Viktor Kossakovsky at DOK Leipzig

I have known him for years – since back to the days of the Bornholm festival in the 90’es. He came to Leipzig for one screening of the film and for a talk. We hugged and I told him that “Aquarela” is an ingenious film! No, no the next film is better, he said and went into the room, where the talk was to take place. Viktor Kossakovsky is not one, who answers the questions put to him, he takes his own roads of improvisation. Impossible job to be a moderator, when he is in the chair, does not matter, he is entertaining and has something important to say.

Let me quote Ukrainian Darya Bassel, who wrote on her FB: “Kossakovsky pours nectar in my ears. He sings an ode to a cinema, which doesn’t put story and character (person) in the middle of everything. A cinema which is art not storytelling.”

Yes, that’s what he keeps on saying and thanks for that in times of constant “what is your story, who are your characters”. We make movies for the cinema, the industry should know that, he said. In “Aquarela” you can´t have a shot of water that lasts 1 to 1,2 seconds. It has to be longer to give you a chance to think. When I’m editing, I’m always thinking about 10 people – one will think like this, another like that, and I try to put it together so many interpretations are possible. Why do we make films? If it is to prove our ideas, then it is not cinema! No brain first, I’m trying to use my eyes, my camera. Brain first, it is insulting!

And oh, Kossakovsky always refers to – this time – Leonardo da Vinci, Malevich – and to literature, it’s refreshing, include it in the curriculum of the film schools. (My comment!)

He talked about teaching, that he does not like, he talked about some of the sequences in “Aquarela”, about “how little we are” in this world (as is so obvious in the film), he praised his fellow cinematographer Ben Bernhard, he talked about “Tishe!” that he made while waiting for funding for his next film – a film that none of the tv commissioning editors would take when it was a project (I want to shoot a film from my window in Saint Petersburg), but all bought when it was made. Paper work is needed when you want funding for a film.

I have promised producer Aimara Reques also to watch the film in Amsterdam, at IDFA, I will, and will try to write a review of this masterpiece.

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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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