Hichem Ben Ammar: Once Upon Our Time

A classic theme: A father invests all energy and passion into the education of the son to make him do and be, what he himself never achieved. Anas Romdhani (born 1995) is a violin virtuoso, and the father a mediocre musician, as he describes it himself in the documentary film by Hichem Ben Ammar from Tunisia. The director follows the career development of the boy, a journey full of travels to the capitals of the world, and a journey full of money seeking for the father, who wants the project to be succesful.

A fairy tale it is, and a fairy tale frame is what the director by verbal narration has put it into: Boy from poor background makes it. It is obvious that the father has wanted this film to happen as well, and the director allows himself to use a good deal of the home video material that the father has shot on their travels. It gives the film a texture extra and an intimacy, and first of all a close up of the main character in the film, who is actually not the son but the father, who is pushy like hell, but who you can’t help love for his total dedication and love to his son. ”If he fails when he is 20”, the father says, ”he will at least say that ”Dad did his Best””.

But there is not a lot in the film that makes one think that the boy will fail. Well, he sits with a Playstation game and gets out some aggression but otherwise Anas is just very sweet and wants it to happen. When he gets into the prestigious Menuhin School in the UK, from where all the good ones come, you sense that he is about to cut the string to the father, who in one of the good magical moments of the film has been caught by the camera waiting outside the examination door hoping the son to succeed. Entertaining documentary, a success story, a film for a broad audience in festivals and on tv.


Tunisia, 85 mins., 2009

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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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