Tomas Leach: In No Great Hurry

In connection with the Copenhagen Photo Festival (June 6-16) The Cinematheque in Copenhagen screens a documentary on Saul Leiter, photographer and painter from New York (born 1923). Screening tuesday June 11, the director Tomas Leach will be present for a Q&A. Here follows a review of the film.

The film has the subtitle ”13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter” and is a wonderful visit to the world of an artist, who has so much to share with the viewer – his look on photography and life, his paintings, his pleasant confusion (to be explained below), himself, as he says, ”a lost, confused person that sometimes uses the camera with a touch of intelligence..”

It is joyful to be in his company due to his charisma and the way Tomas Leach chapters the film and gently introduces an artist, who has a humorous approach to life and to his own profession, a modest man, who at the same time knows what he has done and is doing. Leach lets us watch his photos from New York, the famous ones that you can  google to study further (and watch (some of them) on the website of the film, link below), and he lets us watch Leiter when he talks, that he does so well. Read this one of many quotable sentences from his mouth, about his Jewish family: ”The Leiter family is not as familiar with the notion of kindness as I believe they might have or should have been. Greatness was important…”, accompanied by photos of family members! This falls in the chapter called ”The Ways to God”.

Leiter objects to any kind of questions that starts with ”why”, he has had too many of them, he also does not want to talk about himself belonging to any kind of school – many have labelled him to be an ”abstract expressionist” – he keeps on stressing how joyful it has been and is for him to take pictures, and paint. And we see how good he is with people in the streets. What he regrets, however, is that he did not have Margit, his assistant and friend, for all these years to help him get organised. On the other side – the chapter ”pleasant confusion” make him say that ”there’s a certain kind of charm and comfort that not everyone appreciates”. During his cleaning up the mess with Margit, he shows photos of Soames, with whom he lived and cared about as she cared about him until ”she kicked the bucket”. At that moment he looks sad, changes to laughing and ”it is my fault”, ”it is all my fault”… What a lovely man, what a lovely film!

Photo of Saul Leiter by Tomas Leach

UK/USA, 75 mins. 2012

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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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