Current Time TV – Also at Sarajevo Film Festival

Note the little ”also”… because when it comes to Current Time TV, they have been here, there and everywhere in Central and Eastern Europe, a great new player in the documentary community, in pitching panels, active and enthusiastic. I have met them in Riga, in Tbilisi, in Kiev, in Prague and now they are also here in Sarajevo being part of the Docu Talent presentation that takes place tomorrow at Sarajevo’s Hotel Europe, quote from the organisers, the Jihlava Film Festival:

”The most promising project will receive the Docu Talent Award in cooperation with Current Time TV. The award is accompanied by a financial prize in the amount of 5,000 USD.”

But what is it, Current Time TV that is far from being « a normal public broadcaster”. I asked Natalia Arshavskaya, who together with her boss Kenan Aliyev and colleague Sergei Trofimov run the documentary department of  ”Current Time, known locally as Настоящее Время, (that) is the digital and TV Russian-language news and features network of U.S. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). It is a leading broadcaster of independent documentary films for Russian speaking audiences…”

OK, American propaganda you might think… not at all when you look at the films Current Time TV has commissioned. I went back to Natalia Arshavskaya to get some facts and personal comments:    

”Thank you for your keeping your interest in (spreading the word about) Current Time, I’m happy to send you the titles that we have commissioned recently – but also in our whole history, since Current Time exists for not so long (2,5 years on air) and we’ve been commissioning only since late 2017…

Let me start with an audience favourite, Home Games by Ukrainian Alisa Kovalenko – this one literally was the first supported and completed film, so we love them a lot. Alisa is a talented director and her access to the protagonists was incredible and she’s just a very brave girl so we’re glad we could be of help to this project…

Another Ukrainian is Heat Singers by Nadia Parfan (at Baltic Sea Docs, Riga last year, ed.) – I guess we not only got charmed by the director’s energy, but also by the daring subject itself. Communal services is another taboo in post-Soviet space, and the guys did great creating a chanting world of heat workers…

Not to forget How Big Is The Galaxy by Ksenia Elyan – I guess it’s mainly our contribution to spreading the knowledge about life of the indigenous people of far north of Russia (on the edge of extinction), but also support of the talented promising director from Russia…”

And not a big surprise that Current Time TV has supported the two masters Sergey Loznitsa and Vitaly Manski. Loznitsa premieres in Venice with another ambitious archive work, State Funeral – a 100% archival film on 7 days of mourning of Stalin upon his death. And Vitaly Manski, who has helped the station a lot in promotion, has had support for ”Putin’s Witnesses” 

I can only praise, what I have experienced from the station. Also on a personal level – I was in a jury with Kenan in Tbilisi, where we also had time to talk football. And Natasha is such a competent doc viewer that she has been invited to be a tutor in the upcoming Baltic Sea Docs.

Last word to her:

”Yet to complete is Hey, Teachers (former Teacher’s day) by Yulia Vishnevetskaya – it was pitched in Riga in 2017 and became practically our first film to commission. It’s importance for us is in fact that it will be the first ever documentary on school system in Russia – which is a hugely important subject, always silenced by authorities.”

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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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