Edinburgh Documentary Pitch/3

YLE and arte, television channels – for many years leading in creative documentaries when it comes to international orientation, involved in coproductions and acquisitions of documentaries from all over the world. As an organiser of meetings where producers come to present their projects, you always have to be sure that there are representatives from arte and YLE. Otherwise you can be sure to have complaints from the producers who come hoping for support.

For arte it is simply an obligatory matter of policy being the European cultural channel with many tv slots for documentaries. They have to show us viewers the world as it is right now politically, socially and culturally. The question is whether they do so through journalistic programmes or through creative documentaries. In the last many years journalism has won strongly in what should not be a battle but is – the loser in arte is the artistic documentary, the authored, the one with the personal signature, ”a film by…”.

Where arte goes for next year is difficult to say – according to commissioning editor Doris Hepp, for many years a guardian angel for the different documentary, the one that would surprise you. Hepp was in Edinburgh not able to tell about the 2012 structure for documentary slots, the only message she could give was that her slot La Lucarne for the creative documentary would be positioned at 1o’clock at night!

For YLE it has – to my knowledge – never been written anywhere that the Finnish channel should be international orientated and feed the Finnish viewers with the best of the best of documentaries from the world. But they have done so, the commissioning editors of YLE, for many years, parallel to the high quality of the Finnish documentaries that is also supported by YLE. Jenny Westergaard from YLE told us in Edinburgh that changes have been done, cuts have been made, slots have been cancelled – for the documentaries. Other Finnish people told me that the filmmakers are fighting to make adjustments to the negative development within one of most significant documentary channels in the world. Is YLE and documentaries going down as one of the commissioning editors have said it, will it no longer be the channel to be held forward as the example? What a pity, if so!

Photo: Photo from Steam of Life, Finnish doc going worldwide.

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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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