Magnus Gertten: Harbour of Hope

One thing is that the launch of this Swedish film has been more than noticeable with constant updates on screenings and screening events, links to history, funding campaigns and much more – look at the Facebook link below –  but the film as a film how is it?

It is brilliant. With a classical approach and with a fine balance between conveying information and creating emotions, the film lets three holocaust survivors tell their story, starting from the time point where they arrive with the Red Cross buses from the camps to Malmö – going, in a fine montage, back in time to what happened before and afterwards. The three are the ones followed in the story, but overall info is given that some stayed in Sweden, got married, had children, and others left for far away countries or went back to their country of origin. 

Ewa, Irene and Joe – vivid and strong storytellers, or made-to-be excellent storytellers by the filmmakers, who have had amazing archive material as the basis for their building the drama. Beautiful black and white images from the arrival in 1945 (sometimes I thought that some of the material were Spielbergian ”made archive”!) mixed with private (colour) footage from the life after the arrival to Malmö, and (gently put, thanks for that) images from the concentration camps. And of course conversations and images of the three of today. And radio archive comes in to add to the ”flavour” of time. All stories are intriguing to listen to, and the film is simply nice to watch. (Photo: Ewa was born in the camp, here she arrives to Malmö)

We often call for something new, when writing and talking about documentaries. There is basically, on a universal level, nothing new here, but the film is so well mastered and captures your interest from start till end, a story, that must have an appeal to all grown-up history interested people. A small critical PS, yet, why a pop tune to accompany the end titles. Wrong sentimental decision, absolutely not needed!

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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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