DOCLisboa 09/2

Opening film at the festival: ”The Fortress” (PHOTO) by Swiss director Fernand Melgar, who was not present at the screening as his documentary was released in theatres in Japan. The story, a real European one, I would say, at least it could perfectly have been Denmark as location, is told in a Wiseman-like observational style from an institution for asylum seekers. The camera is omnipresent and catches moments of despair and hope from the side of the seekers, the people who wish for a better life in another country than their own and have to go through the endless interviews that are performed to check their stories. It is very moving, but also comic-tragic when you see and hear that the seekers change their stories to get a better chance to stay in what they can only consider as Wonderland = Switzerland. The people who represent the authorities are in general very kind and take part in scenes far away from their own reality, like the white office manager who goes to a mass for black seekers and try hard to find the rythm of the music. Hilarious!

Some people try desperately to get into modern society, other leave it. The documentary of Gianfranco Rosi, ”Below Sea Level”, has already been awarded several times, so well deserved, for this big film about a series of men and women, who for different reasons have moved to the desert to live a different life in their campers or in buses turned into homes, or in tents. Whatever, the originality is proven to be of huge format, and it is a film made over such a long period, that you sense that the characters are totally confident with the presence of the camera. There is humour but also grief as their back stories are being presented. There is love and argument between them. There are great thoughts on Life. The people come out of the films as individuals and not as weird subjects being observed.

The Fortress, 2008, 100 mins.

Below Sea Level, 2008, 110 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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