Doc Stories Black Sea/ 5

The first session of the DocStories Black Sea was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, the second one here in sunny Sibiu in Transylvania, Romania within the framework of the 19th edition of the Astra International Documentary Film Festival. Which has a good audience for its programme, three halls with parallel screenings with whatever is needed to surround the screenings: a bar, an exhibition hall, video screens, and some hotels where guests are taking their sleep.

The workshop included several open sessions for others than the filmmakers taking part with their projects, that were more or less developed since the first session. Petr Lom showed and talked about his film from Egypt, ”Back to the Square”, lots of people and questions related to (mostly) ethical questions connected to the clips he showed  in his masterclass from previous films like ”Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan” (2004) and ”On a Tightrope” (2007) about the Uighur minority in China. The latter includes an old teacher of tightrope, who says ”A person without Love is like a tree without leaves”. Voila!

The animators of the masterly done animation doc, ”Crulic” (photo) (director Anca Damian), Raluca Popa and Dan Panaitescu gave a fascinating insight to how they made a fantastically creative work out of a, from a first glance, rather banal story about a Romanian man, who was wrongly detained in Poland, went on a hungerstrike and died from that, while noone was trying to make an investigation into his case, that created a scandal in both countries. The director made the right decision, when she decided to include animators/visual artists in telling the story that has so many great stylistical elements. Small budget but much more interesting to look at than ”Waltz With Bashir”!

The same (many elements in storytelling) goes for the personal film of American Rick Minnich, who presented his (and co-director Matt Sweetwood) ”Forgetting Dad”, which (text taken from the website of the film, link below) ”tells the bizarre (2008) story of Rick’s father’s sudden and incomprehensible amnesia, which began one week after a seemingly harmless car accident in Sacramento, California, in 1990. After the onset of his amnesia, Rick’s father re-christened himself “New Richard” and began a completely new life, leaving his family feeling abandoned and baffled at where “Old Richard” went.”

Minnich took the audience on a well prepared, honest and open tour into his (and the co-director’s) fight to make a film that was interesting universally – and he succeeded brilliantly to have us viewers follow the story from A to Z. For this blogger because he is constantly surprising us with new elements in a film that has the essay character but is also what he himself calls ”a psychological detective story”. Which is good keeping some distance to the obvious very sentimental sequences, where family members talk about losing a father, who is still there but who is he? 

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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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