The Leth Legacy at DOKLeipzig

It was the idea of festival director Leena Pasanen: What about bringing together Danish filmmaking icon Jørgen Leth and his two filmmaking children Karoline Leth and Asger Leth? Such an obvious idea, why had noone done that before? Two generations, what have the children taken from their famous father? Let them sit on the stage together, each of them showing clips to have them discuss with or oppose each other. Pasanen, as moderator, was the one to set up the rules. Some had already been agreed upon: 3 clips per person, maximum 3 minutes. I think was the agreement.

First headline given by the moderator was ”method” and first clip

was actually not a clip but one part of Leth and von Trier’s ”Five Obstructions”, the one where Trier sends Leth to Cuba to make a version of ”The Perfect Human”. 16 frames was the rule – for a man, who loves long shots. As said the father Jørgen Leth, ”well, now I have already broken the rules” of short clips, leaving the children to say nothing but that they loved it. It was said that Asger was in Cuba to work with his father on that film.

Impossible to report in a classical manner, I will give you some quotes that can tell a bit about the individualities/personalities on stage.

Karoline, who is a producer at DR, Danish public broadcaster, standing behind the enormously popular drama series ”The Legacy”, ”I love to be the boss and have a big team”, Asger, who has made the amazing documentary ”Ghosts of Cité Soleil” from Haiti (must mention that this was the second post we brought at filmkommentaren, a review by Allan Berg), ”I’m on the same side as my father – where Karoline is the producer… I like so much what he has said: A small budget is not a problem but an inspiration”.

Talking about rules, ”the first one is the creative one”, said Asger, ”you have to find rules that are your own”.

Karoline: ”I am often breaking the rules by using documentary editors for the drama series that I am doing, I think they can see where the drama is very quickly”.

Asger: ”With my Haiti-film I wanted to break down stereotypes and reach out for a broader audience, so with the Haiti-film I brought some feature elements into the documentary film.” Which he also showed brilliantly in a promo he had done for Doctors Without Borders.

Karoline brought an almost Bergmanian scene from ”The Legacy”, where a brother is close to strangulate his sister when they are in Thailand trying to get the little brother out of the prison. OMG how strong it is as is the scene from ”66 Scenes from America”, where Andy Warhol eats a hamburger. ”It’s all about characters”, said Karoline after that clip.

At the second hour of the ”The Leth Legacy”, moderator Pasanen asked the children if they had ever been disappointed with their father’s film. Asger: ”I think ”The Erotic Human” is a lazy film”, I hated it”, ”I agree”, said Karoline and it was visible when Jørgen  said ”I hate criticism, especially from my children”.

Asger: ”My father is an icon and there are so many yes-people around all the time. Therefore it is the family’s duty to be the in-house jury!”

We loved that new term, inhouse-jury, and enjoyed to be in company with the Leth family.

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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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