Filmkommentaren

Maite Alberdi & Viktor Kossakovsky

Written 03-12-2020 16:31:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Maite Alberdi & Viktor Kossakovsky

I have had the pleasure – a couple of times -  to present Russian master director Viktor Kossakovsky at festivals. For instance at DocsBarcelona, where I was meant to be the moderator. Not really a possible job as the director takes over immediately, talks with passion and love about what filmmaking means to him. Entertaining. No need to have someone asking questions.

With surprise I saw that Kossakovsky was to be moderator in a Q&A session with Chilean Maite Alberdi as director. It was organised within IDFA by Chiledoc. And the film to be talked about was Alberdi’s newest work „The Mole Agent”, a lovely and playful film. See below if you want to know what else the director has done… She’s is excellent. And that was exactly how Kossakovsky started the Q&A. Declaring his love to the film and the director. Followed by a couple of questions and Kossakovsky:   

„I want to cry now”… „I am very happy for you”… „tell us what you want to say”. Kossakovsky had got answers to his questions, had been touched by scenes in the film and there were not really other questions coming in from the online audience. A bit more than 30 mins. Enough for the passionate moderator – and good answers from the smiling equally charismatic Maite Alberdi. The film – here is a copy paste from the IDFA catalogue  

„In this quirky blend of spy flick and observational documentary, 83-year-old Sergio goes undercover in an old folks’ home. This friendly, elderly man is hired by private detective Romulo to act as the “mole agent” for a client, who suspects that her mother is being mistreated in the home. 

Director Maite Alberdi deploys the film noir tropes convincingly, but Sergio is no natural-born detective. His first obstacle is all the technology—pen cameras, smartphones, and the other devices he’ll need to gather evidence and report back to Romulo. But an even bigger stumbling block is that Sergio, a recent widower, is unable to maintain the emotional distance necessary for carrying out his tasks as a spy. He quickly befriends several other tenants. 

With a wryly comical undertone continuing throughout the film, what begins as a detective yarn gradually evolves into something more intimate, resulting in an original view of affection and loneliness in old age.”

Maite Alberdi, Chilean director, is known for her warm-hearted films, to be mentioned ”Tea Time” from 2014 and ”The Grown-Ups” from 2016, many times awarded, both of them got the main award at DocsBarcelona. She co-directed in 2016 the short film ”I’m Not from Here”, with Giedre Zickyte from Lithuania.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Award Ceremony

Written 26-11-2020 22:39:12 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Award Ceremony

I enjoyed the show. Professional it was. Festive Onlining. Warm and respectful to the filmmakers. It opened at 17h and closed at 19h. Many awards were to be given. The programmers of the different sections came to the stage, where Ghanese/Dutch Ama van Dantzig was a shining host linking it all, making the introductions and finding “the beat” that is necessary, so we don’t get bored. “We”, in this case of course being us who have been watching films, have our favourites and hope for the best for those makers we know. On the guest list of IDFA we are called professionals.

The show - starting with Orwa Nyrabia, the artistic director, who was asked by Ama van Dantzig how it had been, the festival, answering “as imperfect as Life is…” He saluted his IDFA team for their work, ”everyone has done a massive job” and told that 16.000 had been to the cinemas and 70.000 online – and the festival continues till December 6. The future…, he was asked, “I don’t know. Everyone tells me about what they think should happen with IDFA… I don’t know”. Clever man, this old friend Orwa, who has the word in his power, passionate and inspiring for the documentary community.

The winners were presented – good time for clips and for thank you’s from the awarded directors from everywhere in the world; best when they did not know that they won – to see the spontaneous joy of Alina Gorlova and Firouzeh Khosrovani, when they were told that they had won, was wonderful. Magic documentary moments. I was happy that I had watched “Radiograph of a Family” in beforehand and written a positive review before the world premiere (sorry IDFA!) and to see Ukrainian Alina Gorlova receiving first prize for “This Rain Will Never Stop” warms my heart. In Kiev and in Riga I have followed the development that she and Maksym Nakonechnyi have performed. Teaser after teaser and a story that changed, a film that changed it all, filmmakers looking for their form, the aesthetic choices to be made. They succeeded and this film will travel, for sure. I have told Alina Gorlova a couple of days ago that the film is amazing, and I have promised myself to make a review to explain why I think so. 

And tomorrow I will watch – from the short film section - Marlén Viñayo’s ”Unforgivable”, that was the winner in that category. I know Marlén Viñayo (El Salvador) from DocsBarcelona, where her “Cachada” was awarded in 2019 – a film that travelled for many other awards. Big talent!

And I will watch – from the Kids and Docs section – the awarded “Shadegan”, “Dormant” from the Archive section, special mention, also here “Radiograph of a Family” was a winner. In her “thank you speech” for this award Firouzeh Khosrovani had placed herself in a room with a table full of photos and mirrors on the wall, a true image composer. 

Was happy to see another old friend, the excellent film critic Neil Young (with a tie!) from Sunderland, motivating the winners in the mid-length section and reflecting on this section’s constant dilemma, not being for theatres and not being for television. The host, again Ama van Dantzig, characterised his speech as creative and innovative, I liked that. And I miss talking film and football with Neil Young. Sorry Neil, I did not really get which of the winners I should watch. By the way, happy to see that Audrius Stonys was on the same jury, maybe he can advise me.

And at 19h it was over, the show, and I went to prepare supper on this thanksgiving day. And at 19.02 the press release entered my email from Petra Blašković, the always helpful IDFA press officer, who has advised and directed me around the IDFA internet – and from whom I probably will still need help until the closing of the festival. Thanks Petra!

By the way, you can still watch the award ceremony, click below and find it.

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Awards for Feature-Length Docs

Written 26-11-2020 20:15:44 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Awards for Feature-Length Docs

 

 



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IDFA Awards Today!

Written 26-11-2020 13:41:16 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Awards Today!

Yes, IDFA awards today. Many, really many and bravo for also giving awards to editing, directing, cinematography... Here is the list of awards to be given in two of the main catagories:

In the Competition for Feature-Length Film, four awards will be presented: IDFA Award for Best Cinematography, the IDFA Award for Best Editing, the IDFA Award for Best Directing and IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary. In the Competition for First Appearance, two awards will be presented: the IDFA Award for Best First Appearance and the FIPRESCI Award in First Appearance.

Luckily there are still many days for me to watch films... I had hoped to be able to "have done" the 10 in the Feature-Length category. I have watched these 5:

Renzo Martens "White Cube", Claire Simon's "The Grocer's Son...", "Inside the Red Brick Wall" by the Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers, "Nothing but the Sun" by Arami Ullón, "Radiograph of a Family" by Firouzeh Khosrovani... All films of good/high quality, some for the content, some for the treatment, for the aesthetic solution. So far I have not said to myself "why is this film selected?".  

For the First Apperance I have - so far - seen "This Rain will Never Stop" by Ukrainian Alina Gorlova. She just received an award at the Festival dei Popoli in Florence, the film is amazing in content and form, I must be a favourite!

In the archive section I have seen: "The Foundation Pit" by Andrey Gryazev, "Irradiated" by master Rithy Panh, "Paris Caligrammes" by Ulrike Ottinger, "Radiograph of a Family" by Firouzeh Khosrovani... Of course Rithy Panh's horror story is unique in creative treatment of archive but it is so hard to watch, unbearable. Readers of this blog will know how much I loved Ottinger's film as well as "Radiograph of a Family".

In mid-length I saw only "Anny" and Helena Trestikova is one of the best documentarians of our time.

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ulrike Ottinger: Paris Calligrammes

Written 23-11-2020 12:01:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Ulrike Ottinger: Paris Calligrammes

Loved that match. Watching the film, more than two hours from Paris. Images of today, images from the city in the sixties, accompanied by Ottinger’s voice unfolding her personal memoirs. AND then one hour talk – with a couple of clips – with the director (born 1942) and film critic Pamela Cohn analysing and asking questions. „It’s the most difficult film, I’ve ever done“, Ottinger said, „here I had to be direct personal, contrary to my many other films“. For the film Ottinger made a huge research in archives, public and private, she mentioned, she had seen 400 films (!) and spent two years in the editing room with Anette Fleming – „my wonderful editor“.

Ulrike Ottinger had a great time (1962-69) in Paris, were she met painters, 

 



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Vurdering:

 
Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Gianfranco Rosi at IDFA

Written 21-11-2020 15:20:56 by Tue Steen Mller

Gianfranco Rosi at IDFA

It was here that it started, Gianfranco Rosi said looking at the almost empty Tuschinsky Theatre, where his very interesting and inspiring talk with artistic director of IDFA Orwa Nyrabia took place. I attended the first part of it and took notes but had to leave to raise a glass for and cry a bit for Valentina Pedicini, who passed away the same morning as the talk took place; it was Rosi, who told Nyrabia, who then communicated the tragic loss to the viewers in the theatre and online.

Going back to Rosi, who claimed that the key words for him as a filmmaker is Time Trust and Encounters. It was here that it started – my first film „Boatman“ (1993) was shown here. It was through making that film that I learned about documentary filmmaking. I graduated from the New York University Film School, went to India, visited the Ganges, met Gopal, the boatman, was there for two months without filming, took my camera for a one-day tourist trip with Gopal, saw the material and discovered that it was not good enough for a film. Went away and came back again and again to shoot with Gopal. I just went, there was no telephone contact, but he was always there on the river.

At that point of the talk Orwa Nyrabia showed a clip from the 50 mins. long – yes it is – magnificent film, shot on 16mm, lovely format (my comment), a clip where Gopal talks about the foreigners, who always come with their “why, why, why, why” related to – that we see – corpses wrapped in white cloth being dropped in the same water, where people take their baths.

I was asking questions, said Rosi, you can see that in the beginning of the film, but I stopped and have since then NOT put any questions from behind the camera. The film actually became an emotional reconstruction of that day, where I was a tourist. With this film I learned what it is about: waiting for the right moment. And Time Trust and Encounters.

Rosi is a classical observational poetic filmmaker. He is at IDFA as a guest of honour with his 6 films and he has put together his Top Ten. For accredited guests you can watch Boatman online – and/or you can go to the DocAlliance vod, where you can stream it for very little Money: https://dafilms.com/film/8918-boatman

Photo from his last masterpiece “Notturno”

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Arami Ulln: Nothing But The Sun

Written 20-11-2020 21:37:57 by Tue Steen Mller

Arami Ulln: Nothing But The Sun

It does not take long in this fine film that you connect to Mateo, the man on the photo, who (from IDFA catalogue) “started recording Ayoreo conversations, stories, and songs in the 1970s, and is still traveling to Ayoreo communities with his now-antique cassette recorder to interview them and collect their voices for his audio archive. Occasionally the device eats a tape, which he fixes with patient fiddling. The conversations express uncertainty about the loss of identity. Is it a problem that a culture disappears in order to adapt to another?”

It’s in Paraguay and the Ayoreo community has suffered since the White people came. A culture is about to disappear. They used, some still do, to live in the forest, a good life as one of Mateo’s interviewes is saying, no illnesses, we could provide for ourselves. But the missionaries came. Mateo is a documentarian, he wants to keep on tape stories, songs and testimonies. And there are some lovely chamanistic scenes in the film. It’s an oral culture, as said Arami Ullón in the conversation with Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director of IDFA. But Mateo is not only collecting memories from his fellow Ayoreos, he also allows himself to start the tape recorder, when he close to his wife asks her, when it was that she fell in love with him… Won’t give you the answer, she gives, watch the film. There are many of these magic moments in the film that lives from its slow rythm and the conversations. «We were shooting blind, we did not understand what was happening », Ullón said in the conversations. “I did not have a plan, the construction happened when we were there”. I was thinking of what Lithuanian director Audrius Stonys once said: “We are making films to keep people alive”, and that is what Ullón does with the help of Mateo.

Making of course also a film about religious oppression, about colonialism, about what happens in a small country like Paraguay – and all over the world.

Paraguay/Switzerland, 2020, 75 mins.    


Vurdering:

 
Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Valentina Pedicini 1978-2020

Written 20-11-2020 17:17:01 by Tue Steen Mller

Valentina Pedicini 1978-2020

Obituary for a 42 year old filmmaker. So sad. The last time I saw Valentina was at DocsBarcelona, where she won the main award for her "Faith". The moderator of the ceremony had a short conversation with her, online, before he revealed that the jury found that her film was the best. She jumped from her chair out of joy, so happy for this recognition. One year back I had the chance to meet her at IDFA, where I attended the premiere of the film - full house, I was sitting next to the principal of the Zelig Film School, Heidi Gronauer, and we were proud of Valentina and her work. Valentina graduated from the film school in 2010, I was one of the teachers and had many fine discussions with the director-to-be. As a true artist she was always in doubt of what she did was good enough. I wrote this after the IDFA screening last year:

"To watch the film of a former Zelig student, Valentina Pedicini, “Faith”, a film that actually was already in preparation, when she was in the school in Bolzano. She made a short film at that time, 11 years ago. “I was young at that time, 11 years later I felt mature enough to go deeper, stay longer at the place-“ And she did together with cameraperson Bastian Esser and his assistent Lucia Alessi – both of them also Zelig students.

The equally 11 year older teacher, who still remembers Valentina as the obvious documentary talent during the school time, has at a distance followed the carreer of the filmmaker, who has made a couple of fiction films and the documentary “Dal Profondo” in 2013. This one, “Faith”, shows that she can go close to people, who trust her. “Were there any ethical questions during the shooting”, the moderator asked Valentina Pedicini. “Every day”, was the answer from the very dedicated director, who with the amazing camerawork by Bastian Esser depicts both the violent training scenes with the master and his pupils and the quiet sensible scenes with couples in bed. You can’t avoid to feel claustrophobia watching the film, luckily you as a viewer are let out in the light once in a while… but seldom.

Valentina, RIP.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Pitched Rough Cuts

Written 19-11-2020 18:06:52 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Pitched Rough Cuts

I had the pleasure – indeed it was – to observe the online pitch of Rough Cut projects yesterday. There were five of them and the atmosphere was much more relaxed than several of the pitches, where projects were new and comments from the decision makers were included. The sessions included words from director & producer, a teaser or clips – several had 3 of them – so you could imagine how the film would be. And one-on-one were waiting for the filmmakers. I make small remarks to each of them – saying up front that they were all of quality, and as a session put well together geographically: Brazil, Israel, India, Lebanon, Sahel Africa. Here they are:



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IDFA Opens at Tuschinsky...

Written 18-11-2020 23:04:53 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Opens at Tuschinsky...

Two quotes from the opening of IDFA 2020, wise words from a minister and an artistic director of this unique meeting place for people in the documentary community - and for the audience, in the cinemas and online.

Standing in an almost-abandoned Tuschinski theater in the heart of Amsterdam, looking at hundreds of empty red seats is a painful illustration of the impact of the pandemic. At the same time, I am incredibly proud and happy that IDFA is still able to go ahead this year, as are all of the professionals who worked on the many documentaries that will be shown in the coming weeks. Here, live, in dozens of Dutch cinemas, and online, in thousands of living rooms across the globe,” said Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands.

“Art is never measurable. Its value, its impact, and even its very meaning are all living creatures. They change with time, they change with place, they change us and we change them continuously. So, this edition of IDFA is a tribute to you, our filmmakers and artists, and even more to those of you whose accomplishment might not be measurable by the immediate response of the market or the media. We believe in these films and new media works, we know they will live long and they will be discovered and re-discovered again and again,” concluded Orwa Nyrabia, Artistic Director of IDFA.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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