Magic Moments

The direct cinema or call it the observational is still alive and strong. I thought about that yesterday here in Kolin in Czech Republic, where director and editor Erez Laufer showed the film of Laura Poitras from 2006, ”My Country, My Country”, edited by the director and Laufer.

Laura Poitras was 8 months in Iraq and she was here, there and everywhere with her small camera. She had access to the American army, to the security people who were there in connection with the elections, she was up North with the Kurds and first and foremost she got close to the charismatic dr. Riyadh, a political candidate for the Iraqi Islamic Party, and the main character of the film.

The director’s presence and sense of situations is second-to-none. Let me just mention two scenes out of many that will stay in my mind: A woman sits in her appartment searching for a fly that is disturbing her. She is totally concentrated on this mission while we as viewers hear the sound of the city being hit by strong bombardments… A pure magic moment, says so much,,, as does the next example also where she catches a moment of Americana in a hall where an officer talks to Iraqi security people. ”We are gonna run this show, you will be on television all over the world…”, he says. ”Show”, one of the men silently remarks, ”ok, this is real life”, the American superior replies, ”yes, it is a bit different than a show”, the man ends up commenting silently. Voila, a small dialogue, that also says so much without anyone explaining to us anything. Think, please, and this is the quality of this film that the filmmakers invite us to do so. Observational documentary, this is ”being there” as Richard Leacock so often has put it.

(The film has previously been reviewed on by one of the Zelig film school students, Georg Bocher.)

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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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