Bettina Haasen: Hotel Sahara

Mauritania, Nouadhibou, a place at the coast, a place from where Africans want to go to the promised land, Europe, and from where many boats are leaving and have left, with people on board… with many tragic drowning events as a result. Many never made it.

Extremely well shot and produced, this film takes the audience to a place and an atmosphere of Waiting and to characters, who open their hearts and reveal their dreams to the camera. It’s a film with the ambition to describe a collective, it has the structure of a collage, it gives information, there is a respect for the characters so it understandable and well deserved that the film travels so well – visit the site of the film – as a reference point of one of the most actual problems of today.

But it is also a film that some times, though not all the time, seems to have been taken over by the cameraman. The images are so well composed and constructed (stranded ship wrecks, the Sahara landscape, sequences that play with light and the ocean in several angles, purely aesthetically thought and not really serving any narrative purpose), that they once in a while kill the contents and do not involve the audience emotionally.

Germany, 2008, 52 & 85 mins. (I saw the shorter version)

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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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