Masterclass in Belgrade

I have just said goodbye to the Macedonian cameraman Samir Ljuma, who expressed his joy to have been here at the Magnificent7 Festival, where 1300 spectators were totally enthusiastic about ”Honeyland”, the opening film tuesday night. Yes, I said, this is what festivals are for – the famous triangle of a film, the ones who have made it AND the audience.

Samir Ljuma did a workshop session together with Atanas Georgiev giving inside information on the production of the film, the editing, the camera work and of course the relationship with the protagonist Hatidze. Workshop session is a wrong word, it was a masterclass, so precise with one master, who was not there (editor and producer Atanas Georgiev) and one who was very much present, painting the film, Samir Ljuma, because a painting it is, in my review

I refer to Vermeer, and Zoran and Svetlana Popovic wrote like this in their introduction on the website ”created magical sights of the mountains, villages and village life and especially refined painting-like nocturnal scenes lit by the fire…”

400 hours of material… a lot to be thrown out of course, Atanas said, who built the film as a fiction using classical dramaturgical rules – as you can see in the film. 100 shooting days over 3 years. We need conflicts, Atanas said to the shooting team, give her one line she can say to get the opposition to the gypsy family entering her territory. And he got it, “they are Turks”, she says to her mother in one of those magnificent scenes inside the small cottage, where the old mother has been lying in her bed for 4 years.

Yes, the kids were looking at the camera, Hatidze was very natural. She is now living in the village, the film crew bought a house for her and check out

read this: “You’ve obviously met Hatidze, the Sam family and their 7 kids. Actually, they are 8 kids now. The last one was born on the day of the film’s premiere at Sundance back in January. The Sundance Kid… who would have thought. They would be happy to meet you too, but they are in Honeyland, a place far away, where anything goes and nothing is for sure. You can now help Hatidze, these 8 kids and their parents to have a better life by donating. After all, it would be a transaction, since these are tough kids and even tougher people. They wouldn’t want your pity, so instead they would like to make you an offer where you buy some of our finest honey and they’ll earn it one way or the other. You can get a jarful of 30g of Honeyland’s finest honey and we’ll make sure that both you, Hatidze, and the Sam’s get what’s yours. The earnings from your goodwill will go into improving the lives of the protagonists as well as the local community.”

The film that won three awards at the Sundance Festival, has now an American distributor, who wants to take it to the Oscars… Good luck!

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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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