Written 31-10-2014 16:53:09 by Tue Steen Müller
Your filmkommentaren.dk correspondent has seen the 11 long documentaries in the Dok International Competition 2014. He thinks it would be fun to make HIS list of winners for that category. I.e. a main prize and two honorary mentions. The films have been seen at the Dok Market during the last week, and it has to be said that the general level of quality for the 11 is high and that I appreciate the diversity in themes and storytelling.
”Suddenly My Thoughts Halt” (Portugal) (by Jorge Pelicano) (2014), 100 mins.
For its cinematically conveyed love to its characters at the hospital in Porto and the humorous and original storytelling approach with an actor, who moves in and tries to understand and to interpret insanity, helped by intelligent patients with wise words and authenticity.
”Rules of the Game” (France) (by Claudine Bories & Patrice Chagnard) (2014), 106 mins.
This well made, excellently photographed and edited human documentary catches, what it means to be young and unemployed, and to be involved in a training programme, where you are taught to write applications and ”sell” yourself at job interviews. It’s light in tone, it’s universal, the youngsters keep their own personality in this apparent no-go situation.
”Toto and His Sisters” (Romania) (by Alexander Nanau) (2014) 93 mins.
Heartbreaking. Mum is in jail, one sister is on drugs, the other fights for herself and for Toto in this film about a lost childhood, misery and poverty. With a society that tries to get the small boy away. Yes, away but to what? Toto is good at hip hop, that takes him away… A film with a strong sensibility for character and narrative.
Written 31-10-2014 15:45:00 by Tue Steen Müller
I have just left a nice chat with a former Zelig film school student – one of a handful who go to Leipzig to watch films and meet people, build contacts and enjoy masterclasses. It helps that Leipzig is such a pleasant city full of people in cafés, a market on the main square, churches to enter (Orgel Koncerten), good food many places, and Curry Wurst of course und so weiter… in other words what surrounds DOKLeipzig makes you in good mood before you enter the cinemas or the market to watch the current horrors of the world we live in!
Back to the first sentence, yes the programme of DOKLeipzig is rich, not only of films on the big or small screen (10 parallel screenings!) but also of masterclasses/presentations/debates related to the documentary. Impressive it is, indeed.
I went to the masterclass with Jon Bang Carlsen yesterday, lots of young people, who had a good time (2 ½ hour) with a director, who has been part of my professional life since he started his long career. Danish Bang Carlsen was in Leipzig because of a retrospective homage to him, 8 films, on top of that he is also a member of the main jury. The audience was spoilt with several clips and with words/sentences from the director to explain his method. Let me give you some of them: ”I don’t want to be a victim of life’s coincidences” (referring to his ”staged documentary”), ”we all become part of the landscape” (referring to his Northern Jutland background), ”I have to be able to control the visuals”, ”I love framing”, I have to find a way ”to write the visuals”, ”our personal scars give us the energy”, ”there has to be a keyhole between me and my character”, ”I find it hard to believe in pure narrative”, ”you have to make yourself vulnerable… ”Blind Angels” (2007) was made by me in a period of contemplation”, ”you have to use the stuff that happens before the brain comes in”. Clips were shown from ”Before the Guests Arrive”,
”It’s Now or Never” and the connected ”How to Invent Reality”, ”Addicted to Solitude”, ”Blinded Angels”, ”The Right Amount of Violence”.
Photo by Jon Bang Carlsen from ”How to Invent Reality” (director left, main character Jimmy right).
Written 31-10-2014 00:06:29 by Tue Steen Müller
Czech Andrea Prenghyova, the founder of DOK.Incubator, was on stage to welcome the participants to the presentation of the 2014 film projects that had been developed during half a year with the help of Claas Danielsen and Ilo von Seckendorff from DOKLeipzig and a gallery of tutors – producers and editors and distributors – led by Danish Sigrid Dyekjær.
A clip from the press release from the website of DokIncubator: ”For the first time, the nine extraordinary feature-length documentary films were presented to over 180 the decision-makers of the international industry at the ceremonial atmosphere of the Leipziger Kabaret Pfeffermühle. The DOK.Incubator Workshop 2014 ends with a confirmed premiere of three of the films at the biggest documentary film festival at IDFA: Always Together /CZ/ as a story of a dream of an ideal family life that just went too far; Drifter /HU, DE/ an intimate portrait of a young rebel in desperate need of a lacking, supportive father and Queen of Silence /PL, DE/ – a documusical starring a deaf girl from an illegal Roma settlement, who escapes the reality into the Bollywood world...”
The creative idea of the organisers is to bring in film projects that are in or close to a rough cut stage and have them profit from comments from colleagues and so-called experts. And – at this final session – pitch their projects to (in this case) decision-makers from festivals, distribution side and television. In the pitch several of the nine called for sales agents, and there were many of them in the room. The idea of having the filmmakers make a verbal presentation, show a trailer and one or two scenes worked well and there are very promising films coming up: The three mentioned above and the Italian called ”Between Sisters” - go to the website where you can also watch the trailers.
The third edition of a well thought and developed training programme – if I may lift one little finger: Please play down the self-praise a bit, some of the project presentations by the tutors were overcooked marketing, if that still exist... more sobriety, please. Photo from a previous Dok.Incubator session.
Written 30-10-2014 10:13:24 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Filmen hedder ”Episode of the Sea”. Jeg tror, Jørgen Vestergaard vil kunne lide den film. Lad mig forklare hvorfor. Den handler om fiskere, der ikke vil være bønder. Adskillige af Vestergaards film handler om fiskere, og jeg kommer i den her film i den klassiske britiske stil på havet med trawleren. Som i Vestergaards film, på hans måde. Metoden indebærer også den tætte forbindelse med stedet, som skildres, med de medvirkende, som ikke blot udtaler sig, men præger filmenes kunstneriske status, deres tankegang, sprog og hele rytme. For eksempel er der forskel på fiskere og bønder, jeg tror jeg et eller andet sted ved, hvordan. Det har Vestergaard lært mig.
Derfor holder jeg af Lonnie van Brummelen og Siebren de Haans ”Episode of the Sea”og det er fordi jeg er opdraget mig til det, altså fordi jeg er forberedt. Ellers kunne det være gået galt. Filmen er nemlig besynderlig og særegen. Det mærker jeg lige fra begyndelsen. Først med det alvorlige, fornemme, rolige, langsomme 35 mm billede, så med et skilt med omhyggelig tekst om øen Urk, som ved inddæmning engang for længe siden blev en del af fastlandet og så med en teatralsk scene, en slags oldtidigt græsk teater, et kor af kvinder, som der midt i landskabet sætter beretningen i gang, om miraklet med Urk, om landbrugets indførelse og kystfiskerne med mindre både, som blev industrifiskere med trawlere ude i Nordsøen.
Og billedet, det er kameraer fra 1980’erne forstår jeg, dette smukke, gammeldags filmfotografi, skifter fra landskab til fiskefabrik. Den næste lange sekvens viser filettering på fabrikken. Med den følgende er jeg på havet med en trawler. Jeg er tilbage i film som ”Manden fra Aran”, ””Blaavand melder storm” og ”Vagt ved havet”. Her er dog ikke fare på færde. Det er i og for sig rolige scener, men de er fra et trawlerdæk i voldsom bevægelse, de skildrer fiskerhåndværkets faste greb i tunge redskaber, maler i lange scener, som fortæller selv. Ingen dialog, ingen speak, kun 100%. En renset, en afklaret cinematografi. Og der er mellemtekster, overskrifter og lange velskrevne forklaringer.
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Written 29-10-2014 23:26:39 by Tue Steen Müller
Copy-pasted press release from the festival: The documentary film CITIZENFOUR about the NSA scandal and Edward Snowden’s revelations was awarded the “Leipziger Ring” on Wednesday night. US American filmmaker Laura Poitras received the film prize of the Peaceful Revolution Foundation, which is endowed with 5,000 Euros, in the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church) in Leipzig. The “Leipziger Ring” is the first prize to be awarded during the ongoing 57th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film. With this prize, the Foundation honours an artistic documentary film that shows exemplary civic engagement for democracy and human rights or was made with great personal commitment and courage in the face of resistance and restrictions of the freedom of opinion and the press.
The jury stated that Snowden had risked his life and freedom to make the world aware of intelligence service practices that hardly anyone would have believed possible. With her film, Laura Poitras had rendered a great service to the freedom of all people.
CITIZENFOUR is a US-German production from 2014 which celebrated its German premiere at the opening of DOK Leipzig. In a short video message, Snowden honoured Leipzig’s role in autumn 1989 and emphasised that “Leipzig reminded us that the wall and the GDR didn’t go
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Written 29-10-2014 08:35:33 by Tue Steen Müller
In his opening speech to the audience of DOKLeipzig Monday the 27th, departing festival director Claas Danielsen reflected on ”freedom” and gave good advice to the public broadcasters! I have copy pasted some sequences of the speech, the whole one can be read on the site, link below:
… One of the things that make it so rewarding for me to work with documentary and animated films is that in these genres there was always a great freedom to experiment and tell extraordinary stories in a very individual way. These films are free and resist censorship, predictability and formatting. Which latter point makes them such an unwieldy commodity for television.
Many documentary filmmakers rate their intellectual and creative freedom higher than their profit. They are often passionate people who act out of conviction. And yet: making a good documentary film today, from research to concept development to the protracted financing process up to the shooting and the long post-production period takes two or three years. A filmmaker can’t really work on more than two projects at the same time. The average author’s and director’s pay for a feature-length documentary in Germany is about 30,000 Euros. That’s not enough to support a
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Written 29-10-2014 00:12:21 by Tue Steen Müller
Time runs. From Jihlava to Leipzig monday, from one documentary film festival to the next one with a special bus, a symbol of festival friendship, this initiative has been called. And we were many, who accepted the generous offer of transport. 6 hours, internet, free coffee, beer and water to be paid for. Many slept for hours, some small-talked, some read or watched films online.
Arrival in Leipzig, accreditation at the festival centre at the Art Museum and off to the opening ceremony at Cine Star 8. Totally full with an extra cinema occupied. Speeches and jury presentation and then “Citizenfour” by Laura Poitras. An impressive documentation, I need to watch it again, it was late after the bus ride and I took what I think is called a “nickerchen” in German!
But before the film a video message from Edward Snowden was shown: I’ve never agreed to do an introduction to this film. Not in the UK, not in the US – not in New York or San Francisco or anything like that. But when somebody asked me if I would do it for Leipzig, I said yes and that`s because your history is an inspiration to me. It`s critical that we remember the lessons from history. And Leipzig reminded us that the wall and the GDR didn`t go down because of bombs or guns or violent resistance. It was brought down by ordinary people on the streets in the square on Mondays. Ordinary people against extraordinary powers reminded us that the legitimacy of governments is derived from this consent of the people that they are governing. And today when that principle is so often forgotten, we have so many governments, even in liberal democracies, western democracies, not just authoritarian regimes, that so frequently favor tactics of deception and secrecy we do remember that the consent of the government is only meaningful if it`s informed. Thank you and I hope you enjoy the film.
I am writing this in a new Motel One super-designed hotel next to Nikolaikirche, where the peaceful Monday-demonstrations took place 25 years ago.
Snowden's speech to be found on
Written 28-10-2014 09:52:22 by Allan Berg Nielsen
DR2 har temauge om Japan. Det fører en stribe dokumentarer med sig: Mandag: ”Tsunamiens Børn”, tirsdag: ”Sex? Nej tak, vi er fra Japan”, onsdag: ”Japans forbudte sexhotel”, torsdag: ”Lej en familie A/S”. Efter Dokumania i aften tirsdag hvor ”Brakeless” sendes 20.45 vises desuden ”Selvmordsskoven i Japan” kl. 22. Med de danske titler og uden instruktør- eller andre navne, kan det være svært at gennemskue, hvad det drejer sig om. "Japans forbudte sexhotel", hvis engelske titel er den mere loyale "Love Hotel", og ”Lej en familie” har Tue Steen Müller skrevet om her på Filmkommentaren.
Det er altså Dokumania-dag i dag og redaktionen har i Nick Frasers Storyvilleprogram fundet den Londonbaserede japanske instruktør Kyoko Miyakes: ”Brakeless” fra BBC Four i marts i år, hvor den havde premiere i en 60 min. version, og viser den i aften i feature-version med den forklarende danske titel ”Når tid slår ihjel – den japanske togkatastrofe”. De uddyber i denne synopsis: ” Mandag den 25. april 2005 sker en af Japans største togulykker i moderne historie. En lokofører på et lokaltog forsøger at indhente en forsinkelse på bare 80 sekunder, men toget afsporer som følge af den høje hastighed. Det styrter ned i et højhus og dræber 107 mennesker. Hvilket pres lå lokoføreren under for, da han risikerede så meget for en minimal forsinkelse? Og er ulykker som denne et resultat af et moderne japansk samfund, hvor hastighed sidestilles med fremskridt og punktlighed og omkostningseffektivitet sættes over alt andet? Det er spørgsmål som disse, filmens japanske instruktør Kyoko Miyake prøver at finde svar på.”
På BBC’s hjemmeside (se nedenfor) er der en interessant Q&A, som Storyville har med hende. Her fortæller hun blandt andet om denne vigtige erfaring med sin metode:...
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Written 28-10-2014 08:42:15 by Tue Steen Müller
The website of the Jihlava IDFF announced last night:
OPUS BONUM – Best World Documentary Film Award
Best Film: Je suis le peuple (I Am the People), dir. Anna Rousillion
Member of the jury: elimir ilnik
CZECH JOY – Best Czech Documentary Film Award
Best Film: K oblakům vzhlííme (Into the Clouds We Gaze), dir. Martin Dušek
Special Mention: Několik Let (Lets Block), dir. Martina Malinová
Members of the jury: Bohdan Bláhovec, Ivo Mathé, Tereza Czesany Dvořáková, Martin Kolář, Petr Hruška
FASCINATIONS – Best Experimental Documentary Film Award
Best Film: Hacked Circuit, dir. Deborah Stratmen
Special Mention: Sexuální boj zboí (The Sexual Struggle of Commodities), dir. r. Pavel Sterec, Vilém Novák
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Written 28-10-2014 08:23:28 by Tue Steen Müller
News taken from the website of the IDF (Institute of Documentary Films): For the sixth time at Jihlava International Film Festival, Institute of Documentary Film announced Silver Eye winners at the Closing Ceremony. The holders of the awards are three extraordinary documentaries from East Silver Market, selected in three categories, as well as three Special Mentions.
The aim of the Silver Eye award is to introduce the new talents to the international audience and to bring the attention of industry professionals to the new interesting films from Central and Eastern Europe, and to help the nominated films to find sales agents, broadcasters and festival releases. All Silver Eye winners receive the trophy designed by Czech artist Tereza Durdilova, as well as 1 500 EUR prize money. On top of that, the awarded films are about to enjoy the year-long distribution support within East Silver Caravan festival service, shipping them to more than 108 international film festivals.The awards are supported by MEDIA programme.
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