DocsBarcelona 2014

Young directors, fresh views and interpretations of the world today, resistance movements, new ways of storytelling – it is a golden age of the documentary and that is strongly reflected in the programme that the DocsBarcelona festival has just published!

I write this totally biased as I have had the privilege to be one of the programmers for the upcoming festival that takes off May 26 and runs until June 1. Let me give you words about some of the more than 40 films that will be on the screen.

The festival opens with a film that is unique in many ways: ”The Good Son” by Shirly Berkovitz. I met Shirly in Israel a couple of years ago and she told me that at a meeting for documentary people, a young man turned up to ask if anyone wanted to make a film about him, who deeply wanted to become a she. The young director Shirly went on the journey with him, an intensely painful journey through falsifications and lies towards the family, the director became a friend and ”partner in crime”, they took off to Thailand for the operations, and more I will not reveal here except for my joy that a warm and sensational film made without any tabloid touch opens the festival.

Another highlight is Talal Derki’s Return to Homsfrom Syria. I have previously written this about a film that I consider to be among the most important that has come out the last couple of years: … this is a personal drama experienced by Basset and Ossama, commented and equally experienced by Talal, conveyed in panoramic scenes that look like Berlin

1945, as well as intimate scenes with the fighters, as well as tough reportage scenes of human beings being shot, brought to the kind of medical treatment that is possible on the front line, in a war zone, as well as a memorable tour through holes in the walls, Ossama  following Basset… Never has the word ”authenticity” fit so well as a description of a film!

Everyday Rebellionby the Iranian/Austrian brothers Riahi will probably be one of the favourites for the Audience Award, as it has been at other festivals, where it goes around and is met with enthusiasm by people, who think that it is good that there are resistance movements all over as the film shows so well and committed; by the way supplemented by an active website.

The same anti-materialism freshness and originality in storytelling you will find in My Stuff by Finnish Petri Luukkainen, who decides to test how much he (and we?) actually need in our daily existence. It’s funny, visual, food for thought, Finnish!

And please, please line up for Nastia Tarasova’s Linar”, again a young director’s impressive, visually poignant heartbreaking story about the Russian child, who is to have a new heart. Reminds us how emotionally strong the film medium can be!

Can we live without Love and Art… the festival brings two beautiful, completely different films to the screen, award-winning before they came to Barcelona: “Belleville Baby”  by Mia Engberg, pure poetry, …it has a feeling, an atmosphere, a personal tone (the director’s own voice and her text is excellent) and a well told story from the past, where the director fell in love in Paris, lived with him for some time, experienced him becoming a criminal, because of his immigrant background, an honest film that also includes reflections on the fimmaker wanting to convey the good story, whatever the subject of the story thinks…

…and “The Special Need”  by Carlo Zoratti about the autistic young man, who wants to find someone to share his life with, the one and only – again a fresh and young, and personal approach.

…and Joannaby Aneta Kopacz, about a mother who has cancer and how she handles that situation with her five-year old son. It is a poetic and life affirmative film

Art – fantastic film by Andreas Johnsen, Danish director in his twenties, who got access to Chinese master AiWeiWei and made Ai WeiWei – The Fake Case where nobody else from the world press was kept out. More classical is Argentinian Rodrigo Vila’s “Mercedes Sosa, The Voice of Latin America!”  with great archive material, whereas “Avant” by Juan Alvarez Neme from Uruguay is a must not only for all ballet interested people because of Julio Bocca, but should be seen also for its brilliant cinematic observation of an institution that is to be revived.

I can not go on – the titles mentioned are from the Official section and the one called New Vision, the are also Special Session, journalistic documentaries, films for children and teenagers, students films – plus the whole industry section that I will return to on another occasion.


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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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