Hugues le Paige: The Prince

The director of this film used to be a strong and passionate commissioning editor at RTBF, the French language Belgian public broadcaster. He left when the channel decided to be less active in the commitment to the creative documentary. Le Paige wrote articles and a book about the overall decline of the public broadcasters involvement – as a colleague said to me some days ago: he predicted the crisis as it unfolds right now. For this blogger, in the early days of the EDN (European Documentary Network), it was always a pleasure to have le Paige in a pitching panel with his commitment and critical constructive encouragement to the filmmakers to fight on for quality against mainstream sensationalistic tabloid.

As this film shows, le Paige masters the personal reflection, in this case, on the relation between those who film and those who are being filmed. Who is in power, who is in control, and how is the power performed. le Paige goes back to the material he shot with Francois Mitterrand towards the end of his presidency. The President had given him carte blanche to film during meetings, when he was working at his desk, on visits to his childhood home or to the potential voters in the countryside. We observe the superb controller charmingly conveying what he wants to convey, at the first glance innocent and spontaneous, but you discover his fine way of manipulation, he knows exactly what kind of questions he wants to be put, he is very much conscious about his ”image”. What is seen is a very charismatic man who is in total control with the media.

le Paige wonders what he could say to ”find the truth” and still be free. You might say that the director is a bit naive in retrospect… but great it is to watch the charismatic Mitterrand explode in front of the camera and at the same time, as written, be in total, charming control.

Belgium, 2011, 52 mins.

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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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