Oliver and Vladimir on Television

”The Putin Interviews” is the title of the four part series made by Oliver Stone with Vladimir Putin in the leading role. Long awaited and with some expectations as Stone had visited the President a dozen times and had this approach to the meetings, formulated in one of the many interviews he has given:

”I’m here to get Putin to talk. Let him talk. If I can encourage him to talk by having an empathetic ear, that is the reporter’s way. I’m also a dramatist. I’m encouraging my actors to be better. To say more. To give me a performance..”

Fair enough. And Putin does talk as I witnessed it last night, where DR2 broadcast the first part of the series.

And Stone puts questions, which are kind and respectful without any attempt to go deeper in Soviet or post-Soviet history. Or in Putin’s profession as a KGB man. Or… Stone asks ”what do you think about Jeltsin and his alcohol problem” or ”why did you not say hello to Gorbatjev at the May 9 celebration ceremony”. Or ”so

you sleep only 6-7 hours per night”. Putin smiles the whole way through, they are having a good time together, they seem to like each other, there are no aggressions, no confrontations, pure politeness from the side of Putin, who as the perfect host shows Stone around in his luxurious surroundings.

The style of the series, at least in the first part that I saw last night, corresponds to the superficiality of Stone’s questions in the interviews: Quick editing, weird angles, camerapeople in the picture in many sequences, close-up of presidential hands and of Stone’s face that sometimes looks like too many vodkas the night before, shaky… Hate to say that the dop is one of my heroes, Anthony Dod Mantle.

Yes, I am going to see the next three episodes. I know it has nothing to do with good journalism. It is pure entertainment. And promotion. Comments on Ukraine and Krim and Russian hacking the Democratic party will come, I am sure. With no further questions, I suppose, from Stone. But maybe not on the treatment of or situation for the politicians in opposition, whether they are in prison or not. Boris Nemtsov, Oleg Sentsov, the demonstrations, Syria, the television propaganda, Georgia, World Cup 2018. There is no response or discussion from the side of Stone to be expected, ”let him talk”. A hygge tv program to use the Danish word that has now been taken into the English language! A performance as he wanted, Stone.

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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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