Written 09-03-2014 17:46:56 by Tue Steen Müller
For me the best English language newspaper critiques and general film coverage is to be found in The Guardian and New York Times. It was therefore with great pleasure that The Guardian, in their first Film Awards, placed The Act of Killing on the top as best film:
”The Act of Killing has taken the top prize at the inaugural Guardian Film Awards. Joshua Oppenheimer's surreal study of the Indonesian death squads of the 1960s was nominated in three fields – best director, biggest game-changer and best film. It triumphed in best film over the Oscar winners 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, as well as two other foreign language films, The Great Beauty and Blue is the Warmest Colour.” In other words not in a documentary category. You can read more about the award and the voting clicking on link below.
From the NY Times – you need a subscription – I receive every friday a list of all new theatrical releases, including news and features. Melena Ryzik, who predicted that ”Twenty Feet from Stardom” would win the Oscar as the best feature documentary, had this week a fine article titled ”When the Battle Is Over, What remains Is... Art”. She writes after having reported on the Oscars for five years: ... (I’ve learnt) about moviemaking, about celebrity and mostly about how to keep artistic faith in balance with professional cynicism. It’s true: The Oscars are a popularity contest, with prizes conferred for a career narrative as often as for an individual performance, and undoubtedly there are politics at play. Otherwise, the campaigns would be dull, and the consultants wouldn’t be paid all that money…
At the end of her article she puts the spotlight on Sara Ishaq’s “Karama has No Walls” (photo). She had talked to the 1ad Abdurahman Hussain, who said that at first, they wanted to make a YouTube video, but then they realized it was a bigger story. Their 30-minute short, “Karama Has No Walls” — “karama” is Arabic for dignity — uses footage shot guerrilla-style by those in the middle of the action. The director, Sara Ishaq, a Scottish-Yemeni woman, submitted it to film festivals, which led to its Oscar nomination. The Oscars are not well known, culturally, in Yemen, Mr. Hussain said. Still, after the nomination, the filmmakers met with the Yemeni prime minister, and there have been government-sponsored screenings.
Written 09-03-2014 11:23:00 by Tue Steen Müller
Normally we don't advertise training programmes but as we know that this one is NOT limited to EUrope and we have many talented documentary filmmakers as readers...
"The IDFAcademy Summer School is open to:
Written 06-03-2014 12:53:44 by Tue Steen Müller
It was one of these pleasant surprises. Last summer I got a FB message from a Teddy Grouya, who invited me to come to his festival in California. The surprise was double as he wrote to me in Danish (well not perfect but totally understandable). We met in Leipzig, where the kind and committed man told me more about his festival and revealed that he had been in Denmark in his youth as a student. And there we are – I will be in Palm Springs March 27-31, where the festival runs its third edition. In the following I have taken quotes from the website of the festival that shows documentaries, short and long, and animation films from the US and the rest of the world.
“This year, the American Documentary Film Festival and Film Fund will screen over 100 films over its five day run at three Coachella Valley venues. “We’re utilizing six screens this year,” said Festival Director and Founder, Ted Grouya. “It will be our largest festival ever.””
My visit to AmDocs include three elements. I am going to be a juror for 10 American feauture docs, I am to be on a panel with critics and film writers and I am invited to observe the Film Fund Pitch Competition.
Some words about the latter first: “In addition to our annual 5-day film festival, we are proud to share the American Documentary Film Fund with independent American filmmakers who will participate and compete for financing for new projects as well as works in progress. An amount up to $50,000 may be awarded or distributed in any given year. A panel of film industry professionals will review a select group of documentary filmmaker projects for funding consideration. Filmmakers will provide detailed story outlines and budgets for their works in progress or new projects. Filmmakers will screen a five (5) minute preview of their film projects before the industry panel and take part in a 10 minute Q&A.” It sounds like the way we do it in Europe, but is there an American touch?
And words about the films at the festival that The MovieMaker Magazine nominated the festival as ”one of the world’s coolest documentary film
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Written 05-03-2014 15:06:04 by Tue Steen Müller
Danish veteran documentarians Katia Forbert Petersen and Annette Mari Olsen premiered yesterday their new documentary, that has the English title ”Mission Rape – A Tool of War”, a film that will travel not only to the foreign broadcasters involved but also to festivals. The premiere yesterday in a Copenhagen cinema was folllowed by a debate about the theme, described here at the site of The Danish Film Institute:” "Mission Rape" is a creative documentary film which takes a closer look at a dilemma in international law - how the healing-process is affected when rapists are not prosecuted and convicted for the crimes they have committed. Instead the rapists have been punished for Crime against Humanity or other serious war crimes. In the aftermath of any war in which rape has been systemically used as a weapon, it is crucial to the healing process that war criminals are convicted for all war crimes, including sexual violence.” Change to Danish language:
Det var et flot arrangement, som fandt sted i Grand Teatret i går aftes: Indledning ved DR’s Mette Hoffmann-Meyer, som hyldede de to instruktørers engagement og professionalisme, som hun havde nydt godt af i mange år. Fulgt af en indledning af de to instruktører – Katia Forbert fortalte, at hun første gang havde hørt bosniske kvinder fortælle om grusomme voldtægter for 22 år siden på flygtningeskibet Flotel Europa. Siden da havde de to mange gange taget tilløb til at lave en film om emnet.
Nu er den der så, filmen, en stærk dokumentation i en blanding af samtaler med ofre, arkivmateriale fra krigen på Balkan og fra Krigstribunalet i den Haag, oprettet i 1993, ansigter fyldt med smerte, den store bestræbelse for at blive anerkendt som krigsoffer – og ikke mindst dette, citeret fra Det Danske Filminstituts faktablad om filmen:
Hver dag mødes en gruppe kvinder i en forening beliggende i forstad til Sarajevo. Alle har de en fælles historie. Foreningen er filmens
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Written 03-03-2014 11:49:27 by Tue Steen Müller
... and the winner is ”Twenty Feet from Stardom” by Morgan Neville, in the category Feature Length Documentary.
”So Hollywood is Still Hollywood”, wrote Niels Pagh Andersen on FB. The editor of ”The Act of Killing” expressed indirectly what many had expected, including the NYTimes Melena Ryzik in her prediction, that the feel-good documentary from American showbusiness ”Twenty Feet from Stardom” would take the Oscar. Her argument: (it is) a crowd-pleaser that also happens to be a well-told tale about a subject close to many performers’ hearts — the careers of backup singers, a.k.a. the talented lot who don’t often get the recognition they deserve...
It was the decision of the Academy members, a disappointment for the many, including me, who had hoped for ”The Act of Killing” after the many awards to an innovative, controversial film with big impact.
The winner does not even approximately reach that standard. Anyway ”Hollywood is Hollywood” and personally the Oscar has not really had my interest before these last two years after the change of the rules to get there. So what is to be saluted is that quality films like ”Five Broken Cameras”, ”Sugarman”, ”The Gatekeepers” last year and ”The Act of Killing”, ”The Square”, ”Cutie and the Boxer” this year, get all the well deserved publicity through being nominated.
One last thing: Some have called the Oscar the world championship for documentaries... forget about that, there are many masterly films worldwide that have no chances to get to the Oscar.
Written 02-03-2014 10:30:40 by Tue Steen Müller
I have copy pasted the list of winners from the website of the festival, that cleverly brings forward the jury motivations as well. The following films have been written about/reviewed on filmkommentaren: The Last Station, Return to Homs, Ne Me Quitte Pas, Stories We Tell.
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Written 01-03-2014 10:34:18 by Tue Steen Müller
Tomorrow night is Oscar night. On filmkommentaren.dk all five contenders in the feature length catagory have been reviewed, the latest watched in Zagreb the other day: ”Twenty Feet from Stardom”, an entertaining film, about which I wrote ”but the film is not so well put together, it feels a bit messy in structure, and too long, maybe because, with all respect, the women are not all sooo interesting, but they get equal film time...”
Nevertheless it is this film that NYTimes Melena Ryzik thinks will get the Oscar. This is her interesting argumentation: If only documentarians and select members who saw the nominated films in theaters voted on this prize, as was the case until last year, “The Act of Killing,” a chilling and inventive look at death squads in Indonesia, would walk off with the top prize. But now Academy members are sent DVDs and invited to vote for documentaries. That means “20 Feet From Stardom” should pick up the statuette: It’s a crowd-pleaser that also happens to be a well-told tale about a subject close to many performers’ hearts — the careers of backup singers, a.k.a. the talented lot who don’t often get the recognition they deserve. It doesn’t hurt that the film’s campaign was handled by the Weinstein Company, for which no opening or musical event was too small to trot out its very willing stars…
Interesting, let’s see if she is right. For me, who fall into the category of “documentarians”, there is no doubt that the film to have the Documentary Oscar is “The Act of Killing”. The company behind the film is described in the DFI (Danish Film Institute) website, read the whole article, here is a quote:
It seems fitting that the Copenhagen production company Final Cut for Real is located on Forbindelsesvej – literally, "Connection Street." Talking with company co-founder Signe Byrge Sørensen, who produced Joshua Oppenheimer's Oscar-nominated "The Act of Killing", makes it clear that Final Cut for Real was put in this world to make connections – between people, filmmakers, cultures and world events….
Written 28-02-2014 17:51:34 by Tue Steen Müller
Of course there had to be a meeting in Zagreb about the EU supported programme ”Creative Europe”, that runs from 2014 till 2020 and has two sub-programmes: MEDIA and Culture. The MEDIA Desk Croatia, Martina Petrovic, hosted the meeting in a building in the street next to the Kaptol Center, the location of the five cinemas, where the ZagrebDox films are screened. The building needs restoration but that is expensive so for the moment the authorities have invited the Croatian Audiovisual Center, ZagrebDox/Factum (the company of Nenad Puhovski, director of the festival), HulaHop (company of Dana Budisavljevic) and other companies and festivals to have their address there. This forms a kind of Film House.
Paul Pauwels (PP), director of EDN, that now has an office in Copenhagen and in Brussels, was well prepared in his excellent presentation of the new Creative Europe, having read the 380 (!) pages of a programme, which – said PP – will make it more difficult for “all of us”. There are many changes made from the previous MEDIA Programme. For instance, said PP, the applicants for development support will now be able to get a lumb sum of 25.000€ if you can raise the other 25.000€, which can no longer include any in-kind contribution. The latter is a radical change.
In Eastern European countries that will be pretty difficult, said Hrvoje Hribar, Head of the Croatian Audiovisual Center, who told the participants that an Eastern European Alliance has been set up to discuss Creative Europe and to come up with suggestions for amendments. PP stressed several times that the people from Creative Europe to him, when he has met them in Brussels, have stated that they consider 2014 as a test year and that he had found a
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Written 28-02-2014 06:15:43 by Tue Steen Müller
Does she wants too much, Tatjana Bozic? From Life and from the Film, she has made and in which she is the main character? A film about a woman looking back at her love life to find out what went wrong in previous relationships – and about what she can take from that in terms of understanding herself. And get on with her life as a mother.
You can't get it all, her friends say, when she, in the present layer of the film, is complaining that her marriage with Dutch Rogier, with whom she has her child, does not work perfectly. You want everybody to love you, that's the problem, her father says to her. Mother died, what would she have adviced me, she asks her father, should I leave the marriage? Your mother would have said Yes, the father replies.
She is a handful, Tatjana, and she does not hide that in the film about herself. On the contrary, you get very close to her, you see her suffer, you see and hear her being unbearably pathetic but also cheerful and direct. In between you reflect on whether you watch a private or a personal film.
She wants the film to be funny. And it is, especially when she is visiting her ex-boyfriends. Pawel, Russian Pawel, is the one who analyses, if you can use that word, her best. They were together for four years, before he chose to live with another Tatjana. The visiting of the past is a great idea for the film, the ex-lovers are from different cultures and that makes the film lighter. The mother of the Englishman did not like Tatjana! The Russians drink too much! Klichés but still, Balkan mentality, British stiff upperlip and Russian melancholy do not fit together.
Unfortunately the director also wants to send a message. In several wordless sequences you see faces of women... close-ups, they look at you, apparently to kind of ask us about/feel ashamed of the condition of women today. I don't think it suits a story which has already mant facets and is so rich anyway and it does not generalise, on the contrary it has a focus on one individual and her effort to find out about herself searching for Love. That is more than enough, there is no need to include the whole world. She wants too much, Tatjana Bozic.
Holland, Croatia, 2013, 83 mins.
Written 27-02-2014 12:52:53 by Tue Steen Müller
OK, this film represents everything that I dislike about a certain kind of documentaries: It is – to quote the description in the site of the festival here in Zagreb – ”eye-popping”, ”stunning” and I could add sentimental over-the-limit of decency and what is worst: hypocritical.
The film shows how a young really good snow boarder, Kevin Pearce, crashes dramatically (you are invited ”to enjoy” the accident again and again), recovers his brain injury, wants to get back to the sport, mum and dad and brothers (one of them with down’s syndrom) don’t like the idea, the doctors warn him as his brain is not as it was, and at the end he gives up and starts a fund/social movement it is called called ”Love your Brain”. Halleluja!
The hyprocrisy comes in through the storytelling that the director has chosen. She paints a super glamorous picture of the sport and its young fit practitioners. Fantastic images of their acrobatic jumps and movements in the air, all wrapped in music from wall to wall, and of course a hurrah for an artificial world that is full of money and commercials. She points at the competitive point between Kevin and Shaun White, another snow boarder, it’s all very good and healthy. Accompanied by visits to the house of the understanding family Pearce, who sits down at the dinner table and talks about Kevin and what he wants with his sport and life – brother David with the down’s syndrom is the one who says that he suffers from Kevin’s playing with life and death. And mother crying again and again as she goes around with her son to doctors and psychiatrists... It’s just too much...
And then at the end of the film, after another injury where a young female snow boarder dies (of course we see the deadly crash), the film tries to raise just a bit of discussion about the sport... and we hear a panel of the young colleagues of Kevin express that they have also broken this and that in their bodies many times but... why bother, is the impression of the message you get after having been through the visual hymn to a sport that is dangerous but produces superb and entertaining and sensational images!
USA, 2013, 109 mins.
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