Filmkommentaren

The Gertten Brothers Honorary Doctors

Written 19-10-2017 23:40:54 by Tue Steen Mller

The Gertten Brothers Honorary Doctors

… in documentary filmmaking, at Malmö Högskola (Malmö University), ceremony tomorrow. Bravo! A very well deserved appreciation of their work as documentarians with films that have gone all over the world: Fredrik Gertten with debate creating films like ”Bikes vs. Cars” (2015), ”Bananas” and ”Big Boys Gone Bananas” (2009, 2011), Magnus Gertten with a film on legendary Björn Afzelius ”Tusan Bitar” and two beautiful films on concentration camp survivors arriving to Malmö, ”Harbour of Hope” and ”Every Face Has a Name”. Both of them have, through their companies, served as producers for Swedish filmmakers and have co-produced internationally.

Look at the photo (taken by Pierre Mens), Magnus to the left, Fredrik to the right, and in the middle a young football player named Ibrahimovic from Malmö, who after a fantastic international career right now plays, when he is not injured, for Manchester United. ”Becoming Zlatan” was their common film from 2016 based primarily on material that goes 25 years back.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Andreas Horvath: Helmut Berger - Actor

Written 18-10-2017 17:56:20 by Tue Steen Mller

Andreas Horvath: Helmut Berger - Actor

In the 1970’es my friend Kjell Væring and I went to see Luchino Visconti’s ”Ludwig” about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, 235 mins.(!). A masterpiece that we watched in a big cinema on Champs Élysées in Paris. We wrote about the film for a Danish newspaper and our admiration for the master director was made bigger with that film as with those that followed – ”The Damned” and ”The Conversation Piece”. Very much because of the unique acting by Helmut Berger, the companion of Visconti.

So I expected that Andreas Horvath’s film on Berger from 2015, decades after the films mentioned, would be about how it was to live with and act in films by Visconti. The life of an actor, what is acting… I am sure that was also what Horvath intended to do. It never happened. Well he cuts some times to a signed photo of Visconti on the wall in the flat in Salzburg, where most of the film takes place.



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

What is documentary?

Written 17-10-2017 09:30:41 by Tue Steen Mller

What is documentary?

A month ago I was teaching at the film school department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius. The first morning of the week I asked the students to write down 3 words that comes to their mind, when they hear the word “documentary”. We put the words on a whiteboard. At the end of the week we looked at the many words after having discussed and watched many films. Screenwriter student Eva Sinicaite (PHOTO)volunteered to make an essay out of the words, here it comes:

Wikipedia describes documentary as a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record.

But anyone would agree, that this is a big understatement. Documentary is much more than that. It is an observation of reality. Three partners – time, sound and picture – dance together, creating poetry on screen. Using your own style and aesthetic, you can create a unique world. This world can be directed, put into structure or set free to flow naturally – like life does. Documentary enables you to portray emotions, very intimate and sensitive moments. These truthful glimpses change you. There is no better way to see the point of view of others, to acknowledge different perceptions. To explore the lines between concepts – subjective or objective, fiction or reality. To teach and learn history through individual stories. To get to the core of philosophy simply by contemplating life. To give an ironical approach, to provoke people, to make contrasts, to inspire…

There are so many words that the description of documentary cinema contains, almost as many as the concept of existence does. Maybe because documentary is life itself. So just open your eyes, hearts and minds and indulge in this extraordinary world.

The photo is from the favourite documentary of Eva Sinicaite, “Earth of the Blind” (1992) by Audrius Stonys. 


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics

DOK Leipzig Alvarez, Varda, Kluge, Panh, Rau

Written 15-10-2017 11:42:34 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig  Alvarez, Varda, Kluge, Panh, Rau

Yes, political films, films on political issues, film history. DOK Leipzig offers at its 60th edition 24 short and longer documentaries under the title ”commanders, chairmen, general secretaries”. Which refers to an event at the festival. Catalogue text by Ralph Eue goes like this:

”An experimental application of the thesis of many early theorists of cinematography according to which cinema is less an illusion machine to transport ready-made narratives than a machine to pioneer a new type of thought and narrative. Alexander Kluge gave his nine-hour audiovisual investigation of Eisenstein’s plan to adapt Marx’s “Capital” on film the title: “News from Ideological Antiquity. Marx – Eisenstein – Das Kapital” (2008). Intelligent work on a monument has turned into a monument itself by now. Let us address it by making this appeal: Re-Think!

The media scholar Christian Schulte, co-editor of the “Alexander Kluge-Jahrbuch”, and the publicist Jörg Becker invite us to a joint reading of some passages of this mammoth project (and other, thematically related films, contributions and broadcasts by the director). What is the purpose of this reading? Recovering from ideological antiquity a few clues, even though they may be only fragments, that will help us to better understand the future.”

Otherwise I am tempted to watch and rewatch ”Black Panthers” by Agnés Varda, ”My Brother Fidel” by Santiago Alvarez, ”A Day at the Grave of Karl Marx” by Finnish Peter von Bagh, ”The Missing Picture” by Rithy Panh and ”The Moscow Trials” by Milo Rau.

Rau also has a film in the international competition, ”The Congo Tribunal” (PHOTO) , 2017, 100 mins. Go to the site of the festival to watch the impressive, strong trailer. And check the website of the tribunal and the comments of the director.

https://filmfinder.dok-leipzig.de/en/?&section=236

http://www.the-congo-tribunal.com/film.html#statement


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries/ 2

Written 15-10-2017 10:49:18 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries/ 2

Leena Pasanen, director of DOK Leipzig, wrote this to me yesterday:

Dear Tue, bad news from Poland indeed. This is the text i had written for our catalogue to introduce our Polish special programme. Had no idea at that time, that Sroka would be fired a week later:

“It took a decade of constant development, hard work and financial effort to bring Polish films back to their former fame, but it paid off. Today Polish filmmakers are again familiar faces at award ceremonies all over the world and respected and wanted co-producing partners.

How long will it take to vitiate this success, if the shadow of right-wing populism reaches the filmmaking community and puts in danger the current support system? How long will it take, before the market is full of pretty little films of Polish history, if the decision makers are selected by political and not by professional merits? This little programme is to show how much we love these films and how very unfortunately it would be for the whole filmmaking world, if these films would not exist.”

Photo: Communion by Anna Zamecka, part of the programme


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries

Written 14-10-2017 11:37:27 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries

… and has put together a special program, ”a declaration of Love to Polish docs”, for the festival. Readers of this site will know that Polish documentaries are highly valued through reports from the Krakow festival, lots of positive reviews (last one being ”The Prince and the Dybbuk” some days ago) and below you will find a link to an article called ”Why I love Polish Documentaires”, a love story that has lasted more than 25 years…

More about the Leipzig program later, first some sad news that makes one wonder if the good period for Polish films is over with the increasing involvement of the government, that through their minister of culture has made the move to dismiss the director of the Polish Film Institute, Magdalena Sroka. You can read all about it on the site of Film New Europe, link below, but here comes some quotes:



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Astra Film Festival in Sibiu Romania

Written 13-10-2017 11:07:44 by Tue Steen Mller

Astra Film Festival in Sibiu Romania

… has existed since 1993 and offers a quality program, of course with a focus on what happens in current Romanian documentary but also with an international scope – the festival takes place October 16 to 22 in nice Sibiu. I was there some years ago and enjoyed the stay and the festival.

Let me quote from the site and urge you to get the whole picture through the link below:

”Voices of Doc is a theme section dedicated to authors whose names have become a synonym of authenticity and creativity in cinema. This section bring the latest works signed by three



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jihlava International Documentary FF

Written 12-10-2017 23:30:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Jihlava International Documentary FF

… takes place October 24 till October 29, DOKLeipzig starts October 30 and runs until November 5, 10 days later it is IDFA in Amsterdam. It is rather crowded with important documentary festivals within a month, one can say, I have before been able to jump from one to the other, this year I go to Leipzig and Amsterdam.

But let me start by commenting on some of many fine elements of the 21st festival in Jihlava in Czech Republic: 10 competition sections, including ”testimonies” on politics, knowledge and nature. Let me mention one fine title from each – ”Ghost Hunting” by Raed Andoni, ”… when you look away” by Phie Ambo and ”Wilder than Wilderness” by Marián Polák. I saw a clip from Polák’s film in Prague in March, very appealing, here is the synopsis: ”An expedition into the Czech countryside reveals the adventurous stories of plants and animals that take place all around us, and explores fascinating places where nature is returning after being devastated by man. The film, narrated by the filmmaker, captures the true wildness of nature and the course of filming.”

Film history is represented through a retrospective of films by legendary Jean Rouch and I would have loved to be in Jihlava to



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Niewiera/Rosolowski: The Prince and the Dybbuk/ 2

Written 11-10-2017 09:44:00 by Tue Steen Mller

Niewiera/Rosolowski: The Prince and the Dybbuk/ 2

I had high expectations to the new film by Elvira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski. I liked their ”Domino Effect”, link to the review below, and I have followed ”The Prince and the Dybbuk” through a read of the treatment and I  attended a clip presentation at the Krakow Film Festival. The expectations became even higher, when it was picked for the festival in Venice and won a big award. Had the couple succeeded to fulfill their ambitions to make a big, archive-based adventurous Film? YES they had! For me "The Prince and the Dybbuk" is a strong candidate to be the Documentary of the Year. I will tell you why in this review, but first an intro to the story. Here comes a synopsis borrowed from the catalogue of the festival in Venice:



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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Chris Marker: Level 5

Written 10-10-2017 16:11:56 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Chris Marker: Level 5

French computer programmer Laura tackles a challenging video game. She researches World War lI's bloody Battle of Okinawa, the last pre-nuclear face-off between the US and Japan, interviews with Japanese experts and witnesses, including filmmaker Nagisha Oshima, cause Laura to reflect deeply on her own life and human kind. Will she be able to go beyond Level 5? A fascinating humanistic reflection on war, memory and history. (DOCAlliance synopsis)

This documentary uses fiction to address shared memory of the Battle of Okinawa. Laura tries to get to the most difficult stage, level 5, of the computer program left behind by her late husband. In this are revealed statements by Rev. Kinjo Shigeaki, who witnessed the mass suicide at Tokashiki Island; documentary footage of people jumping to their deaths from cliffs on Saipan Island; and the image of a soldier who lost his memory due to the Battle of Okinawa, portrayed in John Houston’s film Let There Be Light, which was banned from public viewing for thirty years. (Chris Markers synopsis)

Chris Markers film, både denne og de andre i den retrospektive serie, bliver tilsyneladende stående tilgængelige på DOCAlliances streaming. Det giver mig mod til at fortsætte mit forsøg på at se og skrive om så mange af hans film som muligt. Jeg vil gøre det på den måde, at jeg lader uregelmæssigheden i dette letsindige foretagende skinne igennem i mine blogindlæg, som jeg pludseligt afslutter på steder, jeg i skrivende øjeblik bliver nødt til, fordi kræfter og tanker svinder...



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