Sissel Morell Dargis: Balomania/ Anmeldelse

Early in this amazing film a boy says about the balloon phenomenon: It’s an art form. People express themselves through the balloons, I’ve heard… cut to a policeman who is in the middle of a balloon on ground. Do you like it, the director asks him. Yes, it’s beautiful, but forbidden, he answers.

Before that, in brief television clips, we have seen raids on the so-called balloon gangs, actions that the director, who in Portuguese takes us into the world of Baloeiros, questions: how come it seems to be seen as more dangerous than the drug scene in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the locations of the film.

Danish Sissel Morell Dargis, a grafftti artist, entered the balloon environment, when she was 19 and slowly – as the film puts in – she is accepted with her camera. First by “Playboy”, then by Jaba and first and foremost by the respected Godfather of the Baloeiros, Sergio, to whom the film is dedicated. “He was the one, who had most confidence in me”. They open up to her with some skepticism as it is an invitation to a secret world, because of the constant police surveillance. At some point Sissel says that she was observed by the police as well and had to change cards for her phone. Nobody wants to say when and where a balloon release is to happen, some of the balloons, at least one, is said to have measures of a football pitch! And why Pavarotti on a balloon, Sissel asks in a scene, that takes place in a workshop, where the balloons are created. We don’t know, but Brazilian people love opera, is the laughing answer!

Oh, there is so much energy and passion in this film. Maybe the right word is Presence. Because of a young girl with a camera asking questions again and again to discover a world, she knew very little about. Curiosity is what she has, as a true documentarian combined with a lot of courage. Her intimate talks with “Playboy” and especially Jaba give the social dimension; it’s not a rich world and she does not really get an answer to the question, where the money for the creation and release of the balloons come from. Sponsors there are for sure.

There are two interconnected ways: You can be part of the creation and you can be part of the crazy chase of the balloon. Or both. Once the balloon is up in the air the question is where it will land! Both parts are followed in a film about an art form and its artists. I have been in Rio and Sao Paulo enjoying the passion around football, now a brilliant film has shown me another Brazilian world of passion, sharing, loving, fighting to be the best. Thank you for bringing me there. And be sure this film will travel all over!

Denmark and other countries, 2024, 93 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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