Jerzy Śladkowski: Don Juan

Taken from the site of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade ( this text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about the film to be shown tonight at the Sava Center in Belgrade:

This year’s winner of Europe’s largest documentary film festival in Amsterdam, IDFA, without a doubt is one of the best documentaries produced in recent years. The initial idea of the author was to make a film about psychiatric institutions and patients in Russia, and even during the first researches suddenly appeared Oleg, a young man trapped by autism, and his mother convinced that her son can and should do more to improve his life. Especially when it comes to women. And Oleg begins long battles to learn how to become Don Juan, to pierce even a little the armor that safely shields him from the world and girls. The camera begins to follow his therapies that slowly multiply and start turning into an interesting odyssey – from conventional conversation, to shocking, grotesque procedures, and finally to making the theater.

Following his hero, Jerzy Slatkovski with his team, in which an

important role has brilliant cinematographer Wojciech Staron, manages to be present in moments of crisis, debates and quarrels, to capture moments of opening and closing of the main character, to capture his emotions and blockades, without ever endangering the intimacy of the situation, nor to exceed the invisible boundaries of participants’ dignity. While shooting this superb study of the human condition, the author and his film crew managed to achieve the ideal, unattainable request for filmmakers – they have become invisible.

The documentary by one of the masters of European documentary, directed intelligently and focused, with extremely subtle images of warm colors, with the camera that is always in pace with the events, with perfectly constructed internal rhythms, this Film, starting with the always interesting and intriguing view of the “Rain Man”, develops a deep, warm and touching story about the person, creating the true, brilliant and convincing film hero!

Director’s Word: The best stories usually result from coincidences, accidental meetings and good luck.
The first shooting period was a deep unprepared dive into the world of Russian psychiatric care, with no great expectations.
Russian producer Elena Petlarskaya and I happened to hear Oleg and his mother quarreling in a psychiatric clinic in Nizhny Novgorod about Oleg’s inability to fix up a date with a girl. We introduced ourselves and I shared some memories of my own romantic misfortunes – it was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.

A comment on “Don Juan” on this site.

Sweden, Finland 2015, 92 minutes

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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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