In November last year I wrote this on about Marta Prus “Over the Limit”: An (almost) perfect film. Plays with the classical dramaturgical rules in terms of characters and rythm – positive mood and development, crisis, winning, losing, crisis as a gymnast, crisis because of her father’s illness, music that fits, brilliant camerawork, it’s like an opera or a ballet, great pleasure to look at this film with its universal appeal: Trust yourself, find yourself, the tough and direct coach is (maybe) right in much of what she is saying… Another masterly done Polish documentary!

The festival referred to above was IDFA in Amsterdam and now – after numerous festivals – the film has its national premiere! As an invited journalist I am giving it top points as you can see on the rating scheme. I do so after having recently seen the film two times more, in Tbilisi Georgia and in Barcelona. I have put parenthesis around the word almost as I have no objections to the film, none at all. It fills so well the big screen. And happy to say that the audience at both festivals reacted with enthusiasm.

Apart from that let me express a lot of admiration for Marta Prus after three

times Q&A (Question and Answer) sessions with her at the mentioned festivals. Thank you for watching my films, she always said… well, it might sound like a natural thing to say so, but I have met quite a lot of arrogance and irritation from filmmakers, who did not appreciate to meet the audience and answer all quite of questions. She told how she got the permission to shoot after having followed the gymnasts and the coaches for a couple of years, how she shot the film for one year, how she was editing for a year and how she took part in different training and pitching sessions. There were of course several questions regarding how the Russian gymnast Rita and the two coaches Amina and Irina reacted to the final result! Especially Irina comes out as quite a controversial character with her constant scolding the gymnast, whereas Amina is more a mother/big sister to Rita.

The answer to that from Marta Prus, who learned Russian before the shooting, was that she showed the film to them before it was released and there were no comments. If there was something they did not like, I would have taken it out, she said. “It’s true, the film”, said Irina, according to Prus, who invited the trio to the screening at IDFA.

I was a gymnast myself, Marta Prus said, but not on this level. Which brings me to the impossible labelling of the film. Is it a film on the tough reality of being a sportswoman on the top? Is it a film about the love/hate relationship between three women – with a fourth one on the side, the director, who at the Q&A sessions said that she often felt a bit lonely on the set, “they did not notice me”, good you can say now, it gives the film a truthfulness. Or is it a film about Russia as a Latvian friend suggested, and not a very favourable one. Maybe all, for sure much more. Curious to see the reaction in Poland!

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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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