Miroslav Janek Masterclass at M7

No doubt, the biggest applause of the festival went for Miroslav Janek on the fifth day of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade. His film ”Normal Autistic Film”, made with a warm heart by the Czech veteran, cameraman and director, and for many years also editor, a job he now leaves to his wife Tonicka, demonstrates how strong relations he is able to build with children. Before with ”Unseen” (1996) and ”Kha-chee-pae” (2005) and now with this work on five clever and creative children with aspergers syndrom.

I believe that the biggest part of documentary filmmaking is NOT shooting, Janek said in the masterclass the day after the screening of the film. He referred to how he dealt with the kids. ”I went to visit them and maybe I shot one hour with them during a day. The rest

of the time we were together”. Janek was shooting over a period of two years with one year of prep including talks with people/experts in aspergers syndrom. All together he spent 7-10 days with each of the five kids, with whom he is still in contact.

You get the impression that Janek very much – as a true documentarian – works according to intuition. ”I am the happiest guy if I come home with 15-20 minutes and I know there is a scene or some shots that I can use”. ”I just let it up to life”.

”With this film I stayed 5 weeks in the editing room because I liked the material so much. But then I gave it all to the editor, Tonicka, who is my wife, together with a book where everything shot has been noted and characterised. It is Tonicka, who finds the film. And then 2 ½ month passes and what happens… one day she can bring a scene and ask ”is this what you want?””.

Janek talked about making trailers. First he was sceptical but when he had done it with Tonicka a couple of times, for this film and for ”Olga”, the great film about Havel’s first wife, he found out that the process itself clarifies and leads you to the film.

Openings… so important he said and showed the one for ”Unseen”, which is excellent as well as the one for ”Kha-chee-pae”.

… and there were talks about the five kids: Lukas, Denis, Hamid, Marjam, Majda – and moderator Zoran Popovic wanted to know the favourite of the workshoppers. Seems like all of them were loved. Of course!


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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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