IDFA – Heddy Honigmann and Marlén Viñayo

In August 2007 Allan Berg and I started filmkommentaren. The first post/review of a film published was „Forever“ by Heddy Honigmann, a lovely film where the director takes the viewer to the cemetery Père Lachaise in Paris. An essayistic film about Life and Death made by the Dutch master, whose films I have followed with pleasure during decades – do you remember ”Metal and Melancholy”, ”Oblivion”, ”O Amor Natural” and the recent ones ”Buddy” and ”Around the World in 50 Concerts”? And many more.

So it is wonderful to see that the director has a world premiere coming up at the IDFA (16 November – 6 December), placed together with 7 other in the Dutch Competition category.

The title is ”100UP” and the life affirming website description goes like this:

”A doctor from Lima still works in the hospital, in New York a sexologist still sees clients, while elsewhere in the city a student attends lectures at the university. On the other side of the world, a spry Norwegian helps with lambing and a distinguished Dutchman is working fanatically on an online platform for human rights. What do they have in common? They’ve all passed their 100th birthday.

In this documentary, seven colorful centenarians give us a glimpse into their lives today and their rich pasts. All are still very active, even though the clock is ticking, bodies sometimes fail to cooperate, the loss of loved ones is painful, and some worry about the world’s future.

Heddy Honigmann visits these very old citizens of the world and asks them about life. What do they expect of it? Each tells their story in their own way, sometimes with humor, occasionally with a touch of melancholy, but always with the wisdom reserved only for the very eldest of us.”

A very promising annotation and I am going to watch it, unfortunately not in Amsterdam as the Dutch government does not allow Copenhageners to enter due to the pandemic, but online as most of my film watching is now.

Yesterday IDFA also announced other competitive sections – student films, kids and docs and short documentaries. In this category I find with pleasure a new film by Marlén Viñayo entitled ”Unforgivable”. The director is from El Salvador and charmed us with ”Chacada” at many festivals, including DocsBarcelona, where it won an award, ”a touching story – full of humour – about five women, single mothers, poor, who have quite some stories to get rid of in the theatre play, they are performing together.” Was what was written on this site.

”Unforgivable” (36 mins.)… here is a clip from the website: ”Geovanny is incarcerated at the San Francisco Gotera prison in western El Salvador, which is exclusively dedicated to detaining gang criminals. In 2017, almost all inmates converted to evangelical Christianity. Like them, Geovanny has withdrawn from his gang. But while the church has no difficulty accepting his violent past, the fact that he loves another man is regarded a sin for which he can’t be forgiven.”

A veteran and a newcomer at IDFA. That’s how it is with this festival. As the artistic director Orwa Nyrabia wrote on FB: So much to see, so much to hear, so much to talk about, so much to just stay silent after. This year in documentary film is tremendous… Indeed, I will come back with more information about the IDFA program later.

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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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