Filmkommentaren

Mila Turajlic: The Other Side of Everything

Written 18-11-2017 23:06:57 by Tue Steen Mller

Mila Turajlic: The Other Side of Everything

I am biased. I have known the director Mila Turajlic for the many years that I have taken part in the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade. And I have shared opinions about the films, we have shown at the festival - with her mother, Srbijanka Turajlic, who watches all films at the festival, and is the main character of the daughter's film, that shows the courage of the mother, a university professor in mathematics, whose political engagement brought her to be minister of education, when Milosevic was taken down from power in October 2000. She was a speaker at many huge manifestations against the Milosevic regime.

The film, however, has many layers: It takes place in the fine home of the family, where there are locked doors into some rooms of the apartment, doors which were locked when the communists came to power at the end of the 1940'es. Another family moved in and an old lady lives there, when the film takes its start. A metaphor for the past.

But it is also a film, that questions what revolutions are good for. Srbijanka Turajlic is awarded and says - she has a lot of dry humour - that this is first time she has got an award for a failed revolution, referring to what happened in the country after Milosevic.

Asked about that at the Q&A after the screening tonight here at the IDFA festival, where the film is in the international competition for long films, the strong veteran activist said that of course something changed - we got rid of Milosevic. And asked if daughter Mila - as she says in the film that she wants to leave the country - can do something? Of course she can, we all can and should be engaged to change not only Serbia but also Europe.

The photo for this review/report is not one that I like, but it was what I could find. In the film Srbijanka Turajlic has a cigarette in mouth or hand the whole way through. I love to see her in the big apartment, I love to see her polish silver, I love to see her lying on her bed reading Agathe Christie while the phone is ringing, she does not care, but she cares for her country, she has felt that she should help the students in their protests, I love to see the dinner and lunches she sets up with classical bourgeois plates, forks and knives... the scene for political discussions.

I ought not give marks, I do it anyway, high ones for daughter and mother. I raise a glass for them and the film!

Serbia, 2017, 104 mins. 

http://www.othersideofeverything.com

www.idfa.nl 


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Finlay Pretsell: Time Trial

Written 18-11-2017 12:46:03 by Tue Steen Mller

Finlay Pretsell: Time Trial

Of course you - as a Dane - are sceptical, when someone wants to make a film about one of the superstars of professional bicycling. Our national hero Jørgen Leth has made, what is to say about the suffering, the pain, the different styles, in many films - and he keeps on doing so as a commentator on Danish TV2 every year during the Tour de France. So why another one...

But young Scottish Finlay Pretsell dared to challenge the old master, and according to Pretsell Jørgen Leth likes the film, which he will be able to say to the audience this afternoon, where the film is being screened on a huge screen at the Carré, the national theatre, followed by a panel including the two.

I watched the film yesterday in a smaller cinema, Munt 13, and I was suffering with the protagonist David Millar on screen. My suffering was in solidarity with poor Millar, who fights to get his last Tour de France but loses - and very much due to the music composed by American Dan Deacon, music which is constantly surprising and sometimes a torture to take into the ears.

It has changed my view on music in documentaries, which normally is just filling in holes in weak scenes. Here it goes with the race and the situations, the sequences, the scenes. A great example of music in documentaries - here used for a film, which is so well constructed, full of funny moments, it’s not “only” the tragic fall of a hero.

Look at the photo, David Millar talking to one of his colleagues. A scene of calm contrary to the sequences at the race San Remo-Milan, where Millar should prove that he was good enough for his 13th Tour de France. He was not, as we experience. He is fighting with putting on his gloves in the terrible weather, he has to stop so a helper can get his rain coat in place, it is total misery as the two coaches in the car indirectly communicate to each other. They are wonderful side characters in a film, where also Millar’s room mate, Thomas Dekker, makes one laugh, when he says to Millar “there’s no time for you anymore”!

The beginning of the film showing Millar’s speciality, the time trial, one man against the clock, is breathtaking, maybe a bit to long, but once we are away from that, the film works perfectly in being a Film far away from what we watch on television every summer. Millar gives good information on technical matters like what are the breakaways, he does not want to talk about his doping scandal anymore, “I just wanted to do one Tour de France, I have done 12 and now I am pulled from number 13”.

Pretsell gets very close to Millar, a charismatic sportsman, indeed he is. A free man now! It’s an emotional race, enjoyable, it will go around, be sure of that.

http://www.timetrialfilm.com/ 


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Being at IDFA

Written 17-11-2017 23:38:42 by Tue Steen Mller

Being at IDFA

Look at that picture from a bridge in Amsterdam, where the biggest documentary film festival is taking place these days. It was here that I ran into Ally Derks this afternoon. Are you alone here, she asked, where is your partner? At home I said, remembering great moments my wife and I had with Ally at the It's All True Festival in Brazil, the one run by my cigar-smoking friend Amir Labaki. Lots of documentary talks in Rio and Sao Paolo, lots of caipirinha, fun, warm atmosphere. I am not going to be at the de Balie celebration of Ally Derks tomorrow - as I am working for "her" festival at the IDFA Academy - so I send this verbal hug to her and apologise that I had to to run for a screening, when we met in the street. I have seen 70 films before the festival she said... before we had to run for a screening. And for our lives as you have to in this city, that is governed by those on bikes, some of them pretty aggressive. 


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Mohamed Siam: Amal

Written 17-11-2017 11:00:56 by Tue Steen Mller

Mohamed Siam: Amal

The day after the opening of IDFA the director of “Amal”, Egyptian Mohammed Siam met the participants of the IDFA Academy to talk about the film, which they had all seen the night before or that very same morning. Siam was interviewed by the head of the IDFA Bertha Fund, Isabel Arrate Fernandez, and the two were joined on stage by the editor of the film Véronique Lagoarde - Ségot, praised, very well deserved, by the director, who outlined the process of getting to the final film.

“I had filmed 25 hours (in 6 years, ed.) and had started to assemble scenes… when I showed it to Véronique. She said “what the hell is that?”. She pointed to the fact that I had no rhythm skills, I am far too fast when I put things together”. Véronique Lagoarde - Ségot: “It was a beautiful gift, she was so pure, I had first of all to respect her. And to find the rhythm”.



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Mindaugas Survila: The Ancient Woods

Written 17-11-2017 09:15:44 by Tue Steen Mller

Mindaugas Survila: The Ancient Woods

Thursday was a beautiful evening for the Lithuanian director Mindaugas Survila, who celebrated his world premiere at IDFA with a full hall in the Munt Cinema 9. He was there with his wife, as was the editor Danielius Kokanauskis, who also worked with Survila on his first documentary “Field of Magic” (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/768/). An editor in strong demand by Lithuanian directors, but difficult to get hold of as he is working permanently for Sergei Loznitsa, who is almost constantly in production.

This second film of Survila, “The Ancient Woods”, could also easily have included the word magic. Or maybe better magnificent as the experience was for the viewer with this visit to some woods of Lithuania, that are still full of nature's wonders. There is no narration in the film - contrary to what is normal in nature films - the director, as he said, does not want to point at what we as viewers should see and think. 



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IDFA 2017 Opening

Written 16-11-2017 08:41:25 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA 2017 Opening

It was a brilliant IDFA opening night yesterday at the amazing Royal Theater Carré in Amsterdam. Film and tribute to Ally Derks, who has stepped down from her post as director of IDFA that she co-founded 30 years ago. The hall was full of people, who was more than pleased to join a standing ovation to her after a beautiful speech by Derk Sauer, chairman of the Board of IDFA, who characterised Derks as we know her, energetic, always on the side of the directors, the makers, and not that fond of all the administration and meetings, that follows when a festival has reached the size that has IDFA: 280.000 tickets sold last year! Before the speech to Ally Derks, who received a medal from the royal family, there were acrobats on stage and afterwards the new artistic director, Barbare Visser, introduced the programme of this year highlighting the program section “Visual Voice” which is dedicated to Ally Derks, a whole day at De Balie with the presence of documentary masters, who have grown up with the festival…. and then the opening film, Amal by Mohammed Siam, fine choice for a more than fine film, touching, more about that later.

www.idfa.nl 


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The European Documentary Magazine/ 2

Written 14-11-2017 12:32:03 by Tue Steen Mller

The European Documentary Magazine/ 2

The second print edition of the documentary magazine, MODERN TIMES REVIEW, that took over when DOX was stopped by its publisher EDN (European Documentary Network), is out. It was in the festival bags at DOK Leipzig and it will be at IDFA as will the editor, Norwegian Truls Lie, chapeau for him and his work. 24 pages, lots of reviews, features, opinions – it took me hours to read it all, very good quality.

The magazine says that it deals with ”… keywords could be conflicts, peace work, surveillance, control societies, climate. Ecology, ethics and philosophy…”

Over two pages three of the competition films at IDFA are reviewed: Jessica Gorter’s ”The Red Soul” (PHOTO) (the Stalin cult today and before), Mila Turajlic’s personal ”The Other Side of Everything” from Serbia today and before, and Håvard Bustnes visit to Greece, ”The Golden Dawn Girls”. Watch the films and read the reviews afterwards to see if you agree. There is also a mini interview with IDFA’s artistic director Barbara Visser, who says that IDFA is there ”to promote the cinematic documentary… the cinematic experience is something that many  filmmakers aspire to, and for good reasons: one works on film to create a memorable experience, not just to transfer information”. Agree, but don’t underestimate the information side. Another question to her was ”what do you think about the term ”movies that matter”. Answer: ”All good movies matter”. YES, and let’s get rid of that kind of meaningless slogans!

Take a subscription to the magazine and read about the new films and dig into the archive:

”A yearly subscription gives you the spring and fall issues of Modern Times Review, full access to all (soon 1000 articles from the last 20 years) online articles, and the monthly documentary screenings.”

www.moderntimes.review 


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Masters at IDFA

Written 13-11-2017 16:33:29 by Tue Steen Mller

Masters at IDFA

Not all films can go to the competitive sections, of course not, so festivals arrange strands like Panorama and Masters, at IDFA both are there, with 32 titles in the first and 29 in the latter, where also older films are brought into the spotlight.

As a visitor for five days I know it is impossible to watch all the films, which are listed in the masters section. Luckily there are several that I have already seen and that we have written about on this site, and luckily there are films that we can take a look at later in the long dark winter nights coming up in our part of the world…

This is really gonna be a slate of name-dropping: Malek Bensmail tells the story behind Pontecorvo’s ”The Battle of Algier”, Andres Veiel has made a film on ”Beuys”, Romanian ”The Dead Nation”  by Radu Jude ”is a documentary-essay, which shows a stunning collection of photographs from a Romanian small town in the 1930's and 1940's. The soundtrack, composed mostly from excerpts taken from the diary of a Jewish doctor from the same era, shows us what the photographs do not: the rising of the anti-Semitism and eventually a harrowing depiction of the Romanian Holocaust, a topic which is not very talked about in the contemporary Romanian society.”

I am so much looking forward to seeing Agnès Varda’s ”Faces



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16 Classics and New Docs from the Arab World

Written 12-11-2017 16:34:21 by Tue Steen Mller

16 Classics and New Docs from the Arab World

… at the upcoming IDFA with the title ”Shifting Perspectives: The Arab World” with a clear intention: ”IDFA offers a counterbalance to Western stereotypes that ignore the complexity of the Arabic-speaking world and keep ‘the Arab’ at arm’s length, as ”the other””.

If you want to see this program, which is excellent, you should be in Amsterdam November 17-19, where the films are screened followed in many cases by discussions.

Among the classics are two films by late Syrian documentary master Omar Amiralay, ”A Flood in Baath Country” and ”The Misfortunes of Some”. I met the gentle director when in Damascus for the Dox Box festival, that was organised by Diana El Jeiroudi and Orwa Nyrabia. Here is a text-link written for the opening of the fourth edition of the festival in March 2011 – Amarilay passed away in February that same year: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1492/

Several of the films have been reviewed on this site:



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Jury at Listapad Minsk Festival Protests

Written 11-11-2017 20:42:02 by Tue Steen Mller

Jury at Listapad Minsk Festival Protests

… like many other festivals have done holding up a sign saying ”Free Oleg Sentsov”, the Ukrainian filmmaker who was arrested by the Russian authorities in March 2014 in Crimea and sentenced to 20 years in jail on suspicion of “plotting terrorist acts”.

The Belarussian media did not want to publish the photo showing the protest, this is how it looked like – www.filmkommentaren.dk


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