DR1 Dokumentaren – Bag valget

Jeg har tidligere på denne plads reklameret for den gratis nyhedstjeneste, som DR Dokumentar tilbyder sine seere. Her orienteres om de dokumentarer, som sendes og jeg vil gerne gentage at DR sender mange gode dokumentarer, specielt på DR2, danske og særligt udenlandske.

Nu er jeg i tvivl om redaktionen af denne tjeneste. I morges modtog jeg en mail, som gjorde opmærksom på en dokumentar, som skulle komme samme aften, “Bag valget” hed den og den skulle følge fire politikere i valgkampens sidste to uger: Pia Kjærsgaard, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Anders Fogh Rasmussen og Jørgen Poulsen.

Så jeg sad der og konstaterede nok en gang, at der er gået inflation i begrebet dokumentar, som engang betød en fortolkning af virkeligheden, en fortælling i billeder, en observation filtreret gennem et temperament.

Hvad vi fik var en gang hurtigt sammenflikket dit og dat, forsynet gudhjælpemig med to splitscreen indklippede eksperter, der fortalte at her gik det galt for den og godt for den. Garneret med lidt spænding til sidst om hvor vidt Jørgen Poulsen kom i Folketinget eller ej. Det mente han selv var lidt ligegyldigt og det var det helt oplagt.

En lille pen gives for én scene, der holdes i mere end få sekunder: Pia Kjærsgaard og Naser Khader, der venter på at skulle ind til en duel og ikke vil tale med hinanden. Det var sjovt, det var et kameras observation, en holdning, hvorefter der med svirpelyd bliver klippet til næste interviewscene.

Det er forhåbentlig sidste gang nedennævnte laver et sådant hastigt makværk af ren overflade.

Tilrettelægger: Søren Slumstrup Larsen – DR Dokumentar Århus

cph:dox 9-17/11 Mechanical Love

Phie Ambo is one of the most obvious talents in new Danish documentary film. She showed great observational skills in her last film “Gambler” about the filmmaker Nikolaj Refn Winding (the “Pusher” trilogy), skills she is also using in her “Mechanical Love”, which is primarily about the robot research and fabrication done in Japan.

Stylistically, however, the film is completely different. Ambo has decided to use static panoramic totals, that enables her to stay “cool” when it comes to the Japanese researcher(s), and that makes it easy for her to swift from Japan to Germany, to the old lady that loves her robot baby seal as was it a living pet.

It seems like Ambo has decided not to fall into the trap of an easy condemnation of the robot making as “inhuman” and dangerous for our future. Her withdrawn position makes her open to hear and watch what the researchers are actually able to do. This makes the Japanese part of the film exciting. And scary, of course, when we see the daughter of the researcher look at a geminoid of her father, not wanting to touch it. The mother, on the contrary, has no problem in wiping away the left chocolate from her geminoid husband’s lips. The researcher is the one that carries the film with his philosophical reflective remarks to the director. A clever, yet also obsessed man… who has made copies of his daughter and wife. They can move their heads and their bodies, next step: can they have feelings? Like the baby seal that makes the every day of frau Körner in Germany endurable.

Guld Dok 2007

Ved åbningen af Københavns internationale dokumentarfilmfestival CPH:DOX torsdag den 8. november uddelte Producentforeningen for fjerde gang GuldDok-priser som en hyldest til årets danske produktion af dokumentarfilm. Det Danske Filminstitut uddelte Roos-prisen som en påskønnelse af særlig bemærkelsesværdig indsats for dokumentarismen.

Årets GuldDok
“The Monastery”/ Pernille Rose Grønkjær/ TjuBang Film

Bedste Lange Dok
“Ghost of Cité Soleil”/ Asger Leth/ Nordisk Film

Bedste Korte Dok
One Day/ Ditte Haarløv Johnsen/ Den Danske Filmskole

Bedste Børne- og Ungdom Dok
“Solo”/ Kasper Torsting/ Fridthjof Film

Årets Debut Dok
“En forening i modvind”/ Christoffer Dreyer/ Cosmo Doc

Bedste Dok Lyd
Reda A. H El-Kheloufi for “Der er en krig uden for mit vindue”/ Den Danske Filmskole

Bedste Dok Klip
Adam Nielsen for “Ghosts of Cité Soleil”/ Nordisk Film

Bedste Dok Foto
Minka Jakerson for “One Day”/ Den Danske Filmskole

Juryens specialpris: Bedste Dok – produktion
Mette Heide for “Slobodan Milosevic – præsident under anklage”/ Team Productions

Roos Prisen
Dokumentarfilminstruktør Steen Møller Rasmussen

DFI nyhed om Roos Prisen

www.cphdox.dk kan man læse mere om festivalens film og arrangementer.

Jørgen Roos Prisen 2007

Det Danske Filminstituts store dokumentarfilmpris på kr. 25.000 blev tildelt dokumentarfilminstruktøren Steen Møller Rasmussen under dokumentarfilmfestivalen CPH:DOX’s åbningsgalla.

Prisudvalget, som i år har bestået af tidligere direktør for European Documentary Network, filmkonsulent Tue Steen Müller samt direktør for European ThinkTank on European Film and Film Policy, Henning Camre og Agnete Dorph Stjernfelt, pressechef (DFI), begrunder pristildelingen således:

Roosprisen 2007 går til Steen Møller Rasmussen fordi:

  • Han i mere end 30 år stædigt vedholdende har udforsket den dokumentariske genres grænser som iagttagende fortolker og iscenesættende legebarn, som filmfotograf og fotograf.
  • Han mere end nogen anden har videregivet sin fascination af den nye og grænseoverskridende billedkunst, altid i en klar forståelse med de portrætterede, på linie med dem, overraskende med kameraet som sin pen, med humor og respekt.
  • Han med en imponerende produktivitet – med filmen som livsstil – har forholdt sig ukommercielt og på sin egen tilbageholdende måde stærkt personligt til filmens tekniske og æstetiske udtryksmuligheder uden skelen til ydre krav om længde, aktuelle trends osv.
  • Han oveni sin filmproduktion har udfoldet sig som forlægger og udstillingsarrangør og fotograf på en mængde danske dokumentarfilm – meget i lighed med prisens navngiver, Jørgen Roos, som også var både instruktør, filmfotograf, fotograf og som også havde en stor kærlighed til billedkunsten.

Roosprisen blev etableret i 1995 med det formål at påskønne særlig bemærkelsesværdig indsats for dokumentarismen.


Cph:dox 9-17/11 Prisoner

Another strong story from the Iraqi war. This time about a journalist, Yunis Abbas, who was captured by the Americans accused for being part of a cell that planned to kill Tony Blair when he was to visit his war zone. Yunis Abbas tells the story himself through a long interview. He speaks clearly, he tells the story straight forward to give the time development of the film. Him being captured together with his brothers, followed by detainment, finally to end up in the worst part of the Abu Ghraib prison.

With a release after nine months accompanied by a “sorry”, “we don’t know why you are here”!

The filmmakers have wisely chosen a tone of the film that stresses the more than absurd story that Yunis Abbas tells. They use light pop music, they intercut his story with cartoon-like drawings that brings in humour, they aim at an ironical tone but does not refrain from being pathetic in sequences that illustrate the horror of the war. A camera is following the capture of the Abbas family, demonstrating the respectless behaviour of the American soldiers. (Later on the prisoners are called monkeys). I wonder where they got the material from.

An American soldier tells the story from his perspective. He got friends with the brothers, he is a good boy and the prisoners are greatful to what he did for them.

In that way the film demonstrates nuances, it’s not only Good and Bad, it also brings in a universal element – this could happen everywhere, in every war. We knew it happened in Aby Ghraib, this time we are reminded about it, in a good film that has taken a good choice of storytelling.

The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair
Germany, USA, 2006

More about the festival: http://www.cphdox.dk/d1/front.lasso

cph:dox 9-17/11 The Fall by Peter Whitehead

Oh, how joyful it is to discover something new, when you think that you know your documentary film history, have seen it (almost) all, at least what is considered as masterpieces and know where your priorities lie.

And there comes Peter Whitehead from the sixties, a brilliant film director and magnificent cameraman with a short but exciting career. So far I have only seen one of the films in the retrospective at the festival, “The Fall”, but that alone is enough to see a talent that was playing with the medium in a mix of Richard Leacock direct cinema approach (“It’s all about being there!”) and post-Godard staged scenes. A quote from an article: Reviewing Godard’s Pierrot le fou in mid-1966 for Films and Filming, Whitehead wrote: “There is no longer a continuous, flowing, narrative reality, for anyone anywhere; it must be a collage of signs, images, instants, quanta of perception and emotion and thought.”

This is exactly what “The Fall” is. The year is 1968. Its the year of revolution and conflicts. Its New York. Its music. Psychedelic feelings. The war demonstrations. Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh. Washington Square. Pro et contra the Vietnam war. An actress (sexy version of Anna Karina) in the film getting up, getting dressed, making coffee, and love, beautiful she is, 16mm grainy and scratchy images, small episodes and out to the wild NY intercut with the photographer reading the NY Times sunday edition as heavy as always. Its Robert Kennedy in his last year, its me watching a film that was made when I was 21.

Peter Whitehead is the name. Go and watch it. It has more than many other documentaries about the sixties an authenticity in the fictional scenes, facts and the documentary interpretation of reality. And it has a standpoint and I understand this was what made Whitehead leave filmmaking, disappointed with how politics go.

Peter Whitehead: The Fall, 1969

More about the festival: http://www.cphdox.dk/d1/front.lasso

cph:dox 9-17/11 Terror’s Advocate

“This is the director’s point of view on Jacques Vergès which may differ from the opinions of people interviewed in the film”. These words are to be found on screen at the start of this fascinating film about a man, who during his whole life as an advocate has defended and had connections to criminals like Barbie, RAF people, Carlos – and who is up to take the case of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge comrade Khieu Sampran.

Well, what the director’s view really is stays a bit unclear to me but what stands out is the focus on a charismatic adventurer Jacques Vergès, who sits behind his enormous desk, constantly with a wonderful cuban cigar in his hand, a man who has enjoyed a life as a star advocate with a very simple anti-american political agenda. This is declared from the very beginning with a clip of Pol Pot who quotes a book by Vergès. In this he describes Pol Pot, the mass murderer, as a smiling and gentle person. Cut from Pol Pot to Vergès who puts forward his doubts about the numbers of people killed by the regime of Pol Pot and says that what the Americans did was much worse. His words accompany the images from the killing fields in Cambodia.

Yes, in this sequence the point of view is clear.

Barbet Schroeder tells his story through an excellent mix of archive, interviews with a lot of people who have worked with or been friends with Vergès, and with some of the terrorists now out of prison. Like Magdalena Kopp, Rote Armee Fraktion, the lover of Carlos and Vergès?

For me, however, the most interesting part of this tour-de-force of pre-9/11 world terrorist history is the long early start of the film where French politics in Algiers is the subject. Vergès was involved in the fight for freedom for the Algerians and married the female hero of the fight, Djamila Bouhired, who is portrayed in the film “The battle of Algiers” by Pontecorvo. Clips from this film, great archive material and interviews revive the French massacres and the answers from Algerian side.

The film is more than two hours long but you feel informed, sometimes angered and admittedly entertained by this elegant mysterious character who gives you no more information than he wants to.

Barbet Schroeder: Terror’s Advocate. France, 2007

More about the festival: http://www.cphdox.dk/d1/front.lasso

cph:dox 9-17/11 Elle s’appelle Sabine

One of those films that are hard to watch. A beautiful young girl falls ill and turns into an aggressive young woman full of aggression to end up as a plump adult full of medication that can calm her down, desperate to get her sister’s attention, in her own world of fantasy and puppets from her childhood.

The sister, the Maurice Pialat actress Sandrine Bonnaire, has made this film based on shootings of today plus the home video archive she has from 25 years of togetherness with a sister that suddenly changed, fell ill and was traumatised by 5 years of non-treatment at a hospital. The place she was taken to when Sandrine no longer would or could cope with taking care of her. Neither could other family members.

It is touching and the film star sister must be saluted for staying as the sister and nothing else, stating however that without her using her fame to get financing for the set up of an institution for her sister and other mentally handicapped human beings, Sabine would have been a monster in a hospital.

Again you are reminded through this film how powerful home video (archive) material can function as evidence of what was once and is no longer.

Sandrine Bonnaire: Elle s’appelle Sabine. France, 2007.

More about the festival: http://www.cphdox.dk/d1/front.lasso




cph:dox 9-17/11 Songbirds

Things are moving in the documentary genre. New and original ways of storytelling come out of the blue. Like in this case where British director Brian Hill went to the Downview Prison in Sutton England to make a film with and about the female prisoners.

He hired a composer and a songwriter to make human and compassionate those often very tough and tragic stories that got the women into prison. The prisoners themselves sing their stories, which makes the storytelling dynamic and deep and warm. It’s pure Verfremdungseffekt, Brecht would have loved it.

It ends up being a documusical, quite extraordinary. You are totally taken by the women and their stories about burglary and drug smuggling – nevertheless the strongest story is the one with a non-singing inmate, who happened to kill a woman, a neighbour that she wanted to threaten with a knife because of constant partying and noise from the neighbour’s side. She sort of walked into the knife…

Brian Hill: Songbirds. UK, 2005

More about the festival: http://www.cphdox.dk/d1/front.lasso


Cph:dox 9-17/11 Zoo

Lad mig gøre det kort: lad være med at se den her film. Er du til pornografi, bliver du skuffet, er du til eksistentiel dybde, bliver du skuffet, er du til filmisk skønhed, bliver du først forført, siden skuffet.

Folk af faget kan nok lære af den interessante konstruktion. Filmen er bygget på lydbåndoptagelser af lange interviews i en montage, som fortællemæssigt er ferm og forførende akkompagneret af et fotografisk arbejde, som når det styrer sine manier faktisk er smukt, og understøttet af en musik, som havde den været mindre dominerende, faktisk er medrivende. Og filmen er holdt sammen i et klip, som ville være elegant, hvis det var en del hurtigere og en del skarpere og en del mindre optaget af sig selv.

Altså – håndværket lykkes. Næsten.

Men, men, hvilken historie. Om en flok sølle, flæbende, sentimentale små mænd og zoofile og om en hændelse med en af dem, en tåbe, som i beruselse får sin tarm til at gå i stykker under dette særlige samvær med en hingst. Han dør af det, og hingsten kastreres.

Jeg skriver det igen: brug ikke tid og tankekraft på den her film. Med mindre du vil studere professionelle tricks. Og vær så forberedt på en ubehagelig oplevelse. Et enkelt point for nogle gode takter i det basale håndværk.

Robinson Devor: Zoo, 2007

More about the festival: http://www.cphdox.dk/d1/front.lasso