Nicholas Philibert at Magnificent7

The festival opened with an image of Nénette, the more than 40 years old orangutang that since the age of 3 has been living in a zoo in Paris. A close up of someone looking at you and another beautiful film by Nicholas Philibert, whose name here in Serbia is written as it is pronounced: Filiber.

Who is a director who talks wonderfully and inspiringly about his métier, in this case about a film that started as a short film of around 20 minutes but ended up as a feature length documentary that has been released theatrically in several countries and is soon published on dvd.

”I had totally free hands”, Filiber said in a masterclass for young filmmakers, ”I had no money for the filming, so there was no pressure on me… it is a film about face to face, about our voyerism, about ”the other”. Nénette is a metaphor for ”the other”. We can’t help comparing with her.”

Filiber had some principles that he followed. Sound and image were separated. The camera stays on Nénette and her fellow apes, and are accompanied by 3 types of voices: visitors (several children), keepers and friends, who reflect on several aspects of our relationship to the ape. The sound is important for the film, Filiber said, ”and the silence speaks for her solitude”. He had 10 days of shooting (Nénette wakes up at 8.30am and goes to sleep at 6pm at night), and ”I started with the editing of the sound.” Filiber showed clips from his previous films, ”Le moindre des choses” (photo) and ”La ville Louvre” and mentioned several times how important it is for him to keep his ignorance and work from curiosity and questions. ”I dont want to know anything in beforehand, if I do, then why make the film? All is built on encounters and I only film what people give to me”.

The films of Nicholas Philibert are available on dvd. He has been written about on this blog numerous times.

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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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