Jan Andrews: Joseph Brodsky

With the subtitle ”in the prison of latitudes”, this detailed, autobiographical film is quite an achievement in terms of research into the complicated life of the Russian poet (born 1940), not to talk about the archive material that the director has found, and the many interesting people from St. Petersburg, who knew Brodsky, when he was in his home town before he was forced in exile in 1972. He lived in the US until his death in 1996.

The best in the film, however, is the fascinating images from St.Petersburg, this pearl of a city with so much beauty that Brodsky knew how to convey into his poetry, that is given to the spectator through recordings of his own voice, magnificent it is to listen to poems being recited by him, who in the US also read in a classical English language that Laurence Olivier would have loved!

The director has wisely chosen to let the St. Petersburg years be in the forefront with a voice-off commentary that not only gives information about the life of Brodsky but also quotes him. It is understandable as Brodsky comes alive through his words but it sometimes makes the narrative of the film far too loaded with words and blocks for the experience of the images. Which are also wonderful when the journey goes to his beloved Venice, that inspired him to write the masterpiece ”Watermark” about the city where he is buried. A quote to end this text about an important film introduction to a great poet:

”Being sent to into exile is like being put into a capsule and shot into space and the capsule is your language”  

USA, 2010, 60 mins.

The director Jan Andrews: I do have DVD’S in English and Italian (eventually Russian) which can be ordered from me via my email address. $15.00 plus shipping. shibui@sisna.com.

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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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