Sylvain Biegeleisen

I just said goodbye to him, the director of ”Twilight of a Life”, who has played an important role in this 12th edition of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade. He came with his film about which I wrote – before the premiere in Nyon – ”…emotional it is, long time ago that I have watched a film with a smile on my face the whole way through and a tear in my eyes…”.

I had the same reaction, when I watched it here in Belgrade with the more than added value to experience the charismatic director as one who wants to follow his film, whereever he can, doing (as he did here) a masterclass, a Q&A session and a workshop.

A few words about the workshop: Sylvain Biegeleisen was together with a small group of young people from morning till afternoon. He told them that he was there to realise his ”One Day One Film” with the theme ”Memories”, with the participants being invited to bring a photo or an object to talk about what that means for them. ”My part was to be their humble servant”, Biegeleisen said, when he

presented the final result, a 10 minutes long, sweet and charming film with clever and innovative narratives. I can only recommend other festivals warmly to bring in the director to do this workshop.

In his masterclass Biegeleisen talked interestingly about ”Twilight of a Life” and showed clips with sequences that did not end up in the film as well as clips from his first film with his mother, ”The Last Card” shot in 2007. ”I am a man of spontaneity”, he said several times, when he was asked about how much he had planned in beforehand at the same time as he praised the collaboration with the editor Joëlle Alexis. Pedagogically it was a scoop when he showed the scene, where the mother says that ”I will not live long”, in two versions, one edited by himself and one by the editor.

2 years of shooting. And then the editing and the premiere in Nyon, where everyone, including the director of this festival, expected him to have an award. It did not happen… He was disappointed but ”I’m learning”, he said, ”the real award was that the film was made…, we made it, my mother and I” and ”the real power is not only to open the eyes of an audience but also the hearts”.

Biegeleisen told us that in Belgium there is a plan to make a book to accompany the film, that he is to attend a screening of the film in the presence of representatives from WHO, who could maybe use the film one way or the other, he has plans to establish a film festival with ”Ageing” as the theme… at the same time as he told us that the film is difficult to sell (done by the company Cats and Docs) to television, even if he has a version of one hour, in colours… at the same time as the film has been a huge success in Israel where the cinematheques announce the film with title and ”to be shown in the presence of the director and his guitar”. Wonderful to experience Jacques Brel performed by multi-gifted artist Sylvain Biegeleisen.

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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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