DOK Leipzig/ Delta

The introduction of a ”Next Masters Competition” at DOKLeipzig is an excellent idea. I have seen some of the choices for this year and so far one stands out, the Ukrainian ”Delta” by Oleksandr Techynski. It lives up to the reasons I give when asked why I often praise Eastern European documentaries:

It is multilayered, it has a clear aesthetic choice with a skilled camerawork that suits the theme or rather the location, it’s a Film: the delta of the Danube, a kind of Klondyke, where people live under harsh chaotic conditions and where men with worn faces struggle their way through the reed that they harvest to sheaf, to bring in to be sold. They work in all kind of weather – ice cold winters, and under milky foggy skies. Most often on a boat as you can see on the photo, where a man lies dead drunk next to wood that has been cut down to stump. But it is also a place where the transport of a dead body demands quite an effort. There are some moments, where the film takes the viewer inside a house, where a grown-up son has his hair cut by his mother and there are many scenes with vodka being drunk. Lots of focus on faces.

Stylistically there is a move on the film, a flow that is carried by painting-like images superbly composed, no music (thank you for that!). No message, it seems to me that the director wants to say: this is what I saw, he keeps a distance, he interprets with his images, he is not from there, he observes.

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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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