Dixie Land Wins in Odessa

Written 28-07-2017 10:55:26 by Tue Steen Müller

Had to bring this red-carpet-photo of producer Ilona Bicevska with protagonist Polina with the most amazing hat, and her parents, who are also in the film, the winning film, Dixie Land, Best Ukranian film, at the Odessa International Film Festival some days ago.

A well deserved award to those on the photo, and to the makers, Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko.

I attended the Ukranian premiere in Kiev at the festival DocuDays earlier this year and wrote:

…The film about jazz music performed by kids in a band in Kherson Ukraine, led by their old teacher, who founded the band just after WW2, picking up homeless children to give them the chance to develop their skills, gave them a life, simply - is a warm, so well made - Bondarchuk has indeed a documentary-eye - interpretation of a happy childhood, where kids have a good time developing their creative skills. As it is written in the catalogue: We all live once in Dixie Land – the country where politics, money and death do not exist at all…

The film will late August be at the MakeDox Festival in Skopje, Macedonia – and hopefully at many other festivals to come.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance: Hybrid Films

Written 27-07-2017 17:57:56 by Tue Steen Müller

Look at this list of films presented by DocAlliance:

Life in Denmark (Jørgen Leth)

Cooking History (Peter Kerekes)

Blind Loves (Juraj Lehotský)

Alda (Viera Čakányová)

Ex Press (Jet Leyco)

The Wolf from Royal Wineyard Street (Jan Němec)

The Perfect Human (Jørgen Leth)

Love from Above (Petr Marek)

I can warmly recommend you to take a film historical look at the two films by Jørgen Leth, “Life in Denmark” (1972) and “The Perfect Human” (1967), both of them have been inspiring new generations of filmmakers in Denmark, the latter being the starting point for the film he made with Lars von Trier, “Five Obstructions” (2003). Jørgen Leth celebrated his 80year birthday this year, he is still going strong, working on a biographical film, working title “I Walk”.

“Blind Loves” (2008) by Juraj Lehotsky with Marko Skop as the producer was one of my favourites, when I was working with the training program Ex Oriente being able to see how the director found solutions that quite rightly can be called hybrid. As can for sure another masterpiece, “Cooking History” (photo) (2009) by Peter Kerekes.

The rest of the package I have not seen – yet. Here is the intro made by the DocAlliance, that again shows generosity and sense of artistic quality:

“Is it possible for a documentary film to capture reality in a way that is undistorted? Is it possible to truly see reality reflected in a documentary film? Where is the boundary between documentary and fiction? In our selection focused on hybrid films, we examine the borders of fictional worlds.”

Available until August 6.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Khaled Jarrar: Displaced in Heaven

Written 25-07-2017 14:53:43 by Tue Steen Müller

Found this on FB the other day, posted by Palestinian multi-artist Khaled Jarrar: Happy to announce that the film that I'm working on since two years 'Displaced in Heaven' is nominated to The Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

And I am happy to say that I have read the script of Palestinian Jarrar, whose work as an artist and filmmaker I have been trying to follow since I met him in 2011 at the Storydoc workshop in Greece. Trying to… not easy, since his activist work has brought him to galleries and exhibitions and streets in for example Paris. His film “Infiltrators” has gone all over the world. I wrote these words about it on this site: …a film that with its non-aggressive approach gives the viewer a unique account of the climbers, big and small, old and young, who go to Jerusalem illegally. To work first of all. It uses a non-linear structure, it has many angles and stylistical elements that wonderfully surprise you as a viewer, who is used to strong films in all genres, aggressive against the Israeli occupation. You have sometimes a clear laugh when you see the different ways of climbing, sometimes you laugh because of the absurdity, and sometimes you are moved and feel angry: this can not be true, this is not civilisation 2012! But it is.”

Under the title “A Dinner that Never Came” Khaled Jarrar has written a kind of background treatment for the film “Displaced in Heaven”. It is long time ago a story has moved me so much. Here is a long quote and a link to where you can be acquainted with it:

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Layla Abyad: Letters to S.

Written 24-07-2017 15:18:36 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s a very fine choice of style, Syrian Layla Abyad has made for her short film made in Switzerland. It works with the personal essay form, it gives an intense atmosphere, her English voice and the shift from English to Arabic is perfect, and the image never ”kills” the text, vive versa. It gives you a glimpse of what it means to be in exile in a Western European country communicating with someone dear to you back home – Sama is online from Damascus, the young woman who is talking and who you never see gives ”advice” on how to survive here in Switzerland, where a demonstration lasts one hour without any conflicts and where you can film it all, if you wish. On her way round in the country in the middle of Europe she attends a meeting with Swiss citizens, who are afraid of muslims…

”Where do I start to explain to this nice, polite old man that I have statistically more odds and reasons to fear his vote’s support for the arms industry than he has to fear the underground fanatics already killing way more Syrians than Swiss”, a quote from the very well composed commentary in a film, that ends up with words to Sama in Damascus on what to do when ”they” interrogate her and if torture is to be used…

On the production background: …5 well-known filmmakers from Syria, Palestine, Israel, Ukraine and Russia were invited to Winterthur for 5 weeks. Together with Swiss film students, they realised a short documentary about the theme „Exile“. The result is a documentary with 5 episodes and 5 personal, touching, yet provocative views of Switzerland.

Switzerland, Syria, 11 mins., 2015


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Joshua Oppenheimer

Written 23-07-2017 05:15:58 by Tue Steen Müller

…there's never been a deeper or more diverse time for documentary cinema… That’s how IndieWire introduces its article about the 25 documentaries four critics have found the best in the still young 21st century. And it is an impressive list of films that are to be found. Mostly American and English language films. That can be discussed of course, but what is indisputable – the two films of Joshua Oppenheimer are there, “The Look of Silence” as number 4, “The Act of Killing” as number 1.

Which leads me to turn to the upcoming Sarajevo Film Festival (starts August 11), where “A Tribute to Joshua Oppenheimer” is part of the programme with a masterclass with the director, a so-called career interview that I have been asked to lead. With great pleasure! On the website of the festival Oppenheimer’s two films are presented like this:

Born in 1974, USA, two-time Oscar® nominee Joshua Oppenheimer’s debut feature film, THE ACT OF KILLING (2014 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary), was named Film of the Year in the 2013 by the Guardian and the Sight and Sound Film Poll, and won 72 international awards, including a European Film Award, a BAFTA, an Asia Pacific Screen Award, a Berlinale Audience Award, and the Guardian Film Award for Best Film.

His second film, THE LOOK OF SILENCE (2016 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary), premiered at the 71st Venice Film Festival, where it won five awards, including the Grand Jury Prize, the international critics award (Prix FIPRESCI) and the European film critics award (FEDEORA Prize). Since then, THE LOOK OF SILENCE has received 72 international awards, including an Independent Spirit Award, an IDA Award for Best Documentary, a Gotham Award for Best Documentary, and three Cinema Eye Honors, including Best Film and Best Director.

I wonder how many people have seen the two films. Does he know that, I will ask him in Sarajevo…

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH


Written 22-07-2017 12:26:20 by Allan Berg Nielsen


The earth sign, the water sign, the human being sign - this is the promise land. This document, focusing on Israel and its struggle (fight) for sovereignty and identity continues Marker's line of political testimonies. A meditative commentary on how a new state is built hovers over elusive impressionist images, hiding opportunities to make discoveries, which, albeit short-lived, are penetrating the limits of illusion. A literary essay combines with a documentary image to make a hypnotic film, which was awarded Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival (DOCAlliance synopsis)

Description d’un combat var i 1960 en etableret naiv (vrai naive) opdateret og aktuel dokumentarfilm om Israel, i dag er det et tidsdokument for mig i en eftertid, i en ny aktualitet hvor optimismen er afløst af mistro. Mistro til alt og alle. Og vigtigst for mig et kunstnerisk, et filmhistorisk dokument i Chris Markers samlede værk, som i sin filmessayskrivning peger helt frem til i dag: sådan er den opmærksomme, tænkende filmskrift bundet i sin skribent til al tid, og filmen er derved i sin erkendelses kerne tidløs.

Filmens emne er staten og samfundet og folket Israel tilbageskuende 15 år, men fæstnet i 1960’er nuet. Temaerne er at rejse, at være turist, at være observerende dokumentarfilm fotograf at se, at tænke over det at rejse, tænke over det at se og tænke over det at tænke. Og jeg slipper ikke historien, for gør jeg det blot et øjeblik, falder den sindrige filmkonstruktion sammen for mig og jeg tror det bare er en gammel folkeoplysende rejsefilm og jeg forstår ikke det jeg ser og hører, opdager ikke essayet. Mærker ikke dybden, klogskaben, skønheden.

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Sarajevo Documentary Competition

Written 19-07-2017 11:26:14 by Tue Steen Müller

14 films, “important stories, new voices, relevant debates”, that is how Rada Sesic, the programmer, presents the documentary competition at the upcoming Sarajevo Film Festival, August 11-18. New films from the region, 4 of them world premieres.

I have seen 4 of them, to recommend with pleasure, the Arash Brothers “Kinders”, “Ultra” by Hungarian Balazs Simonyi (…Year after year, runners from around the world participate in one of the most prestigious and challenging of races, the Spartathlon – 246km from Athens to Sparta in under 36 hours… a film that is much more than a sport film), the wonderful ”Planeta Petrila” (PHOTO) by Andrei Dascalescu that I reviewed on this site, here is a clip ” a film about creativity and… a beautiful homage to a dangerous industry and those who worked there or ”died for the coal”, Macedonian Ilija Cvetkovski’s sweet ”Avec l’amour”, written together with Atanas Georgiev about the teacher and his passion for cars.

For the rest – because I have heard about them – I look forward to seeing the Georgian ”City of the Sun” by Rati Oneli, not to forget ”In Praise of Nothing” by Boris Mitic, who has talked about the film for years. I have high expectations to what this talented director comes up with.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Julia Bobkova: The Last Waltz

Written 18-07-2017 20:48:12 by Tue Steen Müller

It was shown at the Moscow International Film Festival in the international competition for documentaries, this fascinating film about Oleg Karavaichuk, composer and piano player from St. Petersburg, in which city I – during the years of visit to the M2M (Message to Man) – heard again and again producers wishing to make a film with/about the charismatic musical genius, as he is called by many. Totally understandable it is when you watch this work finished and released after his death in 2016, 88 years old.

Because he is a great musician, he is wonderful to look at, the way he walks, the way he talks, the way he dresses with a beret on his head, hair coming out anyway, his piano playing, close-ups on his hands almost smashing the piano keyboard, his behaviour when he performs at a concert recordings on a big screen standing with his back to the audience in a corner…His compositions.

A showman, yes, an akward one, in a film that primarily is built up

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH


Written 17-07-2017 16:01:31 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Hov, jeg ser at DOCAlliances retrospektive Chris Marker serie stadigvæk kører på deres streamingtjeneste. Jeg havde ellers belavet mig på at skrive om den post festum nu længe efter den begyndte og vi skrev om den her på Filmkommentaren, Tue Steen Müller en introduktion og jeg om en enkelt af filmene, hvorefter jeg gik i stå. Til nu midt i sommerferien.

For det var med forsigtig tøven jeg nærmede mig Chris Marker og hans film. Han er for mig en myte, den mand som skaffede råfilm til optagelserne i Chile og bagefter fik dem smuglet ud og Sara Thelle fortalte mig engang jeg besøgte hende i Paris, at den nu gamle sky mand handlede på hendes marked og boede der i nærheden med sin kat, som han sendte et portræt af, når en redaktør skulle bruge et af ham, en kat hvis katteliv i lejligheden han lavede film om, film han lagde ud på YouTube, film som jeg så og fascineredes af på grund af myten og auraen og så dette særlige autoritative greb, som jeg mærker hos visse instruktører, og det ikke på grund af myten. Det er jeg sikker på; og Sara Thelle forærede mig nyrestaurerede dvd udgaver af andre, længere og mere ambitiøse film som jeg så, men ikke forstod ret meget af, men blev optaget af nu osgså på grund af myten om disse berømte værker selvfølgelig, men alligevel især på grund af deres konsekvent sikre og gennemarbejdede storhed. Jeg var klar over, der var mesterværker iblandt.

Og så blev Tue Steen Müller og jeg som nævnt for nogen tid siden opmærksomme på DOCAlliances retrospektive Chris Marker serie og jeg tog mig på at at se de film.

Denne og de forhåbentlig følgende blogindlæg er små og spredte notater fra disse gennemsyn, blot en slags kvittering jeg bestemt er forpligtet på. For det var mere omvæltende i mig end det vil lykkes mig endog bare at antyde i det følgende som nu kommer, altså alligevel ikke post festum. Og det er godt, ferietid kan være frigjort tid, tid til at se og læse om det som ikke nåedes aktuelt. Ferietid er fordybelsesforsøgets langsomme tid, reprisens tid, gentagelsens tid. Det kan nås endnu, og det kan kun anbefales, her er linket til streamingen: 

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Web

Ai Weiwei: Human Flow

Written 15-07-2017 21:41:38 by Tue Steen Müller

Realscreen, the trade magazine, revealed yesterday information about some of the distribution aspects of the upcoming film by Ai WeiWei, ”Human Flow”, that I am sure I am not the only one who is looking forward to see. I have picked some lines from the article: 

”Filmed over more than a year and shot in 23 countries, the doc aims to capture the scope of the global migrant crisis, which involves more than 65 million individuals searching for a better life after having been forcibly displaced due to war, famine and climate change…

The film will be distributed in the UK and Ireland by Altitude Films a deal struck by Lionsgate International on behalf of Participant Media and AC Films. Human Flow is produced by Weiwei, Chin-chin Yap, and Heino Deckert. Andy Cohen of AC Films and Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann are the executive producers. Amazon is holding the US rights.

The premiere of the film, that will have a duration of more than two hours, is not yet announced. When that is done, and we have seen the film, you can count on a follow-up on this site.

The chief editor of the film is Danish Niels Pagh Andersen.

On Youtube:

Ai Weiwei, in a one-minute visual, talks about his film.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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