Best Documentaries 2015 Introduction

Below you find my list of ”Best Documentaries 2015” as well as a list of ”Documentary Talents of 2015”. I could also – like the DOKLeipzig did – have called the latter ”Next Masters”. Anyway, here they are, in a random order, 10 in each category. With the comment that I have seen quite a lot but not all of course, and please do not wonder why fine works like ”The Sound of Silence”, ”Democrats” and ”Citizen Four” do not appear. Simple reason: they were on the list of 2014.

Most documentaries have been watched on this MacBook Pro or other computers. Sorry filmmakers, I know that you want the big screen for your works, and you deserve that, but without the generous vod’s IDFA’s Docs For Sale, IDF’s East Silver, DOK Leipzig’s video market, CPH:DOX and distributors and filmmakers who have sent me vimeo links… I would have had no chance to get an overview for filmkommentaren and for the film selection for DOCSBarcelona and Magnificent7 in Belgrade.

Nevertheless thanks to all the festivals and workshops which have invited and treated me well – and where I have been able to enjoy films on a big screen together with an audience.

From winter-cold Belgrade to springtime California, to the warm

American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs, to Barcelona late May, where you may enjoy a cigar at a café outside around midnight, to St. Petersburg, where the Message to Man, problems of attracting audience to the new headquarter of the festival, the Velikan Centre, experienced an audience in fine numbers. To – first time after 20 years – Listapad festival in Minsk, it was fine to be there.

Back to Russia, I would like to highlight the new festival Doker Moscow International Documentary Film Festival, run by local filmmakers, who are full of enthusiasm and passion – and are superprofessional, take a look at their website, link below. First they made the festival (45 films from 32 countries) in May, the winners were found, including best director, camera person, editor etc., and stage 2, the winners were invited end of October to come to Moscow to screen their films and meet the audience. How come – well, they made a crowdfunding campaign and raised the money for travel and accomodation. Commitment!

As for the classics, DOKLeipzig, CPH:DOX and IDFA, I attended some cinema screenings and enjoyed to experience – yes, it is – the golden age of the documentary film.

About the selection: For readers it is no surprise that films from the Eastern part of Europe take many of the 20 seats. Many original works still come from countries, where the funding possibilities are not that many, where there could be censorship but where the will to find ways to create the stories comes out of necessity: We have to make this film and we want to make it our way. 

Photo: the DOKer winner 2015, Best Film, director Ye Zuyi, born in Guangdong in October 1985. First film. On the list of Talents.

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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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