Christian Sønderby Jepsen: Side by Side/CPH:DOX 16

Around 20 minutes into this staged documentary I started to get impatient. Come on, make the story move, we got the message, the neighbours dont like each others, they dont talk, it is a silent war, where they will not fight or terrorise each other as in subjectwise similar films like the classic of Norman Maclaren. But then it takes a turn. The filmmaker asks his father, one of the neighbours, what was the biggest moment in his life. Difficult question to answer for a man, who has difficulties to express emotions, but he gives the answer. And the filmmaker goes to the neighbour to give us a positive impression of him.

We will never sit down and have coffee and pastries, says the father of the filmmaker about the conflict. More than a decade ago something happened that created a total split up between the two families. The result was that a fence grew up, a kind of no-mans land, a Berlin wall, in otherwise peaceful Western Jutland of Denmark in a town called Tarm. Where they speak a strong dialect and express a certain kind of stubbornness. Because nobody really recalls what happened, nobody knows who owes an apology.

The film is brilliant to look at, the mise-en-scène  style is carried through, a promising debut, that reminds me of the early films of Jon Bang Carlsen.

Denmark, 2008, 47 mins.

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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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