Idfa Winners/2

Even if not having seen all films in the main long feature documentary section at idfa, it is clear that the good choices of the jury appear to be based on artistic quality and subject relevance. Where nobody has waited for or asked for a film like the First Prize winner ”Position among the Stars” (one more film about people, a family, who lives in – for many of us – a far away country), the Special Jury Prize given to ”You don’t like the Truth – 4 Days inside Guantanamo” (Photo) has its actuality and relevance as a film that goes behind the many news bits and discussions about the camp in Cuba. To give an evidence to how one (and many more?) prisoners have gone through the most outrageous interrogation beyond any human decency. It is simply a film that should go everywhere and hopefully also will. It is intense in its split-screen use of the security camera footage that catches the interrogation of a 16-year old boy. You shake your head in despair watching this investigative (many interviews with cell mates and lawyers and a psychiatrist) Canadian film about the mental torture of a Canadian citizen. For more about the content and background, click on the title in the text below or go the site of the film.

”Position among the Stars” is third part of a trilogy about a family in Indonesia. 6 years after his second film about the family Sjamsuddin, three generations, the director Helmrich presents one more big humanistic epic that can be compared to Satayit Ray’s Apu-trilogy. Helmrich goes or rather flies from situation to situation, his camera is constant moving, there is an outstanding flow in the narrative, and he is met with open arms and minds by his characters. You sense that they like him, like he likes them, but empathy is of course not enough to make an exceptional film like this – the director know his stoytelling dramaturgy, he knows to play with contrasts: countryside/big city, young/old, old world/modern life, and he does it through scenes with the warm and loving grandmother, her sometimes desperate son, who is a representative for the local community, split as he is between his mother’s generation and his niece, the teenage girl, the hope of the family, who is the one who must have an education, the first one in the family. There is a development of the characters in the film. There is laughter and tears. It’s all there and I am looking forward to seeing the whole trilogy when it is published on dvd. Look out for it.

The Jury did well BUT BUT BUT I heard that the members watched (some of the?) films on dvd at home before coming to the festival. Objection! Juries at the most prestigious and important documentary film festival in the world MUST take their time to come to idfa to sit in a cinema to watch the films on a big screen as the audience in Amsterdam did. No excuse, respect for the filmmakers and their works.

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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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