Baltic Tour: Lithuania

I have just left Vilnius, this beautiful spiritual capital of Lithuania. I had two nights at the Shakespeare Hotel, which I would like to (an exception on this blog) recommend to everyone.

Anyway, I can report to you that the Lithuanians keep their artistic quality. I have several times on this blog (use search on the site) mentioned the names of Arunas Matelis and Audrius Stonys, manyfold awarded in their own country and filmmakers who are very much esteemed internationally.

IF Lithuania still lacks a healthy and internationally open structure for funding of documentaries, and IF Lithuania has much less money available for production than the two other Baltic countries, the fact that I have recommended the selection committee at DOK Leipzig to watch 6 out of the 9 films that I saw, talks for itself. It is a country that salutes the auteur, the originality, the trust in images to tell the stories and the many layered documentaries that is what makes a creative documentary.

My host in Lithuania, a name I mention with much respect and admiration is Audrius Stonys, who makes one film per year, always related to the culture and traditions of his native country, always challenging to watch, born out of humanistic thinking. This time the title is “Four Steps”, made out of a deep fascination of super-8 mm wedding films, shot in 1961, 1972, 1983 and 2007. And of course it is not “only” about wedding traditions, it is also philosophy and literature and songs and music. I look forward to see this film for the third time!

Now I break the rule of one name per country and salute Arunas Matelis as well. He is not only the master behind “Before the flight Back to the Earth” and a series of films that we saw at the Balticum Film & TV Festival in the 90’es, but has also taken the responsability to help the completion of Audrius Mickevicius long awaited and internationally supported (YLE, Finland and MDR, Germany) film about a man and his horse, “The Year of the Horse”. A real Baltic documentary. Slooow, image born, no commentary, humour, a hymn to a life far away from the noisy metropoles. And far away from mainstream journalistic docs.

Do you read this, consultants at the Danish Film Institute?  Photo: Audrius Stonys

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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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