DocsBarcelona: Xavi, Alberdi, Deir Yassin, Olga

We had the traditional sunday dinner invited by festival director Joan Gonzalez. His wife and my wife were there, Joan and his son Marti, with whom I always talk football. Barca – FC Barcelona – first of all, on the situation now for the club that ended up being number 2 and is out of the Champions League. What remains is to win Copa del Rey. Which players will be sold and who will come for the next season…

And then the magical moment happened – reminding us of the time when Barca won it all: Into the restaurant comes Xavi Hernandez, the maestro, with his family, the playmaker, the man who gave the play a flow, a humble and total loyal man to the club, 600 matches. He is now playing in Qatar, 37 years old.

… and now back to the festival, where I saw three films. Chilean Maite Alberdi’s ”Los Niños” (”The Grown Ups”) featuring adults

with Down syndrome at the same school, a love story, a moving, humorous and sweet one, but also a sad one as Ricardo has to leave Anita because his sisters no longer want to support his stay. The film does not have the level of her previous ”Tea Time” but still Alberdi is a true auteur and knows how to create atmosphere.

I am happy we selected ”Born in Deir Yassin” by Israeli Neta Shoshani. I had never heard about the massacre in the Arab city, which since 1951 hosts a hospital for mentally ill. This was set up three years after the massacre in 1948. Young Shoshani has managed to do interviews with several old men (many of the are now dead), who were there as killers or photographers or had the task to move away or bury the burnt corpses! It’s a story that is not well known in Israel and it was not possible for the director – with the help of a lawyer – to get access and publish the photos taken. Forbidden by the High Court, to publish them could disturb the national security, it was stated. Parallel to this horror story, another shameful event in Israeli history, the director places the story of a mother, who was at the hospital for decades. She gave birth to a boy at the place, Dror, who was taken away from her. The letters she wrote to him are being read and Dror is there in the ghost town Deir Yassin. During the Q&A Neta Shoshani told us that the film has not yet been screened in Israel. The plan is that it should go on television and premiere at Jerusalem Film Festival this summer. But you never know if the very active minister of culture will intervene and forbid it.

And then a film that made me have a smile on the face the whole way through the 79 minutes it lasted, ”Siberian Love” (photo) by Russian Olga Delane, who lives in Berlin but goes back to her village in Siberia to find out how it goes with love between Sascha and Ira, Oleg and Lyuba and many others, many of them her relatives. She went there seven times and you can see that in the film, she is able to get close to them, especially the women, not so much the men, who – yes, it is not a kliché – drink a lot. Quite a lot! There are funny and tender moments and moments with children, where you fear, what will become of them. It’s a hard life they conduct, farming and family, as one says. Quarrels and peace in the family. They have not really thought about this thing called love… Olga Delane was there for the screening at the CCCB, where we had the longest Q&A session so far, more than half an hour. Goood! 

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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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