CinéDOC Tbilisi 2015

Written 08-10-2015 09:35:21 by Tue Steen Müller

 It starts October 21st and runs until the 25th – the documentary film festival in the Georgian capital. A quote from the website of the festival:

”After a long and difficult selection process, we are very happy to unveil the program of CinéDOC-Tbilisi 2015! We have received hundreds of interesting documentary films from all over the world. Our program department has watched all of them and carefully selected those films which will be presented in the five sections of the festival: International Competition, Focus Caucasus Competition, CinéDOC Young, Guest Country: Israel, and Women in Frame.”

Headed by Archil Khetagouri and Ileana Stanculescu, it is no surprise that the festival has a high quality in selection with Karolina Bielawska’s ”Call Me Marianna”. Giedre Zickyte’s ”The Master and Tatyana” (photo) and ”Twilight of a Life” by Sylvain Biegeleisen as just three of the 10 films in the international competition. The latter is the opening film, brilliant choice of the Belgian/Israeli film and also an introduction to Israel being the Guest Country in the programme of the three year old festival.

In the Focus Caucasus competition you find ”Double Aliens” by Latvian Ugis Olte, produced by Uldis Cekulis, a film that won first documentary prize at the festival in Batumi recently – and ”Be My Brother” by Olga Maurina – and ”Strange Particles” by Denis Klebleev.

Of course the festival has a section called CinéDOC Young, and a ”Women in Frame” with strong titles as ”A Separation” by Karin Ekberg, ”Belleville Baby” by Mia Engberg and ”Dreamcatcher” by Kim Longinotto.

Master Audrius Stonys from Lithuania has his ”Gates of the Lamb”, just awarded in Vilnius, shown in ”Special Screenings”.

Enjoy the festival, dear friends - and the khatchapuri, the khinkali and the chacha, writes a man who twice visited a wonderful Georgian restaurant in St. Petersburg last week!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Message2Man Awards and Results

Written 06-10-2015 20:53:36 by Tue Steen Müller

The English version of the M2M in St.Petersburg awards and statistics was published today on the website of the festival. I have taken some clips from the long text, the whole press release you can find clicking the link below:

”At the closing ceremony, the festival juries announced the winners, the director of the festival presented overall results of this year’s Message to Man and set goals for the future. For the first time in festival’s history, the opening ceremony of Message to Man was held on Palace square. The grand celebration was attended by more than 20,000 people. Many Russian and international film stars took part in the 25th festival. Among the jury members and special guests of Message to Man were Nastassja Kinski, Brilliant Mendoza, Jean Roy, Mikhail Iampolski, Vladimir Posner, Rudolf Thome, Velimir Žilnik, Alice Rohrwacher and 45 other guests from 22 different countries… Altogether more than 30,000 people attended the festival’s events between September, 26th and October, 2nd…

And the prizes that were given to documentary films:

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Avi Mograbi Retrospective

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

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

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

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Astra Film Festival 2015

Written 05-10-2015 13:10:13 by Tue Steen Müller

One film festival follows the other and the months of October and November is high season. Tonight the veteran Astra Film Festival in Sibiu Romania starts and runs for 7 days with an exciting programme that is both looking back and reflects what goes on in documentary filmmaking of today.

For the looking back enthusiasts, the film historical interested, there is a series called ”NeoRealism and New Realisms” with films by Visconti (La Terra Trema, of course) and de Sica as well as ”The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” by Romanian Cristi Puiu and Portuguese Teresa Villaverde’s ”Os Mutantes”, to mention a few titles.

The festival has four competitive programmes: International, CE (Central and Eastern Europe) Europe, Romania, Student – all together 48 films. In the international section of 10 films you find ”I am the People” by French Anna Rousillon – it has this description:

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Message2Man National Competition/ 2

Written 03-10-2015 10:33:19 by Tue Steen Müller

A non-urban selection, indeed. Most of the films in the national competition took place outside the big cities. And very often in Siberia. Films about people and culture, clashes between indigenous people and the so-called civilisation like in ”The Land Where Mammoths Slumber” (Eva Belova), that is an informative documentation about the Nenets culture, where the reindeers have almost disappeared, but where they still have their ”chums”, tents, now often with tv and internet. A man with a foot in both cultures is the one conveying the dilemmas they face, another one is an artist, a charismatic man, who claims that bureaucrats are the worst enemies for the nenets, ”human rats”! The film stays on the informative level far from the artistic ambition that we have seen from the hands of Estonian Mark Soosaar.

I am afraid that I don’t have many fine words for another film far away from big cities – ”Kamchatka – the Cure for Hatred” (Yulia Mironova) that follows a war correspondent, who takes refuge in this far east island filming himself and his spouse, they get a child, she returns to Moscow, he stays and one year later he is back in war in Syria! I don’t see or hear reflections on the traumas he is to have brought from the Chechen war. The title remains a postulate.

Talking about war – ”Edges of Memory” (Anton Moiseenko) is a film with

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Russian Police Attacks Documentary Director

Written 02-10-2015 09:24:50 by Tue Steen Müller

Russian Georgy Molodtsov sent this message to be placed on

Andrey Gryazev, director of the prominent documentary film "Tomorrow" was beaten up by police, who were waiting for him near his house after funerals of one of art group "Voina" members. "Tomorrow" was successfully screened and awarded all over the world and premiered in Russia within the Moscow International Film Festival, where it was noticed by head of the jury Pawel Pawlikovsky, recent Academy award winner.

The description of the film, taken from the website of idfa:

“The most striking sight in contemporary Russian art is Voina ("War"), a radical artist collective. The founders are Vor ("Thief") and Koza ("Goat"), and they walk the thin line between art and crime. They paint a gigantic penis on the bridge across from the headquarters of the Federal Security Service and tip police cruisers over by night, as a protest against the force that they would also like to "topple." Under the title "Palace Revolution," they filmed themselves doing this, suggesting that their actions were only intended to recover the ball of their one-year-old son Kasper. Their little toddler is often in tow during their illegal acts, and when they get brutally arrested, he watches it all happen. A product of the squatter movement, Voina once boasted two members in its Moscow chapter who would go on to Pussy Riot fame. Director Andrey Gryazev passes no judgment on Voina's view on life or its political actions, which the state considers to be vandalism and downright incitement. He spends time with two of the collective's most outspoken members, who provide themselves with food by means of shoplifting and engage in some hefty arguments before carrying out their acts of anarchism. These people live in the moment, hoping that tomorrow they will be able to change everything…”

… link below to a short interview with the director:

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Message2Man National Competition

Written 01-10-2015 12:13:30 by Tue Steen Müller

I came to M2M for Russian documentaries and have so far been watching 16 of the 23 in the ”National Competition of Documentary Films” in the Velikan cinema number 4 – good seats, almost full house for all screenings. With people walking in and out of the cinema, some even come for the last five minutes (!), quite disturbing, writes a grumpy man, who thinks respect for the filmmakers and their works is important. Do your zapping from one channel to the other at home in front of the television set. Not in the cinema, please!

The selection of films this year, one more reason to be grumpy, sorry, is pretty weak. Does this really qualify for a national competition I have asked myself several times. Is this an image of the general quality of Russian documentaries today? Or do other festival in Russia take the best?

The selectors show it already – a quote from the catalogue: The topics of the films vary widely, but of course include some of the favorite themes of Russian documentaries: village elders and city eccentrics, simple Russian workers and lonely philosophers, parents and children, children and school, a bit of politics, a bit of war…The National Competition always tries to embrace as many sides of our daily life as possible and show what surrounds us, whether hidden or obvious…

Themes are mentioned but no artistic criteria, for obvious reasons, as most of

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Viktor Kossakovsky: Varicella

Written 30-09-2015 09:20:17 by Tue Steen Müller

I hope the audience will become infected, Kossakovsky said to me with a smile before the world premiere of his children documentary, ”Varicella” (Chickenpox). He was there on stage with one of his stars, Polina and with a twelve year old boy, who had made the music for the film! Sorry, did not catch his name…

The film is wonderful and beautiful, joyful and playful, you laugh and enjoy and you suffer a bit with big sister Nastya, when she cries and cries because she does not get the high mark, she had hoped for. But she qualifies for the next class at the ballet academy that is the main location of the film, where the sisters go to train with trainers, who demand quite a lot. But we also see them at home having their games – see photo.

Every image in this film is carefully composed, Kossakovsky lets them stand or have longer sequences like the pillow fights, girls against boys with Nastya in action, whereas the smaller Polina stands a bit in the background watching a world that will also be hers in some years. The girls are adorable because the camera makes them adorable, because the film has the right rythm of editing, because the director dares to stylize with some animation sequences, because Viktor Kossakovsky is a master in conveying emotions. The film is shot in St. Petersburg, like a painting a camera total shot of Neva marks that. Documentary poetry this is.

Infected? Totally!

The film is in the international short documentary competition here is St. Petersburg at the Message2Man festival.  

Sweden, Norway, Denmark, 2015, 22 mins.


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Message to Man Film Festival – 25 Years

Written 29-09-2015 10:19:21 by Tue Steen Müller

Mikhail Litvyakov – Misha – rushed into the cinema for a National Competition programme, saw me and Viktor Skubey, producer and dear friend from many years of visiting St. Petersburg, came to hug and picked out proudly a 56 page booklet, well illustrated, his memories from the quarter of a century, where he has been heading the festival. Easy reading, full of anecdotes it is, but also mentioning the different moments of crisis that I think every festival with that age has experienced. Misha was director general of the festival from 1988 until 2011, where film director Alexei Uchitel took over as president with Misha as the honorary President, always around full of energy and humour.

It’s pleasant reading – ”they” have all been here: Richard Leacock, Leo Hurwitz, Erwin Leiser, Herz Frank, Volker Schlöndorff, Tonino Guerra, Godfrey Reggio, Kusturica, Agnes Varda, Ulrich Seild and so on – and Leni Riefenstahl, and that created a lot of problems. A quote: … I definitely did not expect the scandal that erupted even before she arrived. In the free newspaper Metro, Oleg Stirzhak’s article ”Triumph of Forgetfulness” appeared, in which he accused the organizers of the festival of forgetting about the Blockade and basically rehabilitating fascism…”

But there are also memories from the time, when the festival had to say goodbye to the requirement that all films had to be submitted on film material, the consequent technical changes in the cinemas, and of course there has been constant fund raising problems.

Russian directors have started their career at the Message to Man festival: Sergey Dvortsevoy and Viktor Kossakovski as the most prominent names. The latter premiered his new film here the other night – review will follow.

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Estonian Winner in Vilnius

Written 29-09-2015 09:24:09 by Tue Steen Müller

Estonian filmmaker Margus Ounapuu wrote to me yesterday after having read the text from the Vilnius Documentary Film Festival: as I know there was also third prize announced? You're post look like a bit half at the moment?..

Right he is, the Estonian film “Journey to the Maggot Feeder” was also awarded, it was on the third place in the Baltic competition at the festival. I apologize. Have not seen the film but here is a description from the internet:

The documentary embarks on a journey to the Arctic and some of the darkest alleys of the matriarchal world of the aboriginal Chukchi. An ancient Chukchi folk tale, The Maggot Feeder, was the inspiration for animator Priit Tender who pairs up with filmmaker Liivo Niglas to solve the tale’s bizarre mystery and why it is misunderstood by some Western audiences. Priit goes to Chukotka to reveal the deeper layers of the folk story in this anthropological road movie that features Chukchi and European scholars and the behind the scenes creation of the animation,The Maggot Feeder.

DIRECTORS | Liivo Niglas, Priit Tender
YEAR | 2015
LENGTH | 68 minutes
LANGUAGE | Estonian w/English subtitles

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Lithuanian Docs Win in Vilnius

Written 28-09-2015 09:46:10 by Tue Steen Müller

The winners of Vilnius Documentary Film Festival Baltic competition have been appointed and the top two were from the hosting country:

Veteran Audrius Stonys took the first prize for his “Gates of the Lamb” that I have written the following words about: This film, which is visual, have very few words, uses music, has no "story" as such but lets us enjoy Faces Faces Faces, mostly in profile at the right part of the image - great cinematography - and music and a solemn atmosphere with fine small humoristic sequences with children with open faces not really understanding, and yet… what is going on. Audrius Stonys is back to a world that he masters as noone else.

Giedre Zickyté took the second prize for her ”Master and Tatyana” that I have written the following words about: So, there it is, the film about the Lithuanian photographer Vitas Luckus (1943-1987), his life, his art and first of all his love story with muse and wife, Tatyana. It is made by Giedre Zickyte, who has been working on it for years. I heard about it five (maybe more) years ago, when she was pitching the film at the Baltic Sea Forum, and since then I have had the pleasure to watch sequences and rough versions. Yes, pleasure, because Giedre Zickyte has kept the passion for her film the whole way through, and pleasure because you can see Quality, high Quality in the final film. For me it’s brilliant, nothing less… the whole review, click.

The photo of Audrius Stonys thanking for the main award is taken from the FB page of the festival - © Mindaugas Česlikauskas

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jafar Pahani: Taxi Teheran

Written 25-09-2015 09:25:02 by Tue Steen Müller


The French poster for the film catches perfectly the sweet, light and unpretentious atmosphere of the latest work made by a director, who lives under a berufsverbot from the state he lives in: he is not allowed to make films, he is not allowed to leave the country. And it introduces the characters, or should I say: The teacher who argues with the man (third from the right), who has quite strong opinions on what should be done to criminals. The little man who sells films on dvd even those that are not finished yet (!), the two older ladies who enter with a bowl of goldfish, the niece who wants to make films as her uncle, the taxidriving director Pahani, but has been told by her school teacher, that certain rules have to be followed, the boy who is in her film, but can not be as he ”commits a crime” on camera, and finally the flower-carrying, smiling dissident-colleague to Pahani.

The film starts, Pahani is behind the wheel, he takes the driver’s seat with a camera that can be positioned so it catches what happens outside and inside with the characters entering, those on the poster. It is joyful to watch with small situations that reflect a debate on human rights in Iran, that susperstition lives well among the older generation, that you can get whatever film you want in piracy copies (I experienced that myself back in 2000 when I visited Teheran), that there are rules for what you can film and what not.

Pahani himself, the taxi driving film director, comes out as a mild and generous character - one of the kind of taxi drivers you seldom meet - he listens to the stories that he has created for the film – and makes his job as a film director, who loves his citizens and who lives as they do, coping with the many restrictions.

Iran, 2015, 82 mins.

You can only love that film, that opens theatrically in Copenhagen, Grand Teatret October 1st.     


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Nordisk Panorama – the Forum/ Second Day

Written 24-09-2015 09:53:34 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s 9.10am and everybody is there – the financiers sit at the table, the pitch team members are at the first rows in the audience waiting for their turn to perform, and the moderators Gitte Hansen and Mikael Opstrup, who were obviously happy about the way the first day went, are now eager to keep the civilised documentary family atmosphere intact. Yes, we Nordic people are trying to be punctual, and 10 minutes delay is not really a delay. From the point of view of someone, who has organised workshops in the South of Europe!

Again a very tough start of the day. Theme: Sexually abused street children in the Philippines, who are, as said in the catalogue, ”offered a new life at a center on an island South of Manila”, a film to be directed by Danish Mikala Krogh. Actually it is a film already in production; the director is in the country with her family and has been there for a year. That’s a true commitment and for me there is no doubt that this will be another fine film from the hands of Mikala Krogh backed up by producer Sigrid Dyekjær and the company Danish Documentary, and financially with 200.000€ (!) from the Danish Film Institute, consultant Helle Hansen. The pilot, as the pitcher Dyekjær called it, was very well made (only objection: again too dominant music) and the response from the financiers were Yes = This is good. Only one that needed ”to see structure” was NRK’s Tore Tomter…

Equally succesful in terms of good response, prologues for the

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Nordisk Panorama Award Winners 2015

Written 23-09-2015 09:58:58 by Tue Steen Müller

Awards were given at the Gala last night in Malmö at the Nordisk Panorama. Here is the motivation from the jury for the Best Nordic Documentary Award:

”For its complexity, attentiveness to details, ability to tell the story in artful and concise way and unprecedented access to the events, we would like to give Best Nordic Documentary Award to Democrats. A film that manages to approach a unique moment in the history of Zimbabwe in an honest, straight-forward approach creating a compelling, suspenseful drama...”

Yes, the winner was ”Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson, who competed with 13 other films.

Absolutely no objections from

The same goes for the Audience Award that went to ”The Look of Silence” by Joshuan Oppenheimer.

Remains to be seen is ”Marta & Niki”  by Tora Mårtens, who received an honorary mention in the Best Documentary section.

Three more films were awarded in the short film and ”New Voices” category – check the link below.

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Nordisk Panorama – the Forum/ First Day

Written 23-09-2015 09:30:51 by Tue Steen Müller

… or to be more precise: Forum for Co-financing of Documentaries in Malmö, Sweden, taking place September 20-22 2015.

Edition number 22 (!) with 270 participants, 24 projects to be pitched to a panel of decision makers, around 30 at the table and a lot in the audience among the observers, including me, who asked the organisers if there was a chair for a reporter, who has been to the Forum many times before; at the table as consultant for National Film Board of Denmark (Statens Filmcentral), now part of the Danish Film Institute, and as moderator when I worked for the EDN (European Documentary Network).

So there I was at Amiralen (Photo by Teddy Grouya, Amdocs festival Palm Springs), a very fine venue for an event like this, lot of space, good image projection of the trailers, to be seen from all angles, the usual small fights with the microphone (why are people who work at television so bad in talking into those tools?), space for talks in the coffee breaks, networking is the word, and as usual perfect professional treatment from the staff of Nordisk Panorama (before called Filmkontakt Nord) – good catalogue for projects and participants, as well as the inviting website, link below.

Sooo, the Nordic documentary family gathered with an Italian delegation invited and commissioners from arte, BBC, Dutch television, POV, RAI and many others. Sales agents, distributors,

People from the film institutions and tv stations. A quite remarkable attendance.

With words from the well prepared moderators Gitte Hansen (First Hand Films, Switzerland) and Mikael Opstrup (EDN), the show took off with the Swedish project ”Prison Sisters” by Nima Sarvestani, the director who has made ”Those Who Said No” (2014) and ”No Burqas Behind Bars” (2012). He presented a follow-up on what has happened to the two Afghan women from that film. The project was indeed very well received, more than 50% of the financing is already in place, and the rest will come. No doubt. Sarvestani makes films that can reach both a television audience and do well at festivals.

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Morgan Neville: Under the Influence

Written 22-09-2015 16:59:13 by Tue Steen Müller

Deftly made is this Netflix documentary by the director of the film, that won an Oscar in 2014: ”Twenty Feet from Stardom”. Is deftly the right word, took it from google translate, with other words well-crafted, predictable in its building and with charismatic Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards as the one, who explains to us where his influences lie. He smokes constantly, he laughs his tobacco-laugh, he performs some tunes on his guitar, he does not speak a lot about his conflicts with Mick Jagger, he does a bit about family – after 20 years of no contact with his father, they found each other and now the father has been travelling with his world famous son all over the world.

I have never been a big fan of the Stones and this film does not give me a lot – apart from the fantastic b/w archive material with legendary Muddy Waters, one of Keith Richards inspiration sources. I could listen to him singing for hours, but not to Richards who has very little voice to offer but in this film a lot of generosity.

USA, 92 mins.


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Bigert/Bergström: Engaged Cool Duo from Stockholm

Written 19-09-2015 10:33:29 by Tue Steen Müller

DocAlliance and its excellent vod initiative has for years been promoted on this website and here is (a bit late, sorry, but it’s weekend and maybe you have time…) one more copy-paste of a fine offer from “your online documentary cinema” – to watch FOR FREE works by a duo of artists from Sweden until September 20. Go for it:

Mats Bigert (1965) and Lars Bergström (1962) have formed an artistic duo since their studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. Besides documentaries, their work also includes exhibitions, conceptual art and installations in public space. In 1993, they participated in the Venice Biennale with their installation Adrenaline Dream and have exhibited their work across the world ever since. They often deal with current social and climatic issues. Discover the Swedish duo through their films for free!

During their successful career, Bigert & Bergström’s have produced a large

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European Documentary Awards

Written 18-09-2015 17:31:53 by Tue Steen Müller

A warm welcome to a new procedure from EFA (European Film Academy) that has published a shortlist of 15 European documentaries from which 5 will be nominated for the award to be given at the EFA ceremony in Berlin in December. The shortlist has been put together from lists of three films given by 10 important European documentary festivals.

I am happy to see Phie Ambo’s ”Good Things Await”, Camilla Nielsson’s ”Democrats”, Sean McAllister’s ”A Syrian Love Story”, Ivan Gergolet’s ”Dancing with Maria”, Oleksandr Techynskyi, Aleksey Solodunov and Dmitry Stoykov’s ”All Things Ablaze” (photo), Oppenheimer’s ”The Look of Silence”, Asif Kapadia’s ”Amy”, Gábor Hörcher’s ”Drifter” and ”Toto and his Sisters” by Alexander Nanau on the list, all films that I have seen and appreciate – in different levels and ways… and looking forward to watch the remaining 6, use the link below to get the titles.

And a quote from the same website:

”It is with great pleasure that the European Film Academy and EFA Productions announce the first ever EFA Documentary Selection, a list of 15 European documentaries recommended for a nomination for this year's European Film Awards. 

The change follows a decision by the EFA Board to “acknowledge the growing importance of European documentary cinema,” says Israeli producer Marek Rozenbaum, EFA Board Member on the documentary committee, “there is a growing number of excellent documentaries which have to be seen by the members…”[tt_news]=332&cHash=b7c7e85bfca0fa9f7bc36041d88e9e9a

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Message2Man 2015/ 2

Written 17-09-2015 10:01:19 by Tue Steen Müller

” She is nine years old, lives with her grandmother, her mother is ill and her father, she does not see a lot. This is the background that you pick up gradually as this sensitive, well-made and cleverly thought film goes along with father and daughter on a tour towards the park of Pippi Langstrømpe (Longstocking) in Sweden, a wish for the girl who wants to be strong and independent...”

The beginning of a review I made in March this year of Russian Denis Shabaev’s ”Together” that won one of the main awards at DocuDays in Kiev.

Now it is on the list of the around 25 films competing at the National Competition of Documentary Films at the upcoming Message2Man in St. Petersburg that starts September 26 and goes on until October 3.

The good thing for me, who visits the festival for the fourth time in a row, is that apart from this film and one more, it’s all new land for me – a good chance to get an idea of what happens in Russian documentary. Yes, stories from Russia of today, please.

The ”one more” is by Tatyana Soboleva, who I have met in diffferent festivals and who asked for my opinion on a rough cut of ”Siberian Floating Hospital”. A quote from a FB message I sent to her last December:

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In the Editing Room

Written 15-09-2015 11:23:42 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s such a great photo, this one, taken by Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis. I stole it from his FB page, where he had this accompanying line:

“There always is The Moment when analog and digital film cut meets…”

Roman Bondarchuk is the contemplating director in the editing room, the film to finish is “Ukranian Sheriffs”, that Cekulis produces and that Bondarchuk makes with his spouse and scriptwriter Dar´ya Avershenko, a talented film couple who is part of the team behind the festival DocuDays in Kiev, who was part of the team behind “Euromaidan Rough Cut” and made one part of the “15 Young by Young” series, produced by Ilona Bicevska.

Precisely that part of the series, about kids playing jazz music and the relationship to their teacher, has been made into a feature documentary, named ”Dixieland”, that premieres in Riga tonight. I have seen a more than rough cut of the work and there is no justice if it is does not travel to festivals all over!

… back to the photo, yes, the moment of reflection, not touching the buttons, not touching the yellow note papers, thinking thinking: did I find my film, the one I wanted to make, the one I had in my head for so long, he is not the only one who has experienced that crucial moment. 

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Megacities in Copenhagen

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

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

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

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

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Vilnius Documentary Film Festival 2015

Written 13-09-2015 11:03:29 by Tue Steen Müller

September 17 until 27 it’s again documentary fest time in the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, a fine event to visit; I was there in 2011 as a juror, with Lithuanian ”Barzakh” by Mantas Kvedaravicius as the winner.

Apart from a retrospective of the Maysles Brothers films and a Special Programme with Claude Lanzmann’s ”Shoah” and a couple of other films related to the Nazi time – I saw ”The Decent One” by Vanessa Lapa on Himmler – there is a so-called Main Programme with ”Amy” by Asif Kapadia and ”Suddenly My Thoughts Halt” by Portuguese Jorge Pelicano (presented this year at Magnificent7 in Belgrade) and a Competition Programme, for me the most interesting as it features new Baltic documentaries and indirectly is a witness of the high quality of films from the three countries.

12 films compete and it is a strong list that comes out of the website of the festival. Let me mention those that I have seen:

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Message2Man 2015

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Docs 2015/ 4

Written 09-09-2015 13:12:21 by Tue Steen Müller

A small PS on the audience numbers in Riga, the cinema part of the event that took place in the capital and 7 provincial towns in Latvia, let me give you the names: Cesis, Ventspils, Valmiera, Jekabpils, Rezekne, Liepaja, Roja. 9 fims were screened in Riga, three of them were selected to go to the towns:

Hubert Sauper’s ”We Come as Friends”, ”All of Me” by Arturo González Villaseñor and ”Chuck Norris vs Communism” by Ilinca Calugareanu.

The organiser of the screenings, Elina Cire, wrote this to me today:

“The total number of BalticSeaDocs2015 audience (Riga+regions) is about 3200. (Most of them (2780) attended the screenings with free tickets (pupils, students, pensioners, cinema professionals, BalticSeaDocs participants), the rest paid 3-1 euro  ticket (3 in Riga, less in regions))…. Many screenings Riga were sold out.

The most “popular” films in Riga were “A Syrian Love Story” (photo by Agnese Zeltina: Director Sean MacAllister on stage in Riga)  & “We Come As Friends”, top 1 in regions was “We Come As Friends.””

Not big numbers if you compare to big festivals but a true sign of great interest for documentaries and a cultural film policy from the side of the organisers of

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

A Riga Meeting with Ivars Seleckis

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

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

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

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Docs 2015/ 3

Written 07-09-2015 10:18:58 by Tue Steen Müller

A place for new talent, definitely, is Baltic Sea Docs, demonstrated again at this 2015 edition. The first step for many – ”here we are, we have an interesting project, what do you think of it?” Does it have an international potential? Is it for cinema and/or television? Or for some new platforms?

And the networking aspect – can we co-produce? For someone who has been part of the event since it started on the island of Bornholm in Denmark in the last century (!), it is a great pleasure to see how the Baltic countries have created structures to develop the art of cinema, including the documentary. In the hosting country Latvia you have the National Film Centre to give development, research and production money, the same goes for the newer Lithuanian Film Centre set up in 2012 and the Estonian Film Institute. So the future of the creative documentary, or call it the artistic, is very much linked to well functioning state support mechanisms – and internationally knowledgeable production companies with producers who can take care of both the established and the new talents. This year you also saw several projects being financially supported up-front by two of or even all three Baltic countries.

Like the co-production between Latvian Uldis Cekulis (VFS Films) and Estonian Marianna Kaat (Baltic Film Production) with Kaat as

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Docs 2015/ 2

Written 06-09-2015 15:37:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Sunday in Riga, second day of the Baltic Sea Docs 2015. I am sitting in the lounge of the 11th floor, where the individual meetings are taking place after the remaining 10 projects of the 23 were pitched to the panel this morning. Good atmosphere, good pitches, good but also cautious comments from a panel, where the television editors are hesitating, whenever there is a project that does not fit slots and profiles. Personally, I like it, was a comment that came from the panel in these two days followed by ”but it is not for our audience”. One even said, ”it is too poetic for our audience”! There is nothing new in this, it has been like that for many years. In general public broadcasting has no space for documentaries with a high artistic and experimental ambition… must be difficult to have a job like that! Don’t envy them!

Nevertheless it was a pleasure to experience how the first project pitched this morning, ”Krucification” by Latvian Ivars Tontegode

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Docs 2015/ 1

Written 05-09-2015 17:01:45 by Tue Steen Müller

It has been a standard question – followed by a lovely standard answer – from me to Elina Cire here in Riga: Do people come to watch the documentary films in the cinema (K Suns)? They do, there are full houses, says she, who is responsible for the fine selection. A photo from the opening night documents that she tells the truth, and proud was the Danish producer Sigrid Dyekjær that ”The News Room: Off the Record” by Mikala Krogh was chosen to bring a debate on media responsibility to the Latvian audience with the main protagonist, chief editor of Ekstra Bladet Poul Madsen as one of the panelists.

Nine films are in the programme, remains to be screened are two films tonight and five on sunday, so if you are in Riga… link below will give you the titles and times.

Today was the first day of pitching at the Baltic Sea Docs with a good panel of so-called decision makers. Some of them have visited the event several times like Danish Gitte Hansen from First Hand Films in Zürich, Jenny Westergaard from YLE in Finland, Russian Grigory Libergal and Marje Jurtshenko from Estonian television. And some were new like Flemming Hedegaard from DR K in Denmark, Kate Townsend from BBC’s Storyville, Antoinette Koering from Arte and Xavier Henry Rashid from Film Republic, a sales agency that specialises in arthouse films, a recent one being the Polish ”Call Me Marianna”.

13 out of the 23 film projects were pitched today to be followed by individual meetings on the 11th floor of the Albert Hotel that has housed the training workshop that has led up to the two pitching days. I can’t mention all projects, let me pick three that for me will turn out to be good films: ”The Pioneers Palace” by Georgian Ana Tsimintia, who made the wonderful ”Biblioteka” and with her trailer for the new film demonstrated that she has an eye for people and situations. The artistic quality of Ukranian ”Delta” is also evident from what Yulia Serdyukova, the producer, showed. A warm voyage to people who live by the Danube, nothing about Maidan and war, said Serdyukova, who also stood behind the strong ”All Things Ablaze”. The final film to be pitched today was ”Release Oleg Sentsov” by Askold Kurov, who has made ”Children 404”, ”Leninland” and was one of the directors behind ”Winter, Go Away!”. Kurov is one of the students of Marina Razbezkina’s film school in Moscow and a good friend of Sentsov, who two weeks ago was sentenced to 20 years in prison. An important film to be made from a personal point of view of a courageous director.

Photo: Agnese Zeltina.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Dox Box Residency

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

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

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

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKU.ARTS Berlin with Sebald and Stan Neumann

Written 01-09-2015 12:23:14 by Tue Steen Müller

If you are near Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin the next weeks, visit the DOKU.ARTS Festival that has a very appealing programme to offer. A quote from the newsletter I received the other day:

“From 9-27 September, DOKU.ARTS will present 20 films from 13 countries with a focus on architecture and construction. The programme shows how the contemporary world of international documentary film regards building and architecture, as well as how construction processes and citizen participation are reflected in the medium of film. The architectural focus comprises 15 new documentaries, including outstanding long-term monitoring of buildings by SANAA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Daniel Libeskind, and Peter Zumthor. Moreover, DOKU.ARTS shows new documentary portraits and essay films about Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Phyllis Lambert, Astrid Lindgren, W.G. Sebald and Nicolas Roeg.”

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mladen Mitrović: Chasing a Dream

Written 31-08-2015 20:57:43 by Tue Steen Müller

I read that a film co-produced by Factum in Croatia had won the Audience Award at the recent Sarajevo Film Festival. I wrote to Nenad Puhovski in Zagreb and he sent me a link to the 145 minutes long documentary that Mladen Mitrović made by filming for more than 5 years on 4 different continents - in 12 countries (BiH, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, German, Russia, Sweden, Tunis, Turkey, Iraq, Mexico and USA). Quite an impressive achievement for the director, who like his protagonists left Sarajevo in the late 80’es and beginning of 90’es, when the war went on. They are Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats and what they have in common is that they played as kids in the director’s film, the (to quote the site of Factum) ”iconic child's film Small Passage that he made in Sarajevo's district of Grbavica.” That film was made in 1987.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jean-Gabriel Périot: A German Youth

Written 30-08-2015 18:10:47 by Tue Steen Müller

The last couple of years I have been more and more enthusiastic about archive-based documentaries. When they are built from personal and public archive like Catarina Mouráo´s ”The Wolf’s Lair”, when they work from an intelligent method in portraying ”Senna” and ”Amy” as does Asif Kapadia, when they play with the material and dare reconstruct as do Anders Østergaard and Erzsebet Racz in ”1989” or when they are supplemented by interviews about the fabulous Nina Simone as in the film by Liz Garbus.

So expectations were high when I sat down to watch Périot’s ”A German Youth” that – based mainly on found-footage including several film school films from the dffb, the film school in Berlin, founded in 1966 with an opening speech by Willy Brandt – through archive puts the focus on the 60’es and 70’es rebellion from before, during and till the end of Rote Armeé Fraktion (RAF), also known as the Baader-Meinhof group. Lots of material with Ulrike Meinhof, whose rethoric talent was so great, and films by Holger Meins, and tv newsreels to keep the viewer on the chronological track that the director seems to follow.

No conclusions, thanks for that, but why is it that I found the film totally boring and without soul, and could not find the red thread of the director. Because I have seen enough about RAF and this does not add anything to what I have seen and read? Last time in Berlin in January at the big exhibition that was diffficult because there were too many people, but I bought the catalogue and read it all, excellent. With ”A German Youth” I just thought: Where is the film? Sorry.

France, Germany, Switzerland, 2015, 92 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Visit – from Armenia to South Africa

Written 28-08-2015 16:58:52 by Tue Steen Müller

Michael Madsen’s ”The Visit” (praised in Danish language by Allan Berg on this site) will be screened world wide this coming wednesday, see the impressive list of venues below. It’s a fantastic arrangement, ” live-streamed from a former military bunker in Copenhagen, Denmark.” The following text comes from the cph:dox festival: 

In collaboration with CPH:DOX, World Space Week, International Space University, Autlook and Magic Hour Films, DOXBIO will host a world premiere of the film in countries all over the world. On September 2nd at 19:00 CEST, the audience will have the opportunity to be

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Hazem Alhamwi: Portrait

Written 28-08-2015 16:27:30 by Tue Steen Müller

One day on Facebook, I received this text from Syrian Hazem Alhamwi, whose film was reviewed here in a long essayistic text by Sevara Pan:

“Hello my teacher.  I miss you.

I wish you are fine and in good health.

I am so happy to tell you that my new film: (From My Syrian Room ) will be screened in Yamagata film Festival in Japan. I am going there with the film.

Also it (will get) an important prize in Germany, I will tell you about it soon.

Here is my new gift to you. I wish you like.

You can use it in any kind of you want. TUE STERN MÜLLER semi caricatur portrait

With all love and respect.

I will be happy to send the original by post.”

Warms my heart of course, and to get your film to the prestigious Yamagata festival is really a fine recognition. I met Hazem at two workshops, he is now living in Berlin.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Georg Larsen & Kasper Vedsmand: Massakren i Dvor

Written 27-08-2015 16:08:59 by Tue Steen Müller

The film, produced by Final Cut for Real with Croatian Sinisa Juricic, Nukleus as co-producer had its world premiere at the recent Sarajevo Film Festival in a special programme section called ”20 Years – dealing with the Past”. And has been shown on Serbian television – 870.000 viewers! The film now has its Danish premiere September 4 in 6 different cities (link below) in Denmark, with panel debates, to be followed later by a broadcast on Danish TV2. This post includes the English description of the film from the site of the producer and a Danish language review.

"Only a few meters from a Danish UN Camp in Dvor, Croatia, nine disabled people, both Serbs and Croats, were executed in cold blood by a group of unidentified men on August the 8th 1995. The Danish soldiers in Camp Dannevirke were assigned by the United Nations to monitor the ceasefire between the Serbs and the Croats. They were only allowed to use weapons in self-defense. In the summer of 1995, the Croatian Army ceasefire broke and about 250,000 Serbs were forced to flee during "Operation Storm". Once there was no longer a ceasefire to monitor, the soldiers were ordered to stay inside their camp and not interfere in the war. It was therefore up to one Danish officer, to make the crucial decision: to give orders to shoot or follow the UN mandate and not intervene. The film follows the former company commander Kold on his journey back to Croatia, to the place where he 20 years earlier had to make the most difficult decision in his life. Here he confronts his past and his decision, meets the commanders from the warring parties, and the relatives of the victims. He is forced to face difficult questions: Could he have stopped the massacre? Did he have a choice? Or was he, the Danish soldiers and the civilians actually let down by the United Nations?"

Vurdering: Der er specielt én scene i denne fint fortalte dokumentarfilm, som sætter sig. Jørgen Kold, som var kompagnichef i Camp Dannevirke, og Villy Bøgelund, som

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

New York FF: Spotlight on Documentary

Written 25-08-2015 12:49:34 by Tue Steen Müller

More news from NY, where the 53rd edition of New York Film Festival takes place September 25 to October 11. I have written about the world premiere of Laura Israel’s film on Robert Frank, that is placed in the Main Slate competition of the festival – but there is also a ”Spotlight on Documentary” that is very attractive. It has the following introduction on the site of the festival:

Documentaries come in all shapes, sizes, and tones: compressed and expansive, eclectic portraits and vérité canvases, objective examinations and works of passionate advocacy… This year’s Spotlight on Documentary represents the entire spectrum of nonfiction cinema… and (my comment) is this not a fine description of the reason for the popularity of the genre in these years?

11 films are there, to mention some: Wiseman with ”In Jackson Heights” (said to be ”one of New York City’s liveliest and most culturally diverse neighborhoods”), Stig Björkman’s ”Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words” (for the Danes: premieres in Copenhagen this coming thursday), the recently DocAlliance awarded ”Homeland” by Abbas Fahdel is listed, Pamela Yates portrays legendary Haskell Wexler in ”Rebel Citizen”… but maybe the title that raises most curiosity is ”Field of Vision” by Laura Poitras, description like this: A selection of short-form episodic works, including installments of Asylum, in which Laura Poitras (whose CITIZENFOUR had its world premiere at last year’s NYFF) shadows WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as he publishes classified diplomatic cables and seeks asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

Photo taken at the Amdoc Festival in Palm Springs in March this year, Wexler (left) with colleague Frederic Goodrich.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Liz Garbus: What Happened, Nina Simone?

Written 24-08-2015 14:18:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Saturday we (my wife and me) enthusiastically watched the Nexflix film on Nina Simone, sunday we went for the Richard Linklater trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and there she was again (!), Nina Simone, at the end of the second film, Before Sunset, where Delpy in her Parisian flat plays a cd and imitates the artist in a pretty seductive dance

And it is a great film about an artist, who seduced the audience with her music and performance, fascinating it is from start till end, based on concert footage, fantastic archive material, interviews with Nina Simone and with Lisa Simone Kelly, the daughter and executive producer of the film, Al Schackman, her guitarist (what a gentle, wonderful man), Andrew Stoud, husband (quite an unsympathetic character) and others, diaries and letters…

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

"Life is Sacred" on Tour Around Denmark

Written 23-08-2015 11:21:07 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s no surprise that Andreas Dalsgaard’s fine film from Colombia ”Life is Sacred” did well at the DocsBarcelona festival in May, where Colombians living in the Catalan capital with tears in eyes talked about the main character Antanas Mockus, ”an icon in Latin American politics who left his scientific research career to change politics in his country” as the director has put it. And it is no surprise that Mockus recently was warmly welcomed at the DocsBarcelona festival in Medellin in Colombia.

… but it is a very nice surprise, a much welcomed one that the film, before its broadcast on DR Dokumania, tours Denmark to inform and create debate, also on the state of democracy in Denmark. Around 20 screenings have been set up, starting tomorrow. Here is a copy-paste promotion text from the website of the production company Final Cut for Real:

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Sarajevo Film Festival Documentary Competition

Written 17-08-2015 21:44:29 by Tue Steen Müller

There is 416 km from Prizren and the Dokufest to Sarajevo, where the film festival is going on right now and until August 22. Not long. But there is quite a difference in the set-up of the documentary & short film festival in Kosovo and the red-carpet festival in Sarajevo that primarily has a focus on feature films. Nevertheless the festival has a strong selection for the documentary competition, 23 films including (they are a bit obsessed with premieres…) six world premieres, and international premieres, and regional premieres and Bosnia and Herzegovina premieres… honestly I don’t think the audience in Sarajevo cares about this categorization, that seems to be the rules of the games for big festivals: We want to be the first!

It can not be easy for the programmer Rada Sesic, who does an impressive work to promote documentaries within the big festival. If you click the cineuropa link below you get the list of the films. If you go for the festival link you get the descriptions of the 23 in competition.

That is what I did to know more about the new film of Jasmila Žbanić, a one hour film called “One Day in Sarajevo” (photo), it goes like this:

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Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 6

Written 17-08-2015 14:17:18 by Tue Steen Müller

It's too much to mention all the winners of the Dokufest Prizren 2015, that ended last night - you can find them all on the website, including the jury statements, that in general are very good, which is not always the case from film juries.

Of course you will smile when a Dane as the first award mentions a Danish film, "Democrats" (photo) by Camilla Nielsson, "the excuse" is that the jury motivation is precise for this great film:  In this film, the jury found a remarkably refreshing, nuanced and honest approach to a very delicate story – the struggle of individuals and societies to achieve compromise and harmony in the face of divisive and abusive power structures. Through wonderful cinematography and editing, a captivating narrative and stunning behind the scenes access, the director portrays the inner-workings of a rare process for the 21st century – a country’s attempt to set the foundations for human rights and accountable institutions and to challenge raw arbitrary power.

"Virunga" by Orlando von Einsiedel got the Green Dox Award, Vladimir Tomic won the Balkan Documentary Competition with "Flotel Europa" and there were awards for known experimenting directors like Ben Rivers, Mike Hoolboom and Travis Wilkerson.

Hope to get a chance to watch some of the locally produced prizewinners.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 5

Written 17-08-2015 13:52:31 by Tue Steen Müller

I have followed the festival in Kosovo from long-distance, it has been easy to do as the level of FB information (text and pictures) distributed from Dokufest is high and competent, as is the website and the press release that came out yesterday. I quote in its full length and at the post above you will get information about some of the awards distributed. It's all very professional with a welcoming atmosphere. I intend to take part next year:

PRIZREN 16.08.2015 – The 14th edition of the International Documentary and Short Film Festival – DokuFest came to a close yesterday, the 16th day of August. DokuFest 2015 was dedicated to the theme of Migration with films from all over the world and the Balkan region, masterclasses, workshops, debates and panel discussions.

New ticket sales records were set with 14,000 tickets sold over the

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Polish Winners in Locarno

Written 16-08-2015 12:58:07 by Tue Steen Müller

Two Polish documentaries taking part in the prestigious Semaine de la Critique at the Locarno Film festival took the main awards. No surprise that Wojciech Staron was praised for his ”Brothers” – I had the privilege to get a sneak preview of the film, a quote from the review on this site: ”… Staron proves to me again to be one of few European documentary poets, who believes in the power of the image and sequences without verbal explanation, he dares long scenes, he is a master in composition, he is a Filmmaker who paints with his camera, a visual artist...”

”Call Me Marianna” by Karolina Bielawska received the Premio Zonta Club Locarno award for best film promoting social justice and ethics, the film also took the main prize at the Krakow Film Festival this year.

Finally – happy to announce – with the FB page of the director as source – that Jakob Brossmann and his ”Lampedusa in Winter

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

New Film on Robert Frank

Written 15-08-2015 16:54:29 by Tue Steen Müller

A very nice email came in yesterday from New York from Laura Israel, who I met at IDFA in Amsterdam years ago. She told me that – as for decades editor and close collaborator of Robert Frank, and a director herself – she was wondering if a film about Robert Frank made by her would be interesting. Are you kidding, we want as much as possible on this great artist… what else could I have answered?

I am so happy to hear that the film, ”Don’t Blink: Robert Frank” is now finished and even more so, Laura Israel tells me that it has ”been selected to play in the New York Film Festival’s main slate this October”. The festival runs from September 25-October 11 and here is the description of the film from the festival site:

“The life and work of Robert Frank—as a photographer and a filmmaker—are so intertwined that they’re one in the same, and the vast amount of territory he’s covered, from The Americans in 1958 up to the present, is intimately registered in his now-formidable body of artistic gestures. From the early ’90s on, Frank has been making his films and videos with the brilliant editor Laura Israel, who has helped him to keep things homemade and preserve the illuminating spark of first contact between camera and people/places. Don’t Blink is Israel’s like-minded portrait of her friend and collaborator, a lively rummage sale of images and sounds and recollected passages and unfathomable losses and friendships that leaves us a fast and fleeting imprint of the life of the Swiss-born man who reinvented himself the American way, and is still standing on ground of his own making at the age of 90.”

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Films Announced for Baltic Sea Docs Riga/ 2

Written 15-08-2015 16:11:13 by Tue Steen Müller

Some additional good news about the film programme in Riga. The Danish film about the newspaper Ekstra Bladet, "The Newsroom - Off the Record" (photo), directed by Mikala Krogh, is not only screened as the opening film on September 2 in connection with the Baltic Sea Docs workshop and pitching forum, it is also the starting point for a discussion of the situation for a daily printed newspaper in a changing media landscape, in Denmark and Latvia. The producer of the film, Sigrid Dyekjær, and the chief-editor of the newspaper, Poul Madsen will visit Riga to take part in the discussion. The film comes to Riga awarded as the Best Documentary yesterday at the yearly TV-Festival in Copenhagen.

... and Sean MacAllister is in Riga present to meet the audience with his "A Syrian Love Story" on September 3. To quote the review on this site: "...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. His presence simply changed their lives..."

Finally Hubert Sauper's "We Come as Friends" is screened - a film with a lot of praising words attached.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Iraqi Homeland Wins DocAlliance Award

Written 14-08-2015 14:36:45 by Tue Steen Müller

CopyPaste of press release from DocAlliance and when I have the hours (close to 6 hours is the two-part documentary) there will be a review of the film on this site:

Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) by Abbas Fahdel has won the Doc Alliance Selection Award organised by an alliance of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Director Fahdel received the award last weekend at the Locarno film festival.

Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) by Abbas Fahdel has won the Doc Alliance Selection Award. The winning film is composed of two parts – the first was shot before the US army’s invasion of Iraq while the second part captures the post-war events – providing an essential report on the turning point in the country’s development. Instead of shorthand news features on the events in Iraq, it brings an impressive portrayal of life in the country. Director Fahdel received the award at the Locarno film festival.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Films Announced for Baltic Sea Docs Riga

Written 14-08-2015 13:24:07 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s a tradition that there are films screenings to accompany the professional training and pitching workshop of the Baltic Sea Docs. On FB the programme was anounced yesterday, introduced in the following way:

The 19th edition of the Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries will take place in Riga, Latvia, September 2 – 6, 2015! Including a documentary film program "TO BE or TO BE" for the general public and professionals in Rīga and regional centres - Cēsis, Jēkabpils, Liepāja, Rēzekne, Roja, Valmiera and Ventspils.

The Danish “Ekstra Bladet – uden for citat” by Mikala Krogh (English title: The New Room-Off the Record) from 2014 is one the films, highly praised (in Danish) on this site. The beautiful Mexican film “All of Me” (Photo) by Arturo González Villaseñor (2014) is a human story about mothers/women helping migrants with food, when they pass by in thre train hoping to enter the US. Chuck Norris vs Communism by Romanian Ilinca Calugareanu is a film that has been on its way for years, succeeded to get to Sundance and win the Grand Jury Prize. I have seen material a couple of times and am truly looking forward to see the final result.

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Ulla Boje Rasmussen: Western Outposts

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

Subtitle: ”Faroese Cinematic Narratives”, that I enjoyed the great pleasure to be with the whole (yester)day. True pleasure indeed and admiration for the work of Ulla Boje Rasmusen and Andreas Fischer-Hansen to have done the fundraising to have a new digitized version made of the two documentary classics ”1700 Metres from the Future” (1990) and ”The Light on Mykines Island” (1992) in several languages (subtitles), with an epilogue short film ”Not on a Friday” (2015) and a fine booklet ”on cultural and social aspects of Faroese life”. A dvd box of rich content, in other words.

These two films have an outstanding position in newer Danish documentary history, not because of their high informational and cultural value introducing the ”Western Outposts”, the Faroe Islands, but because of their quality as Documentary Films. Also today, 25 years after they were made.

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Categories: DVD, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

James Erskine: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist

Written 09-08-2015 09:16:18 by Tue Steen Müller

I watched some of the mountain stages at the Tour de France this year, they were boring as nobody really tried anything. Froome was in total control. It was not like that when Marco Pantani was riding, when he reached the top of Alpe d’Huez, when he – ”Il Pirata” – said goodbye to the rest of the cyclists and rode on his own in his very special style, becoming the darling of not only fans from his own country but of all who loved Tour de France and Giro d’Italia and the stars of the show.

These magnificent performances are all well documented in this film that also has quite many interviews with Pantani (1970-2004) himself, with family, with Greg Lemond and Bradley Wiggins, former winners of the Tour, and others close to him. All to build the story of a great talent 10 years after his death, the man who became ”an instrument of a sporting system”, it is being said, part of an unhealthy culture.

The film digs into the scandals of the Festina Team and all that followed doping-wise, repeats again and again close-ups of needles, injections, blood and have reconstructed scenes of a doctor entering the door to Pantani’s hotel room to take those tests, that kicked him out of the Giro d'Italia in 1999, the year after he had won both this race and the Tour de France, still the only one to have done that.

This constant noisy hunt for effect and sensation ruins the film totally, cliché after cliché are presented, stupid split screens, are brought to the viewer with no respect for the  legend, who died so tragically.

I watched the film on Netflix.

UK, 2014, 94 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sean McAllister: A Syrian Love Story

Written 08-08-2015 10:29:16 by Tue Steen Müller

He is on his own, McAllister, alone with his camera, which is constantly moving to be able to catch what is going on. I have to confess that this shaky style with little aesthetic consideration irritated me in the beginning as did the director’s many words of introduction to make us (Western) viewers understand what to expect.

Having said so, 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. His presence simply changed their lives: McAllister was caught by the regime’s people in 2011, he was put in prison for five days, and had his camera and tapes confiscated. For that reason Amer and Raghda and their four kids had to flee to Lebanon, not to be taken…

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Catarina Mouráo: The Wolf’s Lair

Written 07-08-2015 16:21:29 by Tue Steen Müller

Portuguese film director Catarina Mouráo pitched the film as a project back in Prague March 2013 at the Archidoc workshop with a brilliant trailer. I was there to moderate the session. I knew Catarina from workshops in Lisbon, she was one of the founders of the Apordoc documentary association and I had watched several of her films (among them ”The Lady from Chandor” from 1999) that always had a fine sense of aesthetics, helped by the unique cinematographer Joáo Ribeiro.

The project started off from these lines from the Apordoc catalogue: ”In the 1950’es my grandfather was committed to a psychiatric hospital, my uncle became a prisoner, and my mother aged 11 was sent to a boarding school... Based on the background of Salazar’s dictatorship a true drama unfolds in a split family. Mouráo wants to ”unravel secrets and mysteries” 38 years after the 1974 revolution.” The film, I wrote back then, if it can keep the level of the teaser, has definitely a theatrical/festival potential. I saw it this morning and it keeps its promise.

Take a look at the photo – the director caressing a pipe pouche, a

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ron Mann: Altman

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

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

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

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

USA, 2014, 95 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Flaherty NYC Season at Anthology Film Archives

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Steve James: Life Itself

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Cinemateket August-September 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to Me Marlon/ Reviews

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

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

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

Dennis Harvey·Variety

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

Manohla Dargis·New York Times

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Wiseman, Janis Joplin, Helmut Berger

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Michael Moore, Marlon Brando, Orhan Pamuk

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH


Written 28-07-2015 16:44:55 by Tue Steen Müller

I have before on this site nominated my colleague at DocsBarcelona Joan Gonzalez as a true documentary pioneer – and he is unstoppable making quality documentaries be seen in Latin America, where he has been since June 28, doing a workshop in Valparaiso Chile, planning to build a festival there, and now he is in Medellin for the DocsBarcelona+Medellin.

A mail came in: He wants to share two news with me:

“First. We have today the Colombian premiere of Life is Sacred, directed by Andreas Dalsgaard, with the protagonist Antanas Mockus in the cinema.

Second. I have the numbers of the people attending the festival  the first 3 days. The festival runs 8 days. The average of people per screening is... 173 people. No mistake. 173!!!!

I think that it will be impossible to remain this numbers until the end of the festival but... We are very very happy!”

… as you can see on the photo. Joan Gonzalez is at the background, the boss of the festival is Juan, first row middle.

The festival, this is the third edition;  runs until July 30 with 22 long international documentaries, 12 national short films, invited directors, master classes and a marathon of interactive documentaries.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Peter Bogdanovich Retrospective

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

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

Here is - in Danish - the presentation by Cinemateket:

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Se Merry Doyle: John Ford: Dreaming The Quiet Man

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

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

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

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

Available on dvd and blueray

Ireland, 2010, 90 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Wojciech Staron: Brothers

Written 24-07-2015 19:10:24 by Tue Steen Müller

This is a sneak preview review of a film that has its premiere beginning af August at the Locarno Film Festival written by an admirer of Polish cinematographer and director Wojciech Staron, an admirer who happily once more (after the films Siberian Lesson and Argentinian Lesson) is totally seduced. Staron proves to me again to be one of few European documentary poets, who believes in the power of the image and sequences without verbal explanation, he dares long scenes, he is a master in composition, he is a Filmmaker who paints with his camera, a visual artist...

… as one of the brothers, Alfons Kulakowski, who is a skilled painter. Alfons is the little brother, Mieczyslaw is some years older. They are both in their 90’es. Alfons is fit, Mieczyslaw is

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 4

Written 23-07-2015 20:27:17 by Tue Steen Müller

… and there are tributes to film and film history at the Dokufest in Prizren. The film star on the photo needs no further introduction, ”Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words”, a film that premiered at the Cannes festival this year, made by Stig Björkman, film critic and director, editor of the film magazine Chaplin 1964-72, which was one of my key tools in my film education. Björkman has written books and made films on Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen and Lars von Trier. About the Ingrid Bergman film:

” Accessing Ingrid Bergman’s diaries and her own private footage, this film gives an inside perspective of one of our most distinguished actors and a woman who always chose her own path. Released in 2015, it marks the centenary of her birth.”

Another pearl in the section ”Films on Film” is ”Cinema: A Public Affair” by Tatiana Brandrup – the description is very appealing:

” A man in Moscow fights for his vision of cinema; he sees it as a way towards a better society. A cinematic journey through the world of Naum Kleiman, one of Russia's most significant intellectuals alive today. A documentary collage, which combines excerpts from film classics and interviews with a portrait of contemporary Moscow.”

And there are films on Bertolucci, John Ford (of course the one made by Peter Bogdanovich), Raoul Walsh. I watched the two last mentioned Amdocs in Palm Springs – entertaining and informative pieces of film history.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

”Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 6

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 3

Written 22-07-2015 12:11:50 by Tue Steen Müller







Teddy Grouya, festival leader of Amdocs, the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs, teamed up with Dokufest leader Veton Nurkollari and voilá a collaboration exists, where ”Amdocs at Dokufest” is one of the 15 interesting special programmes at the upcoming (starts August 8) festival in Prizren. With ”Dokufest at Amdocs” to be made in Palm Springs next year.

Amdocs presents 8 films in Prizren, let me put some words on the three that I saw in Palm Springs: Khinmay Lwin van der Mee’s ”Nigga Theory”, 21 mins. long about Jody David Armour (photo), who is a university professor, a writer and activist, a charismatic man, who talks so well and precise about the good black man and the bad black man judged very often by their looks. When I looked like Obama everyone accepted me, now with my Afro-American look, I sense suspicion around me, he says.

Another one to be warmly recommended is Esther Julie-Anne’s ”Out of Love”, about the father of the director, who is trying to find out why he married and divorced 5 times – about which I wrote back in March in Palm Springs: ”It is not easy to make a personal film – when does the private become interesting and thought-provoking for the rest of us? It needs cinematic skills and a good story and strong characters. This film covers all three elements.”

And the Hussin Brothers (Noah and Timothy) ”America Recycled”, an impressive film about another America, a road movie but even if ” It’s not the first time we are taken on the road in America and of course you think of Jack Kerouac and the Route 66 films. But it must be the first time that we are invited to experience a bicycle road movie!”

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 2

Written 21-07-2015 18:43:03 by Tue Steen Müller

Yesterday the Dokufest festival in Prizren, Kosovo announced its programme for the festival that runs August 8-16. It is inviting and extremely well edited and both timely in its connection to the world we live in with MIGRATION as main theme and to the art of documentaries and short films. We have already written about the Albert Maysles retrospective and the music documentary selection by Pamela Cohn - now it's all there...The press release gives a fine overview, we will come back with elements of the slate as the festival calls it. So here it is in a full version:  

Prizren, 20 July 2015 – DokuFest announced today its full slate of films for the 2015 festival, which runs from August 8 – 16 in the city of Prizren, Kosovo. Culled from a record number of over 3.000 submissions, festival will showcase a fine selection of 228 films from 43 countries across 6 competitive sections and more than a dozen specially curated programs.

Migration is central theme of the festival this year and its global, as

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance invites to Student Film Summer

Written 17-07-2015 20:35:22 by Tue Steen Müller

Here is the press release of the DocAlliance in its (almost) full length – clicking the links will bring you to more information:

“Join us at our online trip towards discovering young film talents! What is contemporary documentary like according to the students of prestigious film schools around the world? What themes, genres and images are popular with the youngest generation of documentary filmmakers? You have the whole summer to search for, compare and enjoy the most interesting works by the future stars of film festivals!

Become members of the exclusive FIDCampus in the week from July 13 to 19! Watch films by students who received the support and professional training of the French Doc Alliance festival FID Marseille. Over 15 films of various genres will give you insight into the world of promising filmmakers from France as well as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon.

Enter two creative courses taught at the Portuguese art school Escola Superior de Artes e Design de Caldas da Rainha. See how the local film students coped with the assignment of City Places introducing the places where they live and study and what an original film essay is like in their rendition. Sit down at your online desks from July 20 to August 2!

How does the genre of short documentary do among film students? It does quite well at the Film and TV School of University of Chile! See for yourselves in the week from August 3 to 9 and extend the map of your summer student film trips with Latin America. Be inspired by the original film ideas born in the very centre of the capital Santiago de Chile!

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Look of Silence Reviewed in NYTimes

Written 17-07-2015 20:21:24 by Tue Steen Müller

… because it ”opens” (as the Americans say) ”over there”, today friday, another well deserved distribution triumph for (as the Americans write) Mr. Oppenheimer and his Danish produced documentary. You should read the whole review by A.O. Scott, here is a paragraph that includes such a precise reflection on the tone of the film:

The mood of “The Look of Silence” is tranquil. Its settings — modest houses and sun-dappled gardens, far from the urban bustle of “The Act of Killing” — are peaceful, and Mr. Rukun is a quiet man, contemplating his family’s tragedy more in sorrow than in anger. But this atmosphere has the effect of making the violence at the film’s heart all the more shocking. Movies have helped make even extreme brutality seem banal (that was part of the message of “The Act of Killing”), but hearing a simple, factual account of an atrocity can be almost unbearable…

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mo-Young Jin: My Love, Don’t Cross that River

Written 17-07-2015 15:13:28 by Tue Steen Müller

In thematic terms a follow-up on the Armenian ”One, Two, Three”, this Korean documentary, shot over a period of 15 months, documents what the Armenian old people are missing and looking for: Love.

This is what the couple in the beautifully shot documentary has, Love, in its purest form, still alive after 76 years of marriage, yes seventy-six years of marriage! They live in the countryside in pretty landscape surroundings, they survive harsh winters, they take time to do snow ball throwing, they walk to the market in the village, always dressed up in traditional clothes that are as colourful as their children’s clothes are grey and boring and ”civilised” – suits etc. They eat together, she nurses him all the way through when he gets weaker. Yes, the time for them to leave this world is getting closer.

He is in his late 90’es, she is around 10 years younger, and she is the one doing the talking with his hearing slowly disappearing. It is amazing how close the director has been able to come to his protagonists. I thought first that he was a relative – an outsider can not get that close, I thought – but in an interview with the director in connection with the Canadian Hot Docs festival, he told how and why he decided to do it all by himself and that he looked upon the film as a message to all of us, ”be kind to each other”. He did so with respect for the old couple and an eye for beauty.

The film, that got the Audience Award at the recent Moscow International Film Festival, sold more than 4 million tickets in cinemas in its home country!

Korea, 2014, 86 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

7 Documentaries for Locarno

Written 16-07-2015 09:17:46 by Tue Steen Müller

7 films are selected to be screened at Festival del Film Locarno in the Semaine de la Critique that takes place August 7-14. They are world or international premieres. I know about three of them, have watched two and am very happy for the choice of “Lampedusa in Winter”, directed by Jakob Brossmann with former Zelig Film School student Cornelia Märki as editor. She sent me the film a couple of months ago to have my opinion and I answered “I have no objections, I think this is an important film to get out now, it is very well put together, an impressive piece of observational documentary filmmaking that stays away from dramatizing but IS dramatic anyway - the strike of fishermen, the refugees, the humanistic Paola, the same for the mayor… good rhythm…” yes, it is indeed a very timely film that for sure will travel on from Locarno to other festival destinations.

Otherwise Poland is again taking the lead with 3 selected films.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Arman Yeritsyan: One Two Three

Written 15-07-2015 09:59:17 by Tue Steen Müller

Mikhail is 80 years old, he has never been married, he has no children and he lives in a small appartment full of clothes in bags and whatever he has collected, making it impossible for him to move around. He has to crawl to reach his bed and his kitchen table has ”been emprisoned since the 1990’es”. He is, however, part of the dancing and singing choir ”The Chosen Ones”, where he performs with full energy together with Aida (74), Hovsep (74), Mariam (58), Martik (61) and several others. They perform together on stage, on television, even in the streets. And it helps them to stay alive.

Mikhail is the one in the middle with his appartment liberation story as the red thread. The film paints a warm and generous portrait of this lovely old man, who is still very much connected to his mother, shown in some poetic moments where he, partly hidden by a mountain of bags, sings to her and visits her grave.

Aida considers the choir as a family, hairy Hovsep would so much want to have a woman by his side (at the end it is suggested that the two of them could get together…) and the atmosphere is constantly full of joy when they practice their ”One Two Three”. But of course there is the other side of the coin – getting old means getting defects and the film does not hide that as it does not hide the sadness of Anahit, who has lost 8 children (!) or the true tristesse of Mariam, afraid of the opposite sex, but at the next moment she is a smiling dancing queen to an old Elvis Presley song.  

It’s been a difficult film to make with so many characters, I have seen several cuts, but with this final version the wonderful people of Bars Media (Yulia, Inna, Vardan… and director Arman) has found a balanced narrative solution that works with ”the freedom struggle” of Mikhail in the foreground of an extraordinary warm ”message” film to all of us: Sing and Dance! Will do my best, writes this 67 year old blogger!  

Armenia, 2015, 75 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Riga Welcomes Documentary Projects

Written 13-07-2015 17:41:19 by Tue Steen Müller

… for the 19th time under the headline Baltic Sea Docs (previously Forum), a development workshop and pitching forum for 25 projects from 13 countries, organized by the National Film Centre of Latvia with the two women on the photo, Zanda Dudina and Lelda Ozola, as perfect hosts and organizers… I can say so as one of the tutors during all the years, and I will be there again September 2-6.

And that is also the reason, why I can say that the selection done has given a fine variety of experienced filmmakers and producers and newcomers, including names which have been on this site several times.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pärnu Film Festival 2015/ Awards

Written 13-07-2015 10:02:19 by Tue Steen Müller

Take a look at the photo – it’s a festival award, the main one at the Pärnu Film Festival, characteristic for the originality with which Mark Soosaar runs his festival, this one being the 29th.

And the winner was – as in so many festivals during the last year – Hanna Polak’s “Something Better to Come”. On her FB site Polak writes: “This is the amazing award we got last night from Pärnu Film Festival: The Estonian People’s Award, voted by the audience of Estonian TV. This beautiful piece of art is made by talented Christi Kütt
a, student of a beautiful Artist Anu Raud.”

In the section for the best Estonian documentaries two films were awarded: “Christ Lives in Siberia” by Arbo Tammiksaar and Jaak Kilmi and “How I saved Africa” by Kullar Vilmne. I have seen both and have a lot of heart for the latter that has this overall content: “Siisi is an active and attractive young woman who'd have enough energy to send Estonia's spacecraft to Mars. But instead, the urge to make the world a better place sends Siisi far away to Uganda, where she plans to open a café with the help of donators to offer work to the local young handicapped people…” It’s funny and warm and gets close to both the main character and some of the people who work in the café.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

”Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 5

Written 13-07-2015 09:13:19 by Tue Steen Müller

Finally an Israeli competent, reflective review of the film by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko, written by Nirit Anderman in  Haaretz yesterday July 12th. The introduction goes like this:

“If you hoped to find out why a married mother of four fell in love with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, the film 'Beyond the Fear' will not leave you any wiser. But the controversial documentary about Amir, his wife and son, has other lessons…”

The extensive review (read it all) has this paragraph that for me is spot on: “The important thing that this film does manage to do, however, and the reason the title the filmmakers chose is successful is this: It reflects and emphasizes the extent to which the public’s attitude toward Amir and Trimbobler is colored by a prism of hatred and fear, and the extent to which this prism has made the discussion shallow. Nearly 20 years after the despicable murder Amir committed, the film helps viewers see how the newspaper headlines relate to him and his wife in demonic terms and how politicians and citizens propose denying them basic rights. This is also what was done in recent weeks by Miri Regev, opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog and former president Shimon Peres, who wanted to shelve the film and thereby preserve the demonic image of Amir and Trimbobler instead of grappling with the fact that they are flesh and blood people who also have softer and gentler sides…”

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Golden Apricot 2015

Written 12-07-2015 10:58:47 by Tue Steen Müller

The film festival in Yerevan that starts today and runs until the 19th is a true red-carpet festival with film stars, glorious receptions, tributes to local hero Charles Azanavour – but also with a fine selection of documentaries to take part in a competition.

Lithuanian Giedre Zickyté is there with wonderful ”Master and Tatyana” – the master being the phenomenon Vitas Luckus – a clip from my review: ”the film is first of all a love story told primarily through the photos of Vitas and Tatyana, a love story that is so obvious, when you watch how he composes the portraits of Tatyana, how the camera is constantly caressing the beautiful woman, with or without clothes. Her face is so full of expressions and you can see that he has caught her in true observational documentarian style as well as in arranged situations…”

Alexander Nanau’s ”Toto and His Sisters” is there, it has had a well-deserved international festival career, two films touch upon Syria, British Sean McAllister’s recently awarded ”A Syrian Love Story” and the masterpiece ”Sivered Water, Syria Self-Portrait” by Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan. As well as Viestur Kairiss Latvian ”Pelican in the Desert” that had deserved a much better international life than it has had.

However, what I first and foremost look forward to watch is the

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

“Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 4

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docu Talents from the East 2015

Written 10-07-2015 10:27:19 by Tue Steen Müller

… is a popular event within the Karlovy Vary festival with the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival as organiser. Even if you are not there the website (link below) gives you good news about what kind of quality films you can expect to premiere this year and in 2016.

12 projects were presented from Russia/Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Serbia, Romania.

Let me just mention two of the projects that I have met before:

Vitaly Mansky’s ”Close Relations”, where the director ”explores Ukrainian-Russian relations through the eyes of his closest relatives: his mother Victoria, his aunts and their families in Lvov, Odessa, Crimea and Donetsk. Although they are closely related, these relatives represent very different walks of life and perceive the conflict in very different ways. This unique personal approach provides the viewers with the opportunity to gain a profound understanding of the roots of the Ukrainian-Russian crisis.”

And Salomé Jashi’s “The Station”: “Dariko is a sole journalist and a staple of Jikha TV – a two-man broadcasting station based in a small town. She travels around the town in search of news, quietly unveiling the aspirations of the locals. The film is a mosaic, made of various components, which are united by the TV and the circumstances related to being on the stage. The TV station is now facing major challenge. It has to switch to digital broadcasting. With old equipment and scarce income, the station might be counting its last days. It might also be the last chance for the locals to appear on the TV screen before nationwide broadcasters take over.”

On the photo Salomé Jashi in pitch action in Karlovy Vary together with her German production partner Urte Fink.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015

Written 10-07-2015 09:47:38 by Tue Steen Müller

The Kosovo festival that runs from August 8-16 has already announced that it will have a Tribute to Albert Maysles, who died earlier this year – as says artistic director of the festival Veton Nurkollari about Maysles (photo), “Curious and generous, a teacher and mentor, a filmmaker that revolutionized non-fiction storytelling and inspired generations of filmmakers”.

And yesterday the content of the section “Sound of My Soul”, music films, was published. It is Pamela Cohn who puts that together, read a bit of her fine introduction text:

We are all familiar, by now, with the typical music documentary – a fairly reliable recipe of the makings of a band or a musician, and how they/he/she came from humble beginnings to rise to superstardom – and then, usually, how they/he/she crashed and burned. Or, at the very least, faded back into the obscurity from whence they/he/she once came. Add some talking head interviews from colleagues, friends and family, some archival bits, some concert/recording studio/home movie bits, and stir.

This year’s music program – now a long-standing tradition at DokuFest – presents something a bit different. Well, quite a bit different. A mix of documentary, essay, fiction, and experimental feature and short work from an international cast of artists and filmmakers…

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pärnu Film Festival 29th Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Craig Tanner: FIFA’s White Elephants

Written 08-07-2015 12:28:28 by Tue Steen Müller

… it also has the title ”The March of the White Elephants” written on the screen… is a well made tv-journalistic documentary about the incredible money sucking world football organisation FIFA that hopefully now will be re-born with a new structure and other leaders than Sepp Blatter and his gang.

The film, however, just completed, and sent to us by New York company Cargo Film & Releasing, does not have its focus on the corruption scandals of today, they are mentioned at the end as texts on the screen (the photo is from the arrest of one of the FIFA executives) – the film is a fine documentation of the way Brazil and its politicians played the game of FIFA, building new stadiums for public money that could have/ should have been spent to improve the living conditions of the poor people in the country. The stadiums were (many of them at least) built in areas of the huge country where the football culture is not that developed, stadiums that now stand empty and/or are being used for other non-football purposes.

The film is set up in the classical tv-journalistic way: Dilma Rousseff welcomes the world to Brazil and the best ever World Cup to be performed – cut to a favela next to a stadium in Sao

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Residence Fund for Filmmakers from Arab countries

Written 07-07-2015 09:48:23 by Tue Steen Müller

Got this email from Syrian Diana el Jeiroudi, now based in Berlin. An excellent offer that I pass on with pleasure: I (Diana) hope you can forward this to documentary filmmakers, video activists and artists who you know are working on interesting socio-political documentary films in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan and beyond: 

The RESIDENCY FUND is aimed at supporting filmmakers from the Arab countries to finalize the editing of their documentary films that relays on the use and contextualisation of archival footage (including citizen journalists videos and activists videos, personal archive, national archive .. etc).  

The RESIDENCY FUND is made to host filmmakers teams (director(s)/editor(s)) to edit their films to completion over a period of 3-12 weeks.  As the RESIDENCY FUND opens 4 cycles a year, applicants are able to choose a cycle of four that best matches their editing schedule. 

Call for application is now open. Deadline for submitting complete applications is 15th of July 2015. 

Complete information about conditions, regulations, FAQs, procedures and the application forms are available on the Association's website in Arabic and in English.

We wish you to extend this announcement to all interested filmmakers from around the Arab Countries and also include the news on your website, publications or newsletters.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Morgan Neville: 20 Feet from Stardom

Written 07-07-2015 09:03:48 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s on Dokumania (Danish DR’s prime time slot for documentaries) tonight and it is definitely worth seeing, the Oscar 2013 winner – the year where many of us had hoped for ”The Act of Killing” - but the well crafted entertaining film ”with wonderful music and women, based on interviews with them and people like Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Betty Midler. A classic tv language film” took the prize.

The synopsis: Background singers heard on many of the 20th century's greatest songs have made a crucial contribution to the world of pop music while remaining unknown to listeners. The singers take center stage for an in-depth look at their role as supporting figures in the complex process involved in creating the finished recordings.   

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

To Reach the Audience…

Written 03-07-2015 09:49:32 by Tue Steen Müller

Normally we do not not advertise, but rules are there to be broken…

It’s last chance today if you want to take part in the EDN workshop in Turin called Outreach and Distribution – ”a three-day workshop where producers and directors shape the strategies for the release of their next documentary, including the industry launch and getting the film out to a general audience. The format combines general talks by outreach experts with hands on work with shaping a concrete plan for each of the six (maximum) selected documentary projects.”

It takes place end of September and the reason I want to promote it has three legs: 1) We need to find new ways to reach the audience, especially for films which fall outside the mainstream.

The two main tutors are 2) Ove Rishøj Jensen who stood behind the launch of the two Swedish documentaries “Harbour of Hope” and “Every Face has a Name” (photo), directed by Magnus Gertten and 3) Ben Kempas who stood behind the launch of the Scottish “I am Breathing” by Emma Davie.

Very strong films that reached/reaches the audience because of well-thought and performed serious campaigns far away from “normal” loud-shouting, classical marketing.

Go for it!

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH Movies Update

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

“Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 3

Written 02-07-2015 11:35:58 by Tue Steen Müller

Still waiting for Israeli film critics having watched and evaluated the film by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko – that is to be screened in Jerusalem July 8, the day before the Jerusalem Film Festival officially starts but still as part of the documentary competition – here is a clip from a competent review from Hollywood Reporter, read the whole, link below:

“…the filmmakers are less concerned with political context than with Tremblover, an Orthodox Jew and Russian émigré to Israel who fell in love with Amir, fought for years to marry him in prison, and is now mother to his young son. Though muddled and elusive at times, Beyond the Fear is an absorbing meditation on the emotional and psychological aftershocks of violent political events. With Mideast tensions constantly in the news, further festival play seems guaranteed, possibly leading to niche distribution and small-screen interest…”

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

AfriDocs July Programme

Written 01-07-2015 17:50:16 by Tue Steen Müller

A newsletter arrived presenting an impressive selection of films to be broadcast in Africa…

A year ago we wrote about the Afridocs initiative taken by the Steps foundation in Cape Town, which is run by Don Edkins, who initiated Steps for the Future and was involved in the global series ”Why Democracy” and ”Why Poverty”. Afridocs is supported by the Bertha Foundation and ED, which is (quote from the website, link below) ”Africa’s newest information and knowledge portal. Immediate and interactive, it seeks to engage and inspire…

To refresh your memory: ”AfriDocs is the name of a broadcast initiative that has a focus on “The best documentaries made in Africa and the first documentary strand across Sub-Saharan Africa... real stories weekly. Primetime.” Through the channels

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Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

MIFF 2015 The Winners

Written 29-06-2015 15:17:03 by Tue Steen Müller

The 37th edition of the Moscow International Film Festival ended two days ago and the winner in the documentary competition was American “Cartel Land” by Matthew Heinemann.

According to the festival’s main communicator, filmmaker and festival programmer, Georgy Molodtsov: “Overall, with 19 films (7 in competition and 12 out of competition in the Free Thought section) we collected 4338 votes. Together with press screenings we've counted around 5500-5750 viewers for documentaries only. 
It was a great festival, great films and, of course, great audience...”.

Talking about the votes, enthusiastic Molodtsov refers to the decision on who should have the audience award. I am sure he won’t protest that I quote from his FB page:

When I saw tears on the faces of the most cynical documentary filmmakers after the screening of this film, I hoped that it would win. Yesterday I've been told, that in the third screening of the film in a 90 seats screening hall of Documentary Film Center 119 votes were collected and some people just weren't able to get to the screening even on stairs…

The film in question, winner of the audience award, is “My Love, Don’t Cross That River” (photo) from Korean Mo-Young Jin that got 4.81 out of 5 points from the audience, whereas “Racing Extinction” by American Louie Psihoyos was next with 4.77 out of 5, Joshua Oppenheimer got 4,69 for “The Look of Silence” and Laura Poitras 4,61 for “Citizenfour”. 

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

”Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 2

Written 28-06-2015 16:31:21 by Tue Steen Müller

Years ago, when in Israel as a tutor for the documentary CoPro event organised by Orna Yarmut, I visited the Jerusalem Cinematheque. I was there with Herz Frank, whose favourite cinema of his home town it was. Herz was proud that 35mm prints of his films were in the prestigious collection. We met the charismatic founder and leader of the Cinematheque Lia van Leer, who died 90 years old this year, always praised as a true supporter of the art of film. She talked warmly about Herz Frank and his films.

Her name has come up in connection with the controversy around the film of Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko, ”Beyond the Fear”, that has been selected for the upcoming Jerusalem Film Festival, July 9-19. According to i24News (link below) the Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev has threatened to withdraw funding for the festival if the film is screened at the festival, making film critic Gidi Orsher write on his FB page: "Had Lia van Leer still been with us, she'd tell Regev where to go…” and many have suggested that filmmakers with films at the festival withdraw their films.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Polemics

Robert Frank

Written 26-06-2015 19:09:12 by Sara Thelle

Thank you to Cinemateket in Copenhagen who, in collaboration with the Copenhagen Photo Festival and Danish writer, filmmaker and beat expert Lars Movin, organised the Robert Frank program here in June. And thank you to Lars Movin for sharing his knowledge and his personal anecdotes with us when introducing the films. This was the first big Robert Frank retrospective and also the first official screening of the legendary Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues (1972) on Danish ground. 15 of Robert Frank’s films and 3 about him.

I was in for a small marathon last Saturday. First the documentary Leaving Home, Coming Home – A Portrait of Robert Frank (2005) by Gerald Fox, a rare intimate portrait, since Robert Frank has never been keen to being filmed or interviewed. Then the feature-length hybrid film Me and My Brother (1968) and last, a collection of his later short films The Present (1996), I Remember (1998), Paper Route (2002), True Story (2004/2008) and Fernando (2008).

Me and My Brother was a slap in my face. It opens up with a very disturbing scene that takes you right to the bottom of a deep and complex matter. Soon it is turned into a film within the film and becomes a sort of meta-reflection and investigation into the questions: how do you film other people, how do you use others in your art, how do you use yourself, what do you make money from, how does it feel to be filmed, what does it do to you, when are you yourself and when are you acting. It is a hybrid film, mixing real life with staged acting, colour with black & white, at times the characters are “played” by themselves and at other moments by actors.

Originally, Frank was set out to make a film adapting Allen Ginsberg’s poem Kaddish, written about his mentally ill mother. But over time, the project becomes a film about Ginsberg’s partner Peter Orlovsky’s brother Julius, who after having spent 15 years in a psychiatric hospital is let out and left in care of his brother. So the setting is Julius, a catatonic schizophrenic, living with Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsburg. The film is about how to live with and among mental illness, about how the brother Peter deals with it, and in this way – maybe – it becomes indirectly an adaption of Ginsberg’s poem. And at the same time it is a film about Frank’s doubts about filming this.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Cinema, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Klucis DVD – a Gift to Film and Art Lovers

Written 26-06-2015 14:39:54 by Tue Steen Müller

It was a privilege to follow the development and production of Peteris Krilovs ”Gustavs Klucis: The Deconstruction of an Artist”. And it was a privilege to see how the producer of the film Uldis Cekulis fought for the film to have the necessary financing to be completed. And to be able to see the end result live up to the high ambitions. The film had its premiere in Riga in May 2008 and now – 7 years later - it has a new premiere as a very inviting 2 dvd set, a collector’s edition it is called, including a booklet, well it is all there for you to enjoy, experience and learn from!

The visual part first: The 90 minutes version is there in English vo and subtitles, as are the Latvian vo with subtitles and the Russian vo with subtitles. Plus a 90 minutes version with Peteris Krilovs and editor Julie Vinten in conversation with me, in the best English we know! It was the first time we did that, commenting on what you see in this and that sequence, hope it works! And then on the second dvd

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Categories: DVD, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Karlovy Vary Int. FF has a Strong Doc Section

Written 22-06-2015 21:23:42 by Tue Steen Müller

Although first and foremost a festival for fiction films with red carpets and presence of stars (this year includes Harvey Keitel and Richard Gere), the festival in spa city Karlovy Vary (in German times Karlsbad) that celebrates its 50th edition (Happy AnniVARYsary) comes up with new films by names like Helena Třeštíková (photo), another long-term social documentary by the Czech master.

Also you will find a new film by super-productive Mark Cousins, it is called ”I am Belfast” and has this description from the festival website: “I met a woman. She said that she is Belfast, the city in Northern Ireland where I grew up. The woman said that she’s as old as the city,” states Mark Cousins at the beginning of his meditative dialogue with the personification of Belfast. This cinematic essay abandons the parameters of classic documentary language, asking us to perceive the film as a magical-realist mix of reality, dreams, myths, and local storytelling.”

The Catalan ”Game Over”, directed by Alba Sotorra, a film that got the New Talent Award at the the recent DocsBarcelona is also in the programme, as is the Cinema du Réel winner of this year, Ukranian ”The Living Fire” by Ostap Kostyuk.

And to finish with national glasses – Danish Jon Bang Carlsen presents his playful ”Cats in Riga” (part of the series of Riga-films produced recently)… and out of competition is Asif Kapadia’s ”Amy” (Winehouse) that has received amazing reviews.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Warm Festival 2015 Sarajevo

Written 22-06-2015 15:26:14 by Sara Thelle

The second edition of the Warm Festival, (28th June-4th July), a festival on contemporary conflicts with a strong focus on film and photography, will take place in Sarajevo next week. Seven days of screenings, exhibitions, conferences and talks, gathering journalists, filmmakers, photographers, writers, historians, ngo’s, artists and researchers.

Amongst the subjects treated this year are “Memory and War Commemoration into question”, “How do we visit Museums?", New Tools for new Perspectives of Research and Understanding”, “Fact-checking”, “New Initiatives in Photojournalism”, “Human Rights Watch” and “The Forensic Turn”, discussing the complex issues of the ethics of representation in war photography. There will be photo exhibitions about Maydan, Mass media and Vietnam, the Arab spring, the Central African Republic, migration, and stories and portraits of women survivors of rape.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Beyond the Fear in Jerusalem

Written 18-06-2015 16:44:42 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Israeli filmmakers call to snub Jerusalem festival after docu on Rabin's assassin pulled | i24news. Published June 17th 2015:

Israeli filmmakers are understood to be considering withdrawing en masse from participation in the Jerusalem Film Festival, following its organizers decision to comply with the demand of Culture Minister Miri Regev to nix the documentary film "Beyond the Fear" about Yigal Amir, the murderer of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, local media reported.

The hawkish Regev, who has generated widespread controversy in recent days over her pronouncements about funding culture and about Israeli-Arab theaters, said the festival would be held without support or funds from the government if the film was shown. Organizers agreed to have a special screening a few days prior to the festival. But "Beyond the Fear" will still take part in the festival's official competition, Ynet reported… Read more: 

and more:,7340,L-4669125,00.html

A comment by the producer of ” Beyond the Fear” Guntis Trekteris and his team will be published tomorrow.  

And latest:

Director Avi Mograbi ("Avenge but One of My Two Eyes", "Happy Holiday Mr. Mograbi") wrote: "I promise to not submit my next movie to the Jerusalem Film Festival. A management that does not fearlessly defend its content selection, even if it means resigning – I have no reason to believe that next time they won't compromise in advance. Nor do I know that they will defend my movie if need be.",7340,L-4670080,00.html

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tarkovsky Award to Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko

Written 15-06-2015 17:22:28 by Tue Steen Müller

To receive an award at a festival that carries the name of Andrey Tarkovsky… Ego Media’s Guntis Trekteris proudly announces that

““Beyond The Fear” by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko (photo of the two) got Documentary Grand Prix in Andrey Tarkovsky International Film Festival "Zerkalo" (Mirror). Congratulations to director Maria Kravchenko, our co-producer Vitaly Mansky and the team!”

And to Trekteris himself, indeed, I can add.

The synopsis of the film: Decisions made by the protagonists of the film change their life irreversibly. Yigal Amir at the age of 26 assassins the Israeli Prime Minister. He is sentenced to life imprisonment and becomes the most hated criminal of the state. Larisa, an émigré from Russia, a mother of four, divorces her husband to marry the assassin and give birth to his son. In the course of many years the authors of the film are trying to understand this complicated story until one of them – Herz Frank – does not live to see his film finished, remaining on the threshold of the eternal secret of life, death and love…

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Hazem Alhamwi: From My Syrian Room

Written 15-06-2015 16:32:39 by Sevara Pan

The Season of Destruction

His thick black hair, trimmed at the front and sides, drew attention to the solemnity of his eyes. Age had not touched his temples, yet his face was marked by the deeply drawn lines, characteristic of a poet born in the wrong decade. His heavy pouches, tokens of the habitual night visitors, harbored the reserves of unshed tears. Sitting next to his old friend Hazem, he cast his eyes on Hazem’s drawing. Following the wanderings of the ink pencil, he could not let his eye drift from the urban ruins that had swallowed the white of the canvas. There was no hint of color. Nor did it seem to have any beginning or end. “Is it as easy to draw destruction as it is actually to destroy?”, the man uttered, addressing the question to Hazem. “It sells at the moment. It is the season,” Hazem answered hesitantly. The two men chuckled, but their laughter soon ceded, dissolving into heavy silence. “The season of destruction,” the man repeated as the train of thoughts shifted through his face. “Destruction is difficult, even here.” Staring intently at the object of his creation, Hazem added: “Destruction creates some extraordinary details.” An agonizing silence settled in once again, only to find relief in the ruffle of air. As if smothered by the question that should have long been answered, the man dropped at last: “Where are the people in this drawing?” “Under the rubble,” Hazem responded quietly.

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

MIFF 2015 Programme Announced/ 2

Written 15-06-2015 11:24:08 by Tue Steen Müller

The catalogue foreword to the “Free Thought” documentary section of the Moscow International Film Festival (June 19-26) is written by curators Sergey Miroshnichenko and Grigory Libergal. Their text is a reflection on ”patriotism”, that is a theme in several of the films. And maybe also an elegant tongue-in-cheek commentary to the country they live in. Read it:

Patriotism is such a meaningful and positive word, just like “patriot”. Probably they are the backbone of any state. But is there a code permitting to define a patriot? And can this right be delegated to one person or even one organization? This year’s program gives ample food for thought in this respect.

At the beginning the protagonist of the Chinese film “Young Patriot” is an enthusiastic advocate of orthodox patriotism. But these feelings undergo several tests in real life. Finally extending his knowledge of the world and the history of his country the main character finds space for another kind of patriotism , the conscious one! The mayor of a mining Chinese town is another example of such a person (“The Chinese Mayor”)

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Le documentaire est le cœur du service public

Written 14-06-2015 15:20:22 by Tue Steen Müller

French documentarians have written a letter to France Télévisions to make the public service channels improve the conditions for the genre. It was published in the newspaper Libération last week. It is a very well written and argued article that could very well be used in lobbying campaigns in other countries - and on a European level. Sooo... good reading on a quite Sunday, if you master the language!

Le documentaire est le cœur du service public ! Et, il devrait battre encore plus fort...

A la télévision, le documentaire soumis à de trop fortes pressions.

Alors que France Télévisions vient de changer de présidence, le service public doit réaffirmer son engagement pour la production et la diffusion du film documentaire. Il a son public et remplit une fonction sociale.

Le genre documentaire joue un rôle essentiel dans le cœur de nos concitoyens. Il bat fort dans les écoles, les universités, les bibliothèques, les musées, les salles de cinéma... Et il bat fort encore sur tous les écrans de nos foyers. Un cœur vif tant il porte en lui l’identité de notre société, ses valeurs et ses questionnements. Un cœur solide tant il est vecteur d’innovation, tant il stimule un secteur et un marché du travail important.

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Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Documentarist Shows Censored Films

Written 13-06-2015 20:33:03 by Tue Steen Müller

Interesting (read it all via the link below): Five documentaries previously censored at Turkish festivals or cinemas will be shown at Documentarist, the festival that starts today saturday in Istanbul with a fine programme.

“A common trait linking all five documentaries is that each tells a story that does not comply with Turkey's official nation-state policy”, as Today’s Zaman writes.

Indeed… you think after having seen the film by Swedish P-Å Holmquist and Suzanne Khardalian, “I hate Dogs – the Last Survivor” (of the 1915 atrocities/the genocide against the Ottoman Armenians), a totally shocking 29 minutes long documentary from (quoting from the website of the filmmakers) ”Garbis, (who) is a very energetic 99-year-old.; he has just met his new companion, Seta. They live in Paris, only a few blocks away from the Arc de Triomphe. Garbis, an Armenian, is one of the very last survivors of

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

MIFF 2015 Programme Announced

Written 12-06-2015 14:06:20 by Tue Steen Müller

Still a young part of the MIFF, Moscow International Film Festival, the documentary programme of the upcoming 37th festival (June 19-26) has been announced. Good friend and documentary addicted promoter Georgy (”Gosha”) Molodtsov tells me that the "Free thought" programme is launched for the 10th time this year, the competition for the 5th. I was there for the jury the first year and enjoyed the hospitality of Sergey Miroshnichenko and Grigory Libergal and their team, including Mr. and Mrs, Molodtsov (Zhenya).

The competition programme includes American Matthew Heinaman’s “Cartel Land”, “The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson” by Julien Temple, UK, “Racing Extinction” (USA) by Louise Psihoyos, the only one I have seen: “The Visit”, again a fine essay by Danish Michael Madsen, “A Young Patriot” by Chinese Haibin Du, one more American “The Nightmare” by Rodney Ascher – and Russian “Larisa’s Crew” by Helena Lascari.

And in the “Free Thought” category that includes already awarded

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jihlava: Julian Assange to Inspire Documentarians

Written 10-06-2015 21:41:41 by Tue Steen Müller

A press release came in today with quite some news for those who intend to visit the 2015 Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival the coming autumn. The always innovative and sometimes also controversial festival in the Czech Republic – I had a very good time there last year with fine works and masterclasses with Wojciech Staron, Peter Kerekes and Miroslav Janek – proudly announces that the first guest of the Inspiration Forum of the festival is Julian Assange.

I quote festival director Marek Hovorka from the text received: “Julian Assange is a global icon, digital Robin Hood, who has managed to divide the society into his devout supporters and ardent opponents. While The New York Times describes him as the most influential journalist in the world, the republican presidential candidate has stated that “any punishment apart from hanging would be too kind to him… We have been trying to get Mr. Assange involved in the festival’s programme for over three years and we highly value his promise to participate, albeit through the mediation of the Ecuador Embassy. It is known that he rarely makes public appearances. Visitors of Jihlava IDFF will have a unique chance to ask him various questions. As part of the Inspiration Forum, Julian Assange will also collaborate with selected documentarists on their work.”

Read more about the plans for the festival on its site, link below.

The festival takes place October 27 – November 01 2015.

Categories: DVD, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Bona & Scalisi: Bath People

Written 09-06-2015 09:20:51 by Tue Steen Müller

… or better, Gente dei Bagni, Italian documentary photographed, directed and edited by Stefania Bona and Francesca Scalisi, both graduated from Zelig Film School in Bolzano as did their producer Luigi Pepe (company Jump Cut). The film has already been awarded a couple of times at Italian festivals in Rome and Trento, and it would be wrong if it will not get praised outside Italy.

When I (who know the three of them from teaching at Zelig) was asked to comment on their project years back, I told them that there was nothing wrong in making a short film about people who come to a public bath. I was not convinced that the film could sustain one hour. I was wrong, it can, I was not bored one single moment even if there is not a story in modern-documentary-terms and no bigger conflict and not one or two main characters but many.

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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