Simon El Habre: The One Man Village

Best international feature Documentary at the Hot Docs was announced yesterday night and the winner was the Lebanese filmmaker Simon El Habre with this ”The One Man Village”, well deserved for a charming and well constructed film. Here is the review I wrote when I saw the film at DoxBox in Damascus in March:

It is one of those minimalistic films that subject-wise has been seen so many times: Man lives alone outside the cities, big house, animals – cows, chicken, horses, cats and dogs – he has retired from the noisy world full of pollution and he has a fine life. A bit excentric, yes, but clever and sweet to the filmmaker, his nephew, the Lebanese film director Simon El Habre, who masters a narrative full of warmth and surprises with the behind the camera nephew getting closer and closer to his uncle and his story. And why are you not married, have you ever been in love, what happened to your parents… questions are asked, the uncle demonstrates his passion for the animals, gets into his old, rusty car to go downhill with the milk, and slowly we understand that the village is emptied because of what happened in the civil war in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990. The film has an extraordinary sound design and you are not bored for a moment. It was in Berlin, it goes to Nyon and Hotdocs, well-deserved. Tell your local festival to screen it.

… in Damascus the audience enjoyed the film with big applause. What an uncle to have! Charismatic, energetic, with a smile in his eyes all the time, a happy man.

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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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