We have heard it for so many years, and we have seen films, fiction or documentary, that informs about or interprets the life in GDR (German Democratic Republic). But they – the Syrian young filmmakers-to-be – had not. That was very obvious from the reactions and questions at the campus of the Dox Box Festival. The local Goethe Institute had invited the GDR photographer Dieter Riemann to make an exhibition of his photos, which is running until March 25 here in Damascus, and the organisers of the festival took advantage and had Riemann come talk about his life as a photographer in a closed society where artists were not allowed to travel and where Stasi was strongly present.

Riemann told that he always worked with a conceptual format. He took photographs for book publishing, walls, windows, mentally ill people, old people etc. The basis was always humanistic, critical and trying to be as honest as possible. ”Socialdokumentarisch”, he called it. Inspiration: the Magnum photographers, Cartier-Bresson, Edward Steichen.


On the way back to the hotel I talked with my co-tutor, the cameraman Peter Badel, who also worked in the GDR, very much with Thomas Heise (”Material”, see below, PHOTO), and we remembered great names like Sibylle and Hannes Schönemann, who were imprisoned for their critical documentaries.


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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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