Doc Discussion/ 2

Louise Rosen writes:

Dear Tue and Mikael

It was a pleasure working with you again at Storydoc this year. Wonderful that we had a really diverse representation from all over the southern Mediterranean and could spend a day on the Arab Spring with filmmakers from that region. We are living in exciting and yet strange times.

So, speaking of strange times, I wonder when we among the oldtimers are going to start to speak more publicly about the dire state of the indie feature doc world? We keep training and workshopping emerging filmmakers but to what end? I looked back at my notes from my talk last year in Corfu (Storydoc training session, summer 2010) and it brings me to tears. Back then I wrote that in the face of media consolidation and diminishing resources for traditional journalism, the world urgently needs the vision and insight provided by independently produced single docs. All the more true today. But the conditions today are 3 or 4 times worse than they were a year ago.

What can we do? What is in the best interest of the filmmakers? Is this dreadful climate for feature docs the “new normal”? How do we deal with a sector of the television business that has become almost a monopoly – dominated by a few commissioning editors who wield enormous power and influence? What about the growth of film festivals that attract sponsors and increasing audiences but show films that can’t pay for themselves and will vanish into obscurity before they can reach significant numbers of viewers? The world of online, digital distribution is not paying yet. Does this mean that any project requiring more than a filmmaker with a camera, will be lost? No more alternative forms of history or art or science?

I’m hoping that there will be discussions of these important issues sometime soon. Filmmakers in some territories are hitting a “wall” in terms of funding and outlets and this will be the case everywhere before we know it.

I welcome your thoughts on this.

Photo: A film from the catalogue of Louise Rosen.

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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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