Taking the title of Agnès Varda and JR’s wonderful film as headline, I look back at festivals, pitching sessions, film schools… that I had the privilege to attend in 2018. Privilege is the right word to use, when you board a plane (this year I want to go much more by train…), arrive to a place where you are welcomed and spoilt by the warm hospitality that characterises the documentary community with all its organisers, programmers and volunteers.
Plus the generosity you feel as the one that brought me for the first time to the festival in Karlovy Vary, where ”Bridges of Time” by Kristine Briede and Audrius Stonys had its world premiere. Invited by one of the producers, Uldis Cekulis, I was there with old filmmaker friends Estonian Mark Soosaar, Latvian Ivars Seleckis and a new friend Andres Sööt from Estonia. Plus directors of course and producers and people from the Film institutes. Intense days of celebration of Baltic poetic cinema. On the photo, taken by Cekulis, you see Latvian Uldis Brauns, who is one of the masters in the film – the photo is from September 2014. Brauns passed away in January 2017.
For the 14th time I was at the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade met by the warmth of
the couple Svetlana and Zoran Popovic and the team around them – this time the festival took place in June at the new venue for the festival, Kombank Dvorana, in the centre of the city, a very good change from the previous location, the Sava Centre. The audience thought the same, they came in big numbers – as usual, and we cross our fingers for one of the films shown, ”The Distant Barking of Dogs” by Simon Lereng Wilmont, shortlisted for the Oscar.
DocuDays in Kiev, lovely to come back, late March, films, CivilPitch, Vareniki, vodka and a theme, equality, ” related to many social problems and challenges. Human dignity, freedom, justice and equality are the values which underpin the concept of human rights. Meanwhile, the value of equality is accepted by only a half of the population of Ukraine. So equality requires action by human rights advocates. This year, we would like to talk about what equality is and how we can profess it in our everyday lives. » I admire so much the social and political commitment of the team in Kiev.
As I admire the professionalism of IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in Prague that stands behind the East Doc Forum with debates and a pitching forum. I was there to help the presentation of new Czech films. There were 6 of them – I am especially curious to see the final result of the film „Solo“ by Artemio Benki, a film taking place at a psychiatric clinic in Buenos Aires with charismatic characters, to say the least. Everyone comes to the Forum, it seems, also Iikka Vehkalahti and Mikael Opstrup, with whom I watch football at a Chinese London Pub (!) as CL-matches always take place, when we are in Prague.
Football, sorry to bore you with this, is of course always on the agenda in Barcelona, where Joan Gonzalez takes me to the Camp Nou, this year to say goodbye to Andres Iniesta, who played his last match one of the evenings where I escaped the cinemas. 90.000 spectators to say goodbye! If any city and event, DocsBarcelona is the one, where I have been part of the furniture for more than 20 years. There were many cinematic highlights also this year, for me a great pleasure to be with Talal Derki for a masterclass. Cross fingers for his « Of Fathers and Sons », shortlisted for the Oscar.
Part of the furniture… the same goes for the Baltic Sea Docs in Riga, pitching forum for Eastern European documentaries, a place for talent development – Russian Tatyana Soboleva was there, Syrian Guevara Namer with director Antonia Kilian and at the table I was again happy to see the commitment from the Current Time TV people, Natalia Arshavskaya and Kenan Aliuyev. Baltic Sea Docs is a super-professional and warm event thanks to the team led by Zanda Dudina-Spoge.
In Georgia, at Cinedoc Tbilisi, Artchil Khetagouri and Ileana Stanculescu are the masters of ceremony in a city, that I have learned to adore thanks to them and filmmakers Anna Dziapshipa and Salomé Jashi. Do I offend anyone if I say that nothing compares to the food in Georgia – accompanied by chacha!. In 2018 I was appointed football referee for a match played according to the rules of Laurentiuu Ginghină, who is the main character in the film ”Infinite football” by Corneliu Porumbolu. Laurentiuu was there, wonderful man, who since then has travelled to other events to prove that football can be a better game that it is today.
At the Sarajevo Film Festival I was the lucky man to take part again, thanks to Masha Markovic, in the Dealing With the Past program, as part of the pitch training team for representatives from ngo’s and human rights organizations. It was the experience for me. I met engaged, committed people, who every day deal with human beings, who suffer from the consequences of the wars in the 1990’es – and try to help them. Respect!
Two more festivals – the bigger ones – to be mentioned, with artistic directors who I have known for years, Leena Pasanen from DOKLeipzig and Orwa Nyrabia from IDFA, the latter at his first year. Thanks for the invitations, lovely to be there to watch films, where films should be seen: in the Cinema. And to meet all those documentary people I have known for decades or less. Content-wise, the two festivals stand out.
Memories… not to forget the teaching at the film schools in Babelsberg and Bolzano, at Zelig talking to upcoming filmmakers, who have great ideas and projects and are hungry for learning, and watching to be inspired. I am grateful to the Germans Peter Badel and Daniel Abma, and to Italian Emanuele Vernillo for your trust in me.
… as I am to Marion Gompper from Sources for having me for one of their sessions talking about being a mentor, and to Viktor Skubey for the invitation to the St. Petersburg film school conference.
You are travelling a lot, I hear from many. Well, not as much as when I was at EDN. And in a different way. Nice hobby to have and this blog keeps my brain working! Here comes links to much less egocentric texts from the events mentioned:
http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4288/ (Karlovy Vary)
http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4200/ (Docudays Kiev)
http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4182/ (East Doc Forum)
http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4329/ (Baltic Sea Docs)
http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4226/ (Cinédoc Tbilisi)
http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4322/ (Sarajevo Film Festival)
http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3553/ (Film school Konrad Wolf)
http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4351/ (St. Petersburg)