Rembrandt, Ukrainians, Eisenstein, Goldin

And what do they have in common? I will tell you in this small report from New York, where everyone talks about – well, you know who, we had to struggle to pass his blocked corner at his Tower on fifth Avenue, where media people and visitors were waiting to get a glimpse of the president-elect. OMG.

Earlier that day we had the pleasure to meet with Dar’ya Averchenko and Roman Bondarchuk, who came from Los Angeles, where they had been promoting their ”Ukrainian Sheriffs” for the Oscars, with several screenings and presentations also in New York – and now they are back in Kiev to take part in the preparations of the Docudays festival in March. I am looking forward to be there again and take part.

With Dar’ya and Roman we were talking about Odessa, a city that

I have always wanted to visit. Which could be a possibility in connection with the travel to Kiev. And my interest grew a lot when I saw the Russian Avangarde exhibition at MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, a fine mix of documents, paintings by Malevich (Ukrainian born), El Lissitzky, photographs by Rodchenko, and films, clips from classics, to be watched: ”Earth” (1930) by Dovzhenko, Pudovkin’s ”Mother” (1926), the film that always makes me happy, a tribute to Life, ”The Man with the Movie Camera” (1929) by Dziga Vertov and the Odessa-film, ”Battleship Potemkin” by Eisenstein (1925). The staircase scenes, the close-ups, the montage, how to build a drama.

An exhibition to be recommended – but if you don’t get to NY, be sure that there will be a lot of Russian revolution centenary exhibitions around. What a fruitful – and short – period of playful and joyful art. And then it all ended so sadly. Thought about that when I saw one of the propaganda posters of Gustavs Klucis, who was killed by Stalin’s men.

At MOMA I also saw Nan Goldin’s ”The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”, an amazing show it is, let me quote from the website of the museum:

”Comprising almost 700 snapshot-like portraits sequenced against an evocative music soundtrack, Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a deeply personal narrative, formed out of the artist’s own experiences around Boston, New York, Berlin, and elsewhere in the late 1970s, 1980s, and beyond. Titled after a song in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, Goldin’s Ballad is itself a kind of downtown opera; its protagonists—including the artist herself—are captured in intimate moments of love and loss…”

And then a flashback to Rembrandt van Rijk, who in 1658 made the self-portrait that you see on the post. What a magnificent  personal documentary interpretation. Seen at the lovely Frick Museum.

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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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