East European Forum – Cinema

”It is too artistic for our audience”… he said so, Erkko Lyttinen from YLE, the Finnish broadcaster that has always defended the artistic documentaries… has the last bastion fallen? I had heard that remark before, but from less important broadcasters in the documentary world. The project that was referred to was ”Aleph” by Iva Radivojevic, Croatian director living in New York, at the pitch accompanied by a Canadian and Croatian producer. Yes, it is cinema, inspired by a short story of Borges, ”a cinematic experience that contemplates the question of what we center our lives around”… a travelogue with a title that refers to Jewish mysticism. A hybrid, very inviting, to be finished in 2018. Another film in the auteur tradition is ”D is for Division” by Latvian Davis Simanis, to be produced by Guntis Trekteris, a personal essay by the biggest talent in Latvian cinema, but what does that matter if almost noone around the table knows him… Simanis and Trekteris had problems in conveying what they want with this film about inner borders with photographs as the starting point. No surprise that tutor, Czech/French director Stan Neumann, was a good sparring partner, Neumann being a master in the essayistic genre.

It is a silent film, the Bosnian director Marko Sipka said about ”The Land”, that reminded me a lot of the Baltic documentary tradition: old woman in the countryside living alone in a remote mountain village, ”a meditative visual contemplation about loneliness and an old-fashioned life style that is about to disappear”. I talked about it with Danish director Jens Loftager and we both remembered names like Sergey Dvortsevoy and Swedish Nina Hedenius, who made a film, where there was almost no dialogue. It became a hit on television. Those days are probably over, this film will be for festivals and it will be strong I would think judging from the charismatic director’s presentation.

The same goes for the Romanian director Andrei Dascalescu, who charmed us with ”Constantin and Elena” in 2008 and who is now back with ”Planeta Petrila” (Photo: producer Anamaria Antoci with director), presented with passion and humour, the director said it to be a rockn’roll film, about a mine to be closed and an artist fighting to keep the old buildings and make them into art. A Don Quijote, the director asks? The trailer was unconventional, hopefully the film will be the same. HBO Europe supports – as they do with many films, among the present commissioning editors – she calls herself executive producer – Hanka Kastelicová was the absolute star, and so much welcomed as the public broadcasters in general fail to support the creative documentary.

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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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