Memorimage 09/3

Director Josep Rovira and researcher Montserrat Bailac told me that I would probably not really understand their ”Dear Dona Elena”, as there was no contextual information given in the film that makes a focus on the fifties of a Spain during the Franco regime. They were wrong, I got it all, as the film is a kitchy compilation of wonderful, archive based stories about (mostly) women who write to a Dona Elena, who either gives them an answer on radio or through letters sent to those who write because they have questions to be answered and problems to be solved.

In an elegant montage the director links the content of the letters to archive from the time, documentary material but also fiction, with close-up on the letters that were found recently, and with a sound score that conveys the atmosphere of the purist decade. You are entertained when you hear the question of whether a French kiss can make you pregnant, and you freeze a bit when you listen to the letter from a woman, who is getting beaten up by her husband, with the answer back from Dona Elena: You have to please your husband, and then all will be fine! Only for a Spanish audience, NO, the conservatism of the fifties, the supressed role of the women, the lack of sex education, the images from the homes – all that is to be found all over, I guess, at least in a Nordic country, where I come from, well the role of the church is not to be compared, but apart from that the similarities are more significant than the differences.

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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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