Written 18-06-2013 23:22:15 by Tue Steen Müller
This is not a review. I am biased. The film is produced by my dear friends Svetlana and Zoran Popovic from Kvadrat, a (their own words) “film production and education firm, especially focused on production and promotion of documentary films”. For 9 years I have collaborated with them on the Belgrade festival “Magnificent7”, which is one of the most written about documentary events on this blog. On top of that the director Sonja Blagojevic has been a dear colleague in running this unique festival together with the Popovic and several other talented young Serbian filmmakers.
Having said so, I have to express my praise for an honest, well told, informative and emotional documentary and documentation of how it is to be Serbian in Kosovo today. It is my hope that the film will travel because a description with an angle like this has never been done before, and because of its quality as a film.
The best way to introduce the film is by bringing its text from the beginning of the work and to give the voice to the director, see the post below, Kosma 2.
The intro text goes like this: After the NATO bombing of Serbia at the end of the 20th century, the Security Council gave the UN authority over the Kosovo region. In 2008, the Kosovo Albanians unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, which Serbia doesn’t recognize. The final status of Kosovo has not yet been resolved. Over the past decade a large number of Serbs fled from this region. About 120.000 remained and live in ghettoized areas. Their only connection is the sound: a network of five radio stations called KOSMA.
Serbia, 75 mins., 2013.
Written 18-06-2013 22:49:08 by Tue Steen Müller
The film has a very inviting and informative website that includes all you need to know about the background and motivation for the director to go to Kosovo and find out “What is it like over there”. Here is her personal statement:
While I was shooting my previous film, I eventually ended up in Kosovo. One night I slept on the floor and desks of the KIM Radio station in a small village in central Kosovo. At that point, I still couldn’t have guessed that this exact radio station would become one of the main characters in my new documentary film.
A few years later, I started to research and realized that the KIM Radio is part of a larger radio network called “KOSMA”. Five radio stations are scattered in different parts of Kosovo and it is only their signal that connects secluded Serbian communities.
And that is how my journey started: a journey of three years, guided by the sound, and resulting in over 120 hours of footage. When I came back from Kosovo for the first time, many people asked me the same question: “What is it like over there?” I wasn’t able to give a precise answer since my stay there was quite short. But I myself couldn’t stop wondering: “What is it really like over there?” And moreover: “What is it like for people who live there?”.
I chose the sound of the radio to be my guide in the search for the answer. I went everywhere where there was sound: to its source (the radio stations and places from which it was broadcast), from one to another, over different regions, over plains and mountains, to the houses where people were listening to the radio. I realized that the answer to the question “What is it like over there” is not a simple one. It is for that reason I chose a mosaic structure, with lots of sights and characters, that as a whole can offer a very vivid description of the spirit of a time and its predominant feelings. I hope that the film will at least partially give an answer to this significant question.
Written 17-06-2013 16:46:14 by Tue Steen Müller
Below the beginning of the speech that the new director of EDN (European Documentary Network) held in Sheffield June 11th, invited by the EBU Documentary Group. The whole analytical text - that should be read by all documentarians – is to be found on the site of EDN http://www.edn.dk/ named EDN Director’s Blog:
On behalf of the independent documentary sector that I have the honour to represent here, I want to thank you for having invited me to deliver this keynote address.
I would like to use this occasion to inform you about how the independent producers look upon the current production situation and the relation between “content providers” and “content distributors”, and to share with you not only our worries and fears, but also to extend an inviting hand to tackle together the many current changes in the media landscape that drive us out of our comfort zone and that force us all to become more daring and innovative than ever before.
I think I can say with absolute certainty that today there are no certainties anymore. Every single current media-model is under pressure and although there are many questions about where the future will take us, there are no clear answers yet to put our minds at ease. I don’t think that I’m the only one who experiences this kind of situation as disruptive, paralysing and threatening. But it’s not because many of us feel disrupted, paralysed and threatened that we should sit back, pretending that nothing is going on and that if we just wait and sit still everything will go back to normal. I’m not the smartest guy on earth but one thing I do know for sure; as far as our common professional activity is concerned, nothing is ever going to go back to how it was before.
Over the past months, I have been talking to many professionals and from these discussions resulted an analysis that I have recently presented to several documentary film makers - directors and producers alike – under the very optimistic title: HURRAH, WE’RE IN A CRISIS.
While I was preparing today’s speech, it dawned on me that although I’m now addressing the players at the other side of the pitch, I might as well use the same title. I own the copyright anyhow, so I can use It for free. Very important in these times of severe budget cuts...
Written 15-06-2013 15:44:54 by Tue Steen Müller
From BBC News online today, link to the full article below: The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has called on the Greek government to reopen ERT. A petition signed by 51 European directors general, including the BBC's Tony Hall, is to be handed over to the Athens government. The EBU called the government's action "anti-democratic" and "unprofessional".
Viewers watching the news on the main ERT TV channel saw broadcasting cease late on Tuesday evening. Journalists however refused to leave the building and online and satellite broadcasts are being maintained with the help of the EBU website. ERT, which began broadcasting in 1938, was funded by a direct payment of 4.30 euros (£3.80) added monthly to electricity bills.
It ran three domestic TV channels, four national radio stations, as well regional radio stations and an external service, Voice of Greece… Read also text on the site of EBU.
Written 14-06-2013 17:20:50 by Tue Steen Müller
Greek documentarian and good friend Marianna Economou sent this text referring to the outrageous closure of ERT: I am sending you this letter that all of us, the Greek documentary filmmakers, wrote as a response to the sudden closure of ERT. It is very important for us to fight this dictatorial act of the government and to ensure that ERT reopens as soon as possible.
The filmmakers of the Greek Documentary Association: All together we will attempt to erase this shame.
The Greek Documentary Association – We the filmmakers, who through the public TV station, have been challenging, entertaining, or disturbing you with our documentaries by highlighting “the other side” of reality, condemn the sudden silencing of ERT based once again on «an act within legal context» which for all intents and purposes bypasses the parliamentary procedure.
This act has no historical precedent during a democracy in a time of peace! Such an act, furthermore, aligns itself with the general degradation of education and civilization, which has systematically been taking place in our country, devaluing the only investment that in the long term could lead to a better society.
With the closure of ERT, it is not only Greece that loses its voice, it is not only the employees of ERT that lose their jobs. It is:
IT IS CIVILIZATION THAT SHRINKS
We, the creators of documentaries, united citizens and peoples, will fight for the immediate re opening of ERT, so that Greek creativity and culture reaches every house. We will fight the bill that the government announced as it continues and even strengthens the interference of the political parties and their control of public television. We will make propositions for necessary reforms in order for this voice to acquire its important educational, cultural and ethnic role, especially during these difficult times that we are traversing.
We are the only country in the world that has a black out on the public television screen and where the radio waves are silenced. Let’s fight, so that these media become the essential means, guardians and catalysts for the promotion of education and culture.
Written 14-06-2013 17:10:21 by Tue Steen Müller
Memories... of a festival on Bornholm, Balticum Film & TV Festival, that ran in the 1990’es in Gudhjem and Svaneke, and meant quite a lot for this blogger. (If you write Bornholm in ”Search” you will get numerous texts referring to a festival and a pitching forum that took place at this wonderful island, initiated by the Baltic Media Centre).
Nostalgia, yes, and it came back last night in Allinge, where a huge People Meeting (Folkemøde in Danish) is taking place until sunday. Politicians make speeches, all kind of associations have tents that you can visit, debates are made in a relaxed climate where you can meet ”your” politician, and/or be enlightened in a classical Danish folk-high-school-kind-of tradition.
For that reason – and now I come to the film side of it – it is only very right that the Danish Film Institute together with the leading Danish newspaper Politiken has arranged film screenings where an introduction is made, the film is screened and then you can go and talk about the topic. Here I finally got to watch Nishtha Jain’s “Gulabi Gang”, produced by Norwegian Torstein Grude, a fine film, in my view more interesting than the one Kim Longinotto made about the same fabulous movement that was formed by Sampat Pal, according to her “not a gang in the usual sense of the term, we are a gang for justice”.
… in the mornings, in the summer house, the film screenings include “Krtek” (The Mole), the masterpice children animation film series by Czech Zdenek Miler, beautiful, funny and more than attractive for two year old Henry. The first he says when he wakes up in the morning! Zdenek Miler said in an interview: “When I draw Krtek I am drawing myself,” his creator, the Czech animator Zdenek Miler, once said. “What I mean is that Krtek is the ideal that should be me. But I can’t meet that ideal.” To my sorrow I found out that the film series is no longer available in Denmark. A cultural scandal! But if you have friends in Czech Republic (I have, thanks Veronika Liskova)…
Written 14-06-2013 09:20:51 by Tue Steen Müller
Have to confess that my knowledge of The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar was very limited until my former colleague from EDN Anita Reher got the job as executive director and put me on the mailing list for news. Frequently press releases arrive in my mailbox giving the impression of an active organisation that makes much more than a yearly seminar, see below. Yesterday was a good day as the executive director could announce ” that it (the Flaherty…) is the recipient of an Educational Grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in support of the Flaherty's continuing efforts to foster all forms of the moving image and encourage dialogue between audiences and makers with the goal of illuminating our shared humanity.” Good that the Academy is not only about Oscars. The grant was 15.000$, Anita told me from a crowded minivan on her way to work:
Tomorrow this year’s Flaherty seminar starts. It runs until the 21st of June at the Colgate University, Hamilton, NY. The theme is History is What's Happening. From the press release: The Seminar will examine the frame and subject of history in cinema to understand how the social and political conditions of the past are inextricably linked to the present. Pablo de Ocampo, a curator based in Toronto and the Artistic Director of The Images Festival, is the 2013 Seminar Programmer.
Written 12-06-2013 10:44:41 by Tue Steen Müller
Got an email from filmmaker Georgy Molodtsov, who is part of the team that runs the documentary programme at the upcoming MIFF in Moscow, that goes from June 20 to June 29. He informs about the selection made by the curators of the documentary competition, Sergey Miroshnichenko and Grigory Libergal. 7 films compete about the ”Silver George” that this year will be accompanied of an additional $5000 prize ” co-sponsored by the Ostrov Studio and Watching&Discussing project run by the Rossiya-Kultura Channel” and thus “aimed at an extended theatrical broadcast”.
The titles are “And Who Taught You to Drive” by German Andrea Thiele, “Holocaust – is it a Wallpaper Paste” by Russian Mumin Shakirov, “The Genius of Marian” by American Banker White and Anna Fritch, Pawel Lozinski’s “Father and Son” (photo) (awarded at the recent Krakow Film Festival together with the father Marcel’s “Father and on a Journey”), “The Condemned” by British Nick Read, award-winning Lucy Walker’s “The Crash Reel” and “The Dark Matter of Love” by British Sarah McCarthy.
The jury to find the winner is headed by Sergey Dvortsevoy, who is accompanied by DokLeipzig festival director Claas Danielsen and Dutch filmmaker Coco Schrijber. Strong team.
About the side programme for documentaries, Free Thought”, Molodtsov writes that it will include titles like The act of killing, The Gatekeepers, First Cousin once Removed, Blood Brother, Blackfish, Colombianos, Dragon Girls The Ridge, Woody Allen: a documentary, Staircase II, Stories we tell, Palme, Char...no-man's island. Strong selection.
Written 10-06-2013 23:24:03 by Tue Steen Müller
I watched it on my MacBook and I can’t wait to see it again on a big screen. I will save some of my many superlatives for that occasion. So what you get now is a first impression of a film that touched me deeply. It is nothing less than magnificent. What a man and what an artist Michael Meschke is and what a beautiful documentary, Wiktoria Szymanska has made.
She could have gone mainstream and told us about the great puppeteer in a more traditional way, and that could have worked as an informational introduction to an artist, but she made a different choice by inviting the viewer to enter Meschke’s world and be with him, when he makes his puppets come alive in his studio, in the streets of Paris, in a house in Greece, in Stockholm, where he had his Marionetteater and where he has his storage. Yes, what becomes of that, when ”I get the final call” as he says!
Everything in this film is so precisely crafted and in harmony with Meschke’s own fascinating puppeteering craftmanship. Wojciech Staron catches all the details with his camera, close-up’s of hands and strings, and puppet faces, which express emotions, be it Don Quixote, Le Petit Prince, Antigone (impressive scenes with the actress Irène Jacob) or Baptiste, who has a special place in my heart – associations to Les Enfants du Paradis, Marcel Carné’s wonderful film, Etienne Decroux, Jean-Louis Barrault... Meschke takes Baptiste on a walk in Paris, where he (Baptiste) meets children, looks at grafitti in the streets, the word Love in many languages (cut to Meschke and his wife), or Baptiste watches the world go by from his window. As Meschke has watched the world go by in different parts of Europe, from he as Jewish was exiled to Sweden at the age of 5 till now. A long life and a long career that also includes experimental films that Szymanska brings in as quotes which are often comments on the world, we live in.
It is such a rich film, you watch it with a smile and the tear in the corner of your eye, that comes from the beauty (also very much helped by the music composed for the film) you have experienced through the eternal meeting of evil and good, life and death. As for the director she has again (last time was with ”Themerson and Themerson”) shown her unique talent for an interpretation of an artist’s world and work.
The film has been shown at the Hot Docs Festival. It will be shown on tv stations in Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands – and on numerous festivals if there is any justice.
France, UK, Poland, 2013, 61 mins. Producers: Wiktoria Szymanska, Estelle Robin You (co-producer), Greg Davis (associated producer).
Written 09-06-2013 22:36:17 by Tue Steen Müller
One more generous free offer from ”your online documentary cinema”, the vod DocAlliance, starts tomorrow and runs until June 23:
7 films by Nicolas Philibert, who once wrote the following about his method:
”I feel the need to create a frame for each film, a starting point that I can build upon. This frame consists of the things that I find motivating and exciting when working together with the subjects of the film. When filming starts, the final destination is unknown to me and I don’t know which path I will follow. A lot depends on the things that emerge through work and encounters. Naturally the journey is different with each film...” (A quote from a text for the Finnish Docpoint festival).
Filmkommentaren.dk has posted several texts about the works of the French documentarian. To mention a couple of them – ”La ville Louvre”, ”La moindre des choses”, ”Nénette” and of course ”Etre et Avoir” – all of them available online for two weeks.
Make your own retrospective of films by Nicolas Philibert!
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