The Documentary Oscar Goes Political/ 3

The nominations have been done. At least three of the films deal with current political conflicts (these ones):

The Act of Killing”, Cutie and the Boxer, The Square, Dirty Wars and 20 Feet from Stardom compete for the Best Documentary Feature prize at the 86th Academy Awards on March 2…”

I have seen them all (see below) except for “20 Feet from Stardom” (Photo). “The film has this synopsis description on the Oscar site (link below): Background singers heard on many of the 20th century’s greatest songs have made a crucial contribution to the world of pop music while remaining unknown to listeners. The singers take center stage for an in-depth look at their role as supporting figures in the complex process involved in creating the finished recordings.” From watching Youtube clips and the trailer it is obvious that this is a film with wonderful music and women, based on interviews with them and people like Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Betty Midler. A classic tv language film.

So… who are my favourites having seen all five, one in excerpts? “The Act of Killing” and “The Square” stand out. No doubt about that. In film language, actuality and storytelling. Important films they are. If it comes to approach to theme, innovation and originality “The Act of Killing” is unique. It would get my vote if I was a member of the Academy. I am not.

If you want to read more about what is considered to be the two favourites, not only by me, go to the websites of the films, links below. Or get hold of the magazine DOX 100, where Joshua Oppenheimer and Werner Herzog talk “The Act of Killing” and Jehane Noujaim is interviewed by BBC-editor Nick Fraser about “The Square”. Fraser, who has called “The Act of Killing” “porn for liberals” thinks that “The Square” is “the best film I have seen this year”.

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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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