Vilnius Documentary Film Festival 2015

September 17 until 27 it’s again documentary fest time in the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, a fine event to visit; I was there in 2011 as a juror, with Lithuanian ”Barzakh” by Mantas Kvedaravicius as the winner.

Apart from a retrospective of the Maysles Brothers films and a Special Programme with Claude Lanzmann’s ”Shoah” and a couple of other films related to the Nazi time – I saw ”The Decent One” by Vanessa Lapa on Himmler – there is a so-called Main Programme with ”Amy” by Asif Kapadia and ”Suddenly My Thoughts Halt” by Portuguese Jorge Pelicano (presented this year at Magnificent7 in Belgrade) and a Competition Programme, for me the most interesting as it features new Baltic documentaries and indirectly is a witness of the high quality of films from the three countries.

12 films compete and it is a strong list that comes out of the website of the festival. Let me mention those that I have seen:

”The Amateurs” by Audrius Antanavicius (Lithuania), ”The Invisible City” by Viesturs Kairiss (Latvia), ”Anthill” by Vladimir Loginov (Estonia), ”Beyond the Fear” by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko (Latvia), ”Master and Tatyana” by Giedre Zickyté (Lithuania), ”Escaping Riga” by Davis Simanis (Latvia) and ”Gates of the Lamb” (PHOTO) by Audrius Stonys.

The latter, whose film career I have followed since we met at the Balticum Film & TV Festival on Bornholm in the beginning of the 1990’es, when he – together with Arunas Matelis – were the young talents of Lithuanian documentary, asked me some time ago what I thought of ”Gates of the Lamb” and its festival potential. These were my words:

This film, which is visual, have very few words, uses music, has no “story” as such but lets us enjoy Faces Faces Faces, mostly in profile at the right part of the image – great cinematography – and music and a solemn atmosphere with fine small humoristic sequences with children with open faces not really understanding, and yet… what is going on. You are back to a world that you master to convey.

I have no information if “Gates of the Lamb” has been to other festivals so far, but to have it here in the hometown of the director is an obvious choice.

I mentioned 7 films, among the 5 that I have not seen, are new works by Lithuanian veteran Rimantas Gruodis and Latvian Laila Pakalnina, who seems to do a couple of films per 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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