Written 27-03-2015 18:20:48 by Tue Steen Müller
So there he was, Peter Bogdanovich, conceived in Serbia, born in the US – as he has put it himself – 75 years old, still a great storyteller and imitator of voices, which was proven when he gave us in the audience anecdotes from his film life as a director, a film historian and one who knew them all, the big names: Cary Grant, Jimmie Stewart, Orson Welles, John Ford about whom he has made a film, ”Directed by John Ford” to be presented here at the festival: ”a new, updated version of the original 1971 documentary which was written and directed by Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, What's Up, Doc?, Paper Moon and Mask) and profiles the life and works of the acclaimed director”, as put by the TCM on their site, including interviews with Eastwood, Scorcese and Spielberg.
Why is cinema important, Bogdanovich had asked Jimmie Stewart, who told that he once met someone on a set, who said to him, ”I remember the poem you recited in a film, you were good”. About cinema: ”You are giving people little pieces of time they will never forget”, Stewart said – the film the man remembered was 20 years old.
Bogdanovich, full of humour, he could have gone on for hours, said that for him direction was an extension of acting, himself being an actor in numerous films. To be seen in the film tribute to him, 90 minutes long, by Bill Teck, entitled ”One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich & The Lost American Film”, a documentary that premiered in Venice to have a revised version here in Palm Springs. The film puts a focus on the films of Bogdanovich and on the life of the director, whose love for Dorothy Stratten is in the centre of the story. Stratten who was murdered in 1980 and plays in ”They All Laughed”, a film that flopped with the audience, that Bogdanovich bought back the rights for, and a film that Tarantino praises in the interview he has given for the documentary. Lots of clips from the film with adorable Audrey Hepburn and amazing Ben Gazzara makes you want to watch the film.
Written 27-03-2015 17:39:25 by Tue Steen Müller
It all started at 10am Wednesday March 26 with the Film Fund Competition (with around 15.000$ awards to be distributed) in the Camelot Theatres, the main venue for the festival. Moderated by Teddy Gruyoa, festival director, 12 projects were presented in a way that is pretty much different from the usual European way. Where ”we” give the pitchers 7 minutes of presentation (talk and trailer of maximum 3,5 minutes) the pitch here starts with 5 minutes of trailer/teaser/visuals, whatever you will call it, followed by another 5 minutes of questions from professionals in the audience. This year there were critic Neil Young (Hollywood Reporter), university professor John Osborne who after retirement is involved in several productions and has helped with the selection of films for this year’s Amdoc program, Joel Douglas (son of Kirk and Michael’s brother of ”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), Adam Montgomery from the Sundance Festival – and me.
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Written 25-03-2015 23:34:59 by Tue Steen Müller
After 10 hours and 40 minutes of flight Copenhagen to Los Angeles and a good night’s hotel sleep off to Palm Springs for the fourth edition of the American Documentary Film Festival that opens tomorrow March 26 and goes on until March 30. Transportation manager Tim Alexander picked us up at the hotel, was great to see him again after many joyful moments at last year’s edition. On the freeway that Danish director Jacob Thuesen made a documentary about (Freeway, 2005), by the way. Now resting at Villa Royale Inn in Palm Springs, an oasis of green, swimming pools, gourmet restaurant and cosy rooms.
Business tomorrow – the festival that is founded by and programmed by enthusiastic and energetic filmmaker Teddy Groya has also what we in Europe call an industry event: The American Documentary Film Fund that gives financing for new film projects. 12 projects are to be pitched tomorrow with a visual as well as a verbal presentation. The winners (I think it was three last year) are announced at the end of the festival that also has awards for participating films. I was invited to take part in the selection in both categories. I got to watch American documentaries that never reach European film festivals – and European documentaries that in many cases shamefully have been overseen by European festivals.
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Written 24-03-2015 11:05:13 by Tue Steen Müller
You must have a passport or an id, the woman at the desk said. Mikael Opstrup from EDN and I were at the entrance of the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest an early morning and we wanted to enter to see the palace of Ceausescu. I showed my official yellow health card and told the lady that I had several cards with my photo on. Little did it help, no passport or id no entrance. Opstrup, who had brought along his passport, went in, I stayed out prepared to sit on a plastic chair for an hour in an ugly entrance hall. Luckily I could go into an equally ugly hall where there was a very fine photo exhibition of photos taken by students at photo schools in Romania. The one I have chosen is by Alma Ghiuela called SFF05, she must have seen paintings of Paul Delvaux or Giorgio de Chirico.
I was happy to meet Laura Capatana again. She was way back a participant of the Ex Oriente workshop, where I was tutoring and where she developed ”Here... I mean there”, 73 mins., a touching story from a Romanian town about two sisters, whose parents work in Spain. Over years the director has followed the girls and their development and struggles with themselves. In the house where they live with their sweet granny.
She is still in touch with the girls and I think she should make a sequel. We the audience have got to know the girls so well that we want to know what happens in their lives. The youngest, Sanda, still lives at home, the parents have returned, what happens with Sanda, when she flies from the nest?
Capatana, observer at the Cooking a Doc workshop, and her husband, actor Gabriel Spahiu, parents of Hugo, 3 years old, drove me to the hotel one night. I have something for you, Spahiu said, and played NHØP from his car radio. Danish jazz bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen talked in Danish-English and played the melancholic ”I Skovens Dybe Stille Ro”. Wonderful end of a nice evening!
Written 23-03-2015 18:23:28 by Tue Steen Müller
We normally do not promote individual film projects on this site but exceptions were invented to be done... Yesterday in Bucharest, Adrian Pirvu, at the One World Romania's "Cooking a Doc" went on stage to present (photo by Adi Marineci) an amazing film project about himself. He showed a touching clip with his mother, who tells how Adrian's sight was (almost) saved just after he was born. This is one of the most intriguing stories I have heard for a long time. Adrian Pirvu needs a producer, eventually a co-director, in other words help to develop, and funding for research! Here is his own fine text written for the workshop:
A documentary by Adrian Pirvu
90 minutes, 4K
Stage of production: Development
Budget: 72 800 EUR
What are the biological citizens of Chernobyl, born in 1986, doing for the 30th anniversary of the nuclear accident that changed their lives and the continent they live on?
I started on the path to becoming a filmmaker on the 26`th of April, 1986. I was not born yet but a nuclear accident in a country that my pregnant mother was visiting, set me on the journey to make this film. In late July, I was born with all fingers and all toes, a little overweight but completely blind. I have partial vision in one eye now, thanks to a very dedicated doctor, a cornea donated by a fresh corpse and 28 year old country girl with the strength of a lioness, my mother.
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Written 23-03-2015 16:11:22 by Tue Steen Müller
Went to watch ”Queen of Silence”, full house, a film directed by Polish Agnieszka Zwiefka, her first film, produced by Heino Deckert and shown at this festival as one of four films in a well deserved homage to Deckert as the strong producer of documentaries he is. The film has been at several festivals and has been awarded.
So it is good? No, it is not, sorry! It is a mess of good wills and ambitions. It wants to portray Denisa, a Roma girl with a hearing handicap. And she is great and you want to live with her. But it also wants to give a characterization of the environment, she lives in, an illegal ghetto in Poland next to high apartment buildings. And it wants to give her the chance to live her dream to be a dancer like the dancers she has watched on the tele through Bollywood films. The result unfortunately is not successful as the editing remains automatic with no space for (poetic) breathing and interpretation of the girl’s inner emotions – as you all the time has to go forward for another musical scene where she is dancing. And then back to social reality - the police comes and we understand that the houses must be taken down. But we also have to see that she and
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Written 21-03-2015 16:16:28 by Tue Steen Müller
I arrived a couple of days ago to Bucharest for the One World Romania. Together with EDN’s Mikael Opstrup we were taken to the hotel, I was given one of those rooms, where you can not open the window so I had to change for another one, and then down to the lobby to meet an old friend André Singer, whose ”Night Will Fall” is part of the programme. I saw the film on Swedish television in January, it is impressive and unique as a historical document, made by André Singer, who after many years, as he put it ”was happy to be back to filmmaking”. Among many jobs as a producer Singer has been producing documentaries by Werner Herzog. You see him on the photo with the microphone at one of the discussion sessions after a well attended screening. A true English gentleman!
To the left Alexandru Solomon, the director of the 8 year old festival about which I can only say Bravo! A good programme, several good debates and information gatherings, among them one by Mikael Opstrup talking about the (impressive) research, he has done for the organisation about Co-Productions in Europe. Solomon was on that occasion giving his input on the good and bad sides of co-productions – to be done if necessary, otherwise stay away from it (my comment), far too complicated. Unless an artistic element is involved and not only the financing side.
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Written 19-03-2015 23:00:46 by Tue Steen Müller
Realscreen News publishes today (editor Manori Ravindran) a tribute to Albert Maysles, who passed away on March 5. We take the liberty to bring to you what colleague and cinema vérité pioneer as well D.A. Pennebaker wrote:
“I was on my way to Russia in the spring of 1959 to film the American Exhibition that was about to open in Moscow. Al Maysles found out about it and came to see if he could come along. He and his brother David had already gone there on a motorcycle and he showed me a film he’d made at a Russian mental hospital. How he’d gotten them to let him film there intrigued me and since I’d never been there he seemed like a good companion for my filmmaking. I could see he was not just looking for a job but wanted to get to Russia as badly as I did. For us both it was going to be an adventure. So I arranged for an extra visa and the two of us spent the next four months filming Russia together, wherever the trains and trolleys would take us. It was a fantastic adventure, and Al’s eager curiosity and ability to watch tirelessly through a camera bonded us as filmmakers for the rest of our lives.”
Written 18-03-2015 16:54:00 by Tue Steen Müller
In the middle of all (the necessary) documentary films about wars and conflicts, going on now and/or some decades ago, it is nice to receive a newsletter from the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, with a report from a press conference on a film on ”Katherine Hepburn – The Great Kate”. I share the words of the report:
Andrew Davies, who directed Katharine Hepburn – The Great Kate along with Rieke Brendel, spoke first (at the press conference, ed.). As the director explained, inspiration for the movie came from a tribute that the TV channel ARTE showed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the great actress. “With the help of Hepburn's nephew Mundy, we discovered how important a part her family had played in her life. The experiences of her childhood years were incredibly important. Her mother was an activist, who fought for human rights and women's right to birth control. Hepburn grew up going to demonstrations. As a child, her parents would tell her that she could do anything she wanted, but that she wouldn’t get anywhere if she didn’t try hard.“ With regards to her long career, Davies thought that the secret of her success was “a product of hard work and a creative working ethic”. Answering the question of whether or not he thought Hepburn would like the documentary, Mundy told him that he “thought Hepburn would have liked the documentary more than anything else that had been written or filmed about her life, because she didn’t like biographies.”
Photo of Hepburn and Spencer Tracey – I remember how my mother talked about the two and how she adored to watch her films as I have done and do – remember Bringing Up Baby with Cary Grant!
Written 17-03-2015 13:30:21 by Tue Steen Müller
"May you live in interesting times." This Chinese curse pops up in my mind when I think about you, Ukrainians. To a documentary filmmaker, times like these are not only a curse, but also an opportunity. After all, we are witnesses to change and movement: in society, its consciousness, individual fates and emotions. It is all about movement: the word ‘emotion’ is derived from the Latin emovere, ‘movement in a certain direction’.”
Words from Aliona van der Horst, Dutch director of Russian origin, going to Kiev to be in the jury of the DocuDays UA and to hold a class on ”Tone, sound, music and ”libretto” in the film ”Voices of Bam” – a film she made in 2006, followed by ”Boris Ryzhy” (2008), both of them part of a retrospective tribute to the director.
Ukranian DocuDays – I was there two years ago – is a wonderful festival to be at because of its generosity, the commitment to quality and the filmmakers who run it and who know how to put together a programme that is appealing – competition, non-competition in themes or around a director and the so-called Docu/Class that is like a small documentary university for the audience and the visiting guests. Apart from the class with van der Horst, Askold Kurov is there – he was part of the team who made ”Winter, Go Away!”, he made ”Leninland” and ”Kids 404”, and is at the moment making a film on the
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Written 16-03-2015 18:09:39 by Tue Steen Müller
For those of us who were not able to visit the documentary film festival in Amsterdam, the good news is that the festival (link below) is bringing out videos from the festival. You can watch the opening and closing ceremonies but more important is that there are small interviews with directors whose films you might have seen on other occasions.
Three films that I like a lot are there: Maite Alberdi talks about her wonderful ”Tea Time” (photo), you can meet the winner of the festival with ”Of Men and War” Laurent Bécue-Renard and there is a more than one hour long registration of a masterclass with Heddy Honigmann, who had a retrospective at the festival, had chosen her 10 favourite documentaries to be screened AND showed her ”Around the World in 50 Concerts” as the opening work of the festival. I am looking forward to watch that masterclass – Honigmann is a master and (by the way) her ”Forever” was the first film reviewed here on the filmkommentaren, August 2007... Nostalgia.
Written 13-03-2015 12:36:56 by Sara Thelle
Denmark has a new festival. The first Copenhagen Architecture Festival took place last year and the second edition is coming up soon and has spread to the city of Aarhus as well. More than 70 events in 19 different venues: Seminars, exhibitions, conferences, debates, urban walks, and plenty of interesting film screenings!
Behind this great initiative are Josephine Michau (festival director), architect Peter Møller Rasmussen (responsible for the program) and Ph.D. in landscape architecture and film Mads Farsø (chief of development). Josephine Michau has played an important role in promoting documentary film in Denmark for the past five years. She is the co-founder of DoxBio, a national distribution-network that has, literally, been pulling out the red carpet for documentary films released in theatres across Denmark. Earlier this year, CAF received the prize Lille Arne (“Little Arne”, named after Arne Jacobsen of course) from the Danish Association of Architects for its ability to “rethink the promotion of architecture, emphasize its qualities and diversity, and create a relevant debate”.
Film and architecture are a good match. The themes can be bend in multiple directions and perspectives. And this might be a way to get an audience for a film program that could be seen as somehow audacious – which should be applauded!
This is where I have put my red marks in the program:
A world premiere of Jonas Mekas’ latest film, Scenes from the Life of Raimund Abraham (2015), a portrait of an architect. The festival also shows As I was moving ahead occasionally I saw brief glimpses of beauty (2000), one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen.
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Written 13-03-2015 10:25:50 by Tue Steen Müller
Why not? Yes, why not activate us frequent flyers and all the others, who sit up there in the air for hours? Why not give us passengers quality (short) documentary and animation to watch and ask us to vote.
Three young filmmakers – all graduated from the Zelig Film School in Bolzano Italy – got this fantastic idea, went to the air company of their country, Swiss, who said yes to this initiative, made the selection of the films, cleared rights and all that, totally con amore, and there you are:
”The festival will start beginning of March and run until end of April. The 30 longhaul aircraft (A330-A340) of the SWISS are loaded (with films) within the first week of March, it serves all SWISS destinations around the world non-stop…
These are words from the website, link below: Welcome to the “Flying Film Festival, the first festival taking place entirely in the air. It will be “flying” in the months of March and April 2015 with the aim of promoting to a wider audience short documentaries with a strong cultural connotation and emerging directors.
It is created by le Système D, a non-profit cultural association, in partnership with SWISS…” Système D consists of the artistic directors Francesca Scalisi and Mark Olexa, Stefania Bonia has made the graphic booklet of the association.
The winners of the Flying Film Festival (9 short films) will be chosen by a jury of experts and by the passengers of SWISS, who can cast their vote on this website until the beginning of May. The jury and the guests of SWISS will award a prize consisting of two airline tickets for a trip within Europe or one to an intercontinental destination.”
As a jury member I will get back to you with a review of this FFFF: Fantastic Flying Film Festival.
Written 10-03-2015 10:30:15 by Tue Steen Müller
Voilá - 5 films for free taken from the upcoming festival programme of One World Romania (see post below)… words from the site of DocAlliance:
…For the eighth time, the international festival One World Romania brings a critical voice as well as a rich film programme to Bucharest. For the third time, you can watch a selection of the best films online. This year, too, we will present films dealing primarily with the questions of democracy, observance of human rights and reflection of various forms of public protests. One of these protests, held at Maidan square in Ukraine, gave the name “Kino Maidan” to this year’s festival edition. As the festival’s director Alexandru Solomon points out in an exclusive interview, the festival celebrates all the Maidans across the world as well as documentary film as one of the best tools to fight injustice…
The films are ”Vitosha” (Bulgaria, Lyubomir Mladenov), ”Waiting for August” (Romania, Teodora Ana Mihai), ”Naked Island” (PHOTO) (Croatia, Tiha K. Gudac), ”The Serbian Lawyer” (Serbia, Aleksandar Nikolic) and ”Outside” (Germany, Romania, Andrei Schwartz).
These films can be watched for free until March 15. Read the descriptions, read the interview with Alexandru Solomon.
Written 10-03-2015 10:19:49 by Tue Steen Müller
… or to take the long version: One World Romania International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, taking place March 16-22.
35 films in 10 categories – like ”Agents of Change” (with films like ”Citizenfour”, ”Euromaidan.Rough Cut” and ”Iranian”, ”Comrade Capitalism” (with ”Cardiopolitika”), ”Focus: Africa” (with ”Democrats” and ”Beach Boy”), ”Traumas” (with ”Night Will Fall”, ”The Missing Picture” and ”Naked Island”), a tribute to producer Heino Deckert (well deserved!) (with four of his productions including wonderful ”Julia’s Madness” by Hannes Schönemann from 1999)… take a look at the impressive programme that also includes a fine series of panel discussions and lectures that focus on content, narratives, funding, webdocs etc.
Words of welcome from Alexandru Solomon, the director of the festival: In 2015, for the 8th edition of One World Romania, we decided that we would gather on the “kino-maidan.” That’s because the word maidan has changed meaning: it no longer describes a mere feature of urban geography, but, rather, a public space where people gather to discuss their problems and to be together. We want One World Romania to become a meeting place where people come to see great documentary cinema, and where ideas are freed from the structures of the status quo. On our maidan, we are guided by our empathy for our fellow human beings and the freedom to be ourselves. Our program of films and side events opens our eyes towards maidans on five continents…
Well thought by Solomon… I will post texts from the festival, where I am invited to be tutoring at a three day workshop.
Written 10-03-2015 10:07:11 by Tue Steen Müller
The press releases from the festival in Prague are comprehensive and informative so here is a copy-paste of the one about the awards to be given at... the closing ceremony of the festival in the Lucerna cinema in Prague on Wednesday, March 11.
The award for Best Film this year went to The Look of Silence by American director Joshua Oppenheimer, who took home the same award at One World 2013 for his film The Act of Killing. Both documentaries deal with the same topic: the mass murder of accused communists in Indonesia in the 1960s.
One World this year screened a record number of films: 114 documentaries as well as a screening of Winter, Go Away! in response to the murder of Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, which occurred two days before the start of the festival. The number of festival guests was also significantly higher, with exactly 100 filmmakers and protagonists coming to Prague to present their films. In total One World invited 234 foreign guests, including human rights activists and film festival organisers.
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Written 09-03-2015 18:23:21 by Sara Thelle
French journalist and documentary maker Manon Loizeau has made a remarkable film about todays Chechnya that premiered on Arte last week and just received the Grand Prize of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva this Saturday.
Loizeau has lived in Russia for many years and she has covered Chechnya since 1995. In Chechnya, War without Trace she returns for the first time in 10 years. Gone are the ravaged buildings of war-torn Grozny, the city has been completely rebuild and transformed in to something that resembles a Caucasian mini-Dubai with glass-facade towers and colourful neon lights along sleek avenues now named after Kadyrov and Putin. Gone are the traces of the two recent wars with Russia (a fifth of the population died), Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic since now eight years, has cleaned it all up. Supported by Russia, he holds the population with the use of fear. A reign of terror where the fight against terrorism, encouraged by Russia, becomes a carte blanche for a monsterous regime turned against its own people. Disappearances, torture, death squads, false accusations of terrorism or drug possession. But also the eradication of the history and the memory of the Chechen people, who has fought fiercely for independence from Russia for centuries (such as when the commemoration of the deportation of Chechens under Stalin in 1944 was replaced with a celebration of the Winter Olympic in Sochi last year). It is absolutely terrifying. And it is an impressive achievement that Loizeau has been able to gather the voices of the few who still dares to speak. The film is dedicated to the memory of Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova.
Loizeau is showing us the immensely sad latest chapter of the history of Chechnya. And she is also giving us an important part of the picture, the context and history, in order to better understand Russian politics, Putin and the situation in Ukraine as well as the apparent powerstruggles behind the pointing out of a suspect for the murder of Boris Nemtsov.
Here are the comments of the jury in Geneva: For its strength and accuracy in the testimony of human rights violations, its tribute to victims of torture and kidnappings by the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov, who rules as an absolute autocrat. The film reminds us of the dramatic situation, which continues to escape international notice.
Manon Loizeau: Tchétchénie, une guerre sans traces / Tschetschenien - Vergessen auf Befehl, France, 2014, 82 min., prod. Magneto Presse for Arte
You can watch the film in French or German at Arte+7 until March 11th:
Written 07-03-2015 09:57:46 by Tue Steen Müller
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our founder, legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles. Albert was a loving husband, father, brother and friend to many. For more than five decades, Albert created groundbreaking films, inspired filmmakers and touched all those with his humanity, presence and his belief in the power of love. He was also a teacher, mentor and a source of inspiration for countless filmmakers, artists and everyday people.
A statement from the Maysles family from yesteday – photo also taken from there:
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Written 06-03-2015 17:42:23 by Tue Steen Müller
The French love the Israeli film artist Avi Mograbi – and do so this film blogger, who has followed his carreer with great enthusiasm. From March 14 the prestigious museum Jeu de Paume has invited Mograbi to meet the audience, discuss art and politics, and show his works, oeuvre, to stay in the French cultural context. A well deserved hommage!
A couple of quotations from this site:
…he innovates the documentary language by using talking masks, as his main character, the killing Israeli soldier, does not want to face the camera. Very intelligent trick that combined with his Brechtian musical element, himself singing comments to the soldier’s crime, makes the film into a universal essayistic wish for reflection… (about Z32)
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Written 04-03-2015 13:22:01 by Tue Steen Müller
The following is a text excerpt from the site of Human Rights in Ukraine:
In a wonderful show of solidarity, members of the Polish Film Academy have called on Russia to release Crimean film director Oleg Sentsov and have promised not to abandon their Ukrainian colleague. As can be seen from the photos, all those present at the Academy’s Orły 2015 award ceremony on March 3 were invited to raise placards reading ‘Jestem OLEG SENTSOV’ [Je suis Oleg Sentsov, after the original act of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo).
The announcement on the Polska Akademia Filmowa [PAF] website explains that they are continuing their action “in support for Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian film director imprisoned in Moscow for his protest against Crimean annexation.”
Oleg Sentsov’s letter to Agnieszkka Holland in response to joint protests with other European film directors, actors, etc. is cited. He wrote:
“I am sincerely grateful to all the film people who support me, and I particularly thank Poles who are helping Ukraine at this difficult time, and who are proving to be real brothers.”
Read more on:
Written 03-03-2015 18:22:04 by Tue Steen Müller
Yesterday Guardian brought an article on the official Russian film political line for 2015. It was taken from “The Calvert Journal” that is (taken from its site) … a daily briefing on the culture and creativity of modern Russia. From art and film to architecture and design, avant-garde Russian culture has helped shape our view of modern life. But as a consequence of its difficult politics and history, contemporary Russia still remains unfamiliar territory to many… (Photo: The Calvert Journal brought an article on Michael Glawogger’s cinematic ode to the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg – a part of the Cathedrals of Culture series, which became the last film of Glawogger.)
And from the article of yesterday: Russia’s ministry of culture has released a list of approved themes for films which will be financially supported by the state in 2015:
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Written 02-03-2015 17:11:22 by Tue Steen Müller
In the mid 1980’es I fell in love with the French film ”Thérèse” by Alain Cavalier. Like many others did. Let me refresh your memory and let newcomers know about it –
The back cover of the dvd, according to Amazon, goes like this: ”Winner of eight Cesar Awards including Best Film and Best Director, Alain Cavalier's monumental film depicts the true story of St. Therese de Lisieux, a young woman who found personal joy and spiritual liberation within the restrictive traditions of an austere religious order. Wishing to dedicate her life to Christ, Therese (Catherine Mouchet) enters a cloistered convent of Carmelite nuns at the age of 15. But shortly after joining the order, she finds her devotion to the Lord tested by a grim battle against the debilitating effects of tuberculosis, for which she refuses any treatment. The strength of her faith eventually becomes an inspiration to both her fellow sisters and the millions of admirers who remember her as "The Little Flower of Jesus.”
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Written 01-03-2015 16:47:45 by Tue Steen Müller
The Danish film critics yearly ceremony took place last night and Joshua Oppenheimer, director and Signe Byrge, producer were on stage to get the statuette, named after the two important actresses in Danish cinema Bodil Kjer and Bodil Ipsen, an award established in 1948. The statuette is of porcelain, designed by Ebbe Sadolin, sculpted by Svend Jespersen for Bing & Grøndahl, porcelain manufacturer. The motivation speech went like this:
“Dear Joshua. Back in 2012 you blew us away with your thought provoking, original and absolutely brilliant film “The Act of Killing” You had just moved to Denmark to work with Signe Byrge and Final Cut for Real, and we were regrettably not able to award you the prize for Best Danish Documentary – so we awarded you the special Bodil instead. We simply had to give you something back for all that you had given us. This time, with “The Look of Silence”, we insist on claiming you as one of us. As a most welcome addition to the Danish film society. Thank you for that, and thank you, most of all, for “The Look of Silence”, an amazingly brave and at the same time harsh and loving follow-up to “The Act of Killing”, in which you give the victims a much needed voice and allow us viewers an unprecedented access into the events of 1965 and into the minds and lives of the people involved on both sides – killers and victims. Your film makes us feel, it makes us think, it opens our eyes to the world. For that we thank you”.
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Written 01-03-2015 10:02:34 by Tue Steen Müller
Awards were given out last night in Zagreb. ”Virunga” (photo) by Orlando von Einsiedel got the Big Stamp for best film in International Competition with mentions to Finnish ”Garden Lovers” by Virpi Suutari and Polish Hanna Polak for ”Something Better to Come”.
In the Regional Competition Hungarian Marcell Gerö got the Big Stamp with a mention to ”Russian” by Damir Ibrahimovic and Eldar Emric from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The festival has a section for ”best film of a young author up to 35 years of age” – the winner was ”Another Hungary-The Life of a Village-Fragments” by Dénes Nagy with a mention to ”Veruda – a Film About Bojan” by Croatian Igor Bezinovic. Congratulations young people!
”Movies that Matter” (hopefully they all do..) award to films ”that promotes human rights in a best way” went to ”Rich Hill” by Tracy Droz Dragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, whereas ”Virunga” received a mention to add to its many recognitions.
Finally, young people in the Teen Dox Jury gave an award to ”best film about issues concerning the young”: ”Maidentrip” by Jillian Schlesinger from USA.
Read more on the site of the festival: zagrebdox.net
Written 28-02-2015 16:48:26 by Tue Steen Müller
I have often been calling for festival criticism coming from outside the festivals themselves. The site Festivalists is a place to check once in a while. Here is what it is – quote from the ”about” on the site:
…Festivalists is a team of high-profile film journalists and critics from all over the world who cover for you the real magic of festivals, special events and independent cinema in general. Our community exists thanks to FIPRESCI's trainee programs in Rotterdam or Berlinale and gets constantly inspired by projects like Dana Linssen’s Slow Criticism. As we manage to keep in touch and work together thanks to social media, we thought it is a good start to share our passion with you, no matter if you are an industry professional or a cinephile…
Greg de Cuir, living in Belgrade, delivers a Festivalists article on the Magnificent 7 festival, three weeks after it happened. Two quotes:
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Written 27-02-2015 13:10:01 by Tue Steen Müller
News about festivals and their selection are pouring in to the mailbox. Yes, it is indeed festival time now for documentaries as well, after the Berlinale that is strong in documentaries nowadays and "steals" a lot of attention and people. Let me – more might come – mention three of them.
Paris classic Cinéma du Réel in Centre Pompidou (March 19-29) has announced what is picked for the competition programmes – ”41 films of the International, French, First Films and Short Films Competitions is revealed! 25 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres.” The festival programmers of this festival deserves a bravo for not going shopping at other big documentary film festivals. Apparently, it has the ressources to create their own profile. The so-called thematic sections were announced the other day with a retrospective of works by British Keith Griffiths, Indian Amit Dutta, amazing Haskell Wexler and with Stan Neumann’s ”Austerlitz” as the opening film: ” A stroll across Europe in the footsteps of Jacques Austerlitz, a character from W.G. Sebald's novel, played here by Denis Lavant.
In Prague (and 33 other cities in Czech Republic) the One World Festival (March 2-11) has a motto “Burst Through Your Bubble!”, “which which aims to combat prejudice, apathy and hearsay in Czech society…. calling upon Czechs to burst out of their protective bubbles, for example, by attending a screening of a documentary film about current topics and the discussion that follows. "We also burst out of our own bubbles while choosing some of the films, whether about Islam, South American migrants or mental illness," Kulhánková (festival director, ed.) added. The symbol of this year's festival is protective bubble wrap, which needs to be removed. No surprise that the festival shows “Citizenfour” by Laura Poitras, “Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson, “Felvidek” by Vladislava Plancikova, “Something Better to Come” by Hanna Polak and “The Look of Silence” by Joshua Oppenheimer in a programme that counts 114 documentaries in 12 thematic categories.
Finally a look to the North – to the Tempo Documentary Festival (March 2-8) that has focus on the City and welcomes the new film by Fredrik Gertten, “Bikes vs Cars” (photo), as the opening film. 120 films, Swedish and international, in 8 sections. After legendary Swedish director a competitive section (9 films) is named “Stefan Jarl International Documentary Award”, where you find “The Look of Silence” competing with “Silvered Water: Syria Self-Portrait”, with “Maidan” by Sergey Lotznitsa and “Rules of the Game” by Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard as dark horses….
Written 26-02-2015 18:55:43 by Tue Steen Müller
At the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade two weeks ago I had the pleasure to make a short class about football documentaries. I did so as a follow-up to the showing of "Messi" by Alexis de la Iglesia, enjoyed by more than a thousand spectators at the festival. I brought along clips from Ramón Gieling's "Johan Cruyff - en un momento dando", "Michael Laudrup" by Jørgen Leth, "Zidane" by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Pareno and Támas Almási's "Puskás Hungary".
Some days ago I received a link from director and producer Tibor Kocsis to watch his new film that is a wonderful, emotional tribute to the three Hungarian football players, who played for Barcelona: Kubala (1951-61, 1961-63, 1980 as coach), Sándor Péter Kocsis (1958-1965) and Zoltán Czibor (1958-1961). PHOTO: Kubala in the middle, Kocsis left, Czibor right.
The film is built around interviews with the sons and friends of the three and team mates still alive, with a lot of clips from matches, black and white of course, goals and goals, although before the tv times we have today still enough material to understand how great players they were. And generous personalities, not to forget, as the former controversial President of the club, Núnez, so beautifully phrases it. And Luis Suarez, no not the one who plays in the club now, famous for his bite, but the one I remember when I started watching football, the playmaker, who played for the club 1954-1961. What a player, who talks so well about his close friend Kocsis.
Yes, Tibor Kocsis has made his research and he has found the right persons to tell us about the three, especially Kubala, who left Hungary after ww2, whereas Kocsis and Czibor – as Puskas who went to Real Madrid – came to the West after Soviet invasion in 1956. There is nothing like old football players, who remember, and do so with warm emotions. Three personal stories, very different, tragic when it comes to the best header ever, Kocsis, who died so young. There are in the film amazing clips with him showing how he trained to score with the head. Ronaldo must have seen those clips!
Again (as in the film about Puskas) we are told about the golden team that Hungary had, the team that beat England 6-3 on Wembley in 1953 and went on to win everything – and then lost the match against Germany in 1954. In Bern. In other words, Kocsis integrates the political with the football history. An obvious choice.
A scoop, however, and the one who makes the strongest impression, is Hungarian radio reporter of all the big matches, György Szepesi, who was close to the players and is able to characterise the players: Kubala, the blond miracle, Kocsis, the conductor (Xavi of today, my comment) and Czibor, the crazy bird. The one who returned to live in Hungary.
Ahhh, football – and Visca Barca!
Hungary, 2014, 84 mins.
Written 25-02-2015 19:57:20 by Tue Steen Müller
In its important tour around the world, to festivals but also to a theatrical release in some countries, the film by Wiam Simav Bedirxan and Ossama Mohammed was at the Istanbul Independent International Festival to get a big award. The jury said:
″In the spirit of the mission statement of the festival, we the jury of the Love and Change section, acknowledges that the world is hurting, and that it is the responsibility of civil societies to participate in positive change”.
Of their unanimous decision to award the film the $10.000 prize, they said: ″The film that the jury felt most strongly about, is one that forces us to look oppression, torture, violence, despair and death directly in the face. It is bold and loud, yet poetic; it is intimate and yet collective. It is a timeless telling of people's pursuit of freedom, as much as it is a timeless telling of governments' failing in serving and protecting their people in the name of power and tyranny. ″
Receiving the award, an emotional Wiam Simav Bedirxan said: ″Maybe right now, I am receiving the award for this film, but this film is the story not of me, but all of humanity. ″
Written 25-02-2015 10:12:23 by Tue Steen Müller
På fredag viser Cinemateket i København – i forbindelse med Jewish Film festival - ”The Green Prince”, her anmeldt på engelsk.
In 2010 Mosab Hassan Yousef wrote a book, ”Son of Hamas”. A feature film adaptation of the book is planned, a documentary has been made, the one that is to be shown at Cinemateket Copenhagen (February 26 – March 6) and the one that opened the Sundance documentary section 2014. Popular at festivals.
From a story point of view totally understandable – it has everything of a dramatic spy story, it is built like that, very well crafted, its has two charismatic main characters Mosab Hassan Yousef and the Shin Bet (the Israeli internal secret service) ”handler”, the one who recruited Yousef to work as ”a source”, Gonen Ben Yitzhak. If it brings anything new to the everlasting tragic conflict or to the way Shin Bet operates… having seen ”The Gatekeepers”, the answer is no. As well as ”The Collaborator and his familiy” does give an insight to the social aspect of being/havong been a source. Both recent Israeli documentary films.
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Written 24-02-2015 17:04:57 by Tue Steen Müller
I have been there before. Danish director Janus Metz went to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan to make ”Armadillo” about ”our” soldiers on mission. After more than a decade in the country, the NATO troops have withdrawn leaving the job to fight the enemy, the Taliban, to ANA, the Afghan National Army.
The mood of the Afghan soldiers is quite different than the one of the Danish soldiers, who (until they end up in a real battle) saw the trip, one of them puts it like that, as like going to play a real football match after long training and preparation. Quite different, a true understatement, because what you get in the impressive film by Saeed Taji Farouky and Michael McEvoy, shot over a period of one year, is an insight to a situation that seems to be without any hope and perspective: an army with soldiers, who have no respect for the politicians or for what the NATO troops achieved, an atmosphere of depression, they have not been paid for months, they see the local population as stuck between taliban and the government’s army. No actual way out.
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Written 24-02-2015 14:48:03 by Tue Steen Müller
… is the headline of an article written yesterday by Cara Mertens from Fordfoundation. Read the whole article, here is a quote:
…CitizenFour reflects the historical moment in which it was made, and influences it at the same time. It is a film that is deeply concerned with democracy, and may well become one of the defining documents of the early 21st century. This is Poitras’ (photo, with Glenn Greenwald) third film in what she describes as a post-9/11 cinematic trilogy: My Country, My Country, nominated for an Oscar in 2006, and The Oath (2010) are the first two, and they are also crucial viewing.
As a trilogy, they stand as a singular achievement: one artist’s decision to use cinema, arguably the most powerful and far-reaching art form, to understand complex, contradictory global forces as they play out in individual lives. Few artists have the audacity, the commitment, the capacity, and the imagination to work in such bold and longitudinal terms. (Joshua Oppenheimer’s recent diptych, The Act of Killing and Look of Silence, is perhaps analogous.)…
Written 23-02-2015 14:26:22 by Tue Steen Müller
Ok. if you say A, you have to say B as well: Let’s make a conclusion to the award postings we have made on this site:
Olga by Miroslav Janek won the Czech Lion, Joanna by Aneta Kopacz did not get the Oscar in the documentary short category (the award went to a film about American war veterans, surprise surprise...), but ”Ida” got the award as the best foreign language film and Laura Poitras had the Best Feature long documentary with ”Citizenfour” (photo).
... and ”Birdman” got Best picture and Best director, not ”Boyhood”. Hmmmmm!
Written 22-02-2015 17:00:55 by Tue Steen Müller
Of course it is difficult to write about a film on the for me unknown singer, composer, poet and actor Arsen Dedić, who is very well known in the ex-Yugoslav countries, 76 years old and still going strong, as the film shows so well.
I don’t get the nuances of the language reading English subtitles and I don’t have the background knowledge needed to enjoy fully, as I understand the audience has done in Sarajevo (premiere at the festival), Zagreb and Belgrade, the home town of director Mladen Matičević. And as the audience in the film does.
No more excuses, I wanted you to know my starting point and I did watch the film with great pleasure. Dedić is charismatic, sings in a way that brings memories of my personal hero Yves Montand, the songs are about love (“I also have divorce on my repertory”, he says), the film is in black & white, like that, the man has irony, he is a charmer and dares to be pathetic, has big affection for his family…
Mladen Matičević has luckily avoided a portrait, where other people tell the audience, how great this man is. He lets him sing his songs in a café with an audience, that reacts, close-ups of faces, mostly women, lets him finish the songs (bravo!), we see him in Sibenik at the coast, from where he comes, we see him in his home, walking in the streets, in a hotel, the camera likes him and he likes to pose and perform, and talks openly about hard times in his life – it is not difficult to understand why he was so popular then and now. He performs with his wife, also in archive, there is a lot of that from television shows, and it is great to be in his company, especially in the room where he composes and writes and smokes.
Croatia/Serbia, 2014, 72 mins.
Written 21-02-2015 12:40:07 by Tue Steen Müller
Knowing that many of our readers are looking for ways to improve their skills, meet colleagues, develop their documentary projects... here is (below) a link to a very useful Guide to "Training and Networks", published by Creative Europe MEDIA, giving good information on the many possibilities offered for workshops and seminars co-financed by the publisher.
Let me just mention one that I know very well, as I have been working for Archidoc that has directors (and not producers which is otherwise mostly the case) as the main target. Here is an introduction, check it out: Knowing that many of our readers are looking for ways to improve their skills, meet colleagues, develop their documentary projects... here is (below) a link to a very useful Guide to "Training and Networks", published by Creative Europe MEDIA, giving good information on the many possibilities offered for workshops and seminars co-financed by the publisher. Let me just mention one that I know very well, as I have been working for Archidoc that has directors (and not producers which is otherwise mostly the case) as the main target. Here is an introduction, check it out:
Archidoc is a European training workshop focused on the development of documentary film projects using archives. This workshop of three residential sessions lasting three to eight days provides participants with the professional and artistic tools to bring their project to a successful conclusion, develop their professional know-how and reach the international documentary market. The first session focuses on defining and fine-tuning the main narration choices, the second on preparing the film’s professional file and trailer, and the third on presenting the projects to potential professional partners (broadcasters, festivals, co-producers). Between sessions, participants dialogue with the tutors, according to a pre-established schedule.
The key target groups for this course are European documentary film directors with a project using archive materials, and their producers...
Photo: Archidoc-developed film on "Gustavs Klucis, The Deconstruction of an Artist" by Peteris Krilovs.
Written 21-02-2015 12:05:10 by Tue Steen Müller
Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado were given the French Documentary César at the ceremony last night in Paris for their film on photographer Sebastião Salgado, ”The Salt of the Earth”. The film competed with Stéphanie Valloatto's ”Cartoonists - Foot Soldiers of Democracy” and Frederick Wiseman's ”National Gallery”. On this site Mikkel Stolt reviewed the film, here are two quotes:
… The film’s sense of time and space turns out to be the perfect conveyor of Salgado’s pictures and words. The horror and the beauty in the protagonist’s work are presented to us in a way that reveals how great interpreters of reality both the still photographer and the directors are...
They lend their ears and their time to the protagonist and they arrange the material and write a voice-over that weaves their film and Salgado’s life together. Because they all want us to see – really see – the world and what’s in it...
The film is also nominated for an Oscar in the long documentary category.
Written 20-02-2015 20:21:00 by Tue Steen Müller
I subscribe to the Realscreen trade magazine, which gives sometimes very valuable and reflective articles, among many others that line up who has left Discovery Channel and who comes, and who has bought the rights for that series etc.
The one I got today was very good, let me give you the annotation: “With the Oscars on the way for this Sunday, Emmy-winning director Pamela Mason Wagner discusses the subject matter of this year’s short documentary nominees, and asks where the line can, or should, be drawn when delving into difficult territory… And she does that in a very good way, read the whole article, click below. And she writes so well about my favourite (the only one nominated that I have seen to be honest but a masterpiece...):
“… In Joanna (directed by Aneta Kopacz) a young mother in Warsaw, with a terminal diagnosis, lives out her final months as purposefully and thoughtfully as she can. Her bright seven year-old son Jas appears in nearly every scene. Their relationship, full of intimate, tender rapport forms the heart of the movie.
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Written 19-02-2015 16:21:57 by Tue Steen Müller
Energetic Andrea Pruchova from DocAlliance invites you to watch 5 new Czech documentaries that compete for the Czech Lion, read what she writes:
“Already this Saturday, February 21, the statuettes of the major Czech film award, the Czech Lion, will be presented to their new holders. These will include the fresh winner of the Best Documentary Film category. The nominees include five renowned and popular films Into the Clouds We Gaze, The Magic Voice of a Rebel, Olga, The Century of Miroslav Zikmund and Václav Havel – Living in Freedom. You have a unique chance to watch all of the nominated films for free or for a small fee from Monday, February 16 to Sunday, February 22! You can also join the vote and choose your own winner of the prestigious award!...”
It’s for free (until this coming Sunday) and if you click below you get an introduction to the films. One has already been reviewed on this site, Olga (photo) by Miroslav Janek, a wonderful work by the Czech master.
Written 19-02-2015 15:18:46 by Tue Steen Müller
The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival is one of the best when it comes to communication – and programming. This text is taken from the website, a very well deserved tribute to Alexandru Solomon is planned for the festival, that takes place March 13-22:
Incredible stories from the past, shocking truths and lies, memory and reality: this is the work of Alexandru Solomon, one of the leading political documentary filmmakers in Romania.
Filmmaker, cinematographer and producer, Solomon was born in Bucharest in 1966. He studied in the Film and Theater Academy School and started working as a cinematographer, before he moved to documentary directing. An active producer as well, he has been developing projects since the 90s, focusing on co-productions with countries like the UK, Canada, France and Germany. He is also teaching at the Film School and within the Arts Academy in Bucharest. His films have participated in numerous festivals internationally.
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Written 19-02-2015 15:12:30 by Tue Steen Müller
… in NY is running now and until February 27 with many interesting titles, like ”Of Men and War” by Laurent Bécue-Renard, ”Domino Effect” (photo) by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski, and ”Around in the World in 50 Concerts”, the latest film by Heddy Honigmann awarded at idfa 2014. MOMA has its youtube channel, link below, where you can watch trailers and excerpts. And get small annotations of the 15 films on the programme.
Written 19-02-2015 11:53:57 by Tue Steen Müller
CoExist is what it says the photo of the poster we took today in Paris, when visiting Institut du Monde Arabe. A fine statement after the events in Copenhagen – and Paris. On the wall of the building was written ”nous sommes tous Charlie”. Inside was an impressive exhibition, Le Maroc contemporain, photos, paintings, videos, carpets, dresses, sculptures, a huge effort has been done to capture culture and soul of an Arab country. The exhibition can be seen until March 1st.
We arrived in Paris sunday morning after having been watching television the whole evening and most of the night. As well as been standing at the windows of our fourth floor appartment to see and listen. In the street people were walking quickly away from the nearby Nørreport Station, the blue lights from the police cars were flashing on the other side of the park and the sound of police car sirens were constant. Horrifying!
In Paris the attack was on the front page of the newspaper Libération: Vi er danskere = nous sommes danois, the text put on a photo taken outside the synagogue, where Jewish Dan Uzan was killed. In Le Monde Danish author Jens Christian Grøndahl conveyed his impressions from the moving memorial and in Le Figaro Danish-Syrian Naser Khader, former member of the Danish parliament gave a personal interview on how he grew up in the Danish society, so much different from Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, the man believed to be behind the killing of Uzan and Finn Nørgaard, Danish filmmaker, on that black weekend in Copenhagen.
Written 14-02-2015 18:35:52 by Tue Steen Müller
There were no Danish feature films awarded at the Berlinale but out of almost nowhere comes a Danish/Serbian documentary “Flotel Europa” and wins an award according to a press release of today from DFI, the Danish Film Institute: Vladimir Tomic's documentary about his memories from growing up on the refugee ship "Flotel Europa," received the Reader's Jury Award from the Berlin-based daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. Bravo! Background annotation of the film’s content:
“In 1992, a wave of refugees from the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina reached Denmark. With refugee camps completely full, the Red Cross pulled a giant ship into the canals of Copenhagen. The ship, Flotel Europa, became a temporary home for a thousand people waiting for decisions on their asylum applications. Among them was a young 12-year-old boy, Vladimir, who fled Sarajevo together with his mother and older brother. They spent two years in the limbo of Flotel Europa. Two decades later, Vladimir Tomic takes us on a journey of growing up on this ship filled with echoes of the war - and other things that make up an adolescence.”
I watched the film today and it is a very nice documentation – based on amateur video material – of the life on board a ship that we Copenhageners remember so well, also for the discussions on the bad conditions that were offered the refugees. Tomic story, however, is much more than that, through the personal and well written commentary that he delivers about the young kid growing up, seeing many of the grown ups going down mentally at the same time as he gets more and more aware of the girls around him, especially one called Melisa. In other words a fine small growing-up story in the middle of a sad political situation that brought Vladimir, his brother and strong mother away from Sarajevo. Interesting is also to hear about the internal ethnic conflicts among the refugees on the ship, as the kid saw it, remembered by the director more than 20 years later.
Denmark/Serbia, 2015, 70 mins.
Written 14-02-2015 13:25:42 by Tue Steen Müller
Festival director Nenad Puhovski and his ZagrebDox team has announced its programme for the 11th edition – around 150 films in 16 sections. The Croatian festival runs February 22 to March 1, take a look at the (as always) inviting, well designed website, link below.
25 films in the international competition, great films waiting for the audience like Virpi Suutari’s “Garden Lovers”, Laurent Bécue-Renard’s “Of Men and War”, Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard’s “Rules of the Game” and “Tea Time” by Maite Alberdi. Bravo that ZagrebDox takes films like Laila Pakalnina’s “Hotel and a Ball” and Viestur Kairish “Pelican in the Desert” (photo), overseen by bigger documentary festivals. The latter is a masterpiece.
The festivals also has a section for controversial documentaries that “explores and expounds political, social, religious and sexual controversies”, a section for “state of affairs” that “question some of the most important issues and controversies of today, from the current changes in Greece and the fates of prominent information freedom fighters Swartz and Snowden, to environmental and economic manipulations”, (but “Citizenfour” is not there?), and a special one titled “Discover Russia at ZagrebDox”. Here is the text from the website:
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Written 12-02-2015 16:07:13 by Tue Steen Müller
Good for the Americans who love non-American documentaries that POV exists. The channel's summer season has been launched yesterday – a quote from the announcement below taken from the website – and includes Chilean Maita Alberdi's wonderful "Tea Time", the Israeli "Web Junkie" by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia, Danish Andreas Johnsen's "Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case" and most important I think Talal Terkl's "Return to Homs". The quote:
"Today, we’re excited to share with you the lineup from POV’s summer season, which starts June 22. POV is American television’s longest running independent documentary series and we’re getting ready for our 28th season on PBS of acclaimed, provocative films unlike anything else on television. Highlights from the season include the Oscar-nominated "Cutie and the Boxer", an unprecedented look behind the Syrian insurgency in "Return to Homs", and "Point and Shoot", a film that will mark the 10th anniversary of filmmaker Marshall Curry’s first film (of many) on POV, the Oscar-nominated Street Fight."
Written 10-02-2015 19:36:49 by Tue Steen Müller
Tom Roston, film blogger with his own column, Doc Soup, on the site of American POV, writes today on Flaherty and Linklater, an elegant reflection on the two’s pioneer work with each their own genre.
Here is a quote: ”… Like Flaherty, Linklater (Boyhood) is pioneering a new form — he certainly isn’t the first, but he’s made a fictional film that hues so close to being real that it feels like real life. It’s a beautiful film. I think it’s a marvel. It was inspiring to see, even in our age, that the film medium could feel so new. It must have been somewhat like what audiences felt watching Nanook when they first watched it. So where Flaherty bent the rules of nonfiction to create a cinematic documentary, Linklater bent the rules of narrative fiction filmmaking to create realistic cinema. Bravo to both…”
Written 10-02-2015 11:20:05 by Tue Steen Müller
It is very difficult to make documentaries in Russia. It is very difficult to organise film festivals in Russia. It is very difficult to touch upon controversial subjects in Russia. We know that, but we also know how important it is to support the filmmakers there and to help them bring the films to life and to an audience abroad. I have had contacts with Russian documentarians for years, some of them since the existence of the Balticum Film & TV Festival on Bornholm in the 1990'es - some of them (because of their age) for a shorter period. To this category belongs young Georgy Molodtsov, who sent me a press release yesterday promoting the Russian Film Market Guide 2015 that is strongly recommended. Here is a quote:
"Moscow Business Square, Documentary Film Center and Russian Documentary Guild issue an English-language catalogue which includes detailed information about Russian documentary market. The print catalogue is now being presented at the Berlinale-2015 and its online version is available on Russian Documentary Guild web-site: http://www.rgdoc.com/industry
Printed version of the catalogue might be downloaded from web-site as well - http://rgdoc.ru/upload/iblock/RussianFilmMarketGuide.pdf
Both catalogues include a list of leading international documentary film festivals based in Russia. There is also a list of internationally successful production companies, national distributors, industrial sites, and Russian TV-channels. Besides this, the print catalogue shares an article which covers two important things such as financing sources available in Russia and opportunities of co-production with the Russian film companies..."
The Guild also publishes a Top 20 called "National Documentary Rating (is) a project (of Russian Documentary Guild), which determines the success of Russian films in domestic and international festival, tv and theatrical distribution during the 2013 calendar year (from Jan, 1 to Dec, 31)." On the list you find fine works as "Winter, Go Away", "Linar", "Vivan las Antipodas"-
Written 07-02-2015 16:56:43 by Tue Steen Müller
Finnish Virpi Suutari visited the festival for a very short time. She had just left the national documentary celebration DocPoint on Finland where her ”Garden Lovers” got the Jussi award as the best Finnish documentary and composer Sanna Salmenkallio received the award for the best music for that film. Knowing the general high quality of Finnish documentaries, I can only say – tough competition but the right winner, the film is a poetic masterpiece and has a universal appeal. I see it as one long visit to a Garden of Love, an hommage to people, who have lived for a long time together and care about their garden and each other. Virpi Suutari has her own style, there is unique flow in her narrative supported by the music. ”Garden Lovers” got applause for minutes, was enormously appreciated by the Belgrade audience – I know I repeat myself: the best in Europe!
In her masterclass Suutari (photo) talked about and showed her inspiration that comes from her education as a photographer (never been to film school). ”It affects your aesthetics what you have experienced in your childhood”, she said and referred to Martin Parr , Billy Brandt, Hopper and Billingham. She showed clips from ”Sin”, that she made together with Susanne Helke, a true inspiration from Swedish master Roy Andersson, and from ”White Sky”, also together with Helke, from Northern Russia, before she showed clips from ”Hilton”, made at the same time as ”Garden Lovers” in a completely different style.
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Written 07-02-2015 13:22:13 by Tue Steen Müller
Full house for the Q&A of Jorge Pelicano after the screening of his ”Suddenly My Thoughts Halt”, a film from a Portuguese hospital for mentally ill people, very well received by the Belgrade audience, again around 1000 spectators – to judge from the long applause that accompanied the end titles on the screen in the Sava Centre. Pelicano, with his third documentary film, that he directed, filmed and he also took care of the final editing process, invited the 50 people in the VIP room to know more about the difficult process of getting authorization to film, about several patients who did not want to take part or rather their guardians did not give the permission, about the 4-5 weeks of shooting, about him not sleeping there contrary to the actor Miguel, who installs himself to prepare for a theatre play with the patients – have to be said that the hospital uses theatre as a therapeutical tool several times per year.
I was there for three weeks without camera, Pelicano said, and after some time I/we became one(s) of them. We ended up having 250 hours of footage, we edited for 6 months. And we found our main characters – my comment: indeed he did, it will be impossible to forget Alberto, the laughing man with teeth only in the left side of his mouth, and Mr. Andreu, who walks with Alberto, looking like a English gentleman with an umbrella, intellectual, a perfect companion for Alberto, they get along. There is a brilliant scene that Pelicano told us about in his masterclass the next day, with young film students and filmmakers as participants in the
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Written 06-02-2015 12:29:57 by Tue Steen Müller
Monday 9th of February Camilla Nielsson’s Democrats will be shown on BBC Four within the strand ”Storyville”, headed by Nick Fraser.
On that occasion the director has been interviewed for the website of ”Storyville”, one of those small talk promotion of the film. She reveals that her favourite film of all times is Cassavetes ”A Woman under the Influence”, that she would love to make an interview with Henry Kissinger, that Albert Maysles ”Salesman” is the documentary that has inspired her most, that character for her is more important than story – and that her favourite website is www.filmkommentaren.dk.
Photo: Camilla Nielsson on stage with Zoran Popovic at Magnificent 7 in Belgrade.
Written 04-02-2015 18:48:09 by Tue Steen Müller
Maja Medic took these photos of two men on the stage at the Magnificent 7 Festival in Belgrade. It was on the night when the film on "Messi" was to be shown. From left the body language signals the mountain gorillas in the film "Virunga", then how the local Novak Djokovic did that sunday, when he won the Australian Open tennis tournament and finally, yes, Leo Messi when he scores. To the right festival director Zoran Popovic.
Written 04-02-2015 14:31:23 by Tue Steen Müller
One day takes the other here in Belgrade that has the most changing weather I have experienced for a long time. Yesterday Portuguese director Jorge Pelicano, Danish director Camilla Nielsson and I, accompanied by two young students of painting and film, went on a tour to the House of Flowers, the burial place of Tito and his wife Jovanka. The weather was warm with spring in the air, so we moved from Tito to Zemun to enjoy the river with its boats, and the many people strolling on the boardwalk.
Today Belgrade is back to Nordic weather, grey with rain.
Flashback to monday night where ”Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson was shown. Again close to 1000 spectators, great atmosphere with the director asking the audience if she could take a photo! Could one imagine one thousand people watching a film on Zimbabwe in a cinema in Copenhagen… No.
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Written 04-02-2015 14:23:39 by Tue Steen Müller
Camilla Nielsson, director of ”Democrats” that was shown here in Belgrade (see post above) monday night, told me that the film will have its premiere in Harare Zimbabwe this coming friday. A press release from the Danish embassy goes like this:
The Royal Danish Embassy Office (RDEO) will present the screening of Democrats, a documentary about Zimbabwe’s power struggle for a new constitution, on Friday 6 February 2015. The film which was directed by award-winning Danish filmmaker Camilla Nielsson, will be shown at 6:30 PM to invited guests and the general public at the Book Café in the capital.
Democrats is an exciting, compelling and shocking documentary that presents a rare, vital snapshot of Zimbabwe’s democratization process in its initial planning stages. The film follows the co-chairpersons of the parliamentary select committee COPAC, Munyaridzi Paul Mangwana (central committee member of ZANU-PF) and Douglas Mwonzora (General Secretary for MDC-T) who were charged with creating a new constitution that satisfies the principles of both parties and the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.
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Written 02-02-2015 10:55:59 by Tue Steen Müller
Take a look at the photo. This man is the one that emotionally carries the Oscar-nominated ”Virunga” by Orlando von Einsiedel. Whenever André is in the picture with his mountain gorillas, you understand how important the message of the film is: We must protect the nature and animals of the Virunga National Park, ”one of the most biologically diverse places in the world… part of UNESCO's world heritage”. The dramatic documentary tells its story (or stories) through powerful music and effects with undercover journalism as one important storytelling tool.
Around 2000 (yes, two thousand!) attended the screening Saturday night at the Sava Center in Belgrade!
Sunday morning was time for relaxation, at least for us non-Serbians. We were at the home of Nevena Đonlić, part of the festival team and a passionate connaisseur of tennis, the sport of Serbia thanks to Novak Djokovic, who played the final of Australian Open against Scottish Andy Murray – and won easily after four sets, the first two of them with some exciting moments. I had not seen a tennis match for years, enjoyed it due to the numerous interesting camera angles and superb close ups of feet and facial expressions of the players.
Last night back to the cinema, to the third film of the festival, “Messi” by Spanish Alex de la Iglesia. It gave me the chance to put on my Barcelona shirt and go on stage with Zoran Popovic to greet an audience that was different from the regular one: Hundreds of kids were in the hall accompanied by their parents. Wonderful! I sat next to four boys around 12 years old. When there was talking on screen, they also talked to each other, when Messi was on the pitch their eyes were wide open adoring the little master’s movements. Film and football, what a cocktail!
Written 02-02-2015 09:45:50 by Tue Steen Müller
Press release from the upcoming film fest in Berlin:
The Berlin International Film Festival (February 5-15) has long been committed to documentaries in their diverse forms. This is reflected in the programmes of the Berlinale’s different sections and initiatives, as well in the European Film Market (EFM), NATIVe, and Berlinale Talents.
In 2015, a total of 87 documentaries will be screening in a variety of forms. In addition, discussion of a wide range of different aspects related to documentaries will be intensified – at workshops, panels and presentations…
At the European Film Market there is a “Meet the Docs” – organized together with EDN (European Documentary Network) – panel discussions are being held as well meetings with festival representatives and there is a ““Docs Spotlight” series by CPH:DOX, DOK Leipzig and IDFA that present a selection of the previous documentary festival programmes.” “Messi” by Alex de la Iglesia is there, “The Look of Silence” by Joshua Oppenheimer as well – the film just won awards as the best Nordic documentary at the festival in Gothenburg and the Danish Robert. Other titles – Hanna Polak’s “Something better to Come” and “Daniel’s World” (photo) by Veronika Liskova.
At “Berlinale Talents” ten projects are presented and “receive a week of assistance in developing”, quite a generous initiative.
What else? A world premiere “The Pearl Button” by Patricio Guzmán, “Fassbinder – To Love Without Demands” by Danish Christian Braad Thomsen, also a world premiere, and a new one from Laura Nix, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, “The Yes Men Are Revolting”.
But take a look at
Written 31-01-2015 19:25:24 by Tue Steen Müller
”I was asked to do that film”, Oeke Hoogendijk said at the Q&A session after the opening screening of ”The New Rijksmuseum – the Film” friday night January 30 at the Sava Centre in Belgrade. The hall was full, more than 1000 spectators, the reactions were positive during the film – the 130 minutes version was shown, director’s cut, she stressed in the small VIP room, where also the masterclass was held this morning with around 25 young filmmakers and students. ”At the beginning I wrote a script but I had to throw it away as we went along and things happened that could not be anticipated”. Nobody could imagine that the reconstruction of the museum could take more than a decade.
Oeke Hoogendijk ended up with 400 hours of material. She made a film out of the material already in 2008. She made a four part series for television and ”I learned a lot from making that film – go with the film, trust your intuition”.
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Written 30-01-2015 11:41:30 by Tue Steen Müller
I warn you – it is my intention to report from the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade that starts tonight with the screening of ”The New Rijksmuseum – the Film” by Oeke Hoogendijk. The reporting will include a lot about films, for sure, but also about the atmosphere in this wonderful city and about the equally wonderful team behind the festival’s 11th edition. Dedicated and passionate film lovers who can be proud of a festival that attracts a huge audience. We expect more than 1000 spectators at the Sava Centre at 8pm!
We (my wife is with me) arrived wednesday around midnight with Wizz from Malmö, where we lined up to check in next to a fine photo of football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, local hero in Malmö, where he grew up, Bosnian origins. At Nikolaj Tesla airport we were met by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, and one of the loyal Magnificent7 team members, Andrijana Stojkovic, film director and editor. To stay in the football world, Svetlana Popovic brought me a poster that advertises the screening of ”Messi”, a film we are looking forward to show to the Belgrade audience, who might be more interested in a certain Djokovic…
Yesterday morning Zoran Popovic and I were interviewed on N1 television, which is a new (started October 2014), a regional news channel à lá CNN, broadcasting from Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade. It is my general impression – take a look at the FB page of the festival – that the press is very interested in the festival and so are a good number of restaurants that in all years have been supporting the festival by inviting its guests for lunches or dinners. Yesterday we were at a vegan restaurant Radost House, Pariska 3 – delicious meal, ”good for your stomach before all the meat you will have”, as said cinematographer Jelena Stankovic, also a loyal team member of M7. Back to Crown Plaza, which has been the festival hotel since the very beginning, apart from one year where it was under renovation. It is difficult to be negative here, actually impossible, lovely hotel.
Photo from previous festival - Zoran Popovic, Svetlana Popovic and I having a rakia at the legendary ?.
Written 29-01-2015 22:21:47 by Tue Steen Müller
Realscreen reports from the ongoing Sundance festival. And documentaries are shown and discussed. Last saturday a panel of three directors were talking about ”the blurring lines between journalism and non-fiction storytelling”.
Laura Poitras (Citizen Four etc.) (Photo): “It’s not a blurry line, it’s additive, It’s ‘Journalism Plus.’ It’s not just telling the facts. We don’t make films to break news. Hopefully we make lasting narratives, so that’s different.”
Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side etc.): “I consider myself a filmmaker, but with journalistic baggage. I do have a commitment to make something in the visual medium that stands the test the time.”
Mark Silver (3 ½ minutes)… To illustrate how different journalists and filmmakers are perceived in the U.S., the British-born Silver said that he applied to be part of a journalists union in the UK before directing 3½ Minutes, a very American crime story debuting at the festival. “I needed something to help me get through customs without having to explain myself,” he said. “Being a journalist union member did that. And to get access to the courtroom, we couldn’t have pushed that without being a journalist.”
Just a taster for the article by Michael Speier on a theme that comes up whenever the documentary genre is on the agenda.
Written 29-01-2015 21:27:49 by Tue Steen Müller
The Flaherty has announced its 2015 seminar, June 13-19 at the Colgate University, Hamilton NY. The programmer is Laura U. Marks. There is a focus on Arab film artists – you can read much more about the event by clicking the link below. Here is the introduction to the seminar that is – among others – supported by AFAC, The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture:
“The title “The Scent of Places” suggests the ways cinema makes the subtlest of presences perceptible. It brings lost or forgotten events into present awareness. It gives form to unbidden feelings. It invents stories more truthful than fact. It detects patterns—emotional, social, and political. It sharpens perception so that we can see and hear, smell and feel more clearly.
Filmmakers from the Arab world are some of the most adept at these creative strategies. Living in the Arab world in recent decades, with its barrage of external and internal pressures, demands filmmakers and artists to come up with smart and subtle ways to express forces, histories, and experiences that lie under the radar. The goal of the program is to focus not on the works’ geographic, social, and political context, but on their aesthetic qualities: the scents of places that they make present. So the program brings Arab artists together with other international filmmakers who share creative strategies with them. The program also diminishes large-scale politics to focus on more intimate and playful gestures. The richest and strangest scents—those of ordinary life—float through these works. They discover patterns in the chaos of the world. They fabulate, or invent fictions that become true. They engage in psychodynamics, teasing people into expressive acts. They crackle like Geiger counters in the presence of invisible forces. With rhythm and performance they shake up the world and squeeze it for its juice.”
Written 27-01-2015 23:23:45 by Tue Steen Müller
Of course we Danes must have an award carrying the name of Dreyer:
“Every year on Dreyer’s birthday, the Carl Th. Dreyer Memorial Fund awards a prize primarily to a young film director, or other artist working in film, in recognition of an outstanding artistic performance. The fund is financed by the annual earnings from Gaumont’s distribution of The Passion of Joan of Arc.”
A press release of today communicates that the prize this year goes to Anders Østergaard (cv according to DFI’s website): Director, born 1965. Graduated from the Danish School of Journalism in 1991 after training at Central Television, London. Worked as a copywriter at an advertising agency and as a researcher on documentary programmes. Awarded Best Documentary at Odense International Film Festival in 1999 for "Troldkarlen"/"The Magus". Writer-director on the international coproduction "Tintin et moi" (2003), and the documentary about one of Denmark's most popular rock bands "Gasolin" (2006) which had a successful run at the domestic boxoffice with nearly a quarter million admissions. "Burma VJ" (2008) received an Oscar nomination and has taken home a record-breaking number of international awards, including IDFA's Joris Ivens and Movies That Matter. Also from 2008 is "Så kort og mærkeligt livet er", about Danish poet Dan Turèll.
And this comment from me – An obvious choice or the award, Østergaard has developed his own original and playful take on how to treat creatively the past, shown brilliantly through his last work “1989”, shown all over Europe. On top of that he is an excellent and inspiring teacher, who can be strongly recommended to film schools and professional documentary gatherings.
Written 27-01-2015 22:22:25 by Tue Steen Müller
Jeg har ikke tid til at skrive en egentlig anmeldelse af André Singers imponerende og vigtige film, som jeg så på SVT i går aftes. Allan Berg vil muligvis stå for den. Men filmen er som historisk dokument naturligvis unik, historien om den – Bernsteins dokumentar blev lagt på hylden og ikke færdiggjort af politiske årsager – er interessant, det er historie og det er filmhistorie, og det er betryggende kompetent formidlet af The True Documentary Gentleman, André Singer, som har stået bag en perlekæde af dokumentarfilm, som producent (bl.a. af flere Werner Herzog-film) og instruktør. Og har været en konstant supporter af den kreative dokumentarfilm og af nødvendigheden af at arbejde sammen i Europa gennem f.eks. EDN. Han fortjener ros som Signe Byrge gør det, igen har hun og hendes selskab Final Cut for Real været medvirkende til at en vigtig film er blevet til. Og til at vi danskere, når vi vil, kan gå online og se den via DFI's Filmcentralen.
Written 26-01-2015 11:45:13 by Tue Steen Müller
If you happen to be in Barcelona this week, it is a must to visit the exhibition at La Virreina Image Centre, La Rambla 99. It is the last week of an exhibition that I was lucky to see in connection with a meeting on the upcoming DocsBarcelona, whose Elena Subira took me to be a perfect guide. Moreover Llucià Homs, the man behind it all and the one who met Ai Weiwei several times in Beijing explained me the exciting background to how the exhibition was put together:
Ai Weiwei asked in beforehand to get precise drawings of the rooms in the fine, old Palau (Palace). From those he arranged it all. There was no discussion where and how the photos from his New York time, from Beijing etc. should be placed on the walls, he decided, he designed the glass showcases where he put the famous vase with coca cola painted on it or other Marcel Duchamp-inspired readymades. His extraordinary fight for the victims of the earthquake in Sichuan 2008, the official letters to the families of the children are placed on the walls in a separate room, his own constant clashes with the authorities, his arrests, are documented on video screens – and you find his sun flower seeds and the marble flowers on the floor…
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Written 25-01-2015 16:47:44 by Tue Steen Müller
”Cinematekets egne premiere-dokumentarer – håndplukkede historier fra virkeligheden”, sådan præsenteres et fint initiativ, som også kaldes ”månedens dokumentar”, som vises i Filmhuset ved 6 forevisninger, således også januar måneds bemærkelsesværdige ”The 50 Year Argument”, der vises i sin originalversion og uden danske undertekster. Premiere den 29. Januar. En filmisk hyldest til legendariske New York Review of Books i anledning af bladets 50 års jubillæum. Martin Scorsese og David Tedeschi har løst opgaven (bestilt af bladet) med humor og respekt for det skrevne ord, men også med sans for det historiske og tematiske, med tankevækkende og undertiden gribende nedslag i tekster og personer, som vil blive stående i litteraturen og journalistikken. Man får lyst til straks at få fat i bladet og dets artikler skrevet af en række fremragende forfattere, filosoffer, videnskabsfolk og journalister.
The main character is the fine gentleman Robert Silvers, 84 years old, one of the founders, who (together with Barbara Epstein (died in 2006)) ”has guided the Review since its launch”, quote from HBO press material. He is working from morning till night seven days a week and he is the one behind the 50 year celebration event that has been filmed with several contributors reading texts from the essays, they have delivered. Boring with people reading from a speakers podium? Not at all, the texts are put in excerpts on the screen, often accompanied with archive footage and photos of the contributors, beautiful b/w works, and for instance archive footage with James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Noman Mailer, Gore
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Written 24-01-2015 13:16:42 by Tue Steen Müller
Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade present ”Rules of the Game” that will be screened February 5th as the closing film of the festival. The text also includes words from the director:
There’s a rumour that the employment market is looking for bold individualists. Within limits, of course. The reality is: if it doesn’t fit, it’s made to fit – or rejected.
The unique pains of finding a job are almost universally relatable. In order to succeed, you must present a certain marketable version of yourself, place yourself in unnatural situations and, above all, play by the rules. It’s even harder when you have neither experience nor qualifications to your name. Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard’s observational documentary takes on this very subject, focusing on a small group of disenfranchised young adults as they attend an employment consultancy firm in northern France. Through a series of vignettes we are effectively positioned to empathise with their frustrations, failures and successes over a number of months as they are coached through various stages of the employment process. Through their apprenticeship, the film reveals the absurdity of these new rules of the game.
This exquisite film done by true masters had a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and won one the most prestigious documentary prices in Europe – The Golden Dove at DOK Leipzig. The critic of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Bories and Chagnard have produced a piece that is urgent in its mission, nonjudgmental in its depiction of its subjects and entirely theatrical in its mise-en-scene and dialogue - a remarkable feat.”
France, 2014, 106 mins.
Written 23-01-2015 15:41:00 by Tue Steen Müller
Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade present ”Garden Lovers” that will be screened February 4th at the festival. The text also includes words from the director:
One of the most important Finnish and European documentary authors, Virpi Suutari, is passionate about two things – documentaries and gardens. In this film she leads us into the beautiful and funny world “North of Eden”.
This is a documentary love story about couples who take care of their gardens together. The film looks behind the middle-class facades with a comic twist and listens to the couples’ stories about the conflicts and joys of long relationships. The setting is their own garden, a hobby that in many cases has gotten out of hand years ago. The film’s angle on the toiling and the passionate gardening is kind and humoristic: fellow human beings build and defend their territories, but also enjoy beauty in the paradise they have built for themselves and their spouses.
In the visually handsome film an invisible bond develops between the key couples. With their own stories they listen, comment and comfort each other – while also providing viewers with a chance to engage. The garden represents a door to the everyday struggles of human life, with joy, without moralizing and underlining. The film’s gardening stories celebrate fertility, play – and love.
This is a comic documentary about the necessity of gardening.
Director's Word: The process of making “Garden Lovers” was open, cheerful and liberated – a midsummer night’s play in a sense. As a director, I was happier than ever when making this film. At the same time I was bidding farewell to my father, who taught me everything about gardening. Thus, the film also became a personal journey toward accepting the idea of letting go and meeting death. With “Garden Lovers” I want to celebrate things that are temporary but necessary to the meaning of human existence. The main characters work like crazy – as I do – for their imaginary paradises, although the fruits of their labor may vanish in a moment. We cannot cheat death, but as long as our hands are buried in soil, we at least feel alive.
Finland, 2014, 73 mins.
Written 22-01-2015 14:24:27 by Tue Steen Müller
Yes, of course it is the unique Doc Alliance that brings to us – FOR FREE – seven of Kossakovsky’s film online – UNTIL FEBRUARY 1ST. It is “the first time that they enter the virtual online world and thus also your computer screens”.
It is indeed fantastic, thanks for that. Some of us will have the pleasure to revisit his work, others will have the chance to follow a great director’s development from “Losev” (1989) to “Vivan las Antipodas” (2011), passing by wonderful “Belovs” (1992), the conceptual “Wednesday” (1997), the declaration of love with “Pavel and Lalya” (1998), “Tishe!” (2002), a from-the-window-look from his appartment in St.Petersburg and “Svyato” (2005), the director’s two year old son discovering himself in the mirror. On top of that the film by Carlos Klein, “Where the Condors Fly” (2012), follows Kossakovsky during the shooting of “Vivan las Antipodas”. The latter it has to be said is available for viewing in” the following countries: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Portugal, Great Britain, Greece, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Botswana and all Latin American countries.”
More roses to Doc Alliance – if you enter the website you will also be given competent information about each of the films. My advice for the Kossakovsky (smiling to you from a photo taken at the premiere of Vivav… in Venice) film festival you can make for yourself is to go chronologically.
Written 22-01-2015 13:20:19 by Tue Steen Müller
Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade present ”Suddenly My Thoughts Halt” that will be screened February 3rd at the festival. The text also includes words from the director:
Outstanding photography takes us into the space of masked passion and suffering in which we soon discover provocative framework of the cult film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”, while the director delicately developes enchanting atmosphere that evokes famous Mann’s novel “The Magic Mountain”.
The documentary is about a facility for mentally ill in Lisbon. The viewer accompanies the patients in their daily lives and in their preparations for a play. The director of the play lives for this purpose for some time with the patients to build up trust and to simply understand them better. But the core of the film is the people. Pelicano creates with its sensitive camera the necessary space in front of the camera so that the characters unfold naturally. The patients themselves prove that they are amazingly aware about their own situation and not desperate. Instead, they use the opportunity to speak in detail about their crazy truths. These intimate confessions are what fascinates and allows the audience to identify with the events. This is the special power of the film, that the mentally ill are not perceived as a threat but as people who can enrich us and make us laugh even about ourselves.
Guided by magnificent poetry of Ângelo de Lima this film is also a precious insight into the space where lucidity and madness live together.
Director's Word: Here I return to my desire to film the unknown and try to demystify some myths. As a child I often heard “be good or you go to the Hospital for crazy.” The truth is that no one really knows what one will find inside. And I wanted to demystify some things, to update what is madness. We went there with some fears because, for me, it was all fog. I did not know what was inside that hospital. As time passed the fog disappeared and there were hard things, stronger, that could be represented by a storm. So there is a lot of rain during the film. But there are also moments of sun shining. As we advanced in our work, we gained the trust of our characters and the characters were gaining our trust to the extent that we became close and ended up being friends. This gained confidence was extremely important because that's what allowed us to look a little bit more into the mind of those people.
Portugal, 2014, 98 mins.
Written 21-01-2015 00:20:15 by Tue Steen Müller
Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade present ”Democrats” that will be screened February 2nd at the festival. The text also includes words from the director:
One of the best Danish documentaries in past several years inspired by some legendary documentary masters like Richard Leacock, who started new era in documentary filmmaking entering with his camera in strictly closed official spaces. And Camilla Nielsson does the same, but in a foreign country, without the knowledge of the native language and under the constant threat of possible violence.
Over the course of more than three years director Camilla Nielsson has been up close in the inner circles of politics in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. With the process of creating Zimbabwe's new constitution as the film's narrative backbone, “Democrats” tells the story of a political elite fighting a battle over the founding principles defining the country's possible future. Two political opponents are appointed to write the new constitution, and Camilla Nielsson has gained unique access to the thrilling political game being played between the two parties.
The film unfolds in ways that neither the director nor her main subjects could have foreseen. From unbelievably close range Camilla Nielsson develops her discrete and precise observing, transforming the political story into exciting and emotional anthropological study of main characters. Surprisingly she was immediately becoming invisible part of all events and cautiously revealing hidden conflicts that merge into thrilling drama, but finally into a fantastic film twist with catharsis. A brilliant example of how documentary can make complex processes comprehensible in a way that a thousand expert’s reports can not.
Director's Word: The biggest challenge in making this film was filming a politically sensitive story in a country with a long history of both censorship and banning of foreign media. Also, being a country with no tradition for observational documentary filmmaking, roaming around in Zimbabwe as a white documentary-film crew, we caused quiet a circus at times, and our safety was often at risk. I think in my own case it has often been an advantage to be a woman, especially in some of the difficult places I have made my films. I think a male director would have had much more resistance in terms of access.
Denmark, 2014, 109 mins.
Written 20-01-2015 00:29:15 by Tue Steen Müller
Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade present ”Messi” that will be screened February 1st at the festival. The text also includes words from the director:
When one of the most important Spanish directors, Alex de la Iglesia was asked to make a documentary about world famous footballer Lionel Messi, he decided not to make the film about the sport but to look for the mistery behind it, for what he calls the “rosebud” moment. De la Iglesia was fascinated by the way that Messi polarises opinion in spite of his astonishing ability. “Half of the world loves Messi. The other half hates Messi. There is not something in the middle.” If he searched hard enough, De la Iglesia was certain, he could discover just why Messi had pushed himself to become one of the greatest footballers of his age. When he was making the film De la Iglesia was thinking all the time about the legendary Orson Welles' “Citizen Kane”, about the boy with the sledge who grows up to become the all-powerful media magnate.
Thus he created extremely dynamic and fascinating docufiction puzzle consisting of the dinner scene with some of the iconic football figures and Messi’s closest friends and people from his youth and childhood, archive materials and specially directed fiction scenes based on true events. The idea of the dinner came to him from Woody Allen's film “Broadway Danny Rose” in which a group of old-time comedians reminisce about a person called Danny Rose – and he comes alive in their anecdotes.
The film was premiered at the Venice Festival as one of the best made documentaries in the past year – charismatic participants, excellent directing, camera and sound. Masterly edited!
Director's Word: What I've done is made a film that shows a story, but I also wanted to make a film that explains why Messi is the way he is. Why is he so shy? So reserved? What happened to him in childhood to make him that way? He is one of the most celebrated people in world, along with Cristiano Ronaldo, with some of the greatest opportunities to open himself up to the world. And yet he shuts himself off in his town with his family. This is a film in which we wanted to mark the life and biography of a personality. It's made for people to enjoy, along with Messi, and for people who care about him as a personality.
Spain, 2014, 97 mins.
Written 19-01-2015 09:53:16 by Tue Steen Müller
Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade presents the Oscar-nominated ”Virunga” that will be screened January 31 at the festival. The text also includes words from the director:
Depicting the best and the worst in human nature, Orlando von Einsiedel’s devastating documentary “Virunga” wrenches a startlingly lucid narrative from a sickening web of bribery, corruption and violence.
The setting is the magnificent — and protected — Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to many of the world’s last mountain gorillas and the region’s best hope for economic stability. In a country already weakened by a tumultuously bloody history, that hope became even more fragile with the 2010 discovery of oil beneath Lake Edward and the arrival of a British petroleum company, SOCO International. As multiple forces collided for control of the park — including a powerful rebel group seeking a percentage of oil profits — Orlando von Einsiedel and his crew members found themselves caught in a literal war between conservation and exploitation.
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Written 18-01-2015 18:01:21 by Tue Steen Müller
This morning Joan Gonzalez, director of DocsBarcelona, sent me this message from his iPhone conveying hope for what documentaries can do in Catalonia:
“Last 24 hours has been very explosive in doc terms. Yesterday the documentary “Ciutat Morta” (corruption, police, Barcelona) (shown at DocsBarcelona 2014) was at the center of debate in the networks. Yesterday it was broadcast on channel 33 (the second channel of TV3, Catalan public television). Today the network is full of comments after a result in audience of 19% = 569.000 viewers to become program number1 in all channels in Catalonia. Very, very historical if you remember that Channel 33 has an average of 4% of audience.”
Here is what I wrote in May 2014: “Ciutat Morta” by Xavier Artigas and Xapo Ortega has changed my view on Barcelona as this nice and friendly city full of beauty and football... The film is a shocking cinematic documentation on police brutality and corruption, young people being tortured and put in jail for no reason – and a moving interpretation of the tragedy of a young poet. Here is the synopsis from the catalogue:
”June 2013, 800 people illegally occupy an old movie theater in Barcelona in order to screen a documentary. They rename the old building after a girl who committed suicide in 2011: Cinema Patricia Heras. Who was that girl? Why did she kill herself and what does the city have to do with it? That's exactly what the squatting action is about: letting everyone know the truth about one of the worse corruption cases in Barcelona, the dead city.”
Written 18-01-2015 12:20:54 by Tue Steen Müller
Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade presents ”The New Rijksmuseum” that will be screened January 30 as the opening film of the festival. The text also includes words from the director:
In 2003, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the most important museum in all of the Netherlands, closed for a major renovation. The plan was to reopen in 2008, but what was to take five years took 10, with a budget that just kept on growing. Filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk was able to follow this exciting, difficult and sometimes painfully funny process with the camera from behind closed museum doors. In beautiful images supported by powerful music, she captured the building as it was stripped to a bleak carcass, and as it gradually retrieved the old grandeur of yesteryear.
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Written 18-01-2015 10:12:57 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Mens jeg fortumlet tænker videre over alt det, som skete i mig ved at lytte til de to dages samtale mellem Joshua Oppenheimer og Werner Herzog på Den danske Filmskole for en uge siden, hjælper kollega Tue Steen Müller mig ved at hitte dette blogindlæg fra kottke.org frem. Det kan for mig lige nu fungere som en slags huskeliste (for Herzog vendte ofte tilbage til et eller andet dictum, som han kalder disse sætninger) og dermed mulighed for videre overvejelse for en vigtig del af Herzogs bidrag disse dage. Resten står så tilbage som opgave. Og dertil kommer selvfølgelig især at få orden i tankerne om det, Joshua Oppenheimer sagde. Men altså indtil videre denne blogpost af Jason Kottke (14.januar 2015):
”Paul Cronin's book of conversations with filmmaker Werner Herzog called ”Werner Herzog - A Guide for the Perplexed”(2014). On the back cover of the book, Herzog offers a list of advice for filmmakers that doubles as general purpose life advice.
1. Always take the initiative.
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
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Written 17-01-2015 16:29:04 by Tue Steen Müller
The 11th edition of the Magnificent7 Festival for European feature length documentaries takes off January 30 and continues until February 5. As in previous years filmkommentaren publishes the introduction to the 7 films written by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic. That will start tomorrow. Here follows my introduction to the programme – as member of the selection group together with the Popovic couple:
Can we live without art? Of course not, we do hope that Magnificent7 2015 proves the value of watching film art that gives us something to think about, experiences, joy, maybe sorrow or anger, maybe make us act for change, feel love... the same as wanted Rembrandt and Vermeer and Hals in their time. The three and all the other great artists have for more than a decade been waiting to get a new home as we can see in “The New Rijksmuseum” by Oeke Hoogendijk, a brilliant interpretation of the meeting between art professionals and citizens of Amsterdam, including politicians.
“Messi”... is it good, can we get it? A film about the Argentinian, whose artistic football performances the world has enjoyed. The answer to both questions were affirmative and after a check of an eventual audience interest, the film by Álex de la Iglesia was included in the programme. We hope to see parents take their teenage kids to see their idol on the big screen. A new festival audience!
Another innovation in this year programme is “Virunga” by English Orlando von Einsiedel (executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio!), an activist film that in a powerful language and with brave people on screen makes the appeal to protect the Congolese Virunga National Park.
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Written 15-01-2015 17:56:33 by Tue Steen Müller
... and for the rest of course, but let’s focus on the nominees in the documentary feauture, the first mentioned is/are directors, the names that follow are producers: The favourite unique document ”Citizen Four” (photo) (Laura Poitras (dir.), Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky), the nice and charming ”Finding Vivian Maier” (John Maloof and Charlie Siskel), the beautiful cinematic ”The Salt of the Earth” (Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier), the powerful activist ”Virunga” (Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara) and one I have not seen, ”Last Days in Vietnam” (Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester). The audience in Belgrade will have the chance to watch ”Virunga” during the Magnificent7 festival that starts in two weeks.
This came out today, discussions will follow, they already are, especially because the film by Steve James on late film critic Rogert Ebert, ”Life Itself” was not nominated. ”Citizen Four” Laura Poitras – according to Variety – said: “Steve James should have been on this list”. “I’m in shock” .“When his name wasn’t up there, I thought, ‘how is that possible?’ He’s a legend in our field with an incredible body of work. I assumed his film would be nominated, so it’s a bit of a heartbreak.”
For the short documentary nomination – I have only seen one – ”Joanna” by Aneta Kopacz. In October 2013 I wrote this: I watched the film - if you can put it like that - with pleasure and emotionally touched, to say the least, well what else can I say but BEAUTIFUL. As a film and as a hymn to Life and Love, whatever might happen... I cross my fingers for this film February 22nd.
Written 15-01-2015 11:16:34 by Tue Steen Müller
Trieste – the city of Claudio Magris – still miss a creative documentary on this magnificent author – hosts a fine festival that starts tomorrow January 16th and runs until January 22nd. The documentary programme has quality and is also daring taking off with Romanian ”The Second Game”, a full football game. Here is the description given by the director C. Porumboiu: “This film is a football match, a derby between two Bucharest teams, Steaua and Dinamo, which took place on the 3rd of December, 1988. My father was the referee. We re-watched the match together, some 25 years later.” Writing history in an original way!
This is one of the 12 documentaries in competition. Others are Croatian Tiha K. Gudac's "Naked Island", "Euromaidan. Rough Cuts" by the team behind the DocuDays festival in Kiev, "Velvet Terrorists" by Slovak trio Ostrochovsky, Pekarcik and Kerekes, Hanna Polak's "Something Better to Come" and Alina Rudnitskaya's "Victory Day".
All fine films with an international appeal. On top of that there is a rough cut session for documentaries and a pitching event for new projects. It's all very professional and competent. Take a look at
Written 13-01-2015 16:36:49 by Tue Steen Müller
For those of us travelling to festivals like DOKLeipzig and idfa it has been obvious that something good is happening with documentaries in Chile. Good fims are made and delegations arrive to the festivals to launch films through the ChileDoc, whose executive director Flor Rubina is interviewed for the site of DocAlliance. She says that ”information is ”power”, we an amplify it”. Later on in the fine interview, she says that ”Something that we have definitely improved in the last decade is the cinematography of the films. Visual approach, sound design, and the search for new languages to tell stories are very important to our filmmakers. As I mentioned before, diversity and eclecticism are characteristic of current Chilean documentary production. As any filmmaker, Chilean directors are looking for ways to reach global audiences through small stories that connect them with issues that any human being cares about…”
BUT check it out for yourself on DocAlliance, eight films are free for all until January 18, including the great “The Last Station”. by Cristian Soto and Catalina Vergara.
ChiChiChi – LeLeLe!
Written 10-01-2015 15:26:39 by Tue Steen Müller
The excellent French language ”Le blog documentaire” posted today a text with the headline above. The editor C.Mal has listed (some with links to clips/trailers) films made on some of killed cartoonists (like Cabu, photo) or on the satirical cartoon genre in general. Here is his introduction text:
“Après la sidération, après la consternation et les mots qui manquent, Le Blog documentaire se raccroche aux images. Images en forme d’hommage à Charlie Hebdo. Voici quelques propositions de films sur l’hebdomadaire satirique, et sur ces dessinateurs qui nous sont si chers. Certains d’entre eux viennent d’être rediffusés sur les chaînes du service public français.”
Written 10-01-2015 11:04:36 by Tue Steen Müller
From the website of Göteborg Film Festival (January 23 – February 2): French sadomasochism, Canadian social workers and an American free zone for convicted pedophiles are all found in the eight films nominated for the Dragon Award Best Nordic Documentary 2015. The prize sum of 100,000 SEK makes this one of the Nordic countries’ largest festival award for a documentary film…
I am curious to watch Swedish Magnus Gertten’s “Every face has a Name”, a follow-up to the excellent “Harbour of Hope”. The director is “tracking down several of the people who appear in the pictures” taken in 1945, when prisoners of war and holocaust survivors arrived in Malmö, “asking them to tell their story”.
To be mentioned is also the Swedish/Danish “Pervert Park” by Frida and Lasse Barkfors, a strong and touching documentary shot in Florida Justice Transitions, “a trailer park that serves as a free zone for” convicted sex offenders.
Among the eight nominated are also Camilla Nielsson’s “Democrats” from Zimbabwe and Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence”, no further introduction needed – and as on many other festival occasions Oppenheimer will hold a Master Class during the festival.
The photo is a still collage of the nominated films made by the festival.
Written 09-01-2015 08:22:44 by Tue Steen Müller
I know it looks stupid and tabloid, but I have been using that headline so many times and I do believe that there is a lot of documentary talent and originality to be found in the Eastern European countries. More than in the West where many filmmakers play according to television format requirements. And there is an interest in getting together as the news from IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in Prague demonstrates:
… We are happy to announce the final selection of projects picked for the upcoming 15th edition of East European Forum, held in Prague within the fourth East Doc Platform. The board of experts went through more than 200 applicants and eventually picked 10 projects. These will be joined by 12 more projects that took part in 2014 Ex Oriente Film workshop. Together all the filmmakers will take part in a five-day-long preparatory workshop and get ready for their public presentations. After the weekend of public project pitching they will all eventually get to the round tables as well as individual meetings, where they will face the industry professionals (TV, funds, festivals and distribution and production companies representatives) from the whole Europe and North America and negotiate support for their documentaries…
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Written 07-01-2015 18:31:47 by Sara Thelle
Grand old man and enfant terrible of French militant cinema René Vautier died Sunday January 4th in his home in Cancale, Brittany, at the age of 86. Originally from Brittany, René Vautier fought the Germans as a very young member of the French Resistance during the Second World War, at 16 he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre and honoured by de Gaulle. After the war he wanted to pursue the combat but not with arms and his friends then encourage him to take up a new weapon: the camera. His battle was to last a life long.
Vautier graduated in 1948 from the film school IDHEC in Paris. In 1949 he gets a command to make a film for the Ligue de l’enseignement about the benefits of the French educational mission in the West African colonies. The result, Afrique 50, became, on the contrary, a violent critique of the French colonial system. Vautier’s first film was also the first anticolonial film ever to be made in France and the reaction was violent in return: Vautier was faced with 13 charges and sentenced to one year of prison!
The film has an incredible story. To escape the limitations of the 1934 decree of the Minister of the Colonies Pierre Laval (forbidding any filming in the colonies without the presence of a an administration official) Vautier went on to film in secret. He almost got his film rolls confiscated for destruction in Africa but managed to get his work back to France where he finally had to illegally retrieve the reels kept under seizure by the board of censors (he got 17 of 50 reels). The film was finished in secret and stayed censured in France for over 40 years though it was awarded as one of the best documentaries of the year at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Warsaw in 1955 (with Joris Ivens as president of the jury). In 1996, a copy of the film was finally handed over to Vautier by the Foreign Ministry during the first official screening in France and only in 2003 the film was broadcasted on French television. The Cinémathèque française has recently made new copies of the film as part of their effort to safeguard the entire oeuvre of René Vautier initiated in 2007.
Afrique 50 is a short powerful outburst, a rhythmic pamphlet, swiftly edited with an attacking voice-over. Playing with the genre of educational state propaganda documentary but turning it against the government, the film pinpoints, with humour and great seriousness, the link between capitalism and racism. Film historian Nicole Brenez, specialist of avant-garde cinema at la Cinémathèque française, has called it the greatest film in the history of cinema. Go see it, it’s on YouTube!
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Written 06-01-2015 22:53:31 by Tue Steen Müller
DocAlliance starts its new year with a present to its (hopefully) many viewers:
It is a film that was on my Best of 2014 – here is a quote from the review:
Many words are taken from her memoirs and Janek found a woman, who knew Olga, and had the kind of voice she had to read pages about her upbringing in communist Czechoslovakia. Editor Tonicka Jankova and director Miroslav Janek have done a great work to make this archive film fresh to watch. The montage is brilliant. Janek has said that he – in ”Citizen Havel” – could feel ”her persona”. Director and editor has succeeded to offer the audience the same. You never get really close to Olga, she wanted to keep her integrity and dignity, the filmmakers respect that dignity, her unsentimentality and humour – it is a film full of admiration for the protagonist, playful, informative, what more could you ask for...?
Written 06-01-2015 22:43:03 by Tue Steen Müller
On the way to the Zelig film school in Bolzano a stop was made in Berlin for some days. Apart from enjoying oysters in KaDeWee or la Fayette the city’s many good restaurants often have Kalbsleber in its classic version on the menu. And with Berlin with January weather you find it right to go to exhibitions. Three were visited, the RAF (Rote Armée Fraktion) in Deutsches Historisches Museum (until March 3), the West:Berlin in Ephrahim Palast and Pier Paolo Pasolini in Martin Gropius-Bau. As exhibitions the level of quality were in the same order.
The RAF was very interesting with lots of visuals (clips from the enormous amount of Dokumentation that has been made from the demonstrations, the fights in the streets, the story chronologically presented – but the elements had been given far too little space, it felt packed and klaustrophobic. So what do you do – you buy the catalogue! The approach of the exhibition organisers, a quote from the website can illustrate that: ...In the 1970s the attacks took place primarily in southwest Germany. The Red Army Faction set their sights above all on the office of the Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe and the headquarters of the US Army in Heidelberg. The state reacted to the assassinations with the most extensive search and surveillance actions since the end of the Second World War. The escalation during the “German Autumn” of 1977 spread fear and a feeling of powerlessness among the people. Many citizens called for the death penalty for the terrorists... Sorry for not being more accurate but I could not see the exhibition for other visitors blocking the view!
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Written 02-01-2015 22:54:27 by Tue Steen Müller
First text of 2015. Happy New Year to all our readers! I sit in the armchair of my room, the place to be when football is to be watched on the small tv screen, or documentaries on the computer via links sent to me or books or magazines to be read. Including the DOX Magazine that we have advocated for to stay in (at least once per year) a printed version. Let it happen in 2015.
Books are on the wall to the left, dvd’s are on the wall that separates my room to the one of my wife. It’s been like that for years, the bookcase is full of dvd films. There used to be a lack of space at the time of vhs, but I threw them all out, except for some crown jewels that I knew would never be available on dvd.
And now I very seldom receive dvd’s. It is much easier to send vimeo links of new films and with the great idfa docs for sale, the east silver library, the new DOKLeipzig online initiative, the formidable DocAlliance, the festival scope, the Filmkontakt Nord online catalogue – I can easily do my job as festival consultant and selector, and reviewer on filmkommentaren.dk, combined with visits to some big cinema screens, when I am present at festivals or go to press screenings in Copenhagen.
So from a practical point of view a fine development – you can get what you want to see quickly and the quality is ok, yet of course it can not compete with the big screen. Back to the dvd’s. A couple of days I received a gift from Lithuanian Giedrė Beinoriūtė, who had managed to have her “Conversations on Serious Topics” published in a fine dvd with the film itself, chaptered so you can choose what you want to see, extras with material (conversations with kids) that did not make it to the final film, “from the shootings”, all very nicely put together in a box that I am happy to have in a room where there are also books and dvd boxes – one with films by Chris Marker, the fine series with films by Jørgen Leth, one with Jon Bang Carlsen films (there should be more), Marcel Lozinski, Kieslowski, Johan van der Keuken… Yes, more dvd boxes please in 2015, more quality presentations of finished films that should stay as - let’s be a bit French – oeuvres in film history. For documentaries there will definitely be a need for financial to make this digitization happen. An obligation for the film institutes and maybe a project for the Creative Europe of the EU?
Written 29-12-2014 12:44:22 by Tue Steen Müller
It was almost ”business as usual”, when the DFI (Danish Film Institute) proudly could announce that 15 Danish documentaries were selected to be screened at IDFA, for most documentarians the festival for films that have been categorized to be a ”documentary”, today the name is a quality mark for a genre that is in constant development enlarging its own narrative potential at the same time (”hybrid” is a buzz word) as the classical observational documentary is very much still alive and doing well. IDFA likes Danish documentaries, as does the cph:dox, of course…
I had 3 Danish documentaries on my ”2014 – Best of…” – Joshua Oppenheimer’s ”The look of Silence”, Anders Østergaard and Erzsebet Racz ”1989” and Camilla Nielsson’s ”Democrats”, all of them films that deal with themes that are not Danish. All three have managed to get international financing for films that travel the world to festivals, win awards and – sorry for the cliché – make a difference. ”The Look of Silence” and ”Act of Killing” are being shown in Indonesia and have broken the public silence about the atrocities. ”1989” puts new light on the year, 25 years ago, where the world changed totally. ”Democrats” brings hope that something will change in Zimbabwe…
The two first films have been to Danish cinemas – superb reviews but no success at all (1368 and 1559 tickets sold). Let us not forget that the golden days of Danish documentaries do not include that they make an audience go to the cinema. The films are watched at festivals world wide and on television world wide. And online via vod's.
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Written 28-12-2014 12:02:15 by Tue Steen Müller
Back to film blogging after holidays. Michael Haneke is the right one for a comeback. In the Paris Review winter 2014 issue there is a small excerpt from an interview with the director – if you want to read the whole interview, you can purchase the issue, 20€. Interviewer Luisa Zielinski.
I take a clip from the text from the director, who has said ” “A strict form such as mine cannot be achieved through improvisation.”:
“I’ve never seen good results from people trying to speak about things they don’t know firsthand. They will talk about Afghanistan, about children in Africa, but in the end they only know what they’ve seen on TV or read in the newspaper. And yet they pretend—even to themselves—that they know what they’re saying. But that’s bullshit. I’m quite convinced that I don’t know anything except for what is going on around me, what I can see and perceive every day, and what I have experienced in my life so far. These are the only things I can rely on. Anything else is merely the pretense of knowledge with no depth. Of course, I don’t just write about things precisely as they have happened to me—some have and some haven’t. But at least I try to invent stories with which I can personally identify…”. Food for thought.
Photo by Polfoto – Haneke received the Danish Sonning Prize 2014.
Written 21-12-2014 12:14:13 by Tue Steen Müller
Here we go again. A year has passed. I have seen films at festivals and in cinemas around Europe and in the US. I have seen films at home via links sent to me, thanks to many for their generosity. 2014 was a great year for the creative documentary, the one where there is an artistic ambition and a personal interpretation of the world we live in. I know it is "normal" in games like this to go by 10 or 25, but when I had my list of 16 I found it impossible to cut away, so you get 16 from me, below in alphabetical order, and in most cases you can click and get to a review. Photos have been chosen from films that I have not written about - here 20,000 Days on Earth by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, UK.
Written 21-12-2014 11:52:10 by Tue Steen Müller
1989 by Anders Østergaard and Erzsebet Racz, Denmark/Hungary
20,000 Days on Earth by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, UK
Alentejo Alentejo by Sergio Tréfaut, Portugal
Citizen Four by Laura Poitras, Germany/US
Democrats by Camilla Nielsson, Denmark
Garden Lovers by Virpi Suutari, Finland
Judgement in Hungary by Eszter Hajdu, Hungary
Les Règles du Jeu by Claudine Bories and Patrick Chagnard, France
Mitch by Damir Cucic & Misel Skoric, Croatia
Of Men and War by Laurent Bécue-Renard, France
Olga by Miroslav Janek, Czech Republic
Pelican in the Desert by Viesturs Kairiss, Latvia
Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait by Wiam Simav Bedirxan & Ossama Mohammed, Syria
Teatime by Maite Alberti, Chile (photo)
The Look of Silence by Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark
The Salt of the Earth by Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, France
Written 19-12-2014 19:48:22 by Sara Thelle
Shame on me that I in my turbulence after the screening did not remember the beautiful review that Sara Thelle wrote when she had watched the film in connection with cph:dox. I repeat two paragraphs here:
... I (Sara Thelle) wish I had never seen Silvered Water. Images will haunt me for the rest of my life, scenes in my head will never go away. Horror. Hell. And yet I strongly recommend you to go see the film... First, because it is Syria, there is so little access to information about life there and, of course, we have to see what the two directors Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan want to show us. But also because this is an exceptional film, I wouldn’t hesitate to call it a masterpiece. It is poetry, in the dialogues, in the images, in the editing.
You get to understand the pain and the guilt of the exiled. Mohammed expresses his agony in a strong cinematographic language of metaphors, he is the one who has lost his freedom, his life has stopped. In the first part of the film, we see horrible scenes of torture and executions that are unbearable to watch. Raw images captured with mobile phones by the torturers, the security forces of the regime, and put out on the Internet. You can only try to imagine what pain Mohammed have inflicted on himself in working with these images, seeing them over and over again when doing the editing. And we understand that, strangely enough, the besieged Bedirxan is the one who is the most free and alive. The courageous woman, who has turned cinematographer to survive the in the midst of the civil war, becomes his eyes and his hope. The title, Silvered Water, is the signification of her Kurdish name Simav.
The original music, beautiful and devastating, is composed and performed by Mohammed’s wife, the renowned Syrian singer Noma Omran, originally from Homs...
Sara Thelle had the courage and skills to put words on what she saw.
Written 19-12-2014 12:14:26 by Tue Steen Müller
by Wiam Simav Bedirxan & Ossama Mohammed.
It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and has been to major festivals like Toronto, cph:dox and idfa. Two days ago it had a theatrical release in 30 cinemas in France, where the exiled Syrian director Ossama Mohammed lives. The reception in France... le Monde writes ”chef d'oeuvre”, masterpiece.
And what could I write but the same, after for months having hesitated to watch because I knew what horrifying images were waiting for me. I do not recall, when was the last time I have been so strongly affected by a film. To an extent that I find it meaningless to line up words to describe what I saw and felt. It would be reviewer clichés after clichés. I can not do so. So you get three brief comments followed by more laconic synopses:
Wiam Simav Bedirxan's filming in Syria is courageous and heroic. Ossama Mohammed has treated the unique material in an outstanding and personal way. The two have made true Cinema!
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Written 17-12-2014 18:41:45 by Tue Steen Müller
I love them all, the three year old grandchild Henry said, referring to the Krtek films made by Czech Zdeněk Miler. Even if he runs around saying Ninja Turtle all the time, his best moments are those with the animation films featuring the mole and his friends. Which one do you want to see, we ask him. The answer is ”the one with the bulldozers”. A couple of days ago he saw ”Krtek ve městě” (The mole in the city) (1982, 29 mins.) 3 times. He knows every cut, he asks us grown-up’s to be totally quiet so he can listen to the sound – nobody says anything, no dialogue, but the sound score of this and other Krtek films is excellent.
Why do you like that one so much? I just do, is the answer. So why do I, grown-up documentary fanatic love it. Let me try and let me guess why he, the three year old likes it, as does his cousin Thomas, half a year younger.
It starts dramatically. The mole and his friends (the mouse and the hedgehog) lose their homes as trees are felled and bulldozers move out to plow the land to make it ready for buildings for human beings. The bureaucrats arrive wearing their high hats and hearing the crying of the three small ones, one of them decides to give them an official paper that states that whereever they come, they are to be helped. They have to leave the forest that is no longer there, they arrive in the city after succesfully passing police and military authorities due to the signed document, they get an appartment, decorated as the piece of nature they left, but in plastic, they experience the noise and pollution of the city until one day they have had enough and when they get the chance it's back to nature flying on the backs of swans...
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Written 16-12-2014 16:47:44 by Tue Steen Müller
Stephen Smith, one of the directors of “Vanishing Point”, wrote to me a couple of months ago. He asked if I would care to watch his film, produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Apart from a very fine recommendation by late Peter Wintonick, there had been no real attention, he wrote, even if the film – see website, link below – has been going around to mostly Canadian festivals. I got the dvd and started to watch and was immediately brought back down memory lane – Greenland and the many Danish documentaries made from there, especially by Jørgen Roos (1922-1998), who for decades returned to adventurous Greenland to film the hunting culture and the conflicts between traditional way of living and what we Danes has taken with us to Greenland. If anyone Roos has visualised inuit in Greenland. My vision of the island comes from him.
Roos would have loved “Vanishing Point” that is a very well told and beautifully filmed story, non-sensational in a calm rhythm and with a charismatic leading Navarana K'Avigak Sørensen – more Danish can a surname not be! Navarana is the one who tells the story in first person tracking her own family roots back to Qitdlarssuaq, a shaman, who in the 1860'es migrated with a small community of Inuits from Baffin Island to the North of Greenland. Navarana is the descendant, who takes the viewer by the hand to show and reflect on the Inuit culture of today up there near Uummannaq, where her family used to live until they were displaced due to the building of the American Thule base (Jørgen Roos has made a film about this Danish-American scandal).
Naduk is the daughter of Navarana or did I get that wrong... doesn't matter, Navarana goes with her family (Naduk's husband is Ole... again more Danish
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Written 15-12-2014 19:55:32 by Tue Steen Müller
There has been quite a film party going on in the Latvian capital. Not only has the city, as Cultural Capital of Europe, hosted the EFA Awards - films have been shown at the Riga International Film Festival that ran from December 2-12, masterclasses and panel debates have been going on at the new National Library and awards have been distributed, among them the National Film Prizes, which – to my great joy – includes a number of awards for documentaries. My source is Film New Europe, link below for a list of all awards:
Best full-length documentary award went to Peteris Krilovs personal ”Obliging Collaborators” (photo), a personal historical film that as a motivation point has the death of the director's father due to ”the KGB repressions, which is closely linked to the devious game Soviet Latvia's KGB played against Swedish-British-American spy agencies”. Original in narration, the films uses clay animation. To be a bit patriotic, the editor of the film is Danish Julie Vinten, with whom Krilovs also worked on the film on Klucis.
Best Documentary Film 60 minutes was Davis Simanis ”Chronicles of the Last Temple”, that has been praised on this site: ”a superb interpretation of the new and much discussed National Library of Riga, a film that shows Simanis ability to capture the grandeur of a building and its details in a super aesthetic form.”
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Written 10-12-2014 15:52:05 by Tue Steen Müller
A couple of months ago I wrote a text about the upcoming second edition of the Cinedoc festival in Tbilibi, Georgia. The festival included a section called Ukranian Voices with several films, also one that I had not heard about, ”Ukraine_Voices”. The day after I was informed by Dmytro Tiazhlov and Ella Shtyka, what was hidden behind the title – ”a documentary almanach”, 8 short documentaries made during the workshops organized by the Indie Lab project initiated by the two filmmakers. Tiazhlov has been reviewed on this site before for his works ”Cornered” and ”I was a Monument to Myself”. So I downloaded the film and watched. Here is the synopsis taken from the Georogian festival site:
A collection of 10 documentaries (in my download there were 8, ed.) gives a glimpse into nowadays Ukraine just before the crisis started. These short films are all directed by different filmmakers and tell us various stories, through these films we observe Ukraine from different points of view and get to the heart of what really matters to millions of young Ukrainians, we also get to know some unknown heroes and learn their stories.
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Written 10-12-2014 11:45:35 by Tue Steen Müller
Got this mail from Carmen Cobos this morning referring to a screening in Aarhus, Denmark tomorrow; "IMPERFECT HARMONY - my debut film as director will be shown in your country this Thursday, maybe you care to see it" - the Doc Lounge Aarhus is the venue, FB link below and here is what I wrote about it on this site:
Louis Andriessen, charismatic Dutch composer, and Mariss Jansons, charismatic Latvian chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. The two characters in the fascinating observational documentary drama, which is very well told, interesting and entertaining.
Written 08-12-2014 18:59:58 by Tue Steen Müller
Sergei Loznitsa was awarded one more time for his ”Maidan” (photo) at the festival in Firenze. The brief jury motivation goes like this: Timely in this current passage of History, the filmmaker calmly and masterfully engages in the unfolding of a people’s unrest with a conflicted system.
Click the link below and you will get an interesting interview (in English) with the director – 15 mins.
Alexander Nanau received the audience award for his ”Toto and his Sisters”. There is a clip from the film and an interview with the director – 10 mins. Click the link below.
For other awards check the website for the festival, that has ”Reality is More” as its motto. ... Is it?
Written 07-12-2014 10:22:00 by Tue Steen Müller
After a long career at festivals (winning the Grand Prix at Cinéma du Réel 2014) the feature length documentary by Mehran Tamadon opened in cinemas in Paris December 3. In many cinemas in the French capital, that is still unique in its repertory of art house films. I watched the film at 11 in the morning – 40 people in the cinema…… to a film that basically is built on 105 minutes of talking between the director and the four mullahs he convinced to take part in the film after a couple of years of filming discussions with other, who ended up saying no to take part – some (according to the director) because they did not want to be seen together with ”someone like me”, others out of fear for public reactions in Iran.
”Someone like me” – the director is atheist and his ambition with the film, and inviting the mullahs to stay with him for two days, was to find out if it was possible to find a way to ”vivre ensemble”, to ”live together”. The mullahs arrive to his house outside Tehran, they eat together, some have their wives and children with them, they sit for hours discussing and drawing on paper on the floor, discussing what kind of books could be on common ground, what kind of music could be played, what kind of photos could be on the wall, the veil etc. It’s all being discussed in an atmosphere without aggression and with the mullah number two from the left on the still photo as a very efficient leader of the mullahs in terms of rethoric talent. It’s actually at times quite entertaining to watch, also when the director is instructed on how to pray and wash arms, hands and face.
At the end of the film, driving back to Tehran, the director, who lives in Paris, tells the audience that he had his passport confiscated upon arrival to Iran, because of the official knowledge of his film project. He got it back but with the message that if he came back, his passport would be taken from him, preventing him from leaving Iran. ”Vivre ensemble”?
There is a long – in French – interview with the director on Le Blog Documentaire, worth reading. Link below.
His previous film about the ”Bassidji” (Orig.) (2009 / Frankrig, Iran, Schweiz / 114 min.) is available through DocAlliance, link below.
France/Switzerland, 2014, 105 mins.
Written 06-12-2014 12:35:39 by Tue Steen Müller
Is it wrong to characterize a film as lovely? Well, the young woman on the still photo is wonderful to be with, and she has been made lovely through the approach of a director, who dares to leave the main road, when it comes to a documentary from and about Congo. To give the viewer an insight to what some citizens, actually they are all civil servants, think about their jobs, primarily, and the future of their tormented country. It is fun to watch and warm in atmosphere, and reaches the audience brilliantly even if it raises some narrative problems that the director has chosen to bring comments and thoughts forward as voice-offs, stopping the flow sometimes. But by this choice he has made it possible to work with great tableau-like, composed images that you remember so well. Henriette on the still photo is waiting for the post system to be modernised, equally Simon from the railway station sits and waits as does his colleague from the fire brigade. Waiting for something to happen. It does for Henriette, things are moving, and she is the one, we follow to a religious meeting and to her home.
Bilsen showed his film at DOKLeipzig and at idfa this year and a premiere is now to happen in Belgium. He demonstrates an obvious talent for catching situations, create his own tone and visuals, and has a feeling for a montage, where you go from the noisy streets of Kinshasa to the quiet public service venues where something is to happen. Lovely!
Belgium, England, 2014, 72 mins.
Written 06-12-2014 12:24:39 by Tue Steen Müller
Zhanna, Lyosha and Maria. St. Petersburg 2013. Small apartment. Full of smoke from the cigarettes of Zhanna and Lyosha. Maria is the mother of Lyosha. She provides the two junkies with food – and love. She works, they do not – and yet, Lyosha is seen at the beginning of the film helping other drug addicts. He gets out of the appartment, Zhanna does not except for the ending of the film in a wheel chair pushed by Lyosha.
It is a chamber play of great intensity. A story about despair and misery, but also an intimate interpretation of a couple, who are still alive against all odds. Zhanna is the constant talker, Lyosha is thus more silent, they delve into the past where they had a better life.
It is a film that is difficult to watch was it not for the three strong individuals, who have given the director access to their lives. She has reacted to this generosity by making a non-sentimental, compassionate portrait. As intervals she has decided to have clips from a rock concert, probably thought as a companion in text and expression to the situation of the couple in the appartment.
Austria, 2014, 75 mins.
Written 06-12-2014 12:19:50 by Tue Steen Müller
Erich Lessing, born 1923, Austrian reportage and art photographer, associated to Magnum, famous for photos from Hungary 1956 and for photos of art in museums. And probably for much more – which is not the theme of this film that primarily wants to make a portrait of an old man, a fine artist, who is still going strong, when it comes to select his photos for a book, photos for an exhibition and who has clear opinions about, what he has wanted to catch with his camera.
Those scenes where he discusses and selects and formulates are the best. ”I’’m a storyteller. In my photos there has to be a story… All pictures have a political message” – some of the sentences expressed by Lessing, who is followed by his wife and helper in his métier, a warm side motif, one can say.
It is always inspiring for documentarians to see the work of a photographic artist, who has an eye for people and situations and can talk about his work. And to meet one more fine photojournalist next to Capa and Cartier-Bresson.
Austria, 2014, 75 mins.
Written 05-12-2014 11:42:42 by Tue Steen Müller
The other day I visited the National Gallery in London. I was there for three hours, generously being introduced to the fabulous collection by skilled art historians, who took me and others to watch and learn. We stood in front of one masterpiece after the other. I watched the reactions of my fellow visitors, the concentration they had, and some of them sat down to copy the works. I also had the chance to get behind the scene and discover how fascinating it must be to work with the restoration of paintings, the x-ray technique being used, and I met staff members who discussed budget matters for the museum, I saw how new exhibitions are being set up, I saw model painting classes by amateurs, blind people seeing pictures… all of it was arranged for me by Frederick Wiseman and his team, who again has made an inviting institution film with the right rythm, indicating the conflicts there are at a place like that – policy towards the audience, how populistic do you have to be etc. – but first of all this time with a focus on the art. It is simply wonderful to be there…
And then you can, as I did here in Paris, where ”National Gallery” is running in several cinemas, inspired go and watch Mike Leigh’s new film ”Mr. Turner”. Brilliant as well.
USA, France, 2014, 180 mins.
Written 05-12-2014 10:58:13 by Tue Steen Müller
Normally, there is no reason to bring a photo of two men signing a contract but in this case I want to honour my dear friend and colleague Joan Gonzalez (right) for making one more of his many dreams come through - here is the press release that came out:
DocsBarcelona creates DocsBarcelona Documentary School to strengthen international documentary training. To accomplish this project DocsBarcelona has associated with the School of Communication and International Relations of Blanquerna University.
DocsBarcelona has more than 18 years of experience in the training field in Spain, Europe and Latin America. Designing, coordinating and giving courses in universities, film schools, markets, festivals and televisions.
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Allan Berg: Fotografiet er fra pressematerialet, det originale foto indgår som arkivmateriale i filmen i en vigtig scene, og det er et godt billede. Det er begrun...
Per Berthelsen: Per Bertelsen er IKKE med på billedet. Forstår ikke helt hvorfor sådan et foto anvendes, hvor flere uden fast tilknytning til bandet figurerer....
madeleine: Thnks for this supernice keeping René Vautier alive! For those who speak /understand german see our 2012 blog www.ohnegenehmigung.com we visited René ...
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