Written 03-12-2013 22:10:51 by Tue Steen Müller
So now the list is down to 15 films that compete for the nomination of the Oscar. Several online sources have published it, the guessing about the winner has started. The 3 films Filmkommentaren has reviewed, we have put first in the list:
“First Cousin Once Removed,” Experiments in Time, Light & Motion
“The Act of Killing,” Final Cut for Real
“Stories We Tell,” National Film Board of Canada
All three films were on the Best of 2012 Filmkommentaren List.
“The Armstrong Lie,” The Kennedy/Marshall Company
“Blackfish,” Our Turn Productions
“The Crash Reel,” KP Rides Again
“Cutie and the Boxer,” Ex Lion Tamer and Cine Mosaic
“Dirty Wars,” Civic Bakery
“God Loves Uganda,” Full Credit Productions
“Life According to Sam,” Fine Films
“Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” Roast Beef Productions
“The Square,” Noujaim Films and Maktube Productions
“Tim’s Vermeer,” High Delft Pictures
“20 Feet from Stardom,” Gil Friesen Productions and Tremolo Productions
“Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” Tripoli Street
We have copy-pasted from the list made by the Academy... no director names mentioned... The Academy will now bring the 15 down to five Oscar nominees, which will be named on January 16. The winning doc will be announced at the 2014 Academy Awards, which take place on March 2 in Los Angeles.
Written 30-11-2013 12:42:16 by Tue Steen Müller
So, see below, the juries have made their choices at the idfa 2013 edition. In most of the sections nominations had been made in beforehand with 3 films competing. It is a good rule as it means something for a film to have ”nominated for... at idfa 2013” on its track record. I profited from the privileged access I have to Docs for Sale at idfa, when the nominations had been announced and watched the three films in the feature-length competition: ”Ai Weiwei The Fake Case” (Photo) by Andreas Johnsen, ”Ne me Quitte Pas” by Niels van Koevorden and Sabine Lubbe Bakker, and the winner (see below the full list of winners) ”Song from the Forest” by Michael Obert. In beforehand I had seen Svetoslav Draganov's ”Life Almost Wonderful”, the warm and moving film about three brothers with a hard background but with a strong appetite for life, ”The Wild Years” by Catalan Ventura Durall, an equally touching interpretation of the tough lives of street children in Ethiopia – and finally the masterpiece ”Return to Homs” by Syrian Talal Derki, reviewed on this site. 6 films out of 16, of course not enough for me to constitute a one-man jury, but enough to put down some impressions on the three nominated films.
The winner, ”Song from the Forest”, has an absolutely wonderful main character Louis Sarno, charismatic, sympathetic and his contribution to the collect of music from the pygmies is admirable and extraordinary. To see and listen to him is great, and there is a lot to get from his travel with the son, whereas it irritates when the filmmaker in the beginning of the story, as a kind of selling tool, brings in Jim Jarmusch to tell us how magnificent Louis and how apartheid is still to be found everywhere, there are other show-stoppers like that along the way.
”Ne Me Quitte Pas”, on the contrary, never leaves the main road in its following Bob and Marcel, both strong alcoholics, left by family for the same reason I guess, but they have each other's drinking company and conversations, which often are about committing suicide. Marcel decides to go for rehabilitation, we follow that, Bob comes to visit, as do Marcel's children at his home, quite touching scenes, the two of them are nice people to get to learn, both, as said precisely in the catalogue, have seen their lives slip through their fingers. The film has a rhythm. Sad and warm at the same time.
”Ai WeiWei The Fake Case” is the best film about the Chinese controversial world artist that I have seen. It is quite a scoop that the young director has been let into the house/studio and appartment of the artist at a period, where he was on bail after three months in jail and where he was forbidden to give interviews. Sequence by sequence you are invited to experience the world of the artist, he is with his family (sweet scenes with him and his little boy), he talks with his staff, he takes constantly photos with his cell phone, he has a beautiful conversation with his old mother, who tells him that all what he does, he does because he has got it from her and his father (who was also unpopular with the regime), and that she thinks he is using too harsh words against about China. You see a calm person but the director/cameraman succeeds to get that close to him that you sense a pain that can easily explode – and it does in a scene where Ai WeiWei sees how one of his employed has been beaten by the police outside his house. He rushes to the policemen and attacks them.
I have seen films from the other categories, I will return to them, as well as to the film by Khalo Matabane, ”A letter to Nelson Mandela”.
Written 30-11-2013 10:52:57 by Tue Steen Müller
The English version of the idfa press release arrived this morning: Michael Obert won the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary (€ 12,500) for Song from the Forest. The film focuses on American Louis Sarno, who has lived for 25 years with a tribe of Pygmies in the jungle of Central Africa and decides to take his son to America for the first time.
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Written 28-11-2013 21:14:55 by Tue Steen Müller
I heard about it when at the idfa festival from Dox Box Guevara Namer, herself an excellent photographer, and now I read about it and want to share it with you:
Lebanese The Daily Star brings an important article under the headline “Exiled festival reaches out to Syria’s young photographers”. Here is the story summary, and below a link to the whole article:
… Diya Homsi is one of three young photographers chosen as the first to be featured on "From Inside: A Diary of Syria," a new blog launched Thursday as part of a collaboration between the organizers of DOX BOX, Syria's documentary film festival, and the Prince Claus Fund.
The idea grew from the changing role of the DOX BOX festival in response to the conflict in Syria, explains the festival's co-founder Orwa Nyrabia.
By March 2012, a festival event was no longer possible, so instead of bringing the world to Syria, the organizers decided to bring Syria to the world, screening Syrian films in 38 countries…
Diya Homsi, a founder of the immensely popular Lens Young Homsi page, has participated in the Takween program, unlike Abd Doumany and Bassem Al Hakeem, the other two photographers selected to launch the website.
Photo: Abd Doumany, Cradle of Revolution, near Damascus, 22 May 2013 (Images courtesy of the Prince Claus Fund)
To view “From Inside: A Diary of Syria,” visit
More about the Takween programme, text taken from the website of the Prince Claus Fund:
... In 2012, DOX BOX Int’l Documentary Film Festival and the Prince Claus
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Written 26-11-2013 19:28:11 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Denne filmaften i FILMKLUB FOF i Randers onsdag 27. november 19:30 er for de eventyrlystne og naturskønhedselskende. En dansk skonnert fyldt med videnskabsfolk og kunstnere og filminstruktøren Daniel Dencik sejler dybt ind i en nordøstgrønlandsk fjord, som for første gang i meget, meget lang tid er blevet isfri. De møder den uberørte natur med hver deres sind og viden. Og de begynder at lære hinanden at kende. På den modsatte side af Jorden arbejder forskere med hver deres vinkel, men isoleret sammen i en svært tilgængelig videnskabelig institution. Den mere end erfarne filminstruktør Werner Herzog kommer på besøg, og det bliver til en historie om det udsatte menneske og den modsatte pol, det bliver en historie så lig med og så forskellig fra den mindre erfarne Denciks beretning, så forskellig og så lig hinanden, som modsatte poler nu engang kan være. De forbindes af gnistgabet, og det handler filmaftenen om.
Filmene, som vises, er Daniel Denciks "Ekspeditionen til verdens ende", Danmark 2013 og Werner Herzogs "Encounters at the End of the World", Tyskland/USA, 2007.
Written 26-11-2013 11:02:32 by Tue Steen Müller
... the headline could also have been ”3 Days at idfa”, with the subtitle ”personal small talk”, so now you are warned about this piece, written at Schiphol airport waiting for the SAS 548 to take me home to Copenhagen.
Sooo, a small flashback: you arrive to idfa, you go to get your kilos of catalogues, brochures, find your hotel, three days have been reserved to you by the organisers, who have asked you to be a consultant at the idfa-academy. You go there, The Compagnie Theatre at one of the canals is the location, a perfect place for a meeting as it has been for years for the Forum, and is at the moment where this is being written and filmmakers from all over the world launch their stories in the big hall of the theatre or in one of the smaller rooms.
The academy is for ”emerging filmmakers”, who are invited to four days of lectures, debates and so-called one-to-one meetings. Also they are there to learn and to get feedback on their projects. Most of them have trailers/teasers to show, most of these are not yet good enough and do often not really correspond to the project idea. You have talks and try to get into the project, to understand, and by asking questions hopefully also give food for thought to the filmmaker. It’s a great initiative by idfa and the participants I asked were extremely happy to be there. It's all about inspiration and encouragement.
One film screening on the first evening, ”Return to Homs”, reviewed below,
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Written 23-11-2013 13:36:47 by Tue Steen Müller
I met Talal Derki at a workshop in Athens a couple of years ago. He showed me some footage with Basset, the young revolutionary leader – and talented football goalkeeper – from Homs, fighting Bashar and his gang. What I saw was impressive and strong. I told him to make the film quickly: It is important to see what happens. NOW. He did not follow my advice. He did right. Instead of a report we now have a Film, a big emotional drama, a great documentary, that I saw yesterday in a crowded Tuschinski Theatre at idfa in Amsterdam.
It feels so banal to state that the film is shocking, that it makes me shake several times, when you are taken so close to watching dead people and people dying, that you want to close your eyes but do not. You sigh and move in your chair. But you watch because you are drawn into a story that you can not leave. About something that happens not very far from where I/we live.
A 9 year old boy lies dead on a floor. Blood is around him. His father cries. I am thinking – take it away from my eyes, but the filmmaker does not, the viewer is invited to stay for more moments with the dead boy and his father, who places himself up against the wall in his deep grief. He prays and mourns. Next to him a cameraman who cries as well. Was it the right decision to show this scene in this way? I think so – paradoxically for me, it is a sign of respect not to cut in a tv reportage style, at the same time as the film
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Written 21-11-2013 18:13:01 by Sevara Pan
Dismounted and suspended, the dusk recklessly creeped in, enveloping the theatre, it played out a little, easing out the way just before plunging into the rawness of the reality of those who call streets home.
Agonizing and discomforting, Sickfuckpeople is a triptych portrayal of life of a group of improverished, drug-addicted homeless children living amid the filthiness of the Ukrainian basement. Directed by Jury Rechinsky and shot over several years, the film follows the Odessa street kids as they grow up and face their adult lives. Abiding to the clear three-part-structure, the film does not hold up suspense, giving away the most disturbing scene of the film within the first few minutes. Crimson rivers filling up the drained syringes, then passed around from one to another, they let the souls once pure sail in the highest spheres of delirium. The red balloon is carelessly dangling from the ceiling as only relic of the lost childhood.
Aghast and unnerved by the unraveled scene, I found myself wended into the second part of the film which follows Yegor on his journey to find his mother, who had abandoned him years ago. Yet, his endeavor deems to fail. Yegor is neither welcomed in the village, nor he receives the help he seeks. Forlorn in the bygone days, disillusioned once again, he takes the train … back to nowhere. As the story unfolds, you inadvertently arrive to third part of the film that depicts the petrifying life of a young girl who, notwithstanding the harsh reality of the streets, is happy because she is loved and is expecting a baby. But is there room for love or hope once outcast from home, family, and society at large? Is there a choice when there is a chance of your child facing the same if not worse, abominable and truly inhumane conditions?
Sickfuckpeople does not shy away from exposing the reality of the ones ruthlessly wretched by life. Much like life sometimes, the film is an entangled mosaic of undercut patches, bereft glances and bleak sighs, broken smiles and frail beauty. I left the theatre in dismay. Out in the daylight I was welcomed by an ever dulcet melody jolting from the tips of the fingers of the accordinist, playing nonchalantly as if nothing happened, prompting to remember the tragedy of life, which somehow gave that harrowing pain in my chest.
Austria/Ukraine, 2013, 75 min.
Written 19-11-2013 17:45:26 by Tue Steen Müller
The news about the death of Peter Wintonick (see below) (photo) made me sit down with DOX 100 that was in the mailbox the day before. The issue is built up as conversation pieces between documentarians who talk professional matters from a wide variety of angles, a clever choice by new editor Vibeke Bryld.
”Dox in Dialogue” is the title on the front page and one of the couples, who talk to each other, is ”Wintonick and Nyrabia”. Peter and Orwa. Read a quote from what Peter is answering to the question by Orwa, ”Who are we, dear Peter?”:
”I really see that we all possess, along with many other professions, a kind of big, dominant gene; the altruism gene. We are artists, we give our work to share and not to exploit. Educators, activists, engaged media people, scientists, environmentalists, doc people, and care givers are all givers. We believe in the gift economy rather than in the greed economy. We believe, like my heroes Gandhi and Mandela, we can live the change we believe in...”
That and many other precise and lovely words from Wintonick you can find in the DOX Magazine, the conversation with Orwa Nyrabia being one of the best to follow.
I have not read all yet but to be recommended as well is the fresh dialogue between Danish Phie Ambo and Austrian Michael Glawogger, the fine more deep ”cinéphile” conversation between festival director Luciano Barisone and Nicolas Philibert, the ”Act of Killing” talk or actually it is more Werner Herzog interviewing director Joshua Oppenheimer... whereas Ally Derks and Debra Zimmermann performs a more humorous and light dialogue, Rada Sesic and Martichka Bozhilova are informing and promoting the Balkan documentary scene, and I would have loved to have more words from Emma Davie (”I am Breathing”), who modestly puts herself in the role of asking editor Niels Pagh Andersen to talk about his work with Pirjo Honkasalo and with ”The Act of Killing”.
The new DOX issue, number 100 (!), is out, I see no reason for not buying it!
Written 19-11-2013 15:25:12 by Tue Steen Müller
Peter Wintonick has died. FB pages, newspapers and websites are full of warm words and sadness from the documentary community. My former colleagues at EDN wrote these fine words:
It is with great sorrow that we, at EDN, have received the information that Peter Wintonick passed away yesterday, November 18, 2013.
Peter Wintonick has for over three decades been a leading figure in the international documentary sector. Peter was active as director, producer, festival programmer, curator, mentor and international documentary ambassador. But for many he was first and foremost an inspiring colleague and a great human being.
At EDN we have had the pleasure of working with Peter on many occasions. During the many sessions he produced for IDFA, the articles he has written for DOX and at the many occasions he was a valued tutor at EDN workshops. As late as in March, he was among the tutors at Docs in Thessaloniki.
EDN's latest contact with Peter was through our newly released DOX 100, where he has a dialogue with Orwa Nyrabia. Unfortunately this will for many people be the last public meeting with Peter and his reflections on the documentary sector.
Peter’s career includes involvement in over 100 films and transmedia projects, and he has been recognised far beyond our documentary industry. Among other prestigious awards, he was in 2005 presented with Laureate of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, which is Canada’s highest such honour.
Peter became only 60-years old. Yesterday he died due to cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer. We have lost a dear colleague and a great friend. But even though Peter has passed away, his great spirit for documentary, his optimistic life approach and his warm personlity will stay in our hearts.
From EDN we send the warmest condolences to Peter’s closest family and friends.
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