Films about Dictatorships Awarded in Jihlava

… which is a Czech city where the documentary film genre is celebrated every year at the end of October through a huge market programme for selling (pitching) film projects and finished films to television stations all over the world and to other festivals. AND it is a festival that attracts an enthusiastic young audience with a programming that is often non-conventional compared to the big festivals in Leipzig and Amsterdam.

Awards were given, let’s mention two films here that already have and will have a widespread international carreer: The OPUS BONUM for the Best International Documentary Film Award 2010 was given by a one-man jury (good idea!), Canadian filmmaker Mike Hoolboom, who chose ”48” by Susana de Sousa Dias, well known by readers of this site. Film annotation: The silent dictator Salazar ruled Portugal and its colonies for 48 years – the director takes testimony of years of imprisonment, as told by victims of the regime, and innovatively combines it with photographs from the archives of the secret police, the PIDE.

In the competition section Between Two Seas (The Baltic and The Red?) the jury awarded the film “Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu” by Andrei Ujica. The three hour long film got the following motivation for the first prize:

“The Jury has decided to award its prize to an ambitious film of epic proportion. Aptly titled The Autobiography of Nicolai Ceaucescu, it is made up entirely of archive footage. Thanks to impressive editing, the director Andrei Ujica succeeds in letting the official self-presentation of the Romanian Communist Party and its leader, document the decline of its power and the hollowness of its pretensions. The film’s eloquence is particularly striking because it manages entirely without verbal commentary. Finding a fine but difficult balance between the ‘tragedy of a ridiculous man’ and the hubris of a leader progressively losing his legitimacy, the Autobiography of N.C. is a testament to the challenges of writing history through images today.”

The film is in the programme of cph:dox in Copenhagen that opened last night with the premiere of Jørgen Leth’s Erotic Man. Co-blogger Allan Berg reviews the film below in Danish.

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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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