”Six Ordinary Stories” by Syrian director Meyar Al Roumi is a quite refreshing report on six ordinary taxi drivers and their work and life in Damascus. Ordinary, well also extraordinarily open they are as well as critical to the life that is offered to them. One has a double job as a fireman and a taxi driver in order to earn enough, another used to have a shawarma shop, be a creative person, a chef, whereas now he is not really appreciated, because ”anyone can drive a car”. A third one is a religious person, who drove a taxi also during his studies and now aims to be an imam… The taxi-driver-format is well known, and maybe the film is not to be considered a creative documentary, but a courageous one and funny it is in a country with censorship. The conclusion of this film: Life in Damascus, Syria is tough with low salaries for looong working days.

No female drivers of course, nothing about women in this film, but two other documentaries made up for that through a strong focus on women in the Arab countries. ”Women without Shadow” by Saudi Haifaa Al-Mansour, said to be the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, is shocking to watch with its filming and interviews of women totally covered, either protesting against the position of women in the society or saying that this is how it is. This film is from 2005, the other one to be mentioned is ”In my Father’s House” by Dutch living Fatima Jebli Ouazzani, from 1997, awarded many times for its touching story about a woman (the director), who has not seen her father for 16 years because she did not marry according to Maroccan wedding rituals and rules, including being a virgin when she married. We attend a Dutch-Moroccan couple who marries in Marocco, we see wonderful scenes with Fatima and her grandparents, we see a small girl running after her father in the small streets of her childhood, and we hear the tragic story about her mother who passed away after having been left by a father, who took a new wife. The mix of documentary and fiction scenes are beautifully done, the film is an early demonstration of the docu-fiction that is so common today.

We take a taxi back to the hotel flying back tonite to Copenhagen with one day left of a very succesful festival. Thanks.  

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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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