DOK Leipzig Vitaly Mansky and Putin

You have to be careful with “vonhörensagen” but in this case it had its influence on the talk with Vitaly Mansky, that took place friday afternoon at the Polish Institute in Leipzig, a couple of hours after his film had been screened at the Cinestar Cinema. At the Q&A after the cinema screening of “Putin’s Witnesses”, he was attacked for having made a propaganda film for Putin. One of the attacks came from Viktor Kossakovsky, who according to my sources was pretty rude towards Mansky. It was apparent that the two do not think high of each other.

Is it a propaganda film the moderator, Barbara Wurm (very competent university teacher and festival advisor) asked Mansky picking up on the discussion in the cinema – after she had introduced the film as a kind of found footage and characterized Mansky as one, who has introduced the family chronicle film as a genre in post-Soviet Russia.

A good point I think, Mansky masters the personal commentary and it is nothing but a scoop that he is using material he made at the beginning of Putin’s period as president, where he, Putin – they are talking to each other as if they were old buddies – praises the democracy: I am happy that after a certain period I can go back to a normal life. You can’t do that in a monarchy. 18 years later he is still there – and the democracy does not function, if you are allowed to put(in) it like that!

A pan shot in the room where Putting salutes the victory after the election has been held, is accompanied by a commentary by Mansky, who mentions that most of the people in the room are now in opposition. That the mastermind behind Putin taking over from Yeltsin in 2000 – after the sensational New Year television speech where Yeltsin apologizes – forgive me, he says – his retirement and makes Putin an ad hoc President – is Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana. Mansky makes that pretty clear. The publicity clip Mansky made for Putin was broadcast the night before the election!

One more sentence from Putin: Our main goal is to make people believe in everything we say and do. Did you hear what he said, Mansky almost whispers to us!

Mansky who now lives in Riga, was doubtful, he said, if his festival ArtDocFest will be allowed to continue, a festival of high quality including critical films – see – as there is now a law on its way that will limit the possibilities for the festivals in Russia. Colleagues have made an open letter against the proposal and asked Mansky NOT to sign, as he – Mansky – thinks the law proposal is made because of ArtDocfest

Well. There are many assumptions in this small documentary world. Mansky’s film is important, well made and actual. He takes a standpoint – others think that not having a position is a position, he said with a hint to colleague Kossakovsky. You have to define your position and start from there.

Vitaly Mansky has a long and really important filmography to study – go to where his films are to be found  

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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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