Rugilé Barzdžiukaitė: Acid Forest

I have been there. On the wonderful Curonian Spit in Lithuania: The dunes, the sea, the forest, a place to relax – and a place where you find drama and at the same time are invited to reflect on our relationship to nature. I remember running like crazy away from a true Donnerwetter at the sea with my wife, and filmmaker Audrius Stonys and his son. We took refuge in the car of the filmmaker and after a while it was quiet blue sky.

Another day we went to the cormorants at Juodkranté to study this amazing phenomenon of fallen and naked pine trees caused by the acid shit of the cormorants, who live and nest there, eat fish from he water, and can do so, protected as the species is by EU and national law.

This location is where this cleverly made, cinematically brilliant documentary essay takes place. The birds are there, they are filmed from a distance sitting as shadows on the branches with the sky in the background, in daylight, at dusk, at night – or in close-ups, or like small dark spots in the amazing drone images that break the almost motionless images of the trees – and US who are in the picture most of the time.

Meaning we tourists who come to watch and talk about the cormorants. The film has caught the conversations and they are fun to follow. Tourists who are filmed from a distance standing on a platform for viewing. What we get are comments in Japanese, German, Finnish, Russian, American etc. Many comments go in the direction of “this is like a nuclear disaster”; several say that it is the fault of the EU that this shit exists; some discuss politics (Russia is just around the corner), and a young couple in love has a great conversation – she adores what she sees, he says jokingly that he will bring his gun; photographic gun he corrects after his first comments.

The film lives because of this dialogue in the nature – and your own dialogue with a film that insists on its theme, and brings us visual tourists to see and experience the paradoxical situation. The birds are watching us, we are watching – and smelling – them!

To see what comes out of continuous poop, hatching, trees that are almost falling to the ground…

Another proof of the poetic, reflective documentary tradition in Lithuania. It was at festivals in Locarno, Riga and Ji.hlava – more will come. Of course.  

Lithuania, 2018, 63 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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