Ugis Olte : Double Aliens

In early August Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis sent me a link to this co-production between Latvia and Georgia. The film won an award as best documentary at the BIAFF, the Batumi International Art-House Film Festival, it is in the Focus Caucasus competition at the upcoming CinéDOC Tbilisi, at the mid-length competition at the upcoming IDFA AND in the national selection at the upcoming Riga International Film Festival. Voilá!

Here follows a review, an edited version of the response I gave to Cekulis two months ago, but first the synopsis:

”Road maps are open, endless texts that may contain any number of stories, including the story of the traveler himself. A filmmaker from the north and a photographer from the south travel to a strange place. It is a land where people are worn out by their history, where time tends to freeze and every encounter is a distortion mirror that makes you look into familiar eyes.”

It is impressive for a first-time (feature duration) director, bravo. Because he dares pathos and to be solemn and personal in the very difficult essay genre!

Normally I am against music in documentaries because it is often illustrative and only serves to “fill holes”, here it is creative and adds to the (sometimes, not always) magic scenes, the mystery atmosphere, the ambition to create a spirituality, because it is a film on existential questions.

And a film about traveling to meet people and try to understand them. I am not a fan of Daro, the photographer, she is just behind her camera, she does not communicate any feelings, no charisma… oh, if there had been some more conversations/reflections between her and Ugis on travelling, on “home”, where do we belong etc. on documenting, on film and photography, just a little, now we only have the artificial conversation in the car…

Characters, love them all, of course the big man with the father, who dies and the son, who does not box any longer and his story about moving – as an Armenian – to the village being met with unwelcomingness (is that an English word?) from a Georgian.

Camerawork – superb, absolutely.

Georgian producer is Anna Dziapshipa.

Latvia/Georgia, 56 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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