Nadine Sahib: Mother of the Unborn

Written 27-11-2014 12:31:26 by Tue Steen Müller

I met her in Damascus during the DoxBox festival and later again in Cairo for a workshop, so I know how hard Nadine Sahib has been working to complete her film, that now (bravo!) is at idfa, in the First Appearance Competition. I am not there but will watch the film on the brilliant Docs for Sale Online.

Melanie Goodfellow made an interview for the idfa daily – I have picked some quotes, please go and read it all, link below:

… the film explores prejudices towards infertile women in Upper Egypt through the plight of Hanan, a childless woman living in an impoverished village in the region. “I was intrigued by the Egyptian ancient tradition of naming infertile women ‘Mother of the Unborn’, or ‘Um Ghayeb’ in Arabic," explains director Nadine Salib on the origin of the documentary. 

“I'd heard this term used a lot in Upper Egypt and decided to investigate the issue. These women are often stigmatised, even sometimes accused of bringing bad luck.” “I wanted to make a film about the Mother of the Unborn, but I didn't exactly know what it would be about. Deep in me, I wanted to meditate on why it was so important for the women in the region to have a baby and why the women in the region were so keen to carry on living in such a harsh environment.”

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mark Soosaar: Vabatahtlikud (Volunteers)

Written 27-11-2014 08:34:30 by Allan Berg Nielsen

I Danmarks Radios arkiv ligger en kopi af en dokumentarfilm fra 1919 med titlen ”Danish Volunteers” (betegnet ”Korps Westenholtz”), som Anton Kjædegård i 1972 opsporede hos et filmselskab i Ontario. Filmen er optaget af den danske fotograf Asbjørn Beck, der fulgte Kompagni Borgelin, et dansk frikorps, privat hær eller milits (knyttet til Korps Westenholtz, men nyere og under eget navn, Dansk-Baltisk Auxiliær Corps) på omkring 200 unge mænd, som under Richard Gustav Borgelins ledelse deltog på estisk side i kampene mod indtrængende russiske styrker under den estiske uafhængighedskrig 1918-20. Betydelige dele af denne film, altså Becks reportage fra fronten og fra bag fronten indgår i Mark Soosaars omhyggelige, speakbårne, roligt ordnede skildring af danske, svenske og finske frivilliges deltagelse i kampene og medvirken – måske lille af militært omfang, men betydelig som moralsk og politisk støtte – til den estiske uafhængighed og til oprettelsen af den estiske republik 2. februar 1920.

Filmen består af en række nye interviews med erindringer og kommentarer og af et sjældent arkivmateriale af film, stills, dagbøger og breve, et historisk tilbageblik, som nu i 2014 med ét kan siges at være alvorligt aktuelt: frivilliges deltagelse i militære konflikter i andre lande på politiske, religiøse og etiske grænsekrydsende grundlag.

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Categories: DVD, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Cinema Vérité Festival Tehran

Written 26-11-2014 14:13:04 by Tue Steen Müller

From November 30th till December 7th the DEFC (Documentary & Experimental Film Center) organizes the 8th edition of Cinema Vérité Iran International Documentary Film Festival.

There have previously been appeals for boycott of this festival, that of course is supported by the government, several have asked me whether they should let their film go there or not, my answer is yes, ”take a look at the programme of the festival” and I have listened to what EDN’s film consultant Ove Rishøj Jensen has said, he has been there and knows the people behind the festival.

And this year he and EDN (taken from EDN website) ”… are in collaboration organising the first edition of Cinema Verite DocPro. It is a three-day seminar focusing on the international documentary market. Taking place in the framework of the 8th Cinema Verite documentary film festival, Cinema Verite DocPro will offer Iranian filmmakers three days of seminar sessions, focusing on a variety of aspects connected to working with international documentary projects. Among the topics covered during the seminar are pitching of documentary projects, international financing possibilities, how to construct documentary narratives and project consultations…” The workshop runs December 4-6.

The festival has a fine programme – let me mention Oppenheimer’s ”The Look of Silence”, ”Deep Love” by Jan Matuszynski, ”The Man who Made Angels Fly” by Wiktoria Szymanska   , ”Two Ragin Grannies” by Hpåvard Bustness, ”A Diary of a Journey” by Piotr Stasik, ”National Gallery” by Frederick Wiseman, ”Five Broken Cameras” by Guy Davidi and Ema Burnat, ”Concerning Violence” (photo) by Göran Olsson, ”Happiness” by Thomas Balmes as well as there are retrospectives from Visions du Réel and a panorama of Japanese documentaries. Read more on the website, which is still a bit incomplete.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Camerimage Poland

Written 26-11-2014 10:03:36 by Tue Steen Müller

The 22nd edition of Camerimage in Poland, a festival that has its focus on cinemetography ended on the 22nd of November. The festival includes documentaries in its award-giving and distributes life-achievement awards as well. One was given to a well-known, world famous documentarian:

“It gives us great pleasure to announce that the recipient of this year's Camerimage Award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking will be Kim Longinotto (photo), one of the most acclaimed cinéma vérité filmmakers in the world, a true activist whose life's mission is to shed light on the problems of women in different parts of the globe, and to inspire people to seek the change within themselves first.”

In the documentary category of this year’s competition two films were awarded, to the cameraman/men, two from Russia and one from Colombia:

Golden Frog — Grand Prix: Blood

cin. Yura Gautsel, Sergei Maksimov

dir. Alina Rudnitskaya

Special Mention: Monte Adentro

cin. Mauricio Vidal

dir. Nicolás Macario Alonso

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Eszter Hajdu: Judgement in Hungary

Written 24-11-2014 17:52:21 by Tue Steen Müller

It's never too late to review an important documentary. I had for years known about "Judgement in Hungary", seen clips, some very rough cuts, always in doubt whether it would be possible to make a feature length documentary (primarily) located in a court room. I hesitated but a day during the Jihlava festival, at the videotheque, I watched it, I saw no more films on that day deeply impressedby what I saw. Hajdu and her team has succeeded to make a film, shot over several years, into a drama that will stay as an artistically formulated document over xenophobia in our times in a European country. A story about horrific attacks on an ethnic minority.

Content - taken from the One World Festival catalogue:

For three years, a film crew followed the trial of four members of a Hungarian criminal gang accused of a series of racially motivated murders of six Roma, including children. It took more than a year just to apprehend the culprits, and the case dragged on, mainly because of a lack of evidence and gross police misconduct. Thanks to the constant presence of cameras in the courtroom, director Eszter Hajdú succeeded in capturing the dramatic progress of the closely watched trial, which created a media frenzy. Will the trial conclude with a verdict that brings the survivors of three Roma families some measure of closure? Can they trust in the fairness of the Hungarian state?”

The verdict is given on Day 167 of the trial! For those who have not seen the film, I will not reveal what the judge states in this final scene. Watching the film you wonder, what will be the final result. What I can say is that the building of the film is unique. You get to know the 4 accused of killing six people, including one child, you see the relatives being questioned in the court room, and first of all you have a main character, the judge, who presides over it all like a conductor of an orchestra or like the director of a play on good and evil. He shouts at both parties, the accused and the witnesses, making them understand that they should behave according to his codex. The judge is ”a mental sadist”, one of the accused says! Sometimes it is like a performance of an absurd theatre piece followed by a constant sound of a typewriter/computer, where every word being said is put down. In and out the court room the accused are being led by guards with covered faces. In and out the stage. Step by step the drama is built. Accompanied by music here and there. Sentimental, no, but bringing the tough images of the crimes to the eyes of the viewer.

No wonder that this film has got so many awards and after its international premiere at idfa 2013 still travels.

Hungary, 2013, 108 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Amir Labaki on It’s All True

Written 24-11-2014 01:27:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Festival director and film critic Amir Labaki is in Amsterdam for IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) and is interviewed for the fine Daily News of the festival – an online press service of the festival, in general to be recommended, in this  case specifically to know why the high quality documentary festival has the name it has. Here is a small quote from the interview by Nick Cummingham:

”… And then there’s the festival name, inspired by Orson Welles’ unfinished ‘masterpiece’ about Rio. “Welles came to Brazil and tried to make his film, but he couldn’t finish it. The Americans called him back, cut his budget, took away the prints and he could never work on it again. When I was starting the festival two things happened.

In Berlin, I saw the documentary (also called It’s All True) about the Welles film and it was obvious that it was as important to Welles as Que Viva Mexico was to Eisenstein. And then Beatrice Welles, Orson’s daughter, came to Brazil in 1995 and I immediately thought of the festival title, to say thank you to Mr Welles because he came to Brazil to make a great film about my country – but also because it’s a great title for a festival…”

Indeed it is – the 20th edition takes place April 9-19 in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo – I was a jury member in 2002, pure pleasure, and the winner was ”August” by Avi Mograbi, a film that by no means has lost its actuality.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis

Written 22-11-2014 18:27:19 by Tue Steen Müller

This is how the ICP (International Center of Photography) introduces the exhibition: ”Genesis is the third long-term series on global issues by world-renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado (born Brazil, 1944), following Workers (1993) and Migrations (2000). The result of an eight-year worldwide survey, the exhibition draws together more than 200 spectacular black-and-white photographs of wildlife, landscapes, seascapes, and indigenous peoples—raising public awareness about the pressing issues of environment and climate change.”

Right they are in using superlatives. It is an outstanding presentation of a great photographer’s fascinated interpretation of nature and people. So full of love, the black and white photographs are. Of course there is a message: Look at what a beautiful world we have!

The film by Wenders, “The Salt of the Earth”, co-directed by the son of the photographer Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, gives a fine insight to the way Salgado works and what he thinks about his profession, try to watch that when it comes to a cinema near you, and if you visit New York, it is a must to go to the ICP.

I have taken a still photo from Wenders film to accompany this text – there are cp on all Salgado’s work – but google him and you will find the Genesis photos. An inspiration for all documentarians.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

On the Bowery

Written 21-11-2014 16:57:46 by Tue Steen Müller

I was there yesterday – on the bowery in New York. And of course remembered the 1956 docufiction classic by Lionel Rogosin. That carries the title “On the Bowery”. Back in the hotel I watched the trailer of the film, beautiful images, strong social document. You can get it from the distributor Milestones, and that is exactly what it is according to Martin Scorcese:

"A milestone in American cinema… On the Bowery is very special to me… Rogosin’s film is so true to my memories of that place and that time. He accomplished his goal, of portraying the lives of the people who wound up on the Bowery, as simply and honestly and compassionately as possible. It’s a rare achievement."

The changed Bowery has a great museum, New Museum, that right now hosts a colour- and joyful exhibition of the British artist Chris Ofili, to be strongly recommended for his sensual portraits of African women. His small “Afromuses 1995-2005”, 26 diptychs, watercolor and pencil on paper, are attractive and unpretentious, as are the huge paintings. The exhibition runs until end of January 2015.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokumania: Sume - Lyden af en revolution

Written 20-11-2014 14:21:13 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Op til det grønlandske valg torsdag den 28. november sender DR2 Dokumania allerede nu på tirsdag den 25. november 20:45 grønlænderen Inuk Silis Høeghs dokumentarfilm "Sume – lyden af en revolution”. Jeg skrev om filmen her på  Filmkommentaren 10. oktober og konkluderede blandt andet: "Den er en uomgængelig film, en uundværlig film, en forpligtelse som historisk overvejelse, som politisk historisk dokument, som musikhistorisk, som kulturhistorisk dokument, en politisk ideologisk pamflet, som vil blive stående sådan i filmhistorien..."

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Categories: TV, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Proposal to continue DOX Magazine in print

Written 20-11-2014 04:42:47 by Tue Steen Müller

All members of EDN received this mail yesterday before the General Assembly to be held at the General Assembly at idfa in Amsterdam. The proposal will be presented by PeÅ Holmquist:

Dear EDN member,
In relation with the General Assembly of Sunday, November 23d, we received one written proposal, to be discussed during the meeting in Amsterdam.
We''re forwarding the text of the proposal, as received by the EDN office.

Proposal to continue DOX Magazine in print

The three of us have expressed our strong disappointment with the decision to stop the printed version of the DOX Magazine. Many have shared our concern at losing an important forum for nurturing the documentary culture and the genre as an art form.

As Emma Davie has put it: If EDN focuses just on the business of documentary and not the culture behind it, it runs the risk of forgetting to feed the creativity which the market needs to thrive on. Films like "The Act of Killing" do well not because they have listened to a market but because they come from a passion, an enquiry into form, an awareness of a tradition behind it. This enquiry is fed so little in any magazine. DOX is unique for providing us with inspiration in this way. We need this as filmmakers to survive in this business as much as any strategies for dealing with dwindling tv sales...

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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