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)

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: TV, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Documentary of the Month: Weiner

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

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

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

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

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Roy Andersson

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

My Name is Popovic

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocPoint Program Announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Michael Glawogger: Untitled

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

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

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

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

105 mins.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Films in Aarhus Denmark

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Best Documentaries 2016/ Intro

Written 30-12-2016 16:06:25 by Tue Steen Müller

2016… should I choose 20 or 16 as the Best Documentaries I have seen this year. I took 16. They appear in a random order. I have not put them in order of 1, 2, 3 etc. with 1 being the best. Should I be asked if any of the films stand out: Yes, Abbas Fahdel’s extraordinary 5 hour long ”Homeland, Iraq Year Zero”. I was lucky to be a jury member at the Dokufest in Prizren, where the film was shown. It was my first visit to the festival in Kosovo that has found its own fine way of treating the audience with documentaries of artistic quality.

Other three of the films on the list I enjoyed at the well programmed DOK Leipzig: Sergei Loznitsa’s ”Austerlitz”, Vitaly Mansky’s ”Close Relations” and Miroslav Janek’s ”Normal Autistic Film”, which of course also reveal my love to documentaries from the Eastern part of Europe. 2016 brought a new film by Lithuanian master Audrius Stonys as well as the chamberplay by Pawel Lozinski ”You have no Idea How Much I Love You” that had its premiere at the festival in Krakow that also premiered talented Piotr Stasik’s NY film ”21 x New York”. I have high expectations to his next film(s) as I have to Georgian Salomé Jashi, whose beautiful ”The Dazzling Light of Sunset” is on the list as is Serbian Ognjen Glavonic with his ”Depth Two”.

But it is not all Eastern docs, there are three American films on the list: Laura Israel’s film on ”Robert Frank, Don’t Blink”, Kirsten Johnson’s ”Cameraperson” and Raoul Peck’s ”I am not Your Negro”. The two last ones are on the way to be Oscar nominated, I cross my fingers.

From IDFA, Amsterdam I picked ”Machines” by Indian Rahul Jain, ”Mogadishu Soldier” by Torstein Grude and Niels Pagh Andersen and ”Liberation Day” by Ugis Olte and Morten Traavik. And from DocsBarcelona Argentinian Martin Solá’s ”Chechen Family”.

16 films that will stay in my mind. And 16 films we have written about in reviews or note-wise on this site. 2016, a good year for artistic documentaries.

The photo is from Dokufest, Prizren, Lumbhardi Cinema.

Categories: 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

Award to Svetlana & Zoran Popovic

Written 27-12-2016 20:17:14 by Tue Steen Müller

So well deserved… I thought when it was announced yesterday that my dear Belgrade friends Svetlana and Zoran Popovic were to be recipients of an award, a new one set up in the memory of the critic Nebojša Popović, who died in 2015, a prominent film critic at RTS and a programmer at the Belgrade Cultural Center theatre. The motivation for the award to the couple, who has been running a film school, Kvadrat, since 1990 and the festival Magnificent7 since 2005, goes like this:

"The award "Nebojša Popović" goes to SVETLANA i 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.”

“The award is established by prominent Serbian institutions such as: Serbian Film Center, National TV Broadcasting Company, Yugoslav Film Archive, Authors Film Festival, Beldocs Film Festival and the members of Nebojša Popović family.  This is the first time that the award is given and the decision by the jury of three members is made unanimously. The award will be given on January 11th in the Theater "Belgrade Cultural Center" where Nebojša Popovič was the programmer. The task for the winners will be to make the selection for a one day film program at the Center.”

I could add lots of words to this, including the warm hospitality that I, my wife and the filmmakers, who have attended the festival for 12 years have been met with. See you in February for M7 number 13 – and thanks to Nevena Djonlic for helping with translation of texts. And if you want to see the two in a television clip go to 12.43 of

Photo: The couple on stage at Magnificent7 festival.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

How Docs Reach the Audience

Written 25-12-2016 12:46:16 by Tue Steen Müller

3 months after the St.Petersburg conference on ”How Docs Reach the Audience” 12 videos are now available online for everyone interested. With around 12 hours of interesting talks about Nordic and Russian experiences, when it comes to reach an audience…

The Russian Documentary Guild has published the whole conference on its site – in an English version and in a Russian, links below. It is very professionally made (excellent interpreters) and you can pick the interventions that appeal to you. The conference was supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers (Elena Khoroshkina) and produced by Viktor Skubey, president of the Guild and Anastasia Lobanova, both of them producers of documentary films. It was a pleasure to work with them. My job was to help put together the program and moderate with Cecilie Bolvinkel from European Documentary Network (EDN).

It’s all there – take a look at Danish Film Institute (DFI) representatives Liselotte Michelsen and Lisbeth Juhl Sibbesen fighting with the Russian technician to technically prepare the speech on the DFI streaming services, or see Cecilie Bolvinkel present the Moving Docs or hear Anton Mazurov, sales agent, speak about the Russian distribution of creative documentary… It’s all accompanied by clips or power points, it’s informative, inspiring and personal as was Swedish producer Stina Gardell’s talk (PHOTO) not to forget Russian Irina Shatalova from the Doker festival or Maja Lindquist on the Doc Lounge that she set up in Sweden or Diana Tabakov from legendary DocAlliance. Or Flahertiana festival’s Pavel Pechenkin, local cinema programmer Alexey Nedviga, 24 Docs broadcaster Alexey Laifurov and Maria Muskevich who for the Documentary Guild works to better the film club network situation.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH


Written 22-12-2016 16:32:01 by Tue Steen Müller

For one who daily watches moving images and is in the programming process for a festival – 90 documentaries in a month – it is pure pleasure to stop for a moment and look at photographs, be it the reportage genre or art photography. I did so December 10 at the new Whitney Museum in New York, a museum of American Art, and a museum with an excellent view from balconies on several floors.

I took a photo with my i-phone: A woman looks at a photo taken by Diane Arbus in 1963, title ”Teenage Couple on Hudson Street, N.Y.C.”. In 1963 I was also a teenager, had the same haircut as the boy on the photo. He poses for the camera, whereas she seems not that happy to be photographed. How did that photo come about? Did Arbus just stop them on the street and asked for permission? Where were they going? For a drink around the corner? To visit family? A social photography, maybe, it does not communicate happiness, there is something of a Ken Loach film in that shot from N.Y. in 1963. Sadness?

All that I think now,11 days after the visit, knowing that the real reason for the snapshot was the woman, who is looking at the photo: Her interest, her curiosity in that photo, in Jørgen Leth language: Look at the woman. What is she looking at? What are her thoughts? Does she like the photo?

She is quite as important in my photo as the photo itself. The one and only!

Categories: 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

Read more / Læs mere

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


Written 18-12-2016 20:45:14 by Tue Steen Müller

… is the title of a contest initiated by the Docudays UA (Ukraine) festival together with International Committee of the Red Cross. Yulia Serdyukova, who is part of the selection committee of the hopefully many interesting projects coming in from emerging filmmakers around the world, has asked me to post the rules of the competition, which I do with pleasure, being a constant supporter of the festival, and also a member of the mentioned selection committee togther with Head of Communications in Ukraine at International Committee of the Red Cross Marie-Servane Desjonqueres. Here is the text about the contest, read it and discover how many countries are eligible:

The international competition for documentary film projects about Ukraine or the Eurasia region, on the consequences of conflicts and other situations of violence inflicted upon civilians.

The conflict in the East of Ukraine prompts us to think again about all the other armed conflicts or situations of violence that have been gripping the world, and in particular our continent.

More attention must be given to the struggle of those caught up in violence. The ICRC delegation in Ukraine and Docudays UA invite emerging documentary filmmakers from Eurasian countries* to

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Finn Larsen: The Dump

Written 17-12-2016 15:10:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen

The Dump – growing mountains of waste in Greenland, is part of the exhibition ”MANS LAND” 2012, Dunkers Kulturhus, Helsingborg, Galleri Pi, Copenhagen and museums in Greenland, now on Youtube: (The Dump, streaming, ENGLISH version) (Om Finn Larsen fotografi og udstillinger)


There are 56,700 inhabitants in Greenland, in 18 cities and 50-60 settlements. There is practically no waste management. In the larger cities there are waste combustion systems, but they are undersized and malfunctioning.

Waste disposal management in Greenland is in worse state than it is in Denmark, even though Denmark is no role model. Numerous campaigns want to reduce Greenland to a victim of climate changes. But the majority of Greenlanders does not share this conviction.

The government of Greenland desires room for economic growth and as a result, they agitate the right to increase pollution. Oil drilling and extraction of gold and rare metals are under planning. The economic potential is immense. So are the possibilities of environmental disasters and the risk of expanding al-ready existing social gaps.

The problems Greenland is facing with waste disposal and societal dilemmas are the same, as those of other Nordic and European countries.The distinction is that the problems in Greenland are worse and more evident.

Greenland is no different from any other country. That’s the problem. (Finn Larsen, 2016)

Finn Larsen: The Dump, a journey from north to south of Greenland. Sweden, 2012 (web 2016) 26 min., YouTube.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web


Written 14-12-2016 16:55:08 by Tue Steen Müller

Syrian Guevara Namer, who I have known from the Damascus DOXBOX festival, and who now lives in Berlin, sent me a link and a text asking us to share, which we do through this. First the text, then the link to sign a petition:

Raise you voice to save the ones who are left inside Syria.
Aleppo has been subject to all kinds of violations of International Humanitarian laws for four months now, all the laws and norms aiming to protect civilians during armed conflict were massively violated by the Syrian government supported with it's allied Russian armed forces on Syrian soil along with Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese militias.
The city saw thousands of air‐raids, explosive barrels, mortars, cluster bombs, Clonic bombs bunker buster and bombs fueled with chlorine gas.
No hospitals, schools , nor civil society centers were spared from shelling.
Four months of total absence of public services or infrastructure, where civilians are trapped and the world is standing still with no trace of reaction.
During the last few hours, as the regime and its militias advanced towards the Eastern side of the city, news and reports about field executions, random killings of unarmed civilians and burning of their properties in groups massacres of those who are left in the city.
As per the civil society defense in Aleppo, no reports available regarding the number of victims since Monday, bodies are filling the streets and the shelling is still on.
For six years now we have been informing the world that we are being slaughtered with hundreds, nevertheless thousands of massacres against Syrian civilians, hundreds of petitions, statements and pleas to countries all over the world and to public opinion to stop the genocide and bring criminals to justice, but the way events are happening now, it can't be further uglier than the way it is today.
Now at these hours we put the world accountable for what is happening in Aleppo.
Away from feelings of anger and disappointment of Syrians, this level of violence will only contributes to growing extremism at an international level, it will shake the very base of societies core value of social justice.
Therefore The international community should announce clearly its commitment to supporting Syrians, to neutralize civilians away from armed conflict, and to bring to justice criminals of mass killing and extermination.
We as Syrian, European and international civil society activists we demand action from the International Community and the United Nations.
For them to stand with more than just words of condemnation, to save those who are left in Syria and lift the injustice towards innocent people.
Our position today is built on historical and human necessity and our duty forces us to raise loud voices of rejection to negative political discourse that we consider scandalous as it stands still and silently facing this amount of wasted precious innocent blood, today in the 21st century.
And we claim the following actions :
‐ Ceasing all military operations immediately.
‐ Holding Russia responsible for the result of failure in allowing civilians to leave Eastern Aleppo.
‐ Criminalizing the actions of the regime and militias in Syria classified around the world as terrorists such as Hezbollah and others.
The petition was initially launched on Avaaz website under the following link:


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Rahul Jain: Machines

Written 12-12-2016 22:01:35 by Tue Steen Müller

You are 12-13 minutes into the film before someone is saying something. Before that the camera operated by Mexican Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva takes you into a huge textiles factory in Gujarat, India to – with the words of Richard Leacock – give us viewers the feeling of being there. A more than succesful ambition; you go with the workers carrying bundles of cloth, putting them where they are to be before they go for drying and being colored; it is a long and complicated process and as the first worker talking says, ”sometimes you just need to push a button, sometimes you need strength and brain”. You go with the cameraperson, who goes with the workers, there is a constant movement and an eye for the detail and for faces and for giving information about what is being produced. Yes, here is one more film that gives us evidence that you can tell in images, if you know the possibilities of the cinematic language. I was thinking of late master Glawogger and his masterpieces ”Megacities” and ”Workingman’s Death”. This debut film (!) has the same visual qualities.

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Raoul Peck: I Am Not Your Negro

Written 11-12-2016 02:36:26 by Tue Steen Müller

Lucky punch! We had lunch with producer and director of the Robert Frank film ”Don’t Blink”, Melinda Shopsin and Laura Israel, who recommended us to visit a new cinema in downtown New York, Metrograph, a very nice venue, European art house style with restaurant, small bookshop, a bar and NO commercials before the film – it reminded us of Danish Cinemateket with film historical retrospectives and a ”special preview arrangement” of the already several times awarded ”I Am Not Your Negro” by Raoul Peck, nominated for the IDA Awards and on the shortlist of 15 running for the Documentary Oscar.

Peck’s film is a masterpiece, simply. Well crafted, well told, coming from the genius idea to make James Baldwin’s unfinished book (30 pages) ”Remember This House” into a film based on Baldwin’s words from the book (read beautifully by actor Samuel L. Jackson) plus great archive material with Baldwin himself, who was an excellent speaker, with clips from feature films, reportage material and footage of today and references till today’s racism in USA, for that is what the film is about, and his unfinished book: the racial discrimination and the murder of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr – who lost their lives because they wanted to change the situation for the negros, as it is formulated by Baldwin with passion. You sit and watch events and people that you know about already and yet you are amazed by how much it still affects you, because the director puts the story so strongly together. There is and is not a chronology, the present is there, black people killed by white people in this century, black lives matter. This film helps as a film - far from the tv reportage - to put history in a perspective of today.

In an interview Raoul Peck says: “James Baldwin has clearly become intellectually and politically unsurpassable — in fact, a visionary”. “Ironically and tragically, he is becoming more so by the day. It is truly a pleasure to partner with such a great team to re-introduce James Baldwin to the American audience.”

Yes, the one who writes this, educated librarian, wants to check out James Baldwin again. And to watch this great film work again.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDA Winners

Written 11-12-2016 01:35:38 by Tue Steen Müller

It was ”O.J.: Made in America” by Ezra Edelmann that got the ”Best Feature Award” at the IDA (International Documentary Organization) ceremony in Los Angeles friday night. There was nothing for excellent films as ”Cameraperson” by Kirsten Johnson or ”I Am Not Your Negro” by Raoul Peck, a film I saw today at a new cinema in New York. Separate post on that film. Nothing for Gianfranco Rosi either for his ”Fire at Sea” but he could return to Europe to receive the EFA (European Film Award) to night in Wroclaw, Poland for best documentary.

The Netflix production from Syria ”The White Helmets” by Orlando Einsiedel won the ”Best Short Award” and we Danes should be proud that the ”Best Curated Series Award” went to Dokumania from public broadcaster DR2, a series that we have followed closely on this site – with Mette Hoffmann Meyer as the editor in charge. She has done a fine work bringing especially anglo-saxon documentaries to a Danish audience. One can only hope that Dokumania continues with high quality after Hoffmann Meyer has left DR.

For many other awards, including the one for Ally Derks for her pioneer work at IDFA, see

Categories: 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

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDA Awards to be Given Friday in LA

Written 08-12-2016 01:37:02 by Tue Steen Müller

IDA, The International Documentary Association, is awarding documentary filmmakers and films this coming friday at a ceremony in Los Angeles. It is now ”award season” as they say in the US film circles and the IDA event is one of those events that come before the Oscars and which is considered to say something about/predict, who will compete at the Academy Awards. IDA is an association that on its website  has this fine sentence: Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world.

For those who miss the DOX Magazine you should know that IDA publishes the Documentary Magazine – it’s all on the website, see below.

For readers of this site you should know that four of the nominated six films for the Best Feature Award have been reviewed or reported on: ”O.J.: Made in America” by Ezra Edelman, ”Cameraperson” (PHOTO) by Kirsten Johnson, ”Weiner” by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, and the only non-American film on the list, ”Fire at Sea” by Gianfranco Rosi. Johnson is also nominated in the short category for ”The Above” and for Best Editing (Nels Bangerter). Rosi is also on the list for ”Fire at Sea”.

There are many other awards – I have absolutely no objection to a Pioneer Award to Ally Derks, who steps down as director of IDFA after having started the whole thing more than twenty years ago, a festival that this year had 280.000 tickets sold or given out. And bravo to those administering the Pare Lorentz Award to give that to beautiful ”Starless Dreams” by Iranian Mehrdad Oskouei.

Categories: 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

Shadow Girl Wins 3 awards in Valparaiso

Written 01-12-2016 14:10:49 by Tue Steen Müller

And I got more news from Docsbarcelona Valparaiso – the beautiful film ”Shadow Girl” that premiered in Barcelona at the DocsBarcelona in May received three awards at the festival: The National Award, the Audience Award and the Interactive Award. The latter was given in connection with the Interactive workshop at the festival. Wow for a film that I wrote about in May:

… And then to the cinema to sit next to Maria Teresa Larrain in a cinema, where her ”Shadow Girl” had its second screening at the festival, where she pitched the film a couple of years ago. The film is strong and emotional in its description of how Maria Teresa grows blind, a film that is without sentimentality but full of reflections on what it means to become blind. She meets blind street vendors, she shows the film to them and it is said that the worst thing about getting blind is to lose your dignity. Maria Teresa does not, she is a role model of great courage in a film that has a clever personal text from her and a visual flow of colours. It must have a long festival life and come on broadcasters, this is also for you, or for us television viewers!...

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Syrian Love Story Wins in Valparaiso

Written 01-12-2016 01:11:08 by Tue Steen Müller

The entreprenant director of DocsBarcelona Joan Gonzalez is also director of DocsBarcelona Valparaiso in Chile, the first edition with a national and an international competition, training sessions – as he proudly texted me some days ago: In the city where Joris Ivens made his film essay ”a Valparaiso” in 1963, which is available for free on vimeo. Link below. Chris Marker wrote the script, Patricio Guzman was one of the cameramen.

The festival closed tonight and the winner was – again – Sean McAllister with his ”A Syrian Love Story”. Here is what I wrote way back reviewing the film: 

…there are few documentarians who like McAllister, goes from the journalistic point of view and the anynomous reportage, to be a true storyteller who captures your attention fully because of the closeness to the characters he can create, because he always involves himself - he is in this case an intruder into the lives and destinies of a refugee family that he met in 2009 and kept a close relation to until this year, 2015…

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

VOD for Arabic Creative Documentaries

Written 30-11-2016 21:50:14 by Tue Steen Müller

I had the pleasure to meet Palestinian Reem Bader at the Antalya Film Forum earlier this autumn. She told me about the vod platform she was involved in building up. It looks great. Let me quote from the site:

”Welcome to Minaa video on demand VOD, the first in the world to specialize in harboring, streaming and celebrating Arabic creative documentaries. Each month, you will be introduced to creative docs that are new to Minaa collection and invited to join interactive events with directors. As not to miss an event, we encourage you to join Minaa mailing list and its social media channels.

This fall, Minaa is happy to present it’s newest feature: Collections

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Flying Film Festival 2017

Written 30-11-2016 20:19:22 by Tue Steen Müller

No, we normally don’t promote festivals calling for films, but there are exceptions like this one. A festival in the air, with Francesca Scalisi and Mark Olexa as captains. These are the words from the cockpit, and a link to what I wrote about the edition 2015:

“Fasten your seatbelt. A new edition of the Flying Film Festival is about to take off! We will start accepting applications to participate in the highest altitude festival in the world from January 2017!!!”

Visit their FB page.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Diedie Weng: The Beekeeper and His Son

Written 28-11-2016 09:24:58 by Tue Steen Müller

China, the country of so many stories that we have not yet heard. Here is one. A beautiful one, premiered at the festival in Nyon, a multilayered work, as a good documentary should be, about countryside/city, generation conflicts in a family, man and animals, modern life and old age and so on so forth, I could go on and if it looks like a conceptual social documentary, it’s my fault in describing what is a well told family story with interesting characters, who are developed as the film develops. First of all the two mentioned in the title, the 71 old beekeeper, who struggles to make his profession survive, it’s not easy and to his big

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA: Kogusashvili/ Sarvestani/ Hendrikx

Written 27-11-2016 15:42:31 by Tue Steen Müller

Three more brief reviews of ”Gogita’s New Life” (Levan Koguashvili), ”Prison Sisters” (Nima Sarvestani) and ”Stranger in Paradise” (Guido Hendrikx). With some genre simplification: A docu-comedy, a journalistic/humanistic documentary and a hybrid documentary.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lucija Stojevic: La Chana/ 2

Written 27-11-2016 14:04:15 by Tue Steen Müller

It must be wonderful to get an Audience Award, and especially at IDFA in Amsterdam, where the amount of people who watch your film is huge. Yhe 2016 Audience Award has been decided upon and it went to the film reviewed below on this site. Here is a copy paste of the text from IDFA:

The Audience Award has been handed out annually since IDFA's inception in 1988. The audience rates the films they have seen by means of a ballot with seven options, ranging from 'Hopeless' to 'Superb'. The award consists of a sculpture and a cash prize of €5,000.
The VPRO IDFA Audience Award 2016 has gone to La Chana by Lucija Stojevic, a blistering and intimate portrait of former flamenco dancer Antonia Santiago Amador. The star and director could not attend the final screening at IDFA, but sent a video message to accept the award.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lucija Stojevic: La Chana

Written 26-11-2016 15:27:53 by Tue Steen Müller

Antonia Santiago Amador, known as La Chana, is the unique personality of the film with the same title. It is on the top of the top ten Audience favourites at the IDFA festival that runs until tomorrow sunday included. It is a warm portrait of an exceptional woman, a flamenco dancer, the best ever, many think and express in the film, that has lots of great archive material that proves, even for a layman, who loves the music and the dance, that she was a star. And still is: the film follows her preparation for a performance, with her dancing seated. She makes it and made me cry touched by her willpower and commitment, and ability to concentrate to show to herself and her many fans that even at an age around 70, she can move her feet.

In the film, that at the beginning is a bit messy in structure, because it becomes anecdotal and jumps to and from archive, where more calm in the storytelling would have helped, La Chana tells her story from childhood till now, through a marriage that was violent from the side of her husband, a situation that made her stop the career. But she comes back – as the film comes back in rythm and flow once all the information about the past is delivered, when the story takes place in present time, where she teaches youngsters, cooks with her daughter, lives a quiet life with her Felix and a dog or goes to the square (in Barcelona I guess) to enjoy with her gypsy friends. And prepares for the performance.

A joyful and entertaining and touching work to give the many films about the problems of the world a break.

Spain, Iceland, USA, 83 mins.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Nowhere to Hide/Still Tomorrow

Written 24-11-2016 14:22:07 by Tue Steen Müller

I have forgotten why IDFA has decided to announce winners on a wednesday for a festival that goes on until sunday included? But good for those of us, in Amsterdam or online from home, who are still trying to catch up with the many films in competition to get a picture of what the festival selectors found important – yes, yes, I know there are numerous important films outside competition, which could have been there as well but do not qualify for eligibility reasons, previously awarded elsewhere for instance. And it gives of course time to check whether the jury(ies) have made mistakes… Have to admit that I like that game knowing that is not always that easy to be a juror. The two awards in the full-length category went to (Best film) ”Nowhere to Hide” by Zaradasht Ahmed, and (Special Prize) ”Still Tomorrow” by Fan Jian.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA: Alberti, Ni Chianáin, Hristov

Written 23-11-2016 20:02:43 by Tue Steen Müller

Maite Alberdi, Chilean documentary director, who made the wonderful ”Tea Time” in 2014 and the equally wonderful ”I’m not from Here” this year together with Lithuanian Giedre Zickyte, a film that is nominated for the European Film Awards – has already now obtained for her new work ”The Grown-Ups”, sorry that is long, the IDFA Alliance Women Film Journalists’ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary. The jury’s motivation:

”Beautifully rendered and brilliantly edited, The Grown Ups is an

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ugis Olte & Morten Traavik: Liberation Day/ 2

Written 22-11-2016 19:40:55 by Tue Steen Müller

In the ”Guardian Film Today” that I subscribe to (it is for free and for everyone) there was tuesday 22nd of Nov. a review by Peter Bradshaw worth reading as most of his articles/reviews. Here is a text clip:

Most documentaries or studies of North Korea conclude that it is forever sealed in its own tyranny. For all the absurdity, for all the questionable semi-satire, Laibach actually made contact with North Korea and caused a crack in the wall. In its ridiculous way, Laibach’s 80s art-rocker doom version of The Sound of Music was a kind of peace process, and, like any peace process, it involved the fudging of principles. The “liberation” of the title might yet prove to be illusory for North Korea and Traavik’s wacky cultural diplomacy might lead nowhere. But it could prove to be more than a footnote.

Another fine push for the documentary to get around, read the whole review, link below:

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tatyana Chistova: Convictions

Written 20-11-2016 11:02:16 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s absurd theatre! Well, I have tried it myself in 1967. To be called for military service in the Danish army. I chose the easy solution to take one (completely useless) year of service at the air force instead of the two year’s civil service it was back then, where you sent to the forest to sweep leaves up against the wind.

The young ones in this film had all applied for civil service because of their convictions. They had to appear (see the photo) in front of a committee to present their case, one could almost say pitch their point of view. As in pitching sessions the panelists sat with papers and only a few of them were to say something. The rest sat with stone faces that communicated that they did not like, what they saw and heard.

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Grude and Andersen: Mogadishu Soldier

Written 18-11-2016 21:14:12 by Tue Steen Müller

I had to choose that still from the IDFA introduction to the film that I have just finished watching. It’s a girl in pain, a victim from the brutal civil war in Somalia, that – says the end credits – has caused the death of 500.000. So far. She gets up and leaves the scene with her mother. She survives. I was afraid she would not make it like many others in the film. I could also have chosen a still of one of the two anynomous cameramen from Burundi. Sometimes they are not named, on the mentioned film credits they are. If OK their names should come out. They deserve credits for what they have given us, an insight to one of the many wars that seldom reaches the front page. Maybe they will come to IDFA? But before I go on, let me give you the catalogue background description of this documentary that is in the IDFA competition and deserves an award that can bring it to be screened all over: 

Since 2006, the radical Islamists of Al-Shabaab have been fighting

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA: Lozinski, le Maire, Delane, Cordes

Written 18-11-2016 09:03:01 by Tue Steen Müller

They are quite different in themes and styles, the films that I am going to write about in this post. What they have in common is that the directors mentioned in the headline all have films shown at IDFA, Amsterdam – and that I have seen them, and like them, more or less, for various reasons.

Pawel Lozinski is an internationally known Polish director, whose film ”You Have No Idea How Much I Love You” (PHOTO) I reviewed in connection with its premiere at the Krakow Festival. With top marks, here is a quote: ”As a viewer you know these

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA November 16/27

Written 17-11-2016 12:15:31 by Tue Steen Müller

Yes, it started yesterday, the fabulous documentary event in Amsterdam and today it’s all over with screenings, masterclasses, the academy, some films are in competition, others are not, facebook is full of ”come and see my film”, there will be many full houses. And many who prepare their pitches for the Forum. With meetings and parties.

I am not there this year for family and friend reasons – birthdays – but I have seen some of the films already so comments will arrive on this site, don’t have time for longer reviews but I will pick some films via links and Docs for Sale. So check it out – there could be recommendations you want to follow.

For instance the world premiere tonight of Audrius Stonys' new film

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The DOX Comeback!

Written 16-11-2016 16:48:21 by Tue Steen Müller

It took some thinking before I came to this positive conclusion. In the 20th year of the existence of EDN (European Documentary Network) you will from now on be able to study one of the organization’s main contributions in the past two decades: The publishing of more than 100 issues of the DOX Magazine – contributions to the development of the documentary during these years. As an art form and part of the visual landscape in Europe and beyond. Thanks to Norwegian Truls Lie, former editor of DOX, who is launching his with the subtitle ”The European Documentary Magazine” – as was DOX called before it was stopped by the current management of EDN. With around 400 articles and reviews from DOX going back to the late 90’es as the fundament for new articles written by Truls and his staff. So far around 100. A Comeback for DOX.

This is what Truls did, quote from a mail he sent me: ”I am writing

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Stefano Lisci & Co: Bar Mario

Written 14-11-2016 19:26:53 by Tue Steen Müller

Take a look at the photo from last week in Bolzano. Marina in her Bar Mario advertising the premiere of the film Bar Mario at the Rome Independent Film Festival later this month. Congratulations! To Marina Fronza, her husband Roberto and her son Paolo – the three heroes of the film and to director Stefano Lisci, who got the idea to make a film about this very special place in the universe and made it with the help of other ex-Zelig students, first of all the brilliant cinematographer Beniamino Casagrande and Livia Romano, editors Maria Radicchi and Marco Vitale, sound engineer Ambrose Mbuya. And many others are thanked at the long credit list. Who also were contributors to the crowdfunding campaign that was set up to realise a film, that I had heard Stefano talk about again and again, when coffee was served by lovely Marina, who countless times has taken the mickey out of me. The music is made by Martino Pellegrini, who is not from Zelig – it’s in the great Fellini-film-music tradition.

For those who don’t know: The Bar Mario is next door to the Zelig

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Zelig – First Year

Written 13-11-2016 10:57:37 by Tue Steen Müller

There they were, 30 new faces at the Zelig film school, and I was to be the first teacher of their three year long education at the school for ”documentary, television and new media”. Thank you Emanuele Vernillo and Heidi Gronauer for your trust in me to give the students inspiration to watch films, read books and study painters and photographers, who know about composition and use of light and shadow.

I had four days to motivate the students and to make them talk. About themselves and about what they saw. It was forbidden to say ”I like” or ”I don’t like”. We were looking for descriptions, impressions, analysis. They did so very well.

”My” film menu included Robert Frank, Wojciech Staron, Sylvain Biegeleisen, Herz Frank, Jon Bang Carlsen, Jørgen Leth, Viktor Kossakovsky, Piotr Stasik, Michael Glawogger… and a bombardment of other names and titles they should study. Auteur documentaries – and the youngest student of them all, 19 years old, knew where that term comes from.

And a game at the end: form groups of three, you have two hours to find a topic, put the proposal down on paper and pitch it to your colleagues and me the next day. They did so and the teacher was impressed. Themes: dreams, a monument in Bolzano, a tour with the cable car up to Ober Bozen, rituals, public transport when the cable car is out for inspection, grafitti artists, Schüttelbrot, a toxic mushroom, a vegan chef. One team – the one with the monument – even managed to make a two minute teaser for the presentation. I ran into them in the evening and took the picture.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ukrainian Sheriffs in Copenhagen

Written 09-11-2016 12:35:42 by Tue Steen Müller

… as documentary of the month of the Danish Cinemateket, running for a week with the start of November 11. This wonderful, charming, funny and – it takes place in Ukraine – serious film won the IDFA Jury Special Prize last year and is now Ukraine’s contribution to the Oscar race. The filmmakers are on their way to Los Angeles to promote their work. The following is a copy-paste of a text I wrote a year ago:

I have had the pleasure to follow from the sideline how Ukrainian filmmakers and friends Dar'ya Averchenko (DA), Roman Bondarchuk (RB) together with Latvian producer and friend Uldis Cekulis have developed their “Ukrainian Sheriffs” that will have its premiere at IDFA on this coming Friday, competing in the main feature duration competition.

At DOK Leipzig 2015 I met them and their wonderful little girl Agata. And we had a conversation of one hour that is now in an edited version to read on the website of the film. Here is a tiny clip that also demonstrates that a romantic date can become much more in real life, a marriage and a film!

“RB: It was during one of our dates – Dasha and me - that we met each other. I took a car, we went for some driving around Kherson. There was a huge sign on the road like "Georgievska church, 19-th century, fortress, Cossacks graves" and we were interested to find them. They were touristic signs.

TSM: How many years ago?

DA: It was late 90'es.

RB: No! (Roma says) Really?

TSM: And you were not a couple at that time?

RB: No, it was just one of our first dates… and we turned to the road to nowhere, looking for all these attractions. We couldn't find anything, so we stopped on the road to ask the way. That's how we met a local man, a teacher of history.”

This teacher of history became the mayor of Stara Zburjivka and is one of three main characters of the film. Check the website and read the whole interview. And see the film!

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Leth Legacy at DOKLeipzig

Written 06-11-2016 19:45:36 by Tue Steen Müller

It was the idea of festival director Leena Pasanen: What about bringing together Danish filmmaking icon Jørgen Leth and his two filmmaking children Karoline Leth and Asger Leth? Such an obvious idea, why had noone done that before? Two generations, what have the children taken from their famous father? Let them sit on the stage together, each of them showing clips to have them discuss with or oppose each other. Pasanen, as moderator, was the one to set up the rules. Some had already been agreed upon: 3 clips per person, maximum 3 minutes. I think was the agreement.

First headline given by the moderator was ”method” and first clip

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Winners 2016

Written 06-11-2016 09:11:15 by Tue Steen Müller

I liked the award ceremony of DOK Leipzig last night at the CinéStar 4. Instead of hiring some entertainer, or having two people talking to each other trying to be funny, the festival had a host, Jörg Taszmann, film journalist from Berlin, on stage who conducted the prizegiving in a very calm and professional way, speaking perfectly German and English and French. What I also appreciated was to have the juries on stage giving their motivation in English and German, often helped by the host. As before the best jury in terms of performance was the Youth Jury, who had made special prize to "their" winner, Polish "Communion".

A total of 21 prizes were awarded, including 7 Golden Doves and 2 Silver Doves. With 77,000 euros in prize money, DOK Leipzig is the best-endowed documentary film festival in Germany. The ceremony took a bit more than two hours with announcements, thank you speeches and for some of the films clips. Festival director Leena Pasanen was pleased about that reduction in time and can be happy with the many compliments she and programming director Grit Lemche got through the evening. Well deserved.

And the winner of the Golden Dove was – no surprise for me, see previous post – Sergey Loznitsa with his ”Austerlitz”. Danish documentary icon Jørgen Leth handed the award to Loznitsa with these words:

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Awards According to Filmkommentaren

Written 05-11-2016 17:16:27 by Tue Steen Müller

This is written four hours before the official award ceremony of the 59th (!) International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, DOKLeipzig. I have no idea of what the jury for the international competition will choose as their favourite(s) – i.e. who will receive the prestigious Golden Dove that Wojciech Staron gor last year for his ”Brothers”.

But I have seen all twelve films in that competition category and will bring my impressions and favourites from a selection I have found a good mix of auteur and issue documentaries.

If I was to give an award for the film that made me think, made me irritated because of its constant insisting on the aesthetics – beautiful framing of black & white camera work, loong shots – and a superb sound score, that as the film passer before my eyes and ears became almost physical, the winner would be Sergey Loznitsa with his ”Austerlitz” (photo), that has me watch summer dressed tourists visit concentration camp turned into museums.

If I was to give an award for the film that made the biggest

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mariam Chachia: Listen to the Silence

Written 04-11-2016 23:28:36 by Tue Steen Müller

Just left - with a smile on my face - the screening of the Georgian documentary in a full house cinema at DOKLeipzig. The film that is a debut for the director and takes part in the ”Next Masters Competition” is an impressive work by the director and her producer Nik Voigt. It has a wonderful 9 year old boy as the main character. He is deaf, lives in a public school with other deaf kids, that is his world, and this is where his parents come to see him for a very short time before they want to go home again.

Luka is his name and he is a wild boy, who fights with other boys and has big problems in sitting still. His luck is that he has a talent for dancing, that he likes that discipline, that the teacher likes him – at least for a period before Lukas gives up on that.

The director, we were told at the Q&A after the screening, stayed at the school for a year – it is a banality to say that time is crucial for an observational documentary like this, where you see the boy caught in many situations and where the film ”allows” itself to put it all into a chaptered fairy tale frame, because the tone of the film is warm and full of love towards the characters. The long shooting period has also given these documentary film magical moments that you can not foresee will come – and the chance for the film to establish a small love story, a b/w sequence where Luka is dreaming about the sweet girl that he has danced with. The sound work of the film is fascinating playing respectively with no sound and a lot of sound for us spectators to hear and sense the place.

Mariam Chachia and Nik Voigt expressed the hope that the film can be seen around Georgia to create awareness in the society about the conditions deaf kids grow up being hidden away… I met the two earlier this year in Riga where they pitched a new project from a hospital for patients with tuberculosis. I have no doubt after ”Listen to the Silence” that another fine film will appear from their hands.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

From Minsk to Vilnius With a Hero

Written 01-11-2016 10:16:26 by Tue Steen Müller

If you ever want to make another cold war movie, we got the location for you. And a protagonist, a hero from the real world. More authentic than Tom Hanks.

Yes, he IS a hero, Uldis Cekulis, the Latvian producer, whose newest production ”Liberation Day” will premiere in Amsterdam at the IDFA festival. As you can see from the photo the musical documentary with avantgarde group Laibach has a reference to North Korea. More about that film later, when we get closer to the premiere.

Back to Cekulis who was driving his car from Riga to Vilnius on the 27th of October, from Vilnius to Minsk on the 28th of October, from Minsk to Vilnius on the 29th of October and from Vilnius to Riga on the 30th of October. Apart from the last journey of 3-4 hours, I was sitting next to him, i.e. for approximately 14 hours. In between the driving Cekulis made an excellent case study in Minsk on ”Ukrainian Sheriffs” and gave advice to the young Belorussian filmmakers and students at the two day workshop.

The title of this post is ”from Minsk to Vilnius” = from outside the

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Northern Lights Documentary Hub Minsk

Written 01-11-2016 09:53:17 by Tue Steen Müller

Producer and festival director Volia Chajkouskaya launched a two-day documentary workshop in Minsk for young filmmakers and students at the Academy of Arts in the capital of Belarus. Arranged and funded by the Danish Cultural Institute based in Riga. The title of the event was ”how to become an internationally agile documentarian”, full house to watch and listen to director of the Danish Cultural Institute Simon Drewsen Holmberg, producer Uldis Cekulis and me. The two days (October 28-29) included on the first day a general talk by me and Holmberg about ”the good project” and ”the good pitch”, a detailed case study from Uldis Cekulis on the ”Ukrainian Sheriffs” by Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko, a film that Cekulis produced, awarded at the IDFA festival last year and now the Ukrainian nominee for the Oscars this year. Holmberg is (also) a specialist in legal matters related to co-production – he held a lecture on contracts and copyright, and who can be considered as ”authors”. (Photo).

On the second day 12 of the participants pitched projects including a teaser or a trailer. We tutors made comments on the way they

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jihlava IDFF Winners

Written 30-10-2016 10:29:24 by Tue Steen Müller

… were revealed yesterday and again Salomé Jashi from Georgia was praised for her ”The Dazzling Light of Sunset”, that got the award in the ”Between the Seas” section that covers ”countries and nations of Central and Eastern Europe”. She also got the prize for best debut (as a feature length director, Jashi has made several short films and the one hour ”Bahkmaro”).

Miroslav Janek’s new work was also awarded – as most of this great filmmaker’s works are, we like him a lot on filmkommentaren, look at the head photos of the site, he is the one in the middle. ”Normal Autistic Film” (photo) shared first prize in the Czech section with ”FC Roma” by Rozálie Kohoutová and Tomáš Bojar and the student jury also found Janek’s sensitive portrait of children with a handicap and fine creative skills.

Creative skills are what the Jihlava organisers, headed by Marek Hovorka, have demonstrated to have for 20 years. Also when it comes to building an interesting website, check it out:

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CinéDOC Tbilisi Winners

Written 30-10-2016 09:58:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Some days ago the award ceremony for the CinéDOC-Tbilisi took place. The young festival that by many, including me, is characterised as a ”warm festival”, with a high quality selection.

And no need to say that the winner in the international competition has high quality: ”Brothers” by Wojciech Staron, Polish master cinematographer and director. I do not keep track of the many Grand Prix this film has won, but I remember my happiness when it got first award at DOK Leipzig last year. And encouraging that the student jury also chose ”Brothers” (photo) as their favourite.

… and bravo that the audience brought ”Transit in Havana” by Daniel Abma to be winner of the maybe most important award you can get, that of the audience.

You can read about all the winners on the festival site below but I smile when mentioning that Armenian ”One, Two Three” by Arman Yeritsian, produced and promoted by Yulia Grigoryants got the first prize in the Caucasus section for their warm film about old people, who stay very much alive and kicking through dance and singing.

I met this film years ago when it had the working title "The Chosen Ones" and know how difficult is was to have not the usual 3 main characters but many more. Apparently they succeeded to find the rythm.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Antalya Film Forum 2016

Written 23-10-2016 12:53:12 by Tue Steen Müller

There you are in Antalya in Turkey at a cool design hotel, totally in white, mirrors all over, the weather is between 25 and 30 degrees, the hospitality is superb, it’s a royal treat and your job is to give a lecture and to be in a jury that has the job to give awards to two out of nine projects on the background of nine presentations at a documentary pitch competition.

Full house, I am in a jury with Italian producer Enrica Capra (”Thy Father’s Chair”) and Palestinian Reem Bader, who lives in Jordan and has just set up The Creative Documentary Platform for Arab documentaries. It’s an exciting project that i will write separately about later, link below.

The three of us sit on the first row watching the pitchers, who have 8 minutes for presentation followed by 5 minutes Q&A with the

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pavel Medvedev: Joseph’s Land

Written 18-10-2016 18:25:06 by Tue Steen Müller

Let me start with a synopsis that precisely communicates the unpretentious tone of the film:

”This story could only take place in one city in Russia – St. Petersburg. Here communal poverty rubs shoulders with the palatial luxury of the former imperial capital. Only here could a special type of Soviet person be born. Only here could tremendous resources be spent on opening a museum just for one day – to honor a poet, a Nobel Prize laureate who was exiled from his motherland, in a story saturated with grotesquery and buffoonery. The spirit of the exiled poet, who was put on the pedestal of...”

I don’t know why the sentence stops precisely there, I could continue with ”world literature”, Joseph Brodsky, a unique poet and esayist, who was thrown out of his city Leningrad and country USSR.

To stay with the facts: Joseph Brodsky (born 1940) was put on trial

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Amy Berg: Janis: Little Girl Blue

Written 17-10-2016 09:12:47 by Sara Thelle

...Just as with Scorsese’s Dylan portrait No Direction Home, Berg owes some of Janis’ finest moments to D. A. Pennebaker. Not only with the strong scenes from his legendary concert film Monterey Pop (1968, filmed by Pennebaker, Leacock and Maysles, probably the most musical trio in film history), the film that sparked off Joplin’s route to stardom... (Sara Thelle)

(Red.: NB Janis: Little Girl Blue bliver vist på DR2 DOKUMANIA i morgen tirsdag 18. oktober 20.45 og efterfølgende på DR TV. Her på FILMKOMMENTAREN har vi derfor taget Sara Thelles anmeldelse fra premieren på CPH:DOX sidste år frem på forsiden igen.)


by Sara Thelle

Nearly two hours in company of Janis Joplin, what’s not to like! I was so ready to just lean back and enjoy and I was… disappointed.

Whoa, slow down, hold your horses! I’m being bombarded with talking heads at a speed so I can’t follow. Too fast a pace when all I want to do is to take my time, hear the music, feel the music and the person I’m about to discover.

I’m disappointed because I’m sitting in the dark theatre all alert and ready to take in impressions, emotions, sound, images and Music and I’m not getting the cinematic experience I thought I would. And I’m annoyed because I think a big part of my disappointment is a question of the editing. I don’t mind a conventional portrait film, I don’t mind seeing a TV-documentary in a theatre, but I do mind the rushing.

All the information, all the anecdotes and the archive footage lose sense if I don’t get the time it takes to “meet” the performer and her music. If there is not a moment where I hear something I haven’t heard before, suddenly discover the lyrics of a well-known song or just get to linger on a live performance…

Having said that, award-winning American filmmaker Amy Berg (the Oscar-nominated Deliver Us from Evil, 2006, about child molestation within the Catholic Church) has made an impressively well-documented portrait of Janis Joplin. It has been a long-term project initiated by the Joplin estate who approached the director back in 2007 and behind the film lays a huge amount of work with archive research, funding and clearing rights.

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Andrej Nekrasov: The Magnitsky Act /2

Written 16-10-2016 12:35:03 by Tue Steen Müller

But slowly disappears the drama documentary and the film director Nekrasov becomes the investigative journalist, who goes from place to place, from Moscow to London to New York, searching for the truth, discovering that Magnitsky was called upon as a witness in the financial fraud case and not as someone accused, and that he never mentioned the name(s) of the policemen in the first official report...

Her er Tue Steen Müllers anmeldelse fra 4. juli 2016 af The Magnitsky Act endnu en gang, for filmen blev denne uge aktuel da tidsskriftet Ekko inviterede i biografen, i Empire i København i tirsdags: ”Mød Mads Brügger i samtale med Andrei Nekrasov om hans The Magnitsky Act. Dokumentaren stempler ’Putins fjende nr. 1’ som svindler.

Han er kendt som en af Putins skarpeste modstandere. Og historien om systemkritikeren Sergei Magnitsky, der blev tortureret til døde i fængslet, lå lige til højrebenet. Men da den russiske instruktør Andrei Nekrasov graver dybere i sagen, begynder historien langsomt at smuldre. Systemkritikeren blev ikke tortureret, og sagen handler ikke om russisk korruption, men om en amerikansk mangemillionær, William Browder, der angiveligt har berøvet Rusland for 230 millioner dollars og dækker sig bag ’kampen’ for menneskerettighederne i landet…” (Frida Marquard, Ekko, 5. oktober 2016)

Dorte Hygum Sørensen var til stede i Empire biografen i tirsdags og skrev i sin reportage til Politiken: ”… Nekrasovs film er så kontroversiel, at stort set ingen vil vise den. Visningen i Empire er en af de første i verden. Europaparlamentet har afvist at se den, den tyske tv-kanal Arte har aflyst at vise den, og Andrej Nekrasovs omdømme som troværdig, Putin-kritisk instruktør er p.t. i fare for fuldstændig at smuldre, efter at han i manges øjne med ’The Magnitsky Act’ forsvarer dele af det russiske system. Efter visningen interviewes Andrej Nekrasov foran publikum af dokumentarist og journalist Mads Brügger, der spørger, hvad der nu skal ske med den russiske instruktørs film. 'Det ved jeg ikke', lyder den korte version af et af Andrej Nekrasovs meget lange svar.

Andrej Nekrasov virker både oprigtigt lettet over muligheden for at vise sit værk for et publikum og også rystet over de mange negative reaktioner, filmen mødes med rundt omkring i verden. Tidligere har han lavet film om forgiftningen af Putin-kritikeren Aleksandr Litvinenko. Med ’The Magnitsky Act’ har han skabt en film, der forsvarer en konkret russisk politimand samt dele af russisk lovgivning og kritiserer en amerikaner, der er kendt for sit engagement i menneskerettigheder i Rusland. Det er så kontroversielt, at Nekrasov risikerer at miste alt, han har bygget op, siden han debuterede i slutningen af 80’erne. Efter liveinterviewet spørger jeg Mads Brügger, hvad han synes om Nekrasovs film: ’Jeg vil sige, at en mand med hans historik kunne ikke have lavet en mere modig film’.” (Dorte Hygum Sørensen, Politiken, 15. oktober 2016)



by Tue Steen Müller

The Magnitsky Act has the subtitle ”Behind the Scenes” and indeed this is what it does, or rather where he takes us, Andrei Nekrasov, known for his controversial film on the poisoning of Litvinenko, for his ”Russian Lessons” that deals with the Russian-Georgian war and for his tv series ”Farewell Comrades”. In other words Nekrasov is an experienced, professional director behind big international films. His new film digs into what actually happened to Sergey Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow prison in 2009, where he had been sitting for 380 days, arrested by the police after having reported a financial tax fraud of considerable size. To the authorities.

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Cinema, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mihajlo Jevtic: Four Passports

Written 14-10-2016 14:57:35 by Tue Steen Müller

For someone who for 15 years regularly have been visiting Belgrade, and who have been traveling Serbia South and North with local friends, it is upfront very interesting to see a film made by and about a man, film director Mihajlo Jevtic, who in first person and in a unpretentious, both humourous and sad, typically Serbian, I would say, of course a total simplification, tells the story of his young life in several countries as the title says, and yet at the same place, a place he is to leave to live in another country, where the working and thus material living conditions are better. I have met these considerations among younger Serbians again and again, so nothing new thematically for me.

So – contrary to the text of the serious and depressive synopsis on the website and on facebook, link below – I was happy to watch a film, on the background of the history of a country Yugoslavia that fell apart, full of warm feelings, a family film, whose members (love the father of the director) remember and reflect and get happy when grandchildren (from the side of the sister) arrive.

The film lives best, when father and son are together, playing with the camera, looking at s-8 material from their holidays in Rovinj, Croatia, a place the director Mihajlo goes back to – to bring back moving images to his family. In between the film brings some animation, which does not really bring extra value to a personal documentary that was nice and sweet to watch.

Serbia, Croatia, Germany, 2016, 83 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docs All Over – Is that Good?

Written 13-10-2016 12:59:12 by Tue Steen Müller

Are there too many documentary film festivals? NO – those who complain are professionals, who say they can not be in two places at the same time. Understandable argument if you want to attend all so-called industry events with pitching and development workshops, that run parallel to the screenings of films. On the other hand most broadcasters or sales companies include more than one person… AND the documentary film festivals are first of all there for the audience. For films to be screened to regular citizens, doc lovers, cinema goers. Right? AND there is an audience. In most of the below mentioned festivals that I have attended the halls are full – hmm, and the ones who come are mostly pretty much younger than me. Bravo, there is an interest for documentaries among the 20-35 years old.

But are there too many documentary film festivals at this time of the year? Do they cannibalise each other, when it comes to getting the films. In terms of

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /9

Written 13-10-2016 07:47:02 by Allan Berg Nielsen

“…A documentary work is not intended for the esthetic connoisseur or the preoccupied consumer, but rather for people in vital need of increasing their knowledge: of transforming communicated environments, epochs, nature scenes into personal experiential substance - something with which to enrich their own inner landscapes.”


By Sune Jonsson (1978)


Quantity should be a part of the documentary method, a part of the documentary language of form. The 1/125th is a fraction of the historic flow. A great many 1/125ths are needed merely to illuminate one isolated situation. In the 8 years during which the FSA documentation took place, ending in 1943, over 270,000 pictures were taken. Perhaps, all together, those pictures provided a overview of the extent of the disaster and could form a basis for the nation's self-scrutiny. August Sander privately collected his panorama of the Weimar Republic's physiognomies, roles, and uniforms in 20 bulging folders. The definitive publication of this collection in book form, Menschen ohne Maske (1971) is consequently characterized by an extraordinary abundance of pictures, which we perceive as concordant with the documentary conception.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

IDFA 2016 Program

Written 12-10-2016 10:21:34 by Tue Steen Müller

From IDFA Industry & Press on FB two days ago: ”The complete line-up for IDFA 2016 has been announced! The program contains 297 titles (from 3,495 submissions), of which 102 documentaries will have their world premieres during the festival… with the text addition that “full details on all films and programme information will be announced November 3””.

And then you click your way into “the full line-up” and are happy, when you see films and names that you know about, filmmakers who have worked for years to finish their documentary, like – I know it is an extreme case – Norwegian Torstein Grude’s “Mogadishu Soldier” (photo), that has been in the making for many years, 10 has been mentioned, now completed with the help of Danish editor Niels Pagh Andersen. It is in the main competition as is the masterpiece of Pawel Lozinski “You have No Idea How Much I Love You”, that I saw in connection with the Krakow festival.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2016 Program

Written 11-10-2016 11:47:53 by Tue Steen Müller

… was announced yesterday with an extensive press release for the 59th (!) edition of the documentary and animation film festival that runs October 31 till November 6. Let me, who will be there, as usual, for some days, enjoying the professionalism and hospitality of the festival, and the city of Leipzig, give you what the festival wants us press people to put a focus on, through a quote from the headlines:

“DOK Leipzig sets record for premieres. Official Selection 2016: Big names, promising talent, and a greater number of female directors. This year 100 films are celebrating their world and international premieres at DOK Leipzig. With 34 more than last year, the number has risen to set a new record. A total of 179 films and 6 interactive projects have made it into the Official Selection…”

OK, let’s take it step by step. “Big Names”, yes and at least two remarkable films that I have already seen: Mira Janek’s beautiful homage to creativity in

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /8

Written 11-10-2016 07:49:32 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… they had plenty of time - the ultimate documentary resource - they themselves became something of experts in geography and agriculture. They were also sensitive and capable of the profound empathy with the subject matter that transforms certain photographers into depictors of reality in a truly documentary sense. Knowledge also affords artistic freedom. Experienced and versed, the author can move within his subject matter. His depiction of reality then becomes "macro realistic" - that is, a concrete expression of an inner reality.


By Sune Jonsson (1978)


The reportage confrontation is a fragile method of documentary work. But even so unfavorable an assignment situation can be transformed: if the photographer is given sufficient time, if he is given time to gain a knowledge of the environment that will enable his pictures to function as documentary statements, if he has the personal qualifications to deepen his empathy, his social commitment, and his responsibility as a fellow human being. This obviously turned out to be the case with Gunnar Lundh and Sven Järlås. And young photographers like Yngve Baum and Jean Hermanson have also come far along the same road of personal deepening.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Magnificent7 Doc Xtra

Written 10-10-2016 09:59:39 by Tue Steen Müller

I have to confess that I was a bit worried, when I saw that Belgrade friends Svetlana and Zoran Popovic and their team launched a documentary retrospective of films that we had selected and screened during the years of the festival – next year late January it is the 13th time that 7 European feature length documentaries will be shown at the Sava Centre in the Serbian capital. For these screenings there are normally between 1000 and 1500 spectators. Would new people come, would many come to see the films for the second time?  

No need to worry, not at all. I want to repeat that the audience for documentaries in Belgrade is loyal to the M7, as we call it. Some quotes from the Popovic couple:

“The audience was very nice for “Un Tango Más” (by German Kral, who was present), 700-800 people, plus the man from Argentinian Embassy and the Israeli ambassador (who wanted to enjoy Tango)! For "The Monastery" (by Pernille Rose Grønkjær) we had about 500-600 people, plus the chief of the

Danish diplomatic mission in Belgrade and an eminent professor of theology!”

These numbers are amazing for a retrospective… nevertheless the Popovic couple was not that happy with the attendance to Gianfranco Rosi's "Below Sea Level" – there was 300-400 people. “Mostly because the screening was from 5pm.”  My comment: Come on… that many people for a film that is not new. We could not get that in Copenhagen, I think!

For "Twilight of a Light" by Sylvain Biegeleisen there were  600-700 people: “When they sat, the light went up on the stage, where Sylvain sat with the guitar and Zoran was standing next to him. Sylvain started playing and singing, then a short announcement and another chanson de Jacques Brel. After the screening the audience was so overwhelmed with feelings that they stood and applaude very long to Sylvain who was in front of the stage.”

“Before the film of Michael Glawogger, “Whores’ Glory”, we screened the brilliant piece he made here during the festival workshop - where he recites two verses from Goethe's Faustus in German. "Nothing is inside, nothing is outside..." The audience for the homage to the deceased master was 500-600.

Very encouraging numbers for repeat screenings of great European documentaries!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Monika Pawluczuk: End of the World

Written 09-10-2016 12:46:21 by Tue Steen Müller

They keep on coming these strong philosophical cinematic essays from Poland. This time one from 2015 that I had not seen, a film that after touring at several American festivals with success has the chance to end up on the Oscar Nomination List for short documentaries. It deserves to be on that list!

On the photo you see one of the faces of the film. One of the faces that react to phone calls from men and women, who want to talk, who seek comfort and understanding of their problems, which normally simply come from loneliness. They call the gentle radio man Kuba. The other face is one of another young man, who takes calls from people in need of immediate medical help. He tries to find out what is wrong, gives advice to those calling on what to do until the ambulance arrives. It is sometimes a more than urgent situation or maybe it is already too late, and sometimes also he gets calls from lonely people. Help needed for the mind and the body.

It sounds very banal and it is on print, but interpreted into a film, within the frame that ”the end of the world” arrives very soon according to the Maya calendar, shot during night time, with dark images with the light coming from inside flats in appartment buildings, mixed in a brilliant montage with images taken from surveillance cameras, images of mostly empty streets, of ”lonely” cars or shot from the ambulance with the radio sound – yes, interpreted into a film that has a tone, and an atmosphere, it becomes an extraordinary documentary about the ordinary. A reflection on ”la condition humaine”.

It sounds very dark but there is also humour and light like when a woman wants to cancel the end of the world as she has experienced love – or the man who wants it to come, to have a new world arrive, where his dogs do not suffer from the noise of the world.

Poland, 2015, 38 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lisbon Docs and Words from Paul Pauwels

Written 08-10-2016 22:16:23 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s number 17, the workshop and pitching session in Lisbon, the Lisbon Docs 2016, organised by EDN (European Documentary Network) and Apordoc. Running parallel to the DocLisboa festival. Happy to see that the event is still alive and kicking after all these years. Remember how producer Pedro Martins and directors like Sergio Trefaut and Catarina Mouráo and many more set up the Apordoc in 1998 to be an active documentary organisation that among others had the MEDIA Programme supported Lisbon Docs as one of the activities as well as Docs Kingdom. As the EDN representative at meetings in Bruxelles in those years with the MEDIA executives there was always scepticism raised if the Portuguese event was worth keeping (as one of four EDN activities in Southern Europe) – it was obviously, and EDN director Paul Pauwels (photo), in a interview with Cineuropa, explains clearly why and puts words on the profile of the workshop of 2016 (October 16-22):

”It is always important to continue to learn and adapt to new realities. We have realised that even the most experienced of professionals can still find new elements that don’t only help them to present their project in a better way, but also make them think more deeply about it. When you have a lot of experience, it is easy to get caught up in a kind of routine. That makes things tricky, because you might not be thinking enough about storytelling or the market. So we try to provide a service that not only gives documentary professionals tools to develop their stories in the best possible way, but also to think about what the decision makers need and are expecting… Today, the event is much more of a “meeting point”. I believe that the whole process has become much more personal and much more professional. That’s why I think people still make the effort to come to these events – to see what’s going on. And, in the case of Lisbon Docs, I think they also get a very good idea of what is happening in Europe – a Europe that we would like to see united, even though we know that isn’t happening!...”

Link below to more about Lisbon Docs and the whole interview with Pauwels. It is fine to see a list of tutors, who know what a creative documentary is – director Lithuanian Audrius Stonys, local Graca Castanheira (one of the pioneers 17 years ago), Spanish Marta Andreu, Edda Baumann-von Broen, all round doc expert Peter Jäger and producer Christian Popp, previously commissioner at arte.

… and projects, more than 20, happy to see that Lithuanian producer Dagne Vildziunaite is there, as well as Shorena Tevzadze from Georgia, local Jorge Pelicano (director) and Romanian Alex Brendea and Irina Malcea, to whose project ”Teacher” I have high expectations.

List of panelists, read

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Message2Man Winners

Written 07-10-2016 10:38:59 by Tue Steen Müller

The festival that ended last week has finally published the list of awards of the 26th Message to Man festival – in English, the Russian version was on the site right after the festival had ended.

Having delivered this a bit grumpy remark to a festival that otherwise is very professionally organised and is growing in audience - an estimate says that 25.000 tickets were sold and 20.000 attended the grand opening at the Palace Square – I can only greet the decisions taken by the international jury, for the main awards.

Which went to Serbian Ognjen Glavonic and his courageous ”Depth Two”. He got the ”Golden Centaur” and 3000$ for the best film of the festival - and to Iranian Mehrdad Oskouei for ”Starless Dreams”, 1000$, for the best full-length documentary, an observational documentary with a strong emotional impact – and to Lithuanian Giedre Zickyte and Chilean Maite Alberdi for ”I´m not from Here”, best short documentary, wonderful warm film that seems to take prizes everywhere…

There were many other awards given by the international jury… at the national competition, the main award was divided between ”My Friend Boris Nemtsov” by Zosia Radkevich and ”Fire” by Nadya Zakharova (30000 Rubles) and there were awards given in the experimental section In Silico as well as a Diploma for Vitaly Mansky for his ”Under the Sun” given by the Press jury AND another diploma from the Fipresci Jury (I thought that was also a press jury…). The young ones in the Student Jury found ”Mallory” by Helena Trestikova the best film and the grand old man of the festival, now the Honorary President, Mikhail Litviakov, awarded the film on Joseph Brodsky, ”Josefs Land”, by Pavel Medvedev. I have a link for that film and will review asap.

Read the whole list on

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Americans in Paris

Written 06-10-2016 12:32:04 by Tue Steen Müller

To be honest we lost our way at the big Cimetière Montparnasse. We had been talking about paying a visit to Sartre & Beauvoir or why not Gainsbourg, but suddenly my wife points and says, look, here is Joris Ivens. And many warm thoughts fill my head. His classic from Borinage (1936), his series from China that we bought for distribution at Statens Filmcentral (National Film Board of Denmark) and his last, the non-political film ”Une Histoire de vent” that I saw in Centre Pompidou with the presence of the director. I remember him sitting in his wheelchair with his beautiful white hair – as you see him in the film in the desert trying to tame the wind with his camera, as he hat put it. He lived from 1898 to 1989, google his filmography, an amazing oeuvre, a man of the world.

But this small personal report from a sunny Paris has its focus elsewhere. On the Americans in Paris. Not Gershwin or Minelli or Hemingway, not the burgers that are now available in almost every café but (first) on the Beat Generation and the exhibition about Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti, Cassidy and so on at Centre Pompidou. We got there on the last day it was open and I had high expectations after all the clever observations our Danish Beat Generation expert par excellence Lars Movin had formulated. No disappointment – photographs, films, drawings, collages, paintings, politics, provocations, poetry, long interview with Ginsberg, who mentions Ezra Pound and Céline as inspirators among many others for the Generation, that I first learned about through Danish author and journalist Erik Thygesen, who back in the 60’es published translations of Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti and others in the book ”San Francisco Renaissancen”. Have it at home. Must read Ginsberg’s ”Howl” again in Danish language…

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Salomé Jashi on Information and Form

Written 05-10-2016 22:28:18 by Tue Steen Müller

The fine website of IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) also – besides concrete info on workshops and festivals – includes small interviews. Today one is published with Salomé Jashi, whose “Bakhmaro” and “The Dazzling Light of Sunset” have been written about on filmkommentaren. Jashi is to give a masterclass at the festival in Jihlava and will be a tutor for the Ex Oriente workshop. Here is a quote dealing with one of the eternal questions for documentarians, read the rest via the link below. She says:

Some years ago, when I visited IDFA for the first time, I observed that most of the films had very strong stories and characters but artistically I found them weak. But these films conveyed information, rose awareness, made me think and worry. I was asking myself whether it made sense to focus on style and form in documentaries, in the way I did, when information was so much more important in the world. This question has two sides and it’s a decision we make as filmmakers– is the issue more important or is it the artistic and aesthetic way we deal with our surroundings and create content. Even though I struggle in coming up with the answer, in fact I am still for the latter.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /7

Written 05-10-2016 08:15:53 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… Knowledge also affords artistic freedom. Experienced and versed, the author can move within his subject matter. His depiction of reality then becomes "macro realistic" - that is, a concrete expression of an inner reality.


By Sune Jonsson (1978)


Ivar Lo-Johansson has asserted the authenticity of the self-experienced as a literary life-form and method. It is not enough for the author to have subjects: the subjects must also be part of his own self. Perhaps in this distinction we can also discern the essential difference between the author and the poet.

Knowledge also affords artistic freedom. Experienced and versed, the author can move within his subject matter. His depiction of reality then becomes "macro realistic" - that is, a concrete expression of an inner reality. The opposite method is observation from without - a "microrealism" without a deeper personal sounding board.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /6

Written 03-10-2016 07:57:04 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… The ideal situation, of course, is that in which the photographer is his own client. Then the assignment is a vital function of the photographer himself; then his depiction of reality will occur at that point where he himself stands as a human being.


By Sune Jonsson (1978)


The assignment situation, upon which the photographer's personal relationship to the subject matter is ultimately dependent, is a vital part of the documentary methodology. If it is alleged that knowledge and insight should be the bases of all depiction of reality, then the assignment situation must be crucial to the genuineness of the documentation. By the way in which the assignment situation is regarded, one can also tell what status – in artistic-professional terms - the client is prepared to accord the photographer.

The ideal situation, of course, is that in which the photographer is his own client. Then the assignment is a vital function of the photographer himself; then his depiction of reality will occur at that point where he himself stands as a human being. From every viewpoint, it must be an optimal advantage to be able to seek out the subject matter that is made up of one's own internal and external landscapes. Assignment and need for expression then become synonymous. The subject matter itself then becomes the client.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Brian McGinn & Rod Blackhurst: Amanda Knox

Written 02-10-2016 10:37:44 by Tue Steen Müller

I refrain from a classic review of this shocking documentary that was launched yesterday on Netflix after having been premiered at the recent Toronto Film Festival. There has already been several praising texts in New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, Telegraph etc., and – in Danish – in the newspaper Politiken. If you want to read them go via the facebook page of Plus Pictures, the Danish production company of ”Amanda Knox”. The producer’s name is Mette Heide, who again has taken care of a big international documentary. With success. If you are one of those, who have never heard about this film before, scroll down and get the synopsis – and come back to…

… a fine interview (link below) with the two directors on the site of

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nick Fraser to Documentary Streaming Platform

Written 28-09-2016 20:24:36 by Tue Steen Müller

“How Docs Reach the Audience” was the headline of the conference I was involved in here in Saint Petersburg with presentations of several interesting streaming services for documentaries in the Nordic and Russian environment and with only one broadcaster involved, the 24DOC that also includes a vod offer to its viewers.

A clear statement of the fact that classical broadcasting is far from being the only way for documentaries to the audience.

And in comes today the news from realscreen (written by Kevin Ritchie) that legendary commissioning editor Nick Fraser from BBC’s Storyville leaves his job to “commission documentaries for subscription-based streaming service Yaddo, which he has co-founded with producer Lawrence Elman, who serves as CEO…”

“Yaddo is rolling out in Europe at the end of this month and will enter 160 territories, including the United States, in November.

It will initially be available in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Subscriptions cost US$4.99 per month or €3.99 per month…”

“Being involved in Yaddo is an exciting opportunity to be at the heart of the future of documentaries and how they are created,” says Fraser.

Read the whole article, link below, exciting news, indeed, Fraser can count on a subscriber in Denmark.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Erarta, Yuri Abramochkin, Salgado

Written 28-09-2016 09:18:50 by Tue Steen Müller

My introduction to Russian documentary and to wonderful Saint Petersburg is very much due to Viktor Skubey and Ludmila Nazaruk. The latter (and her artist husband Ilya) has taken me year after year to Erarta, museum for contemporary art, brilliant collection, excellent exhibitions, super well conveyed, English and Russian texts all over.

This time three exhibitions caught our eyes: 1) Belarussian contemporary artists, strong in expression, about freedom and its absence, personal styles, extraordinary and sometimes scary interpretations of our lives. 2) Salgado’s Genesis was there, had seen it before, this photographer is a genius in framing and in his pointing to us, that we should take care of our world. His pinguins, his tortoise, his portrait of a Nenet, unique! 3) And the Yuri Abramochkin, born 1936, press photographer with access to Kreml and surroundings, portraits of Gagarin, of the central committee members waiting for Brezhnev, all with hats, of Kruschev with the shadow of Brezhnev catching up on him. But also documentary photos of people, regular citizens of the USSR… and a text from him, in many ways a true, respectful documentarian, read this:

”Press photographers differ from those working in the field of experimental photography, applied photography etc. in that the former shoot real people, their life… They walk through their lives with a camera. My credo is to gaze into the environment, to look around instead of peeking (there is something tactless about it) and catch unique moments in life, you sometimes see things that would never devise or invent yourself”.

Photo: Ludmila Nazaruk

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

M2M How to reach the Audience/ 4

Written 27-09-2016 09:29:55 by Tue Steen Müller

And some words about the male interventions at the conference in Saint Petersburg on the second day, and some small conclusions or call it reflections.

Festival director (and film director and producer) Pavel Pechenkin from Flahertiana in Perm had just completed the 2016 edition of the old festival that carries the name of the man, who for many was the one who invented the name ”documentary” and who was also the one, who said that ”we have not achieved our goal before it is quite as easy to get access to a film as it is to a book”. Is that where we are today?

13000 visited the festival this year, Pechenkin said. His speech,

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

M2M How Docs Reach the Audience/ 3

Written 26-09-2016 20:38:15 by Tue Steen Müller

No discussion, the female presenters at the Saint Petersburg conference on how to reach an audience saturday/sunday September 24/25 were the best prepared, spoke good English, were used to communicate and had clear power point figures and texts, mixed with film clips. And kept the time so the polite moderators, Cecilie Bolvinkel and me, did not have to interrupt or make signs that ”time is up” as we tried, totally in vain, to do with a couple of male speakers…

Bolvinkel talked on the first day about the EDN project ”Moving Docs”, a pan-European documentary screening network that includes 9 partners. It was launched in 2015 and includes screenings and now also – text taken from the website of EDN, link below – ”… In addition to raising awareness for the ongoing refugee crisis through documentaries such as ”The Longest Run” (director Marianna Economou) and ”At Home in the World” (director Andreas Kofoed), the EDN-led Moving Docs programme recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the most helpless victims of today's crises: refugee children… Bravo, and bravo also for the openness that Bolvinkel showed towards the Russian in the audience – you (film clubs?, Documentary Guild?, Doker festival) can join if you want to show European films. Unfortunately it can not go the the other way, as Moving Docs is paid by the EU.

Over the bridge to Malmø from Copenhagen based EDN. Maja Lindquist took the floor as the first one sunday morning talking about ”The Doc Lounge Experience” with the subtitle ”how to attract new and young audiences to documentaries”. Lindquist who is also programmer for the Nordisk Panorama festival has built up the Doclounge, that (wow!) during the 10 years has had 100000 visitors, has lounges in 19 cities in the Nordic countries (why only two in Denmark!), where people come to hang out, have a drink, watch a documentary, discuss it, or have a music experience afterwards. It has to be ”cool and hip” as Lindquist put it. There are great plans to expand the events with live streaming of discussions. It’s great, simply and you should read more about it, link below. And why not include a lounge or two in Saint Petersburg, there can be no technical problems, or?

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

M2M How Docs Reach the Audience/ 2

Written 26-09-2016 09:07:38 by Tue Steen Müller

Maria Muskevich, director and producer, on her way to the Warsaw International Film Festival for the European premiere of the film ”Putin Forever” (director Kirill Nenashev) – the first lines of the film’s synopsis: … ” The day before Vladimir Putin’s presidential inauguration, on 6 May 2012, a protest march took place in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square opposite the Kremlin, demanding Putin's resignation and honest elections in Russia. This peaceful march was brutally dispersed by the police special forces…” – talked about the film club movement in Russia. 20-30 clubs are active, not a lot in a huge country like Russia but the clubs are to be seen as tools to combine an audience and the makers. Muskevich and the Documentary Guild are looking for ways to better and enlarge the network.

Which brings us to the fact that 250 documentaries are every year supported by the Russian Ministry of Culture but a very small percentage of these reaches an audience… Critic, sales agent, teacher (Antipode Sales & Distribution) Anton Mazurov was very hard in his evaluation of the situation for Russian documentaries. He talked about ”corruption, nepotism, ideological tumors” in the

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

M2M How Docs Reach the Audience/ 1

Written 25-09-2016 07:34:58 by Tue Steen Müller

Three Danes on stage. And a Russian technician, whose job it was, not always easy, during the whole first day of the conference, to have the computers connected to the system at Lendoc, where the conference ”How Docs Reach the Audience” with Nordic and Russian speakers takes place. While I am making the introduction to the conference, Liselotte Michelsen and Lisbeth Juhl Sibbesen from the Danish Film Institute (DFI) are getting ready to speak about the streamingsite(s) Filmcentralen that has subsites for both public viewing and one to be used in education. They did a great job inviting the audience to understand how the sites were built and they entertained with a wonderful short silent film, ”A Russian long distance swimmer in Copenhagen” in 1913. That film is one example from a fine collection that is available for everybody – and not only in Denmark. ”Denmark on Film” includes films from 1905-1965. Link below.

Another site is targeting elementary and high schools that can subscribe to get films into the class room, often with educational material available. There are 1600 films on this filmcentralen site and 614 on the site filmcentralen ”for alle” = ”for everybody”, where you can find films by documentary masters as Jørgen Leth and Jon Bang Carlsen. The latter site, the two speakers from DFI told, is right now threatened because of lack of financing. That is sad news after all these years with succesful negociations with the Danish producers to make the films reach the audience where they are, in their homes. And more so as the site is working and has an audience.

Cecilie Bolvinkel from EDN was the moderator of this first speech of the conference and had the boss of it all, St. Petersburg based producer and president of the Documentary Guild, Viktor Skubey, put questions about rights as did Mikhail Zheleznikov, programmer of the M2M festival’s In Silico section for experimental films. Misha was the one who answered my question if there was a streamingsite in Russia. There is, he said:

More reports from the conference will follow.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Message2Man Opens

Written 24-09-2016 06:39:02 by Tue Steen Müller

It was a grand opening last night of the 26th edition of the Message2Man festival in Saint Petersburg. It took place on the monumental Winter Palace Square, a historical place as it was shown through archive material from 1916, as you know the year before the Russian revolution. Surprisingly short speeches, a festive atmosphere, balloons reaching the sky, we were all equipped with rain coats and saw Werner Herzog go to the stage to receive the award for his life long contribution to cinema. He thanked and told the audience that his family is half Russian as he has been married to a Russian for 21 years. That created applause as did the rock band DTD that was very strong, they are from the city. And now today the festival takes off at the Velikan cinema complex with a huge program of short films, experimental works, animation and documentaries. And the conference between Nordic and Russian filmmakers, "How Docs Reach the Audience" at the Lendoc.

Photo: Alexey Golubev.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /5

Written 23-09-2016 14:19:30 by Allan Berg Nielsen

... The verbal accompaniment must create new relationships and angles of approach to the pictorial material (even laconic): … Småbrukaren och kyrkogårdsarbetaren Hjalmar Nyberg, Nyåker, gräver grav för avlidne banmästaren Henrik Carlsson (Sune Jonsson)



By Sune Jonsson (1978)


The consummate photo-documentation requires verbal accompaniment. This must have a clear documentary conception and ideally possess formal competence as well. There are, for example, plenty of photographs documenting log driving. The most meritorious is Stig T. Karlsson's 1957 depiction from The Little Lule River. Lacking, however,is documentary material that, from the standpoint of primary worker experience, verbalizes the content of log driving. For that reason, it is regrettable, when Stig T. Karlsson's pictures are published in book form, that documentary consistency is sacrificed, and instead, Stig Sjödin is asked to write an accompanying text that flaunts a poetic empathy with the work depicted, that is surely more literary hypothesis than adequate expression of the log driver's own experience of his toil.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /4

Written 22-09-2016 08:36:24 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… Their documentation is a distillate of reality itself. Their pictures are freed of all ephemeral, fashionable, and sentimental trappings. They nakedly describe universal situations that are allowed to speak right into the camera. (Sune Jonsson)



By Sune Jonsson (1978)


One should disdain rules but must discuss principles.

I remember the 50s, when Henri Cartier-Bresson’s books began to come out and started photographers dreaming of the pure photographic image, the prettily arranged and seized 1/125th that was sufficient unto itself. Hasse Enström, Managing Editor of Tidningen Vi, went against that tide at the time, doggedly challenging the theory and requiring text commentaries of photographers offering him picture essays for sale.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Nordisk Panorama Forum 2016/ 2

Written 21-09-2016 12:52:17 by Tue Steen Müller

The second day of the Nordic documentary meeting had a lighter atmosphere at the table with decision makers from the region, the rest of Europe and North America. There was still the usual ”thank you for the pitch” remarks but there were more creative comments on the projects, which could be useful for those pitching and interesting for us in the audience. A better flow than at the first day one could say, very much due to the well prepared moderators Mikael Opstrup and Gitte Hansen.

As at the first day a guest project was invited to the table, this time from Estonia, represented by producer Kiur Aarma and Raimo

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nordisk Panorama Forum 2016/ 1

Written 20-09-2016 14:36:03 by Tue Steen Müller

The family has gathered again. The Nordic documentary community, whose members know each other so well, and who help each other. And who often do coproductions. The family had invited friends from other European broadcasting and sales companies, well some had even crossed the Atlantic Ocean to take part. Look at the photo, there are many around the table, and what you don’t see is the audience on all three sides listening to the pitching teams, applauding after the teaser is shown, after the end of the verbal pitch and after the Q&A. It’s quite Pavlovian. The set-up works, the technique works, there is just a little overtime from those pitching. It’s in the hands of experienced moderators, this year again the Danes Mikael Opstrup and Gitte Hansen, who lives and works in Zürich and told me that she now also has a Swiss citizenship.

Yes, that’s the way it is, you hug and kiss and catch up with good

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /3

Written 20-09-2016 09:16:00 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… One thereby denies that photographs can represent a pictorial manifestation of experiences and personal views, that photographs can be personal messages having aesthetic qualities of communication. (Sune Jonsson)


By Sune Jonsson (1978)


In the 40s and early 50s, when Walt Disney was at the peak of his documentary-film activity, he is said to have remarked that it was better to give training in cinematography to the scientists working in the subject areas of those documentaries than vice versa. He wanted thereby to emphasize how vital expertise is in all depictions of reality. Such an attitude implies, however, that the photographer is exclusively regarded as a triggerer of the camera shutter’s 1/125th, as no better than the lens’ own capability. One thereby denies that photographs can represent a pictorial manifestation of experiences and personal views, that photographs can be personal messages having esthetic qualities of communication.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

DOK.Incubator 2016 Preview

Written 19-09-2016 18:02:00 by Tue Steen Müller

It proved to be a lucky first round of cooperation between the Nordisk Panorama and DOK.Incubator, the rough cut workshop for documentaries. The Nordisk Panorama is a festival that through its industry activity, the Forum, was able to gather a big amount of broadcasters, sales agents and festival programmers for a sunday morning presentation of 8 films, which are on their way to be completed and/or do already have reached the point, where the picture is locked. It was full house in the cinema Panora here in Malmø yesterday and what the viewers experienced was Quality. It can be said as simple as that. DOK.Incubator is a workshop that goes for developing creative documentaries, in some cases I would say documentaries of fine artistic quality.

”Work Hard, Fly High!”, it was written on the poster on the

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ivar Murd: Ash Mountains

Written 18-09-2016 18:54:47 by Tue Steen Müller

Yes, we have seen many documentaries from Eastern part of Europe and from Russia about industrial cities that were active, because there was work and now there is no longer work, the cities are dead and have no plan for the future. They can be pretty predictable, and you know it all after five minutes - if you don’t feel passion and originality in the way you are taken to and around.

Estonian director Ivar Mund’s first feature length, produced by Margus Õunapuu, has passion and originality, with a personal starting point, a very good commentary in first person, and some interesting characters. He is – so important for a first film – able to create atmosphere, the film has its own tone and it has several layers.

It starts with an ultra fast montage of private photos that

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /2

Written 17-09-2016 08:55:51 by Allan Berg Nielsen


By Sune Jonsson (1978)



An action, a façade, a room in someone’s home, a face – any of these is always a sum. This sum can be described, if one wishes, as heritage, environment, tradition, everything that with the consistency of natural law marks people and societies. If the camera’s 1/125th, with its particular slice of new describes that sum with knowledge and empathy, one can speak of genuine documentary photography, of personal and well informed messages that concern us because they broaden our horizon and enlarge our experience.

Lennart af Petersens is one of Sweden’s finest documentary photographers. When Kurt Bergengren describes his accomplishments, he expresses himself with characteristic pithiness, speaking of a Petersens’s “ability to photograph Stockholm from a distance of several centuries” or of documentary photography as being, I his case, an “exciting occupation for an educated man”.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics

How to Reach the Audience

Written 15-09-2016 12:48:02 by Tue Steen Müller

… is the title of a two-day documentary film conference that takes place September 24-25 in Saint Petersburg within the frames of the documentary festival Message2Man. It is a Nordic-Russian look at documentaries in cinemas, festivals, vod’s, self-distribution, screenings at cultural houses where filmmakers meet the audience. Nordic Council of Ministers is supporting the conference that is a classic: Interesting speeches followed by discussions moderated by me and Cecilie Bolvinkel from EDN (European Documentary Network).

The man behind the conference is the Russian producer Viktor Skubey, who is President of the Russian Guild of Documentary Film and TV and who stood behind the DoxPro program in Saint Petersburg together with Ludmila Nazaruk. The production of the conference is in the hands of experienced producer Anastasia Lobanova.

Let me mention some of the points of the conference. First the

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Docs Riga/ 3

Written 12-09-2016 20:53:21 by Tue Steen Müller

I have mentioned so many times the old masters like Herz Frank, Ivars Seleckis, Mark Soosaar, Henrikas Sablevicius, Uldis Brauns and their younger students like Audrius Stonys, Arunas Matelis (who are no longer the young generation but masters who belong to the Baltic poetic tradition), but there are always directors, who sing with their own voice, in this case with many voices like Laila Pakalnina, who has made long and short documentaries, and feature films, conceptual and not conceptual, provoking in subject and style(s). Always surprising.

… and always a gift for a moderator at a pitching session, like me at the Baltic Sea Docs this year. I had no idea what Pakalnina wanted to say or how she wanted to present her project called ”Spoon”, and I was wonderfully amused as was the audience and the panel of decision makers, who were asked to get active. But first the catalogue text for the film:

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Steve Hoover: Almost Holy

Written 11-09-2016 07:30:12 by Tue Steen Müller

A week ago I was in Mariupol with Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius, whose ”Mariupolis” made a big impression on me. And now I have returned to the city in Ukraine with American director Steve Hooper, who is here in Riga and with whom I have tutored filmmakers for the Baltic Sea Docs 2016. His film had an equally strong impact on me. And it has been a pleasure to meet the young director from Pittsburgh.

Full house in the K-Suns cinema in Riga, a long Q&A after the screening of a film, that has already had a long festival career and has been theatrically released in the USA and in the UK.

It’s an action film in the best American sense: Gennadiy Mokhnenko, a pastor in Ukraine who rehabilitates homeless children at his center, Pilgrim Republic, is a charismatic character, who is taking matters in his own hands. Who does what the authorities should do but do not do, or are not able to do because of lack of resources. He picks up kids in the streets, takes them to his place, works on getting them out of their drug addictions – or try to get them back to a normal life and/or reunited with their parents. If they are alive or if they are capable of being parents.

It is amazing how close Hoover and his crew have been able to come to the kids and youngsters. You see tragic fates, you follow some of them along the film, where Gennadiy is almost constantly in the picture. Yes, he is a hero, an amazing man, a documentary version of Bruce Willis, full of love for the victims of the social reality in this part of Ukraine that is close to the war, actually part of the war as the film demonstrates. There are touching scenes, there are scenes where you want to close your eyes, there are scenes where Gennadyi talks directly to the camera, there are images that you will not forget at the end of the film, where Gennadyi swims in the sea with the steel factory behind him, and on shore, as the director put it in the discussion after the film, makes ”a pillow” for himself in the sand.

Small objections from a critic who likes the film a lot – it is a bit too long, I felt some repetitions. It has - mostly in the beginning - a ”nervousness” in the editing and camerawork, which might have to do with the fact that Hoover jumps in time from beginning of 2000 forward and back again. Was that necessary? And the sound score, did it have to be so strong, could there have been more silent sequences? And yet, it is an action film…  

USA, 100 mins., 2015.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Docs Riga/ 2

Written 10-09-2016 18:08:52 by Tue Steen Müller

The first day of pitching at the 20th edition of the Baltic Sea Forum ended with the presentation of the project ”Baltic New Wave”. The initiator and co-director of the film-to-be Kristine Briede was the presenter in front of four mature men, Arunas Matelis from Lithuania, Riho Västrik from Estonian, Uldis Cekulis from Latvia and Lithuanian co-director Audrius Stonys. The project had been developed for a long time, the financing is of course more depending on contribution from the three Baltic film institutions and the tv stations in the countries than on international financing… and yet as Sari Volanen from Finnish YLE said, it could be a theme evening with the film and some of the (short) films that will be cited from. To give you more information, here is the synopsis from the catalogue:

”A story about the Baltic School of Poetic Documentary and its creators – filmmakers who broke the propaganda documentary tradition in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. The story is told by two filmmakers – contemporary director Audrius Stonys (LT), and Herz Frank (LV / ISR), his late friend and mentor, who is guiding Audrius according to the Map of Ptolemy – a cinematographic code-book suggesting new discoveries both in poetic filmmaking and its meaning. Frank’s personal archives, uncovered by Audrius in Frank’s home in Israel, are a key to the timeless questions raised by every generation.”

The filmmakers presented in the film will be Andres Sööt and Mark Soosaar from Estonia, Henrikas Sablevicius and Robertas Verbas from Lithuania,  Ivars Seleckis, Aivars Freimanis and Uldis Brauns from Latvia… and maybe more of that generation.

Allow me to be emotional: The films of the mentioned masters as well the films of Stonys and Matelis were films I got to know on the island of Bornholm during the 1990’es. I am a true lover of the Baltic documentary tradition.

Photo: Agnese Zeltina… thanks!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Docs Riga

Written 09-09-2016 18:01:15 by Tue Steen Müller

I had to have a photo of the grand old man in Latvian documentary Ivars Seleckis (born September 22 1934) and me just before the pitch rehearsal at the 20th edition of the Forum for documentaries being held in Riga these days. Seleckis will together with producer Antra Gaile close the pitching sessions on Sunday with the presentation of a project called ”To be Continued” that features 7 children, who are 7 years old and thus have just begun to go to school. It is the company Mistrus Media that produces this film that will picture Latvia of today thorugh the eyes of kids, who have grown up in a free Latvia.

Seleckis showed a beautiful trailer to his film that so far is supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia.

25 projects will be pitched tomorrow saturday and sunday to a panel of 17 so-called decision makers – distributors, sales agents, broadcasters.

Some name-dropping of well-known filmmakers who will pitch – Seleckis already mentioned, Victor Asliuk from Belarus, Audrius Stonys from Lithuania, Giedre Zickyte from that same country, Laila Pakalnina from Latvia, Arkko Okk from Estonia, Martichka Bozhilova from Bulgaria, Sami Paul-Anders Simma…

Parallel to the training of those who are to pitch, there are film screenings going on in the K-Suns cinema in Riga – and the cinema is full every night. Last night it was the masterly ”Don Juan” by Jerzy Sladkowski that was shown.

More reports will follow, until then check 

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mileva/Kazakova: The Beast is Still Alive!

Written 05-09-2016 18:06:43 by Tue Steen Müller

No, I can not make a real review of this film…

But why not?

I know the two makers too well, and the project. I have seen them pitching the film at several workshops. And I am just so happy for them that they have finished the work. A good film, an important film, a rich film. And taken for the Sarajevo festival recently.

So, you can not be objective, you mean?

There is no such thing as objectivity in reviewing films, and I normally can take the necessary distance, when I write about films made by people I know. But this time, no, precisely because of my admiration for Mina and Vesela, and their courage and their stubbornness to finish a project that will be well received outside

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Astra Film Festival

Written 04-09-2016 17:15:37 by Tue Steen Müller

… with the subtitle “Sibiu International Film Festival” has existed since 1993. This year it takes place October 17-23. The Romanian festival in Sibiu sent an email about the selection that has been done and the interesting thematic grouping of the films which have been done as well as the competitive sections listed with an award for “Outstandox”, “Romanian documentaries”, “Central and Eastern European documentaries” and “Student documentaries”. Here is the text:

“We have received over 1,200 submissions from all over the world, many of the documentaries dealing with extremely interesting subjects and using surprising approaches, making it difficult for the Selection Committee to pick the 100 films that make up this year's official programme and various sidebars.

The 23rd Astra Film Festival welcomes the audiences to an exciting documentary cinema week. A selection of the best new international, Eastern European, and Romanian documentaries dealing with some of the burning issues in contemporary reality, are grouped in the theme programmes Inside Radical IslamNo Place Like Dis-placeCitizens of the Online World. Strong authorial voices and outstanding skills are reflected in the films in the theme sections Self-Family-Society, Doc-vlog, Circumscribed SpacesStories from Urbania, and OutstanDox. Surprising stories and incredible characters emerge from the films in the theme sections Encounters, Refurbished Past, and Reality Under Cover.

This year, Astra Film pays tribute to the work of Fred Wiseman (photo), and invites you to meet a legend of documentary cinema.

A special programme features recent works of the great masters of documentary cinema Patricio Guzman, Gianfranco Rosi, Werner Herzog and Thom Andersen.

Last but not least, the new formats - VR, 360, webdoc, full dome -  are present in the New media - immersive documentary programme: The Future Is Now.”

Many of the films have been reviewed or noted on this site like “Depth Two”, “Don Juan”, “Train to Adulthood”, “The Dazzling Light of Sunset”, “The Dybbuk, A Tale of Wandering Souls”, “Among the Believers” and “Sonita”.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mantas Kvedaravicius: Mariupolis

Written 02-09-2016 16:28:27 by Tue Steen Müller

Let’s start with this information: Mariupolis is a city in Ukraine at the Azov Sea and with the river Kalmius. Half a million citizens. The war in Eastern Ukraine has reached Mariupolis. A quote from a Cineuropa interview with Mantas Kvedaravicius: ”… I came to Mariupol in March 2015 to see what was going on because it had become a front line, and the city was in an ambivalent situation: neither Ukrainian nor pro-Russian. Once I went there, it was obvious that the situation there – with a zoo and a theatre near to the front line – was unique, and something could be conveyed about the way space and politics interact with the human body…”

Kvedaravicius, whose last film (his first) ”Barzakh”, a masterpiece, took place in Chechnya, has again created a tense work of a beauty that lies in the aesthetic choices he has made with the camera, that he and two others have operated. You enjoy frame by frame, scene after scene, sequence after sequence the way he

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dalsgaard og Zytoon: The War Show 4/

Written 01-09-2016 16:39:14 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Så har The War Show haft premiere i Venezia. Jeg var der ikke og kan ikke skrive anmeldelse, men nu vi her på Filmkommentaren et par gange har skrevet om filmen i blinde, vil jeg da også lige citere de første anmeldelser. 


John Bleasdale, CINEVUE, skriver til sidst i sin anmeldelse: "... This is a war without bounds and the evidence of systemic war crime is increasingly obvious. Some of the footage is suitably difficult to watch but the unhelpful sticker of 'war porn' need not be applied here. Zytoon is a knowledgeable and sure guide through the stunning tragedy. She notes that one of the towns they visit, Zabadani, was the site of the first crime, when Cain slew Abel. She is also fully conscious of how the camera is not a hovering entity separate from the conflict, but is now part of the conflict, changing how people behave, how they fight and what they are prepared to do. One man fires at a helicopter, putting everyone in immediate danger, and one suspects he wouldn't have bothered if he didn't think he'd look like Rambo for the camera.

In other cases, a man strips off to display his wounds from torture, hoping for some affirmation, some proof of how he has been treated. As the war progressed, the friends themselves lose the faux immunity of observers and the tragedy is relentless. It's very difficult to appraise The War Show critically, the very existence of which is testament to the bravery of the directors and her collaborators. Suffice to say then that this is an urgent and necessary witness to the humanitarian tragedy of our times and which is all too often viewed only through the Eurocentric lens of the 'problem' of refugees." 


Jay Weissberg på VARIETY beskriver interessant filmens konstruktion: “… Zytoon, in voiceover throughout, introduces us to her friends, all enthusiastically embracing the revolution afoot. There’s besotted poet Hisham and his love, law student Lulu; rebel drummer Rabea; young activist Amal; dental student Argha; and Houssam, an architecture student whose beautifully infectious smile and gentle eyes will haunt the viewer for a long, long while. The two directors include just enough footage of these people to make them real, not just activists but friends. Even during the initial crackdowns by the regime they maintain their determination, with still a remnant of euphoria.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

DOKU.ARTS: Essaydox

Written 30-08-2016 16:10:41 by Tue Steen Müller

DOKU.ARTS is one of those festivals that is different because it puts a focus on the essay film and adds a very attractive symposium to its film program. The symposium takes place October 7, the festival runs in Berlin from the 6th until the 23rd of October with interesting films like the neo-classic ”Black Sun” (photo) by Gary Tarn, ”Exile” by master Rithy Panh, ”Notes on Blindness” by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, and Gilad Baram’s work on Josef Koudelka, ”Shooting Holy Land”, a great film on a great photographer.

On the site of the festival there is a fine intro to the essay genre, here is a quote:

”The tenth edition of the International Festival for Films on Art DOKU.ARTS opens with an essay film on blindness, ”Notes on Blindness”. Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil (‘sunless’) ranks as one of the most influential essay films of all time. The theme of seeing and the inability to see, the introspective approach and a philosophy of the moving image provide engaging impulses for this year’s anniversary programme.

Essay films have evolved over the course of the 21st century into an independent art form. Moreover, for the last 15 years or so, they have been experiencing a boom in museums and galleries; deserving a larger audience via cinema and television, the art form has found its niche.

The history, evolution and tradition of essayistic cinema and television can be traced back to directors such as Esther Schub, Dziga Vertov, Hans Richter and Chris Marker. Major European documentarians like Agnès Varda, Hartmut Bitomsky, Alexander Sokurov, Alexander Kluge and Wim Wenders shaped the essayistic cinematic form in the 20th century.

With its ESSAYDOX programme, the tenth edition of DOKU.ARTS introduces this vibrant cinematic form through new films and presents its relevance, ingenuity, poetry and political relevance in the 21st century. Cinematic essays have always been of central importance in DOKU.ARTS festival history.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Andreas Johnsen: Bugs

Written 26-08-2016 13:10:48 by Tue Steen Müller

The new film by Andreas Johnsen is already touring internationally - Started at Tribeca and has recently been in Prizren, Kosovo and in Skopje, Macedonia. But a Danish premiere is coming now, read this taken from the website of the film, link below:

This September we will collaborate with DOXBIO in order to make BUGS widely available to the Danish people – in cinemas all over the country. Every year, distribution initiative DOXBIO showcases six documentary films in collaboration with a nationwide network of cinemas. It’s DOXBIO’s mission to bring documentaries to big screens all over the country – not just the big cities.

This means BUGS will be playing at more than 50 cinemas on 7 September. Some of them will continue screening the film for another two weeks. On the night of the launch, a selection of cinemas will be hosting Q&As and tastings of insect-based food and drink such as ant smoothies, insect popcorn, and chili mealworms.

So far we’ve had the pleasure of showing the film a couple of times in Denmark already, but only at special preview events. First at the political festival at Bornholm, known as Folkemødet, and then this last Friday we were lucky enough to show the film to an enthusiastic audience at Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival at their open air cinema.

This week, members of the press were invited to an intimate screening in the old Grand Teatret in the centre of Copenhagen, followed by a tasting hosted by Roberto Flore, who is both part of the film and the current Head of Culinary Research and Development at the Nordic Food Lab.

The tasting included cod skin seasoned with an interpretation of the Mexican Sal de Gusano (a salt made from worms), veal’s heart with anty gin, and a bee larva tacos.

I was there, it was nice, but first of all I watched the film and have written a review, see above, if you understand Danish otherwise check the amazing website created for the film:

Photo: Difficult shooting in Japan, one of the best scenes in the film...

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sergey Kachkin: Perm-36. Reflexion

Written 24-08-2016 12:06:37 by Tue Steen Müller

I am writing this text to support a filmmaker in trouble – Russian Sergey Kachkin, who, in these days, 25 years after the fall of USSR, experiences problems in getting his new film, that he has been working on for five years, screened in his own country. It has been rejected for political reasons, linked to Soviet times and Russia today. In an email to me, who has followed the film since it was pitched at the Baltic Sea Forum in 2011, Kachkin, who is born in Perm, where the film takes place, writes:

“In Perm, I was told that it can not be shown at the International Documentary Film Festival Flahertiana because the film criticises the local Ministry of Culture and because of this subject in general. It hasn't been selected for Message to Man Film Festival in Saint Petersburg either and I suspect because of the same reasons - criticism of Stalinism, Soviet times and mostly new reality which is directly connected with the past.”

About the content of the film for you to better understand, text taken from the website, link below:

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Heart Of Sarajevo

Written 21-08-2016 12:46:08 by Tue Steen Müller

… is the name of the awards given at the Sarajevo Film Festival, distributed last night in the beautiful city with Romanian Monica Lazurean Gorgan as the winner in the documentary category for her “A Mere Breath” (photo) (the heart was accompanied by 3000 €). The catalogue description goes like this:

“The film explores the profoundly contradictory nature of family love. Both a journey of initiation and a theological parable, the film follows seven years in the life of Sicrea family in Romania, capturing trials and tribulations of Dobrin who is waiting for a miracle that will help his youngest daughter get up from her wheelchair. As we watch his children grow up and become adults, we witness the deep impact of Dobrun's close connection to God on relationships between members of his family…” 7 years… again you can only say thank you to a filmmaker, who stays with her characters for so long time. I am looking fwd. to see that film.

My source for this information is Rada Sesic, great praise to her, who stands

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

web: infoserv   cms: aviva cms