Pavel Kostomarov: Together

Written 04-04-2017 11:04:00 by Tue Steen Müller

Do you remember the film by Kostomarov called Together, Roman Bondarchuk asked me on the Virmanska Street, when we sunday were walking around in sunny Lviv in Western Ukraine. The couple in the film, Ludmila and Vladimir Loboda, were sitting outside the café. We joined them for a grappa and Turkish coffee and I was proud to tell them that I had written a review about the film, praising them and their Love Story – and their art. They told us that they were very happy with the film but since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, they had no contact with Kostomarov – and Vladimir had no longer a gallery in Moscow selling his work. The film is excellent as you can read in this repeat of the review from 2009:

A house in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe a house in the centre of the universe. A couple lives there. They are artists, they do paintings and wooden sculptures. The sculptures have their own home in the house, a room for themselves where they stand in a circle, in harmony, in a room that is visited by the artists with lamps in their hands, pointing at them, making them come alive. It is a phantasy world with a couple – the man, who is talking in philosophical terms moving his arm around, a bit of a pretentious performance, but charming and with humour, if he is not throwing rude language at the woman, calling her dumb at one moment, and praising her as Mother Earth in the next. She looks strong, moves around as a powerful independent character, but she has her views on the relationship between man and woman: ”If she dominates it’s over”. Well, from the 48 minutes that I was invited to share with her and her husband, I did not get the impression of a suppressed woman.

And that is not at all what brilliant cameraman and director Kostomarov is after. He goes for beauty. The light playing in the face of the woman. Their hands cutting the sculpture figures. Their hugging and caressing, their letting the outside world be rude and cruel – they are murdering us, the man says peeping out of the window after a sequence with cranes and cars destroying something that we dont get to know what is. Not important, what is important is what we see inside, what Kostomarov (cameraman and co-director of ”Mother” and previously cameraman for Loznitsa) catches of Life and Love between two people who have been together for a lifetime. The name of the couple is Vladimir and Ludmila Loboda, and to summarize: This is such a wonderful intimate close-up of a Russian artist couple, an observation, yes, but what makes it extraordinary is the interpretative layer that the director adds, or should I say paints with his camera. There are superb sequences playing with light and shadow, where you see objects in the house or art pieces in compositions that stays in your mind. Taking the risk to have King Crimson music as an accompagnement!

Russia, 2009, 48 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX 2017 /Kirsten Johnson

Written 20-03-2017 22:22:56 by Tue Steen Müller

90 minutes with Kirsten Johnson thursday morning 23rd of March at Cinemateket, that’s a good time investment. I can guarantee that knowing Kirsten’s knowledge and commitment, and having attended her classes and Q&A sessions several times. Of course it is good if you have seen her film ”Cameraperson” – but if not there is a screening at 16.40 that same day at Grand Teatret with the director present.

”Cameraperson” was on my list of the best documentaries of 2016, here is some text from my review:

It is a film that deserves all the attention it can get. BECAUSE it puts the cinematographer and his/her work in focus through Kirsten Johnson, who says – a text in the beginning of the film – ”for the past 25 years I’ve worked as a documentary cinematographer. I originally shot the following footage for other films, but here I ask you to see it as my memoir. These are images that have marked me and leave me wondering still”.

Memoir, yes, the film comes out as not only an offer to reflect on ethical and aesthetical choices of a cameraperson, it is also an autobiographical essay, as – luckily - Johnson connects what she is doing behind the camera with her own private life as mother of twins with a mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and a father/grandfather playing with her Viva and Felix, the names of the twins. In other words private footage is included in a film that is very rich in its thematically structured narrative…

… and has the most wonderful scene towards the end of the film, where Kirsten Johnson goes back to the family in Bosnia that she had filmed before – to show them the footage that constitutes her pleasant memories from her first visit, where she was the cameraperson for a film on the war. A scene full of dignity from both sides.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX 2017 /Modern Times Review

Written 17-03-2017 08:08:40 by Tue Steen Müller

First day of the 2017 CPH:DOX. I went to the new festival centre, Charlottenborg, got my accreditation, ran into always energetic Frank Piasecki Poulsen, who ordered me to go up to see the impressive colourful so-called social cinema, where the morning had hosted a lot of young people discussing ”democracy”, meeting journalists and opinon-makers. Poulsen also told me to see his ”blue room”, where he resides with his ”Every Day” videos and a small kitchen, that is open – with Frank as cook – at 6pm every night… amazing! CPH:DOX is much more than a film festival-

I was happy to meet Norwegian Truls Lie, the man behind ”Modern Times Review” (MTR), the European Documentary Magazine, that

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Joe Bini at East Doc Platform

Written 10-03-2017 15:36:12 by Tue Steen Müller

Of course it was a scoop for the organisers, IDF (Institute of Documentary Film), to have an editor capacity like American Joe Bini as a tutor and to have him deliver a masterclass like he did yesterday at the Cervantes Institute for a full house. It was obvious that we liked what we heard and saw from the editor, who has been working with Werner Herzog on 27 films.

Bini started his class reading from a paper what he thought of film or rather – liked that – cinema language, because of the reading difficult to convey to you, and after he told us how much he dislikes American documentaries for their journalistic language, he became lovely concrete in his story about how he has been working with Herzog.

He showed clips from ”Little Dieter Needs to Fly” (1997), ”Into the Abyss” (2011) and ”Grizzly Man” (2005) as well as the opening of the film he edited ”Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” (2008) by Marina Zenovich.

Herzog is an instinctual filmmaker, Bini said. He shoots so little footage, it’s insane how little; he decides in advance that this is gonna be in the film. Most of the films with him have been edited in 3 months. With ”Grizzly Man” I found out that this was to be a film about ”the relationship between this German guy and the American bear lover, Timothy”, who had a totally different understanding of nature.

The famous narration of Herzog… With ”Grizzly Man” we made it during the editing. Herzog wrote a text, I often corrected his English, he had a microphone, the recording was done and we put it in immediately.

How do you decide to take on a film? I watch material and if I see that you speak the language of cinema…

Photo: Bini and Herzog at a screening - years ago.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Miroslav Janek: Normal Autistic Film

Written 05-02-2017 12:30:49 by Tue Steen Müller

Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, festival directors of Magnificent7 in Belgrade, writes this presentation of Miroslav Janek's awarded film that will be shown at the Sava Center tonight:

This dynamic and playful documentary is the work of one of the most important European authors when it comes to children, especially children who don’t blend in and who are different from the majority. Miroslav Janek has gained worldwide fame for his collage films, made with a free camera, with a mixture of styles and with encouraging the participants to interactively influence the course, look and style of the film. The author discreetly and gradually involves every protagonist to think in front of the camera about the scene, the theme and the film that is being born, and from these instructions, ideas and riots creates stylistically different courses, precisely customized for every hero, it seems. The stories are about them, they are both their stories and Janek’s stories, and all together, with great editing intermingling, that becomes a disheveled explosive film which ranges from a whisper to a roar, from gentle intimate situations to noisy, rhythmic episodes and entertaining short films within the film.

Direct and sensitive, Luka has a distinct sense of humor; he loves films and writes scripts. Piano virtuoso Denis is capable of playing complex classical compositions; he is incredibly intelligent and well read. Majda loves to rap and she is not shy about it; her brave verses reveal her environment with disarming accuracy. Marjamka can tell long stories in English, and her tireless brother Ahmed is unusually friendly. Five exceptional children that society has permanently and not at all flattering termed as "autistic". With his unique vision the famous Czech documentarist challenges us to once and for all stop to look at autism as a medical diagnosis and to try to understand it as a fascinating way of thinking which is sometimes extremely difficult to decipher. For who is the one who determines what is normal - to live in a constant rush, ignoring the absurdity of modern life or sadly looking for order, peace and tranquility in the world?

Miroslav Janek is an author who emphasizes the importance of a long process in which his brilliant dialogue and interactive documentaries were created: "They got used to me and unconsciously they were offering to me a lot of interesting situations... I focused on the magic and on mysterious way the autistic persons are thinking."

Czech Republic, 2016, 90 minutes.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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

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

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.

More on


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Best Documentaries 2016

Written 30-12-2016 15:13:26 by Tue Steen Müller

Photo from Homeland, Iraq Year Zero by Abbas Fahnel

Rahul Jain: Machines

Raoul Peck: I Am Not Your Negro

Kirsten Johnson: Cameraperson

Ugis Olte & Morten Traavik: Liberation Day

Torstein Grude & Niels Pagh Andersen: Mogadishu Soldier

Audrius Stonys: The Woman and the Glacier

Sergei Loznitsa: Austerlitz

Miroslav Janek: Normal Autistic Film

Salomé Jashi: The Dazzling Light of Sunset

Ognjen Glavonic: Depth Two

Piotr Stasik: 21 x New York

Abbas Fahdel: Homeland, Iraq Year Zero

Laura Israel: Robert Frank – Don’t Blink

Martin Sola: Chechen Family

Pawel Lozinski: You Have No Idea How Much I Love You

Vitaly Mansky: Close Relations

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

No Nation Films

Written 21-12-2016 18:45:04 by Tue Steen Müller

A mail came in on the 14th of December from old friend Orwa Nyrabia, here is first a quote from the mail and then one more from an article written by Melanie Goodfellow for Screendaily, link below, read it all:

Nyrabia: A trademark conflict has emerged over Proaction Film’s name in Germany, our new home. We took this as an opportunity to revisit our stand, rethink what motivates us to make the challenging films we make and to consider how drastically we have changed as filmmakers over the years since we created Proaction Film in Syria, back in 2002. After some 15 years of independent and selective film productions, we are still charged by the anguish and the ambition of the uncompromising filmmakers with whom we

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jon Bang Carlsen, Pamela Cohn, Viesturs Kairišs…

Written 19-12-2016 23:43:26 by Tue Steen Müller

… and me are online thanks to our visit to the 2016 DocuDays UA in Kiev. The festival has recorded the lectures made and edited them into nice, informative videos where ”experience is shared”. There are clips in between the words. The festival calls the initiative DocuClass.

Latvian Kairišs speaks about ”the music as a returning to the great myth in documentary” with examples from his great works ”Romeo and Juliet” (2004) and ”Lohengrin from Varka Crew” (2009) – yes, Kairišs is also a recognised opera director. His speech in Kiev is not translated, would have been fine with English subtitles.

You don’t need that when always interesting critic and festival programmer, American Pamela Cohn talks about innovations in American documentary – the same goes for Danish Jon Bang Carlsen, who is introduced like this ”… the inventor and consistent adherent of radical ”staged documentary, Jon Bang Carlsen, will speak about his unique approach to seeking reality by actively creating it at the point where genres intersect. However paradoxical it may sound, the Danish director claims that for him, such an approach is the only way to get closer to reality”.

And if you want to know more about what led to a new generation’s breakthrough of Danish documentary with ”Family” (Phie Ambo and Sami Saif) and ”Monastery” (Pernille Rose Grønkjær), take a look at my 30 minutes in Kiev in March this year.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Rembrandt, Ukrainians, Eisenstein, Goldin

Written 09-12-2016 15:09:53 by Tue Steen Müller

And what do they have in common? I will tell you in this small report from New York, where everyone talks about – well, you know who, we had to struggle to pass his blocked corner at his Tower on fifth Avenue, where media people and visitors were waiting to get a glimpse of the president-elect. OMG.

Earlier that day we had the pleasure to meet with Dar’ya Averchenko and Roman Bondarchuk, who came from Los Angeles, where they had been promoting their ”Ukrainian Sheriffs” for the Oscars, with several screenings and presentations also in New York – and now they are back in Kiev to take part in the preparations of the Docudays festival in March. I am looking forward to be there again and take part.

With Dar’ya and Roman we were talking about Odessa, a city that

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

A Visual Weekend in Philadelphia

Written 05-12-2016 20:10:43 by Tue Steen Müller


must include a visit to the extraordinary Barnes Foundation. We were there thanks to Philly citizens Anita Reher, ex-EDN and now running the Flaherty in New York, and Robert Goodman, photographer and film teacher. So first some words about the ”…mission of the Barnes Foundation, which dates back to its founding in 1922, is “the promotion of the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts…”. For the dramatic history of the foundation and its locations, its founder Dr. Barnes and his passion for collecting Renoir, Cezanne, Modigliani, Degas, Soutine, van Gogh and many many others, I will advice you to read the entry at wikipedia. The collection itself is amazing. A gem for art lovers.

The beautiful museum in the centre of Philly was opened a few years ago with rooms arranged and paintings hanging as they did in the old place, according to Barnes (who died in 1951) wishes and vision. So when you enter a room the walls are packed with lovely art, a visual bombardment that does not care about genres and –isms, but have the individual pieces speak to each other.

That’s the permanent exhibition but before looking on that, we went for ”Live and Life Will Give You Pictures: Masterworks of French Photography 1890-1950”. Thematically organised you were offered to watch lots of Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï (oh Paris…), André Kertész as well as Man Ray, who is born in Philadelphia.

The photo taken for this text reflects ”the decisive moment”, to quote Cartier-Bresson, where Robert Goodman, Anita Reher and Ellen Fonnesbech studied the exhibition of photographic masterworks.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Torben Skjødt Jensen: Flâneurtrilogien

Written 04-12-2016 19:53:36 by Allan Berg Nielsen

For nogen tid siden skrev Torben Skjødt Jensen på sin Facebookside at en blogger i USA var optaget af hans tredje Flâneurfilm fra 1998: ”Walter Benjamin FB-siden har fundet en omtale af 2 film om Walter Benjamin hvoraf den ene er den som Peter Hallberg og jeg lavede i 1998, Benjamins Skygge - og de kan godt li' den... rart! Følg linket herunder og så kan man faktisk også se filmen - godt nok i en frygtelig YouTube opløsning, men med engelske undertekster - og det er jo bedre end ingenting for jeg kan desværre ikke overtale DFI til at min Flâneur-trilogi burde være på Filmcentralen/Filmstriben - de er åbenbart lidt for meget kunst til danske øjne!”


Jeg husker de tre sindrigt sammenhængende, kloge, omhyggeligt udførte film og fulgte selvfølgelig linket (som findes nedenfor) og læste: “… In the 1998 film, Flâneur III: Benjamin’s Shadow, Danish director Torben Skjødt Jensen and writer Ulf Peter Hallberg collaborate on an impressionistic black-and-white meditation on Paris, overlaid with Hallberg’s ruminations and quotations from Benjamin. Benjamin’s fascination with nineteenth-century Paris drove his massive, unfinished Arcades Project, an excavation of the inner workings of modernity. Where John Hughes’ One Way Street: Fragments for Walter Benjamin, 1992 is marked by a very dated 90’s aesthetic (which may look chic now that the decade’s back in fashion), the above film (Torben Skjødt Jensen's) is both classical and modernist, a testament to the beauties and contradictions of Paris. I think in this respect, it is a more fitting tribute to the critical and contradictory aesthetic theory of Walter Benjamin. “ (Josh Jones, a writer and musician based in Washington, DC @jdmagness)

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Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Jihlava International Documentary FF 20 Years

Written 20-10-2016 14:37:57 by Tue Steen Müller

It starts the coming tuesday October 25 and runs until October 30, the documentary film festival in provincial Czech town Jihlava. I have been there many times, I have enjoyed it a lot, watching films and/or being part of the Ex Oriente workshop. I have been in the jury, I have been sleeping in a pension next to the zoo and the church with interesting wake-up sounds in the morning!

Monday this week I received the longest press release I can remember entering my mail-box. Presenting the selection of films, the variety of events connected to the festival, IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) activities, Ex Oriente, KineDok and East Silver market including the announcement of the competition for short, medium length and long documentaries with names of jury members. I am proud to be one of them, in the short category. You will hear more about that.

What can I do with such a long press text but tell you to go to the site of the festival and get information on what will happen – and that is a lot. Let me just again again promote two films that we have written about on – Miroslav Janek’s latest masterpiece ”Normal Autistic Film”, Salome Jashi’s ”The Dazzling Light of Sunset” and Robert Kirchhoff’s extraordinary ”A Hole in the Head” about which I wrote briefly in an email to the director, ”original in storytelling, emotional, a true Documentary.”  

The film, that was not taken by the Locarno festival and IDFA, will

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jon Bang Carlsen: Premiere/ Retrospektiv/ Samtaler

Written 17-09-2016 15:29:15 by Tue Steen Müller

Det er flot og fortjent og ret og rimeligt at Det Danske Filminstituts fremragende Cinematek hylder Jon Bang Carlsen fra i morgen og frem til den 2. Oktober. Med sædvanlig redaktionel opfindsomhed har Cinematekets folk sat tre samtaler op med den danske auteur, som han bliver kaldt i omtalen af serien. I morgen skal Carlsen tale med Joshua Oppenheimer om ”Hotel of the Stars”, som instruktøren af ”The Look of Silence” mm. er helt vild med. Han er ikke den eneste. Og så vises ”Før gæsterne kommer” som udgangspunkt for en snak om ”dagligliv i Jylland” mellem Søren Ryge Petersen og Bang Carlsen. ”To af landets luneste og skarpeste menneskebetragtere”, står der som introduktion. Og så er Lars Movin selvfølgelig inviteret, ”Blinde engle” er filmen, det kunne have været andre for Movins mobbedreng af en bog om Bang Carlsens film er den man skal orientere sig i, hvis man vil bag om de mange film og rejser, som Bang Carlsen har foretaget.

A Man of the World, hvad vi også her på filmkommentaren har haft blikket rettet imod siden vi startede for snart ti år siden. Vi har skrevet et væld af tekster om Jon Bang Carlsen. Og der kommer én til snart om hans nyeste værk, ”Déjà Vu”, som har premiere i Cinemateket den 22. September.

Her er programmet:

Søndag den 18. september kl. 19:00 'Hotel of the Stars' + Joshua Oppenheimer i samtale med Jon Bang Carlsen

Tirsdag den 20. september kl. 19:30 'Før gæsterne kommer' + Søren Ryge Petersen i samtale med Jon Bang Carlsen

Tirsdag den 20. september kl. 21:15 'Ofelia kommer til byen' - med introduktion ved instruktøren

Torsdag den 22. september kl. 16:30 'Blinde Engle' + Lars Movin i samtale med Jon Bang Carlsen

Torsdag den 22. september-onsdag den 28. september: Daglige visninger af 'Déjà vu' - den første med introduktion af instruktøren.

Onsdag den 12. oktober kl. 16:45 'Ofelia kommer til byen' (Jon Bang Carlsen, 1985)

Alt sammen i Cinemateket, Gothersgade 55, Kbh K, 33743412

Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Baltic Docs – Flying Back in Time

Written 14-09-2016 15:12:35 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s 9.45am June 13th 1997. The location is the old Kino Gudhjem on Bornholm, the island in the middle of the Baltic Sea. The first Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries is to take off, there is a panel of commissioning editors waiting to listen to words from those pitching and to watch a trailer.

25 projects were lined-up, and a long day lay ahead of us. 15 minutes were given to each project according to the rules that had been set up years before at the Forum in Amsterdam. Those same rules that are still used at the many documentary fora all over the world.

The panel was strong. Makes me smile with nostalgia, when I think of experienced people like Björn Arvas from Swedish SVT, Flemming Grenz from Danish DR and Eila Werning from YLE in Finland. They have all, 20 editions later, retired now, but again and again this trio came back to support the filmmakers from the region. As did – in the first years of the Forum - Nick Fraser from BBC and Mette Hoffmann Meyer from TV2 Denmark. Not to forget Karolina Lidin from National Film Board of Denmark (Statens Filmcentral), who was already involved in the festival, that had been running on Bornholm since 1990, founded by TV2 Bornholm’s Bent Nørby Bonde, who then set up BMC, Baltic Media Centre.

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dola Bonfils: Det signerende blik

Written 23-08-2016 11:52:42 by Allan Berg Nielsen

"Dokumentarfilmene har i de cirka 100 år, de har eksisteret, repræsenteret en form for kulturel organisering, der ligesom museerne ordner virkeligheden for os og reflekterer de idéer og den erkendelse, der har givet verden en vis mening. Dokumentarfilm tilbyder en vision af verden i et kunstnerisk formsprog, det vil sige disse forløb i tid er ikke blot registrerende for eftertiden, men er også bearbejdet af en personlighed, der signerer sin vision, giver sig til kende med sit blik…” (Dola Bonfils: Det signerende blik, 1993. Nationalmuseet, katalog film/video til udstillingen Museum Europa)


Dola Bonfils modtog 20. august på Filmhøjskolen i Ebeltoft under det årlige branchetræf for dokumentarfilmfolk Det Danske Filminstituts Roos Pris, som hvert år ”påskønner en særlig bemærkelsesværdig indsats for dokumentarismen i Danmark. Priskomiteen består af sidste års prismodtager, denne gang fotograf Henrik Bohn Ipsen samt direktør Henrik Bo Nielsen og afdelingschef Ane Mandrup fra filminstituttet. De motiverede tildelingen således:

"Dola Bonfils tildeles Roos Prisen 2016 for hendes utrættelige engagement og fordomsfri nysgerrighed, for hendes undersøgelser af magtens strukturer og tilværelsens kompleksitet – samt lysten til at formidle og diskutere sine indsigter på tværs af kunstarter, teknologier og generationer.

Dola Bonfils er som skaber, igangsætter, inspirator og formidler drevet af et enormt videbegær. Hendes egne værker spænder vidt i både tematikker og formater – fra observerende dokumentarfilm om magtens institutioner til eksperimenterende film, hvor kunstarterne mødes og nye erkendelser opstår. Intet emne er for vanskeligt, og nye fortælleformer afprøves frygtløst i forsøget på at gøre os alle klogere på tilværelsen.

Kolleger fremhæver Dola Bonfils' grundighed og fasthed. Hun er altid velforberedt og opdateret på allernyeste viden, og hun holder fast i sine ideer, også når de møder modstand eller uforståenhed. Hun fremhæves også for sin omsorg og medmenneskelige interesse – og for sin evne til at se andre menneskers potentiale. En evne, som hun blandt andet udnyttede i perioden som filmkonsulent på Det Danske Filminstitut."

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Poetics

Film History at Doclisboa

Written 04-08-2016 13:48:29 by Tue Steen Müller

The Lisbon documentary festival that takes place October 20-30 announces two retrospectives of important film historical interest.

One is mentioned as a full retrospective of the works of Peter Watkins… ”Peter Watkins is the subject of a full retrospective. Active between 1950’s and 1990’s, Watkins won 1966 Academy Award for Documentary Feature with “The War Game”. Being one of the pioneers of docudrama and fake documentary, Watkins (photo) is a leading figure in political and resistance film. His work questions and criticises the media role in urgent issues such as nuclear warfare or the establishment, both by dissecting and re-enacting historical episodes in an openly revisionist approach. His criticism towards audiovisual media as an instrument of power is central to Watkins’s work. The retrospective is a partnership between Doclisboa and Cinemateca Portuguesa – Museu do Cinema.”

The other is a thematic retrospective set up by Michael Chanan with the title “For an Impossible Cinema: documentary and avant-garde in Cuba”. The press release presentation text goes like this:…” consisting of the Cuban documentary movement around the Revolution, an Avant-garde episode in Latin America usually ignored. With the radical change brought about by the triumph of the Revolution and as political and aesthetic opposition to Hollywood, a new cinema is born, in which documentary figured centrally. Together with the impulse to show a new reality and rethink the public function of the image, documentary in Cuba merges the factual record with the aesthetics of shock, producing a unique visual manifesto. Santiago Álvarez, founder of Cuban Film Institute “Latin American Newsreel”, is one of the leading figures. His “nervous montage” technique and his using “found materials” is considered a precursor to the modern video clip. Júlio Garcia Espinosa, who recently passed away, is another leading figure in Cuban film. Espinosa also wrote “For an Imperfect Cinema”, a reflection on revolutionary film. The retrospective is a collaboration with Reina Sofia Museum, from Madrid.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2016: Music Documentaires

Written 18-07-2016 10:02:13 by Tue Steen Müller

… As each year passes, it gets a bit trickier to unearth moving image gems with music at the core of their stories. With many feature-length music documentaries becoming a bit stale and formulaic – more and more so every year – our music program tries to reveal a deeper layer of artist-made films, handcrafted, marvelously original glimpses into the less traveled territories of emotional vibration.

Consisting of half a dozen features and a 5-film shorts program, ranging in production year from 1930 up until the present day, each selection – fiction, nonfiction, somewhere in between – explores bespoke landscapes of monumental spaces, collective acts of recuperation through image and sound, and the ephemerality of hidden notes and tones that connote strong ties to things not quite earthbound. But they walk and talk and sing and dance among us just the same…

This fine introduction text is a quote from curator Pamela Cohn, who is in charge of the “Magical Substances: Music on Film” section at the upcoming Dokufest in Prizren (August 5-13). It consists of 6 features and 5 shorts, including two by legendary Les Blank (“A Poem is a Naked Person” (1974) and “Thailand Moments” (1967) AND the 1930 classic by Aleksander Dovzhenko “Earth” (Photo). Here is the catalogue text:

”Avant-garde ”Earth”, a recognized cinema masterpiece, was banned 9 days after release and glorified in Ukraine only after Dovzhenko’s death, bringing forth dozens of controversial interpretations. Full of lyrical pantheism and utopian exaltation, it demonstrated the ambiguity of Ukrainian geopolitical choice in the 1920s. The new soundtrack for Earth was created by Ukrainian ethno-chaos band DakhaBrakha, whose music shifts the emphasis from the film’s ideological connotations to universal ones.”

Below a link to where to get a copy of the film.

Ukraine, 1930, 83 mins.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jonas Mekas: I Had Nowhere to Go

Written 15-07-2016 12:23:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Wow, that sounds exciting, the diary of Jonas Mekas, ”I Had Nowhere to Go”, made into a film by filmmaker and video artist Douglas Gordon, the man who made the super-aesthetic film about Zinedine Zidane… The film has its premiere during the Locarno Film Festival, August 3-13. Here is two clips from the website of the festival:

”The Concorso Cineasti del presente will open with a film that is unique in its protagonists and for the concept that is the basis for the project. I Had Nowhere To Go by the filmmaker and video artist Douglas Gordon is based on Jonas Mekas's diary…

I Had Nowhere To Go is his story of exile; brought on by the horrors of the twentieth century, propelled by the need to create rather than destroy, to move on, to make sense... or not, where bewilderment is more honest. It's been over 70 years since Jonas Mekas left his village in Lithuania to escape Nazi persecution. He was 22 years old. Today he is one of the last surviving members of a displaced generation. He is also one of the greatest documenters of the human experience”.

The artistic director Carlo Chatrian of the Locarno Festival: Although I do not want to reveal any more about this extraordinary project, I can say that Douglas Gordon offers us a truly sensorial experience, which challenges the concept of seeing, and links the idea of the present with that of memory. Looking so much forward to meet this film somewhere some day.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Robert Frank’s Don’t Blink In New York

Written 12-07-2016 18:43:30 by Tue Steen Müller

I got an email from Laura Israel this morning, the director of the film on Robert Frank, with whom she has working for years as an editor. “Getting the Word Out” she wrote and told that the film is running at the wonderful New York cinema Film Forum July 13-26 = from tomorrow. Later today the producer Melinda Shopsin posted a reference to an enthusiastic review of the film by Matthew Eng, It deserves a quote, see below and remember that we have several texts on Frank on this site. I also want to recommend the website of the film.

…Don’t Blink is the rare documentary — and Israel the rare documentarian-cum-cinematic curator — that understands that the best way to elicit both appreciation and understanding for an artist’s creations is to allow us to see these creations first-hand. And when the creations in-question are as electrifying and contextually-profuse as Frank’s, it’s especially hard to look away. His famously era-specific photography is so striking in the direct spontaneity of its gritty Americana, the scattered snippets of his films so arresting in their shaggy ecstasy, that as each of his works slips and seeps into one another, one can’t help but struggle to keep up…

Categories: Cinema, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ung i Randers/Youth in Randers 1978-1979

Written 20-06-2016 20:12:56 by Tue Steen Müller

Later this week I will visit an exhibition in Øksnehallen in Copenhagen. An exhibition that has been set up by the two photographers Finn Larsen and Lars Johansson, wholived and worked in Randers, the sixth biggest city in Denmark, around 60.000 inhabitants.

This is also the home of Allan Berg, co-editor of and at that time festival organizer and filmmaker in works with the two mentioned Larsen and Johansson.

Here is their introduction to the exhibition, that I will review in Danish and English:

Back in 1978-79 the background was years of museum work. Although we were young, we had worked in many different ways. New and old, local and foreign. Learned and thought. Photography became the tool and the form, more and more. The tradition of documentary. The working title was Among young people in Randers. First contact was Landstrygerne. A moped club that eventually became a motorcycle club. It was in color – slides, were what they were called. 8B from Tirsdalens school was let into the museum. It became It’s about us. They did most of it themselves. Areas of the city were searched, mostly in the evening. Black/white and flash. When the asphalt sways. The title came along the way. Films were important at the museum. We can do that too. Images of youth 16 mm color, shot with heavy equipment. The meeting lasted two years. There has not really been anything similar more made in Denmark before or since. Reunion. This is a re-exhibit. A glance at a time and at a Randers that was contemporary for young people not so long ago. When you had to make plans to meet, you went out into the hallway where the phone was, picked up the receiver and dialed a number that you had memorized or written down in a little book. Otherwise you went around the corner to the grill bar, where your friends hung out. Or you met in the evening at the club under the church or at school.

It was seen for a while.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Svend Johansen: Cykelmyggens far

Written 14-06-2016 19:01:39 by Tue Steen Müller

- med undertitlen "et portræt af tusindkunstneren Flemming Quist Møller" er en herlig film, hvor jeg sad og klukkede af glæde over at se og gense. Det er nemlig en film, som er en del af min egen historie som ansat ved Statens Filmcentral fra 1975 og 20 år frem, parallelt med at instruktør og producent Svend Johansen, min jævnaldrende, startede sit filmselskab Filmforsyningen og stod bag en række af vores mest efterspurgte film i SFC. Jeg bliver helt nostalgisk, når jeg tænker tilbage på en tid i slutningen af 70'erne, hvor vi arrangerede filmdage rundt i landet og hvor Svend og hans Tegnedrenge stort set altid var med.

Var Svends debut i den sammenhæng noget med en film om en kattekilling, som blev vist i Haderslev? Det er helt naturligt at det er Svend, som har stykket et omfattende, vidunderligt arkivmateriale med Quist Møller sammen. Det er underholdende, det beskriver en mand med et unikt kreativt talent, tusindkunstneren er det helt rigtige ord, kunstner ja, og hans arbejdskolleger og hans søn taler så præcist og varmt om ham. Det er anekdotisk på den informerende måde, altid uden at intellektualisere, tv-klip, filmklip - åh "Bennys Badekar", Hugo-filmene, "Snuden", "Kedsomhedens gåde", "Det usynlige pattebarn"... For ikke at tale om historien om "Prins Piwi". Og musikken med Koppel og Peter Bastian. Og tegningerne, og interessen for at iagttage fuglene, klyden! Karismatiske Quist Møller! Og for mig et filmisk gensyn med afdøde Per Tønnes Nielsen, og hans makker Anders Sørensen og naturligvis mesteren Jannik Hastrup.

Tak for dette fine stykke multikunst-historie, Svend Johansen, igangsætter, producent, instruktør. Tak på danske børns, små og voksne, vegne.

Danmark, 2016, 57 mins. Kan ses på DR K.

Categories: TV, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Til lykke med fødselsdagen JØRGEN LETH

Written 14-06-2016 15:04:33 by Tue Steen Müller

... ønsker vi her fra Filmkommentaren. Vi gør det med et af vores yndlingsportrætter af dig, det er godt nok dit, fra  din blog, men vi tilegner os det lige, for det er et af de mest inspirerende, et af dem hvor du er på arbejde. Og så vil vi bare endnu engang henvise til det, vi gennem nogle år har skrevet om dig og dine film, mest om filmene i vores rå opsummering ”Jørgen Leth - Collected Texts on his Works”, som begynder med en lille kursiv …the Danish director, who has been an inspiration for generations of Danish filmmakers. With Lars von Trier as number one as readers will know from the film”The Five Obstructions” og så fortsætter med første post, som er et af mine mange dagbogsnotater på bloggen: “Mid wednes(day) off from Copenhagen with troubled SAS to Amsterdam to attend the 25th idfa (International Documentary Film Festival). On board is also Jørgen Leth on his way to idfa as several times before. This year to be in the main jury with (among others) Michael Glawogger, and to attend his own ”My Name is Jørgen Leth” exhibition that is part of the idfa ”Expanding Documentary” that opens at 7pm tomorrow November 15th at De Brakke Grond here in Amsterdam…” Læs eventuelt videre og så igen tillykke og hav en dejlig aften! Allan og Tue

Categories: Cinema, TV, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Poetics, Directors, Essays

Doker 2016 Profile

Written 20-05-2016 16:24:46 by Tue Steen Müller

A thoughtful and clear text taken from the site of Doker:

Moscow International Documentary Film Festival DOKer has stemmed from the project of the same name which screens independent non-fiction. DOKer project is aimed at analyzing and screening in Russia various genres and forms of the world's documentaries as a separate line of cinema in all its esthetic and socio-cultural diversity.

The Festival focuses on independent documentary cinema that incorporates both poetic narrative and social blockbusters; footage and mockumentary; art-house and science-fiction; classic and experiment.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lars Movin versus Jørgen Leth

Written 19-05-2016 14:11:20 by Allan Berg Nielsen

MOVIN MØDER LETH, Lars Movin meddeler det på sin Facebookside, og jeg skynder mig at meddele videre, især at det er NU! NU I AFTEN I ÅRHUS!

Movin skriver: ”Så er det i aften, at jeg har den ære at være med til at åbne festivalen Vild med ORD i Dokk1 i Aarhus sammen med den unge mand på billedet her. Okay, jeg ved da godt, at publikum kommer for at se Jørgen Leth – som efter vores samtale vil levere flere Spoken Words akkompagneret af de to musikere i Vi Sidder Bare Her – men ikke desto mindre skal det blive en fornøjelse at lægge endnu et kapitel til den dialog, som vi har ført gennem knap tyve interviews siden 1989. En dialog, som ikke mindst har udmøntet sig i tre bøger: “En dag forsvandt Duke Jordan i Harlem – tekster om jazz” (Bebop, 2008), “Kunsten at gå på gaden – tekster fra tresserne” (Gyldendal, 2012) og “Alt er i billedet – om Jørgen Leths film” (Gyldendal, 2013).Dagen efter (fredag) vil der være flere ord fra undertegnede, nærmere bestemt ved et arrangement klokken 14:30 (ligeledes i Dokk1), hvor jeg med udgangspunkt i bogen “Amerikansk avantgardefilm” (2016) vil fortælle om (og vise) to beat-relaterede avantgardefilm, nemlig “Pull My Daisy” (1959) af Robert Frank & Alfred Leslie og “Towers Open Fire” (1963) af William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Ian Sommerville & Antony Balch. Vild med ord, ja – men også vild med billeder, film, musik …”

Foto: lm / 2015

Categories: Festival, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Poetics, Essays

Andreas Fischer-Hansen hædres

Written 17-05-2016 11:20:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Andreas Fischer-Hansen er igen i Tallin, han er selvfølgelig nødvendig for evalueringen på Baltic Film and Media School ved universitetet i Tallin disse dage. Han var leder af fotograflinjen, Head of Cinematography 2006-2009. Men der er derudover en særlig årsag til hans nærvær. På fredag udnævnes han til æresmedlem af lærerkollegiet ved denne filmskole på universitetet. FILMKOMMENTAREN ønsker ham tillykke.

Andreas Fischer-Hansen skriver i Fotografens øje (2009) om det at være lærer ved en filmskole: ”Når jeg ser på mit cv, går det op for mig, at jeg egentlig har brugt en stor del af mit liv på at omgås elever, primært fotografelever. Tænker på, at det har været berigende – eleverne har inspireret, udfordret, været kloge og dumme (måske var det mig der var dum).

At lære fra sig indebærer også at modtage, at diskutere og som filmmenneske at se film, som måske er ukendt, men som netop eleven bringer som en oplysning – måske oven i købet som en åbenbaring”.

Still: Tre blink mod vest, 1992 (Ulla Boje Rasmussen), som Andreas Fischer-Hansen fotograferede.

Foto: Andreas Fischer-Hansen til møde i Paris 2012 blandt kolleger i den franske instruktørforening. (Tue Steen Müller skriver om en ny digitaliseret udgivelse af 1700 meter fra fremtiden,1990 og Tre blink mod vest,1992) (Jeg skriver om Fotografens øje. Dansk filmfotografi gennem 100 år, 2009, som Andreas Fischer-Hansen redigerede sammen med Dirk Brüel og Jan Weincke)

Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Film Uni Babelsberg Konrad Wolf

Written 13-05-2016 08:50:58 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s nice to teach. I have done so for three days and have the final round today in green and rich Potsdam, at the impressive film school (now Universität) named after Konrad Wolf. Invited by Peter Badel for the second time to come and talk to his camera students, I arrived with a bag full of dvd’s and my MacBook with links to films and websites that the students should know about when they leave the protected area of a film school that has all the facilities one can dream of. Including a big cinema for the teacher to convey to the students my documentary passion and knowledge.

I have never made a film myself so my advantage is very simply that I have seen documentaries for (OMG) more than 40 years, that I have met so many great makers that I have stories to tell accompanying the clips and the words about the market, the pitching sessions, the many after-film school possibilities that are offered.

A must on occasions like this is a promotion for Ricky Leacock’s memoirs, the book that exists in a disc version with clips and full films available by a very gentle click on the title that the master is writing about. ”The Feeling of Being There” is the name of the book and is that not the feeling we viewers appreciate when watching a documentary. And the young students had never heard about the two Frank’s (see photos on top of the site): Herz Frank and Robert Frank (photo). I made a tribute to Polish Wojciech Staron yesterday, clips from ”Siberian Lesson”, ”Argentinian Lesson” and full film ”Brothers” – a cameraman who is also a director.

This morning Daniel Abma has generously agreed to visit to meet the students and talk about/show a new trailer of his ”Transit Havana”.

Vielen Dank Peter Badel, also for letting me have your bike to go to the school.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

6 Types of Documentaries

Written 12-05-2016 08:40:54 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s the never ending story – the discussions around the definition of what is a documentary and which words to use. We still go to literature to characterise, using phrases like ”a film poem”, ”an essay”, ”novelistic” etc. And we sometimes go back to Grierson and Flaherty to introduce the word ”creative” (treatment of actuality), which is what all pitching sessions are calling for: creative documentaries. Anyway, important or not, I met this text on FB yesterday and want to share it with you:

…What is a documentary? Webster’s dictionary defines documentary as “consisting of documents: written down.” After a better Google search, Wikipedia defines a documentary as “a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspects of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record.”

It also opens into the history of documentaries while referencing Bill Nichols classic text Introduction to Documentary, where he outlines the six modes (or “sub-genres” or “types”) of documentaries. While there’s a lot of variation within, these are the six main categories of the genre in which all documentary films can be cast…

Words written by Jourdan Aldredge, link below, with examples of trailers from the films within the mentioned categories.

Photo from the film that at the BFI poll to find the Greatest Documentaries of All Times was on the top: Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, 1929, Mihail Kaufmann fixing a camera to the train.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Michael Madsen Posts/Blogindlæg

Written 06-05-2016 10:46:48 by Tue Steen Müller

There is still time to pick up on the free retrospective of Michael Madsen on DocAlliance, an event that made editor Allan Berg update our posts on the Danish director, quite many actually, from Celestial Night to The Visit, written by Allan Berg in Danish and Tue Steen Müller in English with citations in English from various festival catalogue texts.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Michael Madsen Retrospective For Free

Written 04-05-2016 09:04:37 by Tue Steen Müller

- with this headline on the DocAlliance website: Visual Philosophy of the Unknown. The (unsigned) article on the website is a very fine introduction to an original auteur, who with few films have reached international fame. Here is a full copy-paste:

From mediocrity to alien civilizations, from a theatre theme to 3D technology, from conceptual art to documentary film. Explore the unexpected and original ways of the art world of Danish director Michael Madsen, one of the leading filmmakers of the Nordic cinematic superpower. Watch the director’s film retrospective for free and do not miss your first encounter of the “third kind” via the Czech online premiere of the documentary sci-fi THE VISIT in the week from May 2 to 8!

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Christian Braad Thomsen: Fassbinder /2

Written 01-05-2016 11:33:01 by Sara Thelle

Danish documentary master Christian Braad Thomsen’s Fassbinder portrait opens in theatres in New York today. Richard Brody praises the film in a great article in The New Yorker (April 28 2016), in which he compares it with another portrait film about Hannah Arendt and thus describes the "differences between an artistic experience and a prefabricated time-stuffer" ! 

"Fassbinder: To Love Without Demands is the rarest of portrait-films: in addition to being a crucial addition to the critical and biographical record, it’s a cinematic experience in itself, a work of art that can stand on its own as a movie. If Fassbinder were no real person but a fictional character created by Thomsen, the film would endure as a deeply imagined, fierce, and graceful drama..."

Read the rest:

Fassbinder: To Love Without Demands (Denmark 2015) is being screened at The Metrograph in New York May 1-5:

Photograph courtesy Christian Braad Thomsen 

Categories: Cinema, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona 2016

Written 30-04-2016 18:18:08 by Tue Steen Müller

The program is announced for DocsBarcelona 2016, May 23 to May 29. I have below copy-pasted the press release that came out today. As one of the programmers for the festival part, I am looking forward to attend and participate in the triangled meetings between film, audience and filmmaker. Number 19 it is, but there was actually a prologue in Granada with the presence of DocsBarcelona’s Joan Gonzalez, who fell in love with pitching and convinced us at EDN to move it to Barcelona. It was the right solution:

Everything is ready for the nineteenth edition of DocsBarcelona. About to turn two decades of history, the festival will screen 46 films from 28 countries at the CCCB, and the Aribau Club, bringing together more than 500 professionals in its financial market, and to the activities for the industry.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Torben Skjødt Jensen: Eksil /2

Written 27-04-2016 15:47:05 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Scenen er fra Teater Nordkraft i Aalborg fra Mikkel Flyvholms opsætning i 2013 af ”Eksil” skrevet af Andreas Garfield på grundlag af Jakob Ejersbos roman fra 2009 med samme titel. Skuespilleren med front mod os er Sofie Saaby Mehlum. Hun er et uartigt barn, en vild pige, en udfordrende kvinde. Hun er Samantha fra romanen, hun er den fjerne kvinde som vi i vignetformede spillefilmscener i en anden skuespillers ganske anderledes fremstilling så i Christian Holken Bonkes film ”Ejersbo” på DR2 Dokumania i aftes, hvor der i et lag for sig kan læses synes jeg ”… en fortællelinje som dannes af interviewene med søsteren, faderen, moderen, vennen i Tanzania og kæresten i Danmark, et forløb som er en næsten nyfigen skildring af hvad der egentlig er en ganske privat familiehistorie, hvor der kun i ét af temaerne, i tegningen af kærlighedsforholdene skimtes poetisk kraft i Holten Bonkes ellers nøgternt prosaisk episke behandling af dette stof, allermest i skildringen af forholdet til en sjælsallieret, en vigtig fjern kvinde. Dette afsnit har Bonke fint og kontrolleret smukt viet en iscenesættelse af en rekonstruktion.” (Filmkommentarens anmeldelse). Denne vigtige fjerne kvinde er Samantha.

Hun er efterhånden blevet en mytisk skikkelse i dansk litteratur- og filmhistorie, for mig i høj grad fordi Torben Skjødt Jensen i en forrygende overførsel til tv og samtidig en klog og følsom fortolkning har fastholdt Garfields, Flyvholm og Saaby Mehlums teaterværk i et dokumentarisk filmværk, hvor ”hun (Saaby Mehlum som Amantha) lader hvert øjeblik med sin energi, sin musikalitet, sin autenticitet i hver eneste reaktion og hvert eneste udtryk. Og netop det er noget, dokumentarens iagttagelse om ikke muliggør at se, for sådan er det heller ikke, men udpeger og understreger, så jeg ikke alene oplever en 15 årig kvinde, men en voksen kvinde i sit mimesiske øjeblik på øjeblik på øjeblik, en skuespiller i sin kropslige erindring.” (Filmkommentarens anmeldelse)

Skjødt Jensens dokumentarfilm da på en eller anden måde kunne gøres tilgængelig for publikum så forevigelsen den sådan fortjener, kan nå sit mål: Vi må have de to Ejersbofilm ved siden af hinanden, så hans Samantha kan leve videre i nye skikkelser, nye forståelser. (Teaser fra ”Eksil” på Teater Nordkraft) (Anmeldelse af teateropførelsen af ”Eksil”) Skjødt Jensens lange filmografi med dokumentarversionerne af teateropførelser som de nyere af hans værker)

Categories: TV, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Jonas Mekas See Everything Like for the First Time

Written 25-04-2016 11:45:06 by Tue Steen Müller

Renowned critic and writer Richard Brody has – in the New Yorker - written a long and extremely interesting article on – as he calls him – ”Jonas Mekas, Champion of the ”Poetic” Cinema”. This time the theme is not Mekas as a filmmaker and founder of organisations/assocations for the independent cinema, ”but the activity that’s suddenly in the forefront is his critical writing: his “Movie Journal: The Rise of a New American Cinema, 1959-1971” has just been reissued by Columbia University Press, and it’s a cause for celebration—and consideration. The original edition, from 1972, is long out of print. The book is a rich trove of cinematic wisdom, an artistic time capsule of New York at a moment of crucial energy, and a reflection of controversies and struggles regarding independent filmmaking that endure to this day…”.

The excellent introduction that Brody’s article gives to the book that I will order asap (as well as I will go buy Danish Lars Movin’s new book (in Danish) on American Avantgarde Cinema) mentions Mekas fascination about the French Wave, states that he has written the best ever about Welles ”The Trial”, and about Marlon Brando this ”(his) best work is “the bits in between the action. It’s there that every little word, every little motion, every silence suddenly becomes charged with expression.” And about Cassavetes of course but also Max Ophuls and Godard… READ THE ARTICLE, link below.

Mekas was (is in his 93rd year) a visionary, who predicted with his never sleeping enthusiasm that film with the technological development will be able to reach everyone. BUT as the true documentarian he is (written in 1966): … Let’s show everything, everything. We can do it today. . . . We have to see everything, to look at everything through our lenses, see everything like for the first time: From a man sleeping, from our own navels, to our more complex daily activities, tragedies, loves, and crimes. Somewhere, we have lost touch with our own reality and the camera eye will help us to make contact again.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Audrius Stonys: The Truth of Life…

Written 25-04-2016 10:41:09 by Tue Steen Müller

… this is just a natural thing in documentary filmmaking, the moment you think you know everything and it only remains to capture your “discoveries”, the truth of life takes over and turns against you. So, I let my visions be transformed. The essence lies in the quest. Subsequently, the films will live the lives of their own….

Says Audrius Stonys in an interview on cineuropa, very well made by Aukse Kancereviciute. I recommend you to read it all, here is a taster:  

The film Ūkų ūkai emerged from a desire to expose the beauty industry, but in the course of shooting your attitude changed radically. Does it often happen that life adjusts preconceived visions?

Perhaps not a single one of my films was unaffected by this. The idea changes, because reality turns it upside down and destroys it. At first I was very frightened; it seemed to me that was it – that was the end. I had an idea and everything took another turn. Then I understood that this was supposed to be so. None of my films are as I originally conceived them. In Ūkų ūkai both the theme and the characterchanged. Instead of a strong, healthy, young man who goes swimming every day irrespective of whether it rains or snows, we have a tiny old woman tip-toeing across her room. Alone (Viena) was supposed to be about a girl who is going to visit her mother, who is in prison, and talking what she sees and feels, but instead I made a completely silent film. New Martyrology (Tas, kurio nėra) was supposed to show a man who died unbeknownst to anybody, but instead the Lithuanian film director Augustinas Baltrušaitis, whom fate and circumstances tossed into complete oblivion, became the protagonist of the film. When shooting Cenotaph it seemed that the film was about the meaning of reburial, but it turned out to be about meaninglessness. The initial concept is therefore diametrically opposite…

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2016: Disobedience

Written 22-04-2016 20:52:42 by Tue Steen Müller

“This year’s edition of DOK Leipzig, which runs from 31 October to 6 November, stands under the motto “Disobedience”, in German “Ungehorsam”. The term acts as an integral aspect throughout the Special Programmes. For instance, the Retrospective explores the styleshaping and courageous Polish documentary, which has ensured heated discussion at DOK Leipzig time and again due to its proximity to feature films. In addition, Special Programmes involving works from countries such as Poland, Russia or Turkey cast light on the kinds of artistic strategies filmmakers develop in a restrictive environment.”

A citation of the first paragraph of a press release from (see post on Krakow FF below) another of the old, renowned documentary and animation film festival, from where I have sent reports in the previous years. I salute that the festival comes out that early with information on what kind of program they intend to build, and I salute that the orientation to the East is kept, at least, as mentioned, with Poland and Russia – and with the EUropean constant discussion on the relationship to Turkey. I am looking forward to seeing the selection from there.

Most welcomed reading, however, is the Hommage to Marina Razbezhkina, director and founder of the School of Documentary Film and Documentary Theatre in Moscow, the very welcomed alternative to the state film school VGIK. Her constant protest, disobedience, against censorship in Russia and her effort to support young talents, will be honoured in Leipzig, so very well deserved. The press release says: ” Her artistically creative oeuvre is distinguished by direct and politically bold works in which fictional and non-fictional film are closely interlinked. Razbezhkina will also be appraising the winning film in the Next Masters Competition in her own capacity as “Master”.”

Once again a total of around 350 films from all over the world are going to be screened in the Official Selection and Special Programmes during the festival.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Peter Greenaway: A Medium for Visual Intelligence

Written 15-04-2016 12:36:42 by Tue Steen Müller

Always provoking, always exaggerating as part of the provocation, and yet there is always some truth in what he says – Peter Greenaway, this time as part of his getting a BAFTA recognition for his work at an event in London. I take a couple of citations from the article in Guardian of today:

… “I always think, and this is probably a very unpopular thing to say, that all film writers should be shot. We do not need a text-based cinema … we need an image-based cinema…”

Greenaway said text has so many opportunities. “For 8,000 years we’ve had lyric poetry, for 400 years we’ve had the novel, theatre hands its meaning down in text. Let’s find a medium whosetotal, sole responsibility is the world as seen as a form of visual intelligence. Surely, surely, surely the cinema should be that phenomenon…”

… “I believe that cinema died on the 31 September 1983 when the zapper or the remote control was introduced into the living rooms of the world. “Bang! Cinema ceases to be passive and becomesactive, you the audience are now in some senses in charge of the filmmaking process. You have all got mobile phones, you have all got cam recorders, and you’ve all got laptops, so you’re all filmmakers…”

Read the whole article on The Guardian: link

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Visions du Réel - Barisone, Stonys, Greenaway

Written 13-04-2016 01:40:08 by Tue Steen Müller

… takes place in Nyon Switzerland from April 14 to 23 and presents as usual – under the direction of Luciano Barisone – a strong program with the emphasis on the artistic documentary.. Barisone was interviewed by cineuropa (by Muriel Del Don) and here is a citation of what he said:

“The idea of the act of resistance is part of human nature, with which it develops. We resist, physically and spiritually, trying to maintain internal continuity. For me, the mission of art is to throw up questions, to make human beings constantly call things into question. Film exists as testimony to the resistance of human beings, to draw it out of them. It’s not a question of ideology, it’s a question of fighting for humanity. When we put the programme for the Festival together, we choose films based on their aesthetic value. Every year we try to bring together two types of audiences and viewers: a wider audience interested in the narrative, and another, more intellectual audience, that’s drawn in by what we could call the “movement of thought”. Visions du Réel always tries to create a line of contact, of communication and a strong link between the films, the filmmakers and the viewers… We tend to associate the term ‘resistance’ with armed struggle (which is one manifestation), but resistance is an internal movement of the spirit, the conscience…”

And some take-outs from the program that is divided into several

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

50 Documentaries You Need to See…

Written 12-04-2016 01:53:15 by Tue Steen Müller

… according to Joshua Oppenheimer, Lucy Walker, Alex Gibney, James Marsh, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Franny Armstrong, Khalo Matabane, Molly Dineen, Angus Macqueen and Kim Longinotto, is a good read from The Guardian end of March. I have taken three statements from three of the mentioned directors, but click the link and check more:

Molly Dineen: I saw this when I was on a jury at a documentary festival in Nyon, and it was really unexpected. It’s about Finland burying its nuclear waste in a deep, deep cavern, with two diggers silently burrowing into the bedrock. That’s intercut with interviews with scientists talking about how you can leave a signal for future civilisations not to go into this burial chamber. This stuff is so toxic for 100,000 years, so we’re not talking about any sort of signposting we will understand; there may be whole different ways of communication. There was something really affecting about that. And the interviews are fabulous, because they’re very unpromising – just straight-on head-and-shoulders shots of scientists – but they’re humorous and warm and compassionate. (Into Eternity, Michael Madsen, 2010)

Lucy Walker: I’m fascinated by longitudinal film-making and this series, which has followed the lives of 14 British children since 1964, when they were seven years old, showed me what the medium was capable of. This series is head and shoulders above any other attempt to record dramatically a whole human life. And because it’s a whole group of people, you learn not just about the individual but also about the system in which they’re living. I can’t think of any other artefact in our culture that can tell us so much about Britain in our lifetime and how society is evolving as this body of work. It’s illuminating and fascinating and it’s one of the things that inspired me to do my work… (SevenUp, Michael Apted, 1964)

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDA – Magazine & Essential Doc Reads

Written 09-04-2016 06:40:40 by Tue Steen Müller

After the death of the DOX magazine there is a lack of longer and deeper articles about the documentary genre as an art form – where to find reflections on aesthetics and ethics, historical articles, interviews with important directors and cameramen etc.?

OK, you can find a lot of valuable material in festival catalogues and sites, and we try at filmkommentaren to direct you to that through links. But it is here and there and everywhere…

BUT there is some help to be found through the sister organisation of the EDN (European Documentary Network), the Los Angeles based IDA (International Documentary Association), that publishes the quarterly Documentary Magazine that has its main focus on American documentaries and documentarians and has a fine weekly service, read this:

Essential Doc Reads is a weekly feature in which the IDA staff

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Amdoc 2016: Brother’s Keeper

Written 03-04-2016 17:13:00 by Tue Steen Müller

There is indeed a diversity in the programming of American Documentary Film Festival 2016, the fifth edition held here in Palm Springs. Reportage, documentary films of artistic quality and also a chance to dig into film history, this time Joe Berlinger’s ”Brother’s Keeper” that he made with Bruce Sinofsky and which came out in 1992 as something new in vérité style. Berlinger (Sinofsky passed away last year) was on stage to tell about the film in an interesting session, where he remembered how it was to shoot on 16mm at a time where (in the 1980’es), as he said ”documentaries were drying out”. ”Go out and tell a human story, you don’t know what is going to happen”, was the starting point for the two directors of a film that is a classic in film history, fresh and touching to watch in 2016 as well.

”It launched our career”, Berlinger said, ”the film got the Sundance Audience Award, we set up our own company and did self-distribution for theatres, and we made a profit”.

”We spent three weeks with the brothers before we started shooting, we wanted to create a rapport with the brothers”.

For newcomers in the documentary history, here is the description of the film taken from the catalogue of Amdoc. And the film is easy to find on Amazon:

Delbert, Bill, Lyman, and Roscoe Ward are illiterate bachelor brothers who never ventured beyond their 99 acre dairy farm in central New York State. Known by their neighbors as “The Ward Boys”, they’ve shared a two-room shack with no running water or indoor toilet for as long as anyone could remember. Their quiet life was shattered June 6, 1990, when Bill was found dead in the bed he shared with Delbert. By day’s end, Delbert had confessed to suffocating the ailing Bill as an act of mercy, but the local community believed Delbert was being framed. Delbert’s subsequent retraction, the village’s fervent belief in his innocence, and the national media attention visited upon a sleepy rural community make Brother’s Keeper a real-life murder mystery that examines larger social issues such as euthanasia, the plight of the aging, rural poverty and the fairness of the American justice system.

The film provides a fascinating portrait of The Ward Brothers’ eccentric and time-warped existence as it clashes with the modern criminal justice system -- from pre-trial courtroom drama to lively village fundraisers; from the initial media feeding frenzy to the explosive trial itself.

Photo: Palm Springs, Little Tuscany. Two nights ago.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docudays UA: Jon Bang Carlsen

Written 28-03-2016 19:38:50 by Tue Steen Müller

I am a landscape painter, said Jon Bang Carlsen at his masterclass at the Docudays in Kiev last night. I found it to be a perfect auto-description after having seen his ”It’s  Now or Never”, that came out in 1996, and has a camera that constantly caresses the Irish green and stony fields, where the director chose to have his story take place about the bachelor Jimmy looking for a woman.

I was film consultant at the National Film Board of Denmark (now The Danish Film Institute) in the early 1990’es and commissioned this film, when Jon Bang Carlsen (together with Jørgen Leth and Anne Wivel the Danish ”auteurs” of that time) came to me with a list of film themes/stories that he would love to make into films in his original style that he himself called ”staged documentary”. Today it is almost ”menu of the day” and called ”hybrid”.

The film is wonderfully old-fashioned, the characters are lovely, the

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Categories: Festival, Film History

Docudays UA: The Nordic Contribution

Written 27-03-2016 09:42:38 by Tue Steen Müller

I want to say Bravo Sweden. Our neighbouring country has for years been the main sponsor of the Docudays UA Human Rights Festival here in Kiev. From the state organisation SIDA, channelled through the Swedish embassy 4 mio. SEK (426.184 €) has been given to the festival and its travelling distribution scheme. That is indeed something to be noticed.

The Danish embassy gives nothing but we are here thanks to generosity of the organisers of the festival. Yesterday I did a Docu/Class of two hours  about the Danish documentary culture (distribution and production) and support system supplemented by clips from Ulla Boje Rasmussen’s ”1700 Metres from the Future”, Jørgen Leth’s ”Life in Denmark”, ”Traveller’s Tale” by Lars Johansson, ”Into Eternity” by Michael Madsen and Janus Metz ”Armadillo”.

In the evening the first part of a Danish mini-series that we have called ”High Five” was shown in the Blue Hall of the Cinema House – that was totally full, around 200 viewers. The films shown were ”Motion Picture” and ”66 Scenes from America” by Jørgen Leth and Ole John. Tonight it is another master of Danish documentary, Jon Bang Carlsen, who shows and discusses ”It’s Now or Never” followed by a class, where he will invite the audience to understand his way of making documentaries. Later at the festival two more neo-classics will be shown, ”Family” (Sami Saif and Phie Ambo) and ”The Monastery” (Pernille Grønkjær).

Photo from the festival opening: Three Danes in Kiev: My wife Ellen Fonnesbech-Sandberg, me and Jon Bang Carlsen.

See our collected posts on Jon Bang Carlsen:  

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Greek Tribute to Mark Cousins

Written 18-03-2016 20:40:56 by Tue Steen Müller

Along with Jon Bang Carlsen the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival pays a tribute to Mark Cousins, also an original filmmaker, loved by this site, a man who knows his film history (buy the 930 minutes long dvd compilation he made with wonderful clips commented by Cousins! He is by the way now making one on documentaries, 3 hours it should be), he is/has been an excellent film critic AND is a film director – in Thessaloniki ”A Story of Children and Film”, ”Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise”, ”I am Belfast” and ”The First Movie”.

Today a press conference was held with Cousins, here is a quote, bur read it all, clever words from the scotsman born in Belfast:

Asked by the audience about his relationship with children, the director referred to his childhood, noting that he grew up with his twin brother in Belfast, in a loving Protestant family. Although he did not want to have children, he finds something charming about them. “When children want something, they usually want it right now. Even in places where the reality is tragic, children recover almost in no time. While growing up, I saw people in their 20s getting dressed in suits, becoming dull, hiding their desires and feelings. In English we say that we don’t stop playing because we grow up, but we grow up because we stop playing. I wanted to hold on to this playful spirit. This feeling of magic is easy to lose and when you start facing life scared and wary, you lose a lot out of it”, Mark Cousins stressed. And to prove his words, he put on a gorilla suit glove, which he always keeps with him, as he said, as his nephew encouraged him to put it on as a game each time he presents his film A Story of Children and Film. 

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Greek Tribute to Jon Bang Carlsen

Written 17-03-2016 15:19:39 by Tue Steen Müller

The 18th edition of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival includes a retrospective of films by Danish director Jon Bang Carlsen, indeed not the first time this director has been, much deserved, presented as one of the most interesting documentary directors of our time. A man who went “hybrid” long before this word came into the documentary vocabulary, read what he said at a masterclass in Thessaloniki:

"I have a special approach towards documentaries. I don’t exactly know what a documentary is. When I graduated from Film School – it might as well be… a hundred years ago – I wanted to look into the harmony offered by life in the countryside and so I started doing research on this story I had chosen. When I attempted to put together the shreds of the reality that I was trying to depict, I did so using free associations, but when we started shooting I got the feeling that I had destroyed the beauty of my character’s life. I came to realize that the only way to depict this story would involve a reconstruction of reality. What prevailed was the need to approach my heroine’s reality in the most honest way and as accurately as possible. From the start, I was taught by my teachers that documentaries are related to the truth, that you have to follow life through the camera and show the truth. This was not directly related to what I sought to do. Also, because I also make fiction films, I don’t see such a big difference when I make documentaries. I believe that my documentaries are similar to the way someone paints a landscape. I don’t want to shoot inside a studio, but to look outside for shreds of reality and use them to narrate the story".

The films shown from the huge filmography of Jon Bang Carlsen was “Addicted to Solitude”, “Cats in Riga”, “Déjà Vu”, “Hotel of the Stars”, “Phoenix Bird” and “Portrait of God”.

At the upcoming DocuDays festival in Kiev, Ukraine, Jon Bang Carlsen will be present to present “It’s Now or Never”.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Avi Mograbi-Collected Posts on his Works

Written 07-03-2016 07:53:20 by Tue Steen Müller

”… Mograbi is exactly as his films are: tense, sometimes comic, but always dealing with the embarrassing reality of the country he lives in. A frustrated artist, as he says himself, who wants to move something, raise a debate in Israel, but does not succeed, he is met with total silence, no reactions, whereas he now is an estimated artist in Western Europe!”



By Tue Steen Müller


Z32 (2008)

DocLisboa Diary: … Well, I saw two films yesterday... the heartbreaking observational Kim Longinotto doc ”Hold me Tight, Let me go”, what a brilliant filmmaker and fine person she is, and Avi Mograbi´s ”Z32”, a mise-en-scène film that once again shows how clever this controversial filmmaker is, in finding new ways of dealing with strong themes of the world. This time in a Brechtian musical form. (Blogppost 17-10-2008)

DocLisboa Diary: … I went directly to the videothèque to watch films from the international competition programme to prepare my article for the DOX magazine. It was a long journey through the misery of this world filmed and conveyed by committed and sometimes narratively involved directors and cameramen and –women. Made by English (”All White in Barking” by Marc Isaacs), French-Iranian (”The Faces on the Wall” by Bijan Anquetil and Paul Costes), Chinese (”The Red Race” by Chao Gan) and Israeli (”Six Floors to Hell” by Jonathan Ben Efrat). To mention the four films that impressed me mostly. Themes: xenophobia and loss of identity, the forgotten martyrs, children paced to served the state and inhumanity in the state of Israel.

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Cinéma du Réel 2016

Written 02-03-2016 11:33:51 by Tue Steen Müller

A classic among the many documentary festivals – and in Paris. The selection for this year’s edition, taking place March 18-27, primarily at the Centre Pompidou, has been made: there is an international competition, a French, one for First film and one for short films.

Happy to see that the international competition includes films from India, Vietnam, Chile, Syria and Mexico – and that the festival is loyal (as the filmmakers are who submit their films to this festival) to directors like Austrian Ruth Beckermann, Éric Pauwels from Belgium, Vietnamese Trin T. Ming-ha, and to – outside competition – Sergei Loznitsa (”The Event”), ”In Jackson Height” by Frederick Wiseman and ”Between Fences” by Avi Mograbi that will be the opening film.

And as a tribute to Haskell Wexler, ”Rebel Citizen” made by friend and long time collaborator Pamela Yates, whose words I quote (from the website of the festival):

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Joshua Oppenheimer’s works

Written 28-02-2016 12:32:36 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Som alle andre har vi her på Filmkommentaren meget længe været optaget af Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence og den tidligere The Act of Killing. Jeg har samlet det meste af det vi skrevet om de to film her:

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Finn Larsen og Lars Johansson: Ungdomsbilleder

Written 27-02-2016 10:47:22 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Jeg har lige set den fine nye kopi af den 35 år gamle Ungdomsbilleder, som nu bliver præsenteret på museet i Randers som en del af Finn Larsens og Lars Johanssons udstilling Ung i Randers 1978-1979, som åbner 4. marts. Jeg er meget overrasket over filmen fra dengang for så længe siden. Jeg ser ingen fejl, synes den er dybt interessant. Jeg er så glad for de medvirkendes sprog, som jo er, som det var, og med det gør filmen direkte bevægende. Den er så smukt fotograferet af Lars Johansson og jeg kan i mange scener fra optagelserne huske Finn Larsens insisterende spørgsmål og opfordringer til de medvirkende til at fortælle lige lidt mere af det, han i forvejen vidste fra forundersøgelsernes mange samtaler og én for én får formuleringernes pointer hjem, gennemfører dokumetationen og lander den i en enkel poesi. Og derefter har så den solide og erfarne klipper Anker Sørensen sammen med Finn Larsen forsynet filmen med et velorganiseret flow og en egensindig intern rytme der så besynderligt faktisk stadigvæk er der og fungerer i det meget opmærksomme og rolige, men ikke langsomme klip. Så tilfredsstillende, at den fllm er bevaret.

Finn Larsen og Lars Johansson: Ungdomsbilleder, Danmark 1979, 48 min., Det Danske Filmværksted. (Fakta om filmen) (Finn Larsen om sin   udstilling med grønlandske motiver "Mans Land", 2012) (Lars Johanssons hjemmeside)



Categories: DVD, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Alexander Gutman 1945 – 2016

Written 19-02-2016 10:27:23 by Tue Steen Müller

A fine filmmaker and a good friend has passed away. Suddenly, two days ago. I got the message from Ludmila Nazaruk from St. Petersburg, the hometown of Sasha. I saw him last time at the ”Message to Man” festival in late September, where he was proud that one of his students had won an award, ”The Conversation” by Anastasia Novikova.

Personally I knew Sasha from Balticum Film & TV Festival on Bornholm in the 1990’es, later we met many times around at festivals and in 2011 we were in jury together at the Moscow International Film Festival together with Michael Apted. Always full of energy, always trying to find funding for his artistic work, difficult for one with high ambitions = long shooting period, long editing period, good crews etc. He got to some films good help from Finland.

His film ”!7. August” stays in my mind, here is a clip from the review on this site:

”This fine Russian director has, apart from the masterpiece ”Frescoes” from Georgia, made a couple of very strong documentaries shot in prisons, ”Three Days and Never Again” and ”Blatnoi Mir” (directed by Finnish Jouni Hiltunen, Gutman was production manager), and here comes another that I do not hesitate to call masterly done as well…”

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

02-16-2016 Vilnius The President and Us

Written 18-02-2016 17:37:02 by Tue Steen Müller

So this is the official photo from the award ceremony. The President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite is in the middle with (from left to right) Alge and Arunas Matelis, my wife Ellen and me, the President, Audrius and Aida Stonys, Giedre Beinoriute and Mindaugas Survila, who were all so kind to be there for the ceremony on the Day of Independence of Lithuania, 02-16-2016. I like the way the President supports me with her right hand!

Anyway, there are so many other Lithuanian film people I would love to thank, around the whole process first of all Liana Ruokyte-Jonsson from the Lithuanian Film Centre, who together with my wife did all the paper work necessary.

And looking back - the icon of Lithuanian documentary Henrikas Sablevicius, teacher and inspirator for the film people on the photo, a charismatic and lovely warm man, who came to the Balticum Film & TV Festival through its 10 years of existence. This festival on Bornholm - from 1990 - directed my professional life towards the East of Europe thanks to people like Sablevicius. Yes, as good friend Uldis Cekulis from Latvia, said, "it all started on Bornholm", which makes me express many thanks to those who started the festival, Bent Nørby Bonde and Sonja Vesterholt, and to Simon Drewsen Holmberg, who was there with the Baltic Media Centre and made the Forum for Financing come to Riga, from where he now as director of the Danish Cultural Institute initiated a (so far) small Baltic Film Festival in Aarhus Denmark.

My colleague on Allan Berg has done the whole Baltic journey as well - from Bornholm till now where he has made a collected post on this site with the texts I have written on Lithuanian documentaries since August 2007. Some newer texts are still to be placed. Thank you Allan.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dragon of Dragons to Marcel Łoziński

Written 11-02-2016 15:52:38 by Tue Steen Müller

My first reaction to the press release sent out by the Krakow Film Festival was… why not before? But I will not use it against the fine people of a festival that I have always loved a lot and intends to visit again this year – it takes place 29.5 till 5.6. Łoziński is mentioned and reviewed numerous times on this site, write his name in “search” and you will see. Personally I have had the pleasure to meet Marcel Łoziński way back on Bornholm at the Baltic Sea Film & TV Festival. His "Anything Can Happen" is on my list of Best Documentaries ever. Here is a quote from the text of the festival:

Marcel Łoziński, one of the most renowned Polish filmmakers, frequently awarded at international festivals, winner of countless film festivals and many prestigious awards, will be honoured by Krakow Film Festival with the title "Dragon of Dragons" for lifetime achievement.

"Programme Council decided to award this year's Dragon of Dragons to Marcel Łoziński for his absolute fidelity to documentary film, and, within the frames of this fidelity - for widening its means of expression. Firstly, for many years, this widening applied to examining, by the means of documentary cinema, the state of consciousness in a society undergoing political oppression. Later, starting from 1990s, - asking by the documentary filmmaker the ultimate questions, about fear, passing of time, about relationships with the loved ones and at the same time, about the right to ask these questions," this is how the nomination is explained by Professor Tadeusz Lubelski, an eminent film critic and film theoretician.

The Dragon of Dragons award, given for the 19th time this year, is the highest distinction granted by Krakow Film Foundation Programme Council, the organiser of Krakow Film Festival, in recognition for contribution to the development of international cinema in documentary and animated film genre.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tue Steen Müller: Lithuanian Docs

Written 11-02-2016 14:22:19 by Allan Berg Nielsen


- collected posts by Tue Steen Müller on Lithuanian documentaries, directors, photographers and producers


Lituania is a Baltic country, the most southern, and the most exciting when it comes to documentaries.

They are mostly short and based on images - the Lithuanian documentarians compose the image and treat the spectator as an intelligent person. The information needed to understand a story or a problem or a complex thematic issue is conveyed by the combination of image and sound and montage. In other words, they make FILMS and are still relatively "innocent" when it comes to adapt to television standards.

"They" are directors like Audrius Stonys and Arunas Matelis and Oksana B. and Rimantas Gruodis. I have just been in Vilnius to watch new films to be recommended to Leipzig Film Festival to which I offer scouting services. If any reader of this would like to have contact with the Lithuanian filmmakers, you can google Stonys and Matelis, who both have their own websites and will direct you to where to get hold of dvd's. (Blogpost 12-08-2007)

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Helena Třeštíková: Mallory

Written 31-01-2016 08:49:15 by Tue Steen Müller

Colleague Allan Berg wrote a review of "Mallory" when it was shown at CPH:DOX, here is how festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic introduces the film that will be shown at Magnificent7 tonight, taken from

The most recent documentary of one of the most important European authors of documentary film, awarded Grand Prix for Best Documentary at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, made in the unique style of her most famous works, born over years of work. This time Helena Trestikova spent 13 years following and recording everything important happening to Mallory, a young, initially problematic girl, who goes on to become a mother before the camera, and struggles in clumsy and unusual ways to find her place under the sun. Despite temptations and weaknesses, she matures, stumbles and falls, but always finds the strength to pick herself back up again. Precisely in these moments of refusal to submit to despair, unusual twists occur, leading this film, one of a series of the best-known films of Helena Trestikova concerning young people left to fend for themselves on the streets, to gradually become a fascinating contemporary fairy tale told in the bitter tones of precisely documented reality.

Masterfully directed, analytical and empathic to its core “Mallory” reaches the pinnacles of verité documentary films. The film was shot by a total of six different cameraman, an unavoidable consequence of the vicissitudes of such a project, but it is astounding how the photography and camera retain their style, and the frames always appear though-out and precise, full of an authentic atmosphere of the filmed space and the lighting dispositions. The excellent editing of Jakub Hejna, a long-time collaborator of Trestikova, lends the films an extraordinary dynamism, while events and years fly before our eyes building a flawless dramatic composition of the film.

“Mallory” is a powerful testament of the wonders hidden in seemingly simple images of reality, which obtain their full meaning thanks to a unique insight, one capable of encompassing long periods in the life of the main character.

Director’s Word: We hope that our film can inspire the audience, who feel that they’re not doing well in their life. (And that can happen to almost everyone.) The message of the film is simple: change is possible and hope always exists.

Czech Republic, 2015, 97 minutes

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DAFilms Portal Celebrates 10 Years

Written 26-01-2016 20:26:35 by Tue Steen Müller

… and you will, as one of the presents from this excellent ”online documentary cinema” vod, be able to watch 5 films for free, three of them by directors Peter Liechti, Viktor Kossakovsky and Sergei Loznitsa… until January 31. More generous offers like this will follow, it is announced on the site.

Also it is interesting to read a short interview with the manager of the vod, Nina Numankadić, here is a quote:

“Today, online distribution is a common thing, but in the beginnings, we were trying to set the rules and see how festival echoes would work, for instance. We were wondering whether presenting films online could endanger the festival or not, whether festival visitors would come anyway or stay athome with their computers, or how the viewers would react if the film was released online before it was released in regular theatrical distribution. However, in the course of time, even those filmmakers who first refused to put their films online, such as Russian director Victor Kossakovsky and Czech director Jana Ševčíková, dispelled their fears and their films are available on our portal today. What was important for us from the very beginning was the quality of the selected films; we were never after quantity…”

Clever words – and test it yourself, browse the list of directors whose works are available: Peter Kerekes, Helena Trestikova, Miroslav Janek… to mention some of the Central European auteurs, but also Kossakovsky, Jørgen Leth, Loznitsa…



Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Mark Cousins: Dear John (Grierson)

Written 25-01-2016 16:55:09 by Tue Steen Müller

 I love Mark Cousins, his passion for film and his constant pointing at the fact that film history is so much more than American and French and British. That goes for documentary as well. Read this text of his and see his rough cut sketch of a train trip to great films – together with John Grierson…, click below. If you click on the names, you will be taken to info about:

Sight & Sound asked me to make a short film about the wrongs of the documentary canon – which, as I argue in the September 2014 issue, has been essentially Atlanticist for generations now, lacking the bridge-builders between East and West who helped stretch the fiction film canon from the 1950s onwards. When we began cutting the movie, I realised we were going to need a bigger boat, so I am now hoping to turn it into a perhaps three-hour postscript to my 15-hour The Story of Film: An Odyssey.

This postscript will not be a straight history of documentary film, taking us through the Atlantic canon. I love those films, but have decided to leap-frog that canon to get to the rarer treasures. In order to show that my film isn’t a history of documentary, I’m calling it Dear John Grierson, and am imagining that I’m travelling the world on a train with Grierson, one of the founding fathers of the idea of documentary, to see the great films that we don’t, and should, know.

The result, I hope, will be a micro-budget Snowpiercer, in which, as we look out the window, we see masterpieces by people with names like Peleshian, Honkasalo, Tsuchimoto, Kaul, Kötting, Leduc, Perlov, Łoziński… Names that are not household, but perhaps could be, if we loved movies more.

Photo of the cover of the BFI issue with the documentary canon that Cousins thinks is too narrow. Right he is!

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Iikka Vehkalahti: A Good Documentary is

Written 23-01-2016 13:25:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Thanks to our own archive at I am able to bring forward clever words from Iikka Vehkalahti, who – it has been announced – is to receive an award at the upcoming Hot Docs Festival in Toronto. Here they are, first time published by the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in 2008:

...something which on one level is very private to the individual. Something that touches my life, but which also has something very universal - universal. A great film is when the private goes through the heavy block of politics/ economics/ media and reaches the universal, is in dialogue with it. Every action a person takes reflects his/her values. There are things which are common to all of us in the world: basic values (like justice), basic emotions (like fear and joy) and experiences (like pain or falling in love) and a good documentary has this universal nature that makes it so dear to so many. Don’t try to make international films. Make films which are more near to you. The most local films are sometimes the most international, because they are universal.

In a good documentary the director and his camera see things, go deeper than just showing things or events in front of the camera. For several reasons I have really started to miss camerawork where the camera really sees. An example: very often now a director makes a documentary following the story of the protagonist in such a way, that the narrative story (will he survive the sickness? will he divorce? etc…) means that it is not so important how the whole film has been shot at all.
A good documentary needs a story, but the story can be something more than just a flat “story”, it can be associative, emotional, fact-based, philosophical. Life is richer than Hollywood describes.

And finally a good documentary will live in time: it has a timeless character. A good documentary is something that you will look at after 10 years and after 50 years its value is still higher.
The film goes deeper and deeper. There must be a moral and philosophical element too.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Avi Mograbi in Berlin Forum

Written 20-01-2016 16:20:37 by Tue Steen Müller

Israeli Avi Mograbi is one of the most remarkable "auteurs" of our time. If you want to know more you are welcome to check posts made on this site on his work - since 2008, more than 30 that includes his name. Now he is there with a new film, this text is taken from his FB page:

... My new film "Between Fences" was selected to the Berlinale's Forum!
produced by LesFilms Dici, theater facilitator and director Chen Alon photography by Philippe Bella Bellaiche, music by Noam Enbar:

Avi Mograbi and theater director Chen Alon meet African asylum-seekers in a detention facility in the middle of the Negev desert where they are confined by the state of Israel. Together, they question the status of the refugees in Israel using ‘Theater of the Opressed’ techniques. What leads men and women to leave everything behind and go towards the unknown? Why does Israel, land of the refugees, refuse to take into consideration the situation of the exiled, thrown onto the roads by war, genocide and persecution? Can the Israelis working with the asylum seekers put themselves in the refugee’s shoes? Can their collective unconscious be conjured up?

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Peteris Krilovs: Klucis – the Deconstruction

Written 11-01-2016 09:01:32 by Tue Steen Müller

Det har været med stor fornøjelse, at jeg har fulgt det store arbejde, som var forbundet med produktionen af denne film (Peteris Krilov: Klucis - the Deconstruction of an Artist, som i går blev vist i Øst For Paradis i Århus som led i festivalen "Baltic Frames"). Fra den første søgende synopsis var klar til flere år senere, hvor en stor international coproduktion havde premiere i Riga den 6. maj 2008. Jeg kendte producenten Uldis Cekulis på forhånd, en af de to-tre yngre lettiske filmfolk, som satsede internationalt efter imperiets fald omkring 1990. Cekulis investerede tid og penge på at gøre sit selskab Vides Film Studio kendt uden for sit lands grænser. Med succes. Han er i høj grad medansvarlig for at den smukke lettiske dokumentarfilmtradition (Herz Frank, Ivars Seleckis, Juris Podnieks) er videreført fra USSR-tiden til nutidens Letland.

Men jeg havde ikke forestillet mig, at det skulle lykkes at få skabt en så rig kunstfilm, i verdensklasse ganske enkelt, da jeg mødte instruktøren Peteris Krilovs i Prag til træningsprogrammet Ex Oriente, som jeg har været knyttet til i 6 år. Erfarne Krilovs var for mig først og fremmest en teaterinstruktør, som havde lavet nogle spille- og dokumentarfilm, som jeg ikke havde set. Og navnet Klucis sagde mig ikke noget, hvorfor instruktør og producent da også i begyndelsen ville præsentere forslaget som en film om Klucis og den ligeledes i Letland fødte Sergei Eisenstein.

Det gik ikke, det var Klucis der skulle laves en film om, så Eisenstein røg ud, og Krilovs forstsatte sin intense research i arkiverne. Han ville finde ud af, hvornår og hvorfor Gustavs Klucis døde efter at være blevet hentet af politiet en dag i januar 1938. Klucis kom aldrig tilbage, besynderligt eftersom han var en loyal kommunist, hvis kunst fra at være innovativ konstruktivisme mere og mere blev ren propagande for Stalin og hans regime. Krilovs finder svaret, Klucis blev henrettet den 26. februar 1938. Som så mange andre fordi han var lette. Den eneste forklaring – og én der gjorde det af med tusinder af andre letter.

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Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Christian Braad Thomsen: Fassbinder

Written 06-01-2016 09:44:36 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Det var sent efter fremkomsten jeg fik set Christian Braad Thomsens efter premieren i Berlin meget omtalte nye film. Først da jeg læste Rune Kühls anmeldelse i Information blev det til noget, og det var fordi en bestemt formulering ramte mig: ”Braad Thomsens film kunne i sin form næsten være lavet dengang i 1970’erne. Den består af en lang række interviews kædet sammen af instruktørens fortællerstemme…”

Det er for mig i hvert fald grund nok til at få fat i en DVD, instruktørens fortællerstemme, Braad Thomsens fortællestemmer i det hele taget er synes jeg de smukkeste, de mest vedkommende velskrevne i dansk dokumentarfilm, de er gammeldags på den gode nutidige måde. Ok, jeg er selvfølgelig interesseret i Fassbinders værk og da også i hans biografi, men det er Christian Braad Thomsens blik på og sprog om det materiale som fascinerer mig.

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Categories: Cinema, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Haskell Wexler 1922-2015

Written 28-12-2015 13:03:11 by Tue Steen Müller

Legendary Haskell Wexler died yesterday, 93 years old. Long obituaries giving information on his impressive career are to be found in Hollywwod Reporter, Variety and Indiewire (links below), several FB friends salute his strong contribution to film history and social documentary.

I met Wexler briefly at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs this year in March. He was on stage with colleagues, one of them being Joan Churchill, who is currently making ”My Dinner With Haskell” – here is a short quote from her website:

“My Dinner with Haskell” is a feature length documentary about the legendary cinematographer and inspirational activist filmmaker, Haskell Wexler, who we follow over a 2 year period as he interacts with the people & events in his life, using his influence to promote his message of social justice and hope, both within & outside of the Hollywood system…

A clip was shown from that upcoming film with Churchill herself behind the camera and Wexler and Pennebaker in debate about “to set up scenes or not to set up scenes”, the latter making films according to what was formulated in the prologue to the seminar by Robert Drew’s son: recording life as it happens, whereas Wexler said the vérité films – another word frequently used over there in the US – is all fiction, somebody’s fiction, ”a lot of what I did in “Medium Cool” was scripted.”

The 93 year old Haskell Wexler was wonderful in Palm Springs, concluding the session by saying ”forget about How and Technique, what matters is Why”.

I took the photo of Wexler (left) and the organiser of the memorable seminar, colleague of Wexler cinematographer Fred Goodrich.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance: From All of Us to All of You

Written 21-12-2015 16:36:20 by Tue Steen Müller

Yes, this is how one the partners, CPH:DOX, of the very generous DocAlliance, ends the year with a Disney quote. And it IS a veeery good present that you should accept. The online platform – after a brilliant series of films by Miroslav Janek – offers 16 films (including a couple of masterclasses) FOR FREE, to be watched until next year, January 3rd.

If you have not seen them already, it is a must to go to Viktor Kossakovsky´s ”Vivan las Antipodas”, and to Eyal Sivan’s 128 minutes ”The Specialist” from 1999, with a quote from the text of the site:

“The incredible trial of an appallingly ordinary man. Drawn entirely on the 350 hours of rare footage recorded during the trial of Adolf Eichmann (photo), in 1961, in Jerusalem, this film about obedience and responsibility, is the portrait of an expert in problems resolving, a modern criminal. The film is inspired from the controversial book by Hannah Arendt : "Eichmann in Jerusalem, report on the banality of evil"”.

And one more to be mentioned, check the rest through the website, link below, a film from 2012 that I did not see yet, by film essayist Peter Mettler, “The End of Time”:

“Working at the limits of what can easily be expressed, filmmaker Peter Mettler takes on the elusive subject of time, and once again turns his camera to filming the unfilmmable.

From the particle accelerator in Switzerland, where scientists seek to probe regions of time we cannot see, to lava flows in Hawaii which have overwhelmed all but one home on the south side of Big Island; from the disintegration of inner city Detroit, to a Hindu funeral rite near the place of Buddha's enlightenment, Mettler explores our perception of time.”

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Mogens Rukov 1943-2015

Written 18-12-2015 21:38:04 by Allan Berg Nielsen



”Det er en stor film. Den samler flere af Filmens traditioner. Det er en surrealistisk film. Man kommer til at tænke på Buñuels 'l'Age d'Or' fra 1930, som handler om Roms grundlæggelse, statsmagten, banditter, borgerskab og et seksuelt-sadistisk præsteskabs kristendom. Alt kan ske i denne film, fordi alt kan ske i virkeligheden. Der er så mange logikker, der insisterer på at være reelle. Der er mange logikker, der er faktiske, og som mennesket får gennemført. Det er sjældent, at en film giver plads til dem alle. L'Age d'Or gjorde. Traberg gør.”

(Om Jørgen Leths ”Traberg”, blogindlæg 02-09-2008)



”Det kan ligne en almindelig dokumentarfilm. Men det er det ikke. Den er sær, skæv, uden at gøre opmærksom på det, uden at blive påtrængende som form, alligevel anderledes struktureret.

Det kunne have været en reportage. De 1700 meter fra fremtiden er et reportageemne. Det drejer sig om en tunnel, der måske/måske ikke bliver anlagt som forbindelse til den større by. Men det er kun en maske, noget, der foregives, der spilles med. Formen er dybere. Reportagen går i stykker, gennemhulles af den virkelighed, hvori den finder sted. Man kunne tale om en ustandselig distraktion mod det virkelige, menneskene og deres historier…

Anderledes i filmen. Her er det hele. Også det unævnte, midt i en hverdag, der er helt samtidig og dog så forskellig fra den industrialiserede hverdags samtidighed. Det er en virkning, der kun er opnået som følge af en lille magi, hvis opskrift egentlig er ganske simpel, men som er utrolig vanskelig at følge, som kun sjældent forsøges, og som søger en sandhed, der ligger bagved det tilgængelige. Den er dybt præget af kærlighed. Den vil ikke noget bestemt (hvad der er en del af kærlighedens væsen, en form for hengivelse, en anerkendelse af genstandens egen fænomenologi) og kommer derved til at handle om selve eksistensen…

Som altid når det særegne er på spil, erindres publikum om den skabende bevidstheds unikke karakter. Der er i sidste ende én bevidsthed der er styrende. Hendes respekt er stor."

(Om Ulla Boje Rasmussens ”1700 meter fra fremtiden”, blogindlæg 25-12-2009)



”Jeg må vel have det sådan, at jeg ikke synes, at billeder er informative. De skal ikke give informationer om fortællingens gang. Der skal ikke være obligatoriske billeder, som filmens informative forløb er afhængige af. Billedserien skal være fri. Den skal være så at sige ikke-narrativ i manuskriptets forstand. Den skal være narrativ kun i billedets forstand…”

(Fra et essay i Dirk Brüel, Andreas Fischer-Hansen og Jan Weincke, red.: ”Fotografens øje - Dansk filmfotografi gennem 100 år”, blogindlæg 20-11-2009)

Fotografi af Karsten Weirup: Rukov derhjemme.

Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Poetics

Machaidze, Karumidze & Meskhi: When the Earth...

Written 17-12-2015 09:36:35 by Tue Steen Müller

Some facts:

Full title: When the Earth Seems to be Light

Full names of directors: Salome Machaidze, Tamuna Karumidze & David Meskhi. A Georgian/ German coproduction. Produced by Goslab & Jörg Langkau. Co-Produced by Zaza Rusadze, Zazarfilm.

… and a review: Wow is a word I like to use, when I am surprised in a positive way. This film fascinated me totally. From start till end. You never know what comes next. It seems to be free of classical dramaturgical rules, maybe it is not, but it had so much power that I did not notice any. I went with the flow, literally, of the skating youngsters in Tbilisi (and Batumi), with the music that the skates make, with the music that accompanied their moving around, sometimes a requiem, sometimes rap music, sometimes real location sounds again and again, several of them disturbing, being from archive footage of demonstrations in the streets: Priests acting against a LGBT parade, if I got it right.

My old critic head made me think of Juris Podnieks ”Is it Easy to

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Herz Frank – Collected Posts on his Works

Written 12-12-2015 14:42:52 by Allan Berg Nielsen


Always with a camera at hand, be it to catch a moment in life...



by Allan Berg Nielsen

The camera from high above shows me Riga. The city set in its landscape. I'm drawn closer, zooming in on roofs and individual buildings. Ending with the synagogue, the one from back then. The camera dwells on the inscription on a stone tablet: 'Forever remember our Parents, brothers, sisters and children murdered and burned by fascists in the year of 5701. Let their Souls be bound securely in the Bundle of the Living. For Jews of Riga Ghetto, the Martyrs of Faith'.

Herz Frank outlines the story. The Russian occupation, then the German. The latter called a liberation by some, but disavowed by the film. It describes new suppression. The Latvian flag was removed everywhere, the picture shows the arrests being made, and the director comments in his voice-over "Like in all Times they started with Temples". The synagogues burn…

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Robert Frank – Collected Posts on his Works

Written 12-12-2015 11:57:11 by Allan Berg Nielsen


... it becomes indirectly an adaption of Ginsberg’s poem. And at the same time it is a film about Frank’s doubts about filming this. It sounds wild and it is. It is radical and most unique. Avant-garde and uncompromising, not as a stylistic or artistically experimental take, but because it is necessary for a purpose: a search for truth. (Sara Thelle)



By Tue Steen Müller


I read somewhere that NYTimes plans to cut down in their movie reviews policy that so far has been working in the way that ALL films released theatrically in NY are reviewed. What that means remains to be seen, but it will not make me give up my subscription that includes the newspaper and the thursday/friday ”Movies Update” that is a pleasure to read for a documentary addict as well.

For instance the one from today: more documentaries are reviewed – and there is a long and informative, and superbly illustrated, article on the phenomenon Robert Frank, “The Man Who Saw America” (link) (Post 02-07-2015)

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Miroslav Janek – Collected Posts on his Works

Written 11-12-2015 14:21:55 by Tue Steen Müller


Three persons in one room. Plus a film crew. Not a lot of space but the great Czech director and cameraman Mira Janek manages to move around to observe and catch the intense atmosphere of quite a unique family: blind mother, blind daughter and seeing man. The mother is the central character and the one that communicates with the camera, the one that performs wonderfully for the viewers and the one whose story we get told without any sentimentality but with energy and humour... (Tue Steen Müller)



The prestigious Berlin film festival, the Berlinale, offers a good selection of documentaries this year. 30 it is according to the excellent website of IDF (Institute of Documentary Film), that is based in Prague. The Berlinale takes place February 7-17 and among the films screened are two that have been writen about on this blog: "Citizen Havel" by Pavel Koutecky and Miroslav Janek (01-02-2008)



The documentary film about Vaclav Havel (directed by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek) has now been seen by 100.000 viewers in the Czech Republic. The film was released in January 2008, runs 119 minutes but can now also be seen in a director's cut version that runs twenty minutes longer.

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Miroslav Janek

Written 07-12-2015 20:35:30 by Tue Steen Müller

I have run into a slate of giving verbal flowers to documentarians, whose work I appreciate a lot and who are to be highlighted right now for one reason or the other. Earlier today it was Sérgio Tréfaut who visits Copenhagen and a couple of days ago it was Filip Remunda with two new films. Tonight it is due to the exceptional fine offer given to us by the equally exceptional DocAlliance: An online retrospective with director, cinematographer and editor Czech Miroslav Janek FOR FREE, so go ahead folks out there, it is world class.

7 films to be watched available until December 20. ”Citizen Havel” (2007), ”Olga” (2014), ”The Gospel According to Brabenac” (2014) and the beautiful ”The Unseen” (1997) about blind children taking photographs plus 3 more I have not seen: ”For Semafor” (2010), ”Purple Snails” (2001) and ”Little City in Space” (1984).

You can read much more about Janek on the site of DocAlliance, they have good writers and I can fully second the characterisation of Janek having ”empathy without pathos” towards his characters. I have met and worked with him, when we both were tutors at the Ex Oriente, we are the same generation, it helps a conversation with a man, who has an unpretentious and professional approach to filmmaking.

Personally I am looking forward to having this small MacBook Cinema festival – join me, you won’t regret it!

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Claude Lanzmann

Written 29-11-2015 11:42:50 by Tue Steen Müller

Yesterday Claude Lanzmann could celebrate his 90 year birthday. It gave me the inspiration to celebrate him by visiting youtube, where you can find a lot of clips from from Shoah and other of his films plus a long, very fine filmed masterclass with him from IDFA 2013, where his ”The Last of the Unjust” (220 mins.) was shown. In his written memoirs, "The Patagonian Hare”, comes this statement: “Even if I lived a hundred lives, I still wouldn’t be exhausted.” Indeed, and he repeats this in the conversation parts of the new film with him, ”Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”, directed by Adam Benzine, 40 mins. with BBC, ZDF/arte, DR and HBO as ”involved tv channels” as it is put on the IDFA Docs for Sale, the excellent service from the festival. Lanzmann says that he still is full of ”vitalité”. As usual it is fascinating to watch and listen to him, while the film apart from those sequences does not really add anything (except for some unknown footage from his interview with a high rank Nazi and the trouble it gave Lanzmann). Anyway, for those who have NOT yet seen ”Shoah”, watching ”Spectres of the Shoah” afterwards makes sense. Here is the description from the IDFA website:  

In 1973, Claude Lanzmann started shooting Shoah, a nearly 10-hour film that many regard as the most important ever made about the Holocaust. The Frenchman worked for a full 12 years on the documentary, which was commissioned by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But making Shoah left its mark on Lanzmann. He filmed 200 hours of material in 14 countries, before spending five years editing it. And then there was the infamous confrontation with a former Nazi and his henchmen. The director described his documentary as “a film about death, not about surviving.” He explains in Spectres of the Shoah how it wore him out and almost deprived him of his will to live. Lanzmann experienced the completion of Shoah as a death, and it took a long time for him to recover from it. The now almost 90-year-old filmmaker discusses his warm friendship with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and his teenage years in the French resistance during the Second World War. The film also features unseen material from his magnum opus.

In a post on FILMKOMMENTAREN Tue Steen Müller comments an interview with him in The Guardian.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Robert Frank, Ukrainian Sheriffs and Kossakovsky

Written 21-11-2015 11:05:14 by Tue Steen Müller

If you read the post below, ”Viktor Kossakovsky at IDFA”, you will discover his insisting on the form, on the composing of the image, on the aesthetics. If you want to see how this can be done, please go and see Laura Israel’s film ”Don’t Blink: Robert Frank” (Photo) here at IDFA. It was screened at the Stedelijk Museum thursday night and is an excellent introduction to the now 91 year old legendary photographer and filmmaker made by his editor and collaborator in many films, a warm and generous portrait and a look into the creative process of a lovely man, a great artist, who has suffered personal tragedies in his life, that is very much present in his work, but who has also demonstrated how to catch moments in the lives of ”The Americans”, the title of his masterpiece. There was a retrospective of his work – and there is right now at IDFA, including his Rolling Stones film, ”Cocksucker Blues” – in Copenhagen, Sara Thelle wrote about it on this site.

And then last night at the Munt 11 cinema with around 400 seats, full house to the world premiere of ”Ukrainian Sheriffs” by Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko, which I have had the pleasure to follow from the sideline and with a biased look: it is an excellent film that demonstrates fully the talent of Bondarchuk, also present in his ”Dixieland” that will premiere next year. A breakthrough on the international scene. The film has wisely been taken fo the main international competition by the IDFA, where it still has 6-7 screenings.

Finally, there has been quite some discussions here at IDFA about the Viktor Kossakovsky session the other day. I wrote about it and this morning I got an email from VK, who wrote to me something important, I have to correct from my previous text: … one thing: I was saying Sorry, because Russians or prorussians shot the airplane MH17. And when I was watching The Belovs I just realized that you can see in the film the main element of russian mentality: unpredictable aggression - when we talk about Patriotism and meaning of life…

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Anne Wivel, samlede blogindlæg om hendes film

Written 12-11-2015 09:07:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Allerede i 1980'erne, da jeg rejste rundt i ind- og udland for Statens Filmcentral, var mit standardsvar på, hvem der er de betydeligste danske dokumentarister, Jørgen Leth, Jon Bang Carlsen og Anne Wivel – den trio, som dansk dokumentarismes aktuelle succes hviler på. Jeg klikker ind på Det Danske Filminstituts filmdatabase og ser den lange, lange liste over Annes film som instruktør, producer, konsulent, manuskriptforfatter. Filmografien kan ses som et katalog over dokumentarfilmens store udtryksmæssige spændvidde. "Gorilla, gorilla", "Den lille pige med skøjterne" og "Vand", alle fra 80'erne, er tavse, iagttagende kortfilm, fine små poetiske perler, hvorimod der snakkes uafladeligt i vérité-filmene "De tavse piger", "Motivation" og "Ansigt til ansigt". Sidstnævnte er 165 minutter lang (!), optaget på 16mm på Pastoralseminariet, et hovedværk i dansk film, inspireret af amerikanske Frederick Wiseman, men med sin helt egen tone og enkelhed... (Tue Steen Müller)


Anne Wivels ”Mand falder”var åbningsfilm på CPH:DOX og nu i disse dage viser DOXBIO filmen i en lang række biografer. Det er anledningen til her at samle, hvad vi på Filmkommentaren har skrevet om instruktøren og nogle få af hendes mange film.

GISELLE (1990)

Den gamle danser står i øvesalen. Billedet viser ham lige forfra, han danser for kameraet. En komisk-yndefuld dans henvendt til filmen. Klaveret akkompagnerer. Kameraets eneste bevægelse er den forbudte zoom fra total ind i tæt på nær. Ganske langsomt. Jeg ser dansen til ende. Han fortæller jo en historie, som ikke kan afbrydes. Det er en inklination, en opfordring, en henvendelse.

Denne første scene er minutlang. Sådan er overenskomsten. Det her kommer til at tage lang tid. Og der klippes til en krantur, teatrets dekorerede loft afsøges i den bløde svimle bevægelse. Her er den verden, jeg indbydes til. Teatrets lyde, en sanger varmer op, billedet strejfer prismekroner og portrætter af skuespillere. Ved titelskiltet svinder al lyd. Kun det ene ord og en svag spinkel tone, a – forestillingen kan begynde.

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Categories: Cinema, Festival, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Per Kirkeby, samlede blogindlæg om hans film

Written 11-11-2015 07:20:03 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Og så går de i gang med at lave filmen. Filmens kurve bliver som Kirkebys kurve, den må skabe et nulpunkt, tror jeg det er han siger, og så må den med ham bevæge sig frem gennem en række af stemninger, som bliver til filmens afsnit. Sådan aftaler de konstruktionen, så enkel er den, de to erfarne ved hvad de gør. ”Jeg magter det ikke helt, det ved jeg godt, det må være som det er,” udbryder han et sted i gang med et billede, et værk trods alt, og klaverkoncerten triumferer… (ABN)

Her sidder Per Kirkeby i Slottet i Italien, i Anne Wivels film fra 2000. Nu  medvirker Per Kirkeby så igen i en film af Anne Wivel Mand falder som DOXBIO i disse dage viser i en lang række biografer. Det er anledningen til her at samle, hvad vi på Filmkommentaren har skrevet om film Kirkeby sådan medvirker i eller skildres i og så væsentligt, de film han selv har lavet eller været med til at lave.

DA MYNDIGHEDERNE SAGDE STOP (Aqqaluk Lynge og Per Kirkeby 1972)

Jeg blev allerede ved første gennemsyn ekstra opmærksom ved titlen på en af Sumes smukke sange, Qullissat. Den by kender jeg fra noget ondt i noget godt. Her i denne fremmede verden, denne fremmede musik, dette fremmede sprog, en stolt kultur, som jeg ved, jeg er så forpligtet på, her er der pludselig noget, jeg ved lidt om i forvejen. Denne smukke, ulykkelige by er en del af også min erindring, min fortid. Det er fordi Aqqaluk Lynges og Per Kirkebys film har levet i mig, siden jeg så den i 1972 første gang, og formet mit billede af det grønlandske.

Min yndlingsscene fra Da myndighederne sagde stop, som filmen hedder, indgår et sted i arkivmaterialet i Sume. Det er Teit Jørgensens tætte indendørs optagelse med en mand fra byen, som, mens han ryger en cigaret og hans barn lytter med, fortæller om situationen. Byen er nedlagt, alle skal flyttes fra deres huse til, for en stor del tror jeg det var, lejligheder i Nuuks boligblokke. Jeg husker styrken ved den scene er dens længde, samværet, barnet som giver sig til at lege med røgen fra cigaretten. Den fortælling, den scene, er meget lang, måske er det en grønlandsk æstetik, at fortællinger er langsomme ligesom sproget? (Det burde jeg finde ud af). Udsagnet består af det, manden fortæller og meget af det, har jeg faktisk glemt, men filmscenens øvrige fortælling, for eksempel om stemningen i det hjem, livsrytmen der, trygheden til nu, lyset og farverne står tydeligt for mig… (ABN, blogindlæg om Inuk Silis Høegh: Sume 20. november 2014)

Foto: Teit Jørgensen fra Qullissat


ASGER JORN (Per Kirkeby 1977)

Som regel kan jeg ikke lide at læse, hvad instruktørerne mener om deres film, hvordan de udlægger deres film. Det minder mig så meget om facitliste. Og at se film er jo ikke at løse regneopgave, slet ikke at nå frem til det eneste gyldige resultat. Men der er undtagelser, der er for eksempel Bang Carlsen og Leth og Bergman. Og der er Ada Bligaard Søby. Og så er der Per Kirkeby. Når jeg læser deres tekster om deres læsninger og gensyn med egne film (Bergmans Billeder frem for noget) eller deres synopser (Bligaard Søbys tænker jeg på, men hvor er det nu man finder dem?) så sker der det, at teksterne i stedet for at afrunde mit arbejde med filmene: nå det var så det så lukker vi den bog, udvider og forlænger mit liv med filmene. Jeg får lyst til og brug for at se dem igen. Sådan er det i høj grad med Per Kirkeby. Lad mig derfor begynde gensynet på Filmstriben med Asger Jorn (1977) med hans frygtindgydende tekst Jorn – udvortes (1995), som bare skal læses (min absolutte anbefaling) og så hans elegante lille essay om fiktion Hvad skal man egentlig med kunstnere på film? (1995), hvor jeg her simpelthen citerer hele stykket om Asger Jorn:

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Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Andreas Koefoed: Et hjem i verden/ Visninger i DK

Written 05-11-2015 18:24:16 by Tue Steen Müller

Se det er filmformidling af høj klasse på bagrund af en smuk film lavet af et af de fineste talenter i dansk dokumentarfilm – læs anmeldelsen ovenfor. Og det er – skriver én der var ansat i Statens Filmcentral (SFC) – en flot videreførsel af en tradition, som blev grundlagt af netop denne institutions samarbejde med bibliotekerne landet over. Her er hvad jeg har kopieret (i en redigeret udgave) fra CPH:DOX hjemmeside:

“CPH:DOX præsenterer i samarbejde med Det Danske Filminstitut og Sonntag Pictures simultan dokumentarfilmvisning og debat på de danske folkebiblioteker, højskoler og asylcentre.

I anledning af FN’s Internationale Børnedag og som afrunding på CPH:DOX viser vi den 19. november 19:00 Andreas Koefoeds ‘Et Hjem i Verden’ simultant – over hele landet!

Arrangementet er et gratis tilbud til danskere i hele landet i et forsøg på at menneskeliggøre den meget svære flygtningedebat, og filmen følges til alle visninger op af lokal debat og refleksion.”

Klik på linket nedenfor – over tredive visningssteder – EFTER filmens mange biografvisninger under festivalen.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

The Flaherty and The Doker

Written 31-10-2015 08:41:14 by Tue Steen Müller

… New York and Moscow. Strong promotion of the creative documentary takes place these days in the two cities. Or should we call it the cinema d’auteur?

Anyway, no-one would object to put that characterisation on French Nicolas Philibert, who on monday visits Anthology Film Archives in NY to present his film ”Qui Sait? (Who Knows?) that is from 1998. He is there due to the Flaherty NYC series ”The Infinite Child”. Behind it all stands the director of Flaherty, Danish Anita Reher. A description of the rather unknown film by Philibert you will find at the end of this post.

At the same time, with screenings yesterday, today and tomorrow, the Doker Moscow International Documentary Film Festival, that actually took place in May this year, shows and presents the winners of the festival after a crowdfunding campaign to be able to bring over some of the directors. The winner was the Chinese documentary by Ye Zuyi, ”The Gleaners”, best director was Maciej Glowinski with ”Fish’R’Us” and best cinematography went to the film ”The Silence of the Flies” by Eliezer Arias from Venezuela. Behind it all stands Irina Shatilova and colleagues, all filmmakers fighting to get documentaries to the audience. More about the festival and its films, use the link below.

The film of Philibert: WHO KNOWS?, is set in a military hut where, one winter's night, a group of fifteen students at the Strasbourg National Theatre assemble to fine-tune a show on that city that they developed at the bidding of the director. Over the course of many hours, they talk, argue, sing, teeter on the brink of exhaustion.

Still from Qui Sait? (Who Knows?) Credit: Dunn Méas.!home/mainPageмеждународный-фестиваль-документаль/

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Masterclasses and DOKLeipzig Films on DocAlliance

Written 17-10-2015 14:47:11 by Tue Steen Müller

Again and again DocAlliance, “Your Online Documentary Cinema”, brings quality to its users, who are hopefully many. This time a series of filmed masterclasses from the Jihlava 2014 festival. I visited one of them last year, the one with Wojtiech Staron, which was great, take that or always interesting Godfrey Reggio. For free until tomorrow included. Then you can pay the small fees that DocAlliance operates with and/or go to watch films from DOKLeipzig, for free from this coming Monday October 19 until November 1st. The offer includes a slate of animated documentaries, one of many specialities at the Leipzig festival:

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Avi Mograbi Retrospective

Written 05-10-2015 15:07:39 by Tue Steen Müller

Under the headline “Always The Trouble With Avi”, the Filmforum at the Museum Ludwig in Köln shows a retrospective of films by Israeli Avi Mograbi, introduced by this great text by the curator Rasha Salti:

“He is almost always in front of the camera, but the films are never about him at all; he films the commonplace, the everyday, even the prosaic – only to reveal with unsettling lucidity more profound and unseen truths about the paradoxes of contemporary Israeli society and ist occupation of Palestine. He seems to make films about making films that in reality are never made; he trumps documentary with fiction, performance with reality, back and forth, addling the codes of direct cinema. This is the trouble with Avi Mograbi’s cinematic and artistic practice: it is so essentially and literally subversive that it is impossible to classify. As is he: actor, sound recordist, second cameraman, singer, performer, director and citizen, he embodies all these roles dutifully, responsibly, without ambiguity or affect. And most remarkably, he never

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Megacities in Copenhagen

Written 15-09-2015 10:30:50 by Tue Steen Müller

Copenhageners – it’s already tonight, sorry that i did not see it before, that Michael Glawogger’s masterpiece from 1998, ”Megacities” (photo) is shown as part of a programme called ”The Urban Planet”, organised by the active Copenhagen Architecture Festival “that has, in collaboration with curator Jacob Lillemose created four events whose starting point is to look at the consequences of cities to the World today and especially to the future. Through films, lectures and discussions the events will point attention to the urban landscape as a sensual and intellectually overwhelming totality, created in a complex and intensive interaction between people, politics and architecture.”

Click below if you want to attend, ticket reservation needed.

Sooo… Glawogger is not here any longer but his films are. When I was asked to make my “Best Documentaries Ever” by Sight & Sound, “Megacities” was an obvious choice because “Few directors have as Glawogger been travelling the world to tell stories about how people live and think and work. This is one of the works from his trilogy (the others are "Workingman's Death" and "Whore's Glory"), with a superb cinematography of Wolfgang Thaler, "la condition humaine" is the theme so far away from reportage as one can be.”

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Message2Man 2015

Written 11-09-2015 12:24:04 by Tue Steen Müller

The festival in St. Petersburg, that has existed for a quarter of a century, starts September 25 and runs until October 3. The selection has been announced but first some quotes from the News of the website:

”… Over 3,400 films from 83 countries entered the qualifying round of the Anniversary… 90 films from 45 countries were selected:

International Competition will present 43 pictures from 25 countries: 10 feature documentary films and 12 documentary short  films, 11 short films and 10 animated films. The largest number of applications came from France, Poland, Germany and the USA. Also directors from Bahrain, Qatar, Morocco, Taiwan, Singapore, Africa and South America sent their works. There were many interesting applications from Russia and post-Soviet countries.

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

A Riga Meeting with Ivars Seleckis

Written 08-09-2015 12:15:47 by Tue Steen Müller

Riga. The day after the Baltic Sea Docs, Edition 19. Producer Uldis Cekulis is developing a film project initiated by Kristine Briede. Theme: The poetic tradition in the Baltic cinema. They have been so kind to involve me in the research, which has given me the opportunity last year to meet Estonian master Mark Soosaar on his island in Estonia and legendary director Uldis Brauns, who lives in the countryside in Latvia. Brauns is the man behind ”235.000.000”, the classic masterpiece in Latvian and world documentary history. That the made together with Herz Frank in 1967.

And now Ivars Seleckis, 81 years old, fresh in head and legs, as always shooting a film, if anyone the Latvian documentarian, who has described people and culture and places and history of his motherland, and who has taken a place in world documentary with his trilogy from Skersiela, a street in Riga – three films: ”Crossroad Street” (1988), ”New Times at Crossroad Street” (1999) and ”Capitalism at Crossroad Street” (2012). As you can see from the photo (director Kristine Briede to the left doing sound and translation)

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Dox Box Residency

Written 02-09-2015 18:22:14 by Tue Steen Müller

The Dox Box has published its Newsletter for September, which is full of useful information for Arab filmmakers – and for us who want to stay updated on what happens in the Arab documentary world. The main story is that grantees has been awarded for the Fall Cycle. For filmmakers to stay and work on the completion of their films with assistance from professionals. The Berlin based Dox Box organisation:

”DOX BOX received 40 applications from 10 Arab Countries for its inaugural editing residency in Berlin. The Selection Committee granted three projects for Fall 2015. These projects demonstrated an impressively strong point-of-view and approach to the sociopolitical reality of their respective countries. Each has succeeded in employing pre-existing audio-visual archival footage within their dramatic narratives...

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Werner Pedersen 1922-2015

Written 22-08-2015 13:06:13 by Tue Steen Müller

Werner Pedersen (WP) var ikke længe i dansk film, men han fik stor betydning for dansk kort- og dokumentarfilms udvikling. I 1959 blev han ansat i Statens Filmcentral, i 1962 blev han direktør samme sted og fra 1967 til 1970 var han leder af Kortfilmrådet (KR), og introducerede, hvad der dengang blev kaldt ”den frie (kunstneriske) kortfilm”. KR eksisterede frem til 1972 og nåede at få produceret 150 titler. Folk som Per Kirkeby, Jørgen Leth, Allan de Waal (den kontroversielle film om Nato), Ole John, Tørk Haxthausen, Jørgen Roos og en række billedkunstnere (Ursula Reuter, Bjørn Nørgaard, Jens Jørgen Thorsen…) figurerer på instruktør-listen over de såkaldte ”uønskede film”, som de blev kaldt fordi Statens Filmcentral (SFC) ikke ville tage dem alle i distribution. De blev ikke opfattet som folkeoplysende… I 1972 kom så filmloven, der lagde produktionen under SFC med en støttefunktion, der ligner konsulentsystemet af i dag. Og et ansvar for distributionen. WP’s holdninger – at der skulle være plads til den kunstneriske film – fulgte med. Filmhistorikeren Carl Nørrested har flere steder (check fremhævet WP’s indsats: Kortfilmrådet blev i sin syv-årige levetid en tumleplads for æstetiske eksperimenter…

Og så på det personlige plan: Da Werner Pedersen (WP) forlod

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Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Ulla Boje Rasmussen: Western Outposts

Written 10-08-2015 10:30:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Subtitle: ”Faroese Cinematic Narratives”, that I enjoyed the great pleasure to be with the whole (yester)day. True pleasure indeed and admiration for the work of Ulla Boje Rasmusen and Andreas Fischer-Hansen to have done the fundraising to have a new digitized version made of the two documentary classics ”1700 Metres from the Future” (1990) and ”The Light on Mykines Island” (1992) in several languages (subtitles), with an epilogue short film ”Not on a Friday” (2015) and a fine booklet ”on cultural and social aspects of Faroese life”. A dvd box of rich content, in other words. These two films have an outstanding position in newer Danish documentary history, not because of their high informational and cultural value introducing the ”Western Outposts”, the Faroe Islands, but because of their quality as Documentary Films. Also today, 25 years after they were made.

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Categories: DVD, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ron Mann: Altman

Written 06-08-2015 20:07:23 by Tue Steen Müller

One more well made film historical biography, this time on Robert Altman (1925-2006), interestingly made and enjoyable to watch. The director, Canadian Ron Mann, got the great idea to chapter the film by asking people who have worked with Altman to state shortly what ”Altmanesque” is for them. Robin Williams (who played in the director’s ”Popeye”) says ”Expecting the Unexpected”, Bruce Willis says ”Kicking Hollywood’s Ass”, Julianne Moore says ”he shows how vulnerable we are”. Many others take part in this clever game of characterisation of the director, who gave us ”Nashville”, ”M.A.S.H”, ”Gosford Park”, ”McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and ”Short Cuts”, to mention a few classics from the enormous filmography.

His widow Kathryn – they met in each other in 1959 – tells the story about her husband as do his children, very often they were part of the film crews, and does he himself through interviews made for other purposes. We get the whole career, how he got into filmmaking through industrial films, how he became, as he says himself, ”one of the top tv directors”, his constant fight with the Hollywood companies (so clearly depicted in ”The Player”), his admiration for the actors, his way of working with the crew that was invited to watch the dailies together with him, his period as a theatre director, his fame in Europe – he lived in Paris for years – and awards in Cannes, his drinking too much, when he stopped he said to his wife ”what I miss by no drinking, is the alcohol”, his new heart… the film is full of fine home movie material, clips from the films, and yes you want to watch them again.

To be found on itunes and dvd etc. Photo from 1983.

USA, 2014, 95 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Flaherty NYC Season at Anthology Film Archives

Written 04-08-2015 14:35:04 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s nice when a text is free of conventional promotion clichés, is well written and has an interesting point of view and an inviting programme. As the one below, copy-pasted from the Flaherty Newsletter, with Sukhdev Sandhu (more about him via the link below) as the programmer for a series called “The Infinite Child”, starting Monday Oct. 5 and running every other Monday. Programme details to be found later, check the website of the very active film cultural The Flaherty, that is headed by Danish Anita Reher, with whom I worked for many years at the EDN (European Documentary Network). Actually Anita was the first one employed in August 1996, when it started - I came in one month later. Memories, but back to Flaherty and the fine text: 

To be a child is to be a member of a social minority to which everyone has belonged. And yet, far from this endowing them with hallowed status, children today are increasingly under attack: they are enclosed and spatially squeezed; relentlessly tested at school; targeted by capitalism; patronized as technology-obsessed brats. THE INFINITE CHILD tells a different story: it highlights filmmakers - avant -garde, activist, Direct Cinema legends - who have explored the freedom, defiance, illegibility, inner strength and radicalism of children. These artists - sometimes lyrical, sometimes wonderfully maniacal - not only treat children as experimental spaces and with a tenderness that is lacking in more generic representations; they search for the enduring and liberating spirit of childhood on stage and in institutions such as art schools.

Artists include: Nicolas Philibert, D.A. Pennebaker, Narimane Mari, Redmond Entwhistle, Patricia Holland, Leslie Thornton, Guy Sherwin, Katie Halper, Anna Lucas, John McManus.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Steve James: Life Itself

Written 03-08-2015 11:17:39 by Tue Steen Müller

”It would be a major lapse to have a documentary that doesn’t contain the full reality. I wouldn’t want to be associated. This is not only your film”, legendary film critic Roger Ebert e-mails to Steve James during his making of the film that carries the title of Ebert’s memoirs and is shot during the last months of his life.

Indeed, the film contains the full reality – in an interview at Indiewire, James says: ” With that first shot you see of him in the present part of the story – I purposedly wanted to use a shot where he’s asleep and you can see through his jaw, through the bandage, and it’s kind of a sobering shot”. It is quite shocking to watch before you get Ebert’s incredible appetite on Life, his work on the MacBook with a voice synthesizer, his conversations with his wife Chaz, his efforts to rehabilitate, on the background of the many operations he has gone through due to his cancer.

James has made a very rich film. It includes the biography of Ebert, his way into film criticism, his loyalty to his newspaper Chicago Sun-Times after he received many attractive offers when  receiving the Pulitzer Prize – with quotes from his book as the narrative backbone and with many interviews with close friends and with filmmakers, who adores him like Scorcese, Morris and Werner Herzog, who with his special accent calls him ”a soldier of Cinema”!

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Cinemateket August-September 2015

Written 01-08-2015 19:48:19 by Tue Steen Müller

Jeg skrev om Helmut Berger, som Luchino Visconti gjorde til stjerne med ”Ludwig”, skuespilleren som blev kaldt for verdens smukkeste mand. Og så åbner jeg det danske Cinematekets katalog for august og september og ser en anden Visconti-skuespiller på forsiden, Alain Delon, som er født i 1935, bliver 80 i november måned! ”Leoparden” (1963, 185 minutter)… dansen med Claudia Cardinale, spillet med Burt Lancaster, et af Viscontis mange mesterværker, for glem ikke også at se ”Rocco og hans brødre” (1961, 177 minutter), hvor han spiller overfor Annie Girardot og med Renato Salvatori i rollen som broren, som går i hundene i norditalienske Milano, hvortil den sicilianske familie er flyttet fra fattigdommen.

… to af 10 film med Delon, to andre der lige skal nævnes er Jean-Pierre Melvilles stilsikre, elegante ”Ekspert i Drab” (1967) og samme instruktørs ”Den røde cirkel” (1970), hvor også stilsikre og elegante Yves Montand deltager i det store kup.

Det er den rene fryd at bladre i Cinematekets indbydende 64 sider store katalog, kuglepennen kommer frem, der bliver sat krydser, diskuteret med den bedre halvdel, vel vidende at vi alligevel ikke får tid til alt det vi gerne vil se eller gense.

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Categories: Cinema, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Listen to Me Marlon/ Reviews

Written 01-08-2015 13:32:06 by Tue Steen Müller

The film opened theatrically in New York, but had its premiere beginning of this year at the Sundance Festival. Reviews below, click and get them in full length. Many superlatives but if you read the full review from NY Times, you will find several reservations made. Anyway, looking fwd to watch this one about (one of?) the greatest screen actors, a story more or less told by himself through the sound tapes he recorded.

Sure to hold surprises for even those obsessives whove absorbed every Brando performance and factoid.

Dennis Harvey·Variety

It’s a blast to hear Marlon Brando talking about his life in "Listen to Me Marlon," which is almost entirely narrated by the actor, largely through snippets of audio recordings he made over decades.

Manohla Dargis·New York Times

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Wiseman, Janis Joplin, Helmut Berger

Written 29-07-2015 20:07:28 by Tue Steen Müller

To continue some name dropping after receiving today’s realscreen newsletter that announces ”the slate of docs” to be screened at the Venice International Film Festival, edition 72nd!

World class name Frederick Wiseman presents ”In Jackson Heights”, which was pitched at the Hot Docs accompanied by a Kickstarter campaign! Amy Berg has made a film on ”Janis” (photo) – oh when will I run into that!

And I discover that Austrian Andreas Horvath has made a film on Helmut Berger, 71 years old, once called the most beautiful man in the world, whose career is closely connected to the master, the fantastic director Luchino Visconti, especially with the film ”Ludwig” from 1972, 4 hours long, a film that I saw with my friend Kjell Væring in a cinema on Champs Elysées. We went back to Copenhagen and wrote an enthusiastic article to the Danish newspaper Politiken… memories.

Apart from the three mentioned there are documentaries by Gianfranco Pannone, by Sergei Loznitsa and one on Brian de Palma – the festival runs September 2 to 12.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Michael Moore, Marlon Brando, Orhan Pamuk

Written 28-07-2015 21:50:55 by Tue Steen Müller

Some name dropping on a tuesday evening, tabloid maybe, but I expect all three films to be of quality... Realscreen anounces today that a new film by Michael Moore is to premiere at the TIFF, the festival in Toronto that runs September 10 to 20. The title is ”Where to Invade Next”, look at the fantastic photo… The article says nothing special about the content, the festival programmer Thom Powers is quoted like this “I can say it is very funny, it’s going to be a real conversation starter. It’s a culmination of lots of ideas that Moore has been working on for several years.”

“Listen to Me Marlon” = Brando is another upcoming film by Stevan Riley, written about in Danish newspaper Politiken today, based on around 300 hours of sound tapes recorded by the actor during decades, said to be a kind of self-psychoanalysis.

Finally I found a link on facebook to Turkish Hürriyet Daily News of today that announces the premiere of a film on Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence at the Venice Film festival (September 2-12). The title of the film is “Innocence of Memories”, director is Grant Gee. Pamuk in the article: “I wrote a 30-minute long original script… The new text tells the love story in the Museum of Innocence book from the eye of a secondary character. I do not tell which character it is now, but will in Venice… The documentary is both about the Museum of Innocence and Istanbul. My other books have also taken place in the documentary,” he said.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Peter Bogdanovich Retrospective

Written 27-07-2015 22:36:32 by Tue Steen Müller

The Danish Cinemateket re-opens in August with – as usual – a fine programme, including a retrospective of films by Peter Bogdanovich, mentioned in the post below and in reports from the Amdocs festival in Palm Springs in March. A director and a film historian and the one behind the documentary on John Ford.

Here is - in Danish - the presentation by Cinemateket:

I anledning af den danske premiere på screwball-komedien ’She’s Funny That Way’ fejrer vi veteranen Peter Bogdanovich og præsenterer en stribe værker, der understreger hans store spændvidde og viser udviklingen fra New Hollywood-håb til etableret genrefilmmager. Glæd dig til thrilleren ’Snigskytten’ (1968) på knitrende original celluloid, dramahovedværket ’Sidste forestilling’ (1971) i ny biografkopi, dens opfølger ’Texasville’ (1990) og en stribe glemte perler (’Paper Moon’ (1973), ’Daisy Miller’ (1974) m.fl.), der gerne refererer direkte til den klassiske amerikanske filmhistorie og mastodonter som Hawks, Ford, Lubitsch og Cukor.

Serien (8 film) vises 1. august-29. September

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Se Merry Doyle: John Ford: Dreaming The Quiet Man

Written 27-07-2015 22:15:32 by Tue Steen Müller

Before I went to Amdocs (American Documentary Film Festival) in Palm Springs end of March this year I would have shaken my head if anyone had said to me that I should revisit some of the films by John Ford. But the presence of Peter Bogdanovich with anecdotes about the old master and the showing of his 1971 classic, now updated (in 2006) documentary, a very fine piece of film history, gave me appetite for ”Searchers”, ”Stagecoach” and so on – all the legendary Monument Valley films.

And now, thanks to an American family member, I have watched the lovely Irish produced work about Ford, making his personal film ”The Quiet Man” full of anecdotes but not only that, also intelligent analyses of scenes, how they were made, the use of colours and how he worked with the leading actors John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara (born 1920), who speaks wonderfully about the tough director and her playing with Wayne, the ”Duke”. Bogdanovich is there, as is Martin Scorcese, who again expresses his passion for film history and calls the film ”a work of art and poetry” at the same time as he claims that the fighting scene in which Wayne kills a man in a boxing match was an inspiration for his ”Raging Bull”

The film takes its viewer to the village Innisfree, where it was shot, to the ruins of a house that Ford’s father left for America, it’s very warm and sweet when locals remember the shooting in the beginning of the 1950’es. And of course there is a small tourist trip to take around the place, a shop and its female owner, quite a character, the pub, which was not a pub at that time but became after the film. Irish culture, enjoyable it is, and informative: John Ford will be on the agenda!

Available on dvd and blueray

Ireland, 2010, 90 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

”Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 6

Written 22-07-2015 12:47:20 by Tue Steen Müller

One more addition to the slate of posts on the premiere of ”Beyond the Fear” by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko, again from the Haaretz and again by Nirit Anderman, who wrote a competent review of the film.

This time Anderman launches the story that world famous director Herz Frank was a legend in the documentary community, ”but not in Israel”, where he lived from 1993. Anderman outlines his film carreer in broad terms (should however have mentioned the for many forgotten masterpiece ”235.000.000” that he made with Uldis Brauns) and declares that ”Beyond the Fear” is ”a natural continuation of his former work”, that is described like this “a curiosity to understand the human soul in a non-judgemental way, a readiness to expose himself to an audience and a strict maintenance of the visual language and quality filmmaking were always the cornerstones of Herz Frank’s movies.”

The article of course refers to the debate about the film in Israel and there is a critique expressed, that “the film’s producers kept their movie close to their chests in recent weeks, not showing it to anyone, refusing to let us see it in preparation for this story. The inevitable result was that the endless discussions around it often missed the truth…”

And it has some clever words from influential director Nurit Kedar, who was part of the team that recommended adding the movie to the Jerusalem Film Festival’s competition. “Frank accompanied her (Larissa, who married Amir, ed.) for a long period, perhaps six or seven years, trying to establish why she fell in love with him, how it happened. I didn’t feel any sympathy towards Amir while watching the film. All his images are known from media stories, and the only new thing is his voice during the conversations with his son.”

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

“Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 4

Written 11-07-2015 10:53:47 by Tue Steen Müller

The film by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko was shown on the 8th of July, the day before the official opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival, whose leaders felt they had to play according to the rules of the Israeli Minister of Culture, who had told them that the funding for the festival would not happen if the film was shown as part of the festival. The Times of Israel (link below) put it like this: (The film was shown) in the small auditorium of Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim center. The screenings were held at the nearby arts center to avoid unnecessary publicity and to abide by the agreement with Regev to keep the film separate from the partially state-funded Cinematheque. There were no protesters in sight… Both screenings were sold out.

I have been in contact with Guntis Trekteris, main producer of the film, who was there with Maria Kravchenko and Israeli co-producer Sagy Tsirkin (photo Trekteris to the left). Trekteris reported that he publicly thanked the Minister of Culture for making this the third time the film opened a festival (the others were in Riga and Moscow) – the film is, even if not shown at the festival venue, the Cinematheque, still part of the official documentary competition!

Trekteris: Yesterday was an alternative (outdoor) screening in the Jerusalem Park opposite to the Old city Park organized by Israeli filmmakers during the official opening of the festival. Very special atmosphere. Many said to us that its a very important film for Israel…

Chapeau for the Israeli filmmakers, who made this act of solidarity!


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pärnu Film Festival 29th Edition

Written 08-07-2015 18:11:50 by Tue Steen Müller

Yes, it is a tradition to pay tribute to the festival in Pärnu Estonia that runs now and until July 19th – and let me repeat the introductory text from last year:

”the Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival (is) initiated and run by film director, visual artist, politician and showman, Mark Soosaar, whose mark is still very strong on a festival with a huge number of films, competitions, out-of-competition screenings, from all over the world…”

Including the Estonian People’s Award where 6 films that are broadcast by Estonian Television are competing for the viewers vote. Among them are this year titles like ”Happily Ever After” by Croatian Tatjana Bozic, Hanna Polak’s ”Something Better to Come” and ”Waiting for August” by Romanian Teodora Ana Mihai from Belgium.

For Mark Soosaar there is a reason to make cultural events including a film festival like this. Here is a long quote from his foreword to the catalogue that you can download for free from the website:

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK Movies Update

Written 02-07-2015 20:58:50 by Tue Steen Müller

I read somewhere that NYTimes plans to cut down in their movie reviews policy that so far has been working in the way that ALL films released theatrically in NY are reviewed. What that means remains to be seen, but it will not make me give up my subscription that includes the newspaper and the thursday/friday ”Movies Update” that is a pleasure to read for a documentary addict as well.

For instance the one from today, where you find a review of Asif Kapadia’s documentary (the man who made "Senna") on ”Amy” (photo) Winehouse (for the Danes, soon to be released (July 30) in Copenhagen), a very inviting review – …an intensely intimate experience, which is delightful as you’re getting to know her early on, when she’s all shy, charming smiles and having her first successes. In its rise-and-fall arc, her star-is-born/star-is-dead story is painfully familiar; she is, bluntly, just one more name now etched on our pop-cultural mausoleum. Yet, as this movie reminds you again and again, the commercial entity… was also a human being, and it’s this person, this Amy, whom you get to know through all the lovely little details, knowing winks, funny asides and barbed observations that help make the movie memorable… Read it all, please!

And a theatrical release of a Les Blank film from the early 1970’es is written about, “A Poem is a Naked Person”, about musician Leon Russell. Blank, who died in 2013, is a name to be remembered in the history of documentary for his films on music and culture, with his own non-pretentious style, made this film “over three years, his first feature, “a vital part of a unique and durable body of work”.

And more documentaries are reviewed – and there is a long and informative, and superbly illustrated, article on the phenomenon Robert Frank, “The Man Who Saw America”.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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