Second edition. Second time that Damascus has an international documentary film festival. The programme is enlarged, there is an industry section, sidebar retrospectives, it is all there. Impressive it is to be back.

Full house at the opening film, “China is still Far” by Malek Bensmaïl, shot in Algeria and dealing with the question of what it means to be Algerian. Let me give the floor to the director: ” A school somewhere in the Aurés. Between the North and the South. Between an oasis and the steppe.I decided to set up my camera in a classroom of the last form of a primary school for a few months so that I could seize, through the look of the children as well as through that of their teachers and families, what has been passed on in an Algerian school, 50 years after the independence…”

It is beautifully shot, the children and their teachers are great, there are some very touching and funny moments between them, other sequences do not have the same focus and intensity, is felt to be a bit too long, but a very relevant choice for the opening of the festival.

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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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