European Film Academy Shortlists Documentaries

Written 18-08-2017 12:11:30 by Tue Steen Müller

The selection system is a bit heavy and complicated: 10 festivals – including all those which are part of DocAlliance – suggest titles for a committee of documentary connaisseurs, who have chosen 15 films. These will be watched and voted on by members of EFA to end up with 5 nominations - and then the European Documentary 2017 will be announced in Berlin in December. Having said so – yes, there are many good films on the list, but I miss Miroslav Janek’s “Normal Autistic Film”, Audrius Stonys “Woman and the Glacier” and Pawel Lozinski’s “You Have No Idea How Much I Love You” – all films that cross borders, where most of the ones below are pretty run-of-the-mill in terms of storytelling. My favourite: Loznitsa’s “Austerlitz” (photo) but I can not vote…

Austerlitz | Director: Sergei Loznitsa | Producer: Sergei Loznitsa | Germany

Communion | D: Anna Zamecka | P: Zuzanna Krol, Anna Wydra, Izabela Lopuch, Hanka Kastelicova | Poland

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas | D: Joakim Demmer | P: Margarete Jangård, Heino Deckert, John Webster | Sweden, Germany, Finland

How to Meet a Mermaid | Director: Coco Schrijber | Producer: Frank van den Engel | Netherlands, Denmark

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DokuFest 2017 Awards

Written 17-08-2017 15:45:03 by Tue Steen Müller

Back from Sarajevo, now here comes important info that waited some days to be brought. Namely the information about who were the winners at the DokuFest in Prizren. I bring some of the categories with the jury motivations – always appreciate when festivals publish them. This is not that often I am afraid. But the great people down there in Kosovo do:


EL MAR LA MAR by Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki.

Jury: Carmen Gray, Cíntia Gli, Melody Gilbert, Rodolfo Castillo-Morales, Wood LIN.

Statement: With 16mm film, the filmmakers gaze into time and the desert landscape at the border between U.S. and Mexico. Signs of human life are barely visible, but the empty desert along with the soundscape serves as a vivid metaphor of everything invisible, yet influential, to our daily lives. The geographical, ideological and political aspects are also illuminated through the narrative structure as the journey unfolds. El Mar La Mar is a beautiful poem and a highly political statement in the contemporary context with sincerity.

The same jury gave the “Special Mention” to 69 MINUTES OF 86 DAYS by Egil Håskjold Larsen.

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Film Activists Save Kittens

Written 16-08-2017 13:54:57 by Tue Steen Müller

The wonderful film couple Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova, Bulgarians, who with their fine films “Uncle Tony, Three Fools and the Secret Serviceand “The Beast is Still Alive” have raised discussions and anger in their home country, run a company called Activist 38. The other day they demonstrated their activism in quite another field. This is what Mileva wrote on her FB wall:

When entering Sarajevo for the CineLink Industry Days we found these brothers. We've had to rescue them from underneath a massive lorry. The ginger one was ready to be flattened curled up right under the huge tire. We're supposed to talk about "Cat in the wall" here but what to do with these two?

We had a drink with the two yesterday. Mina Mileva told us how she survives as an animation artist in London, Vesela Kazakova lives in Sofia, is an actress, has performed on theatre and in films and of course in “The Beast…”.

But they are almost never in their homes travelling as they do to festivals and markets raising money for the next project – or saving animals… Bravo! Below links to reviews of their two films:

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Docu Rough Cut Boutique in Sarajevo

Written 16-08-2017 11:26:55 by Tue Steen Müller

First a brief intro for those who don’t know about the excellent Rough Cut Boutique initiative, that is a joint programme created by the Sarajevo Film Festival and the Balkan Documentary Center, focused on documentary films from the region of South East Europe and Caucasus, films in post-production. 5 chosen projects are offered tailor made coaching by editors and other documentary experts.

After a session in Sofia (where the Balkan Documentary Center is placed, run by Martichka Bozhilova) the Boutique, that worked for days in a room in Hotel Europe, led by Rada Sesic, presented the 5 projects to documentary interested people at the Sarajevo Film Festival, including me.

Sorry to say, I was not really impressed by the quality. The simple question you put to yourself, when you attend a pitching/presentation like this: Woiuld I like to see that film when finished? Do the films have cinematic quality, do they play with many layers…

One did, one stood out – ”Srbenka” by Nebosja Slijejcevic from

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Egil Håskjold Larsen: 69 minutter af 86 dage

Written 15-08-2017 11:40:46 by Tue Steen Müller

En lille stor pige på rejse. Månedens Dokumentar i august er den knugende ’69 Minutes of 86 Days’, der følger den tre-årige Lean og hendes families rejse fra en græsk flygtningelejr til Uppsala.

Umiddelbart er Lean som alle andre tre-årige børn: En legesyg lille pige, der driller og synger sange med sin onkel, går med ’Frost’-rygsæk og følger med sine forældre, hvor de end går hen. Samtidig er hun en meget observerende og reflekterende pige, der til trods for sin alder forstår imponerende meget af situationen. Selv om hun ikke kan skelne Tyskland fra Sverige, vil hun gerne lære at svømme, når de ankommer. Det var der mange, der ikke kunne, da de faldt ud af bådene, som hun selv beskriver det.

’69 Minutes of 86 Days’ er Månedens Dokumentar i Cinemateket i august 2017. Spilleperiode 17.-23. august.

Norge, 71 mins.

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Sarajevo FF: True Stories Market

Written 15-08-2017 11:04:35 by Tue Steen Müller

… was a public presentation of 9 stories by different organisations, which are Dealing with the Past. It took place yesterday at Hotel Europe, the centre for the Industry part of the Sarajevo Film Festival. The manager of the project Masa Markovic formulates “that the purpose is evident in its name. We believe that an open and honest discussion about our painful recent past is a prerequisite if we want to resolve the problems stemming from the wars in the former Yugoslavia that continue to be a burden on us…”

It would be wrong to say that it was a pleasure to attend the 90 minutes presentation – one horror story after the other – to an audience of – among others – filmmakers, who might be interested in turning the stories into films.

These are stories with many layers, said the moderator, Croatian

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Joshua Oppenheimer Masterclass

Written 13-08-2017 21:37:40 by Tue Steen Müller

One hour is too little time, Joshua Oppenheimer said to me, when we met to prepare the masterclass with him here in Sarajevo, where a tribute was given to him in connection with the festival’s Dealing With the Past theme and program, organised by Masa Markovic.

I was to be the moderator, the easiest job I have had for a long time, as Oppenheimer is such a brilliant speaker – and we got almost 2 hours for the class, that followed just after the screening of The Look of Silence, described as the companion piece to ”Act of Killing” that was shown the day before. How can a man, who has met his audience hundreds of times in the decade he has been making these Indonesian films, keep on being so committed and enthusiastic and respectful to his audience. Amazing!

He talked a lot about the gentle, sympathetic Adi (photo), the protagonist of The Look of Silence, the alter ego of Oppenheimer, and the way he was able to make the perpetrators talk about the killings they performed in 1965, including the one on Adi’s brother. The film is full of intimate, long silent scenes with the camera on the beautiful face of Adi, and for me – having seen the film several times – especially the scenes with Adi and his mother and father are emotionally so strong. The father who at the end does not know where he is without knowing that Adi is his son.

About lies, boasting, why Anwar suffers every night from what he has done – that he shows in ”Act of Killing” – and much much more from the intelligent Oppenheimer. Read all the words we have written on these two masterpieces here:

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Sarajevo FF – Friends Forever

Written 13-08-2017 20:53:59 by Tue Steen Müller

There we are in the middle of the street that leads to cinemas and Festival Square in Sarajevo on a quiet sunday afternoon. A couple is waving at us from the pavement opposite us. We meet, it is dear friend Rada Sesic and her husband John. It’s my birthday, she says, we have to make a photo. John takes the picture, it is Rada in the middle, Ellen my wife to the left and me. Congratulations!

Rada Sesic is here, there and everywhere during the festival. She is running, together with Martichka Bozhilova the Rough Cut sessions at the Hotel Europe and she has selected the documentary competition films, where she makes introductions and Q&A sessions. Semper ardens!

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Sarajevo Film Festival Opens With Kaurismäki

Written 12-08-2017 10:56:57 by Tue Steen Müller

Look at the photo from last night’s opening of the 23rd festival in Sarajevo. Surrounded by appartment buildings, a huge screen, a red carpet and how many spectators – thousands? – to watch Aki Kaurismäki’s ”On the Other Side of Hope”, the right choice for an opening film: It is an excellent piece of work by the Finnish auteur, it is about the most pressing issue in today’s Europe, how do we welcome refugees, who want to live in our countries – in a superb mix of humour and seriousness, and for someone like me from the North: this is also Finland as it used to be, flavoured by wonderful music performances. How lucky we northeners are to have original directors as Roy Andersson and Aki Kaurismäki. Enjoyed to be there with people smoking on our row, with a technical fault that gave a break, with a brilliant atmosphere. Open air screening. My wife and I were back at the hotel at midnight.

Before that – with good friend from Bolzano Georg Zeller and his girl friend Azra Frchko, raised in Sarajevo – we had meze at a restaurant facing the National Library, destroyed in 1992 and now restored to be the Town Hall of Sarajevo, a beauty, currently with an exhibition of paintings by local master Mersad Berber.

The bridge to the theme ”Dealing with the Past”, a focus of the festival.

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Sarajevo FF, Redgrave & Dealing With the Past

Written 11-08-2017 18:14:06 by Tue Steen Müller

Arrived in Sarajevo this afternoon surviving a pretty windy flight from Vienna – I’ll never get used to flight turbulence! And it feels provocative when several people around me has fallen asleep ignoring the most bumpy moments.

But wonderful to be in Sarajevo again invited by Masa Markovic, industry coordinator and responsible for the programme Dealing with the Past”, that includes a well deserved (and so obvious) Tribute to Joshua Oppenheimer, who has, if anyone, dealt with the past in his two films ”Act of Killing” and ”The Look of Silence”. Happy also to see that Danish Lars Feldballe-Petersen’s fine ”The Unforgiven” (photo) is included as is Bosnian ”Restless Dreams” by Muris Beglerovic. I will get back to the exciting initiative ”Dealing with the Past” later.

One who is also dealing with the past is Vanessa Redgrave, who was meant to come to Sarajevo – with me as the one asking some questions after her debut as a film director with ”Sea Sorrow” – but cancelled. I had seen her film or maybe it is better to say her visual statement on the situation for the refugees. She makes a personal journey back to her childhood during WW2, she interviews Lord Dubs, a brilliant man who came to England as a refugee with the Kindertransport and she and he make parallels to the refugee children of today, who come without parents to end up in the Calais ”jungle”, that Dubs and Redgrave have visited. She talks about the Human Rights Declaration that was presented by Elinor Roosevelt in 1948, about the Geneva Convention, about the declaration for rights of children. Redgrave is passionate, but not a filmmaker, and she also includes Shahespeare in her statement for humanity.

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