DOKer Opening Day

… was full of sunshine from early morning in Moscow. I walked from the hotel accompanied by director Tatyana Soboleva. I had asked her to take me to the Pushkin Museum to have a look at the exhibition of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and The School of London.

On the way we passed the House of Journalists, where the founder Irina Shatalova organised the first public documentary screening of what became DOKer. It was also here, Soboleva told me, that the first edition of the festival took place – it was the one, where I was member of an online jury that had Victor Kossakovsky as the chair. The festival, now having its fifth edition, writes this about itself on the website: «Moscow International Documentary

Film Festival DOKer has stemmed from the project of the same name which screens independent non-fiction. DOKer is aimed at analyzing and screening in Russia various genres and forms of the world’s documentaries as a separate line of cinema in all its aesthetic and socio-cultural diversity. The Festival focuses on independent documentary cinema that incorporates both poetic narrative and social blockbusters; footage and mockumentary; art-house and science-fiction; classic and experiment.»

I have difficulties in placing the opening film, German “Russia from Above”, in any of the mentioned classic – well, it should be «classic» nature film, filmed from helicopters «and with the best aerial cameras worldwide» as the catalogue text says. And it IS spectacular, with narrative problems, I think, when it comes to the duration, it feels very long, with a voice over speak that is full of clichés, and the music, at least some of it, that is more noise than music.

Maybe it suffers from being 90 minutes – on television, and it is a high budget television product, the representative from ZDF Peter Ahrens said, it was presented as a series. And gosh – 30 millions people have seen it in Germany. On arte the film or program if you like had 4% audience share, where arte normally is down to around 1%.

The big hall of the October Cinema was full and of course it was joyful to watch ice bears, and brown bears hunting for salmon, and to watch St. Petersburg from above as well as Moscow… An opening film for a big audience. About their own country and its beauty.

synopsis for the opening film:

Photo taken just before the hall became full of the premiere audience.

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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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