Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait/ 2

Written 19-12-2014 19:48:22 by Sara Thelle

Shame on me that I in my turbulence after the screening did not remember the beautiful review that Sara Thelle wrote when she had watched the film in connection with cph:dox. I repeat two paragraphs here:

... I (Sara Thelle) wish I had never seen Silvered Water. Images will haunt me for the rest of my life, scenes in my head will never go away. Horror. Hell. And yet I strongly recommend you to go see the film... First, because it is Syria, there is so little access to information about life there and, of course, we have to see what the two directors Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan want to show us. But also because this is an exceptional film, I wouldn’t hesitate to call it a masterpiece. It is poetry, in the dialogues, in the images, in the editing.

You get to understand the pain and the guilt of the exiled. Mohammed expresses his agony in a strong cinematographic language of metaphors, he is the one who has lost his freedom, his life has stopped. In the first part of the film, we see horrible scenes of torture and executions that are unbearable to watch. Raw images captured with mobile phones by the torturers, the security forces of the regime, and put out on the Internet. You can only try to imagine what pain Mohammed have inflicted on himself in working with these images, seeing them over and over again when doing the editing. And we understand that, strangely enough, the besieged Bedirxan is the one who is the most free and alive. The courageous woman, who has turned cinematographer to survive the in the midst of the civil war, becomes his eyes and his hope. The title, Silvered Water, is the signification of her Kurdish name Simav.

The original music, beautiful and devastating, is composed and performed by Mohammed’s wife, the renowned Syrian singer Noma Omran, originally from Homs...

Sara Thelle had the courage and skills to put words on what she saw.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait

Written 19-12-2014 12:14:26 by Tue Steen Müller

by Wiam Simav Bedirxan & Ossama Mohammed.

It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and has been to major festivals like Toronto, cph:dox and idfa. Two days ago it had a theatrical release in 30 cinemas in France, where the exiled Syrian director Ossama Mohammed lives. The reception in France... le Monde writes ”chef d'oeuvre”, masterpiece.

And what could I write but the same, after for months having hesitated to watch because I knew what horrifying images were waiting for me. I do not recall, when was the last time I have been so strongly affected by a film. To an extent that I find it meaningless to line up words to describe what I saw and felt. It would be reviewer clichés after clichés. I can not do so. So you get three brief comments followed by more laconic synopses:

Wiam Simav Bedirxan's filming in Syria is courageous and heroic. Ossama Mohammed has treated the unique material in an outstanding and personal way. The two have made true Cinema!

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Zdeněk Miler: Krtek

Written 17-12-2014 18:41:45 by Tue Steen Müller

I love them all, the three year old grandchild Henry said, referring to the Krtek films made by Czech Zdeněk Miler. Even if he runs around saying Ninja Turtle all the time, his best moments are those with the animation films featuring the mole and his friends. Which one do you want to see, we ask him. The answer is ”the one with the bulldozers”. A couple of days ago he saw ”Krtek ve městě” (The mole in the city) (1982, 29 mins.) 3 times. He knows every cut, he asks us grown-up’s to be totally quiet so he can listen to the sound – nobody says anything, no dialogue, but the sound score of this and other Krtek films is excellent.

Why do you like that one so much? I just do, is the answer. So why do I, grown-up documentary fanatic love it. Let me try and let me guess why he, the three year old likes it, as does his cousin Thomas, half a year younger.

It starts dramatically. The mole and his friends (the mouse and the hedgehog) lose their homes as trees are felled and bulldozers move out to plow the land to make it ready for buildings for human beings. The bureaucrats arrive wearing their high hats and hearing the crying of the three small ones, one of them decides to give them an official paper that states that whereever they come, they are to be helped. They have to leave the forest that is no longer there, they arrive in the city after succesfully passing police and military authorities due to the signed document, they get an appartment, decorated as the piece of nature they left, but in plastic, they experience the noise and pollution of the city until one day they have had enough and when they get the chance it's back to nature flying on the backs of swans...

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Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Measom og Weinstein: An Honest Liar /2

Written 17-12-2014 15:44:06 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Så har jeg set filmen, men jeg blev hverken underholdt eller fornøjet, som DOKUMANIA havde lovet. Jeg kedede mig faktisk. Og det til trods for tre gode historier 1) en biografi, James Randis liv og værk som udbryderkonge, tryllekunstner og samfundskritiker, hans livslange samarbejde med maleren José Alvarez og 2) deres kærlighedshistorie, som vist nok i virkeligheden også er livslang, og endelig 3) en opklaringshistorie, et forsøg på en thriller, hvor en række tv-stjerner af Uri Gellers tvivlsomme karat får deres svindelnumre afsløret af Randi, og det i stor tv-stil. Jeg kedede mig til trods for en rigtig god hovedperson, James Randi selv og adskillige interessante og i og for sig velvalgte og velfungerende bipersoner, hvor José Alvarez desværre svigtes, fordi han ikke rigtigt interesserer instruktørerne.

Measom og Weinstein er nemlig tv-folk, de vil producere bredt fangende programmer, de interesserer sig ikke for at komme i dybden med Alvarez’ livsprojekt, selv om det er her, en af de dokumentariske opgaver ligger. De kan nøjes med et forsøg på at give ham lidt sentimental sympati omkring Randis fødselsdag og omkring slutningens ægteskabsindgåelse.

Jeg kedede mig, fordi Measom og Winstein sjusker med fotograferingen af interviewscenerne med de veloplagte medvirkende, og derved kommer disse scener i filmens nutid ikke til i noget omfang med rolig skønhed at afbalancere arkivmaterialets mængder og mængder af klip fra tv-shows med en urolig grimhed i både billede og lyd. Denne volsomme støj holder tv-folk vist af. Jeg oplever, at det slører, faktisk destruerer detektivhistorierne.

Værst for deres film er det, at det ikke på nogen som helst måde lykkes for dem i filmens klipning at få de tre historier til at hænge sammen. De belyser ikke hinanden, de påvirker ikke hinanden, de tre historier er blot til stede i samme film de samme 90 minutter. Og naturligvis er detektivhistorierne under disse omstændigheder stærkest, de formodes at underholde og fornøje, men netop derfor kedede jeg mig. (At der ligger tre dokumentarfilm gemt i materialet er en anden sag, men ingen af dem er fremkaldt.)

USA 2014, 83 min. Sendt på DR2 Dokumania i aftes. Filmen kan ses på Dokumanias hjemmeside nogen tid endnu:

Site with synopsis in English:


Categories: TV, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Stephen Smith & Julia Szucs: Vanishing Point

Written 16-12-2014 16:47:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Stephen Smith, one of the directors of “Vanishing Point”, wrote to me a couple of months ago. He asked if I would care to watch his film, produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Apart from a very fine recommendation by late Peter Wintonick, there had been no real attention, he wrote, even if the film – see website, link below – has been going around to mostly Canadian festivals. I got the dvd and started to watch and was immediately brought back down memory lane – Greenland and the many Danish documentaries made from there, especially by Jørgen Roos (1922-1998), who for decades returned to adventurous Greenland to film the hunting culture and the conflicts between traditional way of living and what we Danes has taken with us to Greenland. If anyone Roos has visualised inuit in Greenland. My vision of the island comes from him.

Roos would have loved “Vanishing Point” that is a very well told and beautifully filmed story, non-sensational in a calm rhythm and with a charismatic leading Navarana K'Avigak Sørensen – more Danish can a surname not be! Navarana is the one who tells the story in first person tracking her own family roots back to Qitdlarssuaq, a shaman, who in the 1860'es migrated with a small community of Inuits from Baffin Island to the North of Greenland. Navarana is the descendant, who takes the viewer by the hand to show and reflect on the Inuit culture of today up there near Uummannaq, where her family used to live until they were displaced due to the building of the American Thule base (Jørgen Roos has made a film about this Danish-American scandal).

Naduk is the daughter of Navarana or did I get that wrong... doesn't matter, Navarana goes with her family (Naduk's husband is Ole... again more Danish

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Rain of Awards in Riga

Written 15-12-2014 19:55:32 by Tue Steen Müller

There has been quite a film party going on in the Latvian capital. Not only has the city, as Cultural Capital of Europe, hosted the EFA Awards - films have been shown at the Riga International Film Festival that ran from December 2-12, masterclasses and panel debates have been going on at the new National Library and awards have been distributed, among them the National Film Prizes, which – to my great joy – includes a number of awards for documentaries. My source is Film New Europe, link below for a list of all awards:

Best full-length documentary award went to Peteris Krilovs personal ”Obliging Collaborators” (photo), a personal historical film that as a motivation point has the death of the director's father due to ”the KGB repressions, which is closely linked to the devious game Soviet Latvia's KGB played against Swedish-British-American spy agencies”. Original in narration, the films uses clay animation. To be a bit patriotic, the editor of the film is Danish Julie Vinten, with whom Krilovs also worked on the film on Klucis.

Best Documentary Film 60 minutes was Davis Simanis ”Chronicles of the Last Temple”, that has been praised on this site: ”a superb interpretation of the new and much discussed National Library of Riga, a film that shows Simanis ability to capture the grandeur of a building and its details in a super aesthetic form.”

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Measom og Weinstein: An Honest Liar

Written 15-12-2014 15:37:54 by Allan Berg Nielsen

DR2 Dokumania skriver ægte begejstret: ”Glæd dig til i morgen tirsdag, når Dokumania viser den stærkt underholdende dokumentarfilm ” En ærlig løgner” om den amerikanske tryllekunstner James ’The Amazing’ Randi. Han har gennem de seneste 50 år underholdt millioner af mennesker, men også afsløret og udstillet alverdens svindlere og fupmagere.”

Nu er han ”svindleren, der udstiller andre svindlere” og Dokumania-redaktionen fortsætter: ”James ’The Amazing’ Randi har haft en lang og glorværdig karriere, hvor han har underholdt med magi, flugtforsøg og tusindvis af tricks. Da Randi opdagede, hvordan de samme teknikker blev misbrugt af healere, clairvoyante og spiritister til at lokke penge ud af godtroende mennesker, viede han sit liv til at afsløre dem som de charlataner, han opfattede dem som. Randi forvandlede blandt andet sin partner Jose Alvarez til den falske guru 'Carlos' for at vise, hvor let folk lader sig narre. Men for et menneske, hvor magi, snyd og bedrag er hverdag, kan sandheden hurtigt blive gradbøjet. En uventet afsløring om Randi får potentielt en ødelæggende effekt, og der bliver stillet spørgsmålstegn ved, om Randi måske selv er blevet bedraget. Du kan se den underholdende dokumentar i morgen tirsdag kl. 20.45 på DR2! Rigtig god fornøjelse…” slutter redaktionen sit nyhedsbrev.

USA 2014, 83 min.


For the last half-century, James “The Amazing” Randi has entertained millions of people around the world with his remarkable feats of magic, escape and trickery.

Schooled in the techniques of deception, Randi saw his beloved magician’s tricks being used by faith healers, fortune-tellers, and psychics — not for entertainment, but to steal money from innocent people and destroy lives. Enraged by this, he dedicated his life to exposing those frauds, and would do so with the wit and style of the great showman that he is.

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Categories: TV, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Tiazhlov & Shtyka (eds.) Ukraine_Voices

Written 10-12-2014 15:52:05 by Tue Steen Müller

A couple of months ago I wrote a text about the upcoming second edition of the Cinedoc festival in Tbilibi, Georgia. The festival included a section called Ukranian Voices with several films, also one that I had not heard about, ”Ukraine_Voices”. The day after I was informed by Dmytro Tiazhlov and Ella Shtyka, what was hidden behind the title – ”a documentary almanach”, 8 short documentaries made during the workshops organized by the Indie Lab project initiated by the two filmmakers. Tiazhlov has been reviewed on this site before for his works ”Cornered” and ”I was a Monument to Myself”. So I downloaded the film and watched. Here is the synopsis taken from the Georogian festival site:

A collection of 10 documentaries (in my download there were 8, ed.) gives a glimpse into nowadays Ukraine just before the crisis started. These short films are all directed by different filmmakers and tell us various stories, through these films we observe Ukraine from different points of view and get to the heart of what really matters to millions of young Ukrainians, we also get to know some unknown heroes and learn their stories.

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Carmen Cobos: Imperfect Harmony/ 2

Written 10-12-2014 11:45:35 by Tue Steen Müller

Got this mail from Carmen Cobos this morning referring to a screening in Aarhus, Denmark tomorrow; "IMPERFECT HARMONY - my debut film as director will be shown in your country this Thursday, maybe you care to see it" - the Doc Lounge Aarhus is the venue, FB link below and here is what I wrote about it on this site:

Louis Andriessen, charismatic Dutch composer, and Mariss Jansons, charismatic Latvian chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. The two characters in the fascinating observational documentary drama, which is very well told, interesting and entertaining.

The drama evolves as the days pass. Andriessen has composed music for the 125 year's anniversary of the Concertgebouw, and enters the building to follow the rehearsals during the last five days before the performance. The camera stays very much on the face of the composer, who appears a bit nervous and confused in the beginning. His relationship to the musicians is warm and generous, while the relationship to the conductor is on the contrary a bit complicated. At some moments, to say the least... ”school teacher”, says Andriessen having discussed details with Jansons, ”he is a pain in the...”. Some of the musicians seem to agree with Jansons and his need for pedantry – it is clear that he in his questions to the composer that this is not the kind of music he favours – others like the more open attitude to interpretation that Andriessen stands for.

It is a very generous film. You get very close to the artistic creation of a fine piece of music, you get a fine impression of how two characters of different temperament get closer to each other, two old proud professionals who have to meet each other, whether they like it ot not. You see how an orchestra works preparing down to the smallest details, asking questions to the composer. Andriessen has very interesting comments to his work, to music and to from where his inspiration comes... Happy Ending, Andriessen walks out of the building, out into windy Amsterdam mission completed.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nitesh Anjaan: Far from Home

Written 09-12-2014 11:38:17 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Måske handler det om denne mands alkoholforbrug og hengivelse til spil. Jeg ved det ikke rigtigt, jeg ser efterhånden nærmere en hel stor familie i opløsning. Men filmen følger hovedsageligt denne mand, om hvem jeg får at vide, at Bob Marley døde på hans 18 års fødselsdag. Nu er han i halvtredserne, men det med Marleys død netop den dag viser sig som mere end en anekdote, det er erindringen om et anker, som ikke holdt. Det er musikken og poesien, som forsvandt. Nu er denne mand en præcis og rutineret postarbejder, der som barn kom til Danmark med sin familie. Dette er hans historie, fortæller filmen mig i første omgang.

Hans familie var engang et stort sammenhold omkring et voksende minimarked, det viser familiebillederne på fotos og video. Men nu er den splittet ad. Og nu bor han hos sin gamle far, som også lever alene. Og der i faderens lejlighed ser jeg mændenes nederlag, far og søn, nederlag som kunstnere (faderen er digter med en række bøger bag sig, men har vist senere blot skrevet i ny og næ), nederlag som købmænd (minimarkedet er vist ikke mere), nederlag som ægtemænd, kvinderne har forladt dem. Nu har de besluttet at rejse tilbage til den indiske by, de udvandrede fra. På et dansk statsligt økonomisk tilskud med barske betingelser.

Hovedpersonen er markant og fungerer godt, agerer i sin nervøst distante holdning indtryksfuldt. Men han har noget ved sig, som gør, at jeg har svært ved for alvor at interessere mig for ham. Det er jo ikke hans skyld. Det kan være min fordom. Jeg tror dog, det er fordi, filmen ikke gør ham nærværende for mig, så det han gør, betyder noget for mig. Hans udtryksstærke tavshed blødes op ved replikker, som dementerer hans krops sprog og det er ikke godt. Jeg synes instruktionen vælger forkert og gang på gang svigter filmens egen scene, selve optagelsen. Så sløres hovedpersonen også af de isceneatte scener med flere medvirkende, i begyndelsen familiens unge generation, længere henne lærer jeg postarbejderens fraskilte hustru at kende. Her svigter instruktionen desværre også, det jeg får at vide om min hovedperson bliver hængende som aggressive og moraliserende postulater, og den afgørende konfrontation mellem hovedpersonen og hans unge søn oplever jeg som psykologisk pres mod den medvirkende, og indrømmelsen som aftvunget, som falsk.

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

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