The Poetic Documentary

Written 17-01-2017 16:06:33 by Tue Steen Müller

I think we said ”poetic documentary” more than a hundred times in Aarhus during the weekend, where the mini-festival Baltic Frames took place. The theme for the festival chosen by the curators Signe Van Zundert and Niels Bjørn Wied, also included the word: Capturing the Poetic Everyday. But what is ”poetic”? I went to one of many online dictionaries, where ”Poetry” was defined like this: ”the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts”. If you take away the reference to literature, where most of the words come from when we talk about films… then maybe we get closer. But as one of the participants at the seminar sunday asked: Is a poetic documentary merely one that shows beautiful landscapes… No, was the answer from Audrius Stonys, who is – together with Kristine Briede – the director of the film under production, working title ”Baltic New Wave”, a poetic documentary, he said, can deal with any topic, it’s about the aesthetic choice and the personal angle. But, said I, if there is a poetic documentary, there must also be a prosaic documentary… Yes, said Stonys with a smile, Michael Moore does not make poetic documentaries!

Equally with a smile, Ukrainian director Roman Bondarchuk, who showed his ”Ukrainian Sheriffs” at the festival and a clip from his wonderful ”Dixie Land”, asked if Stonys found his films were ”poetic”. The answer came immediately, ”of course they are”. To go back to the definition above, ”the exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative and/or elevated thoughts”, is created through (also)

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Categories: TV, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Documentary of the Month: Weiner

Written 16-01-2017 17:00:44 by Tue Steen Müller

… at the Danish Cinemateket Copenhagen January 26 – February 1.

American ”Weiner” by Josh Kriegmann and ElyseSteinberg is a well made observational documentary about the rise and fall of Anthony Weiner, the congressman whose campaign to become mayor of New York the filmmakers follow. It is one of these full-access films you seldom see made today, where politicians are protected by campaign staff and spindoctors. But Weiner has invited them to get close to follow his dramatic fall from the top, when his ”sexting” addiction is revealed again and again. Jewish Weiner’s Arabic wife Huma (Abedin) is constantly in the picture, it is quite emotional to follow her reactions to the husband’s ”mistakes”. He is trying hard to have her stand beside him, she lives up to that, at the end she stays at home when he is going to vote. You see him transporting his son in a stroller to the voting place… ”a father and his son”, this is America as is the description of the media, who do not want to hear Weiner talk politics. They even try to set up a confrontation between him and one of the women, with whom he – according to her – had phone sex with, up to five times per day… Observational, yes, but Weiner is interviewed after the fall from the sky, and he is actually sympathetic to watch and listen to.

The link below puts a focus on what happened afterwards… Huma Abedin is separated from her husband, the woman who for years were – and still is as far as I know - a close advisor to the Clinton family and took part in the campaign for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and hit the headlines when her email account with mails to Hillary was opened… for me she is the interesting character in the film.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lise Birk Pedersen: Tutti a Casa

Written 15-01-2017 17:37:08 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Vi er 83 minutter inde i filmen, her er det dramatiske højdepunkt, i billedet ser vi de egentlige medvirkende bortset fra en. Kvinden i midten er Paola, manden til højre er Alberto, manden til venstre er Mario. Den fjerde hovedperson er fraværende, det er den på det tidspunkt i filmens forløb ekskluderede Luis. Scenen sammenfatter filmens to vigtigste dramatiske forløb, den pludselige vækst, men så også uenighederne og eksklusionerne i det nye parti i Italien, Movimento 5 Stelle og nedturen for den tidligere regerende partikoalition og især den dominerende Silvio Berlusconi.

De fire var oprindeligt venner og kolleger, enige om grundlaget, at reducere eller fjerne mafiaens og alle de gamle politikeres, først og fremmest Berlusconis magt, de er enige om målet, men ikke om enkelthandlingerne undervejs. Luis blev stemt ud ved en votering blandt partiets medlemmer. Så her ved den afgørende afstemning i senatet om Berlusconis immunitet er det de kun de tre af de fire som samlet energisk råbende argumenterer, men bestemt uden at miste noget som helst af deres store charme, som jeg filmen igennem vænner mig til og bliver meget glad for, de tre plus én er yderst forskellige, men det er fornemt lykkedes Lise Birk Pedersen og Anders Villadsen at tegne dem præcist lige stærke, lige sympatiske.

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Categories: Cinema, TV, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Uldis Brauns 1932-2017

Written 15-01-2017 10:05:29 by Tue Steen Müller

Sad news, Audrius Stonys said, when we met at the cinema Øst for Paradis in Aarhus, where the mini-festival Baltic Frames takes place: Uldis Brauns passed away, 84 years old. Brauns was with Herz Frank the leading man in what has been called the Riga Poetic School of Cinema. I asked Stonys how he would characterise Brauns – and Frank – he answered in a beautiful way: Frank was the brain, Brauns was the soul.

The Baltic Frames in Aarhus has the subtitle ”capturing the Poetic Everyday”, Stonys is par excellence the representative of the poetic cinema in the Baltic countries today and he will be directing the film – together with Kristine Briede – on ”The Baltic New Wave”, where Brauns will be a central director. The main producer of this upcoming film, to have its premiere in 2018, is Latvian Uldis Cekulis, who I again will thank a lot for taking me to meet Uldis Brauns in September 2014. This is what I wrote at that time:

… 90 minutes from Riga you turn down a dirt road and drive twenty minutes to reach a house standing alone (2,5 kilometer to nearest neighbour) in what you can only describe as a paradisiacal garden with tall trees, chickens and geese walking and running around, a greenhouse for tomatoes, rows of vegetables and a river down at the bottom of all the green. Silence! Not to forget an old chevrolet

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Roy Andersson

Written 13-01-2017 18:27:23 by Tue Steen Müller

We have to wait until 2019 but Roy Andersson is always worth waiting for. I was happy to read this today and hurry to do a copy-paste from the (free) newsletter of Nordisk Film & TV Fond:

(Roy) Andersson’s About Endlessless and three documentaries have received funding from Nordisk Film & TV Fond last December. About Endlessness produced by Pernilla Sandström (Roy Andersson Filmproduktion AB) was granted NOK 2.5 million. Like the horn of plenty of life itself, the film shows the preciousness and beauty of our existence, awakening in us the wish to maintain this eternal treasure and pass it on.

In Andersson’s typical and unique style, About Endlessless is a juxtaposition of tableaux capturing moments in life. The new element is the voice-over with a woman as main narrator. Among the characters featured are…Adolf Hitler (played by Magnus Wallgren), a marketing director (Kristina Ekmark), a woman who loves champagne (Lisa Blohm) and a priest (Martin Serner).

The SEK 40 million Swedish film is co-produced with 4 ½ (Norway), Essential Filmproduktion (Germany) and Société Parisienne de production (France) as well as SVT, ARTE, with support from Eurimages, the SFI, NFI, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. The Co-production Office handles world sales and TriArt domestic distribution.The film starts filming on February and delivery is set for 2019. 

Still from a previous Andersson film, “Du Levenda”.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

My Name is Popovic

Written 12-01-2017 21:05:28 by Tue Steen Müller

Yes, look at the lovely photo taken by Maja Medic yesterday in Belgrade at the award ceremony at Dvorona Kulturnog Centra, where the new award "Nebojša Popović" was given to SVETLANA and ZORAN POPOVIĆ for ”their devoted work on promoting and critically observing film and culture – for their dedication, pertinacity and uncompromisingness in all projects they have started and still are engaged in.”

Nebojša Popović, prominent and respected film critic and programmer, who died in 2015, has given name to the award.

Back to the photo and the name Popovic: Zoran and Svetlana Popovic in the foreground, daughter, son and wife of Nebojša in the background: Lara, Mihajlo and Vesna.

Love that picture and I warn you – you are going to read much more about and from Belgrade, where the 13th edition of the Magnificent7 festival will take off February 1st. Headed by Popovic.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocPoint Program Announced

Written 09-01-2017 12:29:36 by Tue Steen Müller

The documentary festival in Helsinki, DocPoint, that this year takes place January 23-29, has a reputation for high quality, a broad international overview of the best of the best – and of course this is where you can see new Finnish documentaries. They are usually good, because they have a documentary culture in that country = good support system including committed editors at television and experienced and talented filmmakers. And an interested audience.

The 2017 program is announced and let me from that do some title-dropping of films that we have written about enthusiastically on this site:

Piotr Stasik’s impressive dynamic essay from NY, ”21 x New York”, Kirsten Johnson’s personal reflection on her métier, ”Cameraperson”, Wojciech Kasperski’s beautifully humanistic ”Icon” from Russia, Rahul Jain’s visually stunning ”Machines” from India, Hungarian Klara Trencsenyi’s record on growing-up ”Train to Adulthood”, Audrius Stonys masterpiece ”Woman and The Glacier” (PHOTO) and Pawel Lozinski’s chamberplay ”You have No Idea How Much I Love You”.

”Meet the Master” who is this year Heddy Honigmann, no objection to that choice at all, and among the Finnish premieres Anu Kuivalainen’s ”Into the Forest I go” and ”Little Yellow Boots” by John Webster. ”Shoah” by Lanzmann, an homage to Kiarostami, Pirjo Honkasalo…

Yes, they love to present Films at DocPoint – and their website presentation is well made. It makes an old librarian happy to see an index of around 30 words that refer to ”style or subject”. Hopefully useful for the audience.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Michael Glawogger: Untitled

Written 07-01-2017 16:22:35 by Tue Steen Müller

Good news on a sad background – coming from the Berlinale. I am so much looking forward to see the film by Master Glawogger and Monika Willi – it will have its world premiere in Berlinale’s Panorama 2017:

“This film is intended to show an image of the world that can only be created when one does not pursue any subject, or make any value judgement or follow any objective. When one lets one’s self be carried along by nothing more than one’s own curiosity and intuition.”

Michael Glawogger passed away in 2014 during shooting for a movie. The editor Monika Willi has realised a fascinating film with material that was shot during a journey of four months and 19 days through the Balkan states, Italy, and Northwest and Western Africa – a journey undertaken in order to observe, to listen and to experience, with attentive eyes, bold and raw.

105 mins.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Films in Aarhus Denmark

Written 05-01-2017 11:57:09 by Tue Steen Müller

Below you find a post in Danish calling for people who are interested in Film, Baltikum, Ukraine, Post-Soviet History and current politics in the region – to come and watch films at the second edition of Baltic Frames mini-festival in Aarhus at the local art house cinema Øst for Paradis (in English East of Eden).

Here a brief orientation in English about this cultural event in the city of Aarhus which is one of the cultural cities of Europe 2017, the second largest in Denmark, lovely it is I can say, totally biased, as I was born there some time ago…

6 great films are to be shown: Ukrainian Sheriffs by Roman Bondarchuk and Dar´ya Averchenko (Bondarchuk will be there together with Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis), Audrius Stonys, Lithuanian master of poetic documentaries, will be there as well with his ”Gates of the Lamb” (PHOTO) and there will be two films by Latvian Viesturs Kairiss, who is also an opera director, internationally renowned. You sense that when you see his films where a superb visualisation is matched with music – titles ”Pelican in the Desert” and ”Chronicles of Melanie”, the latter a fiction film.

The Soviet past is the theme of When We Talk about KGB af Maximilien Dejoie og Virginija Vareikyte from Lithuania, and the past is also present in the fresh Fast Eddy's Old News by Marko Raat from Estonia.

So now you know, could be an inspiration to do the same elsewhere? The whole thing is set up by the Danish Cultural Institute in the Baltic countries supported by film institutions in the countries involved.

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltiske Film i Aarhus

Written 04-01-2017 12:46:05 by Tue Steen Müller

Jeg tøver ikke med at skrive, at det er 6 mesterlige film, som Øst for Paradis viser den 13-16. januar. Det er andet år i træk, at film fra de baltiske lande, i år suppleret af den prisbelønnede ukrainske "Ukrainian Sheriffs", vises under overskriften "Baltic Frames". Arrangør er Det Danske Kulturinstitut i de baltiske lande med støtte fra diverse filminstitutioner. Temaet i år er "capturing the poetic everyday" og det er præcist, hvad Roman Bondarchuk gør i sin fine, morsomme og politisk aktuelle skildring af et landsbysamfund i Ukraine, hvor borgmesteren udnævner to borgere til at være sheriffer, som tager sig af at løse større og mindre konflikter i hverdagen. Bondarchuk er sammen med sin lettiske producer Uldis Cekulis til stede ved visningen i Aarhus og klar til at besvare spørgsmål.

Det samme er den litauiske mesterinstruktør Audrius Stonys, som gang på gang er rost til skyerne på dette site - kollega Allan Berg har samlet alle vore skriverier om Stonys, som er en unik poetisk filmkunstner, som han demonstrerer på smukkeste vis med "Gates of the Lamb" - på FB beskriver arrangørerne filmen præcist som "a beautiful film about the unseen miracle of Baptism and the inexplicable touch of God". Stonys, som i øvrigt har været lærer på European Film College i Ebeltoft, er tilstede i Aarhus klar til at besvare spørgsmål.

Lettiske Viesturs Kairiss er ikke i Aarhus, men det er to af hans film, "Pelican in the Desert" og den spritnye spillefilm, "Chronicles of Melanie", der tager tilskueren tilbage til Sovjettiden. Kairiss, internationalt anerkendt operainstruktør, er kendt for sin fremragende brug af musik i dokumentarfilm og så har han en genial fotograf Gints Berzins, som har beskrevet en del af Letland, Latgate, på en måde så du nærmest er ved at græde ved mødet med skønhed.

To film til er på programmet - "When We Talk about KGB" af Maximilien Dejoie og Virginija Vareikyte fra Litauen og "Fast Eddy's Old News" af Marko Raat fra Estland.

Alle film - med trailers - er beskrevet på

og tider for visningerne på

Categories: Festival, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

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