Joao Moreira Salles: Santiago

He wrote “The History of the Great Men”, 30.000 pages about the universal aristocracy. He wrote it in his small kitchen and he had all the pages neatly organised on a shelf in his bed room. The great men and women were close to him all the time. 

He was a butler at the Salles home in Rio. An extremely rich family and house, one can see, when the director (younger brother of Walther) takes us back to the place with his rushes from 1992, when he wanted to make a film about Santiago, the character of the film. A brilliant man, full of grace, a man who lived with his encyclopaedia, and for music and for dance. Born in a wrong century, one could say.

13 years later, after the death of Santiago, and 13 years more mature, the director makes the film based on his filming and on his looking into the pages that Santioago had written. He does not hold back in his reflection on his own role at that time, he was the rich man´s kid, who was more interested in camera angles and framing and light, than in the man in front of him, who is toughly directed by the director, shouting from outside the picture. Do this Santiago, do that, not that like that etc. – Santiago likes to perform but you can also see how he fights to obey the young man´s orders. He obeys, he is the butler.

It sounds a bit sad, but it not only like that. Santiago talks about his childhood in Italy with passion and commitment, and he insists on a sequence where his hands are dancing for the camera. Beautiful, as is this film-film (a must in film schools!), a distant portrait of a man of culture.

Grand Prix 2007 at Cinéma du réel, Paris

Joao Moreira Salles: Santiago, 2006, Brazil, 80 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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