Being on many mailing lists… these days I get bombarded with online offers for films to watch, conferences to follow, from festivals or production companies or distributors. It is indeed overwhelming, and lovely at the same time. Overwhelming, because how do you navigate, how do you organise your screening time. Lovely, because it shows how energetic a generous documentary community is to share, what is to watch out there – so much quality.

Yesterday I decided to meet Canadian/Swiss director Peter Mettler. Online. On the Visions du Réel website. In conversation with two film critics, Jean Perret (former festival director) and Emmanuel Chicon (from the festival selection committee). The two in Switzerland, Mettler in Toronto.


I have too little knowledge about this important name in modern documentary; I saw and loved „Gambling, Gods and LSD“, when it came out in the beginning of this century… and voilá… in the beginning of the online masterclass, a 17 minutes long excerpt of the 3 hour long film was shown, followed by a discussion. I stayed an hour to follow, the whole session was 3 hours long and Mettler gave an excellent talk about his way of working on a film that was shot on Super 16, 20 years ago. On a good rainy day during this isolation time, I will watch the three hour long film that is available on DAfilms, link below, together with many other films by Mettler. Here comes the description of the film on DaFilms:

”A filmmaker’s inquiry into transcendence becomes a three-hour trip across countries and cultures, interconnecting people, places and times. From Toronto, the scene of his childhood, Peter Mettler sets out on a journey that includes evangelism at the airport strip, demolition in Las Vegas, tracings in the Nevada desert, chemistry and street life in Switzerland, and the coexistence of technology and divinity in contemporary India. Everywhere along the way, the same themes are to be found: thrill-seeking, luck, destiny, belief, expanding perception, the craving for security in an uncertain world. Fact joins with fantasy; the search for meaning and the search for ecstasy begin to merge.

Mettler blends documentary observation with lyrical camerawork, location sound with aural sculpture. The result is an audio-visual composition whose movements challenge our preconceptions, evoking in us the wonder and awe of our daily existence. It is a mosaic of moments where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Gambling, Gods and LSD invites the viewer to actively participate in the making of meaning, so that the central theme of the film and the experience of watching it become one and the same.”

This morning I tried to find the recorded masterclass from yesterday, without success, I guess it will end up on YouTube like other conferences from the Nyon-based festival that ends today.

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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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