Mikkel Stolt: The annual “Danish Doc Get-together”

During the closing panel talk Sunday at European Film College, English director Nick Broomfield suggested that all of us in the audience were in fact blessed because we are working in the documentary business of Denmark – the happiest place in the world with probably the best possibilities of getting a film financed. Well, we are also a bunch of cantankerous bitches and blighters who are never just satisfied.

But this weekend we were blessed with the presence of among other said Bloomfield, Russian director Victor Kossakovsky and emerging Ukrainian filmmaker Jurij Rechinsky, whose very moving and empathic “Sickfuckpeople” (2013) was shown on Friday night followed by a Q&A with the sneakingly charming director. About eight hours (and a couple of glasses of red wine and discussions in small groups) later we watched the brand new “The Tales of the Grim Sleeper” by Nick Broomfield. Quite a way to start at 8 in the morning, but it seemed that there was a bit more discrepancy between us all regarding our opinions on that film. Personally, I found it a bit disappointing and obvious considering some of his earlier work, but the talk and discussions afterwards was very enlightening and entertaining.

Entertaining is maybe not quite a satisfying word for the performance of Victor Kossakovsky which followed a screening of his remarkable and extremely cinematic “¡Vivan las Antipodas!”(earlier reviewed on this site). His passion is surpassed which we saw in a clip from behind the scenes on that film and I almost felt guilty with my tame Nordic temper, wanting to make films. He was a powerhouse of good remarks (“I want to make your soul soft”, “We are all guilty in giving TV so much power” and “Don’t tell me you wanted to be a filmmaker because you watched TV; no, you saw Fellini, Tarkovski, von Trier, whatever…”), expressed with his hefty accent which had us all on the edge of our seats – if not for the excitement, then for being able to understand what he said.

During dinner on Saturday night, a prestigious Danish prize, “Roos-prisen”, was most deservedly given to “Act of Killing”-producer Signe Byrge Sørensen but she couldn’t celebrate too heavily since she (together with producer colleague Helle Faber) had been given the ungrateful task of giving a lecture early Sunday morning. Rather rude, come to think of it. It was about the pros and cons of international co-productions and a bit more practical than the rest of the tight program which held much more than I can account for on this limited space.

There has been some grumbling in (the younger end of) the business towards the costs of participating. We may be blessed but we are not rich. Still, somewhat of a bargain for a brilliant seminar among the best and I think this one was my 15th in a row. However, being a cantankerous bitch I still have ideas for improvements and things we could do without but that will only be in my evaluation form provided by the arrangers. I hope it will be anonymous!

In the end, I can only advice you to become a famous documentary filmmaker and get invited or become a member of the Danish society to get a chance to join this seminar – but that’s equally hard these days.

Foto: Lars Bo Kimergaard: Kossakovsky forklarer i Ebeltoft “Antipodas” med en ledning. 

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Mikkel Stolt
Mikkel Stolt
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