MIFF Documentary Competititon/ 2

In this text I can only speak for myself as one of three jurors at the first documentary competition at the 33st Moscow International Film festival stating that there was a clear agreement in the jury for the winner, Hell and Back Again, see below.

For the other 6 films it was obvious that ”Abendland” by Austrian Nikolaus Geyrhalter was visually a strong film essay with a very relevant critique of our civilisation with beautifully composed (but badly projected in the imax cinema) images of surveillance cameras, immigrant interviews, a refugee camp, Oktober fest in Munich… it is methaphoric, it has magnificent moments but it also suffers (maybe a matter of taste) from its distant intellectualism.

Audrius Stonys deserves much praise for his ”Ramin”, a film about an old man in Georgia, his daily life, his attachment to his late mother, his looking for a woman he knew in his youth… the story is told in stunningly beautiful images by Audrius Kemezys, the story construction is complicated, but there are magical moments (like in most of Stonys films) that you will never forget, and original ideas. In this one it is a cross-cut from a loong celebration of Ramin’s birthday to a cat crying outside the house with a nice warm hen to lean on!

Whereas ”Senna” (photo) by Asif Kapadia, running more than succesfully in English theatres at the moment, has a classical straight forward narrative, simple it is, and should be, with its focus on the career of the formula 1 driver, Brasilian Ayrton Senna, his fight with French Alain Prost, a love-hate relationship, his importance for his poor nation, his charming appearence. It is all built on archive, not a talking face, all comments come off the image, an excellent solution for a film that appeals to a broad audience.

”Marathon Boy” by Gemma Atwal was a tabloid film with a constant noisy sound track attack, a story about a small boy being exploited by the media and his mother and his coach – no director point of view, as i saw it. And it was a mistake that ”Czech Peace” by Filip Remunda and Vit Klusak was shown in a one hour version with an introduction by Michael Moore (”watch this film”!) – I have seen a fine long version of the film in beforehand. Also a wrong choice it was to show ”Happy People: A year in the Taiga” by Dmitry Vasyukov and Werner Herzog in a disrespectful version where the voices of the Russian characters were dubbed into American, and where Herzog’s voice, which I normally like a lot, in this case was far too much sounding like the world was about to go under!


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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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