Jean-Gabriel Périot: A German Youth

The last couple of years I have been more and more enthusiastic about archive-based documentaries. When they are built from personal and public archive like Catarina Mouráo´s ”The Wolf’s Lair”, when they work from an intelligent method in portraying ”Senna” and ”Amy” as does Asif Kapadia, when they play with the material and dare reconstruct as do Anders Østergaard and Erzsebet Racz in ”1989” or when they are supplemented by interviews about the fabulous Nina Simone as in the film by Liz Garbus.

So expectations were high when I sat down to watch Périot’s ”A German Youth” that – based mainly on found-footage including several film school films from the dffb, the film school in Berlin, founded in 1966 with an opening speech by Willy Brandt – through archive puts the focus on the 60’es and 70’es rebellion from before, during and till the end of Rote Armeé Fraktion (RAF), also known as the Baader-Meinhof group. Lots of material with Ulrike Meinhof, whose rethoric talent was so great, and films by Holger Meins, and tv newsreels to keep the viewer on the chronological track that the director seems to follow.

No conclusions, thanks for that, but why is it that I found the film totally boring and without soul, and could not find the red thread of the director. Because I have seen enough about RAF and this does not add anything to what I have seen and read? Last time in Berlin in January at the big exhibition that was diffficult because there were too many people, but I bought the catalogue and read it all, excellent. With ”A German Youth” I just thought: Where is the film? Sorry.

France, Germany, Switzerland, 2015, 92 mins.

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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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