The Summer 2012 issue of the European Documentary Film Magazine DOX (number 94!) is out. The editor-in-chief Truls Lie uses his editorial to point at the values of the short documentary, which is forgotten by many. His starting point is his position as a juror at ZagrebDox, where the first prize was given to the Polish 7 minutes long “Returns” (photo) by Krzysztof Kadlubowski. In the same competition category with films with a duration around and over an hour. A good decision and a fine way of pointing at a film genre that was born with the Lumière Brothers and had its prime period when short films were screened in cinemas before the feature film. All big names in film history have made short films and many also short documentaries – Alain Resnais, Luis Bunuel, Antonioni etc. – not to mention the stars of the genre itself like Richard Leacock, Johan van der Keuken, Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor, Colin Low etc.

Today you can watch short documentaries in festivals, many of them are excellent works from film schools, and in very few tv stations. The latter is very difficult to understand as the short film has an immediate appeal to a young audience, which is the target of the public broadcasters, who complain that the average audience is 50+ or 60+. Is it too optimistic to believe that the commitment that the most innovative broadcasters make to include short films in their repertoire (like POV, arte) could spread to others for online distribution? The Latvian 15YoungByYoung, that includes 15 short documentaries from the former Soviet republics, as well as the upcoming series of shorts to be produced by the Why Poverty initiative are just two examples of subject orientated “packages” of short films, where also a creative element is sought.

Back to the editor and his editorial in DOX, where Truls Lie expresses his fatigue of long films – 8 out of 10 feature-length could be shorter, less than an hour, he states… well, maybe that is a bit exagerrated, of course it is, and less than an hour means tv-duration, 52-58 mins. Which for me is the most stupid decision on duration taken by the broadcasting companies, dictated solely by schedule thinking. Anyway, DOX deserves praise for this approach that also means that the buyers and subscribers receive a dvd with the magazine, this time with 7 short documentaries chosen by the editor. Bravo! In the magazine there are two articles about short documentaries, so yes, DOX is an edited magazine. Next time, to tease the editor a bit, the list in the back of “noteworthy film” could maybe also include shorts. This time there is more than 30 feature length documentaries mentioned.

http://whypoverty.net/

http://www.15youngbyyoung.com/

www.edn.dk

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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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