Written 25-07-2014 14:28:39 by Tue Steen Müller
At the same time as Sarajevo has its festival with a documentary competition programme, the Prizren, Kosovo based DokuFest takes place, August 16-24 with quite an extensive selection – quote from press release, ” Culled from a record number of nearly 2.400 submissions, the festival will showcase a fine selection of 237 films from 56 countries across 6 competitive sections and more than a dozen specially curated programs.”
That the festival aims at a wider audience is obvious, it opens with ”Everyday Rebellion” by the Arash brothers from Austria and closes with the Oscar winner ”Twenty Feet from Stardom”. There is a focus in USA with classics shown as ”Hoop Dreams” by Steve James and ”Hearts and Minds” by Peter Davis. There is tribute to Michael Glawogger and ” films about music, technology, and recent conflicts in Middle East, environmental issues and human rights are all part of the program..”.
The festival is super-professionally presented, documentaries all over, long and short, there are new films like James work on the critic Roger Ebert, “Life itself” and “Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait” by Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan.
Let me give the floor to the charismaric festival director: “This year DokuFest is full with films that show us that there is no other art form capable of moving us to tears, bringing us joy, taking us to places of horror and making us stand and want to change the world we’re living in, all at the same time.” said Veton Nurkollari, Artistic Director of DokuFest. “From the work of emerging filmmakers to the masters of the craft, and from filmmakers who are first timers to the ones who are returning, we are delighted to present an outstanding selection of films for this year’s edition.”
Written 25-07-2014 10:27:38 by Tue Steen Müller
The competition programme at the upcoming film festival in Sarajevo (August 15-23) has been announced. Nicely put in categories there are 5 world premieres, 5 international premieres, 5 regional premieres and 4 B&H (Bosnia Herzegovina) premieres. All together 19 films – and as a viewer I don’t care about this categorisation, which is pure promotion – from what I can see the selection is competently selected by Rada Sesic, who writes the following words (a quote) on the site of the festival:
“A decade of transition in which many countries faced with several difficulties has passed. After the new political systems, and somewhere even completely new states in the region were established, the film has become more than a mere cultural matter. It has become a sophisticated way of expressing identity of a nation and creating a recognizable voice that echoes as far as abroad. On film one often reflects and examines political reality and attempts of establishing dialogue and solving mutual conflicts. In that, documentaries are particularly important…”
I am happy to see the great “Mitch” by Damir Cucic and Misel Skoric as well as “Uncle Tony, three fools and the Secret Service” (photo) by Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova in the programme. Both of them raised problems in their respective countries, the latter with rude verbal attacks on the makers of a fine, warm film. Another controversial film is “Judgement in Hungary” by Eszter Hajdu, a film that I have on my “must see” list. “Everyday Rebellion” by the Arash Brothers is there and so is Croatian Tatjana Bozic “selfie-documentary” “Happily Ever After”.
And then there is a gala screening out of competition of “My Craft” by Serbian Mladen Maticevic. I know the direcvtor’s previous work and is more than curious…
Written 23-07-2014 08:30:40 by Tue Steen Müller
There are no users of the library in the provincial town in Georgia. But there is quite a number, around 20, of employed librarians and administrative people. Who do a little or nothing at all. They sit, they move along the bookshelves, they browse the newspapers and magazines, they talk to each other about food, they knit, small things surrounded by literature, that nobody apparently wants... All women, well there is one man who uses the library, he is reading a newspaper, and in the group photo that the director lines up in the beginning of the film, there is man in the back. Some of the women have a desk, one has been moved away from her desk, she sits in the corridor, looks at some magazines and dreams of going to another country to meet a man. Or she argues with the others and tells them that they should all go on strike as their salaries are too low! As a viewer (and as a librarian educated 1972 when people read books...) you think that it might be more obvious to cut down in the staff... The women are single, this is their world, their lives are there, you imagine, this is where they go to have a good time. To pass the time.
Ana Tsimintia has made a fine film. She has an eye for people and situations and she knows the place. She knows how to wait for moments to come, her camera reads faces. And she knows the place: Her mother works there and she - Ana - has come there since she was a child. Private photos in the beginning of the film give this information.
It is the first feature duration documentary of the director. She demonstrates an impressive sense for rythm and montage, music comes in a natural way, dancing feet to national music take the viewer to what must be another floor of the building, there are great wordless sequences... it's all very promising and this film must have a long festival life waiting for it. The Georgian National film Centre and Finnish YLE (bravo!) have supported the obvious talent, who is now working on a project called Pioneers, presented at Caucadoc (see below) about children, who are attending activities at the Pioneers Palace. The director did that when a child... ”I will never forgive my mother that she sent me”, she writes in the exposé!
Georgia, 54 mins., 2014
Written 22-07-2014 07:26:41 by Tue Steen Müller
For those of you who want to know more about Caucasian documentaries, go to the website below, the one of Caucadoc, where you can find around 40 films described with all necessary information and trailers to watch.
People from Russia and from former Soviet republics do often use the word “hero”, when they describe characters in their films and film projects. I tend to correct them to say characters or protagonists, whereas the word hero should be used when it is appropiate. For me Anna Dziapshipa is a hero or maybe better a star, not only because she has invited me to Georgia several times... but because she has been the organising force behind workshops, training programmes, the above mentioned online catalogue of Caucasian documentaries and close colleague of Salomé Jashi on “Bakhmaro”.
Now she is preparing her first film as a director. The working title is “Stories from the Family Albums” and here is the description of the film that she sent to me:
“Several months ago my friend showed me footage from his family archive. We were watching the material and he was telling me his childhood story. Gradually, I had a feeling his story became mine; it felt like collective Déjà vu. At some point, I realised we share the same past living in Soviet state that suddenly collapsed and growing up in an Independent country which had several wars in last 20 years. Actually it was a visual of last Generation born in USSR. I was watching his family archive chronologically and vividly felt influences, but could not understand did country history influenced family lives or was it vice versa? For the first time I was thinking of a family as a microcosm of the country and home video as a most powerful memory engine. Unlike official archive family camera chooses details with unconditional love and attention, during a demonstration it depicted a child with a flag – son of cameraman and his wife, she seems nervous, very close shot - her eyes, you know exactly which year is that, what she expects, what is the future. We all know, we share the same feelings and memories while watching others.”
Anna Dziapshipa is a brilliant photographer as those who are FB friend with her have evidenced and if you want more, go to her website, link below.
Written 21-07-2014 14:11:41 by Tue Steen Müller
Morning atmosphere. Sitting on the balcony outside the restaurant room of Hotel Pirosmani (for those who don’t recognise the name of the painter, link below), fresh air, 8am. It’s already hot so a bottle of mineral water is within reach. The square outside is like a stage that will slowly be occupied by the inhabitants of this small town in Eastern Georgia, Sighnaghi, which has been an object for modernization towards attracting tourism. And tourists come during the day.
Old people are the first to enter the stage walking with a stick and/or placing themselves on a chair in the shade chatting and waving good morning to newcomers. Stray dogs find a place outside the sun as well, taking some steps once in a while. A green old car comes to the hotel with bread from the baker, a woman carries newspapers and magazines to be sold at the other corner of the square. I ask one of the filmmakers, who are up for breakfast if the cigarette shop is open. No, he laughs, you are in Georgia, that is too early. A nanny strolls with a baby trolley, local buses come with people who go to work in the buildings around the square, including the monster of a new building for the municipality. It’s all calm and nice.
We enter the conference room and Salomé Jashi introduces the ”I am a character” exercise. 40 minutes are given to the filmmakers to write their speech which is delivered in a plenary session. It works quite well, you see who can ”talk visually” and who can interpret how they see one of their characters. It’s fun and the young filmmakers are trained in standing in front of their colleagues, which is not that easy for several of them.
Nino Orjonikidze and I take over to present what to put in a project one-pager – the next exercise for the participants, who have some hours to bring down their many pages to one. The one-pager of ”Bakhmaro” is shown as a good example, as well as the one of ”The English Teacher”. From there to watching the trailer of ”Bakhmaro” (photo) and ”The English Teacher”, both of them from my point of view very professional and inviting. Finally director Shorena Tevzadze and producer Nikoloz Gogochuri generously show their trailers (one of them more a research scene) to discuss with the colleagues what works and how to proceed.
The rooms are full of working people and very often, you hear ”Pirosmani is Online” = the internet connection of the hotel that falls out, and comes back again.
Written 20-07-2014 16:54:42 by Tue Steen Müller
Below there is a post explaining what is Caucadoc. And here are some words about the workshop which is at its second day out of four. On the photo you can see that the atmosphere has the playfulness that is required when you talk with filmmakers about their work. 9 projects have been selected to take part – 3 Armenian, 4 from Azerbjadan and 2 from Georgia – and the tutors are
Armenian Vardan Hovhannisyan, a well known character in the international documentary environment, where he as director had his breakthrough with ”A Story of People in War and Peace” referring to the Nagorno-Karabagh war. He is the founder of Bars Media, set up in 1993.
And Marina Razbezhkina, director and founder of the School of Documentary Film and Documentary Theatre, the very welcomed alternative to the state film school VGIK. Razbezhkina’s ”Optical Axis” was nominated as one of the 10 best films in 2013 by filmkommentaren.
And Gideon Koppel, whose masterpiece ” Sleep Furiously” (nominated as one of the best films in 2009 by filmkommentaren) was shown last night, followed by a masterclass session this morning.
And Nino Orjonikidze whose ”The English Teacher”, directed together with Vano Arsenishvili, won the ”Focus on Caucasus” award at the Cinedoc Tbilisi in 2013. And Salomé Jashi with the unique ”Bakhmaro”. And me.
Photo: Yes, there are many ”selfie” documentaries made these years, Marina Razbezhkina and I agreed upon and took a photo, an action documented by Vardan Hovhannisyan and by Nikoloz Gogochuri, producer of one the talented projects at the workshop.
Written 20-07-2014 16:06:03 by Tue Steen Müller
It is the fourth time that I am in Georgia and I love it. This time I am not in the capital Tbilisi but in Sighnaghi in the Kakheti region in Eastern Georgia. A four day Project Development Course is taking place in the Pirosmani Hotel, I am one of the tutors invited by Anna Dziapshipa and Salomé Jashi, producer and director of the wonderful documentary “Bakhmaro”, and the organizers on behalf of Caucadoc and their company Sakdoc.
Caucadoc is a very active initiative as you can read from the following quote from its website:
CAUCADOC is a project run by Czech NGO People in Need (PIN) and partner organizations from the South Caucasus: Sakdoc Film and Media Initiatives Center (former Internews Media Support NGO). CAUCADOC supports documentary filmmaking in the South Caucasus, making use of PIN´s experience organizing the world´s largest human rights documentary film festival One World.
CAUCADOC includes residential workshops dedicated to the development of creative documentary films from the South Caucasus, a series of master classes and lectures at partnering festivals Golden Apricot IFF, Batumi Art House FF and Tbilisi IFF, and a series of debates focusing on key issues related to audiovisual industry in the region. CAUCADOC also supports local initiatives in organizing screenings and follow up debates throughout the region, as well as the use of documentary films at schools.
CAUCADOC is funded by the European Union through the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme, and by Czech Development Agency. CAUCADOC runs in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
Written 17-07-2014 18:57:08 by Tue Steen Müller
... of the Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival, running now and until July 27, initiated and run by film director, visual artist, politician and showman, Mark Soosaar, whose mark is still very strong on a festival with a huge number of films, competitions, out-of-competition screenings, from all over the world.
... including, I have mentioned this before as an example for other festivals to follow, ”a competition on air of Estonian Television... based on nation-wide televoting of the TV-audience”. There are five titles in this category and there are nominations (awards to be decided by the international jury) for three films ”for the important social message and the best artistic achievement” being Alina Rudnitskay’s ”Blood”, Niewiera and Rosolowski’s ”Domino Effect” and ”Ramin” by Audrius Stonys.
In another category, called ”Portraits of Neigbours” you find Ivars Zviedris and Inese Klava’s ”Documentarian”, in ”Survival of Indigenous Peoples” ”Abu Haraz” by Polish Maciej Drygas, and in ”Docs for kids” there are fine works like ”Joanna” by Aneta Kopacz, ”The Wild Years” by Ventura Durall and ”Happiness” by Thomas Balmés.
Take a look at the website, impressive it is with its list of films. There is a true international perspective.
I was in Pärnu twice for the festival and I can assure you that the atmosphere, the discussions and the hospitality is different from the main stream documentary festivals I know.
Written 15-07-2014 15:39:11 by Tue Steen Müller
From tomorrow and until end of September the New Museum in New York will have ”a major exhibition of contemporary art from and about the Arab world, entitled ”Here and Elsewhere”.
Palestinian multi-artist Khaled Jarrar based in Ramallah – we have written about his excellent documentary ”Infiltrators” on this site several times – was supposed to go but was denied to travel. This is a quote from +972 (link below to whole article):
“Khaled Jarrar… was supposed to be in New York by now… but Israel isn’t letting him go. Jarrar arrived at the Allenby border crossing at 3:00 p.m. yesterday. Rather than cross into Jordan, as he has done many times over the last few years, he was told he could not exit due to “an intelligence order.” After 10 hours spent waiting, he returned home at around 1 a.m. today…”
And quotes from Khaled Jarrar himself: “After a very long wait and without understanding what was happening, I was informed that there are “security reasons” that will prevent me from traveling until the 1st of August. For now, that means that I missed my morning flight from Amman to New York, that I will miss the opening of the show at the New Museum, and that I will miss my ‘artist talk’ with Lamia Joreige and Charif Kiwan, with Natalie Bell, that was supposed to happen on the 16th of July. Yesterday was the longest day of my life and a day of humiliation. I felt real racism on the part of the security at Allenby Bridge. When this one soldier was talking to his superior officer, I understood he called me “zevel” ["garbage," in Hebrew -NY]. I shouted at him that I was no “zevel” and he was impolite to call me that. No one listened to me, like I did not even exist.”
To call it a humiliation is a total understatement!
Written 15-07-2014 14:05:10 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Jeg kan ikke blive færdig med ”Heidi”, hverken med Skjødt Jensens film eller med teaterstykket, den skildrer, eller med historien i det teaterstykke. Og slet ikke med Sara Hjorth Ditlevsens spil som Heidi. Hun er bare Heidi. Hendes pinefuldt ydmygede nøgne bagdel er Heidis, hendes så klodset berørte nøgne bryster er Heidis. Det er det, filmen skildrer. Det her gør ondt, fordi selve uskylden i skuespillerens lydefrit ærlige fremstilling bliver krænket – det er hvad det hele handler om – den uskyld, som kunne redde verden.
Jeg kan godt forstå Olaf Højgaard, når han tidligt i filmen – og vel i teateret – henvender sig direkte til publikum: ”… jeg kan ikke spille den rolle”. Han skal forsvare en rolle, som ikke kan forsvares, fordi han ikke er Simon Spies, i virkeligheden ikke kan forestille sig ham. Det skildrer filmen. Simon Spies er uforståelig, Højgaards spil gør ondt, fordi selve brutaliteten i skuespillerens lydefri analyserende fremstilling dominerer scenen (på alle planer) – det er hvad det også handler om – den brutalitet, som behersker verden.
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