Best Documentaries 2017/ Intro

Per tradition I have gone through the texts on this site to find, what I see as the best documentaries of 2017. I stopped at 16 titles – half of them come from the Eastern part of Europe. Am I one-sided? Many will probably say ”yes you are”, but it is a fact that in 2017 – contrary to another fact: that funding is much less in Eastern Europe compared to for example in France and Germany – creative, personal cinematographic works came from directors in Poland, Serbia, Lithuania, Romania, Czech Republic/Slovakia and Russia. Let me remind you that it was a Romanian film (”Licu”) that won first prize at DOK Leipzig and a Serbian at IDFA (”The Other Side of Everything”)

Another positive aspect of the list is that new names mingle with well known as Leonard Helmrich, Talal Derki, Arunas Matelis, Vit Klusak, Elvira Niewiera/Piotr Rosolowski and Ai WeiWei. I refer to Marta Prus, Simon Lereng Wilmont, Mila Turajlic, Mohamed Siam, Mindaugas Survila, Ana Dumitrescu, Elvira Lind, Ní Chianáin and David Rane. Julia Bobkova, Ana Dumitrescu.

I stopped at 16. I could have added Frederick Wiseman and his film on the New York Public Library, which was loved by me, who was once long long ago educated librarian. And I am sure that if I had seen Agnès Varda’s ”Faces Places” or the new film by Raymond Depardon, they could have been candidates.

But veterans have to wait – and let me just remind you that if you miss Raoul Peck’s masterpiece ”I’m not your Negro”, Rahul Jain’s ”Machines” that is on most hit lists coming out right now, ”Cameraperson”, ”Austerlitz”… they were on the 2016 list that you can check here:

Photo from “The Distant Barking of Dogs” by Simon Lereng Wilmont.

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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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