Scottish Short Documentaries

What a pleasure it is to watch short documentaries. Even more so because they have run out of slots for that classic genre on public broadcasting in Europe. The short films are still being shown in festivals all over but seldom as the main attraction. And at the short film festivals priority is given to the short fiction film. I wrote about the Bridging the Gap initiative in Edinburgh some days ago, that has a total focus on the short documentary, and not only for beginners, many of the applicants for the 7 films that mid March will be selected for production support had done short documentaries before… so I left Edinburgh with some works that deserve to be mentioned for their creative ambition and diversity in style. Talents all of them, keep an eye:

”Ma Bar” (PHOTO) features an old man, more than 70 years of age, who does bench pressing ignoring age and the youngsters around him. The film lets the protagonist comment on his passion in a film that is tense in atmosphere due to excellent cinematic close-ups and a totally balanced rythm. ”The Bees” takes the viewer to the South of Lebanon to a woman living next to the borders of Israel – I have been experiencing the war since I was a child, she says. The bees are free, they can cross without papers, the woman continues, one of the many victims of geography, presented in a warm humanistic film. Contrary to the situation in Lebanon nobody really cares when they cross ”the border” to enter the pilgrim’s road to Santiago de Compostela. ”Maria’s Way” is the title of this nice mini-portrait of a woman, who every day sets up her small table to greet the pilgrims who pass, and who maybe would want a stamp in their papers. She does that for herself – the counting of those passing by – to continue what her mother did. The camera stays behind her to watch how most of the people don’t bother, and to hear Maria’s wonderful bitter remarks about Life Today! ”Kirran and the Hatchmaker” takes us also to the countryside where a young charming boy conveys his passion and vision, breeding chickens, and planning to take them on a sea voyage. He has it all planned and written down and the way he treats the chickens is described with love. There is one scene that demonstrates an extraordinary talent for images: four chicken stand completely without moving with the boy’s feet in the picture, a beautiful Still Life and a director’s courage to let an image speak.

McDowell & Pretsell: Ma Bar, UK, 2009, 11 mins.

Rana Ayoub: The Bees, UK, 2009, 13 mins.

Anne Milne: Maria’s Way. UK, 2009, 15 mins.

Amy Rose: Kirran and the Harchmaker. UK, 2008, 19 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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