Kirchhoff & Remunda: Steam on the River

It was a very entertaining afternoon experience yesterday in Banská Stiavnica attending the screening of the 2015 documentary by Robert Kirchhoff and Filip Remunda (they call each other Robo and Filo!) followed by a masterclass with the two that gave us, the Ex Oriente audience, an insight to the making of the film. And you could sense, from the film and the class afterwards, that it had been quite as fun to make the film, as it was to watch it. Let me tell you what the film is about through the annotation from the distributor’s catalogue:

„The story of three extraordinary but aging jazzmen coming from former Czechoslovakia: Laco Deczi now lives in New York, Jan Jankeje in Stuttgart and Lubo Tamškovič used to live in Paris. Laco’s close friend Chris DePino, a musician as well as a politician close to George W. Bush, is attempting to put on a concert of the Czechoslovak Jazz Stars commemorating the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Of course the concert may never be organized… A film about the transience of fame which is fleeting, just like the steam that silently appears and disappears over a flowing river.”

And yet this text is not covering what we saw. As Kirchhoff said the film is

about creativity, about these old people improvising, “trying to live a life in poetry”, being themselves, charismatic each in their own way. The film is full of fine surprising moments and it is touching to see Lubo walking through the Paris where he was once a star, going to the places where he used to play, having his last gig, Remunda called it a “documentary miracle”, where he is not playing the trumpet but singing, making the club full of dancing people. Without teeth in his mouth.

Being asked about their collaboration, Remunda said, that when he wanted harmony in the creative process, Kirchhoff was going for disharmony – and the two gave a tribute again to Jan Gogola, who seems to help everyone in the documentary circles in the two countries. The dramaturg went to the stage to “correct” the two directors in some issues, making Remunda say that Gogola always explains precisely what we have thought and done!

Jazz music was like an island of freedom in Soviet times, a freedom that Laco still expresses with humour wanting to write scenes to be used in the film, while the aristocratically well dressed Lubo walks around in Paris looking for Ray Steven Oche. The film includes the funeral of him, filmed in a very fine touching way.

While writing this Ivana Pauerová Milosevicová sits in front of me saying that she was at concert in Prague with Laco, celebrating his 80 year´s birthday, last year – he was young and energetic as ever. 

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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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