Boris Bertram: Tankograd/2

Russian stories… why are they so attractive, why do they travel so well? Is it because we still know so little about this huge country and its Soviet past? Is it because their stories, like Tankograd, are so much more interesting in their dramatic, often tragic dimension that we are drawn to them – to get away from  our own tiny wellfare problems and meaningless media focus on politicians and their (lack of) behaviour? Probably. Or is it because Russians simply are so good for the camera with all their passion and extrovert gesticulation? Or their charm as Boris Bertram depicts so well in this film through the male dancer, who looks like a young Rudolf Nuruyev. And through his female counterpart, sweet and pretty as she stands there in the kitchen with her grandmother. Yes, I know that kitchen. I have seen it so often.

It is not my job to review the film – that is done by Allan Berg, see below – but I want to express my nostalgic pleasure of being taken back to places and situations that I have enjoyed so much in Russia and in the former Soviet republics, that I have visited after 1989/1990.

The small kitchen, the generously arranged dinner tables and the hospitality you meet so often, the vodka bottles, the apple juice that you need to accompany the vodka with to prevent a hangover, the totally worn down and dirty staircases, the small appartment rooms where families find their ways of sitting, eating and sleeping, the constant smoking of cigarettes, the grey appartment blocks… the brewing of coffee at the toilet (not in the film) because this was the only place left for the coffee machine… I have seen it in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Kiev, Minsk and St. Petersburg, and perfectly it is observed and conveyed in the film Tankograd. In many places – luckily – the living conditions have improved, in others not. But the art of survival is still performed within the warm atmosphere that I saw and recognised in Tankograd. 

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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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