Documentaries in Karlovy Vary

Until saturday July 9th the festival in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic is on and the red-carpet mainly feature film festival has a fine eye for documentaries as well. As part of the schedule the Jihlava Festival (20th edition this year late October!) presents what they call ”docu talents” from Eastern Europe, and the 51st Karlovy Vary event has a competition for documentary films.

12 films are listed with a good variety of new and old talents… many of them directors known for works praised previously on this site. Like Polish Michal Marczak who presents his ”All These Sleepless Nights” with which, quote from the catalogue, the director ”reconfirms his reputation as a nonconformist who is ever veering from the parameters of the traditional documentary toward hybrid forms.” Like he did way back with ”At the Edge of Russia” that I met when I was working for the training programme Ex Oriente. Equally talented is Daniel Abma, whose ”Transit Havana” I saw a couple of months ago and characterised as ” a well told character driven, emotional and informational, visually excellent documentary”. Shot in Cuba, great characters and a slogan for Cuban politics, ”Homophobia no, socialismo si”.

A third younger director, Mohamed Siam from Egypt, has for years been working on – quote from the catalogue of the festival – ” a

scathing report on the dissolution of his homeland, whose people had barely tasted their suddenly-acquired freedom when they found themselves choking on the turbulent events of the months that followed”. Siam was at the DoxBox festival in Damascus in 2011 with the idea to this film that now completed is ”Whose Country”. I have high expectations. As I have for new films by the veterans, very much acclaimed Vitaly Mansky and Miroslav Janek.

After his festival success ”Under the Sun” Mansky turns the camera towards his own background with ”Close Relations” that has this catalogue annotation:

“I became a Russian citizen simply because I happened to live in Moscow when the Soviet Union broke apart,” says the celebrated Ukrainian documentarist. A few decades later his family in Ukraine face the dramatic consequences of further turbulent change, and their fresh experience of the revolution shows us that the media presentation of the country’s East-West dichotomy is deeply flawed.”

On the top of my list of ”Must See”, however, is Czech master Miroslav Janek’s ”Normal Autistic Film” (PHOTO) that goes like this:

”A foremost Czech documentarist with a unique authorial vision challenges us once and for all to stop perceiving autism as a medical diagnosis. Let’s take hold of the surrounding chaos and overload our senses! In such a state one may understand autism as a fascinating way of thinking that’s often maddeningly difficult to decipher.”

Read about all the films on


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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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