Dokufest Prizren/ 3/ Il Solengo/ Afghanistan

”In this seamless blend of fictional and documentary form, we experience a stunning cinematic journey into the beauty of war-tormented Afghanistan. Shot over seven years on evocative 16mm footage, first-time director Pieter-Jan De Pue paints a whimsical yet haunting look at the condition of Afghanistan left for the next generation. De Pue’s transportative and wonderfully crafted film confronts the visceral beauty and roughness of survival, serving as a testament to the spirited innovation of childhood and the extreme resilience of a people and country.”

This is the Dokufest catalogue text for the film ”The Land of the Enlightened” (photo) that I saw yesterday and I agree totally with the superlatives. It is a film that dares to use the cinematic language in all its facets. Readers of filmkommentaren will know that we have never doubted the quality that can be created through the mix of a classical documentary approach and fictional elements – or as Danish documentarian Jon Bang Carlsen has called it, staged documentary. And yet I have to confess that while watching this impressive Afghanistan film, I started to wonder which scenes were staged and which not, and if the first person voice-off of the boy, who will return to pick up the one and only girl and take her to the palace – if that worked well. But again, the end scene with the caravan of boys on horses riding into the ruin of a palace… Wow! A film that placed me in the state of creative confusion!

Earlier on that monday I had seen ”Il Solengo”, Italian film by Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis, a fantastic story featuring old men with wonderfully expressive faces, old men who most of the time talk to the camera about Mario, who is said to have lived in a cave his whole life. This collective of voices are trying to piece together the dramatic portrait of a man, who lived on his own, could be pretty aggressive, when he met other people, who were out to hunt boars. Has he existed, Mario, I started to wonder hearing the very different oral versions coming from the men. But it does not matter, this is storytelling at its best, skillfully visualised, this is a film with atmosphere and a rythm that fits the old men and their style of life. True pleasure.

I am not going to comment ”Hooligan Sparrow” by Nanfu Wang as it is in the Human Rights Competition, where I am part of the jury. That’s for later.

Today I am to attend the screening of Iraqi ”Homeland” by Abbas Fahdel, 5 hours long. A film that I have been longing to watch. They treat us well here at

www.dokufest.com

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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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