Elías Léon Siminiani: Mapa

I had seen ”Mapa” pitched in DocsBarcelona and at idfa. With verbal passion and with a teaser that was totally out-of-the-box for how trailers should be according to us ”pitch doctors”.

A Film-Film teaser, a brilliant piece of montage with a very low level of information about What and How. BUT it was a teaser that seduced selectors (including me) to invite the director to come and present his film project that was to be a totally personal documentary about a man, whose girlfriend had left him and who needed to find himself, and wanted try to do so by leaving his normal safe life in Madrid to go to India. Pretty banal, and the first thought is of course – will he be able to make it into the planned feature length creative documentary?

He made it! The result is a Film full of surprises, a ”romantic documentary” he calls it, fresh in tone and cut, with a big love to film language and history, to montage, to the play with sound and image, and with his voice all the way through, wall to wall, excellent in tone, catching your attention and interest in how it will go for director Elias in big India.

He introduces another level, a ”the other”, a part of himself, who always objects. When he is emotional, the rational side complains and makes him film architecture in India, when he films too much rational stuff, the emotional side urges him to connect to people, death and poverty. He makes a parallel to the voyage to India made by the emotional Pasolini and the rational Moravia in 1960. But a woman travelled with them, Elsa Morante, and here he is, Elias, without any companion, most of the time with no woman on his side.. He longs for love, he is actually longing for the one who dropped him, Luna, and he sees images of a child in India, who looks like her. Later on he has to erase those memories, but how? El Rito del Olvido?

Content is King, we are often taught, the issue/theme is the most important, the form is only the carrier, but what a pleasure with ”Mapa” to watch a playful and joyful film that has a cinéphile approach that brings memories of Godard and Truffaut, an essayistic reflection on love, lost love, longing, that goes elegantly from past to present and uses a wonderful Matthew Sweet song to glue some of the sequences. Not to forget fine observations from India accompanied by ethical questions.

Spain, 2012, 85 mins.

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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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