IDFA: Alberti, Ni Chianáin, Hristov

Maite Alberdi, Chilean documentary director, who made the wonderful ”Tea Time” in 2014 and the equally wonderful ”I’m not from Here” this year together with Lithuanian Giedre Zickyte, a film that is nominated for the European Film Awards – has already now obtained for her new work ”The Grown-Ups”, sorry that is long, the IDFA Alliance Women Film Journalists’ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary. The jury’s motivation:

”Beautifully rendered and brilliantly edited, The Grown Ups is an

impressively informative and utterly compassionate glimpse into the lives of Down syndrome adults who are, at age 40-something, stuck in a school environment that ‘normal’ society deems safe, but they know to be quite limiting. Filmmaker Maite Alberdi’s rapport with her subjects allows them to voice their innermost longings and admirable aspirations. Their engaging story is a mixture of heartache and humor, and hope for greater understanding of people with Down syndrome – or, for that matter, anyone whose perceptions and abilities are different from ‘the norm’…”.

The film is in the international competition for feature-length documentaries, as are two other films, that I have watched today:

In loco parentis, Irish, by Neasa Ní Chianáin, that takes the viewer to an Irish – international – boarding school, that is full of life and two charismatic teacher, who have been there for decades, it’s their life, they are a couple, and it is more than a pleasure to see how they with passion and warmth cope with the children, who are from 7 to 12… and how they pretty often, pretty exhausted, evaluate the day gone and especially children, who need a gentle push. Boys and girls are observed when they are taught, by these two teachers, primarily creative skills. For those of you at IDFA, the film is still screened 3 times. Photo from the film.

The Good Postman, Finnish/Bulgarian, by Tonislav Hristov, produced by Kaarle Aho, was a disappointment. I had high expectations after seeing clips at the DocIncubator presentation in Malmø earlier this autumn, but it did not get my attention and I wonder why. Is it because the sympathetic postman in the Bulgarian village close to the Turkish border, who wants to be mayor to revive the dead place by letting refugees come and live there, that he totally lacks charisma, having the same sad expression the whole film through, is it because the long-haired, chainsmoking communist candidate for the post irritated me, is it because the film is over-dosed with music that stresses the sadness, the elegic tone that the filmmakers want to create. It’s overkill. The film is still running a couple of times at IDFA, go and check if I am wrong.

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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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