DocStories Black Sea/ 3

There are often too many viewings, too many opinions which can make the directors confused trying to please everybody and thereby losing their own voice, said Menno Boerema, Dutch editor, at the first session of the DocStories Black Sea workshop in Tbilisi. The words fell before he showed the film ”Jungle Rudy” by Rob Smits that he did the final editing of after the film had suffered a crisis. According to Boerema because the editing had had ”too many cooks”

The wise words of Boerema make me think about the numerous workshops, seminars, markets and training schemes where rough cut screenings are introduced. The director of the Sunny Side of the Doc, Yves Jeanneau, said in an interview, arguing for why the market had included this element: This is the reality of the market – referring to the fact that tv commissioners most often today tell the filmmakers to come back with a rought cut…

Might be right, but do the rough cut screenings which include a small bit of the film screened in front of 50 or 25 people really serve the purpose of making the films better/ to improve the phase of the final cut coming up? No, of course not. What can work, to my opinion, is small intense sessions like the one here in Tbilisi, or like the one at DocsBarcelona where we have handpicked 5 professionals, who are used to watch rough cuts to watch versions which are almost finished, close to the final cut and comment on that WITHOUT trying to be editors as they are not.

It is a question of respect for the art of documentary, for the filmmakers – nothing wrong with showing material to others but if it is only for the sake of selling? And many people are not used to watch rough cuts, for sure, my long experience has told me.

Photo: Johan van der Keuken’s The Long Holiday, edited by Menno Boerema

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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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