Gideon Koppel: Sleep Furiously

I do consider the film of Gideon Koppel as one of the most important in the last couple of years. It has been written about on several times (use the “search” button). I saw it on dvd in Lisbon and Copenhagen, and on a big screen with 1500 spectators at the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade last January. With great joy I discover that the film has been released in UK cinemas with a (what else?) brilliant and positive review in The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw (May 29). Here is an excerpt:

This delicate, tonally complex film by Gideon Koppel is a documentary ove-letter to Trefeurig, the Welsh farming community in Ceredigion where he grew up, and where his parents found refuge from Nazi Germany during the second world war. It is a rural society, outwardly placid and at one with a landscape of stunning beauty, but in fact in crisis. Koppel’s film takes as its starting point the closure of the local school, a definitive, calamitous loss for a place where shops and bus services have already vanished. The movie pays tribute to the grit of a people who may yet revive their economy, but it acknowledges a darker possibility, for which the sentimental note of an “elegy” is not appropriate. Slowly, but surely, Trefeurig appears to be dying, and Koppel’s camera captures the consequent ripples of loss and regret.

The film has richness and an unshowy compassion, its grammar and pace adjusting to the tempo of the countryside. It reminds me of work by French film-makers such as Nicolas Philibert and Raymond Depardon, and the weird dance of the fork-lifts and farm machinery has something of Our Daily Bread, Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s documentary about food production. But Sleep Furiously has its own distinctive quality…

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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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