POV – Visiting Simon Kilmurry

I have during the last years tried my best to understand the organisation of the POV, that had its 25th season in 2012. I have – as many others – always been impressed by the commitment of Simon Kilmurry, Executive director and producer of American Documentary (independent non-profit media company) that produces the strand POV – documentaries with a Point of View. Kilmurry has attended workshops and pitching events all over, this year I have met him in Barcelona, Edinburgh (he is Scottish born), Leipzig and Amsterdam, and before that in Buenos Aires. In the last two years of the idfa forum, he has received the so-called Cuban Hat as the best commissioning editor around the table. For his constant support to creative authored documentaries, I would add.

So, being in New York anyway, I was welcomed in the Brooklyn office by Kilmurry to get more information and knowledge. In the beginning I have found POV very different from what we know about in Europe – and it is when it comes to financing – but basically there are many similariities to what we have and had in Europe. POV is much more than broadcasting one to four times, POV organises screenings locally, POV publishes and facilitates debates around the themes of the films, POV offers interviews with the filmmakers online, POV has a catalogue of short films, a lending library… and so on so forth. A cultural institution, we would say in Europe.

In other words POV is like a European film institute, take as an example the Danish Film Institute that has a film political role to play – documentary films should play a role in society, raise debate. At POV it is put like this: ”Since

1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent documentaries to engage communities in conversation about today’s most pressing social issues… community engament and education”.

Being financed by the PBS and a long range of funders, with an acquisition and copro budget of 900.000$, POV can reach 97% of the Americans on-air. On top af that you can go online and watch films like Patricio Guzman’s ”Nostalgia for the Light”, ”Perestroika” by Robin Hessmann or take a look at the fact sheet of ”Give Up Tomorrow” (Collins and Syjuco), where you can get all needed information about this important film. Or watch and enjoy (if you live in the USA), to mention an American film, ”The Kings of Pastry” by Pennebaker and Hegedus.

Kilmurry has brought non-American documentaries to the American audience. He is right now finishing negociations to get ”Act of Killing” on the 2013 programme, he will make a special screening of ”56 UP”, he has acquired the controversial ”The Law in these Parts” by Ra’anan Alexandrovicz and intends to have ”5 Broken Cameras” as well.

To conclude: Back to the educational/informational aspect of POV, read this text and get impressed as I did: POV offers free resources for educators, including 200+ online film clips connected to 100+ standards-aligned lesson plans, discussion guides and reading lists. Registered educators can use any of 80+ full-length films in the classroom for free through our documentary lending library.

Respect!

http://www.pbs.org/pov/

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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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