DOXBOX Damascus Diary 4

It is monday morning and once again I find myself with Pirjo Honkasalo and Niels Pagh Andersen, who are to talk about ”3 Rooms of Melancholia”. For four hours with 25 people in the hall. It goes very well, we manage to relate to the audience – Niels invites us with his gesticulating, competent, open-minded generosity to the world of editing a material that has a very small ratio (1:7 at the highest) and Pirjo sits there full of professional dignity. A film director from a generation where you make films when you have something to say. She shoots on film and she pushes the button when her intuition and the situation invites her to do so.

Later in the afternoon I saw the first prize winner of Leipzig 2007, ”Don´t Get me Wrong”, a Romanian film by Adina Pintilie. Shot in a psychiatric hospital the director has chosen a mere observational approach to the patients, which makes you feel pity for them but also highly embarrassed as the director has no voice, no point of view. We are invited to a peep show to watch grown up naked people having their diapers changed again and again. It crossed my border of what you can film, when the people being filmed do not know that they are being filmed.

One of the Arab Film Institute films showed talent: ”Bird of Stone” by Hazem Hamwi. It is a film – as Niels Pagh Andersen said – with a visual power and an ambition to question what is normality. The main character is Abu Hajar, a man who is barking like a dog when people ask him to do so, a man who takes his own way in life and literally when he walks in the desert or in the modern machinery world, where the filmmaker takes him. The interviews with him shows a philosopher in life, whereas the people talking about him, situated at the end of a corridor, like they were taken in for questioning, well they represent our tendency to talk about other people, especially those who are a bit different. A film that can travel!

Finally the darling of the festival so far, a full house saw Aleksandar Manic ”The Shutka Book of Records” from 2005. They loved it as did my blog-colleague Allan Berg when he was in the jury in Slovenia a couple of years ago and gave Manic a prize for this highly entertaining documentary from the Roma capital in Macedonia.

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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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