Benoit Felici: The Real Thing

– with the subtitle: Real Life in Fake Cities.

I met Benoit at a café in Paris, in lively rue Montorgueuil. For a good long talk about Life, politics and Cinema. We know each other from way back, when he was a student at Zelig Documentary Film School in Bolzano. It was in February so no words about pandemic.

Benoit made a very succesful graduation film at Zelig, “Unifinished Italy” (2010) that travelled the world and won many awards for its originality in style and subject (“Italy, home of ruins: A foray into the unfinished, Italy’s most prominent architectural style between the end of WW2 and the present day.”). Now he lives in Paris, has a child, teaches film at a university and makes film.

He told me that his newest film, “The Real Thing – Real Life in Fake Cities”, where he worked (again) with colleagues from Zelig, Bastian Esser on camera and Philipp Griess as production manager, was invited to be screened at the Copenhagen Architecture Film Festival. Great, I said, we can meet and I can show you Copenhagen. The festival was scheduled for April/May but was postponed because of the pandemic – till now where the film will be shown at the festival on Saturday at the Danish Cinemateket. Sold out. And there has been a screening in Aarhus October1st.

As original as “Unfinished Italy”, with superb camerawork, this film has also toured all over – festivals like HotDocs, BAFF (Buenos Aires), Ambulante Mexico and as you can maybe see on the poster several broadcasters have picked it. Including arte. So he has reached an audience. Here is the director’s own film description from his website, link below: “The Real Thing is a journey into a copy of our world, Seeking the monumental copycat architecture of China and other countries around the world, Residential areas where people live an everyday life in places simulating other places… mirrors in which a certain image of the world is reflected…”

As written on this website Copenhagen Architecture Festival has a strong focus on films, so Benoit Felici is in good company with directors like Pedro Costa and Patricio Guzman.

The two websites are excellent, with photos, teasers, production notes – super-informative.

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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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