Vitali Manski: Sunrise/Sunset

There are loads of films and programmes about and with Dalai Lama. Here is one more by Russian star director Manski. He had 24 hours with his protagonist and made a film in two parts, the first one (a televison hour) being a visual approach to the charismatic leader of the Tibetan people and his enormous entourage shot in his exile in India, the second one (22 mins) a reflection on the issues raised by Dalai Lama on the future of our planet. About rich and poor, about birth control, about basically an unequal world.

Dalai Lama is a fantastic character and I could listen to him for hours. To his constant being in a good mood, and to his philosophy even if there are many of his sentences that sound like complete nonsense to me but you forgive him for his warmth and generosity. Manski has been filming him close by and there are some fine moments but there are also some strange cut-aways from his Holiness speaking to streets of Dharamsala, to beggars and poor people. Why… feels very bombastic. Manski has a speak that is informative and reflective in this first part of the film and a lot of time is spent to describe the media being ready to catch a sentence or two from Dalai Lama, and to show how he is surrounded by monks who take care of him. Manski and his crew follow him to the room where he is doing his fitness training and watch tv. My favourite channel is BBC, he says, pushes the remote control and there he is himself, being interviewed. Great moment!

The follow-up, the second part, is honestly not very interesting. Manski: We saw the world differently after the talk with Dalai Lama and has a long slowed sequence of begging hands that want food. For my taste pathetic and banal.

Russia, 2009, 72 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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