Written 22-05-2013 10:12:10 by Tue Steen Müller
From one of the partners of the DocAlliance, DOKLeipzig, we have received this press release: The Portuguese documentary film Cativeiro (Captivity) by André Gil Mata is the winner of this year’s Doc Alliance Award.
Written 21-05-2013 17:42:35 by Tue Steen Müller
The trade magazine Screen Daily has a long article (May 20) on the big presence of documentaries in Cannes. The article, written by Melanie Goodfellow, mentions films to be shown and sold as well as statements from people who sell and distribute documentaries.
Rithy Panh is there with what is called a hybrid work, ”The Missing Picture” and Marcel Ophüls presents his autobiographical film in the Director’s Fortnight section. ”Ain’t Misbehaving” is the title of the film that has interviews with Jeanne Moreau and Fred Wiseman, reflects on the director's relationship to his famous father Max, and includes clips from the director’s two masterpieces ”Le Chagrin et la Pitié” (English title, see poster photo) and ”Hotel Terminus” – that every documentary interested should have on their shelf, available on dvd they are.
At the festival in Cannes there is a Doc Corner with sales agents, documentary festival people – and a documentary Brunch for talking and mingling.
Anaïs Clanet from Wide House in Paris is quoted for this fine statement: “I definitely have a sense that more and more companies are getting into documentaries,” comments Clanet, head of Paris-based documentary specialist Wide House who is selling Ophüls’ Ain’t Misbehavin. “I see a lot of companies, traditionally specialising in fiction, now handling documentaries. They have woken up to the fact documentaries can actually be more profitable than fiction and easier to place, especially when there are fewer and fewer broadcaster slots for fiction features”.
Another important player in documentary sales: “It is a tough time because prices for TV rights have dropped but at the same time I am optimistic,” reveals Peter Jäger of Vienna-based doc specialist sales company Autlook Films. “Digital revenues are beginning to pick-up, not enough to compensate for the loss of DVD sales but enough to give me hope.Documentary, even when dealing with big subjects, is essentially a niche product and niche products lend themselves well to digital distribution although a theatrical release remains important.”
Read the whole article: http://www.screendaily.com/festivals/cannes/cannes-documentary-boom/5056470.article
Written 21-05-2013 09:43:54 by Tue Steen Müller
Artur Liebhart, festival director of Planete Doc Film Festival, had planned the closing ceremony of his festival in an excellent way. Well, he could not know it but Danish director Andreas Koefoed was as the first award winner called to the stage to receive “Chopin’s Nose” for his film “The Ghost of Piramida”. He was accompanied by his three protagonists from the Danish band Efterklang, that made a great concert after the ceremony. On top of that Koefoed’s film was shown after all awards had been given out at this tenth edition of a festival that not only takes place in Warsaw but also in other Polish cities.
Back to Piramida, here is the description of the film from the hand of the director:
Accompanied by their taciturn and not visibly impressed Russian polar bear guard, the group goes on a audio treasure hunt in the empty buildings of the abandoned town, while the narrator, the former Piramida-citizen Alexander Naomkin Ivanovic, takes us back to a bygone era, when Piramida flourished and the immigrant Russian miners and their families lived in a Soviet parallel society far from the brutal reality of their homeland.
And here is my brief comment on what I saw: Koefoed has in an elegant way combined past and present in his charming presentation of a town that once was full of people and life but now is a place where a music band goes to pick up sounds for their next album. Russian Alexander provided the director with wonderful archive material and the three musicians give us good music and sound, at the same time as they are urban cowboys in a nature where even an Arctic fox could be dangerous! Not to forget that the film is beautiful to watch. This film is a small pearl and I have become a fan of Efterklang…
On the site of the Danish Film Institute – in Danish – you can read of the impressive distribution initiative taken by the band and director. 800 so-called private-public screenings in 52 countries!
Denmark, 2012, 65 mins.
Written 21-05-2013 08:59:50 by Tue Steen Müller
I was invited to the Warsaw festival to talk about film critic, which I did last saturday morning with a general introduction followed by a screening of Maciej Drygas ”Abu Haraz” and a discussion of which points should be dealt with in a review. A dozen people took part, some found that Drygas film was boring because of its slow contemplative rythm, others went straight to the content, which they found actual, one used the phrase that the film was about ”uprooting”. Two psychology students pointed out that the director maybe had fallen in love with his own aesteticism in some sequences. Might be right... Anyway, I wrote my review text (see below) after a computer screening, changing a word or two after the cinema screening. Which makes repeat the banality that films like that has to be seen on a big screen, there is no comparison. I saw many details that I simply could not see on the computer.
The Planete+ Doc Review Festival was well attended, the hospitality from the staff was great, the weather was superb summer-like, but as said, nevertheless there was an audience that left the sun to enter the darkness.
I arrived thursday evening and left sunday. I watched six films: Peter Liechti’s ”Father’s Garden” (read Sevara Pan’s enthusiastic review below), Swedish Martin Widerberg’s film ”Everyone is Older than I Am” about his father Bo, who never finished the film about Arvid, his father. The film is complicated when it comes to the storytelling structure but has a lot of fine moments with Arvid and first of all clips from Bo Widerberg’s wonderful films like ”Kvarteret Korpen”, ”Barnvagnen” and ”Elvira Madigan”.
I saw Nicholas Philibert’s ”Maison de la Radio”, review will follow and the new film of the directors, who made ”Rabbit a la Berlin”, Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosolowski's ”The Art of Disappearing”. Again an original film with an incredible fairy tale story about Polish theatre guru Jerzy Grotowski who lands in a helicopter in Haïti to take with him vodoo priest Amon Frémon. I met with the directors after the screening as well as with Anna Wydra, the super-energetic and competent producer, who said that she would bring ”Rabbit a la
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Written 20-05-2013 16:14:34 by Sevara Pan
"For heaven’s sake – what a question!" utters Hedi as her son starts the conversation that they had avoided for decades. Father's Garden – The Love of My Parents is a new documentary film by Swiss director Peter Liechti that traces a close re-encounter of Peter with his comely aged parents, Max and Hedi Liechti. The film is based on 20 interviews of his parents, taken between summer of 2010 and summer of 2011. Everything that appears in the film is verbatim from these conversations.
A couple of minutes into the film, Peter spills a story of an accidental public encounter with his father a few years back. Despite having not seen one another for ages, the two could not embrace. The happenstance perplexed Peter, compelling him to take a closer look at his parents, hence resulted in the following film. After the long absence from his parents' lives, Peter plunges himself into their biographies allowing every moment, no matter how mundane, to reveal disjointed entrails of their subjective memories. Circumventing the comforts of silence, this author-driven documentary attempts to explore the dark corners of his parents' bygone days and resurface things long forgotten through the scrupulous recollection of the common past.
Unsentimental yet empathetic, the film centers upon the difficult marriage of Max and Hedi, who have lived together for 62 years. "Closely knit yet poles apart" – as Berlinale put it – the two are just fundamentally different. "Mother loves to travel. [...] I am just a homebody. She reads a lot. I
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Written 18-05-2013 14:56:38 by Tue Steen Müller
Veteran Polish director Maciej Drygas gives the audience an absolutely fascinating opening of his new film shot in North Sudan. Meditative music accompanies the camera, that circles slowly and softly around trees from the point of view of a man in a boat. He watches this as his Paradise, and his voice comes off the image, ”I often dream that I am back in Abu Haraz...”.
The film starts, the introduction is made, a flashbacked human story unfolds about the demolition of a village and the move of its inhabitants to what (at the end of the film) looks like a refugee camp with modern facilities like electricity, which was not always available in Abu Haraz. The building of a dam and the consequent flooding of the village pushes the inhabitants away from a harmonious life, that Drygas describes as full of beauty following the basic natural rythms of Life.
A child is born and the village celebrates. The men cultivate the fertile fields and take care of the animals. Cooking. A school class. Sand storm. A small conflict between boy and girl. A generator brings light into the houses so the kids can read. Drygas observes, he keeps a distance of respect but he is obviously drawn by this kind of classic life. He refrains from any evaluation of what the dam could bring in terms of progress, his aim has been to follow the villagers literally tearing down their homes, packing their goods – and their donkeys and goats – under – especially from the women - expression of great sorrow.
You could argue that a bit more information would have been welcomed from the side of the director, it is a bit enigmatic what stands behind the strong scenes with angry men shouting ”down with the administration” and ”blood must flow” and this is ”an attack on the culture of the Nile”.
However, the director has made another choice and he performs that brilliantly. There are scenes which are magnificent like the one towards the end where you see a lonely woman walking in the desert with one child on the arm, one holding her scarf, with a suitcase in the other hand. Pure poetry as is the sequence (accompanied by music) where you see a truck driving away with their belongings with a cut to ”our man” watching it all from the top of a mountain with music mingling the sound of water that gets closer and closer to finally be pouring down in a visually stunning image.
The village is under water, the man dreams again meeting someone, who tells him not to think about the past! Which is what Drygas has done so masterly. His focus is the past, the lost paradise.
Poland, 2013, 75 mins.
Premiere at Planete+ Doc Film festival, www.planetdocff.pl
Written 17-05-2013 12:58:04 by Tue Steen Müller
The Guardian published a very interesting article Tuesday May 14. Agnès Poirier had seen the new film by legendary Claude Lanzmann about Benjamin Murmelstein, who collaborated with the Nazis as the last Jewish Council President in Theresienstadt. Poirier talks to Lanzmann about Murmelstein and the film that will be shown in Cannes tomorrow. I have taken some quotes from the long article:
... There are two men on a balcony looking out at the panorama of Rome. It is the summer of 1975. "Are you happy in Rome?" says one. "As happy as an exiled Jew can be," says the other. The man asking the question is Claude Lanzmann. He has just started work on what will take him 10 years to finish: Shoah, the ground-breaking, nine-and-a-half-hour film about the Holocaust, composed of first-hand testimony and eschewing historical footage...
Lanzmann never included Murmelstein in ”Shoah”, now he gets ”his own film”.
... Murmelstein, who called himself "the last of the unjust", perfectly represented (those) contradictions. His testimony raises a trail of questions, all painfully complex. Indeed, his extraordinary presence, blunt sincerity, acerbic wit and erudition would shake anyone who has inherited history's prejudices against those Jews who worked with the Nazis. Lanzmann has endeavoured to rehabilitate them. In the preamble to his new film The Last of the Unjust, which will screen at the Cannes film festival on Saturday, he writes that Murmelstein's revelations never ceased to haunt him, and that the time had come to share them. "Murmelstein was brilliantly intelligent and extraordinarily courageous," Lanzmann says. "During the week I spent with him, I grew to love him. He does not lie: he is as harsh with others as with himself"...
France, 2013, 220 mins.
Written 15-05-2013 14:52:25 by Allan Berg Nielsen
The Guardian to-day: MICHAEL HANN: "Meeting Ginger Baker: an experience to forget. How an onstage Q&A with the great drummer turned into a professional horror show":
Written 13-05-2013 22:28:18 by Tue Steen Müller
On the night where FC Barcelona stars travel their city in an open bus, to celebrate the championship with their fans, it is the 22nd league title for the one and only club, this blogger follows on Danish television, whenever they play, it is time to look ahead to the programme of another institution in the Catalan capital:
... DocsBarcelona, which is an International Documentary Film Festival and a Pitching Forum. The festival runs from May 29 till June 2. The pitching forum is scheduled for May 30 and 31. A one-day interactive documentary seminar takes place May 29.
As head of the pitching forum and as co-programmer of the festival’s official section with Joan Gonzalez, director of DocsBarcelona, I will be reporting on this blog both during and (as now) before the event. Let me give you some overall information at this point:
The festival’s official section presents 19 films, including (let point out 5 titles for now) Jay Bulger’s wonderful portrait of the mad genius drummer Ginger Baker, ”Beware of Mr. Baker” (photo) is the title, full of music and archive from the times of Cream. Alan Berliner’s ”First Cousin Once Removed”, what an uplifting and warm film about Edwin Honig, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, Berliner is a master in montage. Multi-skilled performance artist, Palestinian Khaled Jarrar has made ”Infiltrators” from the Jerusalem wall, important and shameful documentation of humiliation of human beings as it happens right now. ”Noise” is from close-by, in Tel Aviv, where Israeli director Dan Geva experiences a drama of constant noise that in the film is developed cleverly to more than a physical problem. And ”The Act of Killing” by Joshua Oppenheimer, for documentary interested people, I think no further introduction is needed.
Two master classes are scheduled to take place in Gaudi’s masterpiece, La Pedrera: One is with Michael Glawogger, whose ”Whore’s Glory” is in the official section, the other with Fredrik Gertten on ”Bananas!” and ”Big Boys Gone Bananas!”, both films are shown at the festival.
I will come back to the pitching forum and its content on a later occasion.
Football championship is won, the next adventures will come from DocsBarcelona 2013.
Written 13-05-2013 21:09:12 by Tue Steen Müller
As you can see in the post below I have been to Stockholm, invited by filmmaker PeÅ Holmquist to tutor his graduating students for a week before they leave the Stockholm Dramatiska Högskola, English name: Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts. PeÅ had asked the students to come up with a project-idea for the post-school life that they are about to enter... and to pitch it to their teacher/him and me. As the students graduate examination takes place May 23rd it was busy time for several of them, who had deadlines to fulfill in the post-production. Nevertheless projects were presented and I had the chance to watch the nearly finished graduation films, some of them had passed the picture lock phase, plus mid terms work, the students had done before. Plus to have good talks with them.
Let me mention a couple of works finished in the school years and some in the making that impressed me.
Martina Carlstedt's mid time documentary ”Claes” (photo) is very strong, both as a film and content-wise: Claes is a pensioner, who lives in complete isolation in is very neat, organised flat, in which he reflects on what his life has become and tries to make himself ready to leave the home to meet the outside world. But there is always an excuse to be found not to cross this border of fear, and to stay at home. Carlstedt has put the camera in the right places, she has a warm relationship to her protagonist, a very mature film in other words.
Equal maturity you find in the films of Ida Lindgren, ”Convent Girls” is mentioned in the post below and her previous ”Clownmedicin” demonstrates as well her talent for looking into the world of children, experienced in a hospital where (translated from the Swedish subtitle) there is playfulness and seriousness at the same time when the clowns move around.
Anna Padilla worked with Ida Lindgren on ”Convent Girls” and presented to me an emotionally strong story (her graduation film) about a 16 year old girl, who fights for her Iraqi father, who is to be deported from Sweden by
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Paul Pauwels: I hope I'm too pessimistic - and I will find out soon - but I've learned that it's not all gold that glitters... we'll see and in the mean time I'll k...
John Burgan: Sounds like a great initiative - just the sort of exchange that both schools can really benefit from....
Benoit F: J'ai déjà acheté mes places de concert......
matala: Wow, my exact feelings and thoughts could not be articulated this perfectly about Kievan film fest audience; what I saw in Molodist three yrs ago was ...
Tue Steen Müller: The films mentioned in the text of Sevare Pan are available on arteeast.org...