Liz Garbus: Bobby Fischer against the World

Archive material, interviews and commentaries, the film has a classical build up of a story about the chess genius, American Bobby Fischer (1943-2008), whose story is one of those written out of a reality that surpasses any Hollywood fiction script. Already a grandmaster as a teenager, he grew up to play the legendary match in Iceland in 1972 against Boris Spassky, a match between sportsmen but also a match with political significance in the middle of the cold war. He became the legendary world champion, we all remember.

But something was wrong with Bobby Fischer, and this is what the film focuses on. You sense it in the brilliantly told story, where again and again you see the haunted face of the kid and the young Fischer, whose eyes do not focus and who speaks unwillingly about his childhood. His behaviour during the Iceland match was unpredictable, not to talk about his play, a man of surprises and a man who turned mad in his older years, with totally anti-american and anti-semitic comments to everything around him. He ended up in Iceland again, after having travelled the world as a nomad, being arrested in Japan, threatened to be deported to the US, granted citizenship in Iceland where he stayed until his death having verbal fights with everyone.

Who was he, Bobby Fischer, the young kid with the worried eyes and the special skills, a man who often was searching for peace and quietness, but who did not get that in his fight with inner deamons?

Shown at Free Thought documentary programme at Moscow International Film festival 2011. For our Danish readers: The film premieres at Vester VovVov, Copenhagen, August 25.

USA, 2011, 93 mins.

Still: filmmakers pic.

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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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