Krakow FF DocLab & My Favourites

Text that I wrote for the Daily newspaper of the festival: I started the wednesday morning at the Festival Centre moderating the „Docs to Start“ session, that is part of the impressive and super-professionally run DocLab Poland. 9 projects were pitched to be followed by individual meetings with producers, festival representatives and broadcasters after a lunch. 100 people sat in the audience, the pitching filmmakers did very well, having been for a couple of days in good tutor-hands of Danish producer Lise Lense-Møller, EDN director Paul Pauwels and DOK Leipzig’s Head of Industry Brigid O’Shea.

Let me pick three projects that I think will become good films. To exemplify the good quality: Maciej Cuske, a skilled director who is always chasing Russian stories, has a strong one in the pipeline from Chukchi Peninsula, where indigenous people live from hunting, which is a profession that is disappearing, title: „The Whale from Lorino“. And „War Watchers“ by Vita Drygas about

(yes!) war tourism = people who travel to war zones to see and experience horror, also in Syria. It is an industry, Vita Drygas said, and of course a film like that, about a quite disgusting phenomenon, will have an audience internationally. Finally Konrad Szolajski, who I know from way back, who always picks timely themes, showed a clip from „Art of Survival“, a project about the militarization of the Polish society, where volunteer paramilitary groups are growing in numbers. In the clip an 8 year old boy advocates for allowing weapons to be common property in families! Brainwashing.

And words about finished films at the festival. Some days ago I attended the screening of ”21 x New York” by Piotr Stasik at DocsBarcelona. It was very well received.

So expectations were high, when I saw that the director had a new film, ”Opera about Poland”, in the competitive categories. I got disappointed. Maybe my fault, maybe it’s the film. Maybe both. Or maybe it is quite simply that the film had too many local references. I understood that talented Stasik wants to make a statement about Poland today in the frame of an opera, with music that gets more and more aggressive, if you can say so about music, at the same time as he wants to try new ways of storytelling. Montage goes wild, split screen, images of staged scenes with Poles standing in front of the camera with voice excerpts from people, who are looking for a partner or want to sell something, or praises hysterically religion and so on so forth. I felt a sarchasm that I did not appreciate…

I have seen all 18 films in the international competition. Awards are awards, and juries are juries, and we should definitely not take it too serious, but let me play my own one-man jury:

Golden Horn: Adriana’s Pact by Lisette Oroczo for its brave and honest family story during Pinochet in Chile, where you feel embarrassed to be taken into a story that trancends the private and becomes personal.

Silver Horn, medium duration: Woman and the Glacier by Audrius Stonys for its amazing cinematography breaking the classical dramaturgy to tell the viewer about a unique place with a unique character.

Silver Horn, feature duration: The Beksinskis, a Sound and Picture Album (PHOTO) by Marcin Borchardt for its creative treatment of a personal archive through which a family drama is created that has no national border.

Curious to see what the jury decides tonight.

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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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