IDFA Tips from Filmkommentaren

Written 14-11-2019 21:29:43 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Tips from Filmkommentaren

When 300+ films are to be screened, how do you decide where to go. This is the situation for those going to Amsterdam very soon. IDFA is a big festival and you/I need help. And help is given.

The festival does a lot to help editorially through making thematic sections like “Life in Europe”, “People and Planet”, “iWorld”, “It’s a Woman’s World”, “Profession Journalist”, “Believe me”… or “Best Of… Audience Favourites, “Must-Sees”, “Award-Winners” and broadcasters and newspapers get the chance to give advice.

I take the liberty to join the group of advisers on films that you could go and see. Some of them I have not seen myself yet, but as the Germans say,  vonhörensagen is also a way.

I pick 10 from the first 5 days, that’s enough on a blogpost:

Maryam Zaree: Born in Evin: Personal. Touching. Director was born in an Iranian prison… Saw it in Sarajevo.

Dina Naser: Tiny Souls: Was at DocsBarcelona. Syrian children in a refugee camp in Jordan. Followed over several years. Excellent.

Patricio Guzmán: The Cordillera of Dreams: IDFA’s Guest of Honour – his newest work. Must-see for me.

Andres Veiel: Black Box BRD: It’s from 2001, want to see it again. History. Germany. RAF.

Alan Berliner: Letter to the Editor: Berliner is one of the most original documentarians of today, here with a love letter to the newspaper.

Andrey Tarkovsky. A Cinema Prayer: The son about his father, it’s lovely and it’s for us many Tarkovsky fans. Clips from films, archive clips with him. Lot of Phatos!

Feras Fayyad: The Cave: Saw it in Copenhagen! Shocking. Syria again. Main protagonist Dr Amani is a true hero with colleagues in the underground hospital in Ghouta. Masterly done.

Jørgen Leth: I Walk: Have of course been an admirer of our Danish icon since I met him and his films decades ago. He is a phenomen in Danish cultural life and internationally among cinéphiles. Again autobiographical… have not seen it yet… (PHOTO)

Andrés di Tella: Private Fiction: Argentina is close to my heart, I have had many fine moments with Andrés, and have enjoyed his original truly authored films, veeery curious about this new one, indeed!

Chris Marker: La Jetée (1962) & Pia Andell: V in Vyborg (2005): Two films picked by Patricio Guzman in his Top 10. The one of Marker is a classic that I can see again and again, the one of Andell I have heard about and now is the chance to see it…

For that and for all films mentioned, go to to find more. An Amazing program it is.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Latvian National Film Awards

Written 13-11-2019 22:16:27 by Tue Steen Mller

Latvian National Film Awards

...were distributed the other day in Riga. I mention the documentary awards – many of them have been reviewed/noticed on this site. They are still strong in documentaries in the country of Herz Frank, Uldis Brauns, Ivars Seleckis, Juris Podnieks…!

Here they are, added with some” comments from Zane Balcus, critic (in the upcoming IDFA in the Fipresci jury) and manager of Baltic Sea Docs:

Best full-length documentary – ”Putin's Witnesses” by Vitaly Manski

Best documentary director - Kaspars Goba for "Inga Can Hear" (Inga dzird)

Best documentary cinematographer - Valdis Eglītis for "The Sixth Day" (Sestā diena) - Valdis is very experienced cinematographer, but for quite some time now is more engaged with teaching. ”The Sixth Day” is a very nice film - an observational documentary about one small farmers' market, which is held on Saturdays, it has a very good atmosphere and interesting characters. 

Laila Pakalniņa for "Spoon" received a special jury mention on her strong creative vision, the film also received the best sound design award.

From the documentaries jury a special mention also went to the film "2018", it is like an homage to Brauns' "235 000 000". The film is pieced together from 15 short films made by different directors, and combined now into a unified film by Dainis Kļava (produced by VFS). The jury statement read that this is for the continuation of the poetical tradition of Latvian documentary cinema.

Gints Grūbe and Jaak Kilmi for "My Father the Spy" received the best editing prize.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Zelig Film School Film Festival

Written 10-11-2019 11:10:15 by Tue Steen Mller

Zelig Film School Film Festival

10 films were screened Friday and Saturday, November 8 and 9, at the Capitol cinema in Bolzano. The graduation films of the students, who had been studying at the Zelig School for Documentaries, Television and New Media. For three years, 2016-2019 with three lines: Direction, Camera and Editing.

The atmosphere was festive. Fellow students, friends, family and in some cases protagonists were there to celebrate – and there were Q&A sessions after each film. And diplomas and a rose were distributed to the now former students.

Contrary to (some) other film schools the films coming out of the Zelig are not made according to a pre-given format or theme; there is freedom for the students to find their own theme and style, of course under the supervision of filmmakers from the professional world, they are now to enter.

Themes – a quote from the Zelig invitation to the fest:

„From the snowy Scandinavian landscapes of the North of Europe to the heart of our Mother Earth in Central Africa; from the remote islands off the coast of Scotland to the Azores in the Atlantic, and – closer to us – in the Italian province and in the rest of Europe as well...“

Yes, the students have travelled and put all their energy into making creative documentaries. The overall quality is impressive and several of the films have already been to festivals, and even won awards. Like the one on the photo, „Theodor“, did at Festival dei Popoli.

Information about the 10 films can be found on, watch out for them, festival programmers:

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Zelig: What is a Documentary

Written 08-11-2019 14:56:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Zelig: What is a Documentary

I was invited to give a pep talk to the new Zelig students by showing documentaries, talk about them and have them talk. They did, I enjoyed the four days a lot bombarding them with names of directors and film titles that they must be inspired by. AND this morning we made the small game: Which three words come to your mind, when I say DOCUMENTARY. Here is the result and a photo of the lucky students, who are to study at Zelig in Bolzano for the next three years:

Freedom Willing Choice Poetic Detail Glimmer Accidential Case Patience Strings Impact Storytelling Memorable Curiosity Connection Testimony Creative Chance Vessel Sensibility Instinct Relationship Perspective Feel Aesthetic Subjective Respectful Visual Empathy Recognition Heritage Job Mediation Responsibility Game Trade Cheating Time Place POV Unpretentious Free Personal Quest Passion Opinion Teamwork Observing Informing Meaning Intense Identity Summerbreeze Evidence Pursuit Intuition Honest Pure Humanity Thoughtprovoking Contact Problems Forgotten Improvisation Discovery Growth Research Portrait Listening Memory Cinema Art Microcosmos Serendipity Nuance Undermine Exposure Life Love Lagrein

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Frelle Petersen: Onkel

Written 07-11-2019 17:26:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Frelle Petersen: Onkel

Sydjysk landskab med stående kvinde og siddende mand

7. 11. 2019: Med ét i filmens lange dybt tilfredsstillende forløb af forunderlige scener, diskrete flytninger og tankesamlende vignetter står der uventet Onkel på lærredet! Og så kommer slutteksterne, de vigtigste først i skilte og derefter alle de andre rullende. Jeg bliver siddende i stolen. Forbløffet. Er det allerede forbi? Er hun gået? Denne vidunderlige fortælling, denne dejlige kvinde.

I instruktørens forrige film og fortælling Hundeliv (2016) havde både de to piger og den sårede soldat i filmen og jeg i biografen fæstnet os særligt ved kassedamen i supermarkedet. Hun var bare så sød, og både i sin rolle og i virkeligheden, så ægte livligt venligt snakkende med kunderne hun jo kendte. Her var det gode menneske.

Nu er hun så landmand, sød og ægte. Men nu fåmælt som onklen. Hun er forældreløs forstår jeg, han er alene og hendes nærmeste. Hun har  gennem skoletiden boet hos ham på hans gård med køer og græsmarker og kornmarker, og nu som ung kvinde passer hun hans hus og driver hans landbrug sammen med ham. Begge er de tavse i dagenes arbejde og i aftenernes sagte tv-lyd fra det lille apparat oppe på skabet og aviser i stak på stolen: han. Og bøjet i den tykke krydsordsbog: hun. Han let studs, hun let indadvendt begge i en ægte jysk tavshed. Tryg og smuk. Og skildret af Frelle Petersen med kompetent indsigt…

Onkel har premiere i biograferne torsdag, 14. november. Øst for Paradis lister dem alle op: 

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Categories: Cinema, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

DOK Leipzig Makes a Summing Up

Written 07-11-2019 13:36:27 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Makes a Summing Up

... which by all means is positive. 48.000 spectators, many full houses as I heard and saw for myself, good atmosphere. In the newsletter the press department asks ”How have the media experienced DOK Leipzig?” and below they highlight the presence of Cineuropa, fine enough. As the press department apparently does not know that was present, I list what has been written from my side:

Reviews of

Space Dogs -

The Royal Train –

Exemplary Behaviour –

Reports about

Quay Brothers –

The festival program/and the retrospective

And here comes what the press department writes:

Vladan Petkovic was here this year, not only as a panellist, but also as the author of a number of reviews of our films for our media partner Cineuropa. Read more about THE FORUMNEVER WHISTLE ALONEand IT TAKES A FAMILY. Additionally, Cineuropa ran an interview with our festival director, Leena Pasanen.

Describing the film EXEMPLARY BEHAVIOUR, which received the Golden Dove in the International Competition Long Documentary, Petkovic wrote for Cineuropa: “It is a work of extraordinary poetics and aesthetics, and has numerous ambiguous layers that are impossible to penetrate with sheer common sense, requiring the viewer to let go and give in to the more oneiric side.”

Modern Times Review also saw and reviewed a lot of our films, including FAMILY RELATIONS and DEEP WATERS, and conducted an interview with the guest of our Homage, Tan Pin Pin.

Screen Daily picked up on the award-winning film EXEMPLARY BEHAVIOUR, and the International Documentary Association’s (IDA) Documentary Magazine ran an article about our programme DOK im Knast just in time for the festival.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Quay Brothers at DOK Leipzig

Written 04-11-2019 18:48:59 by Tue Steen Mller

Quay Brothers at DOK Leipzig

It started at 7pm and ended at 10.30pm with half an hour break. 90 minutes talk with Stephen and Timothy Quay followed by the screening of their live action film (105 minutes) ”Institute Benjamenta”. (PHOTO)

It was an entertaining night with the two famous world artists – only 50 people came! You can do better than that Dok Leipzig! Was it because you

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig - History

Written 04-11-2019 11:46:45 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig - History

With History two meanings, both of them personal related to film and film people. The first one came to me just after arriving to the Festival Centre Thursday late afternoon. I was waiting at the bar to be served and so was a man next to me. ”I think we have met before”, I said to him, ”mehrmals” he said, ”on Bornholm”, I asked, ”yes, I was there” said Jochen Wisotzki, with the film ”Komm in den Garten” that I made with Heinz Brinkmann… It must have been in 1991 that it was shown at the Balticum Film & TV Festival, and I still remember the film about three friends, ”artists in life”, outsiders in GDR. The film received the Silverne Taube in 1990. Later it came to my mind that Wisotzki was the one who invited Andreas Steinmann and me to a film gathering in Rügen. Or was it Eduard Schreiber?

I did not meet Wisotzki again during the few days in Leipzig. But I had a good talk with Heribert Schneiders, former MDR commissioner and always good in panels at pitch sessions. He was not – of course - happy with the political situation in the three Länder, where the Afd (Alternative für Deutschland) is having 25% support from the voters. ”Are they fascists”, I asked him, ”Yes, the party leaders say things that you can’t believe is true…”. His ”old” party, SPD, is doing bad, so now he goes for ”die Grüne” as many others, I guess.

Good friend, who by the way was at the above mentioned festival on Bornholm in the 90’es, when he was making films, Claas Danielsen, had the same opinion as Schneiders, yes the Afd includes people with fascist points of view.

Opposite the hotel where we were staying is the mural of optimism with slogans like ”Freiheit”, ”Wir sind das Volk”. No optimism these days… nach der Wende.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Elsa Kremser & Levin Peter: Space Dogs

Written 04-11-2019 10:56:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Elsa Kremser & Levin Peter: Space Dogs

„Das ist Laika. Am 3. November 1957 wurde die sowjetische Straßenhündin in einem Sputnik in die Erdumlaufbahn geschossen und war damit das erste Lebewesen im Weltall. Überlebt hat sie diese Mission nicht. Doch es gibt die Legende, dass sie als Geist auf die Erde zurückgekehrt ist und seitdem durch die Straßen Moskaus streift.“

Yes, that is what the two filmmakers do: follow stray dogs, Laika is maybe one of them, in Moscow, their drifting around, their barking, their showing teeth and aggression towards each other, their acting with brutality but also with care and love... Lebewesen in a metropole behaving like us human beings?

The film is constructed masterly in sound and image and editing; I read that the filmmakers are born in 1985. They demonstrate an amazing maturity, mixing the following of the stray dogs with Soviet science archive material of the preparation of dogs for space trips as well as (touching) footage of the dogs (those who survive) coming back. Colour and black&white images in a film, which is not really fun to look at: what we do with the animals in the name of science, and what they do to each other, the dogs in the constant „survival of the fittest“ game. But as a tense film essay, remarkable! Indeed also because of the narration, a fine factual(!) fairytale-like text in Russian, matching images and sound perfectly.

Watch out for that Dogumentary!

Photo of Laika.

Austria, Germany, 2019, 91 mins.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Johannes Holzhausen: The Royal Train

Written 04-11-2019 09:38:41 by Tue Steen Mller

Johannes Holzhausen: The Royal Train

The daughter of King Michael 1 of Romania (who died in 2017), Princess Margareta, and her husband Radu, travel in the train of her father to meet the people and have them remember him and the good old monarchy that came to an end in 1947, when the communists took over. The train stops at small stations, where the local authorities are nervously preparing the royal welcome. Red carpet and all that. And the royal staff prepares equally how to arrive, a scenario is needed.

That’s the red thread of a film, that with humour and warmth takes the viewer to the venues of the couple in Bucharest introducing the staff that helps them to keep the memories of the monarchy and the King alive. The most important person in that respect is for me the young man, Adrian, who searches for documents and artefacts of interest for the Princess. He is a passionate monarchist searching/ hoping for the return to old times – you are a Don Quichote, an old lady says to him, if you need a Sancho Panza, I am there for you - he is the one, who visits the old ladies, who remember the King and the royalty with big love.

In scenes like that the director manages – with his flair for creative storytelling - to balance all the wonderful absurd scenes of royal protocol, like how to approach the Princess in a correct way. Three steps backwards, when you have got your diploma and then you can turn around… like if it had been the Danish queen. It’s still very much alive and popular. What is most interesting in this film is, when the old royalists remember the time, where they were not allowed to celebrate the monarchy during the time of Ceaușescu.

Austria, Germany, 2019, 90 mins.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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