Filmkommentaren

DocuDays 20th Edition 2023 Opening

Written 02-06-2023 23:47:45 by Tue Steen Mller

DocuDays 20th Edition 2023 Opening

I was in Kyiv last night. Again. For the opening of the 20th edition of the DocuDays ua International Human Rights Documentary Festival. Online via Facebook. It was like it was before in the Zhovten Cinema: An opening with speeches in Ukrainian and English including one from a representative from the main sponsor of the festival, the Swedish Embassy in Ukraine (bravo Sweden for the continuous support), clips from the many competition programmes, a hall full of spectators…

And yet it was different. Of course it was. Ukraine is at war. The film program illustrates this and there were strong emotional moments of demonstration and commemoration during the opening ceremony:

The whole hall of spectators stood up with signs “#free Maksym Butkevych”, the human rights activist and journalist, who was working with the festival and who was captured by the occupiers and sentenced to 13 years of prison for “his support for IDPs during the war in Donbas and because of his history as a journalist for the BBC…”being “labelled as a neo-nazi and British spy” (Wikipedia).

Dary’a Averchenko, head of the festival’s communication department, made a speech that commemorated film editor Victor Onysko “who died defending Ukraine”. His widow Olga Birzul curated a program “Editing Transition” in memory of her husband. On the festival website (https://docudays.ua/eng/2023/news/intervyu/kritichniy-poglyad-na-kino-musit-buti-bazovoyu-navichkoyu-olga-birzul-pro-programu-montazhniy-perekhid/) there is an interview with Birzul, who for many years took part in the programming of the festival. I remember Roman Bondarchuk, director and art director of the festival characterized her as “the soul of the festival”. A quote from the interview: 

… First of all, I wanted to talk in detail about the whole variety of montage in this programme: as a technique, a political gesture, a reconstruction of memory and a time machine. I tried to show the scale of this phenomenon. After all, montage is the grammar of the film language. Before the emergence of montage theory, cinema was pure entertainment. After that, it became an art. 

At first, I chose three films, as you say, political ones: The March on Rome by Mark Cousins, Private Footage by Janaína Nagata and Arcadia by Paul Wright. Together with their critical optics, they all are just suited for a montage cinema slot. But I couldn’t get Lea Glob's beautiful Apolonia, Apolonia out of my mind. I felt that conceptually it was a bit out of place. It's a personal and even confessional film, which, by the way, also includes a lot of politics and activism, but at the same time, editing stops playing a major role there. The film is not cut up or used as a method of researching reality. In Apolonia, Apolonia, we see the other side of documentary cinema – a work with time…

Ahhh, clever words. The festival opened with the film by Alisa Kovalenko, reviewed/ praised on this site, “We Will not Fade Away”, a masterpiece.

https://docudays.ua/eng/

still: we will not fade away 

 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mariam Chachia & Nik Voigt: Magic Mountain

Written 02-06-2023 18:53:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Mariam Chachia & Nik Voigt: Magic Mountain

I was a juror at the DocsBarcelona and contributed to the jury choice of Georgian documentary “Magic Mountain” for the main award in the Panorama section. In beforehand I had written the following key words for the deliberation meeting, having seen the film:

…beautifully crafted cinematography, dares to go for long atmosphere creating sequences, multilayered, people, history of the country, the landscape around…

Cinematography first, excellent work by Voigt through the many years of shooting – the two started filming in 2014. With the camera he is inside and outside the impressive Abastumani, he is there when it is light and when it is dark, catching panoramas of the mountain and the landscapes and making superb observations of the people in the tubercolosis sanatorium. Going close when the director Chachia goes close to meet, talk to and play backgammon with the men, who for many have been there for years. 

The film is full of long sequences that serve to create the nightmarish atmosphere that met Chachia, when she was ill and now, when she returns to experience the sadness and melancholy that reign at the magic mountain building, that is taken down as it has been bought by the Georgian oligarch, who by the way is also the one, who transported trees for his personal park in the film of Salomé Jashi! A building in decay, poverty and decadence.

Abastumani is a historical place – a member of the Romanov czarist family is said to have been there and was cured for the disease, a statue of him was built in gratitude - and taken down when the communists came to power and made the hospital a famous health place in the USSR. 

Thus the film has many layers but for me the patients and the staff were the main attraction. A conversation with Ismaël  that Chachia has, is both full of humor as it takes place - he is planning to go home to meet a woman, he has met on the phone, to have a life with her - and of sadness when later Chachia is informed by other patients that Ismaël passed away after he left Abastumani. Or Manana who can not take her pills even if the doctors try their best, she denies, she can not swallow them. Very touching scenes. Or the unlucky priest or…

It all comes together in a beautiful film, emotional and informational it is and it has found the right tone for its narrative and cinematic interpretation. Wish it a good further festival life.

Georgia/Poland, 2023, 73 minutes.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona: Camilla Nielsson

Written 31-05-2023 11:16:15 by Tue Steen Mller


Camilla Nielsson: President”You’ve got to have love for your characters and do everything you can to give them confidence in the job you’ve been assigned”. Said Camilla Nielsson to me in an interview back in November 2014, published in a Danish Film Institute magazine on the occasion of her film’s showing af IDFA that year. I refer to ”Democrats” that we followed quite intensely on this site on its road to festivals – and awards – around the world.

Love for characters, I was happy to meet again Paul Mangwana and Douglas Mwonzora, the protagonists of ”Democrats”, in Nielsson’s new film ”President”. Their job in ”Democrats” was to create a constitution – Mangwana on behalf of ZANU-PF, Mwonzora for MDC-T. Two very different characters and temperaments I got to like thanks to filmmaker Nielsson and her cameraman Henrik Bohn Ipsen. In ”President” they are side characters, Mangwana furious in a long scene, where the members of ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is questioned on their impartiality by the opposition party MDC-T, and the elegant cool Mwonzora being present in several scenes as one of the sympathetic strategists working hard to win the presidency for Nelson Chamisa.

 

 

Camilla Nielsson succeeds to make Chamisa and his people interesting to follow. With a clear structure and very much based on the “reading” of faces – the film is full of lovely close-ups – that cameraman Ipsen gives us. Example: We study Chamisa in cars taking him to meetings with the people at the election campaign; sometimes you sense he is nervous, sometimes he is happy with people’s warm reception of him, sometimes he is reflecting or is in sadness like when he has met the family of one of the six, who were killed by soldiers confronting MDC supporters with water cannons and bullets. There is a rhythm in this, the dramaturgy of the film plays constantly with emotional contrasts. Jeppe Bødskov is the editor, great work.

Character-wise, with more charisma I find with Nkululeko Sibanda, who is the spokesperson of Chamisa, passionate and it´s almost heartbreaking to see his reaction, when he discovers he has been fooled to let the police bring MDC staff into a van “for protection”. “Did I make a mistake?”. And you find other personalities as the man with the hat, who says that this is “not an election, it’s a selection”. Or, the images of Justice Chigumba, chair of ZEC, when she sits in the court room like a sfinx attending the post-election court case by MDC against the same ZEC, accused of fraud and manipulation… Stone-face and yet a couple of times with flickering eyes. Advocate Mbofu is proceeding for MDC, we viewers have followed the MDC collecting evidence like “how come the voting results are identical in 16 cases”!!!

Not to forget the press conference given by Mugabe, where he indirectly declares his support for Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is now the president of Zimbabwe. He answers with humour as he sits there, an old weak man, a statesman, could not help like him at that moment…

In another interview Camilla Nielsson has said that she prefers character to story. That’s where her huge talent comes forward again as it did in “Democrats”, the talent as a true vérité filmmaker, who brings us “the feeling of being there” as Leacock said. In scenes that are full of energy. Far away from journalism and yet, Nielsson and Ipsen are covering the presidential election of Zimbabwe with nuances, one-sided?, well no doubt where the sympathy is – with those who want democracy, change change change as Chamisa declares again and again in the mass gatherings where the people show their palms – but the two were at the inauguration of Mnangagwa. The film ends with him looking at us viewers. What’s next? Yes what’s next with the film, can it/will it be shown in Zimbabwe. It took time for “Democrats”, “Camilla Nielsson against Zimbabwe”!

Photo: Henrik Bohn Ipsen, from the film.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Eimantas Belickas: Generation.eu

Written 23-05-2023 15:11:09 by Tue Steen Mller

Eimantas Belickas: Generation.eu

This is a copy paste of an article published by FilmNewEurope yesterday, written by Alexander Gabelia.:

VILNIUS: The new project by Lithuanian director/editor Eimantas Belickas, the long documentary Generation.eu / Karta.eu, is built around the fact that on 1 May 2004, some 50 children were born in Lithuania at the same time with Lithuania's integration into the European Union. The experiences, searches and journeys of a generation are captured in documentary cinema.

At the initiative of film director Arūnas Matelis, a creative group of camera operators captured the birth of 29 babies in 2004. Every few years, they would revisit some of the heroes, and in 2023, the brightest and most unique among them were selected to testify about their first stage of existence. 

Until now, material has been collected, occasional meetings with the growing children have taken place and filming has been done gradually. At the moment the shooting is almost done and the editing stage will start soon.

“The initial recordings were about observation and getting to know them. We remain observers, trying to get as close as possible to our heroes and merge with their daily lives. Moreover, our heroes have come of age and can now critically assess and reflect on their own experiences, so their own thoughts will be very interesting. It will also be interesting to observe their relationships with their parents, a generation born in a completely different era, who are bringing their fears and uncertainties from that time. Have they managed to avoid such influence or are they now helping their parents get rid of Soviet-era ‘ghosts’?”, Eimantas Belickas told FNE.

The film is produced by Arunas Matelis and Algimante Mateliene through the award winning Lithuanian documentary studio Nominum. Ramune Rakauskaite is the executive producer.

The total budget of approximately 120,000 EUR is partly (75%) supported by the Lithuanian Film Centre and the Lithuanian public television LRT. The Ministry of Culture financed the archival work, while Studio Nominum provided financing for the rest of the process.

"When we started this project, the main idea went beyond simply perpetuating newborns; it aimed for much more ambitious goals: marking the anniversary of the new European Union, continuing this documentary cycle by documenting the fate of children born on the same day until the end of their lives. The idea of documenting the newborns of the new Europe attracted unprecedented international attention, with one foreign magazine calling it an unimaginable ‘real Truman Show’, Arūnas Matelis told FNE.

International coproducers are welcome to join the project.

Production Information:

Generation.eu by Eimantas Belickas, in the photo: Lukas in 2022, credit: Studio NominumProducer:
Studio Nominum (Lithuania)
grupe1@nominum.lt

Credits:
Director: Eimantas Belickas
Screenwriters: Arunas Matelis, Ramune Rakauskaite, Algimante Mateliene, after an idea by Arunas Matelis
DOP: Algirdas Vaičaitis

photo: generation.eu (still)


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocuDays Kyiv Workshops

Written 20-05-2023 14:16:05 by Tue Steen Mller

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We continue presenting to you this year's DOCU/PRO programme. On June 4-7, the Industry Platform invites you to a series of workshops. The participants will have a chance to understand the intricacies of editing and marketing strategy, analyze successful production cases, and discuss peculiarities of creative approaches to producing successful films in the genre of creative documentary.

The series of events will open with a discussion on one of the most important tools of the film language. At 2 PM on June 4, we invite you to an online workshop The Art of Documentary Film Editing with two editors. Dana Bunescu (Romania) and Niels Pag Andersen (Denmark), who are among the most experienced film professionals in Europe, will open the doors of their editing rooms and share their knowledge about the fascinating ways of translating reality into film.



The dialogue about methods of work will be continued by two prominent filmmakers. Elvira Niewera, a jury member of the DOCU/WORLD international competition, Polish-German director and screenwriter, will reveal the details of her own creative techniques in a conversation with the renowned Ukrainian director Kateryna Gornostai. We are waiting for you at the Zhovten cinema at 11 AM on June 5, at the event About Documentary Films and Beyond.
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The next workshop will help you understand how to effectively promote your film. How to make your film stand out among the others? How to find and keep in touch with your target audience? During the workshop, our guest Mirjam Wickenkamp, an expert in the field with over 15 years of experience, will discuss in detail all the steps of PR and effective communication campaigns in a conversation with moderator Anastasia Klysakova, a marketing specialist. The online event Mark Your Film on the Map: Marketing Strategies for Documentary Films will take place at 11 AM on June 6.


Case study “A House Made of Splinters” – From Development to the Oscar Campaign will keep us focused on success stories. Monika Hellstrom, one of the most famous documentary film producers, will talk about her work on A House Made of Splinters, her approaches to producing this widely recognized film, and her experience of organizing the Oscar campaign. The conversation will be moderated by Darya Bassel, Docudays UA programmer, DOCU/PRO director and producer. We’ll meet online at 11 AM on June 7.



To participate in these events of the Industry Platform, don't forget about your accreditation. The events DOCU/PRO TALK: European Solidarity Fund for Ukrainian Cinema and Case Study: How Can Films Bring the Victory Closer? Civil Pitch Experience are open for everyone.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Honorary Heart of Sarajevo to Mark Cousins

Written 16-05-2023 12:30:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Honorary Heart of Sarajevo to Mark Cousins

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the art of film, director and writer Mark Cousins will receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award at the 29th Sarajevo Film Festival. 

This will not be his first encounter with the city - his first visit to Sarajevo was during the Siege, in the mid 90s. He and the Edinburgh International Film Festival had visited the Obala Art Centar cinema, where they showed films in support of Sarajevo’s besieged citizens. That cinema will come to be the birthplace of the Sarajevo Film Festival. 

„Taking films from the Edinburgh International Film Festival to Sarajevo during its siege showed me why movies matter. Most things I've done since have been influenced by those scary, inspiring weeks in 1994. Going back to Sarajevo for the first time, after 29 years, will open a dam of emotions for me. The Honorary Heart of Sarajevo will take pride of place in my home and remind me of the need to take risks, to act in solidarity. I can still learn from the young man I was and, far more so, from the pioneering people in Sarajevo who understood that movies aren't just a pastime. They are a crucial part of our lives. I'm so grateful“, said Mark Cousins.

Mark Cousins is a Scottish-Irish filmmaker. His themes are the inspiring power  



Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mansky & Titarenko: Eastern Front

Written 13-05-2023 13:21:25 by Tue Steen Mller

Mansky & Titarenko: Eastern Front

This film has been shown at numerous festivals and now the audience In Barcelona gets the chance to watch it and meet one of its directors, Vitaly Mansky, in the Q&A. At a session the day before, entitled “Documentary filmmaking against the backdrop of war”, Mansky will be on stage together with Alba Sotorra Clua , Barcelona based director, who has made fims like the documentary feature film Game Over (2015), which received the VIII Gaudí Award from the Catalan Film Academy and Comandante Arian (2018), nominated for the Gaudí Awards for Best Documentary in 2019.

I have seen "Eastern Front" and it is a strong documentary from the frontline at the same time as you get some impressive and positive insights to what a group of volunteer medics perform to help injured soldiers get to hospital before it is too late - often it is. Yehen Titarenko, charismatic co-director with Mansky, filmmaker, is on the screen driving the car through muddy roads OR he is with his medic friends in quiet Western Ukraine, where they go to relax and celebrate a baptism, and talk talk talk about what this war has meant  and means to them. A quote from the description of Titarenko on the website of DocsBarcelona: 

“On 24 February 2022, Yeyhen and his friends decide to volunteer to join the first aid battalion on the eastern front of the Ukrainian war. They are willing to provide all necessary support and evacuate the wounded. For six months, the hand-held camera follows them with showing the rawness, fear, hatred and bitterness of war with shocking proximity and without intermediaries…”

“Eastern Front” will be shown in Barcelona the 25th of May, the day before Mansky and Alba Sotorra will have the mentioned dialogue, moderated by Marc Marginedas, about documentary filmmaking in the midst of armed conflicts:

What are the challenges when filming a war or bringing real stories to the big screen against the backdrop of an armed conflict? What role does the documentary gaze play as a political positioning and what is the implication behind directing documentaries while highlighting the more human side of war? How does the filmmaker find hope in the midst of war? What filmmaking decisions do they make to show the rawness and violence, but at the same time, hope? How does one write the script/editing of a war film from a perspective, where hope prevails? When does the filmmaker realise they are in front of a great sequence in the midst of the conflict?

6 pens


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Silver Crane Award Nominations

Written 09-05-2023 08:25:20 by Tue Steen Mller

Silver Crane Award Nominations

The Lithuanian national film awards, the Silver Cranes, will be announced on June 4. The nominations have been announced. Yesterday English version via FilmNewEurope. I took a look at the list of nominated documentaries, that includes the following:

Antanas Sutkus. Scenes from Photographer’s Life / Antanas Sutkus. Scenos Iš Fotografo Gyvenimo (Lithuania)
Directed by Vytautas V. Landsbergis
Produced by Studija APropos

Decadent Nr. 2419 / Dekadentas NR. 2419 (Lithuania)
Directed by Saimir Bajo
Produced by Ketvirtaversija

Burial / Kapinynas (Lithuania, Norway)
Directed by Emilija Škarnulytė
Produced by Just a moment
Coproduced by Mer Film

Mariupolis 2 (Lithuania, France, Germany)
Directed by Mantas Kvedaravičius, co-directed by Hanna Bilobrova
Produced by Studio Uljana Kim, Extimacy film
Coproduced by Easy Riders films, Twenty Twenty Vision Filmproduktion

Back from New York / Sugrįę iš Niujorko (Lithuania)
Directed by Ramunė Rakauskaité

I have seen the two last ones on the list - for the Danes: "Mariupolis 2" will be shown at Cinemateket tomorrow, whereas "Back from New York", produced by Studio Nominum, is a wonderful one hour homage to Life and Art. Here is the description of the film from the website of the production company: “Back from New York” is a film about two unique and appreciated artists, close friends, whose lives were greatly influenced by emigration. It is not only a story about the discoveries of these wanderers, but also about the true joys of life, coming back and creating a new life in their homeland. By choice, they decided to return to Lithuania after many years spent in the rattling and enchanting New York. Photo-artist Arūnas Kulikauskas has settled in a monocot in Ukmergė district, painter Eugenijus Varkulevičius-Varkalis – in his hometown Kaunas... The film has great material with Jonas Mekas, whose influence on the two is strongly in focus. 

Ramunė Rakauskaité is also nominated in the Best Director category and also the editor Audinga Kučinskaitė is appreciated for a work that perfectly has found the rythm to answer the bohemian life in New York and at home. 


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mantas Kvedaravicius Mariupolis 2

Written 08-05-2023 21:09:29 by Tue Steen Mller

Mantas Kvedaravicius

In 2011 I attended a Summer School in Neringa Lithuania for film students. A film by Mantas Kvedaravicius was shown, his first.

”Stasys Baltakis, teacher at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the film school of the Country, introduced the film and its director. ”He is not a film director, he is a thinker”, he said about the debutant Kvedaravicius, who made the film over a period of years, now completing his PhD (and a book) on the affects of pain. And the film is about pain, about people in Chechnya, families whose members disappear or have undergone torture. Shot illegally, and with one year in the editing, the film expresses pure love and respect for the characters without turning to sentimentalism…

The camera catches magical moments inside the houses, the characters tell their stories of pain and torture, mainly off the picture, car trips give the narrative a flow and information about how a devastated city looks, at the same time as the Russian authorities have done a lot to lighten up mosques and other buildings. Pure facade for the invisible violence, it seems. While watching the film you sense a growing anger and sadness witnessing the life of people, who wait and hope…” (from the review of Barzach, 2011)

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

How shall I leave this praise of a film that develops and towards the end brings images of exploded cars and destroyed buildings, and has scenes where the population is taught how to put out fire… I want to and will remember the shoemaker repairing shoes and having conversations with clients and family. A location that comes back, with peace, a statement of survival of humanism, as this great director has delivered with what is only his second film…” (from the review of Mariupolis, 2016)

And now Mariupolis 2, shot by Kvedaravicius, shown at festivals and awarded as the best European documentary at the EFA ceremony in Reykjavik in December. The film was before that shown at IDFA where it was introduced like this: “In 2022, Mantas Kvedaravičius returned to the ruined city of Mariupol in Ukraine to film the people he met for his 2016 documentary Mariupolis. There, he was killed in early April by Russian troops while documenting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His fiancée managed to escape with the footage. After his death, producers and crew gave their all to edit his final, unfinished film and show it to the world.”

Watching the film I can only echo what was written about the two previous films. Mantas Kvedaravicius shows his respectful approach to human beings in need, he stays with them, no sensationalism, he follows them when they clean the ground after the Russian bombings, when they gather to eat in the cellar, where they pray and sleep, when they prepare a soup outside, where two men transport a generator at a place, where two corpses lie on the ground, accompanied by the sounds of bombings around all the time, “let’s go to the mass grave” someone says referring to the airstrike in March of the Theatre of Mariupol, where civilians had found shelter.

The great director Mantas Kvedaravicius created with this film what one of the legends in documentary history called “the sense of being there”, with love and respect. RIP


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Stonys & Briede: Bridges of Time

Written 03-05-2023 10:35:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Stonys & Briede: Bridges of Time

This is a text I wrote for the premiere of the film, 30th of June 2018:

Wow, it's tomorrow at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival that Bridges of Time has its premiere. The film, a co-production between the three Baltic countries, is introduced like this by the festival: "Kristīne Briede and Audrius Stonys’s meditative documentary essay portrays the less-remembered generation of cinema poets of the Baltic New Wave. With finesse, they push beyond the barriers of the common historiographic investigation in order to achieve a consummate poetic treatment of the ontology of documentary creation."

A fine intro, however, I would make it a bit longer with these words: "This is a film for all cinema lovers. It tells about the Baltic poetic documentary cinema that was created during the Soviet Union. In opposition to the USSR propaganda films. It was a wave of a personal free visual language that celebrated life and humanity. Together with Latvian Kristine Briede, Lithuanian director Audrius Stonys, who in his own work continues the tradition for a poetic look at reality, has picked magical moments from unique long and short documentaries to let them meet the old masters as they look today or when they were in front of the camera decades ago. The directors in the film about this special artistic phenomenon in film history are Herz Frank, Uldis Brauns, Ivars Seleckis, Andres Sööt, Robertas Verba, Henrikas Sablevicius, Arvis Freimanis, Mark Soosaar."

I have been invited to come for the premiere in Karlovy Vary, which I do with great pleasure as someone whose professional life changed completely in the 1990'es, where I discovered the Baltic documentary on the island of Bornholm where a festival, Balticum Film & TV Festival took place until 2000. Today it is my joy to go to Riga every year to take part in the Baltic Sea Docs that is a continuation of the adventure on Bornholm, as is the collaboration of the three Baltic countries cinema-wise with this celebration os something very special - the film will be followed by a superb retrospective of the primarily short documentaries made by the masters in the documentary. 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Arunas Matelis: Wonderful Losers

Written 02-05-2023 12:02:43 by Tue Steen Mller

Arunas Matelis: Wonderful Losers

This is a text that I wrote in October 2017 when Arunas Matelis film had its world premiere:

… with the subtitle ”A Different World”, a film that many of us, who think Lithuanian Arunas Matelis is a great artistic documentary film director, have been waiting for – will have its premiere at the Warsaw International Film Festival that takes place October 13-22, a festival for fiction, shorts and documentaries. Arunas and his wife Alge, from their Studio Nominum in Vilnius, have produced a film of high quality (I have seen it just before final cut) that deserves to travel the world because of its cinematic qualities and its invitation to us viewers to look into – as the subtitle says- a different world. It’s (also) a film on professional cycling that touches upon existential questions. Here is the synopsis from the site of the film, link below:

”For spectators, cyclists in the back of the race are simply the losers. They are called water carriers, domestics, gregarios, and Sancho Panzas of professional cycling. Moreover, they have no right to personal victories - these sportsmen sacrifice their careers to help their teammates. We follow the magnificent world of the race from the point of view of the doctors' team situated in a claustrophobically small medical car surrounded with wounded cyclists. The life of the medical team in race reminds one on the frontline of war. Cyclists crash, rise and race again. And amongst this fight, many magnificent things happen. This film-odyssey reveals the untold world of the wonderful losers, true warriors, knights and monks of professional cycling.”

From a production point of view the credits show an amazing list of co-producers (with 10 cinematographers!) – let me mention them from the credits: Stefilm Italy, Dok Mobile Switzerland, Associate Directors Belgium, VFS Films Latvia, Dearcan Media N.Ireland/UK, Planet Korda Ireland, SUICA Films Spain, Arturas Jevdokimovas for Kino Kontora.

Normally you say that too many cooks spoil the meal – having known Arunas Matelis and his work for more than 25 years I can assure you that this is a film that has his signature.

Wish you good luck with the premiere!

http://www.wonderfullosers.com


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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocuDays UA Civil Pitch at Hot Docs

Written 01-05-2023 13:35:12 by Tue Steen Mller

DocuDays UA Civil Pitch at Hot Docs

Copy paste from the FB page of DocuDays:

"We received 150 applications for the Civil Pitch 2.0 programme. The jury selected 4 projects that received not only grants for film production, but also mentoring support at all stages of their work. Please welcome the world premiere of the winning films at the 30th anniversary Hot Docs Film Festival in Canada!

All four short documentary projects tell stories about war and people from a unique perspective. "..Pavlo Dorohoi's 89 Days takes us into a Kharkiv subway-station-turned-bomb-shelter-turned-back-into-a-subway-station; in Under the Wing of a Night, director Lesia Diak immerses herself in 11-year-old Olesia's new life in Belgium as she waits for her father's nightly call from back home; Halyna Lavrynets's Guests from Kharkiv watches activist Nelia try to resettle city-dwellers into rural Ukrainian life; and Anastasiia Tykha's Our Robo Family celebrates the children's robotics and programming group Roboclub Vuhledar. Enjoy the freshest Ukrainian documentary talent of 2023!" comments Myrocia Watamaniuk, the Hot Docs Film Festival programmer.

Find the screening schedule, tickets, and other necessary details here. And in June, expect the Ukrainian premiere of the films at the anniversary Docudays UA.

"Civil Pitch 2.0 started at the end of 2021. We actively planned the workshops, took care of the applications, and were in constant contact with foreign tutors. A few days before the full-scale invasion, we were still planning the workshop programme and even hoped to bring our tutors to Kyiv. The very existence of us, of this workshop, and ultimately of this four films, seems like a miracle now, given everything that has happened and is happening. I am grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way: the programme team, tutors, donors, and, of course, the filmmakers and their crews who have worked hard on their projects. 

When we resumed our activities under Civil Pitch 2.0 after the start of the full-scale invasion, we changed the project's slogan to "Cinema that brings victory closer." That was more than six months ago. Today, I don't know if cinema can really bring victory closer, but I do know that cinema can help us survive the most difficult events and make sense of them. I hope that Civil Pitch 2.0 films will allow both foreign and Ukrainian audiences to understand what is happening to us," adds Darya Bassel, the director of the DOCU/PRO Industry Platform.


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CPH:DOX 2023 Scores Biggest Audience Ever

Written 24-04-2023 13:03:32 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX 2023 Scores Biggest Audience Ever

The 20th anniversary of CPH:DOX became a record breaking year for Denmark’s largest film festival. During the festival, the audience number reached 125,680 – in total. Audiences flocked to the cinemas – both in Copenhagen and in the 28 municipalities that were part of the festival this year.

With an audience of 125,680, CPH:DOX 2023 became the most visited edition of the festival ever. Over the past 20 years, CPH:DOX has grown from a small Copenhagen event with just under 12,000 visiting guests to one of the world’s leading documentary film festivals with a large and engaged audience, both in the cinemas and online on the festival’s new streaming platform PARA:DOX.

Niklas Engstrøm, Artistic Director of CPH:DOX, said:
“With this year’s edition of CPH:DOX, we have finally stepped out of the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic which has left its mark on the festival and its ability to reach a live audience every year since 2020. The 20th anniversary of CPH:DOX was really a celebration – of documentary cinema and of the film festival as a social event. The most wonderful thing is that the massive interest by our local crowd goes hand in hand with rising international attention, and I’m happy to see how so many of the films premiering at CPH:DOX are now continuing their journey in the international festival circuit and market”.

The most popular film in the cinemas during CPH:DOX 2023 was ‘A Storm Foretold’, Christoffer Guldbrandsen’s long-awaited film about Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone, while ‘After Work’ by Erik Gandini became the most streamed film at the festival’s online platform, PARA:DOX. Both films were screened in the festival’s world premieres-only main competition DOX:AWARD.

International attention on the raise
CPH:DOX 2023 not only offered a strong film program with +100 world premieres. The festival also offered a wide range of activities for professionals, including the ever more popular pitching forum for the international film industry, which moved to a bigger venue to accommodate the demand. This part of the festival has made headlines and received praise in a large number of leading international media, including VarietyScreen International and Deadline among others.

Katrine Kiilgaard, Managing Director of CPH:DOX, said:
“Since 2017, CPH:DOX has worked purposefully to develop the industry activities, and we are very happy to see that it is really bearing fruit. We have presented more projects, welcomed more professionals, conducted more individual meetings and given out more awards than ever before. But more importantly, CPH:DOX has attracted a critical mass of the most important players in the industry to meet the most talented filmmakers, making Copenhagen a hub for the further development of the documentary genre and a place not to be missed by the industry”.

Facts about audience interest in CPH:DOX
Overall, the film program at CPH:DOX 2023 was seen by an audience of 125,682.
The first edition of CPH:DOX in 2003 attracted a total of 11,706 visitors to the cinemas, but since then interest has been steadily increasing to 51,800 in 2012 up to the previous audience record of 117.720 in 2020. During the corona pandemic in 2020, CPH:DOX was quickly transformed into a digital festival – in a time of crisis when large parts of Denmark were shut down. In 2021 and 2022, CPH:DOX continued as a hybrid festival with film screening in cinemas and online as well.

6 pens.


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Anna Dziapsh-ipa: Self-Portrait Along the Borderl

Written 23-04-2023 20:03:20 by Tue Steen Mller

 Anna Dziapsh-ipa: Self-Portrait Along the Borderl

I'am in that weird situation that I have not seen the final version of a film that has its premiere tomorrow in Nyon in Switzerland in the presence of the director, a dear friend of me - and my wife - Anna, who we met the first time in Tbilisi way back in 2009 and since then have kept contact with. She presents herself as a filmmaker and visual artist, indeed she is, and she has done so much for Georgian documentary through the company Sakdoc that she runs together with Salomé Jashi. BUT back to her film that I will write more about when I have seen the final version. Here is the intro from the festival's website:

"Anna Dziapsh-ipa was born of the union between an Abkhazian man and a Georgian woman. In Self-Portrait Along the Borderline, she skilfully weaves together unique archives and fragments to offer a personal and political biography of Georgia-Abkhazia relations. This vibrant exploration foregrounds a divided identity caught between the margins..."

After no success with festivals like IDFA and DOKLeipzig this fine autobiographical documentary essay finds its premiere at Visions du Réel in Nyon in Switzerland, where it will be shown tomorrow monday April 24, world premiere, and the director will be present.

I saw a rough cut long time ago and wrote to Anna: "Love it. It has humour, it has sadness, it is original in shape and has magic images taken by you, plus all the archive including those of yourself, I especially love the one where you look at the camera for a long time and then comes the smile...The spider methaphor, yes, I think it works, happy to have your grandfather so present, the man with the surname you carry (he was a famous football player!)... and your wedding, wow that was big, you use it perfectly... 

If you are not in Nyon to watch the film, click below and watch the trailer, that is wonderful:

https://www.visionsdureel.ch/film/2023/self-portrait-along-the-borderline/ 


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Circle Women Doc Accelerator to Cannes

Written 20-04-2023 20:21:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Circle Women Doc Accelerator to Cannes

Copy paste from (part of) article of today's Cineuropa, written by Vladan Petkovic: 

CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator, an exclusive training programme for female-identifying documentary filmmakers, has selected the four projects that will take part in its showcase as part of the Cannes Docs programme of the Marché du Film(16-24 May) for the fourth consecutive year. Previous winners include Lin Alluna's Twice Colonized [+], Ágnes Horváth-Szabó and Anna Nemet’s Beauty of the Beast, and Maja Prelog's Cent’anni....



Read more / Ls mere

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Khaled Jarrar: Notes on Displacement

Written 16-04-2023 20:15:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Khaled Jarrar: Notes on Displacement

I have written 13 blogposts about Khaled Jarrar on this site – since I met him in Ramallah and in Corfu in the Storydoc workshops organized by Greek Kostas Spiropoulos more than a decade ago. I have talked with him for hours about the Israeli occupation, about his own family and its fate, about his period as bodyguard for Arafat, about his film “Infiltrators” and about his humanistic work as an artist doing happenings around the world – you can read more about this by writing his name in “search” on this site.

No surprise for me that he with his newest film, “Notes on Displacement”, involves himself as the director and cameraman, who goes with a group of Syrian Palestinians on their journey that ends in Germany after troubles at borders in Europe. Troubles to say the least. Humiliation after humiliation. No food or non-eatable food, children and old people, father and mothers, grandparents. It’s chaotic and the film conveys this chaos. There are many night scenes, where you can´t see what happens but you hear voices crying out for help or rough answers from the authorities including the one of Jarrar, who often speaks on behalf of the refugees. And with the refugees with all the warmth and compassion you can come up with in the turbulent situations.

Content as described by Jarrar: “Nadira, an elderly Palestinian, has been a refugee since the age of 12. Now she has to evacuate Damascus, too. She and her daughter Mona feared for their lives there, but the idea of a safe existence elsewhere is a distant dream. (I) filmmaker Khaled Jarrar received unsettling videos and voice messages as they cross to the Greek island of Lesbos. I join them there, on the long road to a new life…

My grandmother Shafiqa was forced to leave her home in Haifa, her Jasmine tree, her cup of tea on her balcony and her view forced me back in time. Nadira’s plea brought me to the front lines; creating new memories by walking this new exodus together. We were real time inside the frame capturing the present to battle the past - creating a communication between the two. As the director from behind the camera I was driven to offer images of our own making, outside the never-ending western paparazzi image onslaught of displaced refugees. This film is for us, our values, our knowledge, our experiences…”

Do I need to say that the film includes images of boats on the water full of people in need, crying for help – of tents where people are together waiting waiting waiting – of clashes with police and guards at borders, especially the Hungarian one is hard to watch and tolerate for its lack of humanity… It’s hard to watch.

Happy that there are artists like Khaled Jarrar, who has the personal courage to get involved and communicate, this time through film.

Palestine, Germany, Qatar, 74 mins., 2022

6 pens.

photo credit: Tamra Habash

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Honorary Award to Helena Třetkov

Written 14-04-2023 20:14:26 by Tue Steen Mller

Honorary Award to Helena Třetkov

DocsBarcelona will pay tribute to 73-year-old filmmaker Helena Třeštíková, one of Europe's leading contemporary documentary filmmakers. Her extraordinary career of more than fifty titles will be recognised with the Honorary DocsBarcelona Award 2023, an award that celebrates "a prodigious production strongly linked to her homeland, the Czech Republic. Today, her films are already a legacy and a first hand document of the last half-century of the country's history. Třeštíková will receive the award at the opening of the event, which will celebrate its twenty-sixth edition from 18th to 28th May and will bring more than thirty documentaries to the CCCB and the Aribau Cinemas.

Helena Třeštíková briefly held the post of Minister of Culture of her country in 2007 and delved into the life and work of fellow Czech director Milos Forman with Forman vs. Forman, a film premiered in 2019 at DocsBarcelona and the Cannes Film Festival. With a powerful focus on human relationships and social issues, Třeštíková has built an extensive filmography where time-lapse shines, a resource often used by the filmmaker to follow her characters through decades of their lives.

DocsBarcelona recognition will be completed with a retrospective at the Filmoteca de Catalunya, which will include three of her most celebrated titles: *Katka(2010), a portrait filmed over fourteen years of a drug-dependent teenager struggling to overcome her addiction; Private Universe (2012), in which Třeštíková films a Czech family over nearly four decades against the backdrop of the fall of Stalinist socialism and the entry into the European Union, and the recent René - The Prisoner of Freedom (2021), the sequel to René (2008), in which the filmmaker reunites with her protagonist, a young man she filmed for twenty years in a juvenile prison. The film is a portrait of an outsider who is highly critical of society and the system in which he does not fit in.

Třeštíková will also offer a masterclass with an intimate and carefully chosen selection of the sequences from her filmography that have most influenced her. The session will be hosted by Marga Almirall, from Barcelona Women's Film Festival, coorganizer of the envent.

Copy-paste from DocsBarcelona website.

6 pens.


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CPH:DOX - Two Winners and One More

Written 28-03-2023 09:30:49 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX - Two Winners and One More

 I watched two winners of the CPH:DOX 2023 yesterday. One at home and one in the cinema:

"Mrs Hansen & the Bad Companions" by Jella Bethmann (Denmark, 90 mins.) won the Nordic Dox award, so well deserved a recognition for a warm, sweet and touching visit to the chaotic house of Inger Lise Hansen, a wonderful 80 year old woman, who has opened her home for men and women, who have problems dealing with the society and life as such. Inger helps and the film's portrait of the relationship between her and the young Martin, who has lived in the house for 10 years, is simply beautiful.

 

"Motherland" by Alexander Mihalkovich and Hanna Badziaka (Sweden, Ukraine, Norway,  92 mins.) won the DOX:Award, for its (quote from jury motivation) "... unfolding the complexity of living within an oppressive and unjust system (Belarus and its army). It poses questions about the idea of an individual choice within a cornered society. The title of the film is a way to give back the power to the women who are at the forefront of this fight.” Yes, the strongest part of the film goes with the presence of Svetlana, a mother whose son was killed in an army poisoned by the so-called Soviet origin dedovshina culture. The cinema was full for the screening of the winning film, great!

 

Quite a move to go to watch - on my MacBook Pro - "Soviet Bus Stops" by Kristoffer Hegnsvad (Canada, Denmark, 57 min.), a lively journey through many of (or was it all?) the 15 former republics of USSR with energetic photographer Christopher Herwig, whose passion for the bus stops gives the film a special flavour as does the meetings with some of the architects and researchers, who made and studies these gems here there and everywhere. It is entertaining at the same time as it puts the stops into a historical context, I loved it, also because I have been in (some of) the countries visited. Next time I know where to go... More about the film here: https://www.sovietbusstops.com/about 

6 pens.  


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CPH:DOX 2023 online til April 2

Written 25-03-2023 20:05:27 by Sara Thelle

CPH:DOX 2023 online til April 2

CPH:DOX rolls over you like a strong warm pacific wave in the cold Danish springtime, and if, like most of us, you have your ordinary job to look after on the side, it can be hard to keep up, you just hold your breath and roll along.

By the time this year’s winners has been announced, you are only just getting a grip of what you would like to see. Planning your personal festival program (thank god the paper program is back!) takes time, changes as you read reviews and get recommendations from friends, and is often filled with regrets, as you realize you’ve missed the last screening of a film you didn’t know you MUST see.

On this last weekend of CPH:DOX, a few thoughts on what I have chosen to see this year. There are still films to see on the big screen, extra screenings are coming up in the following week and fortunately there is also the online platform PARA:DOX to catch up on a selection of the rest.

 

What I did see?

The Super 8 Years, literary cinema by Annie Ernaux and her son that adds another dimension to her oeuvre, made of private home movies beautifully filmed by her late ex-husband, wonderfully edited together with the authors words. Whether you have read the Nobel-prize winner or not, don’t miss the film on PARA:DOX.

Joan Baez in person. The air was thick with love when three generations were gathered in Bremen for the Danish premiere of Joan Baez, I Am a Noise, a well-crafted film made with an incredible personal archive, surprisingly private.. – “I want to leave an honest legacy” Baez said.

I only watched one of the films in the main competition, so that’s my personal winner for now: On the Edge, with the more pertinent original French title État limite, a highly relevant political film about a psychiatrist in a public hospital outside Paris trying to work humanely under inhuman conditions, asking questions about the state – and the limitations – of the welfare state today.

Hypermoon (after reading Tue’s comment) and Budding Humans (if you need a feelgood film, try a fly-on-the-wall doc about the friendship between two two-year-olds).

I also tried out UNG:DOX, the festival’s selection of films for high school students, where I watched two rather weak French films: The Other Profile (Le vrai du faux) and The Flag (Le Repli, interesting subject, terrible film).

 

What am I looking forward to:

Under the Sky of Damascus tonight Saturday in Empire, archive master Sergei Loznitsa’s latest film The Natural History of Destruction, The Hamlet Syndrome, The Eternal Memory and, of course, the winner of the festival Motherland, the winner of the Politiken:DOX Award Apolonia, Apolonia, now running in the Danish theatres, and much more online…

 

What do I miss?

Nicely curated thematic side programs and retrospectives. A big festival should also connect with the past and share film history with its audience. This year, for example, it could have been interesting to look back at how the Iraq War has been depicted and reflected on in documentary films..

 

Thank you for the feast so far CPH:DOX and happy birthday!

Watch CPH:DOX 2023

 

Watch CPH:DOX 2023 on PARA:DOX until April 2: https://paradox.dk/

 

The Super 8 Years (Les Années Super 8, Annie Ernaux & David Ernaux-Briot, France 2022, 61 min.) : https://paradox.dk/film/the-super-8-years/

 

On the Edge (État limite, Nicolas Peduzzi, France 2023, 93 min.): https://paradox.dk/film/on-the-edge/

 

Hypermoon (Mia Engberg, Sweden 2023, 78 min.): https://paradox.dk/film/hypermoon/

 

Budding Humans (Store små mennesker, Gunhild Westhagen Magnor, Norway 2022, 70 min.): https://paradox.dk/film/budding-humans/

  

STILL: stillbilledet kommer fra On the Edge (État limite), director Nicolas Peduzzi, GoGoGo Films.


Categories: Cinema, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jon Bang Carlsen: Dreaming Arizona

Written 22-03-2023 15:23:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Jon Bang Carlsen: Dreaming Arizona

”Most of what follows is true, but reality and dreams are like conjoined twins, if one dies both will perish”, a text from, who else, Danish master Jon Bang Carlsen, a text he could have used already almost 50 years ago, when he made “Jenny” and started his personal and unique storytelling in film after film, a gift to Danish cinema. And yet he always renews himself, this time working gently and caring with teenagers, who live in a small town in Arizona, Winslow is the name; at the same time as he is keeping the sound and the image of some of his favorite narrative elements, in this case the freight trains - do you remember his film on his mother, “Livet vil leves” (1994) (“Life will be Lived”), the trains were there and the fascinating sound of them passing through the landscape. As in Winslow. The film, before the title comes up, starts with that sound, it is never silent in Winslow, these damn trains as one of the girls say.

Her name is Makenzie, who in the film is joined by Amber and Kristin (both Navajos), Sydney and Bryson. The five get together on the stage of the local cinema to do this “documentary fantasy played by real people” as Bang Carlsen puts it. On a stage in front of the silver screen, where dreams can be dreamt and realized through the wonderful cinema language. They get together with Makenzie, who sells popcorn in the cinema, as the one taking the floor to tell her story asking the others to do the same. And they do. It becomes “our” story, which is not a happy one. Makenzie’ s father left to live with Sydney’s mother, Bryson would like to meet his grandfather who lives as a homeless, Kristin suffers from her sister’s loss of a child, Taylor, Amber wants to leave mother and child to go to study journalism in Los Angeles… To put it briefly and to say that from there they and the director go on to perform a visual poetic trip or - using the title of one of Bang Carlsen’s previous works - “invent reality”.

And visually it is breathtaking beautiful, I was thinking, when I saw the film on the big screen in the theatre in Copenhagen. Estonian cameraman Erik Põllumaa is visualizing as his director wishes him to do; Bang Carlsen is a cinematic painter.

The yellow school bus is there, white horses, one of them in Makenzie’s story passing by in the street in front of the cinema, the Navajo landscapes familiar to Amber’s story, Bryson in the church: “I call for your help but there´s no answer”, Kristin and the others in front of a closed mine from where Taylor comes out on a white horse, Sydney and Makenzie arguing on the stage and in the swimming pool hugging each other, stories after stories are connected to the five protagonists and to the magic screen up there, where Rose appears… there is a story about her, who lived in Winslow in the sixties, no spoiler from me.

“We all got baggage, we are not alone in this battle called life”, says Makenzie, who has a conversation with Amber leaving the hard stories of their childhood that they all carry and have put into the film. … played by real people, oh they play so well. Authenticity!

Denmark, Estonia, Norway, 2022, 76 mins.

Still: cph:dox


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CPH:DOX Forum

Written 22-03-2023 11:07:44 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX Forum

I've seen it many times before and I love the look of it! A huge room full of documentary people, directors and producers with ideas, more or less developed film projects, clips - called trailers or teasers - meeting with broadcasters, sales agents and distributors to pitch. 20 minutes so you have to be prepared to say what kind of help you need and you have to know in beforehand to whom you are talking... Lots of meetings...

I've seen it at IDFA in Amsterdam and at DOCSBarcelona and I´ve always admired the organisers, who - also here - make it work, creating the flow needed so the commissioning editors know where to go, helped by smiling staff members with lists and of course also one, who from the stage ring a bell to say "time is up, ladies and gentlemen, move to next meeting".

The Forum pitching itself takes place at the Royal Theatre's traditional "Stærekassen" (!) in the mornings and the meetings at Odd Fellow Palæet (!) five minutes from there, words from the internet:

"The Odd Fellows Mansion is a Rococo town mansion in Copenhagen, Denmark, named after the local branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows which acquired the building in 1900..."

So that's where I went after having been to the Cinemateket to watch Margreth Olin's impressive "Songs of Earth". Full house, applause after the film. Big audience potential.

Coming to the Odd Fellow Palæ I was not allowed to go into the Forum meeting hall as I have (only?) a press badge, but I met an old friend Massimo Arvat in the lobby, Italian producer from Turin, who is still going strong with a lot of work for television, corporate films and of course creative documentaries. He declared his love for CPH:DOX, second time he was here, no project this year but networking of course. We had a good chat.

Fortunately the artistic director of the festival Niklas Engstrøm passed by and I told him that I would like to experience the atmosphere and see how it goes for, especially, the Georgians who I know so well from working with the Film Mentoring Program of CinéDoc Tbilisi and from many visits to the country. He opened the door for me and I joined the table of producer Irina Gelashvili and director Keti Machavariani, who monday pitched the project Here, Between This Sea And Those Mountains, "A family saga of a father and daughter - Gogi and Helena, two politicians from different generations - is intertwined with Georgia's century-long struggle for freedom." It will be a good film, I am sure, that will also, of course, include the turbulent political situation of the country with massive demonstrations against the government. But I also went to say hello to Julien Pebrel and Tamar Kalandadze at their table, pitching with Sakdoc's Keti Kipiani a project called Kartli: "A former soviet sanatorium on the edge of the Tbilisi Sea has harbored refugees from Abkhazia for over 30 years. Now in a precarious state, the building can no longer shelter them, uprooting and pulling apart this big family of refugees yet again." And one more - dear to me - project from Georgia, Boxes from Georgia, presented by director Gvantsa Meparishvili and producer Tiko Nadirashvili: "Volunteers from Georgia, Ukraine, and Russia join a charity for Ukraine in Tbilisi. In this microcosm of regional issues, hard work and solidarity spark unlikely friendships - but power struggles ruin this dynamic, turning best friends into enemies."

Leaving the place having met so many good friends from my past at EDN, including many from arte - Germany and France, good to see them here in Copenhagen.

It's another sign of success for the Industry section of CPH:DOX - the amount of decision makers, who attend and take meetings with filmmakers from all over, including the Caucasus countries and of course Ukraine.


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CPH:DOX: Morning With Filmmakers

Written 20-03-2023 21:43:24 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX: Morning With Filmmakers

“Dialogues on Craft” is the title of four morning sessions at the CPH:DOX in the Charlottenborg Kunsthal, that is turned into a cinema during the festival. 90 minutes per session. With Wendy Mitchell as moderator. I attended the first one, which was very interesting because of the well thought dramaturgy:

Two filmmakers on the stage, Estonian Anna Hints who has made “Smoke Sauna Sisterhood” and Chilean Maite Alberdi, whose “The Eternal Memory” was praised the other day on this site (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/5116/).

Introduction by the moderator, a few questions to have the filmmakers tell the audience about their films – I was surprised that we were very few who had seen both films out of a good audience, maybe 100.

And then the floor was given to the filmmakers. Maite Alberdi had chosen a clip from the Sauna film, Anna Hints a clip from the love story of Alberdi. The two films and directors were there because both go very close to vulnerable themes. 

For those of you who don’t know the Estonian film, here is the catalogue text from the Sundance Festival, where the film was awarded:

“Tucked in a lush green forest in southern Estonia, a group of women gather in the safe darkness of a smoke sauna to share their innermost thoughts and secrets. Enveloped by a warm, dense heat, they bare all to expel fears and shame trapped in their bodies and regain their strength.” 

And “The Eternal Memory”, also a Sundance winner, is ”an intimate account of a woman’s deep love for her husband, who is slowly losing his memory.”

The directors had good questions to each other; Anna Hints explained the dilemma she had when she had decided not to show the faces of the women, and then one said but I want my face to be shown. She found a solution that works so fine as she becomes the one, who reacts to the stories being told. Beautifully shot is the Sauna Sisterhood film and as Maite Alberdi said so well: In the beginning I was looking at the bodies but then I quickly started to feel comfortable and also listened to the stories… let me add that the film has not only strong stories but also great anecdotes full of humor. Like in the clip from Maite Alberdi’s film, where Augusto is suffering enormously, “help me” he says to his wife in the scene that is followed by another scene where he is dancing to a melody!

I had to leave before the end of this fine session going to Stærekassen, the small stage of the Royal Theatre, where 8 projects from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbadjan, Belarus and Ukraine were pitched. Also here lots of people, many taking notes before meetings that are held tomorrow.

Still: cph:dox


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Maite Alberdi: The Eternal Memory

Written 16-03-2023 16:42:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Maite Alberdi: The Eternal Memory

Take a look at the top page photos, Chilean director Maite Alberdi is the one to the left. A true documentary star, whose films "Tea Time", "The Grown-Ups" and "The Mole Agent" have been praised on this site. Her new film "The Eternal Memory" has been awarded many times. I have chosen to bring the fine annotation of CPH:DOX, here it is:

Beautiful and genuine, this Sundance winner from Chile is an intimate account of a woman’s deep love for her husband, who is slowly losing his memory. An audience favourite and a contender for most beautiful love film of the year.

Paulina and Augusto have been together for 23 years. She is a former Minister of Culture and an actress. He was a popular TV journalist for many years. They live in the beautiful house they built together many years ago. It is filled with memories that Augusto is slowly forgetting. For he has Alzheimer’s and his memory is leaking out of him until he can’t even recognise himself in the mirror. But even though Augusto is alone in his head, Paulina is constantly by his side. The more he forgets, the more her love for him grows, because even though he forgets, her feelings remain the same. ‘The Eternal Memory’ is a touchingly beautiful film about the love of two people cast in the purest form. A deserving winner of this year’s Sundance Festival.

Chile, 2003, 85 mins.

 Still: CPH:DOX


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Suzanne Raes: Close to Vermeer

Written 11-03-2023 13:13:41 by Tue Steen Mller

Suzanne Raes: Close to Vermeer

What a wonderful painter! Johannes Vermeer 1632-1675. 35 works are known from his hand. 28 of them are now on exhibition in Amsterdam at the Rijks Museum. Until June. Said to be all sold out! It's there after years of research and negociations with museums all over the world.

Which is so beautifully documented and interpreted by Suzanne Raes in her film "Close to Vermeer" that will run in theatres in Netherlands, maybe it already does and is of course taken for the respected art film festival in Montréal, where it is programmed for the 18th of March. Many other festivals will for sure pick it up from Decker Distribution in Germany.

High quality because it literally invites you to go close to Vermeer. To the painter to could catch the moment and knew how to deal with light. And women sitting at tables with men standing/flirting with them. Or sewing, or pouring milk or... pure beauty, making the spectator emotional. Also because of the curator Gregor Weber, whose last exhibition this is before retirement. He is asked what is so special about the painter, he starts to answer but stops, he can´t go, says "sorry", too emotional for him just as another expert, himself a painter who remembers the first Vermeer he saw and starts crying... the filmmaker gave me tears in eyes at these moments in a film that has many layers and qualities - the passion conveyed, the visits to the laboratories, the meetings with curators in other museums, the discussion about whether "The Woman with the Pen" is a Vermeer or not, the close-ups of the paintings, wonderful. Where the fine "My Rembrandt" by Oeke Hoogendijk gives a fascinating insight to the (commercial) world of art, "Close to Vermeer" is a multilayered, generous invitation to an Artist, we all love but here is invited to know so much more about than we did before.

The Netherlands, 2023, 78 mins. 


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Mia Engberg: Hypermoon

Written 09-03-2023 17:10:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Mia Engberg: Hypermoon

First a flashback to 2013 where I saw the director’s “Belleville Baby” and wrote (on this site): “Swedish Mia Engberg’s”Belleville Baby” is beautiful. Why, because it has a feeling, an atmosphere, a personal tone (the director’s own voice and her text is excellent) and a well told story from the past, where the director fell in love in Paris, lived with him for some time, experienced him becoming a criminal, because of his immigrant background, an honest film that also includes reflections on the fimmaker wanting to convey the good story, whatever the subject of the story thinks... it is so well made with a mix af material – super 8 blurred images, photos, newsreels and tv-reports from riots in France, home video from the director with her small son, all framed by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydike. An essay film on remembering, and remembering different moments and events, maybe they never took place. Impressive work by Mia Engberg.” She made in 2019 ”Lucky One” according to CPH:DOX, I have not seen that.

And then... 



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Masters of DOX - ZagrebDox 2023

Written 05-03-2023 15:04:01 by Tue Steen Mller

Masters of DOX - ZagrebDox 2023

Here is a copy-paste from the website of Croatian ZagrebD0x (March 26 - April 2), a good read:

Master, expert, maestro, connoisseur, virtuoso... The ‘title’ can be given both to a craftsman and an artist, but one thing is for sure: with it we address only the best in our business. Masters of Dox, a long-time programme section of the ZagrebDox International Documentary Film Festival, has been made up of films by authors at the top of the world film for years, but not necessarily documentary! The 19th festival edition brings six new titles directed by prominent film artists, undoubtedly masters of their craft.



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Latvian Nat. Film Prizes: Lielais Kristaps

Written 24-02-2023 21:08:29 by Tue Steen Mller

Latvian Nat. Film Prizes: Lielais Kristaps

Sunday is the ceremony, where Latvian film is to be praised in all categories you can think of, also for camera, sound, editing etc. and what is attributed to fiction filmmaking. I have a heart for Latvian documentaries so I limit myself to mention the five nominated in the section “long documentary”. I have seen three of them. They are:

Bach against Covid / Bahs pret Covid (Latvia)Directed by Ivars Zviedris

The director is – for me – a true documentarian (btw. the title of one of his films) and it is no surprise that he makes this film, as Baltic Sea Docs manager, critic Zane Balcus wrote to me: Ivars Zviedris manages to capture current issues in society – be it political, economic, or social processes or shifts… Here he has filmed during the Covid period documenting visual facets of lockdown and its imprint on the life of the film’s protagonist – the cello musician Normunds who plays his instrument for the tourists in Riga Old Town…

Hecuba's Question / Hekabes jautājums (Latvia) Directed by Pēteris Krilovs, Iveta Budreviča

Krilovs… have followed his many films, and his “Klucis. Deconstruction of an Artist” is for me a masterpiece in storytelling. This one Zane Balcus gives these words: ”This film Krilovs has directed together with Iveta Budreviča, close friend of the film’s main protagonists. Through associative representation of a dream told by Krilovs at the start of the film, the directors draw us into the world of the musician Rolands Ūdrītis, who after the tragic accident a few years back has not recovered, and his wife Ilona Balode. We are asked to imagine and then follow how their life goes on and what strength is needed to endure and keep up the hope.”

My Mother the State (Latvia, Iceland)Directed by Ieva Ozoliņa

Fascinating universal story, straight forward and emotional, about looking for a sister and finding out that you have not only one but four sisters “scattered all over the world”. It’s an incredible story and the protagonist is one, who never gives up in her search for family and herself.

Before the Light / Svārstības (Latvia) Directed by Kristīne Briede

Kristine Briede made the magnificent “Bridges of Time” with Audrius Stonys, she is one of the most knowledgeable I know from the Latvian documentary scene but what I did not know, but now saw, she is also one who points in fine cinematographic language at an incredible story from nowadays Latvia – as it is written in an introduction of a review in the magazine Kino Raksti: Would it be normal for us if women were allowed to work as doctors or teachers only under the supervision of men? Why then is this considered normal within the Lutheran Church and in the work of a pastor?.. The personal service stories of three women - Dace Balodes, Rudīte Losāne and Agrita Staško – are being unfolded.

The Land / Zemnieki (Latvia) Directed by Ivars Seleckis

Ivars, my hero, my friend, known him for more than 30 years, I am biased, here is what IDFA wrote when it was shown there last year: In The Land, Ivars Seleckis’s measured, observational images capture the cycle of the seasons in a rural community in Latvia. Fifty years ago Seleckis shot another film in the same region: The Corn-Bins (1973), which documented a major shift in the country’s agriculture. The upscaling of farming had already been started under Stalin—because groups were easier to control than individuals—and these huge farming concerns ushered in the collapse of traditional agriculture… how is it today, Ivars goes back to meet the farmers of today. 

Still: "Bach against Covid", the cello musician Normunds. 


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Alisa Kovalenko: We will not Fade Away

Written 22-02-2023 21:02:24 by Tue Steen Mller

Alisa Kovalenko: We will not Fade Away

Andriy, Liza, Lera, Ruslan, Illia. Ukrainian protagonists in this heartwarming and also touching documentary from the village Stanytsia Luhanska near the frontline, which after February last year is occupied by Russia. They are teenagers, they have hope, they have dreams, they are creative. They take photos, make music, repair and build motorbikes, plan to be an actor, they have fun as teenagers have and should have…They look for ways of having a good life in spite of the sounds and dangers of the war close to their homes. They live with their families, mums and dads and grannies. They are full of energy, they want to get away from the village, they call it “an asshole”. The film offers them to have a short break from being there, when they are invited by a famous sports commentator to get a tour to Himalayas. They go. A once-in-a-life experience.

Alisa Kovalenko is the director, she has – together with Serhiy Stetsenko – filmed the teenagers, and their families from 2019 till 2022 with an extraordinary attention to and sensibility for what it means to be on the edge of adulthood, as one family member expresses it. As she showed in a previous film “Home Games”, Kovalenko knows how to find the beautiful moments in the daily lives of the boys and girls and make those into a Cinema language she masters. Without breaking any ethical borders.

Andriy, the boy who has his garage for the motorbike, arranges in this place a New Year celebration with an electric light show, pours champagne in two glasses, hands one of them to his granny: “Thank You for Being There for Me”. Another granny talks seriously to Illia, who wants to be an actor: You must leave from here if you want to be an actor, if you stay you can be a policeman. In a previous scene you have seen Illia paint his face white making him look like the sad clown in “Les enfants du Paradis”. And you see Lera (or is it Liza, I mix them up sometimes, sorry) listening to her mother telling her that women are there to be married and serve their husbands. And Ruslan is at his computer rapping a great poem. Earlier you have seen him down in the mine doing the dirty job his father does. 

The last 20 minutes of the film describes the trip to the Himalayas – after the film has shown - with a lot of humour – the joyful training moments they perform at home to be ready for the trip that leads them so say that they want to stay here. So this is what beauty looks like! Energy all over, as there is in the whole film that is beautifully edited by Maryna Maykovska and Kasia Boniecka. They have found a flow and yet there are observational poetic moments without any “action”, many times with music that fits the situations and you are happy, when the film does not go down in black upon their return to their homes. A superb montage with the teenagers closes the film and highlights that the intention of the film is to give an homage to LIFE and YOUTH. You leave this masterpiece full of (unbearable?) hope. Slava Ukraini!

Ukraine/Poland/USA/Norway, 2023, 98 mins.

Still (FIFDH Geneva)


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CPH:DOX 4 More Competition Lists

Written 21-02-2023 18:32:22 by Tue Steen Mller

I have already posted the list of films in the main competition of CPH:DOX http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/5104/

- here comes the other competition films listed one after the other taken from the website of the festival...



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Sarajevo Film F.:Winner of True Stories Market

Written 16-02-2023 10:47:34 by Tue Steen Mller

Sarajevo Film F.:Winner of True Stories Market

Vesi Vuković won the award endowed with prize money amounting to 10,000 euros for the story “The Hero from Arena”

As part of the special edition of the “Dealing with the Past” programme held in Sarajevo and online at Ondemand.kinomeetingpoint.ba, the Sarajevo Film Festival's “True Stories Market” award was presented in Sarajevo. The winner of the “True Stories Market” award for 2023 is film theorist VesiVuković from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who received the award for the story “The Hero from Arena”.

The award endowed with prize money in the amount of 10,000 euros is awarded by Sarajevo Film Festival, Obala Art Centar and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Dialogue Southeast Europe...



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CPH:DOX DOX:Award 2023

Written 15-02-2023 11:19:29 by Tue Steen Mller

Below you find the 13 films that have been picked for the DOX:Award 2023 competition, but first some introductory words from the festival:

”Marking the 20th anniversary of the International Documentary Film Festival CPH:DOX, the 2023 edition will offer an outstanding programme of approximately more than 200 films by established and emerging filmmakers as well as talks, debates, performances, exhibitions, parties and much more. The festival takes place 15-26 March 2023. 

CPH:DOX’ industry events will include the financing and co-production event CPH:FORUM, CPH:CONFERENCE and INTER:ACTIVE symposium. The industry programme runs under the banner “Business as Unusual” between March 19-24. Read more about the key dates and events in the industry programme here.” 

DOX:AWARD 2023 – the full line-up of nominated films – if you click on the title you will find more information:

After Work (Erik Gandini, Sweden)
A thought-provoking film that looks at the phenomenon of work in the 21st century with a sharp eye and an equally sharp humor. 

Eat Bitter (Ningyi Sun & Pascale Appora-Gnekindy, Central African Republic/China)
A local construction worker and a Chinese engineer are assigned to build a bank in the Central African Republic.

The Hearing  (Lisa Gerig, Switzerland)
Four asylum seekers reenact their conversations with the authorities in a role-playing game that reverses the roles.

Light Needs (Jesse McLean, United States)
Generous and imaginative film about the inner life of houseplants, which takes other life forms seriously with creative and artistic originality. 

Motherland (Alexander Mihalkovich & Hanna Badziaka, Sweden/Ukraine/Norway)
Dark and monumental film from Belarus, where corruption and a brutal military culture push young people to choose sides.

On the Edge (Nicolas Peduzzi, France)
A young doctor with an exemplary humanist spirit fights a brave battle to hold together the run-down Paris hospital where he works.

The Other Profile (Armel Hostiou, France)
An elementally suspenseful and completely unpredictable detective story from Kinshasa, where a French film director has to find his own double.

Songs of Earth (Margreth Olin, Norway)
The mountainous landscapes of Norway provide the monumental backdrop for a magnificent, existential journey with the filmmaker’s parents as its human yardstick.

A Storm Foretold (Christoffer Guldbrandsen, Denmark)
Christoffer Guldbrandsen’s long-awaited film about Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone is a chilling report from the rotten core of power. 

Theatre of Violence (Emil Langballe & Lukasz Konopa, Denmark)
An epic and unshakeable drama of guilt and punishment about the first ever court case against a former child soldier accused of crimes against humanity.

A Tiger in Paradise (Mikel Cee Karlsson, Sweden)
A surreal journey into singer José González’s inner world of thoughts and shadows, staged with dark humor in the picturesque Swedish countryside.

Total Trust (Jialing Zhang, China)
The first major film about the Chinese surveillance state is a disturbing tale of technology, abuse of power and (self-)censorship in the 21st century.

Vintersaga (Carl Olsson, Sweden)
The human comedy unfolds in an aesthetically uncompromising and unmistakably Nordic saga in 24 chapters with dark humor and a sociological gaze.


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Alisa Kovalenko: We Will not Fade Away

Written 08-02-2023 13:24:12 by Tue Steen Mller

Alisa Kovalenko: We Will not Fade Away

The following are quotes from an interview I made for the IDF in December 2021, with Alisa Kovalenko and Stéphane Siophan, producer of the film:

What do you learn about yourself from filmmaking?

A: We learn to know ourselves through the world around us. We see the reflection of the world in ourselves. Coming into contact with something new, with a new experience, with a new world, always opens something in you, expands your inner space, and opens doors to new rooms. You watch and feel others, but through them you begin to better feel yourself. You learn to listen to others and, at the same time, listen to yourself. Because documentary filmmaking develops in you a unique ability to listen and see more, a capacity for supersensitive perception, it fills and opens up new meanings. We reveal ourselves through the world. The world does not exist without an observer. And it’s incredible how you can be an observer of two worlds in documentary films, the outside-world and inside-world, at the same time. While learning about the world, you always learn about yourself. That's why documentary filmmaking is the best way to meet and have such an important dialogue with yourself.

Beautifully said… Let’s go back to Expedition 49. Where are you? Finished shooting?
A: I have just returned from Nepal, where I have finally filmed the incredible expedition of the five teenagers I have been following for two years for Expedition 49. It was a tough travel. We climbed up to the Annapurna basecamp, but we were also stuck in Kathmandu in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown. In any case, in the end it was a wonderful journey that changed us all. We have started editing with my editor Marina Maykovskaya, and I feel a bit overwhelmed because I realize that I've been filming five different personalities. Now I have to assemble different lifelines and narrative lines into one, but it’s a good challenge! I will keep filming a bit in Donbas while I'm editing, to show how this expedition has affected my characters and which turns their lives take. The expedition itself is only a small part of this teenage adventure documentary, which takes place mainly on the Donbas steppe, in these dying frontline coal-mining settlements. It's not a mountain film or a typical coming-of-age movie, but a multi-layered story touching upon a generation of children who have spent half of their lives in a war. It's the story of working-class kids, which I also consider myself to be.

Photo: Alisa Kovalenko


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CPH:DOX - Change Project

Written 08-02-2023 12:47:25 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX - Change Project
The second edition of CHANGE is now ready to reveal its 2022/2023 lineup. CHANGE is a collaboration between CPH:DOX, EAVE, European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs, Europe’s leading training, development, and networking organisation for producers, and IMS, International Media Support, promoting journalism and documentary film to strengthen the capacity of media to reduce conflict, strengthen democracy and facilitate dialogue.

The partners’ goal being to increase equality and access to the international film market, the programme aims to stimulate inter-regional co-production and to connect projects, filmmakers and producers from the European Eastern Partnership countries (EaP) with international film professionals gathered annually at CPH:DOX.

The line-up of selected projects covers a wide variety of current topics spanning from the historical nuclear disarmament of Ukraine and its consequences, Abkhazian and Ukrainian refugees in Georgia, the ongoing non-violent resistance in Belarus, a female filmmaker’s gaze in the patriarchal Azerbaijani society on the gradual disappearance of the Caspian Sea, and a year of the current war in the life of four generations of women from Mariupol.

The selected projects are:

  • A Bit of a Stranger, prod. Anna Kapustina, dir. Svitlana Lishchynska, Ukraine
  • Boxes from Georgia, prod. Tiko Nadirashvili, dir. Gvantsa Meparishvili, Georgia
  • How Long is the Echo, prod. Vahan Khachatryan, dir. Merri Mkrtchyan, Armenia
  • Kartli, prod. Ketevan Kipiani, dir. Tamar Kalandadze and Julien Pebrel, Georgia
  • Keepers of Heritage, prod. Irina Gleashvili, dir. Keti Machavariani, Georgia
  • Nuclear-free Ukraine | Nuclear-freeworld, prod. Anna Palenchuk, dir. Kornii Hrytsiuk, Ukraine
  • Strange Sea, prod. Aysel Akhundova, dir. Lala Aliyeva, Azerbaijan
  • Voices.Streams by Belarusian filmmakers DocWave
Photo: Svitlana Lishchynska (Deutsche Filmakademi)

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Doug Aubrey: Legacy of an Invisible Bullet

Written 26-01-2023 21:16:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Doug Aubrey: Legacy of an Invisible Bullet

First some introductory words:

A filmmaker, Doug Aubrey, who has had a camera in his hands since he was a teenager, gets thyroid cancer. More than five years ago. He decides to turn the camera towards himself, he who his whole life has been filming social and political conflicts, been at many war zones, makes “an attempt to make sense out of my life, love, death, war and peace.” He makes 170 short films (!), altogether 10h30mins, which are made into a feature (117 mins.) and chaptered into 16 films or videos. I have seen the feature and two of the chapters, both around 45 mins. This text makes a focus on the feature:



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Sarvnik Kaur: Against the Tide

Written 23-01-2023 17:04:48 by Tue Steen Mller

Sarvnik Kaur: Against the Tide

One more documentary film from which I learned – this time about the koli fishing community in India close to Bombay. And one more documentary film where beautiful friendship is conveyed and forms the foreground of extremely difficult life conditions with a struggle to have a family life. Built around scenes in the families, celebrations, fishing, selling the fish, visits to the city and doctors and first of all conversations between the two male protagonists with drinks on the table, the film brings the viewer into understanding how hard Life can be and yet: Remember you are a Koli, you fear nothing. The Sundance catalogue text is precise when it comes to content, so here it is: 

”Rakesh and Ganesh are so close, they consider themselves brothers. Both are fishermen of Bombay's Indigenous Koli community, but they've taken contrasting paths. Rakesh uses his inheritance — his father's boat and the knowledge passed down by generations of Koli fisherman — to fish in the traditional ways, while Ganesh — who was educated abroad — has instead embraced modern, technology-driven, and environmentally destructive methods of deep-sea fishing, causing increasing friction between the friends. But with declining fish populations caused by pollution and invasive species, neither man is finding much success, adding to the burdens facing their young families, and testing the bonds of their brotherhood.”

India, 94 mins., 2023

Photo: Sarvnik Kaur, director


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Fipadoc 2023

Written 20-01-2023 15:45:26 by Tue Steen Mller

Fipadoc 2023

It’s a beautiful and elegant website to enter, the one from FipaDoc in Biarritz that introduces itself like this:

"We believe in true stories. Stories from here and there, of laughter and tears, stories simple but extraordinary, brave and surprising. Stories that open our eyes to those around us, that change the world, that inspire and stay with us forever. We believe in documentary films.”

Voila, and looking into the program, there is a strong film line divided into categories and an industry section with pitching and meetings. With a lot of festival categories being competitive. So there are juries with well known names like Nordisk Panorama’s Anita Reher, producer Iikka Vehkalahti, director Salomé Jashi, producer Uldis Cekulis, director Rachel Leah Jones, producer Alexandre Cornu, director Marta Prus and festival director from Ukraine’s DocuDays Vika Leshchenko…

Just to mention a couple of titles – in the Musical Documentary section Jørgen Leth and Andreas Koefoed are represented with beautiful “Music for Magic Pigeons”, in the International section there is Davide Ferrario’s “Umberto Eco – a Library of the World” that I would love to watch, in the Impact section there is Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s impressive “Matter out of Place” and in the French “Godard. Seul le Cinéma” by Cyril Leuthy. When you surf on the website you can watch the trailers and the one about Godard looks great.

Industry Days: There is a special focus on the Baltic countries and Finland, “Dive into the Baltic Sea” (hmm…), with Latvian Zane Balcus as moderator, there are pitching days organized by my old colleague from EDN Ove Rishøj Jensen and of course Ukraine is the guest of Honor under the headline “Visions of Ukraine”. 9 films have been selected and there is a Ukrainian panel present for a discussion: Viktoria LESHCHENKO,Docudays UA, Olga GIBELINDA, director, Ivanna KHITSINSKA, producer, Roman BLAZHAN, director, Andrii LYSETSKYI, director, OLHA BESKHMELNYTSINA, producer. Lysetskyi’s fine “Liturgy of Anti-Tank Obstacles” (2022) is shown in Biarritz as is “Ukrainian Sheriffs” by Roman Bondarchuk, produced by Latvian Uldis Cekulis. With whom, allow me a small flashback, I was in Biarritz years ago, with Archidoc, where Cekulis made a case study on his wonderful "Klucis. The Deconstruction".

And there is much much more to experience, put together by producer Christine Camdessus and her team. Wish you a good festival, starting today.

https://fipadoc.com/en

 Still: Umberto Eco Library


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Mantas Kvedaravicius

Written 17-01-2023 16:34:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Mantas Kvedaravicius

In 2011 I attended a Summer School in Neringa Lithuania for film students. A film by Mantas Kvedaravicius was shown, his first.

”Stasys Baltakis, teacher at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the film school of the Country, introduced the film and its director. ”He is not a film director, he is a thinker”, he said about the debutant Kvedaravicius, who made the film over a period of years, now completing his PhD (and a book) on the affects of pain. And the film is about pain, about people in Chechnya, families whose members disappear or have undergone torture. Shot illegally, and with one year in the editing, the film expresses pure love and respect for the characters without turning to sentimentalism…



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Lucie Krlov: Kapr Code

Written 13-01-2023 16:05:30 by Tue Steen Mller

Lucie Krlov: Kapr Code

Love that film! Because of its surprising, fresh approach to its protagonist Jan Kapr (1914-1988), a composer unknown to me. Until now, at least I know a lot about him, as a text in the beginning of the film indicates: “Sometimes, we can follow only traces full of dissonance and missing pieces”. Which is what Lucie Králová does in her “Documentary Opera”, that is full of life and storytelling twists as Jan Kapr’s life was full of surprising changes from being a loyal communist composing for the state to being – after the Soviet invasion in 1968 – a persona non grata, when he left the Party. He, Laureate of the Stalin and Smetana Award. 

Opera… it is an amazing scoop to follow a choir in a studio interpreting and performing Kapr’s compositions in a playful way with an original libretto written by Jiří Adámek. Full of humour it is, an obvious choice as Kapr was a man who loved to play and experiment. He wanted to be an elite gymnast but had a severe accident that crippled him, so he turned to music.

Again and again Králová returns to footage of Kapr falling from a sled in the snow and again and again Kapr is seen swimming in a lake surrounded by beautiful mountains and a cottage, where he apparently spent a lot of time with friends and family.

Because Kapr was a filmmaker as well. Králová combines cleverly the studio recordings with his home video’s (super 8mm digitized), refraining from making another conventional biographical film. And yet the needed and very interesting information about his life is conveyed brilliantly with a twinkle in the eye. Like the stats given, what Kapr left: 12 kilos of letters (!), 7 mins of Fall (in the snow) footage, 112 minutes of material with Libuska…

Libuska was his second wife with whom he had Magda, who appears briefly in the film looking at footage of Vlasta, his first wife and Alenka their daughter, the sister with whom Magda had connection, whereas she (Magda) never heard about her brother Milos, who was placed in an institution by Vlasta and Jan – the footage shows that there was something wrong with him.

Kadr’s films show happy moments and meetings. With Dvorsky, a Czekoslovak musician, who Kadr helped to get out of the hands of the communist regime, and Pavel Ludikar, a world famous opera singer, who came to visit.

Anyway, the film keeps on coming back to the face of Kadr: The smiling man, posing for the camera, head over water with daffodils in his mouth… everyone must have loved this man. The filmmaker does and she found her way to tell us, innovative and full of joy. Result: Excellent film!

Czech Republic, Slovakia, 91 mins.


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Overture IDFA Forum 30 Years

Written 11-01-2023 12:21:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Overture IDFA Forum 30 Years

Memories… Names, film projects, episodes. 30 years of IDFA Forum! Actually I don’t remember the first time I was there. Was it the first edition? At the time I worked at the National Film Board of Denmark and had a seat in the Board of the EU Documentary office. But I remember that Dane Thomas Stenderup, representing the EU office based in Copenhagen traveled a lot to Amsterdam to meet with Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen and Ally Derks and other team members...

... to talk about how to set up, what has now become the most important documentary meeting place in the world. Documentarians in the world unite. 

An event that many came love and many came to hate: Is there really money to pick up, many said? Is it a financial market? A meeting place? Many thought, what even is this pitching? It is absurd to think you can present your film idea in 7 minutes. You have been working on it for years! But it turned out that the pitching itself was followed by conversations, discussions, networking. It became obvious that you had made yourself visible, inspired, and engaged, a lot of work waited for you.

I have talked with many veteran documentary filmmakers, who remember the first time as a scary one, a kind of exam; at the same time as it was a good start for gaining the knowledge they needed to build their international careers. And again and again I have heard, even among the skeptical, comments like: “You have to go to the Forum every year”, “You have to show your face otherwise people will think that you are not in the business any longer”! It became the meeting point and being sentimental, I sat there as an observer for the plenary pitch session thinking: “Wow all these people are involved with documentaries! What a show of solidarity!

A few words about the projects: I was part of the selection team for the Forum projects several times when EDN (European Documentary Network) existed as a partner for the Forum. It was always great fun, and a challenge, to find a balance between the more creative films and those that had television as a clear target for their presentation. You knew to expect strong journalistic BBC documentaries in the run for a pitch seat and that they would get it, whereas a personal poetic documentary from Serbia would have difficulties getting a place at the table. Fair enough for commercial thinking but let me at this point stress that Adriek and the team have been great in their continous flexible search for changing the original model – shifting from one huge plenary session to smaller group meetings with the chance to go deeper with each project. Here is a quote from an IDFA article from 2019: “…the Forum is adjusting to changing financing structures, while opening up to also include films with less clear-cut narratives and new ways of storytelling.” Meaning less boring formatted projects, more surprises, more experiments – that’s how I see it.

The editors and pitchers: The Forum must also be entertaining – we observers sit there expecting some show elements from both sides of the table. When Viktor Kossakovsky was pitching you had someone, who knew how to catch attention with a globus for “!Vivan las Antipodas!”. There have been people “dancing” their project – and honestly I miss the at times tough dialogues between Arte’s Thierry Garrel and BBC Storyville’s Nick Fraser. Representing the auteur tradition and the investigative journalistic/historical. Later on, Iikka Vehkalahti from YLE joined the table with competent and humorous support, when appropriate, for the artistic documentary. Not to forget wonderful Diane Weyermann, always pleasant to listen to hear. RIP. Who has taken over from these docu-stars? Far too often you hear “thank you for the pitch” and/or “we have a meeting later today!” Boring and incompetent.

As I write this (August 2022) I am sitting in Skopje at the MakeDox festival and there is a Forum taking place for Southeast Europe. In the beginning of September, there is the Baltic Sea Docs and later the same month there is the Nordisk Panorama… and so on and so forth. These are many regional alternatives to the IDFA Forum and many represent first steps for filmmakers before being selected for the Forum in Amsterdam.

The IDFA Forum of today: It’s the full package. You arrive. You can be trained for pitching. You can have your trailer checked and improved. You can have all kinds of information on the market. You are invited to sessions and receptions to meet colleagues and funders…the “only” thing the Forum does not deliver… you don’t learn how to make films…but it can give tools and inspiration.

Tue Steen Müller

August 2022


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dok.incubator 2023

Written 10-01-2023 14:18:48 by Tue Steen Mller

dok.incubator is a think-tank founded in 2010 by experienced training providers to help documentary filmmaking survive the current media crisis. We strongly believe only the productions with high quality development, which can take advantage of new opportunities and master new market strategies will strive to succeed. The NGO is based in Prague and aims to strengthen the creative documentary industry with events and workshops bringing new impulses and top-class know-how including the use of the new media and internet platforms to the international community of filmmakers.

In 2012 we established dok.incubator workshop focused on creative development of films in post-production. Thanks to its immediate success we started organizing independent sessions with IDFADocumentary CampusEmerging Producers and Co-Pro Days. Thanks to Media Mundus program we established an overseas exchange of participants and tutors with IFP (US) and a year later we added a four-day DOK.Restart distribution workshop in Poland to our activities. We also collaborated with Nordisk Panorama and founded dok.elevator focused on Nordic producers together. Besides the successful international workshop we started with regional long term projects in 2015 to support Czech filmmakers – dok.incubator CZ and Slovak filmmakers – dok.incubator SK. Since 2019 we have been organizing the Move It Onworkshop focusing on digital marketing for films.

During the past 10 years dok.incubator worked with more than 150 films, many of them premiering at A-list festivals. 12 films were selected for Sundance competitions, 2 were nominated for Emmy, 5 for European Film Award and almost 30 of them were screened at IDFA. Films from dok.incubator workshops are also regularly selected for CPH:DOXHotDocsVisions du Réel, or Krakow Film Festival.

https://dokincubator.net/ 


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Kvedaravicius & Bilobrova: Mariupol 2

Written 30-12-2022 14:32:47 by Tue Steen Mller

Kvedaravicius & Bilobrova: Mariupol 2

This text is written by filmmaker Maxi Dejoie:

On December 10th, Mariupol 2, the last documentary by Mantas Kvedaravicius and Hanna Bilobrova, rightfully received the award for best documentary of the year at the European Film Awards ceremony. After it was premiered in May at Cannes Film Festival, Hanna Bilobrova’s name was removed from the credits as the film’s co-director. During the European Film Awards ceremony, neither Hanna nor her name were nowhere to be heard nor seen. In a “normal” situation, this action would be very upsetting. What makes this specific situation even more disgraceful, is the fact that Hanna risked her like to retrieve the backpack which contained the footage realised by Mantas and herself in Mariupol under Russian occupation, and went through an infernal odyssey to locate Mantas’s body after he was executed by Russian soldiers/criminals, and managed to take him through Russia, back home to Lithuania where he could receive a proper and decent burial, close to his family.
As fellow documentary filmmaker, especially one that shared more than credit as co-director, I feel particularly upset by this event that I find unfair (to use an euphemism) and believe that it sets a dangerous precedent.
If there is anyone who believes that acknowledging Hanna’s contribution to the making of Mariupol 2 would make it any less of an extraordinary achievement, or Mantas Kvedaravicius’s sacrifice any less historic, I believe they would be wrong, as to recognise Hanna Bilobrova’s role as the film's co-director would be simply a necessary act of justice and morality, something that should be a given in an “artistic” industry as ours, but apparently it is not.

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dok.incubator presentation

Written 07-12-2022 17:07:33 by Tue Steen Mller

dok.incubator presentation

Always a fine experience to attend the yearly presentation of upcoming documentaries developed at the dok.incubator workshop that has its address in Prague due to its Czech founder and manager Andrea Prenghyova. There was a presentation at IDFA this year, I was not there, but the presentation was repeated in a hybrid form yesterday: a welcome by Head of Studies French producer Christine le Goff and Prenghyova with le Goff giving a brief welcome intro to the film and filmmakers, seven there were, five of them women as le Goff pointed out in the beginning. All very precise and professional. To remind you, dok.incubator is a rough -cut workshop, this was the 12th edition with a slogan on the poster: Work Hard – Fly High. During the years the workshop has existed I have only heard positive feedback from participants praising the selection of tutors, many of them of course editors.

For me watching the seven project presentations (hello from the teams, trailer, talk, one or two scenes, final comments on funding/wishes for sales agents/festivals) I decided to pick out three films that I definitely would want to watch when they are finished. Here they come:

“Blix, Birds & Bombs” by Swedish Greta Stocklassa, a Czech/German/Swedish production with the fine old (now 94 years) gentleman, the Swedish diplomat Hans Blix. I think we all remember Blix, appointed by the UN to go to Iraq to investigate if Saddam Hussein had or produced weapons of mass destruction. 700 inspections “but in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction”. CIA, the Americans and their allies, did what they could to bring Blix into miscredit… the rest, the invasion into Iraq is history. Stocklassa stressed in her presentation that the film has its focus on the man, Hans Blix, who we see in his apartment in Stockholm and in his armchair answering questions to the young director or feeding the birds outside his window. It will be an informative and entertaining and thought-provoking film, I am sure.

Equally promising is “Pure Unknown” by Italian Mattia Colombo and Valentina Cicogna, an Italian, Swiss and Swedish coproduction. The text from the presentation sounds like this: “Every night nameless bodies land in Dr. Cristina Cattaneo’s autopsy room. She calls them Pure Unknown. The Pure Unknown belong to the fringes of society. They are homeless, prostitutes, runaway teenagers. Lately, they have mostly been migrants, rejected by the Mediterranean Sea onto the shores of Italy. If all rights belong to the living, nothing is left to the dead. So what happens when the dead have lost their identity? In the face of this growing multitude, no one seems concerned about their right to dignity. No one but Cristina”. Nothing to add, I was touched by what I saw and by the charisma of the doctor,

It will and should travel to television and festivals.

I have written about dok.incubator film presentations before and hoped for film projects with a more clear stylistical approach. For sure the workshop’s primary aim is to find films with a theme that is timely, fair enough, but it can also be combined with an “auteurish” approach like South Korean Juyeon Yang’s “My Missing Aunt”, a personal film, where the director tries different storytelling methods to dig out the mystery about her aunt, who killed herself, or did she? Memories, witnesses, testimonies… and chapeau for the workshop that it also includes a project from another continent.

Still med Hans Blix

https://dokincubator.net/?utm_source=sendinblue&utm_campaign=2022%20ONLINE%20preview%20CONFIRMATION%202&utm_medium=email


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WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

Written 24-11-2022 12:35:05 by Tue Steen Mller

WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

Filma Film Fest Ukraine:

WHEN TREES BLOOM AT HOME AGAIN

migration as a result of military conflict

After February 24 we all began to live in a new reality shaped by the full-scale war waged by Russia against Ukraine. The passage of time is now marked by shelling, air-raid alerts, curfews, and most recently, by blackouts. The lives of people and all other creatures have become ultimately precarious. Cities and villages are smashed into ruins, and whole ecosystems are perishing. Thousands of Ukrainians (often with animals and plants) have to flee the war to other cities, regions, and countries. To express solidarity with every human, every living being who has lost or had to flee their home, we decided to make migration in armed conflict the topic of this year’s only “Filma” program.

As a feminist collective, we encourage you to show solidarity with groups who experience discrimination. That’s why it’s important for us to screen these films,where directors tell the stories of their own migration experiences, or keep their creative concepts as non-stigmatizing, non-exoticizing as possible. We believe that this solidarity is impossible without comprehensive critical re-evaluation of the systems of oppression (such as colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism, etc.) and power structures. That’s why every film on the program marks our attempts to discuss complicated, often silenced topics, including the bio- and necropolitics of EU/West imposed on migrants during waves of migration in the second half of the 2010s and at the beginning of the 2020s; apartheid against Palestinians and the settler colonialism of the State of Israel; the telling inaction of the international community in regards to wars of aggression waged by Russia in the 1990s–2020s; the impact of the legacy of colonialism on the armed conflicts and ethnic cleansing in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and in the Near East.

Our program consists of eight films arranged to make up a single meta-story about the loss of home and the long way back to the homeland. We would like you to start with “Remember the smell of Mariupol” by Zoya Laktionova, and then move on to “My Favorite Job, 2022” by Sashko Protyah. In Zoya’s film, the author travels through the memories of her hometown that become entangled with horrendous images of war.

The story of volunteers filmed by Sashko Protyah demonstrates how courage and grassroots self-organization saves lives even when it is deemed impossible. In both works, the authors reflect upon the loss of their hometown Mariupol which was occupied and virtually destroyed by Russia in the spring of 2022.

We recommend you next watch “Newsreel 63 – The Train of Shadows” produced by the Slovenian collective Newsreel Front, “Purple Sea” by Amel Alzakout and Khaled Abdulwahed, and “Landscape of Terror” by Kasia Hertz. The authors of the video essay “The Train of Shadows” reflect upon the ethics of cinema by telling the intermingled story of railways, migration, and cinema. In this work, Amel Alzakout combines her chronicle of migration through the Mediterranean sea with reflections on the fragility of life, her relationship with her husband, and the dehumanizing nature of the contemporary media. Kasia Hertz filmed the stories of refugees who survived the inhuman conditions and violence at the border between Belarus and Poland at the end of 2021. Each film shows how perilous, if not deadly, the road of those seeking asylum may be.

Then check out the films ”I Swam Enguri” by Anuna Bukia and “The Turtle’s Rage” by Pary El-Qalqili. Along with the characters of her film, Anuna crosses the border from occupied Abkhazia to Russia and witnesses the aftermath of the war in her home city of Sukhumi. Pary El-Qalqili tells the story of her Palestinian family to show how devastating the trauma of forced displacement can be.

We conclude this cinematic journey with the film “5 Exchange Lane” by Anirban Dutta. “The Turtle’s Rage” and “I Swam Enguri” both depict a journey to an occupied home which is filled with disappointment and sorrow. However, the story of the Cole family taking their journey accompanied by the film director is filled with the fragile hope of regaining memories of home, of reconciling with the pain of its loss.

We named the program “When Trees Bloom at Home Again”, because we believe that every place has the power to restore itself. And that like trees, the feeling of home will sprout and blossom, despite all attempts to destroy it. We dream that all those who want to return will see that bloom again.

https://filmafest.org/en/


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Mila Teshaieva & Marcus Lenz: When Spring Came to

Written 21-11-2022 11:45:51 by Tue Steen Mller

Mila Teshaieva & Marcus Lenz: When Spring Came to

The Russian massacre in Bucha in Ukraine is well known and talked about. This film documents the cleaning up after the Russians left. It’s not nice to look at. Corpses in black plastic bags being collected and transported, names spoken out of murdered citizens, registration of the deceased, insight to apartments, where the Russians took siege, mourning, of course there is a sad atmosphere but there is also a will to carry on with life. Documentation of war crimes in Bucha has been collected. It’s terrible. The film, shown as part of the Luminous section at IDFA, documents, there are talks with survivors, it is important that the filmmakers were there and were there so quick after the massacre in March this year.

Allow me to change language and quote the Ukrainian author Serhiy Jadan, who spoke at a book fair in Frankfurt. How do you speak/film about Butcha when the war is over:

La poésie après Boutcha et Izioum est certainement possible, voire nécessaire. Cependant, l’ombre de Boutcha et d’Izioum, leur présence, va peser de tout son poids sur la poésie d’après-guerre et va largement déterminer son contenu et son ton. C’est une prise de conscience douloureuse mais nécessaire du fait qu’à partir de maintenant, le contexte des poèmes écrits dans notre pays sera celui des charniers et des quartiers bombardés... 

Germany, 2022, 66 mins.

Photos: Mila Teshaieva (radioeins) Marcus Lenz (wild films) Serhiy Jadan 


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Mila Turajlic and Labudovic

Written 19-11-2022 11:58:23 by Tue Steen Mller

Mila Turajlic and Labudovic

Serbian director Mila Turajlic is my cinematic historian, when it comes to tell me about the history of Yugoslavia and Serbia. At IDFA she presented her two new films “Non-Aligned: Scenes from the Labudovic Reels” and “Ciné-Guerrillas: Scenes from the Labudovic Reels”, plus had a live documentary performance about the reels together with her colleague Maja Medic. But let me take a flashback to the filmkommentaren archive, where you can find words about her previous films “Cinema Komunisto” and “The Other Side of Everything”. About the former: 



Read more / Ls mere

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Lea Glob: Apolonia Apolonia

Written 18-11-2022 00:08:24 by Tue Steen Mller

Lea Glob: Apolonia Apolonia

Main award at IDFA 2022 for Danish director Lea Glob for a film she has been working on for 13 years. A huge achievement to say the least. I saw the film two days ago at home online and was planning to write a review, but after this announcement of to night it was much easier to let the jury speak as well as quote the fine description from the IDFA website:

"This film has characters who breathe life and take us on a journey, opening us up to the worlds of culture and art, of business and politics, of the mechanics of a success story. It is infused with love..." the Jury statement.

"When Danish filmmaker Lea Glob first portrayed Apolonia Sokol in 2009, she appeared to be leading a storybook life. The talented Apolonia was born in an underground theater in Paris and grew up in an artists’ community—the ultimate bohemian existence. In her 20s, she studied at the Beaux-Arts de Paris, one of the most prestigious art academies in Europe. Over the years, Lea Glob kept returning to film the charismatic Apolonia and a special bond developed between the two young women.

The result is a fascinating portrait, spanning 13 years, of a young woman trying to find her place in the art world. Apolonia is confident in her talent, but her path is not always an easy one. Life is not a storybook; one of the lessons Apolonia learns is that women painters have to make more sacrifices and overcome greater obstacles than their male counterparts do. This also applied to the friend she lived with for a long time, Oksana Shachko, one of the founders of the feminist action group Femen. Apolonia’s resilience is put to the test." the IDFA website.

Apolonia, Oksana, Lea... three women, three approaches to life and art and society... three women from different parts of this crazy world we live in... three women full of life and hope... living on the edge... life and death.


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Alina Gorlova: This is Not Putin's War

Written 15-11-2022 20:34:17 by Tue Steen Mller

Alina Gorlova: This is Not Putin's War
I am often asked how boycotting the protesting Russian cinema will help win the war.
I found a good example to talk about it with.
I came across the project of a documentary film by a Russian director, which is currently being presented in the industrial section of the IDFA Forum. For those who don't know, it's a section of upcoming films where producers and directors look for partners and funding.
The Russian director presents her new project called "Dom". 
€ 704,140 budget
How will a boycott of Russian cinema help us win the war? I think it will help us a lot to win the war if we lose our illusions. Creating a false picture of the aggressor country is absolutely not going to help us win the war. We found ourselves in this situation because Russia lulled the world community and even Ukrainians into complacency.
But let's analyze the logline of this project, for example:
"A lost generation of young Russians arrives in Tbilisi Georgia. Forced to leave their homeland by Putin’s war and repression, they live as digital dissidents searching for a new home."
Putin's war.
This is not Putin's war.
This is not Putin's war.
This is not Putin's war.
This is a war of Russians against Ukrainians. Putin has been in power for so long because he nurtured the Russians' chauvinistic and imperial sensibilities. The definition of itself as a superior nation, its culture as great, and its main language as the main one are very pleasing to the people of Russia. Understanding this situation is key. Opposition Russians are speculating on the word "Putin" themselves, probably hoping to attract more attention to the project. "Putin's war" is the creation of a false reality.
Again. I believe that, unfortunately, the authors of the project are engaged in manipulation.
I don't know why this happened to Russian society; I think it's not my business. But this is the task of their directors. That is why the use of the phrase "Putin's war" from the very beginning is hypocritical. When Putin leaves, Russians will not automatically start repenting. I suspect that they will start preparing for a new war. That is why the statement about putin's war is dangerous.
Further, the project description states:
"We are guilty of having allowed a monster to grow: "Putin's Russia", which is now destroying not only its own country but also its sister country."
You could leave no comments here, but you can't)))
First, in the sentence, the emphasis is shifted to the destruction of Russia. How does this monster destroy Russia? What did the authors mean? Excuse me, is Russia bombing Moscow? Killing its children and civilians? Have you turned any of your cities into Mariupol? In an attempt to make the project description more interesting and add sacrifice to their heroes, the authors completely muddled the issues.
And the highlight of this text is the presentation of Ukraine as a sister country of Russia. This is a classic narrative of Russian propaganda to justify aggression on the territory of an independent and, for them, at most, a neighboring state. It's even hard for me to find the words here.
The perception of Russia and Ukraine as sister states supports the propaganda narrative. And supporting the narratives of Russian propaganda will definitely not help win the war.
I don't care about the creative component of the project, I haven't seen any of the director's films, but the description of the project is infuriating and disorienting. Ukraine has not yet won this war. Supporting Russian propaganda narratives is harmful in this way.

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Verzio Documentary Moments

Written 14-11-2022 20:02:51 by Tue Steen Mller

Verzio Documentary Moments

When you have been watching scenes and footage from 8 projects at the Verzio DocLab Budapest last week there are moments of what you could call authentic truth that stay in your mind. Let me mention 4 of them:

A mother draws the curtain and lets in the sunshine to the room, where her grown-up son sleeps. She caresses him, he looks at her and the dog that also waits to be included in the moment of happiness. The severely disabled son smiles. Anna Rubi caught this moment that will leave no one untouched when “Your Life Without Me” comes out and will create debate in Hungary that “still lacks humane state care”.

Black & White, a mother and her daughter Erin (MacPherson), the director, sits next to each other with a cup in hand. None of them talks but you sense in this moment that something is wrong because of the framing and because the scene stays long. That unique cinematographic moment will stay in “The Pursuit of Grief” – the mother has lost her husband, the daughter Erin her father.

One-two, One-two-three, wife and husband train dance steps in their kitchen in “Dreams at Sunset” by Ibolya Simó. The scene is fun to watch – and touching as you have just been told that their two sons have passed away, one after cancer, the other took his own life. They now want to make reality out of “it is never too late to start living”, a sentence from the catalogue.

Another dance scene moment in a house in Budapest where the director Sára Timár dances with her old father thus showing her love to him, who used to be an important person in Hungarian dancing. This poetic dance moment followed in a scene, where a visit to the cellar reveals that something completely different had been going on… “Under the Dance Floor”, working title of the film-to-be.

Young filmmakers with an eye for people and situation. You need to be curious and have the skills to get close to achieve moments like these.

www.verzio.org

Foto: Anna Rubi 


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Verzio DocLab 2022

Written 12-11-2022 20:16:05 by Tue Steen Mller

Verzio DocLab 2022

From tuesday till saturday 8 film projects were being worked on in Budapest as part of the Verzio Human Rights Film Festival. The filmmakers came with their material and were met by mentors and colleagues, who gave them feedback in order for them to develop their projects and make - for their presentation today - a scene that could prove their film skills and tell the audience, what the film would be about. No trailers, no money talk, a brief verbal presentation and then the scene - or two - edited during the four days.

It was pure pleasure to be part of the mentoring team (Austrian director Michael Seeber, Spanish editor Diana Toucedo, Hungarian editor Brigitta Bacskai) walking from room to room in the infamous CEU Library, where there are no students due to the conflict between the Hungarian government/Victor Orban and the university founded by George Soros - that resulted in the move of the university to Vienna. But that's another story you can google on your own...

It's amazing what can be achieved creatively in so few days and it was my impression that the panelists (representatives from the festivals FipaDoc in Biarritz, Biograffilm in Bologna, from KinoDok in Czech Republic, Claudia Rodriguez Valencia from Colombia, Danish film consultant at the Swedish Film Institute Jannick Splidsboel, Hungarian film directors Asia Dér and Klara Trencsenyi, whose wonderful film "The Missing Tale" had its Hungarian premiere at the Verzio festival two days ago) appreciated the non-classical-pitch situation.

Also during the week there were two so-called masterclasses. The two editors Diana Toucedo and Brigitta Bacskai talked about their profession and I had the pleasure to have a conversation with Michael Seeber, who is a very knowledgeable person in the European film scene, having made documentary films and tv series and fiction. Seeber had chosen the title of the conversation, "Pursuing focus in our films — The creative possibilities", showing clips we did both of us. Seeber showed a text clip from his upcoming film on Ida Halpern, Austrian ethnomusicologist, looking fwd. to see the final result.

The titles of the projects presented, look out for them:

  • Up in the Air (Ukraine)

  • Your life without me (Hungary)

  • 2158 Stories (Denmark)

  • The pursuit of grief (South Africa) 

  • Albada / From the morning (Venezuela) 

  • Under the dance floor (Hungary)

  • Dreams at sunset (Hungary) 

  • El cielo esta azur y el mar esta tranquilo (Spain)

    The workshop was organised by Péter Becz, filmmaker (by the way making a documentary in Denmark about a Hungarian chef based in DK!) assisted by Hanna Kadar and Anna Bölcsföldi, two great young women who made our stay effective and enjoyable.

  Still: ...Hungarian film directors Asia Dér and Klara Trencsenyi, whose wonderful film "The Missing Tale" had its Hungarian premiere at the Verzio festival two days ago) appreciated the non-classical-pitch situation.


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Verzio Budapest 2022

Written 08-11-2022 20:26:24 by Tue Steen Mller

Verzio Budapest 2022

The International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival starts tonight. The director Oksana Sarkisov writes the following strong welcome words with the headline 

“Taming the Fire”

In 2022, the phrase “world on fire” is more than a metaphor or a reference to some past or remote incidents. The war in Ukraine and its global resonance, the growing number of casualties and millions of refugees and internally displaced people worldwide, the deepening energy crisis, and the alarming consequences of climate change are transforming our daily lives, and with it, the whole planet. For a thinking and engaged mind, it is impossible to stay adrift and look aside. Camera in hand, documentarists continue exploring the world’s most pressing problems, giving each abstract concept a human dimension and a personal, poignant, subjective touch.

This year, Verzió features powerful visual stories of courageous journalists, women overcoming traumatic violence, young generations exploring complex family histories and identities, and activists resisting dictatorships and corporations while advocating for radical change to build an inclusive, peaceful future. We prepare a special program, Solidarity UA, which highlights the complexity and richness of Ukrainian society, and commemorates the life and work of Mantas Kvedaravičius, who was brutally killed while filming in Mariupol.  

Filmmakers are increasingly involved with the stories they document, reflexively expanding the potential of documentary’s testimonial power. Intense observation and thorough research are continuously enhanced by new media. The possibilities offered by VR and animation change the ways we think and relate to the very notions of “document” and “documenting.” Beyond formal experiments, what unites these films is the urgency of the issues addressed.

The hot topics at this year’s festival are symbolized by burning flames. Fire implies danger, but it also brings warmth and light, and can gather a community together. We hope that Verzió will serve as such a gathering for all those concerned with today’s burning topics and those willing to face these pressing issues head on.

Welcome to the 19th edition of the festival. Feel the warmth of human connection and join the community of documentary film enthusiasts.

photo: Oksana Sarkisov


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European Film Awards Documentary

Written 08-11-2022 14:49:48 by Tue Steen Mller

https://europeanfilmawards.eu/en_EN/selection-documentary-current

Click above and you will see the shortlisted documentaries for the European Film Award in the documentary category.

Today the nominations for the award to be decided in Reykjavik on the 10th of December were announced:

The House of Splinters. By Simon Lereng Wilmont

Mariupolis 2. By Mantas Kvedaravičius 

The Balcony Movie. By Pawel Lozinski

March on Rome. By Mark Cousins

Girl Gang. By Susanne Regina Meures 

Congratulations!


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AWARDS AT THE 26TH JI.HLAVA FF

Written 04-11-2022 13:51:19 by Tue Steen Mller

AWARDS AT THE 26TH JI.HLAVA FF
 

The award for the most notable international documentary film was granted to 07:15 – Blackbird by Judith Auffray, the best Czech documentary is Kapr Code by Lucie Králová. The award for the best Central and East European documentary and for the best sound design went to Croatian film Deserters by Damir Markovina. The award for the best debut went to Bloom by Canadian director Fanie Pelletier, and Javier Codesal from Spain received the award for original approach for his Greater Gospel. The Swiss director Mateo Ybarra received the students' prize as well as the best editing award for Over Our Hills. The jury of the Testimonies section appreciated Into the Weeds: Dewayne "Lee" Johnson vs Monsanto Company by Canadian director Jennifer Baichwal. The best experimental documentary film is The Sound of Time by Venezuelan director Jeissy TrompizGlasswork by Zdeněk Picpauer was named the best Czech experiment. The Contribution to World Cinema award was granted to legendary Slovak filmmaker Dušan Hanák. See all awards and jury statements here

Still: 07:15 - Blackbird by Judith Auffray


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What is a documentary?

Written 02-11-2022 19:14:46 by Tue Steen Mller

What is a documentary 

At my first day in Zelig Film school i met a man named Tue Steen Müller that immediately asked us to present ourselves and talk about a documentary we saw. I briefly explained what brought me to love films and especially documentary. And while hearing all the other future 'cinema people' answers my mind started drifting about in how many aspects a movie can create a connection with people. So when the man who lived in the cinema industry for a long time asked us newbies to write 3 words that described what we think a documentary is I immediately wrote down the word Adventure. Adventure is the key word of my life, and since every form of living organism, human or not, is living one, a documentary is the mean of trying to take that content and bring it to the World. A documentary is definitely something different for the ones who make it and the ones who watch it. From my point of view as an, hopefully, future film maker I see a mean of taking my passion into something that can be an insight of an aspect of society, the care for a dear friend and his issues, an event i care about, a challenge i want to win in researching, respecting and sharing the realities and truths of a story that will cause a reflection in the watchers mind. Until now i've always been on the other side of the picture, watching and enjoying the love that film makers bring in their movies. Trying to get the knowledge out of it and make it mine, using cinema as a door that lead to inspirations through a storytelling that will answer all the questions that comes in my mind. Documentary as a viewer is about intriguing my curiosity and finding myself surprised from how much Adventures can be different. Quoting one of my favorite movies 'To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.' and that is what i want my movies to be. 

Riccardo Brugnara 

The Truth about Documentary  

When a group of 25 students are being asked ‘What is Documentary?’, the word ‘truth’ comes up multiple times. This makes sense, you would say. You could even say that this is what differentiates documentary film from fiction, being about a true story. We could define this as a characteristic of documentary, but somehow this does not seem right. What even is truth? When is a film enough truth to be considered a documentary? 

For me, this aspect cannot just define documentary film, but it is one of the fascinating parts of it. It is interesting that documentary is indeed about a story that is true, but it is more than that. It is a lens to see a small part of the world through. Because it only gives a frame to look through, this makes it possible to focus on certain elements without viewing the whole event. This means the film is a version or a part of the truth that interests and moves the maker, and therefore highlights this specific part of it. It is about observing a subject, reflecting on it and finding the perspective that moves the most. 

Because that is for me what documentary should be: moving. Moving in the literal meaning of the word; to activate the viewer to take action or change their thinking or even their behaviour. But also moving in the broader sense, that is opens the viewer to emotions. These could be either positive or negative, but it is the impact of emotions you feel from a film, that sticks with you. It is like with people in real life. We tend to forget what people look like or what they said, but will always remember how they made us feel. The stronger these feelings, the better the people stick with you. I think the same applies to documentary. The ones that moved you, that make you feel strong emotions, are the ones that have an impact and will be remembered. 

The big impact emotions have in documentary, also makes the medium highly subjective. This case, together with the fact that it is not possible to portray the whole objective truth, is the beauty of documentary film. Having to choose the perception and perspective of the film, gives the maker the ability to control the focus of the narrative, and therefore of the topic. For the viewer, this could mean a completely new way of seeing someone or something as they would never see it by themselves. To be able to be blown away by a film, discover and feel new things, even if they might think to know the ‘truth’. To play with the interpretation of the truth, and finding the perspective and form that moves the most, that is for me what documentary is. 

Annieke Boer


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Zelig Film Fest Bolzano/ 2

Written 31-10-2022 11:55:25 by Tue Steen Mller

Zelig Film Fest Bolzano/ 2

Here is how the director Kyrylo Naumko introduces his film “Dear Odesa” on the website of Zelig (https://www.zeligfilm.it/it/):

I did not notice exactly how and when life in Odesa became unbearable. But, probably, last 2 years I had a terrible feeling of disgust mixed with love. I was irritated by many things: the mayor who was a bandit, the widespread apathy of most residents of Odesa to the problems of the city, and chaotic construction. Plastic balconies on the facades of historic buildings, air conditioners, huge advertising signs – all these are pimples on the body of my beloved city. A city that could once breathe freely. Until recently, this worried me almost the most in life. Now, after the war started, the only thing I want is for this city to just stand. Just exist. Please.

Ukrainian documentaries are shown at festivals all over the world in this time of war, in solidarity with Ukraine. The film by Kyrylo Naumko was shot before the invasion in February. It is a young man’s declaration of love to his city, nicely created with atmosphere and with three fine protagonists – the mother of the director, his friend Mykata and the director himself. Should definitely be taken by festivals with or without a focus on Ukraine.

The film team included cinematographer Hannah Hütter and editor Lydia Gasparini. Deservedly praised on stage by the audience and the supervisor of the film Robert Rombout.


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Zelig Film Fest Bolzano

Written 29-10-2022 12:49:30 by Tue Steen Mller

Zelig Film Fest Bolzano

Zelig Film Fest Bolzano

10 films, 28 graduates… 5 films were shown last night, 5 will hit the screen tonight. I am not here to review the films but I will not refrain from saying that the general quality is high, that I do appreciate the policy of the school to have a diversity of themes from the students and I say Bravo to the school making a Fest out of the presentation of the graduation films. They deserve it!

Here are the introductory words on themes, from the school, to the 10 films of the Fest: …From the remote villages of an island of the Indian Ocean to the urban periphery of Barcelona; from the historical venues of the magnificent Odesa in Ukraine to the small alleys of the city centre of Genua, in Italy; from cold winter of Hamburg and of the internal Austrian landscape, to the sunny streets of Palermo, Sicily, until the remote rehearsal locations of a particular theatre company in the undergrounds of Milano: as for every three years, ZeLIG films are an insight into humanity, into the diversity of contemporary society and they will make you laugh, cry, smile.

Matilde Ramini is one of the students graduating from Zelig Documentary School, she presented as director the film “Fuoritempo” at the Zelig Film Fest that takes place 28-29 of October at the Filmclub Bozen (Bolzano). Three years ago she was asked by a teacher, me, to write a small essay answering the question “What is a Documentary”. She wrote in Italian, here are the two first paragraphs from a fine text: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4679/

La scorsa settimana la lavagna bianca della ZeLIG traboccava di sostantivi, verbi ed aggettivi. Non si è trattato (solo) di una lezione di grammatica inglese, bensì di mettere nero su bianco le parole che ci sono venute in mente quando Tue ci ha chiesto di pensare al documentario. Il risultato è stato un puzzle semantico, nella cui incompletezza e contraddittoreità ci possiamo rispecchiare in trenta.

Una cosa è emersa chiaramente: fare documentari significa esercitare la settima arte. Non inferiori alla fiction, i documentari sono film in piena regola e come tali è la loro estetica e la loro poetica visiva a caratterizzarli. La creatività e l‘abilità di sottrarsi ad una certa pretenziosità estetica sono per alcuni di noi le principali caratteristiche del documentarista e della documentarista…

Looking forward to the five films of tonight, starting with “Dear Odesa” by Kyrolo Naumko, who is in Ukraine whereas his mother (protagonist of the film) and his sister will be present at the screening.

The Zelig website gives you information about the graduation films, including credits, technical information, trailers, bios of the film team members and director’s introduction: https://film.zeligfilm.it/en/ What more to want?


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Awards of the 10th Aegean Docs

Written 07-10-2022 15:44:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Awards of the 10th Aegean Docs

The Best Foreign Film Award of 1.000 euros. Shared equally to:

Maija Isola (Finland), Leena Kilpelainen.

and

 Looking for Horses (Bosnia-Herzegovina/France),Stefan Pavlovic

 

 

Best Greek Film Award of 1.000 euros with the support of Greek Film Centre:

The Bet (Greece)Maria Leonida.

The Award of Best Production, 500 euros is awarded to:

Ksenia Gapchenko from Russia for the film “How to Save a Dead Friend” of the director Marusya Syroechkovskaya, Sweden/Norway/ France/Germany

Ksenia Gapchenko, with emotion, told us: 

«On February 24th a country where my mum was born and I spent my childhood, was attacked by the country of my father. For me it was a great tragedy. I decided to leave Russia. Since April I’m not living in Moscow, the city I once loved a lot. 

I condemn violence and war. I’m trying to start my life in Europe with my daughter, who is my support, love and the best companion.

I hope for peace in Ukraine and freedom for Russia».

Best short film award of 500 euros:

Menores (Spain),Juan Trueba

Honorary Distinction «10 years AegeanDοcs»

The jury of AegeanDocs awards the honorary distinction "10 years of AegeanDocs" to director Eva Stefani for her valuable contribution to the establishment of Creative Documentary in Greece.

Honorary Distinctions are also awarded to:

A Jewish Life(Austria), Christian Kermer & Christian Krienes, Austria for their contribution to saving the memory of the Holocaust 

The Other Half (Greece), Georgios Moutafis for his dedication to researching and documenting the refugee drama.


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What is a Documentary?

Written 06-10-2022 15:42:01 by Tue Steen Mller

What is a Documentary?

While in the Greek island: Two mornings with film students from Romania, organised by Ana Vlad, documentary teacher at the university and a film director I have known for many years. Pleasure to work with her. I asked the students to take part in the game I have introduced on many occasions. Armine Vosgarian put the words together in an essay like this:

“Write down the first 3 words which come to your mind when hearing the word documentary.”, says Tue Steen Müller, the visiting lecturer for today. I haven’t written a single word on the zoom chat. My keyboard wasn’t responding to any commands. I even hit it, but no use. Ironically, I was chosen to write a tiny essay on the words that popped  on the chat. This was the first time I saw most of the students, online or offline, so I can’t grasp the meaning of those words in terms of the projects they are working on, but, from the discussions held during the session, I understood that forces such as: curiositypatienceand love drive us in our documentarian journey.

Curiosity drives every artist. There was another word used such as insight which is a consequence of curiosity focused towards one’s inner self. Curiosity is the first impulse of a child and this innocence is what saves the artist. This was one of the key elements we learnt in acting school. If you lose your curiosity, you are not willing to learn anymore, to love anymore and to, eventually, live anymore.

Some terms as authenticitytruthand purity were put on the table. One of the students placed Werner Herzogbetween words like reality and trust. Here we leave space for philosophy. If we are in search of truth as artists, we are saved, as long as we know we can never embrace it in its completeness. If we listen to Aristoteles, everything we see is a copy of a divine plan and art is a second hand copy. The purity and authenticity comes with the strength of the artist when he is open to the world. Even when he isolates himself from everything, he has to be open, like a medium for ligth or darkness, whatever suits him. 

Others proposed the terms like realand human. We, humans, are real and authentic through our continous struggle of moving on. Some believe that is human to forget, some say is human to forgive.

  We, as documentary makers, can participate in the process of our characters healing. While we observe and express our own emotions when choosing the angle and shots of that character’s space, we are entrusted with their exorcism. We are like guides. I believe the process is quite different from the fiction film because we hold a heavier responsibility.

  The connection we create with the characters who are human beings, breathing beyong our pixels, contributes greatly to the path of both the filmmaker and the one portrayed. When making a documentary, you are responsible for the message. We are still under the protection of the large umbrella of poetry and free expression, but all the politics brought on screen weigh more than in fiction. Even in feature films, we ingest the message differently when we see the words: based on real events. 

  In documentary making, we have a mission. We will never be able to point out the truth, but we have to try, relentlessly, to show what our characters believe to be the truth, especially when their voices were rarely heard.  If we doubt the people or the situation we chose to portray, then. with empathy and honesty, we have bring our own truth that counterpoints them.  

  Documentary is life, more than anything, with all its complexities and we need courage to hold on to it. Lord Byron sayd something like truth is stranger than fiction. Well,  we have a saying in Romanian. “Life beats film”

Photo: Ana Vlad


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Aegean Docs 10th Edition/ 3

Written 06-10-2022 09:02:05 by Tue Steen Mller

Aegean Docs 10th Edition/ 3

An important film was programmed last night in the cinema in Myrina:

A Jewish Life

Direction Team: Christian Krönes, Florian Weigensamer, Christian Kermer, Roland Schrotthofer. Israel, Austria, 114 mins. 2021.

 

Annotation: Marko Feingold, born in 1913, grew up in a Jewish working-class neighborhood of Vienna. Fateful twists and turns helped him survive the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Neuengamme, Dachau and Buchenwald. After the War he (illegally) aided tens of thousands of survivors out of Europe to what would become Israel. At the age of 105, A Jewish Life is his story, in his own words shortly before his death.

After the film there was a short skype Q&A with Christian Kermer. I asked him how it was possible to have a 105 year old man talk so well and precise. The answer was that the film crew spent 14 shooting days with him with some breaks, when he was not feeling good. The story of a man, told by himself, a man who remembers as we should remember, a man who talks about Austria and Anschluss that was welcomed by most Austrians… A dark spot in Austrian post-war history.


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Aegean Docs 10th Edition/ 2

Written 05-10-2022 12:14:46 by Tue Steen Mller

It’s your night, Kostas Spiropoulos, the director of Aegean Docs, said to me. He knows that the two films shown last night are very much appreciated by me, and written about on www.filmkommentaren.dk

They are “Looking for Horses”, quote:

"Stefan Pavlović did it all on his own. In one scene he helps Zdravko get his hearing aid correctly set in another with the camera on a tripod he films himself and Zdravko at the table, close together; Stefan puts his head on the shoulder of Zdravko in a scene of joy and sadness, a beautiful and warm moment among many in a film full of poetry, a chamber play set on a lake, a film that caress its viewer – like the horses are caressed. Documentary at its best! 

Pavlovic took part in the Q&A via skype.

And ”How to Save a Dead Friend”, directed by Marusya Syroechkovskaya. The producer Ksenia Gapchenko was there for a long and good Q&A. Quote:

The title could also have been “Marusya and Kimi” putting the focus on what it is, a love story, with a start, a middle and an end – told in a film language that is touching, that is sweet and funny – and sad as it evolves, with the self-destruction of Kimi, who dives more and more into using hard drugs and “looks at the camera and not at me” as Marusya says. A tragic love story, yes, but full of warm scenes with the two, scenes you can only characterize as poetic.


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Aegean Docs 10th edition

Written 01-10-2022 09:15:55 by Tue Steen Mller

Lucky us, my wife and I, to be invited to Aegean Docs on the island of Limnos. The 10th edition of a special documentary film festival that takes place in 9 (nine!) islands in the North Aegean Sea: Lemnos, limnos, Ikaria, Agios Efstratios, Samos, Fournoi, Oinousses, Psara, Chios.

The organiser is Storydoc that you can read about in many posts on this site – it arranged training sessions with international names taking part as tutors, Stan Neumann, Niels Pagh Andersen, Emma Davie, Mikael Opstrup, Iikka Vehkalahti, Erez Laufer, Madeleine Avramoussis.

Storydoc is run by Kostas Spiropoulos and Chara Lampidou.

The opening night includes two films that I have reviewed – here are some clips from the texts:

Leena Kilpelainen: Maija Isola (Finland)

… To be honest I had never heard of Maija Isola before so I thought, why the film had been chosen (for DocsBarcelona, ed.). Watching yesterday, the answer was given. What a life (1927-2001) she had as an artist, a traveller, many men, constantly in the process of creating, with the connection to Marimekko as the backbone. She tells the story herself via her diaries and via her daughter, who lives in a house full of the mother’s creations, it’s a chronologically told adventurous film with lovely archive footage from the places, she went to, Paris being number one, but also Algeria, New York and sometimes back to – mostly – snowy Finland. It is simply a pleasure to be with clever, reflective Maija Isola in her search for what is the meaning of it all. And despite the many love stories her happy moments being alone. It’s a film with many layers and a huge respect for the audience. "Master of Colour and Form" is the subtitles to the film, indeed, we see that!

Eva Stefani: Days and Nights of Demetra K(Greece)

… Eva (Stefani) is there with the camera, asks questions to Dimitra, laughs with the charismatic woman, go with her to conferences about prostitution and prostitutes, to political meetings, sees her with her dozen of cats, hears her family story – in a film that falls in two parts, first one in Dimitra’s brothel, second one in her flat in the middle of the city. The film is a true evidence of how important it is to be close to and like the one you are filming and have curiosity to human life as it unfolds outside normal circles. Eva Stefani wants to learn about life when she films and in this case she gives the audience the wonderful opportunity to meet Dimitra, a strong and yet vulnerable woman taking us around in the streets of Athens. Could you move a bit Dimitra so Acropolis can be seen in the picture… Dimitra, can you turn on some light… they collaborate Dimitra and Eva Stefani, the unique Greek filmmaker.


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Curiosity and Love... Magnificent7

Written 29-09-2022 19:42:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Total trust can only come from curiosity and love, Heddy Honigmann said in an interview. The director who passed away this year continued by saying that she loved the people, she films. That is so obvious in her “Oblivion” from 2008, that was shown at the Magnificent 7 in Belgrade as a tribute to the great filmmaker. A screening with around 200 spectators and a long warm applause following. Honigmann: One of my producers once said that I should film horrible people… but why should I… I want to film nice people.

Curiosity and love… could be the words characterizing this year’s edition (number 18) of the festival in Belgrade. Pawel Lozinski’s “Balcony Movie” is indeed carried by the director’s interest in people passing by, interest and love, caring and searching for an answer to the question “what is the meaning of life?”

The same goes for this year’s discovery, “The Wind that Moves Us”, where Catalan Pere Puigbert in his first feature length documentary declares his love to nature and people and lets his grandmother declare her love to her late grandfather, beautiful!

Curiosity and love is what drives the Elvis Presley fan, magnificent teacher Kevin when he inspires the kids in the Belfast school to understand the world around them in “Young Plato” and what makes Dr. Popov and his colleagues in the Bulgarian “A Provincial Hospital” be the heroes they are in the film by Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov and Zlatina Teneva.

And there is no doubt where Dutch director Oeke Hoogendijk puts her sympathy and love in “The Treasures of Crimea”, when she films the woman, who asked colleagues at the Crimean museums to have their treasures go to the exhibition in Amsterdam.

Curiosity and love, well you could not make “Zoo Lockdown” without that as Andreas Horvath has done. 


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Nordisk Panorama/ The Forum

Written 29-09-2022 16:50:27 by Tue Steen Mller

The 29th edition of the Forum for Co-Financing of Documentaries. I was there for the two days, where 24 projects were pitched to a panel of TV-editors and Film Fund/Institute consultants with another 22 listed in the catalogue as observers, who could - as those behind the 24 mentioned - have individual meetings in the hours following the public show.

Is it a show? For us in the audience? Yes and no, depending on those pitching and those responding. And on the moderators skills. They were good, Cecilia Lidin and Mikael Opstrup. Well prepared, knew in beforehand who could be interested, always supporting towards the filmmakers at the other end of the table. Professional in other words creating the special family-like Nordic tone. That has the bad side that noone dares to be critical which sometimes creates a monotone atmosphere, where one editor says that he/she agrees with the previous one and "Thank you for the pitch" and "We can talk more in an individual meeting". Fair enough but boring for the audience.

I will now bring in some comments on some of the projects, mostly those where I simply look forward to see the film.



Read more / Ls mere

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Nordisk Panorama/1

Written 28-09-2022 17:43:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Nordisk Panorama in Malmø. In Sweden. Sunday. Had our passports ready in the train for border check. But no check. 5 minutes to the Scandic Hotel and voilá you are at the very well organised Nordisk Panorama with a fine selection of documentaries and short films to be shown in cinemas around the city - and with seminars, many of them at the hotel.

I managed to go directly to an inspiring meeting with Finnish composer Sanna Salmenkallio, who has made music for films like "Three Rooms of Melancholia" by Pirjo Honkasalo and for several films by Virpi Suutari. The one hour long session was moderated by Gitte Hansen, who is also one of the selectors of films for the festival. The focus was on the music Salmenkallio made for the film by Suutari on the architect couple Aalto, a masterpiece it is, very much because of the music. If you want to know more about the composer, visit

https://www.nordicfilmmusicdays.com/sanna-salmenkallio-fin.html

And then two films: The Danish produced "The Killing of a Journalist" by Matt Sarnecki, a shocking investigative documentary (edited by master Janus Billeskov Jansen) about a totally corrupt, criminalised political Slovakia. A thriller to watch with a courageous journalist and his girl friend as victims of a detailed planned murder - an example of a journalistic documentary of highest quality.

And then "How to Save a Dead Friend" in the Panora Cinema in an almost full hall. The director Maruysa Syroechkovskaya and her Swedish producer Mario Adamson were there and I - as moderator - had an easy job to have the audience put questions to the young director, who is travelling from festival to festival with a film that deservedly is short listed for a European Film Award in the documentary category. Marusya has written about the film here: 

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/5021/

I will have the chance to meet the Russian producer Ksenia Gapchenko at the AegeanDocs Festival in Lemnos next week, also there the film will be shown.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Matter Out of Place

Written 21-09-2022 13:00:46 by Tue Steen Mller

This text is written by Magnificent7 directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Austria, 2022 
110 minutes 
director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter

A grandiose fresco about the state of our planet. After extraordinary films Homo sapiens and Earth, the great Austrian documentary filmmaker once again shows traces of man around the world, traces that are increasingly becoming an unavoidable testimony of our existence.

The title “Matter out of place”, or abbreviated MOOP, refers to marking everything that does not originally belong to the soil, no matter how small, and the term was created through a project "leave no traces" initiated in the USA.

All over the planet, regardless of the level of development and wealth, culture or religious differences, man is extremely and irresistibly productive in the production of all he declares that he does not need. And the scale of what man rejects litters the planet and surprises more and more with its persistent accumulation and long-lasting existance. Through visually superior scenes Nikolaus Geyrhalter takes us on an incredible journey from highly civilized Austria to poor suburbs somewhere in Nepal, from the tourist paradise of Maldives to the shores of Albania, on land and sea and under the sea. Distant, extremely aestheticized, often surreal scenes reveal to us incomprehensible and unmeasurable human interventions in open spaces - gigantic landfills and sophisticated, somewhat monstrous waste processing factories. The author creates a powerful documentary film that, as it develops, confronts us more and more with intractable problems and with the astonishing arrogance of the human species. The film explodes in the final sequence in complete counterpoint to the previous course as an important promise for a different world.

Certainly one of the most important documentaries of the 21st century.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Zoo Lockdown

Written 20-09-2022 09:08:03 by Tue Steen Mller


This text is written by Magnificent7 directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Austria 2022 
73 minutes 
director: Andreas Horvath

This is an exciting visual adventure by an exceptional Austrian photographer and filmmaker who exclusively introduces us to the world closed behind the long-locked doors of the Salzburg Zoo, to the world like from fairy tales and dreams.

The unexpected circumstances of the lockdown during the covid 19 pandemic left permanent residents of Salzburg Zoo without daily visits and noisy presence of visitors. In addition to the very discreet staff that maintains the basic living conditions, animals are left completely alone most of the time and left to their own devices. Through a series of surprising scenes the author virtuosly transforms the architectural particularity of the garden, full of glass partitions that relieve the impression of confinement and enable communication between animals, while making the space fluid, unreal and dreamlike. The presence of animals from a solid and unquestionable existence in life and on the screen often passes into unusual states between reality and apparition. Thoughtful, precisely chosen shots, with scenes sometimes as if from another, to us unknown world, very carefully study these creatures that we often take for granted and awaken in us the awareness of the equality of all living beings, in which man doesn't have and shouldn't have a privileged place . The secret of creatures remain undiscovered and exciting, and even the reappearance of people, daily visitors, who in their false superiority turn this place into a so-called zoo, trivializing the world, does not manage to change that.

A remarkable cinema experience, an impressive story almost without a single word about life and living beings with whom we share the that we live on.


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magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 The Treasures of Crimea

Written 19-09-2022 09:15:25 by Tue Steen Mller


This text is written by the Magnificent7 directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Netherlands 2021 
82 minutes 
director: Oeke Hoogendijk

The work of a prominent Dutch director famous for her magnificent films dealing with the world of art, which introduce us to the exclusive spaces behind the splendor and beauty that we admire.

This film brings before us one of the most controversial issues related to archaeological and artistic heritage. Impartially and always respecting the need to listen to the other side, author Oeke Hoogendijk follows, since 2014, a process full of twists and turns, the battle of lawyers, laws and regulations. The priceless archaeological and artistic treasure of Crimea presented at an exhibition in the Netherlands has suddenly become the subject of an intractable controversy - to whom it actually belongs after the political changes that took place during the exhibition. The discreet and, for many, imperceptible museum director in Amsterdam decides to become an unexpected hero by asking the question, ready to stand up for silent, wonderful objects and provide them with unlimited shelter. Before us, through a series of exciting portraits of the main participants and unexpected events the story of the incredible fate of objects of a long-lost nation is developing and becoming more and more complex. Superb camera and editing as in great feature films, with a masterful director’s work by Oeke Hoogendijk, create a saga about archaeologists and their love, about the nightmare that the Scythians unknowingly experience centuries after they disappeared in the labyrinths of history, about valuables that deserve to be preserved by those who gave them themselves in return.

An unexpected, thrilling cinematic experience that takes you from the excavations of Crimea to the cool, contemporary designed spaces of the Netherlands and back.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 A Provincial Hospital

Written 18-09-2022 09:36:13 by Tue Steen Mller

This text is written by Magnificent7 festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Bulgaria, Germany 2022 
102 minutes 
directors: Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov, Zlatina Teneva

This film begins its festival life right after its premiere at the big festival in Karlovy Vary, as a new great film by Ilian Metev, a young European author with an English documentary style. This time he is with two other young filmmakers. A documentary that amazed Europe with the magnificent courage of documentary authors to enter a dangerous place and come face to face with things that the whole world wanted to run away from.

This exceptional film stands opposite to everything we saw during the covid 19 pandemic - this is the work of three directors in a completely unexpected relationship. Metev is in isolation in London, and two young colleagues, Ivan Chertov and Zlatina Teneva, bravely enter a space that everyone was afraid of and many were horrified. They spent more than two months in the isolated covid ward of a hospital in Bulgarian city of Kyustendil. All three of them, with immeasurable creative efforts, shape a story about exceptional characters and destinies transposed into a film that throws us into the very center of humanity's greatest battle in the XXI century. By brilliant precise focusing on charismatic heroes, through carefully established direct contacts, authors discretely convey the dramatic atmosphere of the place and events. They are empathetic observers who share devotedly doubts and anxieties of their heroes, in their numerous efforts and sufferings, as well as in their rare but astonishing feats.

This film goes beyond the study of an epidemic. With simplicity of observation and communication, it develops the story of a modest provincial hospital into a supreme parable about life, suffering and hope.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Young Plato

Written 17-09-2022 08:58:34 by Tue Steen Mller

This text is written by Magnificent7 directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Ireland, Great Britain, France, Belgium 2021 
102 minutes 
directors: Neasa Ní Chianáin and Declan McGrath

A remarkable continuation of dealing with school and growing up problems from creative and life tandem - director Neasa Ní Chianáin and producer David Rane. If you enjoyed watching their previous hit, magnificent documentary "In loco parentis", this new one continues to reveal the beauty of direct, wonderful relationship between teacher and students. This time an experienced documentarian Declan McGrath joined them in a role of co-director.

To discover Plato in one of the most troubled areas of Belfast, in a poor area divided by religious and economic problems and conflicts, seems quite unreal. In this incredible life story, elementary school pupils and their teachers try to stop the tide of all kind of aggression and conflicts, current and those from the past; to stop or at least mitigate them with wisdom and thoughts of philosophers. The enthusiastic headmaster calls upon ancient thinkers for help, his only allies in the battle against entrenched frustrations and violence they cause. He offers his anxious and confused pupils a precious, almost magical tool - a mental distance that lifts them high above the harshness of reality. The filmmakers focus all their attention on the dynamic, witty headmaster, a fan of Elvis Presley, and his relentless struggle to establish this new perspective with pupils as an invisible but solid and salutary platform from which children can see the world as it is and see themselves in it without fear.

This is a wonderful documentary manifesto about the power of human thought and the power of speech and conversation, a documentary that bears witness to the exciting connections of past, present and future.


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 The Wind that Moves Us

Written 17-09-2022 08:39:06 by Tue Steen Mller


This text is written by the festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic.

Spain 2021 
78 minutes 
director: Pere Puigbert

This film with its beauty has conquered the whole of Spain going from festival to festival. Awarded as the best Spanish film in Valladolid and winner of the Latitud selection at Doc Barcelona.

If you want to hear the wind that makes all nature tremble, you must learn to respect the silence. The young poetically inspired Catalan author testifies about that deep respect through his exceptional visual style and brings us an enchanting meditative silence as the fullness of nature's breathing. "I am passionate about creating poetry through the camera (when I shoot) and through the assembly of images (when I edit)," says Pere Puigbert about himself, talking about the discreet yet powerful forces that move him in his work. With this film, he takes us to beautiful spaces of his native Catalonia, where we can completely surrender to the slow, soothing rhythms of nature. In changing of seasons, in carefully chosen details, we discover the fullness and intensity of life. A wise, gentle, caring grandmother who leads her great-grandson through secrets of the world, a dedicated shepherd, his flock and a dog, and a young woman pregnant with a new life will be our guides through meadows, orchards, groves and wastelands. Touching walnut shells, ripe apples, flickering leaves, sheep's fleece, they touch the secrets with which nature pulsates and they get empowered by energies that permeate the entire planet.

A film for a magnificent cinematic experience, an unrepeatable journey into spaces of primeval beauty and energy.

 

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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Balcony Movie

Written 16-09-2022 18:44:28 by Tue Steen Mller


This text is written by the festival directors of Magnificent7, Svetlana and Zoran Popovic:

Poland 2021 
101 minutes 
director: Pawel Lozinski

The work of one of the most important European filmmakers, the masterful cinéma vérité as a direct embodiment of the legendary idea of the great documentary master Dziga Vertov - "life caught suddenly". It won the Grand Prix of Semaine de la critique in Locarno and continued its journey to all leading festivals of the world.

Within each scene of the film, precisely and strictly defined by the author's point of view, and in a poetic way imbued with fine melancholy, we observe the world placed in a very narrow frame. And that world is surprisingly complex and rich - ranging from Shakespeare's line "All the world's a stage" to the provocative statement, associated with Andy Warhol, made in a world that discovered wonders of film and television: "Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." Random passers-by, close and distant neighbors, the author's wife, a man with no money, children and dog walkers, they all pass through this micro world - some indifferent and not looking back, without any awareness of the presence of the author on the balcony above, some involved in a shorter or longer dialogues, apparently simple, but actually layered and filled with a deep sense of the meaning of their existence caught in these moments of "movie glory". In that narrow time frame, concentrated on destinies of people who emerge from nowhere and soon disappear from our view, we become aware of the phenomenon of time and change that define it. The film was shot in more than two years and, even when we meet some familiar faces again, everything before us is in a constant change as in all truly great films.

An amazing documentary manifesto by a great master of the art of conversation and of uncompromising face to face communication with life.

 

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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022 Pawel Lozinski

Written 15-09-2022 12:01:59 by Tue Steen Mller

I Have No Idea How Much They Loved It – but I think they did, the audience for the masterclass with Polish Pawel Lozinski. We (Lozinski and I as the moderator) enjoyed a lot what we were asked to do: Choose 7 shots/sequences from your films and talk about them. Mostly about the form, the aesthetical choices after setting up the clip with some background information on content.

”Birthday” from 1992 was the first shot, the film that won the first prize at the festival on Bornholm, Baltic Film & TV Festival. It was the first film of Pawel Lozinski, a tough one on the famous Jewish Polish writer Henryk Grynberg searching for the remains of his father, who was killed during the war. Shot on 16mm film.

Later on Lozinski made the film ”The Way It Is” from his neighbourhood (1999), ”Chemo” from 2009, which is a film he decided to do when his mother got cancer, the controversial ”Father and Son” (2013) that was meant to be a film by Marcel and Pawel together, but Marcel decided to make his own version… It did not make the conflicted relationship between them easier!

If that was the reason for Lozinski to make ”You Have No Idea…”, I asked him. Could be, he said about the film that was shown in the cinema later that same friday.

As a small gift to the audience, ”Sisters” (11 minutes) was shown, a film that Pawel Lozinski shot when he had a break in shooting ”The Way It Is”. What are you doing, the sisters asked the director when they met in the courtyard. I am making a film about interesting people in my neighbourhood, he answered. Are we interesting, they asked. See the film, Yes they are!


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Magnificent7: Heddy Honigmann in Memoriam

Written 14-09-2022 10:57:00 by Tue Steen Mller

Heddy Honigmann died May 21 this year 70 year old. Some of her films have been shown at Magnificent7. On Sunday the 18th at 6pm one of her masterpieces, “Oblivion”, from 2008 will be shown for us to remember a magnificent documentarian.

Here are some quotes about Heddy Honigmann:

In August 2007 Allan Berg and I started filmkommentaren. The first post/review of a film published was „Forever“ by Heddy Honigmann, a lovely film where the director takes the viewer to the cemetery Père Lachaise in Paris. An essayistic film about Life and Death made by the Dutch master, whose films I have followed with pleasure during decades – do you remember ”Metal and Melancholy”, ”Oblivion”, ”O Amor Natural” and the recent ones ”Buddy” and ”Around the World in 50 Concerts”? And many more. (Tue Steen Müller)

”In 1994, the director made ”Metal and Melancholy”, also from Peru, seen through the taxis and their double-job drivers. This new film from Lima is melancholic as well, and beautiful, but you also feel a well-documented anger on behalf of the people you meet who struggle every day to survive”. A humanistic, political film for a big audience. Thank you! (Tue Steen Müller)

Heddy Honigmann is a documentary filmmaker who breaks through impenetrable walls with her warm, carefully measured and dedicated communication with people in her films. This time, she decided with considerable courage to make a film about people who have already entered the second century of their lives. Contrary to the incidental news that someone anonymous until then or someone famous, celebrated his hundredth birthday, this great film directly confronts us with fascinating characters full of passion, spirit and life. This is the unique document about active life of people at the beginning of their second century, valuable because it reveals to us people that we could read about in legends, but very few people could meet them in person. Heddy Honigmann masterfully introduces viewers to the active lives of her enchanting heroes who never cease to amaze us - from a woman who, as a bewildered girl, watched one of the greatest evils in history, to a man who passionately seeks an answer that will change the destiny of humanity. A sensational drummer, sexologist, philosopher, doctor, characters whose vitality gives this film a wonderful, exciting inner rhythm. (Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about ”100 UP)

A precious documentary that reveals to us the depths of human experience and wisdom…. Could go for all her films …

On the 18th there will be a text by about “Oblivion” by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic.

http://magnificent7festival.org/en/index.php


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Magnificent7 Belgrade 2022

Written 12-09-2022 17:29:21 by Tue Steen Mller

"We haven't seen so poetic documentary for a long long time! Beautiful shots, true beauty of the nature and people, true beauty of the documentary!"

A visit "behind the scene" is this email text from from Svetlana and Zoran Popovic to me, who had asked the festival directors to watch "The Wind that Moves Us" by Pere Puigbert from Catalonia, Spain.

Just one example of our many exchanges of comments during a selection process, this time for the 18th edition of Magnificent7 that I am proud and grateful to be part of.

I put that to tell you, dear Belgrade audience, that we who select have promised each other that we film lovers must be full of enthusiasm, joy and respect before we say "yes, we must have that film", "yes, we must have this film for you the audience, who deserve to be treated with the best of the best".

The camerawork of Pere Puigbert in "The Wind that Moves us" is excellent, nature and man, every image is a composition as are the ones of Austrian master Nikolaus Geyerhalter, who returns to the festival with his stunning "Matter Out of Place" about rubbish here, there, and everywhere on the planet, we live. His film is a true proof of the director's aesthetic ambition to sometimes even turn the unattractive scenes of reality into surrealistic paintings while at the same time as he sends this message: Shame on us, what can we humans do better?

People... documentaries about us who have different lives, different opinions and who like to express them, to open up if we are asked in a gentle way. By, for instance, a man on a balcony. So happy that Pawel Lozinski will visit the festival with his awarded "Balcony Movie" that he shot over a couple of years catching moments of joy and grief pointing his camera from his balcony to those passing by asking questions about how they feel, how they live, what are their plans for the day. Crazy Poetry? Indeed! Existential and Philosophical. Absolutely!

Philosophy, Yes... "Young Plato" by Irish Declan McGrath and Neasa Ni Chianáin is a film from Belfast, a superb observational documentary, uplifting and hopeful from a city with a bloody past AND with a charismatic teacher, a fan of Elvis Presley, who take care of the kids with love. Teaching love. Oh, they know how to talk, these kids, and welcome back to Neasa Ni Chianáin and David Rane who were here with "In Loco Parentis".

Two films are shot during the Covid pandemic: "Zoo Lockdown" by Andreas Horvath and "A Provincial Hospital" by Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov and Zlatina Teneva.

Who has not dreamt of being in a zoo when there are no visitors? To observe the animals? Do they behave in a different way, are they happy that nobody watches them all the time or do they miss the curious tourist glances? It's a lovely film and we hope many will bring along (bigger) kids to the cinema to watch the film, that was made when the Salzburg Zoo was closed because of Covid-19.

Ilian Metev, whose "The Last Ambulance" we enjoyed years ago at the festival, is back with his film colleagues Chertov and Teneva. Metev himself was in lockdown in London while the film was shot but the material provided again included a doctor – doctor Popov, who with humour and warmth encourage the covid patients at the ward to cheer up and decide to live on. The film is, as we have witnessed multiple times at the festival, crossing the line from reportage to become a documentary with great, caring protagonists who work under – an understatement – unbelievably hard conditions.

Going behind the news, the dry documentation facts, is "The Treasures of Crimea", a documentary thriller, simply. With footage from court rooms, with a focus on to whom belong the treasures that came from a Crimea that while the exhibition took place in the Netherlands was annexed by Russia in 2014. Where to send back the treasures? Dutch author Oeke Hoogendijk is fantastic to make a dramatic story out of the controverse – there are tears and laughter and wonderful protagonists.

It is not enough to have interesting and fantastic stories. You have to know how to tell them, how to use the cinematic tools at your disposal – the French call it to be an "auteur". We offer you 7 documentary authors; we hope that our excitement will be yours as well. Love is all there is!

Tue Steen Müller

Copenhagen

September 1, 2022


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Baltic Sea Docs 26. edition Ukraine

Written 11-09-2022 16:13:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Docs 2022: Four films were screened made by Ukrainian directors and/or about Ukraine directly or indirectly. And at the pitching forum there were projects like "Little People" by Ivan Sautkin, "Iron Man (One Day I Wish to see You Happy)" by Maryna Nikolcheva and "The Blessed Ones" by Andrii Lysetskyi. One of the tutors was Roman Bondarchuk who was there with Darya Averchenko and their youngest child Luka, 18 months. So naturally there was a focus on the country at war, also "outside" the film event with a photo exhibition portraying Ukrainian refugees in Latvia; the mayor of Riga talked as did the Danish photographer of the portraits, the director of the Danish Cultural Institute in the Baltic countries with long speeches by the Latvian and Danish foreign ministers, all condemning the war - outside on the square facing the Russian embassy.

All three film projects named were awarded at the closing ceremony on a boat on the Daugava river, "Iron Man" through an invitation to the producer Oleksandra Kravchenko to come back to Baltic Sea Docs... She was there before with what became the amazing "Roses. Film Cabaret".

I got a copy of "Estonian Film", a special edition made for the Cannes Film Festival with a focus on Ukrainian Film, excellent with articles/interviews with filmmakers from the country including two important documentary voices, producer and industry head of DocuDays Darya Bassel and veteran Serhiy Bukovsky, whose last masterpiece on composer Silvestrov was reviewed on this site (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4714/)

A couple of quotes from the interviews made by Maria Ulfsak and film consultant at the Estonian Film Institute Filipp Kruusvall:

... While big businesses are leaving Russia, while governments stop buying Russian gas and coal, film festivals and other cultural events seem to be totally disconnected from reality. They say we are "above" this, culture is not politics. You know what I think about this? It's a luxury to have the possibility to take such a position. You don't have the luxury of being apolitical, or think that art and films exist in another universe, where we all can calmly reflect as friends on the genocide that is happening right now in front of our eyes. When it's about your life or death, you don't have this luxury. You know deep inside that culture is politics... (Darya Bassel)

... I guess documentaries will rocket. This genre already reacts quickly to current events in life. Also, in feature films, the theme of war becomes the main one. In many cases, this will be rather superficial, declarative. It will take decades for a deeper artistic understanding of this subject... We continue to meet with our students online. Many are filming what is happening right now. Hopefully, soon we will collect all the filmed material into one extensive war anthology... (Serhiy Bukovsky).

Slava Ukraini!

 


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Baltic Sea Docs 26. edition "Mental Health...

Written 08-09-2022 06:44:04 by Tue Steen Mller

... in the Times of War" was the title of a seminar at the Baltic Sea Docs. Including as moderator Rebecca Day, Ukrainian filmmakers Roman Bondarchuk, Ivan Sautkin, Anna Machukh, CEO of Odesa International Film Festival and Latvian producer and cinematographer Uldis Cekulis. The seminar took place at the Welton Riverside Hotel that faces the Daugava river with a fine look to the impressive very much discussed National Library, which I find a fascinating piece of architecture.

Roman Bondarchuk said that his problem was to re-find the level of sensitivity, when you and your family are trying to establish a peaceful life and when you can only plan two years ahead, being in exile.

Ivan Sautkin told that he during Maidan for the first time had seen a dead body, that he had sleepless nights, that he and his family - four kids - were trying to do their best in a situation, where there is no job and thus no money. (Anna Machukh presented results of a survey that documented that 44% of the Ukrainian film people were without job) he was referring to the Babylon'13 site where you can find lots of visual material from and about the war but also about Maidan and Ukrainian culture. Short documentaries.

Bondarchuk told about how the organisers of the DocuDays festival were in constant contact organising and informing, and about the war archive that is being built, including evidence of the war crimes committed and being committed by the Russians. "We try not to think about our mental health". My comment: It is indeed impressive how active the DocuDays people are in conveying information, trying also to convince festivals around the world that there are numerous competent film curators who can help putting together programs with Ukrainian documentaries.  

Uldis Cekulis showed clips from "Ukrainian Sheriffs" (director Bondarchuk) with my favourite protagonist, the mayor of the village where the film takes place... the mayor who was kidnapped and tortured by the enemy. He and his wife are now living in Latvia.

The seminar was organised by Lelda Ozola Creative Europe Latvia together with her colleagues from Lithuania and Estonia. Well done! 


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Baltic Sea Docs 26. edition

Written 06-09-2022 07:46:27 by Tue Steen Mller

Monday morning. Copenhagen ariport. Departure for Riga. Beautiful weather. Arrival one hour later at 9am, 20 minutes ahead of time. Hugging friends upon arrival at the hotel, shaking hands with newcomers. Lovely to see - after years - Ukrainian Darya Averchenko, her husband Roman Bondarchuk and their third child, wee Luca, and Scottish Emma Davie. Same procedure as previous years: group sessions where projects are talked about. After two years of corona the majority of filmmakers are present but there are also some who turn up on the screen taking part via zoom. It works all right. 18 projects, good quality, preparing for pitching thursday and friday.

And in the evening film screening at the K Suns. "Fragile Memory" by Ukrainian Ihor Ivanko. Beautiful, touching meeting between the director and his grandfather Leonid Burlaka, who suffers from dementia. And film history it is with clips from many of the works he filmed employed by the Odesa Film Studio. And a look into a family with a worried grandmother, who sees her husband fading away. The film is superb in creating a balance between the private and the public, waiving a flag for a sustainable protection of the film reels.

It is easy to see how good a cinematographer Burlaka was in his active life, it is even easier to see how fine an artist he was as photographer, pure poetry, pictures of the family and from the many travels he was allowed to go on by the Sovjet authorities.

A grand opening it was with a zoom link to the director interviewed by BSD manager Zane Balcus. 


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What is a Documentary?

Written 23-08-2022 09:17:28 by Tue Steen Mller

Life People Reality Subjectivity Perspective Rhythm Observation Truth Poetic World Imagination Discovery Unfiltered Raw Story Real Unique Relationship Experiences History Time Communication Values Changes Memory Passion Revelation Era Generation Commitment Achievement Care Psychology Environment Makedox

What are the three words that come to your mind when I say documentary? Was the question I put to the participants of the development workshop in Skopje, arranged by the brilliant team of Makedox led by Petra Seliskar.

Greek producer Mina Dreki put together a small essay from these words, that came out as a kind of a manifest - a gift to the festival from its participants:

"Documentary filmmaking is not about the truth, it is a poetic commitment and creation, unfiltered or not. Through our subjectivity and perspective, we observe, we experience, we communicate our reality. Through our imagination and passion, we discover the connection between time and changes, people and relationships, experiences, and history. We act as a bridge between raw stories and revelations, our job is to add rhythm and share it with the audience and our era, as if we share our own values. Our world, all generations need unique stories. Documentary filmmaking cares about life, people, and us."

From, tutoring together with Ieva Ubele, producer from Latvia and head of the Beldocs Industry.


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Srdan Keca: Museum of The Revolution

Written 22-08-2022 13:00:28 by Tue Steen Mller

To safeguard the truth about us, were the words architect Richter used, when he presented his plan for a Museum of the Revolution to be built in Belgrade in 1961… Director Srdan Keca takes this - with great propaganda archive material - as the starting point for his version of the truth as he sees it in a film that is quite as unconventional as Richter wanted the museum to be. Keca works with several layers surrounding three people, who live in and around the basement of the museum, that is what was left of a vision, conveyed in magic luminous sequences of light coming in to the place, light spots of hope, where Milica and her mother Vera stays together with the old woman Mara, who has no contact to her daughter, who she “gave away” to the social system. In the darkness of poverty they are. Kecha stresses this with compassion, when his camera caresses them, often by taking away the sound staying long on their faces. 

The love relationship between Milica and her mother is beautiful, their life is a constant struggle to survive as polishers of car windows to earn some money to send to the father, who is in prison. The architectural point of view stays in the picture: Modern conventional ugly buildings are constructed now in Belgrade along the river of Sava. Keca paints with his camera in a film that asks the question: Is this what we want to safeguard?

Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, 2021, 91 mins.


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Mijke de Jong: Along the Way

Written 16-08-2022 09:23:04 by Tue Steen Mller

Zahra and Fatima are twins and the protagonists of the Dutch film that was shown last night at the one year old Cineplex that is now the main screening venue for the Sarajevo Film Festival. The film’s title is “Along the Way” and it was shown as part of the Dealing With the Past program. I had the pleasure of introducing the film and moderate the discussion with the assistant director Natascha Erfanipour. An easy job as the young Dutch woman with Iranian roots spoke lively about how the film came to become the drama it is, a drama yes, but with so much authenticity that I took for a documentary the first time I saw it. But the twins are acting and they are acting so well – but it took time to get to this, explained Erfanipour with a smile. But all – almost all – is based on their own stories, told to the film team, made into a precise script to be followed. In some scenes they had to be angry with each other, that was difficult for them…

The story is one of those, we have met so many times in these hard times, a refugee story: the twins buy themselves way to Istanbul, get separated from mother and siblings, work to save money for the ocean trip from Turkey to Lesbos, they succeed, they get to the camp everyone knows, Moria, and they reach Athens to have a very emotional meeting with the mother and the daughter. In Istanbul they meet Rahim, a young man, who is a smuggler and for whom Zahra works to collect money to cross the EU…

There are more to be experienced, some personal statements from refugees not to be revealed here but I hope you get the chance to watch this fine film “based on a true story” with Zahra and Fatima, who in real life are now waiting for getting asylum in Germany and at a longer perspective to be filmmakers. Wish them all the best!

The Netherlands, 2021, 80 mins. 


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Anna Shisova: The New Greatness Case

Written 15-08-2022 16:58:41 by Tue Steen Mller

 Anna Shisova: The New Greatness Case

One of my Russian friends wrote this to me not long ago: “A few days ago…Two women and their five children aged 7 to 11 were detained at the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow yesterday. The children drew a poster “No War” and went with it. All of them were detained by the police. At first they were kept in a paddy wagon and then they were brought to the Presnenskoye police department. They were going to leave everyone at the station but then children and their mothers were released. Now parents are waiting for a court, fines and are afraid of deprivation of parental rights, they are looking for a human rights lawyer…”.

Surprised? No, I guess not, if you follow the reports coming from Russia. I used to go to Russia for film events and I know a lot of filmmakers, friends with whom I have talked about Life that passes while you are not busy doing something else than making films. Always being careful not to get into trouble when demonstrations take place. As Anna Shisova, the director of “The New Greatness Case” chosen for this Human Rights Day said in an interview: “For 10 or 20 years, the legal system in Russia has drifted in a totalitarian direction. We have many new laws. One of those laws says that if you say something bad against authority, you can be put in jail. Another law punishes extremist organizations, which means you are guilty if you say something against authority within a group.”

Words I have heard again and again when visiting St. Petersburg or Moscow. Often said with a twist of irony making fun of the regime and its leaders.

After February 24 2022 I have not travelled to Russia – and many filmmakers have left the country. The brutality has grown, demonstrators are knocked down and imprisoned. And the brutality in the war against Ukraine is indescribable. There is no need for irony – there is a need for constant good journalism AND documentaries like “The New Greatness Case”.

The film: Anya Pavlikova. 17 years old. She is in a court room behind the terrible glass room, we know so well from films about and news from Russia. Her parents sit in front of the glass room. The camera catches the nervous face of Anya , she seems to be on the edge of a breakdown. Fear! A judge enters the room and reads out the verdict: Anya is sentenced to 3 years of prison for her participation in a group of youngsters called “The New Greatness”… The beginning of a superb film.

Anna Shisova’s documentary is what a documentary should be: It documents and it interprets, it asks for reflection, it has a strong emotional impact on the audience. It tells the story of youngsters, who were chatting on the internet discussing all kind of matters including social and political. And it stays with the parents and makes a gripping portrait of the mother.

We know all that, what we did not know, at least that goes for me, is the skills with which the regime works with informers, who - as the film shows so well – infiltrated the youngsters, invited them to have their own “office” and pushed them to go for demonstrations with leaflets. Until they were arrested for wanting to go against and overthrow the government etc. Anya was one of them caught by the surveillance cameras set up by the secret service people. In a room that comes back again and again with the main informer in the picture. Absurd!

Contrary to many other films on opposition from Russia, like the ones on Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, “The New Greatness Case” goes with Anya to her family, especially to her mother who turns fear into a hunger strike and herself into one of the many political activists, we hear too little about.

The film has been characterized as “a chilling portrait of the intensified crackdown on dissent and free expression in Putin’s Russia” (Sheffield DocFest). True!

Below is the link to the UN declaration of Human Rights.

Read the paragraphs and tick the ones you find relevant for a discussion after the film screening. Quite a lot I would say!

 https://www.ohchr.org/en/human-rights/universal-declaration/translations/english


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Sarajevo Film Festival/ 2

Written 15-08-2022 09:33:57 by Tue Steen Mller

It was presentation day for the four stories at the TSM, True Stories Market. It took place at the Atrium of Hotel Europe; four people, two women, two men on stage and a full house of interested people, among them film producers and directors, who might be interested to make the stories into films or tv programmes.

Moderator was film director and journalist Croatian Robert Zuber, who had a fine way of connecting the four stories and asked the right questions at the right moment.

First in line was Enes Hodzic, journalist from BIRN (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network). Working title for the story “Forbidden Monument” referring to the fact that the local authorities do not want a memorial to be raised in the city of Prijedor, where 102 children were killed during the war in the beginning of the 90’es. Hodzic showed a very emotional interview clip with Ešef Dzananovic, who survived three concentration camps to know afterwards that two sons, 4- and 9-year-old, his sister, 17, his wife and his mother had all been killed. 30 years later he is still searching for their remains – the neighbours witnessed what happened, he says, but do not want to tell anything… Unbearable!

Also from BIRN was Aida Trepanic, whose story also is from Prijedor in the North East of Bosnia, in Bijeljina where notorious Akran and his Serbian Volunteer Guard killed, among others the husband of the woman, who witnessed the murders taking place – also caught by the camera of the photographer Ron Haviv. The woman does not want to be seen, she is afraid of the consequences her children could meet visiting the street, that now bears the name Street of Serbian Voluntary Guard!!! With a manipulated voice she is telling her story. Amazing and touching.

Serbian Jovana Blanusa from a company called Next Game in Belgrade told the fascinating story about Marino Zurli, a journalist, filmmaker, writer, who after the Second WW committed his working life to bring families together, who had been split because of the war. He conveyed his discoveries through the paper Arena with photos and texts, but he also made films from his discoveries – as the company of Jovana did, one was shown as part of the presentation. “The Hero from Arena” is the working title of a film to be about “a discreet hero of great deeds”.

Finally filmmaker Mladen Ivanovic from Montenegro, studying at the Zagreb film academy, showed a 7 minutes long clip from a film he has almost finished but wants to extend to a feature or eventually use as a pilot for a series about pits in former Yugoslavia. Pits which are difficult to recognize as nature has done “its job”, covering the killing fields, the concentration camps where – in this story – the Ustasha fascists came to pick up the people to bring them to a place to be executed. Ivanovic is definitely a talented filmmaker, the film he showed, from which the 7 minutes were taken could go to festivals when finished and from that he can make a longer film than this “Depths of Velebit”.

Tough stories, yes, but should be told as many have said after the presentation as the right-wing politicians in this region and elsewhere want to rewrite history and erase stories like these from the collective memory. 


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Sarajevo Film Festival/1

Written 14-08-2022 10:42:14 by Tue Steen Mller

After two years I feel privileged to be back to a festival that has given me so many fine moments. The atmosphere in the city of course, a city that celebrates cinema with its many genres, a festival that greets talents, have loads of workshops, gives out awards to well known figures in world cinema, this year from Ari Folman who is here with his new film on Anne Frank to Danish Mads Mikkelsen, who is also on house walls with his saying that a Danish beer is “probably the best in the world” – I am not so sure!

The first days for me have been occupied by being part of a small “Dealing With the Past” tutor team that works with four projects, which are to be presented to an audience today, an audience of filmmakers, who hopefully are seduced by the power of the stories pitched in words and images on the small stage in Hotel Europe. Filmmaker and journalist Robert Zuber will be leading the pitch, online from den Haag the amazing editor Natasa Damnjanovic has put the visuals together, online from Paris is film director Mila Turajlic and I have mainly given advice on how to structure the presentation. “Dealing With the Past” this year have as contributors filmmaker Mladen Ivanovic, film producer Jovana Blanuša, and two journalists from BIRN Aida Trepanic and Enes Hodzic. BIRN stands for Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. Will get back to you after the presentation with info on the content of the four stories presented. For me, the only one in the team who does not speak the language, these sessions have introduced me to war history through personal stories – information and emotion like documentaries should give.

The “Dealing With the Part” also includes film screenings. I will be moderating a couple of them, new films, high quality. More will follow.

 


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Film Talks

Written 08-08-2022 21:28:44 by Tue Steen Mller

On August 10, 17 and 24, you can enjoy three pre-recorded IDF Industry Sessions which we have prepared in collaboration with CinéDoc-Tbilisi. Watch them on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!

August 10 at 6 pm (CEST)
Protagonists in Fragile Situations - Extended Q&As about I'll Stand by You


Virginija Vareikytė and Maximilien Dejoie talk about their journey of being co-directors and how they found the story of the film I'll Stand by You and its protagonists - two women on a challenging mission. They discuss challenges that are connected with difficult topics and how to keep their artistic vision during the whole production. Moderated by Tue Steen Müller.

August 17 at 6 pm (CEST)

Benefits and Challenges in Co-productions - A Case Study of The Last Shelter 


Estelle Robin You in conversation with Tue Steen Müller about her experience with co-production between Mali, South Africa and France. She was in a position of a lead-producer of The Last Shelter and could watch closely the artistic side of the project. Estelle stresses the importance of good and strong relationships between director and protagonists and strong partnerships with other productions and/or training programs.

In cooperation with the French Institute in Georgia.

August 24 at 6 pm (CEST)

How to Prepare Film Material for Editing - A Case Study of Nelly & Nadine


A conversation between Phil Jandaly and Tue Steen Müller. Phil Jandaly discusses his role as an editor during production of Nelly & Nadine. He shares his experience with creating a structure of the film, working with different archive material and editing them with newly-filmed scenes. He stresses how they wanted to keep the mystery during the whole film while keeping the whole aesthetics of the film and overall intimate story.

In cooperation with the French Institute in Georgia.

The Film Mentoring Program of CinéDOC-Tbilisi and these sessions are supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

The IDF Industry Sessions series is supported by Creative Europe MEDIA, Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Czech Film Fund, Prague City Hall and APA - Audiovisual Producers' Association.


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Niewiera & Rosolowski: The Hamlet Syndrome

Written 05-08-2022 09:30:55 by Tue Steen Mller

… first names Elwira and Piotr, Polish directors, awarded for previous works “The Domino Effect” and “The Prince and the Dybbuk”, both praised on this site for their originality and professional skills. The same goes for this new film that demonstrates how literature, theatre and cinema can be welded together to create a tension that for this viewer has been sitting in mind and stomach for days the two times I have watched it on my MacBook Pro – the third time will be in a cinema. A promise to the filmmakers.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, I asked the 11 year old grandchild this morning if he had heard about him. Indeed he had, “it is him with “to be or not to be”, the everlasting sentence, that is the core of the theatre play five Ukrainians perform with Roza Sarkisian, theatre director as the observant and often provoking master on the stage – together with the film directors who came with the script after having casted the protagonists.

One by one, following their monologue or dialogue rehearsals on stage, the film takes the viewer out in “the reality”. Katya who is meeting witnesses to document the war in the country – she was in Maidan and she was volunteering in the horrors in the Eastern part of the country. She sits with a microphone in a quiet garden with a woman, who tells how she was tortured by the occupiers. In a very emotional scene with Katya and her mother the latter expresses her anxiety not knowing what Katya was doing as a soldier.

These combined scenes are extraordinary: Slawik and his father, on stage in a phone call, where Roman, actor, “plays” his father, followed by Slawik meeting his father playing table tennis and having their conversation. ”You took ten years of my life”, the father says. And Rodion who has suffered because of his sexuality – with his mother in rainy weather who talks about how difficult it has been for her to accept that his son is “different”. Rodion performs a magnificent monologue on stage. “To be a LGBT in Donetsk”, where he comes from.

Why am I Hamlet is a question the five have a quick answer to. Oksana, feminist, who plays a central role in the last scene of the theatre play. No spoiling. 

The five have all been going through therapy. A quote from an interview with Elwira Niewiera in Business Doc Europe June 2022: “All five characters underwent therapy after their experiences of war, which was a core consideration in their participation both within the stage play and the film. “We made the decision that they are the right protagonists to go through this process…because all of them made therapy before. This was very important for us,” says co-director Elwira Niewiera, adding how once the actors immersed themselves into the play, it then became “an artistic process.”

Yes, the reason for the film to be so strong, so intense, so extraordinary in conveying the traumas, is that the filmmakers and their protagonists have made an artistic interpretation, what they have experienced before February 24 this year – the play was performed October 2020.

And after February 24, after the brutal invasion from the Russian barbarians… reading the text at the end credits, unbearable at the same time as you more than respect their courage: Katya, Slawik and Roman are in the army, Rodion sews military uniforms in Lviv, Oksana acts at a theatre in Poland and is involved in humanitarian aid.

Poland/Germany, 2022, 85 mins.


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Docu Talents from the East 2022

Written 29-07-2022 20:44:32 by Tue Steen Mller

This is a copy paste of a text from the Sarajevo FF site, an event organised by the Jihlava FF. High quality projects, know some of them and know talents like Goran Devic, Vlad Petri, Diana Fabiánová and Lesia Diak. The latter is part of the CinéDoc Tbilisi Mentoring Program. As for Diana Fabiánová she was a star at Ex Oriente with the film "The Moon inside You" that reached an audience all over the world. If time allows I will be at the presentation. Here is the copy-paste:    

Nine new creative documentary projects, in production or post-production, will be presented as part CineLink Industry Day on August 15, in order to stimulate their further conversion and enhance their market exposure. The Open presentation will take place at Hotel Europe – Atrium from 14.30 – 15.45.

The most promising project receives the Docu Talent Award in co-operation with Current Time TV. The award is accompanied by a prize in the amount of 5,000 USD. DAFilms Distribution Award 2022 will be awarded to a project selected by the jury in the amount of €3000 as an in-kind Doc Alliance distribution award. It covers release on DAFilms (including Americas,  Europe,  Asia) for two years. The jury consists of Natalia Arshavskaya (Current Time TV), Martichka Bozilova (Agitprop), Ben Dalton (Screen International), Nina Numankadić (DAFilms), Jarmila Outratová (Ji.hlava IDFF).

„The selection of films included in Docu Talents from the East that are being completed by the emerging generation of Eastern European filmmakers is formally very diverse and explores social, political and purely personal topics. It is surprising that a region often associated primarily with rural films from poor regions can geographically encompass literally the entire world: from Tokyo and Iran to Europe, New York and Salvador.

Our selection pays special attention to two Ukrainian women filmmakers. While Olha Tsybulska started filming YOU KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE ABOUT WAR spontaneously at the outset of the war, the very personal DAD’S LULLABY by Lesia Diak looks back on the war after several years and shows how it can destroy even an exceptional human personality.

All of the selected films do not only explore the phenomena of our day-and-age, but also ask questions about how our choices shape our own future – whether as an individual, a particular social group or an entire society.”  says Marek Hovorka, director of the Ji.hlava IDFF.

Projects were selected by representatives of the Ji.hlava IDFF. 

The complete list can be found below.

WHAT’S TO BE DONE?
Croatia | 75’
Director: Goran Dević
Producer: Hrvoje Osvadić
Production Company: Petnaesta umjetnost

Is it possible to be a worker and revolt against the capitalism? Is the outcome of every possible riot known in advance?

SO FAR FROM MIKULOV
Czech Republic | Slovakia | 75’
Director: Marie Dvořáková
Producer: Pavel Berčík
Production Company: Evolution Films, s.r.o.

A small-town photographer from Europe takes New York by storm. But at what price?

YOYOGI
Estonia | Japan | 74’
Director: Max Golomidov
Producer: Volia Chajkouskaya
Production Company: Allfilm

A witty and sensitive observation of people visiting Central Park of Tokyo – Yoyogi.

STREET POETS
Poland | 60’
Director: Edyta Adamczak and Michał Mądracki
Producer: Edyta Adamczak
Production Company: MML studio

Young, urban poets of the Brazilian favela in the city of Salvador. Jeopardised youth. A film about non-material wealth, which becomes a source of unusual human power and lets us believe that we all have this power within us.

BETWEEN REVOLUTIONS
Romania | Iran | Croatia | Qatar | 71’
Director: Vlad Petri
Producer: Elena Martín
Production Company: Activ Docs

Two women, former classmates and friends, one Romanian and one Iranian are writing letters to each other, reflecting on their lives, between two revolutions that changed their lives and societies forever.

THE BOUNDARIES OF FIDELITY
Slovakia | Czech Republic | 80’
Director: Diana Fabiánová
Producer: Silvia Panáková
Production Company: Dayhey, s.r.o.

A married couple’s search for a way how to preserve a long-term, honest relationship in environment, where infidelity is normal practice.

DAD’S LULLABY
Ukraine | 72’
Director: Lesia Diak
Producer: Lesia Diak
Production Company: /

He fought for his country, now he is fighting for his family.

YOU KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE ABOUT WAR (WORKING TITLE)
Ukraine | 33’
Director: Olha Tsybulska
Producer: John Emil Richardsen
Production Company: Montevideo Tromsø AS

A reflection about survivor’s guilt, traumas and how war is the new normality for young creative people in Ukraine.

TOMORROW
Hungary | Portugal | Belgium | Iran | 50’
Director: Khosro Khosravi
Producer: Khosro Khosravi
Production Company: DocNomads

A middle-aged divorced Budapesti man who eagerly deals with organizing his life after separation in his big house, on the other hand, finds it hardly possible to avoid loneliness.

 

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Baltic Sea Docs 22

Written 26-07-2022 15:06:13 by Tue Steen Mller

The projects to be presented in the yearly documentary gathering, number 26, since 2005 held in Riga Latvia, have been selected with Latvian Zane Balcus as the head of the Forum, she rightfully describes in the following way:

“This international event for professional documentary filmmakers is the only one of its kind in the Baltics and is held in high regard throughout Eastern Europe. Every year, the BSD gathers over 100 professional filmmakers from the Baltic Sea region, as well as from Eastern and Central Europe. Participating in the forum is an invaluable way for filmmakers to find funding for the production of their projects and to further ensure that their films reach a wide audience across Europe.

The forum is held in English and participation is free of charge.

In addition to the public pitching session, the forum holds preparatory workshop and seminars that is open to not just BSD participants, but also to students and representatives of the Latvian film scene. Apart from the professional activities, a programme of the highest quality documentaries is offered to the general public in Riga and the largest Latvian cities.”

The latter – the film program – has not been published yet, the same goes for the so-called decision makers BUT 18 projects from Lithuania (2), Estonia (2), Georgia (3), Latvia (3), Finland (1), Poland (3), Germany (1) and Ukraine (3). Projects from Russia and Belarus have not been invited.

For the workshops leading to the pitching session the Baltic Sea Docs have invited the following to be tutors: 

Roman Bondarchuk | film director, cinematographer | Ukraine
Emma Davie | film director | Scotland
Phil Jandaly | film editor | Sweden
Tue Steen Müller | documentary consultant | Denmark
Mikael Opstrup | documentary developer | Denmark
Laila Pakalniņa | film director, producer | Latvia
Dagne Vildunaite | film producer | Lithuania

Brief annotations to the selected projects you can find here:

https://dokforums.gov.lv/industry/selected-projects-2022/


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Turkan Huseynova: Papanin

Written 23-07-2022 13:55:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Turkan Huseynova is a young filmmaker from Baku. Last year she took part in the Jihlava FF with her documentary “Papanin”,

Which appeared in the “Joyful Section”. Well placed even if the film refers to a district in Baku that is to be demolished. Huseynova visited with her camera, made the film in beautiful black and white, you sense that she is a photographer, who knows how to compose images in a fine framing. Another proof of quality is that she as a true documentarian can get close to people, gain their trust and have them talk. The 19 minutes include a love story told by an old man, who lost his wife. Beautiful.

Huseynova is now participating in the Mentoring Program of CinédocTbilisi.

Proud to be her mentor, new film will come from her. As with "Papanin" with love as a central theme.

Azerbaijan, 2021, 19 mins.


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Sarajevo FF Documentary Competition

Written 22-07-2022 14:00:58 by Tue Steen Mller

1. DIARY OF A BRIDE OF CHRIST / TSCHODENNYK NARECHENOI CHRISTA, Marta Smerechynska (Ukraine, 2021, 90 min.) – World premiere

2. LIGHTS OF SARAJEVO / SVJETLA SARAJEVA, Srđan Perkić (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2022, 68 min.) – World premiere

3. LITURGY OF ANTI-TANK OBSTACLES, Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk (Ukraine, USA, 2022, 12 min.) – World premiere

4. PAYING A VISIT TO FORTUNA / FORTUNA VENDÉGEI, Mátyás Kálmán (Hungary, Croatia, 2022, 74 min.) – World premiere

5. SHADOWED BY THE PLANE TREE / ÇINAR AĞACININ KÖLGƏSINDƏ, Aynur Elgunesh (Azerbaijan, 2022, 18 min.) – World premiere

6. THE CHALICE. OF SONS AND DAUGHTERS / O TAHTAI. SAVENDAR TAI SEIANDAR, Cătălina Tesăr, Dana Bunescu (Romania, 2022, 83 min.) – World premiere

7. THE FILM FACTORY / TVORNICA FILMOVA, Silvestar Kolbas (Croatia, 2022, 15 min.) – World premiere

8. TOO CLOSE, Botond Püsök (Romania, Hungary, 2022, 85 min.) – World premiere

9. BABAJANJA, Ante Zlatko Stolica (Croatia, 2022, 14 min.) – International premiere

10. RETREAT, Anabela Angelovska (North Macedonia, Germany, 2022, 30 min.) – International premiere

11. WE, ... COMPOSITION / WIR, ... KOMPOSITION, Visar Jusufi (Kosovo, Germany, 2022, 15 min.) – International premiere

12. BIGGER THAN TRAUMA / VEĆE OD TRAUME, Vedrana Pribačić (Croatia, 2022, 91 min.) – European premiere

13. ANOTHER SPRING / JOŠ JEDNO PROLEĆE, Mladen Kovačević (Serbia, France, Qatar, 2022, 90 min.) – Regional premiere

14. A PROVINCIAL HOSPITAL / EDNA PROVINTSIALNA BOLNITSA, Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov, Zlatina Teneva (Bulgaria, Germany, 2022, 107 min.) – Regional premiere

15. ATONAL GLOW / ATONALURI GABRZKINEBA, Alexander Koridze (Georgia, 2022, 67 min.) – Regional premiere

16. BEAUTY OF THE BEAST, Anna Eszter Nemes (Hungary, Serbia, 2022, 47 min.) – Regional premiere

17. FRAGILE MEMORY, Igor Ivanjko (Ukraine, 2022, 85 min.) – Regional premiere

18. LIVING TOGETHER / ZUSAMMENLEBEN, Thomas Fürhapter (Austria, 2022, 90 min.) – Regional premiere

19. MICROBIOME, Stavros Petropoulos (Greece, 2021, 27 min.) – Regional premiere

20. NO PLACE FOR YOU IN OUR TOWN / NIAMASH MIASTO V NASHIA GRAD, Nikolay Stefanov (Bulgaria, 2022, 81 min.) – Regional premiere

21. RIBS / REBRA, Farah Hasanbegović (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal, 2022, 9 min.) – Regional premiere

22. MUSEUM OF THE REVOLUTION / MUZEJ REVOLUCIJE, Srđan Keča (Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, 2021, 91 min.) - B&H premiere


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Robert Kirchhoff: Dubcek

Written 09-07-2022 15:07:04 by Tue Steen Mller

This is a copy paste of an article at FNE from yesterday:

Slovak director Robert Kirchhoff is currently in postproduction with his creative documentary All Men Become Brothers / Všetci ľudia budú bratia. The film is produced by Kirchhoff´s atelier.doc and coproduced by the Radio and Television Slovakiaendorfilm (Czech Republic) and the Czech Television.

The production took place from 2018 to 2021 on locations in Kyrgyzstan, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Turkey and Slovakia. Personalities of domestic and foreign politics and culture, such as Romano Prodi, Umberto Eco, Pavel Kohout, Karel Vachek, Jáchym Topol, Petr Pithart, Eugen Gindl, and many orhers will appear in the film.

The figure of the Slovak politician Alexander Dubcek (1921-1992) is followed throughout the 20th century in situational circumstances revealing the internal conflicts of the personality of the politician, as well as of the society.

„The filming and organisation of the film were extremely demanding. They concerned an extensive collection of material including work with archival sources and protagonists from different parts of the world, where Dubcek left his mark. It also involved hundreds of hours of material in the range of 60 terabytes,“ director and producer Robert Kirchhoff told FNE.

The estimated budget of 372,864 EUR is supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, Creative Europe and the Czech Film Fund.

The international release is planned for November 2022, while the domestic premiere in Slovakia and the Czech Republic is scheduled for the spring of 2023.


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DANISH DOC FILM HERITAGE

Written 07-07-2022 20:29:32 by Tue Steen Mller

The Danish Film Institute is launching another large-scale effort to make the Danish film heritage widely available, this time focusing on the key period of documentaries from 1960-1990. 

Danish documentaries are on a roll, both at home and abroad. Real life told in film is compelling.

But while Danes in their twenties and thirties have an abundance of images of their lives right at hand, most of the population is cut off from watching documentaries from the time they came of age. Most Danish documentaries from 1960-1990 currently exist only as hard-to-access analogue material.

That’s about to change. Over the next four years, 700 of the best works from the period will be digitised and disseminated in Denmark and the Nordic region. This extraordinary effort will ensure the distribution of film narratives from a watershed era in the history of Danish documentaries that would otherwise be lost and forgotten.

'Denmark on Film' in a Nordic perspective

Since the establishment in 2015 of the Danish Film Institute’s streaming site for historical documentaries, 'Denmark on Film', more than 2000 films have been made available online, drawing a steadily growing number of viewers.

Greenland and Iceland are already on board. Now, the new project will help turn the site into a 'Nordic Nations on Film', where Swedish and Norwegian film archives can also make their documentary film heritage available, contributing to a stronger shared understanding of Nordic culture. 

Danish Film Institute CEO Claus Ladegaard says, 

"As sources of diverse, easily communicated experiences and understanding of how society has developed over the last half century, documentaries are unrivalled. Documentaries provide a vivid introduction to who we were, what moved people in the past, how we built our society and what shapes us today. This project is uniquely relevant as a platform for the Danish Film Institute's ambitions in film dissemination. It’s about raising awareness of history, stimulating dialogue and debate, and creating a shared horizon of interpretation.”

Explore the historical streaming site Denmark on Film, which includes a section of English-language films, Welcome to Denmark.

About the project

The project is made possible by grants from the Aage and Johanne Louis-Hansen Foundation and the Augustinus Foundation, which are each contributing 5 million kroner (approx. 675,000 euros) to the digitisation and dissemination of the selected films. 

In addition, the A.P. Møller Foundation is donating 3.5 million kroner (approx. 470,000 euros) to the establishment of a new Nordic web portal for Danish, Swedish and Norwegian documentaries to promote cohesion in the Nordic Nations and bring international exposure. The Danish Film Institute itself is putting 6.1 million kroner (approx. 820,000 euros) into the project.

The project, which will begin in January 2023, will be operated in partnership with the National Library of Norway in Oslo and the Swedish Film Archive in Stockholm.


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Rue du Premier Film

Written 20-06-2022 15:37:09 by Tue Steen Mller

Rue du Premier Film

Lyon. June 2022. Rue du Premier Film... a visit I had been looking fwd. to, the museum of the Lumière Brothers in the villa of their family, the Cinema on the same side of the street, the café on the other side and the library. Lovely to be there with the museum as the highlight with the possibility of watching the film again at the right place, the place where the workers were leaving the factory in 1895. Three versions. A documentary, yes, but also a fiction as the employees of the Lumière factories were directed to leave the factory, which is no longer there but the museum includes a model of how the usines looked like and where exactly was the exit of the film. Documentary? Fiction? How stupid of us that we still have this discussion with current films. Yes, FILMS they were, made the brothers Louis and Auguste all over the world and fantastic to be reminded of the audience reaction, when The Arrival of a Train at la Ciotat was shown. The train was "targeting" the spectators, who fled the cinema in fear!

The museum is very well organised in the rich villa with chandeliers, paintings by the father Antoine, his bedroom is shown, and there is a video library where you can study loads of the one minute films shot on 35mm by photographers working for the brothers. And for those who are interested in cameras and the development of them, it's all there. I am sure Danish documentary father Jørgen Roos has visited the museum and enjoyed the camera collection.

It was first of all a pleasant stay in this holy place for the cinema, you get the impression of how entertaining it must have been to discover he possibilities of Cinema. A treasure it is, well kept and welcoming at the same time as it is non-commercial. 


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Alexandru Solomon: Cold Waves

Written 19-06-2022 21:40:35 by Tue Steen Mller

The Romanian director – and cinematographer – and producer - and festival organizer of One World Romania – Alexandru Solomon is being celebrated at the Transilvania International Film Festival in Cluj that runs now and until the 26th of June. I discovered that through FB where a fascinating clip is shown of his 2007 masterpiece “Cold Waves”, one of the three films at the festival. I know how good a filmmaker Solomon is but had forgotten if I had seen this cold war film. Luckily it is available on https://dafilms.com, the excellent platform for quality documentary films, praised on this site again and again.

155 minutes, divided into three parts that take you to Radio Free Europe’s fantastic achievement bringing radio broadcasts to Romanians, who were fed with the daily propaganda of Ceausescu. The RFE people were in constant danger of being caught and brought to silence by the regime’s Securitate. RFE operated from abroad – Germany and Czech Republic – and Solomon includes the protagonists in his film, both those who were outside and those who stayed in the country, and those who remember what RFE meant to them. Here is the synopsis from DocAlliance site:

”During the 80’s, Radio Free Europe was the secret relief and confidant of its Romanian listeners. The Radio was Ceausescu’s most important enemy; he even hired Carlos the Jackal to close it down. All the protagonists of this story confront themselves once more in COLD WAVES: speakers of the radio, along with terrorists, listeners as well as party and Securitate officials, Romanians, Germans, Americans and French alltogether.”

“…The world has changed, there are different wars now. But if you listen to the voices, you may get a better picture.

The film played for 12 weeks in Romanian theatres. It deals with the love and hate story between Radio Free Europe, the Romanian audiences and the communist regime.”

The film? Totally fresh, full of fine cinematic solutions, I was never bored, I met some charismatic people, who fought for freedom from communism, but I also met a man who worked for Securitate and denies that the service did anything wrong and had nothing to do with the deaths of three of the RFE leaders. He is now (in 2007) in the Romanian parliament! In other words: Great film!

Romania, 155 mins., 2007 


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DOK Leipzig News

Written 15-06-2022 13:30:09 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig News

DOK Leipzig will host its 65th edition in local cinemas and venues once again — a decision that signals the festival’s continued commitment to bringing back cinema culture and shared festival experiences.

From 17 to 23 October, DOK Leipzig will screen new documentary and animated films from around the world, along with creative XR works and thematic film programmes. The team looks forward to welcoming numerous international filmmakers and guests to Leipzig, where works will be explored with audiences at film talks and master classes. Turning the focus back to on-site events is the festival’s response to the need for direct exchanges among visitors and industry professionals — which were missing in the last two years due to pandemic adjustments.

However, some of the online features will continue in a reduced format, including recorded film talks. Selected films will again be available on demand throughout Germany via "DOK Stream" following the festival, with this year’s lineup focusing on the award winners.

DOK Industry is also prioritising a return to physical attendance at events for film professionals. Some areas will still be accessible online, such as livestreams of project presentations and talks, along with two days of post-festival digital networking for participants.

As in previous years, this year's festival poster design was created by Leipzig graphic artist Stefan Ibrahim. It features the key to an old East German-style lock, which many audience members may still recognise. Further key imagery will be sprinkled throughout the festival’s in-person and online offerings for audiences to discover.

“We deliberately allowed for many interpretations with our design," festival director Christoph Terhechte says. "The films and works in our programme are united by their curiosity about the world. They open up new perspectives and previously unknown worlds, so to speak. But the key is also always a symbol of home — people who have to leave their homes often keep their apartment key as a symbol of connection to their home, their origins and past. As a festival with an East German history, we opted for a key style from the German Democratic Republic."

A number of festival themes have already been selected. DOK Leipzig will emphasise its long-standing connection to Eastern Europe with a programme of current feature-length films that offer insights into life in the region’s countries. The festival will also increase support for networking among documentary and animation filmmakers through new formats. Additionally, four of the programmes will explore the different artistic styles of animated film.

This year’s Retrospective will focus on documentary works by female filmmakers from the GDR. The Homage is dedicated to renowned Serbian documentary filmmaker Mila Turajlić, whose work explores the historical significance of moving images. Two other programmes feature films that address the climate crisis, resource scarcity and environmental activism.

From today through 15 July, festival fans can secure Early Dove accreditation at a discounted rate for access to film screenings, talks with inspiring guests and industry events.

Free tickets for film screenings are available to anyone who takes part in DOK Leipzig's audience survey. The festival wants to get to know viewers better by gathering feedback from past and future visitors. The English version of the survey is available from 20 June via dok-leipzig.de.

Films and XR works can still be submitted until 1 July. The deadline for the DOK Co-Pro Market is 21 July.


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AWARDS of the 62st Krakow Film Festival

Written 07-06-2022 16:22:46 by Tue Steen Mller

DRAGON OF DRAGONS AWARD for the contribution into development of the world animated film

JARMO JÄÄSKELÄINEN (Finland)

KFF RECOMMENDATION to the European Film Award in a documentary category 

BOYLESQUE, dir. Bogna Kowalczyk (Poland)

INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION 

Having watched all the competitive films the International Documentary Jury of the 62st Krakow Film Festival consisting of: Till Brockmann – chairman (Switzerland), Christine Camdessus (France), Ohad Milstein (Israel), Petrula Veljanovska (North Macedonia), Agnieszka Zwiefka (Poland) has decided to award the following prizes:

THE GOLDEN HORN for the director of the best film – Denis Dobrovoda for The Cathedral (Slovakia)

THE SILVER HORN for the director of the film with high artistic values – Shaunak Sen for All That Breathes (USA, United Kingdom, India)

THE SILVER HORN for the director of the film on social issues – Laura Sistero for Tolyatti Adrift (Spain)

SPECIAL MENTION for The Hamlet Syndrome directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski (Poland, Germany)

SPECIAL MENTION for Fragile Memory directed by Igor Ivanko (Ukraine, Slovakia)

The FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Jury consisting of: Nino Kovačić (Croatia),  Yun-Hua Chen (Taiwan), Giuseppe Sedia (Italy) has decided to award the International Film Critics Prize to Hirotoshi Takeoka  for Adamiani (Japan, The Netherlands)

INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION

Having watched all the competition films, the International Short Film Jury consisting of: Juliusz Machulski – chairman (Poland), Olga Lucovnicova (Moldova), Andrea Martignoni (Italy), Anita Reher (Denmark) and Amer Salmeen Al Murry (United Arab Emirates), has decided to award the following prizes:

GOLDEN DRAGON for the director of the best film – Jay Rosenblatt for How Do You Measure A Year? (USA)

SILVER DRAGON for the director of the best documentary film – Raúl de la Fuente Calle and Amaia Ramirez for Maldita. A Love Song to Sarajevo (Spain)

SPECIAL MENTION for Hardcore directed by Adán Aliaga (Spain)

SILVER DRAGON for the director of the best animated film – Diana Cam Van Nguyen for Love, Dad (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

SPECIAL MENTION for A Goat’s Spell directed by Gerhard Funk (Germany)

SILVER DRAGON for the director of the best short fiction film – Karolina Porcari for Victoria (Poland)

SPECIAL MENTION for The Swarmers directed by Alison Kuhn (Germany)

Jury Award for the Best European Film (Krakow Candidate to the European Film Award 2022 in the short film category) – Diana Cam Van Nguyen for Love, Dad (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

The International Federation of Film Societies (FICC) Jury consisting of: Eugene Dugan-Brause (United Kingdom), Ritesh Basak (Indie), Karolina Nowacka (Polska) has decided to grant the Don Quixote Award to the film Parizad directed by Mehdi Imani Shahmiri (Iran) and the Special Mention to the film: Love, Dad directed by Diana Cam Van Nguyen (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

INTERNATIONAL DOCFILMMUSIC COMPETITION

Having watched all the competition films, the International DocFilmMusic Competition Jury consisting of: Włodek Pawlik – chairman (Polska), Roman Gutek (Polska) and Robert Kirchhoff (Slovakia) has decided to award the following prizes:

GOLDEN HEYNAL for the director of the best film – Lucie Králová for Kapr Code (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

SPECIAL MENTION for Cesária Évora directed by Ana Sofia Fonseca (Portugal)

NATIONAL COMPETITION

Having watched all the competition films, the National Competition Jury consisting of: Piotr Stasik – chairman, Daria Kopiec, Kuba Mikurda, Anna Sienkiewicz-Rogowska, Małgorzata Szyła has decided to award the following prizes:

GOLDEN HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best film funded by the President of the Polish Filmmakers Association – Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski for The Hamlet Syndrome (Poland, Germany)

SILVER HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best documentary film over 30 minutes – Bogna Kowalczyk for Boylesque (Poland)

SILVER HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best documentary film under 30 minutes – Marcin Lesisz for The Rocking Horses (Poland)

SILVER HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best animated film – Marta Pajek for Impossible Figures and Other Stories I (Poland, Canada)

SILVER HOBBY-HORSE for the director of the best short fiction film – Michał Toczek for A Dead Marriage(Poland)

The Award of the President of the Polish Filmmakers Association for the best film editing – Milenia Fiedlerfor The Voice (Poland)

Maciej Szumowski Award for remarkable social awareness patronized by ZAIKS– Bartłomiej Żmuda for God and Lunaparks’ Warriors (Poland)

The Award for the best short and documentary films producer in Poland funded by the Polish Producers Alliance (KIPA) and FDR Studio –Magdalena Kamińska and Agata Szymańska (Balapolis) for the film The Hamlet Syndrome (Poland, Germany)

Best Cinematography Award under the patronage of The Polish Society of Cinematographers funded by Black Photon – Wojciech Staroń for the film The Voice (Poland)

THE AUDIENCE AWARD

Boylesque directed by Bogna Kowalczyk (Poland)


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Pere Puigbert: El Vent Que Ens Mou

Written 31-05-2022 16:42:04 by Tue Steen Mller

The google translate of the Catalan title goes like this: “The Wind that Moves Us” for the film, that won the first prize in the DocsBarcelona Latitud category. And I don’t hesitate to say that this was so well deserved, actually I think it is the best film I saw at DocsBarcelona 2022, the 25thedition. Far from the journalistic tradition of Catalan documentary, much closer to the Baltic tradition of poetic documentary that I have praised so many times on this site: Few words, images that carry the film, slow film, excellent camera work, a tribute to the world we live in, to the small things in daily life that we often forget about, to the connection between man and nature, the wind that moves us. Filmed in the Empordá region in Catalonia, the Girona area.

Landscapes manipulated by the wind, trees, sheep, apple orchards. An old woman who cries when she thinks about her beloved, late husband, she is now alone, lonely?; no she has her children and grandchildren, and the small blond boy plays a role in her life. “Get the broom”, she says, and he does and he also tries to help her when she frees the walnuts from the shells with a hammer. Otherwise he tumbles around being observed by the camera of his father, director and cameraman, who makes films (from his website) “inspired by nature”. So often his images makes me think of paintings, nature morte or surrealistic landscapes à lá Yves Tanguy or Salvador Dali.

What is a story, it is often discussed at pitching sessions. Here “a pregnant woman eating an apple in the shade of a tree” is a story in all its calmness and insisting on the image. The action? The woman caresses her stomach and it is beautiful because the director-cameraman has put the camera in the right caressing place. The film is full of sequences like this. It is Cinema.

Catalonia, 78 mins., 2021


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DocsBarcelona Films

Written 27-05-2022 12:00:46 by Tue Steen Mller

There is quite a distance from “The Territory” by Alex Pritz to “Maija Isola” by Leena Kilpeläinen. Both are films that have seen selected for the Official Panorama competition program of this year’s DocsBarcelona. “The Territory” is a product made according to the standards of National Geographic, “Maija Isola” is a classic creative documentary on the life of the Finnish artist, whose name is connected to the world famous brand of Marimekko. “The Territory” comes with awards from the Sundance festival, “Maija Isola” has been to design and architecture festivals. “The Territory” is full of music and sound effects, no second you are left alone as a viewer, the sound tells you what to think and feel of the important topic: the Amazon being deforested and the fight to survive for the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people of Brazil. For me a complete over-kill sound-wise, whereas the makers of “Maija Isola” chose to ask the brilliant composer Finnish Sanna Salmenkallio to guide us through the fascinating life of Maija Isola. 

To be honest I had never heard of Maija Isola before so I thought, why the film had been chosen. Watching yesterday, the answer was given. What a life (1927-2001) she had as an artist, a traveller, many men, constantly in the process of creating, with the connection to Marimekko as the backbone. She tells the story herself via her diaries and via her daughter, who lives in a house full of the mother’s creations, it’s a chronologically told adventurous film with lovely archive footage from the places, she went to, Paris being number one, but also Algeria, New York and sometimes back to – mostly – snowy Finland. It is simply a pleasure to be with clever, reflective Maija Isola in her search for what is the meaning of it all. And despite the many love stories her happy moments being alone. It’s a film with many layers and a huge respect for the audience. "Master of Colour and Form" is the subtitles to the film, indeed, we see that!

Diversity has always been what the DocsBarcelona festival has been seeking, I can say so having been involved in the selection until this year. I have written about the fine “Fire of Love”, I liked “Dreaming Walls” about Chelsea Hotel in NY, there were great moments in the French “Penelope My Love” on autistic Penelope and her mother, the director of the film, “A Thousand Fires”, “President” and “Nelly and Nadine” are masterpieces written about on this site before, the same goes for “Myanmar Diaries”, whereas “Aya” is too much staged and made up to be at a documentary film festival.

There are still some films to be seen and some I have forgotten about. That’s how it is at a festival. Awards will be announced tomorrow.

 


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Sara Dosa: Fire of Love

Written 22-05-2022 14:15:22 by Tue Steen Mller

Katia and Maurice. Volcanologists. Scientists and Filmmakers. A couple. Married in 1970. Decided not to have children. That would have prevented them to do their work or with a better phrase: to Live their Passion. The dangerous passion that killed them. A quote from Wikipedia:

”In June 1991, while filming eruptions at Mount Unzen in Japan, they were caught in a pyroclastic flow, which unexpectedly swept out of the channel that previous smaller flows had been following and onto the ridge they were standing on. They were killed instantly along with 41 other people…”

Click above and you will know what a pyroclastic flow is.

Which you actually don’t need to know, it’s enough to watch the unique footage they shot during their work, Katia getting closer and closer to the lava, challenging nature, taking photographs, documenting – with Maurice filming. When they were not rushing from one volcano to the next, they wrote books and made films from their 16mm footage. To earn their living.

I have been to 23 eruptions, Maurice says, so no problem if I die tomorrow…They lived to be 49 and 50. But they live on thanks to this fascinating love story narrated by American Miranda July, whose mesmerizing voice puts it all together information-wise and creates atmosphere.

Love story – the film also includes lovely, charming tv interview clips where the flirt is obvious. He, the performer, she always smiling, what a charisma. Away from the volcanos there was burning love. 

Canada, USA, 2021, 93 mins.


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DocFests in Belgrade and Warsaw

Written 13-05-2022 18:11:32 by Tue Steen Mller

Beldocs in Belgrade started two days ago, Millenium Docs Against Gravity takes off today. The latter in 8 cities and with an online version from May 24.

Both have industry sections and both have a focus on Ukraine. In Belgrade it makes me happy to see that “Outside” by Olha Zhurba closes the festival – and that excellent “Museum of Revolution” by Srđan Keča was the opening film. Both documentaries have been reviewed on this site. In Warsaw is shown “House of Splinters” shot in Ukraine by Simon Lereng Wilmont and co-produced by Ukrainian company Moon Man.

High quality program at both festivals – Let me highlight (Warsaw) “Young Plato” from Ireland by Neasa Ni Chianáin and Declan McGrath as well as the lovely “Skál” by Cecilie Debell and Maria Tórgard, a love story from Faroe Islands. In Belgrade you can only welcome a retrospective of films by elimir ilnik and the great documentary by Mantas Kvedaravičius“Mariupolis” (PHOTO on FB link) from 2016. (I just read that the film material Mantas was shooting in Mariupolis has been edited and will be shown in Cannes.) In memoriam of a fine filmmaker murdered by the Russians in the war.

… and then Belgrade has a Danish focus without any actual reason but thanks for that and for showing Jørgen Leth’s classic “The Perfect Human” and “The Five Obstacles”, made together with Lars von Trier. More about Beldocs here:

https://www.beldocs.rs/en/films/

Back to Warsaw where the festival runs all year round as it says: with an online platform, with distribution in cinemas and a considerable number of audience. To quote the site of the festival:

The cinema section, taking place in seven cities (for the tenth time in Wrocław!), attracted 65 295 attendees. Viewership numbers of the online section add up to 40 418 e-tickets. Assuming that most people don’t watch movies alone, our online audience must have been larger: international festivals multiply online viewership numbers by 1.7. Therefore, our online edition reached a total of 68 711 people. The total number of attendees of the 18th edition of our festival, which ended last Sunday, is 134 006.

Take a look at the program:

https://mdag.pl/19/en/warszawa/sections


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Marusya Syroechkovskaya: How to Save a Dead Friend

Written 09-05-2022 11:56:02 by Tue Steen Mller

Filmed by Kimi Morev and Marusya Syroechkovskaya 

Edited by Qutaiba Barhamji

Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, 103 mins., 2022

I have previously posted a beautiful text by Marusya - http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/5021/

 

where she writes about her film. 

I write this using her first name. I met her in Moscow in 2019, and in Riga, and in Prague talking about/pitching her film that I am totally in love with and have seen a couple of times. Together with producer Ksenia Gapchenko.

The title could also have been “Marusya and Kimi” putting the focus on what it is, a love story, with a start, a middle and an end – told in a film language that is touching, that is sweet and funny – and sad as it evolves, with the self-destruction of Kimi, who dives more and more into using hard drugs and “looks at the camera and not at me” as Marusya says. A tragic love story, yes, but full of warm scenes with the two, scenes you can only characterize as poetic.

Poetic: When I met Marusya in Moscow, she tried to explain – in vain – the system where you can create music by touching the image. I still don’t understand it but the film shows me, when Marusya’s fingers on a photography go from the head of Kimi to his arms and hands, to his legs and feet. Amazing!

Not to forget the many faces of Marusya being filmed by Kimi, caressing her, teasing her saying that he wants close-ups of her pimples, or caught when she is posing for the camera or dancing as if she was Anna Karina in a Godard film.

The music plays an important role in the film. Nirvana, Kurt Cobain – it’s not my generation’s music, I am older, much older, from the generation of “happiness is a warm gun in hand” as Lennon sang. 

As the film progresses Marusya, they were married and divorced, continues to film Kimi, she becomes more and more one who documents, what happens to him, who “has been in and out of a mental hospital five times in two years”.

It’s not easy for her so she also turns her camera, her shield, towards Andryusha, the 18 year older brother of Kimi, a lost soul, who reflects on how much better and easier it is to die from an overdosis…and she follows a couple of times their strong mother introduced up-front in the film at the funeral of Kimi: He had so much pain, Marusya, she says.

The love story is told voice-off by Marusya, the right solution, with breaks of documentary archive material from riots in the streets where demonstrations are being “handled” with brutality – and with clips from new year speeches of the President of Russia.

That is not so important for me, when I think about the film I return to the sequences of love and hope and passion of the two. How – funny and sad – how Marusya sees how their life could have been, followed by the surrealistic floating ending of the high-rise buildings, where they were together. Superb, simply.

I knew in beforehand how good an editor Qutaiba Barhamjiis is – what he has done here is extraordinary. There is so much tense energy in all the scenes. He lives in France, Marusya and Ksenia have left Russia, wish them all the best whereever they are.


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Sidabrinė gervė 2022

Written 05-05-2022 16:23:57 by Tue Steen Mller

The national award ceremony in Lithuania takes place 6th of June. With many categories and a lot of nominations attached. I take a look at the ones for Best Documentary that has a very strong line-up. 

I had seen four of the five but got a link to the fifth Mončys. emaitis iš Paryiaus (Re. Linas Mikuta, Prod. Jurga Gluskinienė), a well-made classical (good cinematography, fine mix between archive, shots from France and Lithuania including interviews with his sister and sons) bio about the interesting Antanas Moncys, who performed his sculpturing art in – primarily – Paris but kept his cultural roots in his works, being a samogitian, i.e. from a region in the North-East of Lithuania. Shame on me who has been to Lithuania so many times, being ignorant about Moncys, but now I know about a great artist working from wood and at the next voyage I will try to visit the museum dedicated to him in Palanga.

No further intro needed to  Mr. Landsbergis. Sugriauti blogio imperiją (Re. Sergei Loznitsa, Prod. Uljana Kim)that I saw at IDFA, where it received the main award and where the protagonist, professor Landsbergis, was present to talk to the audience after the screening for more than an hour. Charisma is the word. What a man!Read more here: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4991/

And I am getting sad to write about  Pavyzdingas elgesys (Re. Audrius Mickevičius, Nerijus Milerius, Prod. Rasa Miškinytė), such a great film (English title: Exemplary Behaviour), read all about it here: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4648/ The sadness comes from knowing Audrius M. and his long preparation for a film that he could not see finished himself, he died in 2017.

And ”The Jump” by Giedré Z, an international film success, loads of festivals and awards already, an amazing achievement by the director, who has been present at so many festivals to meet the audience and has taken care of the national distribution herself.  Šuolis (Re. Giedrė ickytė, Prod. Giedrė ickytė, Uldis Cekulis) Read more: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4125/

Švelnūs kariai (Re. Marija Stonytė, Prod. Giedrė ickytė) – ”Gentle Warriors”, a debut of the young talented director with Giedre Z. as producer. I saw it being pitched, I saw a very promising rough cut but have not seen the final film that also has had a fine distributed in Lithuania. 


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