American Documentary Film Festival 2015/1

Written 25-03-2015 23:34:59 by Tue Steen Müller

After 10 hours and 40 minutes of flight Copenhagen to Los Angeles and a good night’s hotel sleep off to Palm Springs for the fourth edition of the American Documentary Film Festival that opens tomorrow March 26 and goes on until March 30. Transportation manager Tim Alexander picked us up at the hotel, was great to see him again after many joyful moments at last year’s edition. On the freeway that Danish director Jacob Thuesen made a documentary about (Freeway, 2005), by the way. Now resting at Villa Royale Inn in Palm Springs, an oasis of green, swimming pools, gourmet restaurant and cosy rooms.

Business tomorrow – the festival that is founded by and programmed by enthusiastic and energetic filmmaker Teddy Groya has also what we in Europe call an industry event: The American Documentary Film Fund that gives financing for new film projects. 12 projects are to be pitched tomorrow with a visual as well as a verbal presentation. The winners (I think it was three last year) are announced at the end of the festival that also has awards for participating films. I was invited to take part in the selection in both categories. I got to watch American documentaries that never reach European film festivals – and European documentaries that in many cases shamefully have been overseen by European festivals.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

One World Romania/ 4

Written 24-03-2015 11:05:13 by Tue Steen Müller

You must have a passport or an id, the woman at the desk said. Mikael Opstrup from EDN and I were at the entrance of the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest an early morning and we wanted to enter to see the palace of Ceausescu. I showed my official yellow health card and told the lady that I had several cards with my photo on. Little did it help, no passport or id no entrance. Opstrup, who had brought along his passport, went in, I stayed out prepared to sit on a plastic chair for an hour in an ugly entrance hall. Luckily I could go into an equally ugly hall where there was a very fine photo exhibition of photos taken by students at photo schools in Romania. The one I have chosen is by Alma Ghiuela called SFF05, she must have seen paintings of Paul Delvaux or Giorgio de Chirico.

I was happy to meet Laura Capatana again. She was way back a participant of the Ex Oriente workshop, where I was tutoring and where she developed ”Here... I mean there”, 73 mins., a touching story from a Romanian town about two sisters, whose parents work in Spain. Over years the director has followed the girls and their development and struggles with themselves. In the house where they live with their sweet granny.

She is still in touch with the girls and I think she should make a sequel. We the audience have got to know the girls so well that we want to know what happens in their lives. The youngest, Sanda, still lives at home, the parents have returned, what happens with Sanda, when she flies from the nest?

Capatana, observer at the Cooking a Doc workshop, and her husband, actor Gabriel Spahiu, parents of Hugo, 3 years old, drove me to the hotel one night. I have something for you, Spahiu said, and played NHØP from his car radio. Danish jazz bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen talked in Danish-English and played the melancholic ”I Skovens Dybe Stille Ro”. Wonderful end of a nice evening!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Frida og Lasse Barkfors: Pervert Park

Written 24-03-2015 09:21:27 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Det er hans stemme, som er den første jeg hører. Han går med ryggen til. Sådan er det mange gange i filmen, de går med ryggen til kameraet, når de fortæller om deres ulykke, gentager erindringerne om hændelsen. De går typisk med ryggen til i en billeddækning, som må opfattes som en skyhed. Der ikke så meget lykke at fortælle om. Manden på fotoet er gennemgående medvirkende, han er pedel på stedet, og han er på en måde vært for mig, mens jeg ser filmen. Så godt jeg kan, lytter til fortællingerne, så opmærksomt, jeg magter. Det han viser mig er Florida Justice Transitions, et housingprogram for sexforbrydere St. Petersburg, Florida.

Det er bestemt ikke rart, jeg må overskride mange grænser for blufærdighed, men som beboerne i lejren af beboelsesvogne, hvor bosættelsesprogrammet er indrettet, må jeg finde mig i, at der tales om den slags ting, tales til hinanden og lyttes til hinanden. Filmen skildrer møder i gruppeterapien, et samvær, som er en slgs rutine, er en rytme på stedet, og bliver en rytme i filmen. Her er der en anden gennemgående medvirkende, psykologen, som leder gruppeterapien. Han er min mulighed for at begribe disse mennesker, min redning. At låne hans konstant levede og med bløde mellemrum klart formulerede humanitet og indlevelse.

Det handler om privat organiseret kriminalforsorg, beboerne i denne lille by har udstået deres straf, men samfundet omkring dem vil ikke tage dem tilbage, vil ikke tilgive. Ingen vil bo i deres nærhed, de er udstødte. En app fortæller i alle telefoner præcist, hvor de bor, flytter de ind en almindelig bolig.

For mig er der kun ét at gøre med den film, og det er at lytte og lytte til disse fortællinger, og det er nødvendigt forinden at skyde mine egne forklaringer, rationaliseringer, bedreviden og fordomme til side, og det er svært for mig at komme dertil. 

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Categories: TV, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Adrian Pirvu: Our Special Birth Day

Written 23-03-2015 18:23:28 by Tue Steen Müller

We normally do not promote individual film projects on this site but exceptions were invented to be done... Yesterday in Bucharest, Adrian Pirvu, at the One World Romania's "Cooking a Doc" went on stage to present (photo by Adi Marineci) an amazing film project about himself. He showed a touching clip with his mother, who tells how Adrian's sight was (almost) saved just after he was born. This is one of the most intriguing stories I have heard for a long time. Adrian Pirvu needs a producer, eventually a co-director, in other words help to develop, and funding for research! Here is his own fine text written for the workshop:

 A documentary by Adrian Pirvu

90 minutes, 4K

Stage of production: Development

Budget: 72 800 EUR


What are the biological citizens of Chernobyl, born in 1986, doing for the 30th anniversary of the nuclear accident that changed their lives and the continent they live on?


I started on the path to becoming a filmmaker on the 26`th of April, 1986. I was not born yet but a nuclear accident in a country that my pregnant mother was visiting, set me on the journey to make this film. In late July, I was born with all fingers and all toes, a little overweight but completely blind. I have partial vision in one eye now, thanks to a very dedicated doctor, a cornea donated by a fresh corpse and 28 year old country girl with the strength of a lioness, my mother.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

One World Romania/ 3

Written 23-03-2015 16:11:22 by Tue Steen Müller

Went to watch ”Queen of Silence”, full house, a film directed by Polish Agnieszka Zwiefka, her first film, produced by Heino Deckert and shown at this festival as one of four films in a well deserved homage to Deckert as the strong producer of documentaries he is. The film has been at several festivals and has been awarded.

So it is good? No, it is not, sorry! It is a mess of good wills and ambitions. It wants to portray Denisa, a Roma girl with a hearing handicap. And she is great and you want to live with her. But it also wants to give a characterization of the environment, she lives in, an illegal ghetto in Poland next to high apartment buildings. And it wants to give her the chance to live her dream to be a dancer like the dancers she has watched on the tele through Bollywood films. The result unfortunately is not successful as the editing remains automatic with no space for (poetic) breathing and interpretation of the girl’s inner emotions – as you all the time has to go forward for another musical scene where she is dancing. And then back to social reality - the police comes and we understand that the houses must be taken down. But we also have to see that she and

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

One World Romania Festival/ 2

Written 21-03-2015 16:16:28 by Tue Steen Müller

I arrived a couple of days ago to Bucharest for the One World Romania. Together with EDN’s Mikael Opstrup we were taken to the hotel, I was given one of those rooms, where you can not open the window so I had to change for another one, and then down to the lobby to meet an old friend André Singer, whose ”Night Will Fall” is part of the programme. I saw the film on Swedish television in January, it is impressive and unique as a historical document, made by André Singer, who after many years, as he put it ”was happy to be back to filmmaking”. Among many jobs as a producer Singer has been producing documentaries by Werner Herzog. You see him on the photo with the microphone at one of the discussion sessions after a well attended screening. A true English gentleman!

To the left Alexandru Solomon, the director of the 8 year old festival about which I can only say Bravo! A good programme, several good debates and information gatherings, among them one by Mikael Opstrup talking about the (impressive) research, he has done for the organisation about Co-Productions in Europe. Solomon was on that occasion giving his input on the good and bad sides of co-productions – to be done if necessary, otherwise stay away from it (my comment), far too complicated. Unless an artistic element is involved and not only the financing side.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Albert Maysles – The Eye of the Poet

Written 19-03-2015 23:00:46 by Tue Steen Müller

Realscreen News publishes today (editor Manori Ravindran) a tribute to Albert Maysles, who passed away on March 5. We take the liberty to bring to you what colleague and cinema vérité pioneer as well D.A. Pennebaker wrote:

“I was on my way to Russia in the spring of 1959 to film the American Exhibition that was about to open in Moscow. Al Maysles found out about it and came to see if he could come along. He and his brother David had already gone there on a motorcycle and he showed me a film he’d made at a Russian mental hospital.  How he’d gotten them to let him film there intrigued me and since I’d never been there he seemed like a good companion for my filmmaking. I could see he was not just looking for a job but wanted to get to Russia as badly as I did. For us both it was going to be an adventure. So I arranged for an extra visa and the two of us spent the next four months filming Russia together, wherever the trains and trolleys would take us.  It was a fantastic adventure, and Al’s eager curiosity and ability to watch tirelessly through a camera bonded us as filmmakers for the rest of our lives.” 

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Joshua Oppenheimer, alle blogindlæg

Written 19-03-2015 20:13:47 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Tue Steen Müller og jeg har mellem oktober 2012 og januar 2015 skrevet foreløbig 12 blogindlæg, på henholdsvis engelsk og dansk, lange og korte, om Joshua Oppenheimers to danskproducerede film, The Act of Killing (2012) og The Look of Silence (2014). Dem har jeg nu redigeret sammen kronologisk i et enkelt opdateret indlæg, JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER, Collected Posts on his Works. Teksten kan hentes HER

Den kan også hentes via fanebladet DIRECTORS på forsiden. Her gemmer sig en liste med navne på en række instruktører, hvis film, vi har skrevet meget om gennem årene og derfor på samme måde samlet blokindlæggene. Tryk på Joshua Oppenheimers navn, og tekstens titel kommer frem. Tryk på den, og teksten dukker op.

Foto: DFI/Daniel Bergeron

Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

The Great Kate

Written 18-03-2015 16:54:00 by Tue Steen Müller

In the middle of all (the necessary) documentary films about wars and conflicts, going on now and/or some decades ago, it is nice to receive a newsletter from the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, with a report from a press conference on a film on ”Katherine Hepburn – The Great Kate”. I share the words of the report:

Andrew Davies, who directed Katharine Hepburn – The Great Kate along with Rieke Brendel, spoke first (at the press conference, ed.). As the director explained, inspiration for the movie came from a tribute that the TV channel ARTE showed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the great actress. “With the help of Hepburn's nephew Mundy, we discovered how important a part her family had played in her life. The experiences of her childhood years were incredibly important. Her mother was an activist, who fought for human rights and women's right to birth control. Hepburn grew up going to demonstrations. As a child, her parents would tell her that she could do anything she wanted, but that she wouldn’t get anywhere if she didn’t try hard.“ With regards to her long career, Davies thought that the secret of her success was “a product of hard work and a creative working ethic”. Answering the question of whether or not he thought Hepburn would like the documentary, Mundy told him that he “thought Hepburn would have liked the documentary more than anything else that had been written or filmed about her life, because she didn’t like biographies.”

Photo of Hepburn and Spencer Tracey – I remember how my mother talked about the two and how she adored to watch her films as I have done and do – remember Bringing Up Baby with Cary Grant!

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocuDays UA 2015

Written 17-03-2015 13:30:21 by Tue Steen Müller

"May you live in interesting times." This Chinese curse pops up in my mind when I think about you, Ukrainians. To a documentary filmmaker, times like these are not only a curse, but also an opportunity. After all, we are witnesses to change and movement: in society, its consciousness, individual fates and emotions. It is all about movement: the word ‘emotion’ is derived from the Latin emovere, ‘movement in a certain direction’.”

Words from Aliona van der Horst, Dutch director of Russian origin, going to Kiev to be in the jury of the DocuDays UA and to hold a class on ”Tone, sound, music and ”libretto” in the film ”Voices of Bam” – a film she made in 2006, followed by ”Boris Ryzhy” (2008), both of them part of a retrospective tribute to the director.

Ukranian DocuDays – I was there two years ago – is a wonderful festival to be at because of its generosity, the commitment to quality and the filmmakers who run it and who know how to put together a programme that is appealing – competition, non-competition in themes or around a director and the so-called Docu/Class that is like a small documentary university for the audience and the visiting guests. Apart from the class with van der Horst, Askold Kurov is there – he was part of the team who made ”Winter, Go Away!”, he made ”Leninland” and ”Kids 404”, and is at the moment making a film on the

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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