Michael Glawogger: Megacities

Renata Medero, documentary film student at Zelig, Bolzano, Italy, writes this review of a neo- classic:

Unforgettable images… whether you like it or not.

Some films deliver images to never be forgotten, some beautiful, some not. But – what happens when the ugliness is so hypnotizing that one cannot stop watching? “Megacities” is a unique film because it brings toghether issues that by themselves seem irreconcilable. The worst of the megalopolis is brought together: dehumanization, cruelty, despair, all wrapped in a glossy and luxurious manufacturing, which makes the film as beautiful as mercyless.

The aesthetization of the poverty is not a new tendency in some films of the international scenario, but “Megacities” is tricky. Has a spotless photography, where the flawless and somewhat mysterious composition of images forces the spectator to keep watching the movie even when he might not want to.

And then, the big lettered question: Do I have the right to see this? What right did the director had to film it? And there is still another ethical issue to deal with: a group of russian street kids reveal that they were paid to be filmed. Does that mean that they were paid for showing the inhuman condition in which they live? How maquiavelic could such an idea be? In any case this film is not advisable to animal right activists, good consciences and weak hearts!

I think it is a masterpiece, because it achieves the impossible even though I don’t agree in some of the director’s views of the situations.

1998, 90 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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