Nordisk Panorama: The Forum Day Two

Second day at Amiralen in Malmø for the Forum with twelve productions to be pitched. I was hoping for Cinema, for stories with an emphasis on visual storytelling, and I got it with the third project of the day, ”Swimming Pools” from Iceland, director and cinematographer Jón Karl Helgason. Also in terms of the verbal side of the presentation this was the most original pitch of the two days. Helgason asked us all in the room to close our eyes and gave us the job to visualise some scenes. We did. And I was pleased that finally here was someone who broke the schematic and predictable rythm. It was a wonderful, warm and funny, visually magnificent trailer about the many bathing facilities offered to the Icelandic population, and what it means to them. And the director told us that in Iceland people get old, also because of the pools. He wants to go to cinema with the film, and of course also with a tv version. 

Unfortunately the two first tv editors to comment (from SBS and YLE) spoiled the party. What is the film about, was the question? Well we just saw and heard that. You should go very close to the old people, was a comment. Well I will, the director said, it is only in the pools that personal questions are not allowed. After these two opening remarks it all went flat, as producer Heino Deckert said to me in a break – meaning that you hear ”thank you for the pitch” and similar sentences of politeness.

Nordisk Panorama has a tradition for asking the filminstitute/fund people to select films to be presented as a ”wildcard”. The Icelandic was one of those, and the Danish wildcard was ”A New Beginning”, producer Søren Steen Jespersen with director Ala’a Mohsen, who graduated from the Danish Film School in 2015. It is one of those touching stories that you hear about and read about. Let me quote the catalogue and you will understand: Rabiaa arrives from Syria to Norway with his four-year-old son Qais. They have lost the rest of their family in a barrel bomb attack in Aleppo. Now, the two of them must start all over again… in Norway… A hopeful film on a tragic background.

The Norwegian wildcard was ”Faith Can Move Mountains” by Silje Evensmo Jacobsen about nuns who want – with the support of the Orthodox church in Romania – to build a monastery in a ”nearly inaccessible mountain ledge”. With little understanding from the locals. It looked like a very good story for television. ´To be finished spring 2019.

Back to Cinema to mention the last film pitched, Swedish ”Hamada” (Photo) by Eloy Dominguez Serén, produced by Momento Film in Stockholm. The director has been in the Sahara desert, where the Sahrawi people (150.000 political refugees) live isolated. He was there for 7 months getting to know his characters, youngsters, three of them. A situational documentary with long sequences of beauty and charisma. For cinema.

The same goes for Eva Mulvad’s new project, ”Family on the Run”, I think this project got the biggest applause in the two days of the Forum. Because of a strong trailer and story, emotional, a love story of great intensity. On the run – from Iran because of ”adultery, espionage and their own shame of having an illegimate child”. Eva Mulvad is such a good talker, precise and warmly caring about her protagonists.

I complained about the first day’s selection. I still think that Nordisk Panorama Forum should have more multilayered artistic documentaries, but the second day was clearly better than the first avoiding the more tabloid topics. Danish ”False Confessions” from the US, in production, is interesting, many confess to have committed crimes, they did not do. Why, is the theme of the film. ”Josefin and Florin”, Swedish and Romanian, is a sweet ”warmhearted and feel-good” film, as Sabine Bubeck from ZDF/arte formulated it. The French (a delegation from France was invited to Malmø) came with a film which I am not sure I dare watch when finished: ”Number 387”, one of the 30.000 drowned refugees, whose identity is built up ny forensic pathologists.

One more deserves to be mentioned, Norwegian ”The Men’s Choir” by Jo Vemund aiming at cinema release. The trailer was amost a short film in itself, showing the men, ”an exclusive brotherhood, who meet to sing. And does it very well. Funny, good atmosphere and they are invited to warm up in a Black Sabbath concert. BUT the conductor gets cancer and the tone changes completely. Touching, a challenge to masculinity, as one panelist said. 

And then out in the streets of Malmø to go home to Copenhagen.

The festival side of Nordisk Panorama concludes tonight. Will get back to you with info on the winners. 


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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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