Magnificent 7 Belgrade Day 4 & 5

One day takes the other here in Belgrade that has the most changing weather I have experienced for a long time. Yesterday Portuguese director Jorge Pelicano, Danish director Camilla Nielsson and I, accompanied by two young students of painting and film, went on a tour to the House of Flowers, the burial place of Tito and his wife Jovanka. The weather was warm with spring in the air, so we moved from Tito to Zemun to enjoy the river with its boats, and the many people strolling on the boardwalk.

Today Belgrade is back to Nordic weather, grey with rain.

Flashback to monday night where ”Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson was shown. Again close to 1000 spectators, great atmosphere with the director asking the audience if she could take a photo! Could one imagine one thousand people watching a film on Zimbabwe in a cinema in Copenhagen… No.

Around 50 spectators attended the 90 minutes long Q&A session in the small VIP room that is full of photos from meetings held at the Sava Centre Hall during the years of Yugoslavia. Among them meetings of the non-aligned countries – and yes, Robert Mugabe, leader of the nation, was on the wall.

Camilla Nielsson shared generously her experience from the 12 production trips to Zimbabwe. How she got the full trust of the two leaders of the constitution process, Paul Mangwana from Mugabe’s party and Douglas Mwonzora from the opposition party of Tsvangirai. She told us how much energy she had to use to make the Zimbabweans understand the observational documentary method, in a country where communication to the press goes through meetings with prepared papers to be conveyed without any critical approach whatsoever.

We became public, she said, me and my cameraman were moving around during the press meetings and often we ended up on national television, filmed by the tv journalists.

I was actually invited to meet Mugabe as I brought along from Denmark some documents from his early revolutionary time, but I dared not to accept the invitation. He has such a strong aura and I was afraid that a meeting with him would make it difficult for me to make a film with Mangwana and Mwonzora.

Later on it became too sensitive, as we were surveilled, my phone was hacked, said Camilla Nielsson, who on her last tour was arrested and detained for some hours.

Asked about Zimbabweans, Nielsson talked warmly about ”the subtle gentleness” in a non-aggressive culture.

A local filmmaker could not have made this film, the director said, I think they saw me as a neutral witness to the process of making the constitution. It’s a brother story… indeed it is, giving hope for a nation when Mugabe is no longer present.

Photo: Camilla Nielsson.

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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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