And there you are again at the world’s biggest documentary festival! You carry your festival bag to the hotel – film catalogue, catalogue for the project Forum, a so-called industry guide with photos of broadcasters and film funders, market catalogue, invitations to parties and receptions. And your badge, not to forget, that gives you access to the crowded cinemas. Idfa IS a fest, an hommage to the documentary and the mere fact that thousands of people want to go and watch documentaries and discuss them, and learn about the world that we live in, well it pleases one, who can remember when festivals were exclusive gatherings for the happy few.

On the other hand you can not help feel a bit tired when you again enter the Forum that performs its 17th edition this year. The meeting itself is important, it is amazing to see so many producers, directors and decision makers gathered in the same room – but there is a déjà vue fatigue in the room and far too much a ”homey” atmosphere around the table with meaningless sentences expressed by the broadcasters like ”he/she is a great filmmaker” instead of trying to characterize what  kind of filmmaker he/she is, or why precisely this film could be important for them. Some editors like Iikka Vehkalahti from YLE try to cheer the whole thing up, and its was also the Finnish director Pekka Lehto that brought the most promising project to the table, about Alpo Rusi, accused of being a spy for GDR, another cold war story, well presented and at a rough cut stage. More unclear at this moment, but presented by a real storyteller, South African director Dumisani Phakathi, was his project ”To Marry My Mother”, that will tell the story about an unsettled family business: His grandfather wants Dumisani to pay the outstanding dowry that his father never paid to the grandfather when he married the mother. “If I have a problem I make a film”, the director said.

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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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