Esther Julie-Anne: Out of Love

Esther’s father married and divorced 5 times. Why? And how might that influence my life, the director wants to find out and makes a film that ends with footage from her own marriage, where she is walking the aisle with her grandfather – the father would not come to Toulouse for the wedding. To be said, Esther is French/American.

The father is the main protagonist, who does not want to be in the film. Well, he is in the many archive clips that his daughter uses for the film and we see him being married for the sixth time and on several other occasions. But he is never in a conversation with the daughter behind the camera. So the answer to the Why, we don’t get from him.

It does not matter, ”Out of Love” is a thrilling personal film based on family archive material, luckily full of humour and life. Thanks to the mother Hélène and to the second wife Cathy, who had a child with the father and at times took care of his two girls, Esther and Sarah. Their presence gives the film a light tone. They were both very much in love with the charming American, ”love is never lost” as the mother says as she is taken to the church, where they married and talks with her daughter, the one behind the camera, who asks all the questions… that’s what documentarians are supposed to do! The same with Cathy, no regrets, beautiful memories, she never remarried (Esther’s mother did, she has been married to Mathieu for 20 years). Cathy’s home videos are as all personal archive material gently integrated in the narrative.

Back to the men. The most impressive and emotional moment in the film is the conversation Esther has with her grandfather. He and grandmother, who suffers from alzheimers, have been married for 50 years – what is the secret Esther asks? He talks so well, the grandfather, about respect and sensuality. And in the next scene you see him carressing his ill wife.

The father… at the Q&A after the screening at Palm Springs a man expressed that he ”was sort of mad at him”, and indeed why-the-hell could he not come to his daughter’s wedding. On the other hand his daughter, the director, makes a fine, respectful effort to let him remain the male, who never grew up and is not able to show emotions. Therefore it is well placed that we see him shoveling snow at his house at the same time as the wedding happens. No, not mad but sad!

It is not easy to make a personal film – when does the private become interesting and thought-provoking for the rest of us? It needs cinematic skills and a good story and strong characters. This film covers all three elements.

Watched at American Documentary Film Festival, March 2015.

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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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