in general the quality was good from all sides.

Photo by Esther van Messel from FB, text: Beautiful Riga caught in a coffee break of Baltic Sea Docs.



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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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