Jon Bang Carlsen: Purity Beats Everything

Miriam Lichterman lives in Cape Town with a view to beach and sea. Jon Bang Carlsen lives in a farmhouse with a fine view to a beautiful landscape in Denmark with family, cat and dogs. She is a holocaust survivor, a Polish Jew, who saw the horrors of Auschwitz from the closest distance, he is a filmmaker born after the war. He grew up in the 1950’es in silence when it came to family talk about holocaust.

She is a brilliant storyteller, and so is he. She – with the words of Jon Bang Carlsen –deals with the cruelties as an artist, the only way for her to overcome it, she talks with a sincerety that brings the past into present time. I have to look her into her eyes, the director says, I can not just stay behind the camera. She has told her story again and again, he has to find a way to bring to life one more holocaust survivor story, told by Lichterman and Pinchas Gutter.

”Nothing is ever gone” could also have been the title of this film that is an indirect, non-bombastic poetically told appeal to think about the past and the present. To give the spectator his point of view, Jon Bang Carlsen has chosen to contrast the story of the survivors with images from his farmhouse idyllic surroundings, interrupted by some archive from the horrors – and with a sound score that introduces among other speeches by Hitler, Rimsky-Korsakov ”Sheherazade”, weather sounds from the Danish farmhouse, a phone that brutally cuts the directors computer-viewing of his material, and last but not least his own voice with clever reflections on the theme of purity and cleansing.

It is a montage with many layers and with some of the usual magnificent images that you only find by this unique Danish filmmaker, who never stops to challenge himself. Image: A shirt on a clothesline blowing violently in the wind. Sound: the screaming insane voice of Hitler to be overtaken by ”Sheherazade”. Or the marching soldiers of Hitler on the sound track accompanied by pegs on the clothesline moved again by the wind. I could go on, check for yourself this FILMmaker, and meet him on his tour around Denmark (see http://www.cphdox.dk/d1/fa.lasso?n=830 )

or invite him to your festival or film meeting. Or buy his film for television. Danish readers have the chance to read about Carlsen’s previous films, written on this blog by colleague Allan Berg.

Denmark, 2007, 52 mins. Information & copies for the press: Daniella.ev@dox-on-wheels.dk +4533931734 / +4528366848

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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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