Claudio Magris

There he was. Italian writer, professor, translator etc., Claudio Magris from Trieste. In Copenhagen to present his new book that comes out September 20 in a Danish translation: “I blinde”, original title: “Alla Cieca”. A gentle, smiling and passionate man who talked to us for 2 hours about his new book and his way of working.

What has that to do with film? Nothing… but for a documentarian it was an enormous inspiration to hear Magris tell about his way of working and his way of talking about reality.

“I am obsessed with exactitude”, he said and explained that he does a huge amount of research before he starts writing a book. His interest in history, and especially in the history of the so-called Mitteleurope, is well known for all who has read his “Danube”. This part of the world, or maybe a bit further to the South to ex-Yugoslavia is very present in the new book. The horrors of the 20th century is what occupies the writer more and more. he said.

“Human reality is more original than invention”, Magris said, and explained that when he writes, he tries to write linear but always ends up with a mosaic of what he called “objective reality”, into which he introduces one or more imaginary characters.

“I am constantly building up a structure through contrasts”, he said, and I was thinking about documentary dramaturgical principles of contrast and drama.

Back to the exactitudes… and the research that Magris does to be – my words – precise, exact, objective, true. To be in control, and from there let the story unfold. The same kind of obsession that Luchino Visconti had when he made “Death in Venice” and “The Leopard” where the scenography had to be exact. 

Magris books has these many layers that make them fascinating to read. About “the unbelievable originality of reality”. Isn’t that what all documentary people are searching to capture? Why not do like Magris – mix the essay, the fiction and the non-fiction?

PS. Hello, Italian production companies… we still miss a film about this big European writer! Make it, please.

PPS. For TV. The reason why I put this in the section of TV.

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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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