Natalija Yefimkina: Garage People

I remember when it was pitched at the Baltic Sea Forum in Riga. My positive reaction was with a smile of surprise. And expectation to what the director would get out of it in the final film. Now the film is there and it keeps what it promised:

This is how Russian men in the snowy North of the country escape from the daily boredom to nurse a passion, to do something they like, to dream, to have a parallel life in a harsh mining area. The doors are opened to the garages and there you have the man, who suffers from the Parkinson disease but goes to work in his workshop. And there you have the group of friends, who have formed a band to play loud heavy-metal kind of music. And the grandson and grandfather at the garage, where the latter for decades – as his father – has dig out below to reach… yes, to reach what in the underground? And the ones who have turned the garage into a fitness centre! And the man (photo), who lost two wives but – we see that in the film – has a date that seems to turn out successful. 

Not to forget the man, who makes wooden icons and gets a visit from the priest, who wants an art piece for his church. As the only one we follow him (the artist!) to his home, where his wife scolds him for drinking too much. And yes, there is always a bottle in the garage.

There is a lot of vodka in the film; understandable under these weather and the poor living conditions you can imagine!?

This is a film, where no fingers are pointed. The director observes, she shows, but the way she shows, the building of the film, the cinematic choices she has made reveals clearly that she loves the protagonists, the characters, the participants.

Not long ago a filmmaker asked me why I am so fond of documentaries. My very banal short answer was: People, Life… This is one of those fims that gives me People and Life. Awarded at the Berlinale.     

Germany, 2020, 95 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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