Helena Trestikova: René

Am I just an object of study for you, René asks Helena, the director of the film, in one of their numerous conversations during the 20 years, she has followed the child/the youngster/theman René, who spends most of his life time behind bars sentenced for robberies. Nobody is never only an object, she responds, and indeed the film gives you the impression that she helps him strongly financially and supports him in the organising of his career as a writer, who gets his books published. He has a lot to thank Helena for, and he does so in the film.

However, the film loses its truthfulness as the director does not reflect on her own role towards René. He is quite open about himself, but we dont hear how she must have been trying to get him out of the disastrous life he leads – or about her general relationship to him. She has opinions about this, I am sure, I was maybe in love with you, René says at a certain moment… She must have felt this, but it is not in the narrative. Or how did she feel when he robbed her flat! In other words she stays at a distance as an anonymous voice behind the camera. A wrong choice I think. No doubts, no feelings about this constant filming a man in trouble, she insists on studying him, as he said. And she receives a lot of ”Dear Helena…” letters.

She does that with a lot of empathy, absolutely, it is – as the Germans would have said – ”eine Dokumentation” of a life of a human being, who had a bad childhood and never made it to be ”a useful member of society” as he phrases it himself, ”sinking lower and lower”. But we did not get the whole story.

Czech Republic, 2008, 83 mins.

EFA Documentary Award as Best European Documentary. First Prize at DOKLeipzig.

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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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