Magnificent7 has begun

… and the festival that we have been writing about on this blog every day for a week has had a magnificent start. On saturday the opening Basque film “Nomadak tx” gathered more than 600 people, accompanied by full house (around 450 seats) to also Bulgarian film “Mosquito Problem and other Stories” and German film “Nach der Musik”. The audience shows again this year enthusiasm and the filmmakers offer their knowledge to young filmmakers and students on the following day with intense discussions on what is a documentary.

Yes, what is a documentary?

Magnificent7 Festival Belgrade 7

On this blog we have many times written about the Danish manyfold awarded film by Pernille Rose Grønkjær, “The Monastery”. You can click on the title and read all about it.

Now it is to be the closing film at the festival in Belgrade – and it is indeed a magnificent film. This is what I wrote when Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, and I took it for presentation with a reference to the site of the film:  

SELECTOR‘S WORD: “This film has received all the prizes it deserves because it has all the qualities you can ask for in a documentary. It is about a man and his dreams, that he wishes to fulfill at this point where he is close to the end. But it is also a film about love between a nun and the old man, and between the director – who is also the camerawoman of the film – and a unique character for a film. A man she has followed for seven years. You cry, you laugh, you sense drama and conflict. What an artistic achievement!”

TV and Creative Documentaries

I have just left Biarritz after the final session of the archive based documentary training programme Archidoc, where 11 projects from all over Europe (5 of them from Eastern part of Europe) were presented to broadcasters from  Belgium, France, Germany and Ireland. This was another chance to see where public broadcasting and television are going…. downhill. Late night screenings, more formatting, narration from wall to wall, all of them should sound and look alike, few tv slots for the more creative approach. Its not getting easier was the message from the assembled commissioning editors, who had difficulties to see where to place the many talented projects presented to them. More documentary time but also more formatting was the message from Arte, still considered as the most important channel in Europe for documentaries.

This situation and an many other matters will be discussed at a conference arranged by ETMA’s Paul Pauwels in Brussels in the beginning of March. More information soon to be found at

Magnificent7 Festival Belgrade 6

The sixth film to be shown at the unique festival in Belgrade, starting tomorrow saturday, under the subtitle “European feature documentaries”, organised by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic and their team, and with me taking part in the selection is    


According to the old stories, written about 300 years ago, during the Lithuanian – Swedish war, the bell from the bell tower of Plateliai Church has been removed and taken off. It was carried away across the frozen lake, but the ice cracked near the Kastel island and the bell sank. One hundred years later a snorkeling expedition went on a search for the bell. It has been told that they found it, but for inexplicable reasons, they let it sink again. It has been told that the sound of a submerged bell can be heard from the lake’s depth. In the Summer of 2006, the film crew, along with a snorkeling team, went on a search for the legendary bell. This diving into the still water of the mythical lake was a motive for the search through the time dimension and through shady silhouettes of memory and ancient tales. Audrius Stonys penetrates behind the surface of reality and tries to transform simple actions into fantastic sights allowing us to take a glimpse into the methaphysical world.

MY WORDS: “Audrius Stonys has always remained faithful to himself and to his unique conception of cinema and a poetical interpretation of the world. He has probably won all the prizes worth winning, including the European Oscar, the Felix, but it has not made him less uncompromising in his film language. Or maybe it is better to call it film paintings! Watch ”The Bell” that can be seen as the director’s hymn to legends and irrationality. Or to the beauty of human creativity.”

More about film and credits on

Magnificent7 Festival Belgrade 5

The fifth film to be shown at the unique festival in Belgrade, starting this coming saturday, under the subtitle “European feature documentaries”, organised by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic and their team, and with me taking part in the selection is    


Every September, behind bars of the “Soto de Real” prison in Madrid, the Festival of Song which is an extremly popular karaoke contest, takes place. The festival participants are prisoners who come from different jails in Spain. They are the protagonists of this film. The festival is the starting point from which we enter the prisoner’s life of four men and four women and the intimate world of their relationships. Love or lack of love, the universal alomodovarian eruption of emotion, lets us come closer to the penitentiary drama from an aspect we can all understand. There, the year’s length is being measured from September to September, from the last to the next festival – this film describes true, deep, exciting love stories – how they develop and how they fall apart.

MY WORDS “If 9 out of 10 films deal with love, its one too little, said Francois Truffaut and right it is. This film about love behind the bars is built like a romantic drama, it has everything, tears for crying, tears for laughing, happy moments, sorrow. Some of the inmates leave the prison waiting for the one and only they met inside. And in between there are song contests with songs that are about… yes, Love. Carlos Bosch, nominated for an Oscar for his “Balseros”, knows how to build a story. It’s a film for all of us, with wonderful characters.”

Magnificent7 Festival Belgrade 4

The fourth film to be shown at the unique festival in Belgrade, starting this coming saturday, under the subtitle “European feature documentaries”, organised by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic and their team, and with me taking part in the selection is


A young German author, impressed by photographs of a Czech photographer, goes with his friend’s recommendation to visit him. She was welcomed with a combination of the worst rude words. So it all began. This is a film about an old man with no needs and a remarkable past, facing the hype as an artist against his will. There isn’t any important city in the world where his unusual work hasn’t been exibhited. In this very moment some of the leading metropolis’ galleries are exhibiting, for amazed visitors, the photographs taken with the strangest camera ever made. But, while in the art circles worldwide his photos cost up to 12 000 Euros, Miroslav Tichý lives alone in an old, waste house, isolated from the world, surrounded with only a few friends. “They should have come earlier, now it’s too late.” – he said refusing to talk about the fame. The German director Nataša von Kopp discovers for us the new “Tichý Ocean” in the middle of Europe in the begining of 21st century.

MY WORDS: “What a character! He is around 80 years old, and there he sits, Miroslav Tichý, a brilliant photographer, who does not want to take part in all the fuss around him being a génial artist. The gallery owners and the art critics come to his room, where he sits drinking his beer and slivovica, they ask him all kind of clever questions to his work. He doesn’t give a damn. The young female filmmakers, however, have succeeded to be there and to make him talk to them, and thus to us. Thanks to that, it’s great fun to be with him. This film is full of talent!”

More about film and festival at

Naser Khaders kunnen

Ude i tovene har han efter at have valgt den mulige redning forleden og erklæret sig som klart borgerlig tilsyneladende kastet sig ind og generobret den offentlige opmærksomhed, han plejer at leve i symbiose med. I dag. Hvad er det med ham? Træt og pligtopfyldende tager jeg en film, som står udstillet på mit bibliotek. Med modvilje, den har en talemåde i sin titel, den har et emne i sin titel, som forlængst har forladt min interesse. Men det er en FILM, DFI-støttet, der må være en eksistentiel kerne.. Jeg snupper den, vil se efter. Filminstituttet har netop sendt et stort antal ud til bibliotekerne.. Jeg vil kigge på nogle af dem, nysgerrigt.. Denne bliver så den første.

Jeg har set den nu. Det er en god film, som henviser Khader til den rolle som statsministerens støtte, han nu bekræfter. Skildrer ham som borgerlig livsnyder og forsigtigper i kulturkampen. Det er en god film, som indfører en yderst interessant modkarakter, Ahmet Akari, som klart er den, jeg holder med. Uden at dele mange af hans synspunkter. Men blot det, at han erstatter Khaders fitnes-madras med sit bedetæppe, gør mig vågent interesseret i manden, som bestemt ikke er smart. Og hvis filmen mere fokuseret havde heddet “Et mandfolk” havde det helt været hans film, selv om det næsten er det nu. Intet flæb hos ham. Kun serier af hurtige beslutninger. Akari hører hjemme i aktiongenren, Khader i livsstilgenren. Denne gode film viser hvordan.

Vibeke Heide-Jørgensen: Muhammedkrisen under huden, 2007. Lånt på Randers Bibliotek.

Magnificent7 Festival Belgrade 3

The third film to be shown at the unique festival in Belgrade, starting this coming saturday, under the subtitle “European feature documentaries”, organised by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic and their team, and with me taking part in the selection is


The unusual father-son adventure. The film author, son of a famous conductor of East Berlin State Orchestra, Otmar Suitner, tries to relive and regain the important and missing moments of his own childhood. He invites his father on a journey through time and space. In this brilliant musical and film search, like in a symphony, all the important themes are being discussed: the successful career of a great conductor, personal view of music and family memories through a prism of irony regarding recent German history. A surprisingly open dialog between father and son reveals the unusual craft of balancing through life – between Communists and West, between personal life and career, between a wife and a mistress. Under the guidance of two great masters, the musician and the filmmaker, father and son, in the rhytm of fusion of the perfect shots and lavishing, exciting music, we enjoy in this fascinating revelation of time, people, beauty and love. The film has been screened and awarded at big festivals, such as Leipzig, Lisbon, Montreal and in Museum of Modern Arts in New York. This is the best documentary film in Germany in 2007.

MY WORDS: “There is this moving family photo of a big man holding the hand of a boy walking away from the camera to somewhere. Father and son who were never really father and son, as the son lived with his mother in the West and the father lived with his wife in the East as renowned and tributed conductor of music. The film is a voyage back in time with father and son (and the two women). It’s without pretentions, full of humour and the son’s ambition to make the father conduct just one more time. Silent beauty, stylistically perfect film and wonderful music!”

More about festival and credits of film at

Paris Small Talk

Pollution out, pollution in. I am in Paris for one day passing to the fipa festival in Biarritz. I see all cafés having added an outdoor terrasse for the smokers. And I see – and experience – that it is no longer possible to have a montecristo cigar with your coffee after a wonderful meal of oysters and a crème brulèe!

A consolation… is that you now can watch television in most of the Parisian cafés! So you dont have to talk to your companion if you wish to watch fashion models doing the catwalk or football or music videos.

Congratulations to Parisian culture… that was once. Hello to Degas and Toulouse Lautrec and all your fine café paintings that we can now study in the museums. And hello to Truffaut and Godard and all the others… “Jules et Jim” and “A bout de souffle”, Moreau and Belmondo, always with a cigarette!

Magnificent7 Festival Belgrade 2

… for feature length European documentaries

For the fourth time I have had the privilege to select film for this unique festival together with the two organisers Svetlana and Zoran Popovic


Made in a Fellini spirit, this structurally unusual film develops before us a gallery of strange characters and even stranger stories. A little town, somewhere in Bulgaria, is under attacks of mosquito swarms and everyone is forced to defend himself in his own way. And just about when you think that their problems are huge and almost unberable, the emence “ghosts” start to emerge from the darkness like in a thriller or a horror movie. Followed by piano sounds and dishevelled narrator, near the rusty cranes, along with cheerleaders’ singing and in the shadow of a mountain big phantom nuclear power plant, through the waste island of horror, where the cows and sheep walk and the gigantic buzzing mosquitos bring with their stings the destinies of our heroes closer together. A whole little world which is currently converted by ideologies, regimes and dreams of economical prosperity.

MY WORDS: “Have you ever heard of Belene, a town in Bulgaria? No, I suppose you haven’t. And you maybe never really wanted to… Nevertheless, having seen this witty and at the same time mind-provoking film, you will say, yes I have met people from Belene, who are eccentric and charming and who share their thoughts on life in a town which suffers an almost year-round mosquito infestation. It’s not only a beauty in human approach, it is also innovative in a dramaturgical structure.”

More about the film and the festival at