Marco Gastine: As Far as the Sea

It’s a strong piece of observational public service documentary, Greek/French director Marco Gastine has made. “Public Service” reminding us about, what legendary Scottish John Grierson thought should be the role of documentaries: to make the audience, the civil society understand the importance of public institutions. In this case the K.A.T. hospital in Athens Greece, where a section is treating patients, who have experienced serious accidents, paraplegics. But Grierson also stressed that these documentaries, apart from having an informative goal, should be made by filmmakers with a creative and artistic interpretation.

For 108 minutes the film takes the audience to the hospital with the staff and

the patients and those, who are close to them. Parents, friends, relatives. It’s about the continuous efforts from both sides to improve the patients mobility, it’s about « try, try, and try again”, training to operate a wheelchair, to get to the next step, the walker and from there to the crutches. And it is about to be able to cope with everyday life again, with all the mental obstacles that also have to be overcome.

And it is about the staff and their meetings discussing the patients, their disagreements, their rounds to talk to (they are all male) the men, the optimistic small remarks, testing and celebrating the small steps forward…

And it is about catching the moments of joy as when the lead doctor, who has been at the hospital for 39 years goes on pension and makes a party for everyone. Or when friendships are made between the patients with remarks like “be strong, the battle is not over yet”. The film has a strong emotional impact because of these scenes.

And, five months later, a text says, Giorgis graduates in economy and comes to the stage in a wheelchair – he was the one who had his accident when diving not taking enough notice of how deep the water was. Stavros fights to learn to walk, Agis is in the swimming pool (wonderful images under water), gets out, walks to the car with crutches, pass these to his father and takes the driver’s seat in the car. Not all of them get that far in their effort to gain Independence but less is more.

Greece, France, 2019, 108 mins.

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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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