DocsBarcelona: Talal Derki

The Syrian director was not at the closing ceremony of DocsBarcelona Sunday night so I did not have the chance to thank him for three meetings we had during the festival: Two times talks with him and the audience after the screening of his masterpiece ”Of Fathers and Sons” and a 90 minutes seminar, where he had chosen 7 clips from the film to make us get closer into what he experienced, when that scene was shot, what choices he had to take during the 300 days he spent with the father and his children, first of all Osama and Ayman.

There were standing ovations after one of the two screenings of the film and after both I had to – as moderator – to raise my hand for “stop” to have time for the questions. I admire filmmakers like Talal Derki, who with respect for the audience take their time, festival after festival, to give an insight to – in this case – what it means to be filming in a war zone. The 7 clips were carefully chosen and there was a lot to talk about at each one. Film talk.

It makes you proud as a programmer, when you feel that the choice of a film is appreciated as well as having the filmmaker present to meet the audience. This was the case with Talal Derki again four years after he was in Barcelona with “Return to Homs”. He did not win this time, but he won the respect of the audience and he took us “behind the scenes” to a place we can not and do not want to go.

“I am a storyteller”, he said to me. Indeed, and a brave one. Many scenes will stay in my mind – like the one where the father talks warmly about his son Osama at the same time as he, as a sniper, is shooting to kill, while the director sitting next to him looks exhausted and frustrated at the whole situation.

The film and it’s director is now at the Krakow Film Festival, I have changed position to be a journalist for this site, and have given it highest points as you can see at the link below.

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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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