IDFA Service Continued

The IDFA festival sent out a newsletter with these words included: “Are you in the mood to reminisce about your last two weeks in Amsterdam, or have a look at what you missed? The IDFA website’s got it covered in text, audio and video…”

And right it is, whether you were in Amsterdam or not, take a look, and enjoy interviews with directors, texts, podcasts – the most interesting for me, however, was the section “Kill Your Darlings” that includes deleted scenes from 12 of the films from the festival program.

I picked 3, the first one “Olmo and the Seagull” (photo) that was seen and reviewed by Allan Berg on this site. One of the directors, Petra Costa, explains why the scene was taken out. For me the scene illustrates what intensity in a dialogue scene can be. The review and this clip makes me want to see the film asap.

The second one is from “Ukrainian Sheriffs” by Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko, a film that I have been close to but I had forgotten the scene

mentioned. Bondarchuk explains: “At the beginning we thought we needed many different sheriff’s ‘cases’, to show the range of their duties, to dive deep into their daily lives. We had almost 200 hours of raw material and we edited everything into small episodes. The first cut was approximately five hours and we realised that it was time to kill several darlings. This episode was part of the film until the sixth version of the cut (two hours), but finally it was omitted. First, it was quite similar to Kolya’s case (family arguments). And second, it has a slightly sad feeling, and we wanted to keep the first summer’s part of the film sunny and cheerful.”

The third one is from “Sonita”, a film that I watched yesterday on the excellent IDFA Docs for Sale. It is the film that won the audience award at the festival. Understandable – it is a touching, well told story about the Afghan girl Sonita, immigrant in Teheran, who is a very talented rapper musician and who wants to avoid being taken back to Afghanistan to be married, the wish of her mother. It ends well thanks to several people, mostly the director Iranian Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, who introduces the deleted scene like this: “I was thinking it would be very essential to introduce the organization (that helps the immigrant children who have come to Teheran), the situation of children whom they help and Sonita’s history in that organization. I wanted to shed some light on the social situation of immigrant children like Sonita in Iran and the fact that they cannot go to school. But while discussing things with the editor and producer, we came to the conclusion that we needed to start the main story earlier and this informative sequence is not directly connected to the main story, so we should take it out. It is still painful for me to think about it.”

Having seen the film, I second that it is a pity that this scene did not fit in to give Sonita’s story a broader, social perspective. Anyway, you have to make hard decisions…

Yesterday I learnt that “Sonita” goes to the Sundance festival as well. Of course!

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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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