Phie Ambo: Free the Mind/ 1

Below, in Danish, in connection with the national premiere on June 6, a review of the new film of Phie Ambo, who brillliantly invites her audience on a both emotional and informational journey into the traumatised lives of two American war veterans as well as introduces us to Will, a kid who suffers from ADHD. Will is too scared to enter an elevator, the two vets fight with experiences that have had severe consequences for their post-war lives.

Into their lives comes professor Richard Davidson and his scientific team. The film follows the process the soldiers go through at the research centre of Davidson, and what the pedagogical team does to help Will overcome his fear.

The film is made for the big screen. As her female documentary star colleagues, Pirjo Honkasalo and Kim Longinotto, and at the same quality level, Ambo does the camera herself and brings beauty to the characters, at the same time as she with music and sound (maybe a bit overdosed) supports an editing that is superb in its integration of the four characters in a narrative flow. On top of that there are graphic and animation sequences, the latter sometimes made as were we in a school – white chalk on a blackboard. Fine solution!

Which, for this reviewer, is the core of this film’s success: You get a cinematic experience, you follow an exciting healing process, you are touched, maybe mostly by seeing a little boy’s fear, and you are offered knowledge, you might learn someting about the brain, ”the most complicated phenomenon in the universe”.

Denmark, 2012, 90 mins.

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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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