Michel Wenzer: At Night I Fly

New Folsom prison in California. A film made over several years. Literally an inside insight to a world we have no idea about existed, even if we have seen loads of prison films, most of them fiction, and many of them very good as (to put on the domestic Danish glasses) the recent ones by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm. Yet this film by Swedish Michel Wenzer goes so much closer in his cinematic interpretation of a life in a totally tough environment with armed guards, ”isolation, closure, loneliness” to ”keep us contained” as one of the inmates say.

The film has a sketchy, fragmentaric structure, but the impressionistic approach slowly adds up sequence by sequence, and you get some characters, who are reflective when it comes to their own situation and to the actions they take to fill their days to make it all bearable, or you could say to make sense of it all. The focus is on ”the arts in correction programme” in the prison, arts as a lifeline to sanity, and there are great scenes from this room where (some) inmates meet with people from other races, as they say, in a world where the white normally do not meet with the black, or the black with the latinos, or… Music, poem reading, writing, religious meetings, they are well articulated.

There are footage from riots, there are scenes where the brutality of the environment is evident, but the goal of the director is to show the strength of the inmates, who have chosen to express their life and pain in a creative manner.

The sound and music design is marvellous. In times where so much music is wall-to-wall ”this is what we want you to feel”, the work of Wenzer is respectful to the characters situation and to the equally strong visual circling around the isolated mini-world. 

Sweden, 86 mins., 2012



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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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