DOK Leipzig/ Congo and Russia

I have not (yet) been able to watch all films in the international competition for long documentaries – there are 12 – but I want to highlight two, which could deserve an award tonight:

Experienced Aliona van der Horst has made a wonderful film, ”Love is Potatoes” (Netherlands, 2017, 90 mins.) that takes place in the countryside in Russia, where her mother grew up before she as a grown-up married a Dutchman and moved with him. Her mother had five sisters. Van der Horst goes to the small house (PHOTO), meets up with cousins as she is inheriting 6 square meters of the house! It’s a film, where she wants to find out what kind of life her mother had in Stalinist Soviet Union. She looks at photos, she talks to cousin Tanya, to aunt Liza, who does not remember any big problems, ”all was normal”, but it was NOT, she slowly finds out – women were dying in the corn fields, 1933, the deadly famine… Van der Horst uses (brilliant) animation by Italian Simone Massi and what is so unique about the film showing the safe hand of the director: the quiet, non-dramatic tone of the film and some unforgettable scenes like the one, where she puts all the shoes on the floor, lots of shoes… why, the male cousin asks, because they did not have shoes, so after the famine… The film has touching scenes: the mother, still alive but not able to talk, to react to the daughter’s questions. The daughter/director looking at photos of her mother as young. Yes, I can identify. Great film.

”The Congo Tribunal” by Milo Rau is an amazing achievement by the film&theatre director. He set it all up, two tribunals, he found his characters to come to one tribunal in Congo, one in Berlin, he shot a lot of material in the country, he has witnesses to the many massacres talk, he has so-called experts analyse the mining industry and its international players. A fictional tribunal, a documentary theatre, but one that brings forward the human atrocities of a country that seldom is on the front pages of the media. It is full of strong moments and characters. After this film I want to know more, to understand better what has happened and what is happening in the tormented country forgotten by the EU and and the UN.

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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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