Filmkommentaren

Kim Longinotto: Shooting the Mafia

Written 16-02-2019 11:10:53 by Tue Steen Mller

Kim Longinotto: Shooting the Mafia

Kim Longinotto, in her latest film presented at this week’s Berlinale (and already shown at last Sundance), portrays the Italian photographer Letizia Battaglia who has documented the Sicilian mafia over more than four decades. Battaglia happened by chance to become a photographer for the Palermo daily „L’Ora“, when – almost already 40 - she asked for a job as a journalist during the Sicilian summer holidays. After just a few days of work, she had to report her first mafia assassination. Over the years, Letizia Battaglia has become the woman who has seen an immense number of crime scenes, burials and finally court trials. Her mostly black and white pictures have been shown in museums and exhibitions around the world.



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Scott Barley : Sleep Has Her House/ 2

Written 15-02-2019 12:08:35 by Tue Steen Mller

Scott Barley : Sleep Has Her House/ 2

It was one of the magnificent 7 films in the Belgrade festival last year in June and now it goes to ZagrebDox in the Slow Dox section. Go and see it – it is something special as the two texts here underlign, the first one is from the website of the festival, the second one is what I wrote after the screening in Belgrade :

A spectral landscape where human traces have completely disappeared. Only animals under the cover of darkness quietly await the arrival of a mystic spirit diffusing over the forest basins. This feature-length cinematic nocturne is a nightmare, a romantic excursion into unbridled wilderness, and an apocalyptic vision in one. Employing slowly passing images of dusky and seemingly deserted landscapes, Barley envelops nature in a cloak of impenetrable mystery, transcendental repose, and chilling expectation.

Painting with an I-phone! I had the most amazing aesthetic experience for a long time in the cinema yesterday night at the Kombank Dvorana cinema during the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade. 90 minutes with landscapes, rivers, valleys, woods, sunset, barely visible graphic prints on the film screen, from pleasure to nightmare, no dialogue, cinema pur, a rollercoaster of impressions and associations remembering our Danish master Per Kirkeby seeing some of the colourful images, created by Scott Barley, a visual artist using the film medium, making a visual installation in the dark room that the cinema constitutes, thinking of Casper David Friedrich of course but also of Muybridge and his horses or maybe better of the white horse in Pirjo Honkasalo’s “Three Rooms of Melancholia” – and towards the end it’s Götterdämmerung without Wagner but with lightning and thunder at a sound level that made me want to hold my ears and close my eyes to avoid the epileptic seizures that I could have inherited from my father. I can’t remember being so much physically attacked by the film medium. I read that the director is born in 1992, this Anselm Kiefer of cinema, gosh I was suffering with this nightmarish pleasure!

http://zagrebdox.net/en/2019/program/dox_special/slow_dox/sleep_has_her_house


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ZagrebDox 2019

Written 14-02-2019 14:58:50 by Tue Steen Mller

ZagrebDox 2019

Step by Step is the way that Croatian ZagrebDox festival has followed to announce its program for the 15th edition. The last couple of days the inviting website of the festival – link below – has told its readers what to expect in the competitive sections at the festival that starts February 24 and goes on until March 3. There are 18 films in the regional and 19 in the international category, plus ”Happy Dox“, „Biography Dox”, ”Controversial Dox”, ”Masters of Dox”, ”State of Affairs”… and more.

In the regional competition you will find films praised on this site, Eszter Hajdú’s brave critical film from ”Hungary 2018” and Claudia Tosi’s ”I Had a Dream” (photo) that also deals with politics through two – the word again – brave wonderful women. Also I can warmly recommend the short film ”In Between“ by Samir Karahoda from Kosovo, it has style and message.

From the International program loyal readers of this site might remember the text about Andrei Kutsila’s beautiful and thoughtful ”Summa”, those who can read Danish ”Island of the Ghosts”, reviewed and loved by colleague Allan Berg, the promising 1968-film ”My Unknown Soldier” by Anna Kryvenko and ”The Raft” by Marcus Lindeen.

I will be at the festival – looking very much to be present at a festival that has a high quality – short and long documentaries, award winning films from all over. Read all about it, good texts present the program on the site:

http://zagrebdox.net/en/2019/home


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Torquil Jones & Gabriel Clarke: Bobby Robson

Written 09-02-2019 14:34:43 by Tue Steen Mller

Torquil Jones & Gabriel Clarke: Bobby Robson

--- with the subtitle “More than a Manager” is a well-made classic football documentary about the legendary Englishman, who played football 20 times for England and was a coach/manager for more than 50 years, not only in England but abroad in Holland, Portugal, Spain before he returned to his last job in the club, that was very close to his heart, Newcastle United. With classic I mean, interviews with players who praises Robson, archive with him, clips from games.

Bobby Robson (Sir Robert William Robson) (1933-2009) was a true British gentleman, an old school coach, for several of the players a father figure like for Paul Gascoigne, Gazza, this fantastic player who later on spoilt his carreer through alcoholism. In the film Gazza comes back several times saying how Robson was always checking how he was. To help him. The same for Brazilian Ronaldo, who was 19 when Robson took him to FC Barcelona supported by Danish coach, former star Frank Arnesen, who had discovered Ronaldo and brought him to PSV Eindhoven.

There are wonderful clips from Ronaldo’s stay at Barca in 1996-1997 and this year is in many ways the focus of the film. Robson loved to be in Barcelona but the fans did not like his kind of football, even if the won titles for the Catalan club. He took over from Johan Cruyff and his style was not appreciated. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola, who was playing for Barca that year, praises him, as does Robson’s “translator”, José Mourinho, who learned from him – well, my comment, the gentlemanship he did not take with him! At a press conference you see Robson, who had just been sacked next to the new coach, Dutch van Gaal... no charisma at all!

If not for him, I would not have had a career, says Gary Lineker (the best coach England has ever had, is another sentence from the brilliant goal scorer), the same goes for another great player Alan Shearer, who stresses that Robson saved Newcastle United.

The private Bobby Robson is also in the film. His widow talks nicely about their life together, and one of the sons, with private archive and information about how he overcome a handful cancer operations, except fort he last one...

England, 2018, 100 mins. Available on Netflix.   


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DocPoint 2019 Summing Up

Written 04-02-2019 19:56:40 by Tue Steen Mller

DocPoint 2019 Summing Up

A total of 107 films were screened at DocPoint Festival in more than 260 screenings, a fifth of which were sold out. The documentary film event for children and young people, DOKKINO, organised in connection with the festival, gained 3 000 visitors. “I am pleased that a diverse festival audience was again inspired by documentary films”, says the Executive Director of the DocPoint-elokuvatapahtumat association Tapio Riihimäki. ”The good vibe and the warm atmosphere at DocPoint screenings is noteworthy and our international filmmaker guests have also remarked upon it.”

The most viewed film during the festival week was GENESIS 2.0 (Photo), the startling journey of the director Christian Frei to the core of cloning and ethics. Among the most popular films at the festival were AQUARELA depicting the power of water, OUR NEW PRESIDENT and FAHRENHEIT 11/9 both analysing Donald Trump’s ascent to power but from different viewpoints, and the poetic CIELO, of which all four screenings were sold out. Of the Finnish premieres, the biggest audiences were drawn by Reetta Huhtanen’s GODS OF MOLENBEEK and Arthur Franck’s THE HYPNOTIST.

The DocPoint audience and Tue Steen Müller, the Danish film critic making this year’s Critic’s Choice, were unanimous: the winner of the Audience Award GODS OF MOLENBEEK is also the Critic’s Choice. Müller says: “The filmmaker has cleverly made a film that puts the magic of childhood in the foreground as a comment to the world around the two boys. It is charming! This film will travel the world.”

Give us feedback!, please We’d love to here from you – and arrange an even better festival again next year! The 19th DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival, it will take place from 27th January to 2nd February 2020. See you there!

https://docpointfestival.fi/en/blog/2019/02/04/diverse-audiences-inspired-by-docpoint-festival/


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Honeyland Wins 3 Awards at Sundance

Written 03-02-2019 09:51:33 by Tue Steen Mller

Honeyland Wins 3 Awards at Sundance

He was right Atanas Georgiev, the producer and editor of the film "Honeyland", when he said that it was close to be a masterpiece and hmmm, I was right when I gave it the highest marks in a review the other day http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4449/ Here is what I took from the Indiewire website:

World Cinema Documentary Competition

Grand Jury Prize – “Honeyland,” directors: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov

Directing – “Cold Case Hammarskjold,” director: Mads Brugger

Special Jury Award for No Borders – “Midnight Traveler,” director: Hassan Fazili

Special Jury Prize for Impact for Change – “Honeyland,” directors: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov

Special Jury Award for Cinematography – “Honeyland,” Fejmi Daut, Samir Legume

Three awards out of five, wow! Mads Brügger's film will be reviewed in connection with its Danish premiere February 7.


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Reetta Huhtanen: Gods of Molenbeek

Written 03-02-2019 09:08:53 by Tue Steen Mller

Reetta Huhtanen: Gods of Molenbeek

Oh childhood with all your curiosity and innocence! Where the world is open for you, where you can ask all kind of questions. Where you can wish for everything, which is what the two boys do in Finnish debut director (for long documentaries) Reetta Huhtanen’s remarkable film “Gods of Molenbeek”.

I want a God as Amine, says 6 year old Aatos to his mother, who is Finnish, his father is from Chile. He goes to a French language school, whereas his close friend Amine’s parents are from Morocco. Amine goes to an Arabic



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Talal Derki: Of Fathers and Sons

Written 02-02-2019 08:11:46 by Tue Steen Mller

Talal Derki: Of Fathers and Sons

DOCS & TALKS 2019 / CINEMATEKET 04/02 14:00 / ØST FOR PARADIS 26/2 17:00

 It stands out. I can not avoid superlatives. And I can not express in words, in a language that is not mine, how I feel after having seen Talal Derki's new film. Or how I felt while watching it. It is a film that hurts and makes you depressed, sad is too weak a word; it goes to the heart and to the stomach; two boys and a father who loses a foot - it's all destined by the prophet, he says - the upbringing to Jihad, to kill the enemy, i.e. us, a film that is so well made, with a camera that caresses the face of Osama, the kid, who turns to the camera before he is transported to the sharia school. It's an unbearable scene, he hugs his brother Ayman, who stays to go to school. The film shows, how hate is built up and also how love always looks like between a father and his sons. I stop here full of admiration for a filmmaker, who formulates his ambition in a text taken from the film's website:

"fter my film RETURN TO HOMS, which was about the young rebel Basit Sarout and his comrades, I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to penetrate the psychology and the emotions of this war, understand what made people radicalize and what drives them to live under the strict rules of an Islamic state. In the media, war is often portrayed as a chess game and Islam is labeled as evil. If we see the images of war, we get the feeling that it is a unreal parallel world. In OF FATHERS AND SONS, I want to establish a direct relationship between the protagonists and the audience. I would like to take my audience with me on my journey and communicate with them through my camera.

The main characters of my film are Abu Osama (45), one of the founders of Al-Nusra, the Syrian arm of Al-Qaeda, and his two eldest sons Osama (13) and Ayman (12). I have been living with them over the period of 2.5 years and became a part of their family. Although I am an atheist, I prayed with them every day and led the life of a good Muslim to find out, what is happening in my country. Abu Osama is not only a loving father, but also a specialist for car bomb attacks and the disposal of mines. He deeply believes in an Islamic society under the laws of the Shari'ah, the Caliphate, and therefore he also places his children at its service.



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Doc People at DocPoint

Written 01-02-2019 11:34:09 by Tue Steen Mller

Doc People at DocPoint

Lovely to meet documentary colleagues in Helsinki at the DocPoint. You get to talk private matters, food and drinks – and documentaries. Have you seen… ah, you should see… what is your next destination… Already when arriving in the airport I could hug Artchil Khetagouri and Ileana Stanculescu, who are in charge of the CinéDoc-Tbilisi (http://www.cinedoc-tbilisi.com/) in May. I can warmly recommend the festival in the wonderful city with the wonderful cuisine and wine and chacha.

At my age, being around for decades you are happy, when you remember the good old times, where television editors could take , and took risks. And there she was, outside the Savoy Theatre, Eila Werning, who worked for YLE, the Finnish broadcasting company, and who very often at pitching sessions said ”I don’t know where to put it (slot-wise) but I love your project, so I will take it and find a way”. A decision maker, where most of those editors who go to IDFA and other sessions can not make a decision but have to pitch to several other people placed further up in the system. Eila Werning told me that she during xmas time had used a recipe, that she had been given by my wife many many years ago at a documentary event in Skopje. Werning does not live in Helsinki but had come for the festival and had just seen ”Putin’s Witnesses” by Vitalyi Mansky, who came to say hello. I asked him if he was about to break the record of festivals for his film… So far 60 festivals, he said, crazy, but just think what that means in terms of audience! Bravo!

I walked to some screenings with Latvian Zane Balcus, who is film museum director and took part in the Baltic Sea Forum 2018. She is a true film lover and film critic and she promised me to make a follow up on the great story (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4443/) on the finding of the director’s cut version of Uldis Brauns masterpiece ”235.000.000” from 1967. A film that, when a copy is ready, deserves to be at festivals all over.

Yes, film history, and again it was a pleasure to attend Helena Trestikova’s masterclass. As at IDFA 2018 she is the honorary guest of the DocPoint festival. And as usual she was 100% prepared, showing clips from her long-term observation films “René”, “Katka”, “Mallory” and “A Marriage Story”. From the latter clips were shown from first day of shooting, 20 years later and 35 years later. Marvellous. She talked about ethics, the relationship between director and protagonist – the latter with a fantastic dialogue clip from “Rene”. It was a fine masterclass with a small: But the moderator should be told to speak louder and more clear, and address the audience...

That’s all for now. Three more Finnish screenings and I will tell you which Finnish documentary I think is the best one this year.

Photo: Helena Trestikova.

https://docpointfestival.fi/en/


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DocPoint 2019

Written 01-02-2019 09:23:32 by Tue Steen Mller

DocPoint 2019

The 18th  edition of the Finnish documentary film festival is going on right now and until Sunday in a Finnish capital full of snow – I have been moving very slow from cinema to cinema, luckily they are very close to each other in the centre, to avoid falling. We are not used to that much snow in Denmark any longer.

I was here for the first edition of a festival founded by and still run by filmmakers. Tapio Riihimäki, executive director of Docpoint, tells me that the festival is expected to have around 30.000 spectators – and he says so having already arranged several extra screenings because of sold out films of the over 260 screenings!

107 films, the best of the best from all over the world, masterclasses and two awards, the Audience award for the best Finnish documentary and a critic’s choice. That’s why I am here, as a critic for filmkommentaren.dk to pick the best from my point of view, and write a review to be published this coming Sunday or Monday. 7 screenings, some of them with several films. A nice job to have, a good atmosphere, a couple of full houses I have attended since I came here Wednesday, welcomed by Tapio and an old friend John Webster, who is chairman of the board with a strong filmography. Having three films in the pipeline!

I have met many doc colleagues in the couple of days, I have been here, more about that in another blogpost.

https://docpointfestival.fi/en/


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T. Kotevska & Ljubomir Stefanov: Honeyland

Written 31-01-2019 15:42:45 by Tue Steen Mller

T. Kotevska & Ljubomir Stefanov: Honeyland

… T for Tamara, L for Ljubomir, producer and editor Atanas Georgiev, camerapersons Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma.

Composition of the image. Finding the rythm of the film. The tone. It’s all about form that you have to think about before you start filming. Does form come before content. Or said in modern documentary language, does form come before story. But what is story? Is it two bees crawling on a leaf? Or two bees fighting outside the beehive?

It’s all there in this beautiful documentary. Composition knowledge. Superb editing. Excellent camerawork. When you are outside in the vast rocky valley, where Atidze grow bees, and inside when she – born in 1964 – is in the hut with her 85 year old mother, who is lying in her bed and has been doing so for four years. There is no electricity which has given the camerapersons the opportunity to create the most amazing images with light from candles. The faces of daugther and mother, like paintings from Dutch masters.

Atidze knows the presence of the camera. Sometimes a little smile comes to her face as if she is proud to be the protagonist in a film. She is present, when she is caring about her mother and when she is with the neighbours, who come with all their cows – and noise – and children, with whom, at least with one of them, Atidze gets along, when he, the boy, runs away from mum and dad and the other children. He does not run a lot, they are just next door in their camper, trying to survive by growing bees as well. The family does not have the knowledge and understanding as has Atidze, and at the end of the day they are about to destroy her way of surviving. However Atidze cares about the neighbours, especially the kids, there are many magic moments in this film, like when the little girl stands on the doorsteps to the hut with a kitten in her arms. Do you want one, Atidze asks, what colour...

She walks up the mountain, she takes away a piece of stone to see how the bees are, she sings for them, removes the honey to take down and to go to sell in Skopje – far away – or at the marketplace. It’s a unique film!

Macedonia, 2019, 85 mins.


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Elizabeth C. Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin: Free Solo

Written 31-01-2019 08:01:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Elizabeth C. Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin: Free Solo

Some words in English and then some in Danish, as the film premieres in the best Copenhagen art house cinema, Grand Teatret, that takes in many documentaries, which means publicity for the genre, press reviews in daily newspapers and an audence that is willing to buy a ticket for a documentary. Bravo for that.

If it is the right place for this film, that is, as it is launched, “a National Geographic Movie », is another question but it is good for someone like me used to creative/artistic documentaries to be challenged with a well manufactured genre film.

Here is the short description of the film taken from IMDB: “Follow Alex



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Simon Lereng Wilmont: The Distant Barking of Dogs

Written 30-01-2019 09:10:05 by Tue Steen Mller

Simon Lereng Wilmont: The Distant Barking of Dogs

DOCS & TALKS 2019 / CINEMATEKET / SØN 03/02 14:00

The location is Hnutove, Eastern Ukraine, war zone for years. A village from where - for the very same reason – many Ukrainian families have moved away. But not grandmother Alexandra and 10 year old Oleg, the main characters of this remarkable, multi-layered film. Grandmother insists on staying. In the best Danish documentary I have seen this year. A film about Childhood, about Fear, about survival, about Love. Made with love. And cinematic skills on how to build a story, compose the images and put them together with a soundtrack that stresses the atmosphere of the scenes, without killing them.

Oleg and his cousin Yarik are like kids everywhere. They do pillow fights, they fight as kids do, they are crawling around wherever

there is space to crawl, they go swimming in the river, suntanned, they jump in the beds, they wear football shirts… but their outdoor playground is different. Ruins with cartridges, mortars, unexploded mines… in sometimes a constant sound carpet of bombs and the sight of war as flashes of light on the sky. It’s an understatement to say that this constitutes a fragile childhood for the kids.

The grandmother IS love and the director, who is also the cameraman, knows how to convey that to the viewers: Oleg and grandmother walking in the snow in the beginning of the film, to visit the graveyard of Oleg’s mother. The two boys caressing granny in her bed, when she falls ill, Granny ”educating” Oleg when he comes home having shot a frog with the gun of the elder Kostya.



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Duan Makavejev 13.10.1932 25.01.2019

Written 28-01-2019 13:53:59 by Tue Steen Mller

Duan Makavejev 13.10.1932  25.01.2019

Andrijana Stojkovic: I remember when in July 2007 two great film artist – Bergman and Antonioni - “left” during one night… It seemed that the (film) world will never be the same again. And it isn’t. But these last days it gotten even sadder – while the (film) world is reminding of the significance and wonderfully honest art of Jonas Mekas, on Friday we have lost maybe the most free and imaginative film director that ever lived – Dušan Makavejev.

It’s not easy to explain who Makavejev was. His exploration of film art moves through many forms and genres. He’s best known for his fiction films, which included documentary footage, doku-drama, some very unusual work with actors… He played and played and played. Never taking himself too seriously but always provoking us - the audience - and showing us the unexpected.

I travel a lot to film festivals and film markets and listen to film projects in development. Also read many synopses and director’s intentions. In today’s (film) world there is this need to use words like “unusual”, “new”, “original”. We, directors, use it a lot. What I do when I hear this adjectives in someone’s presentation I roll out all Makavejev’s films in my head and it turns out that Makavejev has already used these “unusual”, “new”, “original” approaches in his film(s) maybe 40, 50 or even 60 years ago.

In 2011 I was finishing my debut fiction film and since its script was transformed into a novel, I was invited to a book fair in Pula (Croatia) where I was to show 15 minutes of my still unfinished film. Dušan Makavejev with his wife and long-time collaborator Bojana, were the star guests of the fair. I have invited them to the screening of my film-to-become and they cordially excepted and came. I was so honored and somehow proud to have them in the audience. Especially since my film plays with fiction and documentary forms and uses them in “original” way. And then, during the screening, scenes from Makavejev’s “W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism” and “Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator” came to my mind. He’s already done it! – I thought.

Although, inactive in making films in the recent years, he was tutoring and advising other filmmakers. Joshua Oppenheimer never misses a chance to mention Makavejev’s influence on his films. For us, here in Serbia, Makavejev is the beacon, which reminds us of the way to freedom of expression and importance of artistic freedom.

Dušan Makavejev will be greatly missed.

Andrijana Stojkovic


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Jonas Mekas 1922-2019

Written 24-01-2019 08:38:23 by Tue Steen Mller

Jonas Mekas 1922-2019

Audrius Stonys: Jonas left us. With the same lightness as he used to live. Silently and gently as if he didn’t want to disturb the image of life. We first met in 1990, when he invited us, 10 young filmmakers from Lithuania to his Film Anthology Archive in New York.

The first day he told us a fairy tale about a clear and beautiful image of Paradise. One day this image was destroyed by the devil. It broke in to zillion peaces that scattered all around the world. The filmmakers, he said, are the ones who are looking for those tiny pieces of Paradise trying to put the image back together. The Paradise is not lost, he said. And we believed him. And since then we are collecting those pieces of Paradise.

I always wondered how images of his films could be filled with incredible joy and at the same time deepest existential sadness, indescribable lightness and philosophical depth.

When I asked him that question, he said: I lost too much in my life. And added: Don’t take everything too seriously. He lost his homeland, his landscapes, faces of his loved ones, sound of Lithuanian songs, images of the first snow, that falls on his village. He didn’t want to lose nothing more in his life, not a single second, so he started to film every second of his life.

He never was making films. He was standing in the Desert counting the Seconds of his Life. When Jonas Mekas friend George Maciunas, founder and soul of Fluxus, was dying from cancer in 1978, he said: I am not afraid to die. When I die, I will have a possibility to listen to all seven lost operas of Monteverdi. I am sure, that now, when the count of seconds of life is over, Jonas is standing in front of the complete image of Paradise.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Film Masterpiece found under Daughters Bed!

Written 22-01-2019 20:36:02 by Tue Steen Mller

Film Masterpiece found under Daughters Bed!

This afternoon an important mail reached me – attached with the photo you see above. It came from Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis and film director Kristine Briede, who took the photo. It went like this :

« Dear Tue and Audrius (Stonys), Great news from Riga!

The missing director’s cut of « 235.000.000 » is found in very good condition under the bed at one of Uldis Brauns daughters flat!

Kristine took this legendary picture of Uldis Brauns widow Dainuvite, Latvian Film archive director Dace in the middle and archive techno man. (Unnamed, sorry, as the dog is, ed.).

We have been searching it for years, even last year in Riga at Uldis flat, but last week finally the mystery was resolved.

Will let you know about restoration and digitalisation - it will be done soon, as everyone is bloody enthusiastic, it will be done, we all will get that file! »

Yes, it had been looked for, the cut of Uldis Brauns film, his cut of the film which was



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Oscar Nominations Feature Documentaries

Written 22-01-2019 19:13:36 by Tue Steen Mller

Oscar Nominations Feature Documentaries

Happy for Talal Derki and his "Of Fathers and Sons", the only non-American of the five nominations for an Oscar. Hope that the promotion made for short-listed films like "The Distant Barking of Dogs" and "Communion" will make it easier to reach audiences in the USA. 


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Emir Kusturica: El Pepe, Una Vida Suprema

Written 21-01-2019 14:46:03 by Tue Steen Mller

Emir Kusturica: El Pepe, Una Vida Suprema

They are sitting outside the house of the former president of Uruguay José Pepe Mujica. Pepe and Kusturica. The film director lights his cohiba cigar, Pepe is preparing his mate, spitting out the first tasting, too strong it always is. No words are said, they look at each other, they take their time, smiles are on their faces - an excellent start of a film, where the film director expresses his admiration for the modest man, who after being one of the leaders of the Tuparamos guerilla group that robbed Banks, performed kidnapping and later also went into violence, including killings, was caught and kept 13 years in prison. After his release – after the fall of the military dictatorship - he went into politics and became president of the country 2010-2015. A very popular one as demonstrates the film. Kusturica followed the President on his last day on duty with huge crowds celebrating him – and after the change, in his active retirement where he initiates housing projects and gives money from his own salary to help poverty decrease.

The years in prison were good for me, it made me think, he says in the film,



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Nicolas Philibert

Written 18-01-2019 12:55:07 by Tue Steen Mller

Nicolas Philibert

Filmkommentaren has written much about Nicolas Philibert, French master of documentaries. (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1931/)

I missed his new film at IDFA, but I will catch up asap with a review. In the meantime I have enjoyed reading an interview with the director that came out today in Variety, link below. He talks about documentaries en general, cinema-documentaries and tv-documentaries in connection with his new film, “Each and Every Moment”. The headline of the interview, made by Ben Croll, is „A Director Driven to make a statement can not make Cinema“.

Here is a quote from the interview:

Do you feel like your filmmaking approach has changed over the years?

I’d like to say yes and no. Yes, because each film required a new approach and a method tailored to the world I was exploring. No, because my methods still have a few invariables. I try not to prepare or research much before I start shooting. I need to save my appetite and curiosity for the actual shoot. If I knew too much going in, I wouldn’t want to make the film. Shooting is a process of learning and discovery, of confronting an unknown world. And so I don’t make films from a perch of knowledge, but rather one of ignorance. I don’t try to tell my audience how to think or how to feel, because I don’t know much more than they do. And that’s never changed…

Variety, link


Categories: DVD, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona The War Room

Written 17-01-2019 12:21:11 by Tue Steen Mller

DocsBarcelona The War Room

Well, it was quite friendly but of course there were – and should be – discussions about which films should be taken for the DocsBarcelona 2019 edition in May. On the photo you see the selection group except for the man, who took the photo, Joan Gonzalez, Director of the festival and CEO and founder of Parallel 40. At the end of the table me, Head of Programming, from left Daniel Jariod, filmmaker and teacher, Martina Rogers, visual artist and involved in DocsBarcelona for many years, as is Pol Roig Turró, filmmaker and the most important person for this meeting having coordinated the process, giving the 3 days a good flow, and Diego Mas Trelles, Head of Industry, producer and director.

The process? All members of the group had watched films in beforehand and made their priorities. During the three days 15 films had to be selected for the Panorama section, 8 for the Latitud and 5 for the What the Doc, that is for more daring and innovative documentaries. All of them in competitive sections. On top of that some films were put for special screenings, often with a debate attached. In the coming weeks the staff of DocsBarcelona will contact those whose films have been taken.

A lot more about DocsBarcelona is to be found on

http://www.docsbarcelona.com/en/


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nikolaus Geyrhalter: The Border Fence

Written 15-01-2019 07:57:24 by Tue Steen Mller

Nikolaus Geyrhalter: The Border Fence

This review is written by Georg Zeller, film director & cameraman, Bolzano Italy.

I start my review with a spoiler, the last scene of Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s newest documentary: A group of policemen opens a container full of rolls of wire fence. One of them steps in, everything ok. The officer smiles and says: „This is the famous border fence, we have to inspect it but we hope it will continue to lie here forever.“

In the end, the fence hasn’t been built.  And even policemen appreciate. Maybe because the numbers of people wanting to cross this border on their way to Germany or Sweden were much lower than expected. Maybe because even the politicians planning it, understood that a fence in this very point of Europe would be a strange, if not dangerous sign.

The film examines the atmosphere and reactions when in 2016/17 the idea of building a new fence along



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Vurdering:

 
Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Messi 400

Written 14-01-2019 09:13:37 by Tue Steen Mller

Messi 400

I was there when Andres Iniesta stopped at FC Barcelona, last year – and I was there when Leo Messi made his goal number 400 for Barca. Yesterday. At Camp Nou. The first one, his first goal, was made at 17 years of age May 1st 2005 – you can see it on Youtube, as I did this morning, and you will also be able to enjoy the one and only Ronaldinho, the mentor of Messi, what a player he was and what a player Messi is.

As always I was there invited by Joan Gonzalez, on the Sunday before four days of selection work for the 2019 DocsBarcelona. A bit into the second half, I said to Joan “is Messi playing tonight”, he had been quite passive walking around on the middle of the pitch… it was as if the now bearded football star heard the ironic comment; moments later in a typical Barca tiqui-taca sequence he scored, and we 65.000 (Joan’s estimate) spectators got up from the chairs exploding in the cry of joy MESSI!

The photo is taken just after the match by Joan Gonzalez with my i-phone.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Danish Bodil Nominations

Written 11-01-2019 17:25:17 by Tue Steen Mller

Danish Bodil Nominations

The Danish film critics have made their choice and nominated the Best Danish film, the best male and female performance etc. etc. AND nominated five documentaries for that category. On filmkommentaren we have reviewed 4 of them, links attached

Bobbi Jene (Elvira Lind)

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4030/

Fanget i de fries land (Land of the Free) (Camilla Magid)

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4208/

Hjertelandet (Janus Metz & Sine Plambech)

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4348/

Olegs krig – en barndom i krigens skygge (The Distant Barking of Dogs)  (Simon Lereng Wilmont)

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4099/

Skjold & Isabel (Emil Næsby Hansen)

The Bodil is named after two great Danish actresses: Bodil Ipsen and Bodil Kjer.

The Association of Danish film critics have 50 members.

http://www.bodilprisen.dk/


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOCS & TALKS 2019 / PROGRAMME

Written 09-01-2019 09:59:49 by Allan Berg Nielsen

DOCS & TALKS 2019 / PROGRAMME

THE DANISH INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES (DIIS) AND CINEMATEKET PRESENT DOCS & TALKS – FILM AND RESEARCH DAYS, JANUARY 31st - FEBRUARY 6th, 2019

Daughters of foreign fighters from Georgia, flood-affected islanders in Kiribati and Australia's hermetically sealed asylum centres. This year, we will once again travel far and wide at the third annual Docs & Talks film and research festival from January 31st to February 6th. The festival is organized by the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) and Cinemateket.

With its combination of both proximity and a larger social perspective, documentary film is an ideal point of departure for research dissemination and debate. Docs & Talks offers a total of eight film events, in which researchers from DIIS and scholars from other leading international research institutes, filmmakers and practitioners discuss and put into perspective the different themes of the films - and we invite the audience to participate in the debate.

This year, three of the films will focus on the fate of children in war: in eastern Ukraine, we experience the war through the eyes of ten-year-old Oleg; in the Idlib province of Syria, al-Nusra fighters raise their sons to join the armed struggle in a society where violence is breeding violence; and in Georgia, two young teenage girls are deeply marked by the absence of their fathers, who have left to fight for the Islamic State.

Two films in the program touch upon the issues of poverty, health, inequality and climate change, and we host a special event where we scrutinize the visual narratives that dominate the development world and the communication of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Where nothing else is mentioned, the debates are in Danish.

Sara Thelle og Mira Bach Hansen / Forum for Film og Formidling

Anne Blaabjerg, Troels Jensen og Sine Plambech / DIIS

Rasmus Brendstrup, programredaktør / Cinemateket

https://www.diis.dk/en/trending-topic/docs-talks-film-and-research-days-2019

 

PROGRAMME

THURS 31/01 16:30

ASYLUM POLITICS / ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS

Gabrielle Brady, 2018 / Eng. subtitles / 94 min. / 145 min. incl. debate

We open the festival with Gabrielle Brady's poetic and visually striking work on the nature of migration with the Australian asylum system as backdrop. The scenic and mysterious Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean is not just home of the red crab, which migrates by thousands from the jungle to the sea every year, and to a local population marked by Asian migrant culture. The island also houses one of three Australian detention centres where asylum seekers are detained and isolated indefinitely. Trauma therapist Poh Lin Lee tries to work with the detainees on their war traumas and the psychological consequences of their hopeless confinement - but her work is gradually becoming more difficult as the asylum seekers suddenly disappear without explanation from the authorities.

EVENT After the film, DIIS Senior Researcher Ninna Nyberg Sørensen and PhD Nikolas Feith Tan, researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights and Aarhus University, discuss asylum policies in Australia and Europe. The debate is in English.

 



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Categories: Cinema, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Viviane Candas: A Possible Algeria

Written 07-01-2019 16:09:28 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Viviane Candas: A Possible Algeria

TODAY, NOW...

Viviane Candas: A Possible Algeria 

by Allan Berg Nielsen / Filmkommentaren, le 4.2.2018 / Docs & Talks 2018 / translation into English: Sara Thelle

1.

The film is built upon the voice, the director of the film's own voice. It tells the story. I always like that, it is honest, it is literary, closer to writing. And Viviane Candas’ voice makes me feel safe and makes me listen, even though what it tells me is horrifying. Next, her film builds on the archive material, a rare collection of historical footage edited together with a private archive. I almost always like that too, at least when it is done in a poetic construction like it is here, and not as a pedantic communication of a curriculum. In Candas’ work, this material is the very connection between the history of the world, the history of Algeria, the history of France and the biography of Yves Mathieu. He was Viviane Candas' father, French as she, but deeply connected with Algeria in the country's fateful hour. The narrative of the film is embedded in the two lines of the title, A Possible Algeria: The Revolution of Yves Mathieu, and in the contrast between society/nation/people and the individual lies the existential drama and the reflection on the nature of identity. Finally, the film is built on Candas' uniquely sensitive and honest interviews with a few of the story's key figures, which in the literary spirit of the film are more searching conversations than factual question/answer scenes. The heterogeneity of this material testifies to a long-standing collection of footage for the film, and it is linked by vignettes from the research travels in a reconstruction that has a fixed visual uniformity which works as a refuge for reflection. But curiously, these vignettes do not function as the “now” of the story. The present of the film is the voice of Candas narrating, and the protagonists leading the conversation in the interview scenes, where the director's voice is usually cut out, and yet in a strange way she is still very present. The conclusion of all this results in me really meeting these people, and the encounter with an old Ahmed Ben Bella is an emotional shock. This is the present of the film, here is world history itself present in this fragile body that speaks of itself as a socialist. Today, now ...



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Categories: Cinema, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dostojevskijs Idioten i Cinemateket med mere

Written 07-01-2019 00:35:08 by Tue Steen Mller

Dostojevskijs Idioten i Cinemateket med mere

… i et arrangement, som med rette blev kaldt for et maraton, visning af en russisk tv-serie bygget over romanen fra 2003 - 10 afsnit af en længde på 50 minutter. Publikum – vi – sad lørdag i Cinemateket fra 13.30 til lidt over midnat, over ti timer, afbrudt af pauser, én af dem med servering af bortsch, rødbedesuppen som jeg har nydt mange gange hjemme, og i Skt. Petersburg og hos Sonja Vesterholt, som også var at finde i biografen og som selvfølgelig havde set flere filmiske udgaver af den vidunderlige bog, som denne gamle bibliotekar har læst – og nu har lyst til at genlæse.

Det var stor skuespilkunst, som serien frembragte – mere det end stor filmkunst, fokus var på teksten, dialogerne, dramaerne og de mange morsomme situationer, som udspinder sig omkring det gode menneske fyrst Mysjkin, der blev spillet af Yevgeny Vitalevich Mironov. Det gjorde han fabelagtigt, intet mindre.

Er han kendt, spurgte jeg i en pause Rikke Helms, som om nogen kender til russisk kultur efter mange år i Moskva, Riga og Skt. Petersburg, hvor hun var leder af Det danske Kulturinstitut og bl.a. i 2010 generøst lagde lokaler til et dokumentarfilm-seminar for russiske filmfolk, som jeg var ansvarlig for. Meget vigtigt for deltagerne. Tak!

Ja, mon ikke, besvarede Helms mit spørgsmål, serien var hans gennembrud som skuespiller – og jeg kom til at tænke på, hvor lidt vi ved om russiske skuespillere af verdensklasse. Eller jeg ved. Ved et kig på wikipeak har jeg set Mironovs imponerende filmografi og lange række af hædersbevisninger. Selvfølgelig har han også spillet Hamlet. Det gad jeg godt nok se!

Ros til Cinemateket for et sådant arrangement og for det fremragende program for januar og februar. Der er kvalitet over hele linien og et bredt repertoire, mildest talt. Lad mig nævne et par instruktører som der er et retrospektivt fokus på: Andrzej Wajda (inklusiv et par dokumentarfilm der lyder spændende), Jacques Becker (”Smukke Marie” med Simone Signoret!), og Lanzmanns ”Shoah” igen igen – og tak for det, det er vel den vigtigste dokumentarfilm ever made. Og så er der film fra ”Iran 1979”, Kim Larsen in memoriam, selvfølgelig, Tery Gilliam, Murakami, Gøg og Gokke Osv. Osv. Programmet stråler af veloplagthed. Og så står der – med rødt – ”Event” ved hver andet arrangement, hvilket betyder, at der er tilsvarende, dog ikke så lange, arrangementer som ”Idioten”, med mad og drikke eller med introduktioner til filmene. Spørgsmålet er om ikke Cinemateket overdriver det sidste, introduktionerne, hvor jeg i mange sammenhænge har siddet og sagt til mig selv ”kom så i gang”, med filmen!

www.cinemateket.dk


Categories: TV, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

True Stories Market Research Funding

Written 05-01-2019 12:22:18 by Tue Steen Mller

True Stories Market Research Funding

Quote from filmkommentaren post in August: … thinking of the many documentary adventures I take with me from the Sarajevo Film Festival: To be part of the training team of representatives from ngo’s and human rights organizations was the experience for me. Engaged, committed people who every day deal with human beings who suffer from the consequences of the wars in the 1990’es – and try to help them. Respect!

The festival now makes a call – deadline January 31 – for proposals from filmmakers, who want to collaborate with the organisations and people mentioned to make the stories presented at the festival into films. A €3000 grant is given for further research followed by project development and presentation at the upcoming Cinelink Industry Days at the festival.

The call is open for “Production company or filmmaker coming from the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey.

All details are available through the link below. The same goes for the visual presentation/pitch of the projects. Check it out:

https://www.sff.ba/en/news/10995/sarajevo-film-festival-invites-filmmakers-to-apply-for-a-first-true-stories-market-research-funding


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Faces and Places 2018

Written 02-01-2019 20:14:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Faces and Places 2018

Taking the title of Agnès Varda and JR’s wonderful film as headline, I look back at festivals, pitching sessions, film schools… that I had the privilege to attend in 2018. Privilege is the right word to use, when you board a plane (this year I want to go much more by train…), arrive to a place where you are welcomed and spoilt by the warm hospitality that characterises the documentary community with all its organisers, programmers and volunteers.

Plus the generosity you feel as the one that brought me for the first time to the festival in Karlovy Vary, where ”Bridges of Time” by Kristine Briede and Audrius Stonys had its world premiere. Invited by one of the producers, Uldis Cekulis, I was there with old filmmaker friends Estonian Mark Soosaar, Latvian Ivars Seleckis and a new friend Andres Sööt from Estonia. Plus directors of course and producers and people from the Film institutes. Intense days of celebration of Baltic poetic cinema. On the photo, taken by Cekulis, you see Latvian Uldis Brauns, who is one of the masters in the film – the photo is from September 2014. Brauns passed away in January 2017.

For the 14th time I was at the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade met by the warmth of



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Best Documentaries 2018 Intro

Written 31-12-2018 15:28:07 by Tue Steen Mller

The Best Documentaries 2018  Intro

Per tradition – in the post below you find 16 documentaries listed that I found to be Best of 2018. With links attached to what has been written about them. A choice made after many festival visits, links sent to me, vod´s… You will miss films that have been given a lot of attention in 2018 – like those of Talal Derki, Simon Lereng Wilmont (both shortlisted for the Oscars), Mila Turajlic, Marta Prus and Arunas Matelis (these three could have been shortlisted!) and others, that you can find on the ”Best of 2017”, where they premiered: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4121/

I am sure I have forgotten some, sorry if so, and there are many still to be watched. And talents to be mentioned, which I will do in a coming post.

Crisis in documentary making? Not at all, look at the list!

Happy New Year!

Photo from a film that celebrates the documentary as an art form, historically – a film that in itself is a piece of art.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Best Documentaries 2018

Written 31-12-2018 14:58:34 by Tue Steen Mller

The Best Documentaries 2018

Viktor Kossakovsky: Aquarela

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4408/

Kristine Briede & Audrius Stonys. Bridges of Time

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4287/

Vitalyi Mansky: Putin’s Witnesses

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4390/

Ivars Seleckis: To be Continued

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4075/

Nebojša Slijepčević: Srbenka

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4308/

Anja Kofmel: Chris the Swiss

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4313/

Sergey Loznitsa: The Trial

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4393/

Bernadett Tuza-Ritter: A Woman Captured

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4093/

Janus Metz & Sine Plambech: Heartbound

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4348/

Göran Olsson: That Summer

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4335/

Marie Clémence Andriamonta Paes: Fahavalo

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4187/

Didem Pekün : Araf

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4316/

Scott Barley : Sleep has no House

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4276/

Thomas Riedelsheimer: Leaning into the Wind

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4266/

Claudia Tosi: I Had a Dream

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4389/

Andrijana Stojkovic: Wongar

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4137/ 


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Viktor Kossakovsky Collected Posts on his Works

Written 30-12-2018 13:49:23 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Viktor Kossakovsky  Collected Posts on his Works

The courage to address the world with ambiguity never stooping to easy answers, can also be attributed to the Russian filmmaker, Victor Kossakovsky, who never tires of reminding us that film is an emotionally charged medium, and even when it comes to reality based filmmaking, expressing and arousing emotion should always be at the heart of the work… (Karolina Lidin, from an article 1999)

 

VIKTOR KOSSAKOVSKY - COLLECTED POSTS ON HIS WORKS

by Tue Steen Mûller

 

BELOVY (1993)

Vivan Las Antipodas! … a new tone for a director whose filmography includes films that you want to see again and again, from ”The Belovs” (Belovy) to ”Svyato” and ”Tishe”. (From a post 08-05-2012))

… "The Belovs", this film from the countryside of Russia brilliantly depicts the Russian soul as we have experienced it in works of Dostoyevsky and Thechov. (From a post 02-08-2014)

... Fassaert wanted to show his appreciation of Kossakovsky by showing a long clip from ”Belovs”. He did and it made Kossakovsky burst into tears, kneel in front of the screen, ”I am sorry I shot this”, ”this is a typical Russian person”, he was inconsolable, had to leave the room, came back, left again, came back and stayed. (From a post 20-11-2015)

 

SREDA (1997)

Back to the progression of the Balticum Festival years in Gudhjem, Bornholm and 1997, when one film in particular, "Sreda" (Wednesday) by Viktor Kossakovsky, overshadowed all others. He was the festival’s central figure in a year when not only his film, but many of the other’s are also a return to present-day portrayels and a rediscovery of dayly life with all its problems, but also its poetry. (Tue Steen Müller, from an article 1999)



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Categories: Cinema, Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Directors

Wonderful Losers on Vimeo

Written 24-12-2018 17:52:36 by Tue Steen Mller

Wonderful Losers on Vimeo

My dear friend, film director and producer, who if anyone is the one, who follows his film to the audience all over the world, winning audiences and awards, Arunas Matelis has posted this, a xmas gift it is:

If you are not lucky and in your country there are no Losers screenings – Cycling Christmas came early for you ☺ 
NOW THE LOSERS ARE AVAILABLE for your private streaming on Vimeo . Almost in the whole world! Main languages subtitles are included. 

PLEASE SHARE THE NEWS. Make friends happy ! ☺ (including your FB friend- director of the film :) 
www.vimeo.com/ondemand/wonderfullosersfilm


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Yugoslavian Architecture 1948-1980

Written 21-12-2018 17:17:36 by Tue Steen Mller

Yugoslavian Architecture 1948-1980

… with the subtitle ”Toward a Concrete Utopia” is an exhibition that runs at Moma (Museum of Modern Art) until January 13. For one who has been visiting Belgrade, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Novi Sad, Pristina, Skopje, Ljubljana… it was a fine chance to get acquainted with the history of the „large-scale urbanization, technology in everyday life, consumerism, monuments and memorialization, and the global reach of Yugoslav architecture. The exhibition includes more than 400 drawings, models, photographs, and film reels from an array of municipal archives, family-held collections, and museums across the region, and features work by important architects including Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Svetlana Kana Radević, Edvard Ravnikar, Vjenceslav Richter, and Milica Šterić…”

The earthquake in Skopje in 1963 and the plans to rebuild the city with star architect Japanese Kenzo Tange. The amazingly beautiful library in Pristina. The hotels along the coast down to Dubrovnik. New Belgrade that I have visited so many times in connection with the festival „Magnificent7” that for 13 years – last time in 2017 – took place in the Sava Centre, opened in 1977 by Tito. Concrete, brutalism.

We had heard about the exhibition from Mila Turajlic – and her contribution is remarkable. Just entering the exhibition you meet her three screen video installation „We Build the Country – The Country Builds Us!”, with almost 4 minutes built around archive material, propaganda films, Tito at the opening of new buildings, optimism, and at the end the enthusiastic shouting „Yugoslavia” that is hearable, wherever you are in the exhibition. Later in the exhibition there is a charming 12 tv screen set-up with clips from feature films from the times of Yugoslavian Cinema – remember to see Turajlic’s impressive „Cinema Komunisto”. Turajlic is a master in dealing with archive. At the Sarajevo FF this year there was a masterclass with the director, read http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4321/

Just before the exit of the exhibition – to my positive surprise – in the section that deals with monuments for victims of the WW2 - there was on the big wall a four minute clip from the documentary masterpiece of Slovak Robert Kirchhoff, „A Hole in the Head“. Three men at a monument, see the photo, talking about the general neglect of the killing of Romas during the war. More about Kirchhoff on http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3888/

https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/3931?locale=en


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Oscar Shortlist Long Documentaries

Written 18-12-2018 18:05:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Oscar Shortlist Long Documentaries

3 of the European documentaries from the EFA award ceremony (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4396/) are on the Oscar shortlist. The winning film about Bergman and ”A Woman Captured” – a pity – is not there.

But on the list of 15 that will be brought down to 5 nominations by January 22 you will find Talal Derki’s ”Of Fathers and Sons” (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4094/), Simon Lereng Wilmont’s ”The Distant Barking of Dogs” (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4099/), the Spanish ”The Silence of Others” (https://thesilenceofothers.com/) by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar. To be added and welcomed is that Anna Zamecka’s ”Communion” (winner of EFA documentary award 2017) (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4109/) is also on the list. The rest 11 are films that I have not seen yet.

Let me join IDFA director Orwa Nyrabia in his positive comment on FB today: 2 IDFA World Premieres and 6 IDFA- Selected films among the 15 Oscar documentary feature contenders of the year. Congrats to all!
I would also like to congratulate documentary branch members for one of the best long lists ever.

And then a small PS – I notice that Sergey Dvortsevoy’s ”Ayka” (photo) is listed under foreign language fiction films. I still consider the director’s documentaries ”Happiness” and ”Bread Day” as modern documentary classics. I want to see ”Ayka” but would also love to see Dvortsevoy back in the documentary genre.

https://ew.com/oscars/2018/12/17/oscars-2019-shortlists/


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

And the Winner Was Ingmar Bergman...

Written 16-12-2018 23:02:36 by Tue Steen Mller

And the Winner Was Ingmar Bergman...

... at the European Film Awards yesterday, „Bergman, A Year in a Life“ by Jane Magnusson is the title of the Swedish documentary that took home the prize. Which made many angry... Here is what Krakow Film Festival director Krzysztof Gierat wrote on FB:

“Dear members of the Academy, are you sure that you have watched all the nominated documentary films? How can you reward an academic and historical film about Bergman, when you have very important movies about our reality!”

Others join Gierat in saying that it is obvious that the members of the European Film Academy – how do you become a member this ignorant blogger ask – have not seen all five films and therefore put a vote on a film that carries the name of the world famous director: Bergman.

I am not a member of the Academy and I have not seen the film but from the general positive reviews, I understand that the film is based on interviews with a lot of anecdotes about the master.

Some commentators among the documentarians on FB point at the whole selection and award process as being hopeless, considering that it is not  realistic that the members have/take the time to watch five documentaries as they are also meant to watch a lot of fiction films nominated.

Anyway, les jeux sont faits, in the year that celebrates the 100 year of Ingmar Bergman’s birth, one more film added to the many that already exist about him, was awarded to be the Best European Documentary 2018.

And one more “anyway” – click below and see/listen to the great speech on Europe and European culture and cinema held by Ralph Fiennes at the ceremony in Sevilla.

https://www.europeanfilmawards.eu/en_EN/home


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Cordelia Dvork: Marceline

Written 12-12-2018 16:12:31 by Tue Steen Mller

Cordelia Dvork: Marceline

In the 1980’es I attended Cinéma du Réel in Paris almost every year. It was during the years, where wonderful, charismatic Suzette Glenadel was the director. And where big documentary names like Fred Wiseman and Pedro Costa were  introduced to the French audience. Not to forget that I several times saw the unique couple Joris Ivens and Marceline Loridan-Ivens in the cinema. Icons. He with his beautiful white hair, she with her red hair.

Joris Ivens died in 1989, Marceline this year in September. He was born in 1898, she in 1928.

Their life together forms an important part of the television documentary, „Marceline“ with the subtitle „A Woman. A Century“. There are clips from the Vietnam-films and from the China series, that they made together. Not to forget the „Une Histoire de vent“ (“A Tale of the Wind“), the superb poetic last film of the couple, far from the political.

The film, however, is first and foremost with Marceline at home in Paris, talking to visitors or at the hairdresser or in the famous clip from the Edgar Morin classic from 1961, „Chronique d’un ète“. Marceline Loridan-Ivens survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau that she was deported to as did Simone Veil, who died in 2017. A friend during her whole life. And there is a sequence with Marceline signing books for the many admirers, she had. She talks about the books, one written to her father, “But you did Not Come Back”, another, also with the holocaust as a theme, “L’Amour Après”.

France, 218, 58 mins.

You can find quotes from the film as well as other clips with Marceline Loridan-Ivens on facebook.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Fred Wiseman: Ex Libris the NY Public Library

Written 05-12-2018 16:47:55 by Tue Steen Mller

Fred Wiseman: Ex Libris  the NY Public Library

Oh, I enjoyed this fresh and inspirational film by the master - is Wiseman really 88 years old - when I watched it, thinking back more than 40 years when I was educated librarian and functioned for some years as one. The same flashback I had when I watched late Michael Glawogger’s small wonderful film-visit to the National Library in Saint Petersburg.

Wiseman’s film is now to be shown as “documentary of the month” in the Danish Cinemateket, starting tomorrow December 6. I never got to make a review of the film but I agree perfectly with the NYTimes review by Manohia Dargis, here is a quote, link for full text below:

“In his magnificent new documentary “Ex Libris: The New York Public Library,” Frederick Wiseman takes his camera into those (same) halls (see photo) as well as into more humble city branches. He sweeps into atriums and down corridors, pauses in reading and meeting rooms, and lays bare this complex, glorious organism that is the democratic ideal incarnate.”

USA, 2017, 197 mins.

dfi.dk/cinemateket/ex-libris

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/12/movies/ex-libris-new-york-public-library-review.html


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

See Ukraine through Cinema and Art

Written 04-12-2018 19:45:12 by Tue Steen Mller

See Ukraine  through Cinema and Art

Through documentary films, exhibitions and discussions Ukrainians from the art world travel Europe to present their country and its search for an identity. It’s “a cultural diplomacy project of HRDFF Docudays UA organized with support from the Open Society Initiative for a Europe (OSIFE)”.

The title “SEE Ukraine: An Empty Pedestal” needs an explanation and is given like this on the website (link below) from where I take my quotes: “Is it necessarily to put new heroes on old pedestals and follow the footsteps of the old ideologies? During the discussion the participants of the project "See Ukraine: An Empty Pedestal" will present a variety of approaches to the search for modern Ukrainian identity…”

And this is what project director Alla Tyutyunnyk says:



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Wang Bing on Doc Alliance

Written 03-12-2018 11:07:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Wang Bing on Doc Alliance

... with the title "The Landscape of Chinese Everydayness" - An offer you can’t refuse! DocAlliance keeps on the high quality in its program policy on dafilms.com. This time with 6 of Wang Bing’s documentaries from China. They are long all of them – I am thinking of getting up earlier than normal or go to bed later. It’s a gift to documentary film lovers. Here is what is in the press release from Prague:

Director Wang Bing is a contemporary film star; his films were screened at most world festivals such as Cannes FF, Berlinale, Venice FF, Toronto IFF, FIDMarseille and Doclisboa. Towards the end of 2018, we present a selection of his films online and invite you to meet the master of Chinese cinema whose films capture everyday life in Asia in diverse environments – in a refugee camp, a remote place in the mountains or a factory.

Do not miss Wang Bing‘s six most renowned documentaries which left a mark on modern film history! Our collection includes Ta’ang following immigrants from Myanmar who are forced to emigrate due to ethnic unrest and cross the borders to China with the hope that one day they will be able to come back to their homeland. The film was premiered at Berlinale. The collection further includes the unique 9-hour opus West of the Tracks about the decline of the industrial Tiexi district in China which is critically acclaimed as one of the best and most significant films of today!

Photo: Tobi Sauer.

https://dafilms.com/program/675-wang-bing-retrospective


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

BlekendaalThe Man Who Looked Beyond the Horizon

Written 02-12-2018 10:40:28 by Tue Steen Mller

BlekendaalThe Man Who Looked Beyond the Horizon

In a way it’s an old fashioned film. In storytelling. And I mean that as a compliment. The director plays with the film medium, jumps around in time, gives references to slapstick movies, Buster Keaton and others, in the search for giving evidence on behalf of the protagonist, the Dutch adventurer, who wanted to cross the Atlantic, which he did or did not, he never came back. Giving evidence that there is no gravity. There is a lot of mystery about his disappearance – did he disappear, did he actually exist, is the whole film a fake, is it the director’s own search for something, for some meaning, could be, I don’t know, what I know is that the film is fascinating and playful using the wonderful tools of filmmaking that is far too often forgotten in nowadays documentary making. Old fashioned – a lot reminds me of films from 1968 where all was allowed and tried out. A documentary, well the sequences with an old lady, the girl friend way back when he left, points in that direction as well as photos of a young man with curly hair.

The film won the IDFA Special Jury Award for Best Children’s Film. The jury said: “A film that choose a non obvious subject for children, one that tickles their imagination, raising philosophical questions, and approaches children as little adults. Through intelligent editing, this film challenges the usual way of storytelling in the children’s documentary genre..”

Indeed “special”, maybe more for youngsters or for adults, who like films with layers, surprising films in storytelling, bringing laughter and a serious theme together in a brilliant way. Lovely!

The first name of the director is Martijn.

Holland, 2018, 28 mins.

www.idfa.nl


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Katarzyna Lesisz: Dancing for You

Written 02-12-2018 10:27:37 by Tue Steen Mller

Katarzyna Lesisz: Dancing for You

Get up Wiktor, says grandmother, you have to go to school. Wiktor, 12 years old, goes to a ballet school, where the teacher trains him, and when not in school he plays with a friend, or is with the caring grandma or with a cell phone in hand talking to his father or trying to, cause father is not around. It’s a simple story that finds its filmic tone. A boy waiting, yearning for his father, having a good time at his grandparents. Dancing, expressing himself.

The film received the IDFA Award for Best Children’s Documentary, the jury said this: “The winning film is a beautifully crafted story, leaving the viewer with lots of room for thought and reflection, without explaining too much. One is able to recognize the loneliness of feeling like an outsider in their own family, while striving to pursue their dreams. We applaud individuality; children who stay true to themselves against all odds. We also want to celebrate documentary filmmakers that push themselves to excel in cinematography, and the winning film does just that.”

Poland, 2018, 18 mins.


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IDFA Post-Festival Comments

Written 29-11-2018 14:42:42 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Post-Festival Comments

I was in Amsterdam from Monday till Friday. 4 nights at NH Carlton Hotel, the festival centre close to everything and the place where you meet old and dear friends. Including the busy artistic director Orwa Nyrabia, whose first edition it was. I have not seen films enough to evaluate the film selection, you always leave IDFA frustrated that there were films you did not manage to watch, will catch up later at other festivals. The same goes for the great initiative of publishing videos from the DOC Talks after the film, 4-5 minutes it says, but when you click you can get half an hour with Sergei Loznitsa or the award winning Anand Patwardhan or with Polish master Marcel Lozinski or Nikolaus Geyerhalter… more to come, IDFA writes on the website. Not to forget the podcasts with Avi Mograbi and Audrius Stonys, they are long, going deep I am sure – and subject orientated Industry Talk about “Ethical Ways of Co-Producing”, theatrical distribution and so on, so forth. Lots of possibilities, also full films if you are a subscriber to the Docs for Sale.

I saw many good films as loyal readers of this site will know. On top, however, were two film experiences that will stay in my mind: Dziga Vertov’s “Anniversary of the Revolution”, a brilliant night at the Tuschinski with music, breathtaking singing from the stage and from the gallery, a choir! Read my impressions on http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4402/

And a film made 100 year later by Viktor Kossakovsky, “Aquarela”,

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4408/

shown with the intended sound on a big screen in Pathé Munt 3, magnificent.

IDFA is also the Forum, I was not there, I am sure many promising projects were pitched and that the Forum will go on, maybe in new shapes, as Orwa Nyrabia has said, to give the best treat of new talent.

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Three Russian Documentaries at IDFA

Written 29-11-2018 12:49:37 by Tue Steen Mller

Three Russian Documentaries at IDFA

… which all deserve to be mentioned and noticed by other festivals.

“How Big is the Galaxy” (Photo) by Ksenia Elyan (Russia, Estonia, 72 mins.), with Max Tuula and Maria Gavrilova as producers as well as late Alexander Rastorguev for Black and White Cinema, is a gem, with two charming kids Zakhar, 7 years old and the older brother Prokopy. They live far up in North of Siberia with their parents, as – taken from the IDFA website – “belonging to the Dolgan community, one of the last indigenous peoples pursuing their traditional nomadic life in the extreme north of Siberia.” It’s an observational documentary, you follow everyday life with a special focus on the kids, who go to school next door, allowed to have homeschooling. Out of the warmth in the wagon-like house, where the family lives, out in the freezing cold to the next door house that serves as a school with a school teacher and books etc. Zakhar has an eye for the director/cameraman asking her “you take photos”, “is that a job”. Lovely.

“The Potato Eaters” by Dina Barinova (Russia, 51 mins.) from Marina Razbezhkina Studio, a tough social documentation of a village life in awful poor conditions, also featuring two children, who live and play as kids do, jumping in water puddles. They live with their grandparents Svetlana and Victor, the latter deeply alcoholised, Svetlana being the one, who has to take care of everything – without any money. It’s as bad as it could be. Depressing and shocking to watch if not for the kids and Sergei, who is the son of Svetlana and Victor, and the one who moves a bit around and plays vinyl records.

“Dorotchka” by Olga Delane (Russia, 20 mins), who made the fine “Siberian Love”, where she met the 80 year old woman and decided to dedicate a film to her. The IDFA website text is excellent so I quote: “The beautiful, static images of Dorotchka in and around her wooden house, against the backdrop of a relentless landscape in which there’s constant hard work to be done, are reminiscent of 19th-century paintings of romanticized agricultural life. Wringing her hands at the kitchen table, Dorotchka speaks in short sentences peppered with expletives, making it clear that even women like her have their hearts broken. Stylized shots of rural life are combined with comical black-and-white footage of Russian country weddings, folk dancing and singing: a promise of opportunities in a bygone era.” “Siberian Love” is reviewed here: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3930/

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Andrei Kutsila: Summa

Written 26-11-2018 13:29:28 by Tue Steen Mller

Andrei Kutsila: Summa

I was very happy to know that the new film by Belorussian director Andreu Kutsila received – in the midlength category - the main award at IDFA for “Summa”, a Belorussian/Polish coproduction with Miroslaw Dembinski as the Polish partner.

In 2015 Kutsila won the main national award with “Guests” at the Listapad festival in Minsk (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3370/)

3 years before he was the Belorussian director, who took part in “15 Young by Young”, the documentary short film series initiated and produced by Latvian producer Ilona Bicevska. Some words from the brief review of “Guests” I wrote 3 years ago: “He has found the right, slow rhythm, he lets the scenes develop, he gets close but does never lose a respectful distance…”. Which are words that fit perfectly on “Summa”.

Andrzej Strumillo is an elderly Polish painter, around 90 years old,  Maryia is a young artist from Belarus. She leaves Belarus to come to visit lonely Strumillo, who is happy to have her around. He lives in a spacious house, he breeds horses, the house is close to a lake where he goes, they sit and talk at the table, eat, mostly it is the old man who talks, and she listens if she is not interrupted by calls from her boyfriend/husband, who seems to be jealous – she wants and decides to stay longer, you can understand that - the director who is also the cinematographer understands you see clearly – Kutsila caresses the characters, he has taken his time to compose images of the beauty of the quiet place, he creates a meditative atmosphere. Graceful it is. “It’s sad life is so short”, Strumillo says, at the same time as he remembers the life he had with his wife, who died in 2011, their travels, their being together.

His paintings are shown, they are dark, impressive, religious maybe, at least mysterious; and yet the film is not a portrait of an artist and his work, it is a meeting between youth and wisdom, beautifully interpreted by a director with a vision.

Poland/Belarus, 2018, 51 mins.


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Viktor Kossakovsky: Aquarela

Written 24-11-2018 12:07:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Viktor Kossakovsky: Aquarela

Normally when I go to an art exhibition, I walk around alone, stop in front of the paintings, it’s silent, maybe I talk with the one who are with me, but I love this chance of stepping into a world that does not move. When watching Kossakovsky’s flow of aquarelas, WATERcolors in constant movement, there is no silence, on the contrary – it’s a bombardment of image and sound, an aesthetic composition, it’s expressionistic, surrealistic, abstract, figurative, a journey through art directions and genres. And a magnificent piece of Cinema. That also has a dramaturgy.

As the director put it before the screening at the Pathé Munt 3 cinema in



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IDFA at the Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam

Written 23-11-2018 13:39:15 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA at the Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam

I went to the Eye that everyone has praised during its few years of existence. And it is really something. I crossed the water with the ferry next to the Central Station, 2 mins. it took to get to the other side together with a lot of people, bikes and scooters, and then another couple of minutes of walk to the Eye that I saw in daylight and later – in the evening – with a view to an illuminated Amsterdam. The big open hall has a restaurant that I visited between the two films I saw – I had half an hour, they managed to serve a fine soup and a glass of wine in no time – and an exhibition area. I got a free ticket to see an exhibition of Japanese Ryoji Ikeda, Datamatics it is called and is accompanied by electronic music. I had to leave quickly, no appeal to me, actually I was afraid of having an epileptic seizure…

Instead I rushed to the cinema to watch “Los Reyes” by Chilean Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff. I had forgotten my badge but with the help of Argentinian director Andrés Di Tella and Bettina Perut, who I knew from visits to the two countries I got in to sit at the best place in the very fine cinema hall Eye 1.

And I saw one more film, “Hungary 2018”, by Eszter Hajdú with Sandor Mester as producer, and with superb Menno Boerema as one of the editors. Both films were followed by talks. More about films and talks below.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Bettina Perut & Ivn Osnovikoff: Los Reyes

Written 23-11-2018 13:32:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Bettina Perut & Ivn Osnovikoff: Los Reyes

The film was screened and there was a half hour talk afterwards. These IDFA talks, I understood, are formatted to have no questions from the audience. I sensed a disappointment in the hall, probably many would have loved to get more from the sympathetic two directors. But they were surrounded outside for further talks in the corridor after the screening. It was my impression that the audience loved the film about “the kings”, why this title – here is a quote from the IDFA website: “Los Reyes is the oldest skatepark in the Chilean



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Eszter Hajd: Hungary 2018

Written 23-11-2018 13:25:19 by Tue Steen Mller

Eszter Hajd: Hungary 2018

I got a mail from the producer of this film, Sandor Mester: “Hungary 2018 is not at the IDFA Forum because it is already in the Feature Length Competition this year and it was not there last year because it was not possible going to public pitching because it could risk, potentially stop this kind of production. We made this new film with a very hard and painful work, it is very complicated to do a project like this in Hungary and finally it was produced by our Portuguese company. Some of the members of our Hungarian crew did not want that their names appear in the credits because they are afraid of the revenge of the government. "Hungary 2018" is about right-wing populism, far-right extremism from the perspective of the last elections in Hungary in 2018 showing how Hungary is in 2018 and how the extreme-right propaganda works on the government level. We have to stand-up against far-right politics and right-wing populism because it generates fear and hate based on lies, semi lies, lies and manipulation.”

The film was screened at IDFA and the main character of the film, former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who fought against Orbán and the Fidesz party at the election for president in April 2018, was invited for the talk after the film. I knew Hajdu and Mester from their previous brave work, “Judgement in Hungary” reviewed here http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/2966/

and on my list of best documentaries in 2014.

“Hungary 2018” does not bring anything new, the political situation in the country is pretty well covered in the media I follow. And yet here we get on film a documentation of how disgusting the propaganda is from the Fidesz leaders and those, who campaign for Orbán. It is simply amazing, how xenophobia flourishes and how fear is playing a role, when speeches are held: Hungary will be overflooded with muslims, who will rape women in miniskirts – and Soros, the Jewish billionaire, is enemy number One, who supports Gyurcsány and his gang of traitors and is running the EU. Gyurcsány is followed in his campaign, you can only have sympathy for him, as far too few Hungarians had when the election results were clear. Huge victory for Orbán and his non-European attitude.

The film is partly financed by the EU, which is of course used against it: See, the EU is paying for propaganda against Hungary.

Are you going to screen it, I asked a festival director from a country close to Hungary. Of course he said, we are having the same political tendencies in our country… and in Denmark it looks like a new party will enter the parliament at the next election in 2019. It has the same policy as Fidesz.

www.idfa.nl


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IDFA Winners 2018

Written 22-11-2018 09:01:27 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Winners 2018

IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary 

Anand Patwardhan won the IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary (€ 15.000) with Reason (India). The film is a broad-ranging examination of Indian society, where secular rationalists are hunted down as they attempt to stem the rising tide of religious and nationalist fundamentalism. 

"The IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary is unanimously given to Reason by Anand Patwardhan for the epic storytelling of the rise of the far right in one of the most populated countries of this planet, the violence of religious and ultranationalist militias with the support of authorities and dominant medias, the dignity of resistance in multiple forms, often at life-cost, in a way that acknowledges the complexity of the situation but put it in a very understandable shape," the jury reported. 

In addition, the jury presented the IDFA Special Jury Award for Feature-Length Documentary (€ 2.500) to Los Reyes (Chile, Germany) by Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff. In this almost fairy-tale-like film, the phenomenal, dreamlike camerawork centers almost entirely on the subtle interaction between two dogs, as they play with a ball, a stick, a stone, and each other.

"The IDFA Special Jury Award for Feature-Length Documentary goes to Los Reyes by Bettina Perut and Iván Osnivikoff (Chile, Germany) for the creative



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Dziga Vertov: Anniversary of the Revolution

Written 21-11-2018 12:04:09 by Tue Steen Mller

Dziga Vertov: Anniversary of the Revolution

Tuesday night I was back in Saint Petersburg after two days at the IDFA festival in Amsterdam. In the cinema. On screen. No, wrong – I was back in Petrograd 1918 through the outstanding film historical event organized so brilliantly by the festival. A full house in the Tuschinski for a film from 1918! By the father of documentary cinema Dziga Vertov. I felt an atmosphere of concentration, a history lesson it was with the images and the inserted texts that conveyed where we are and what happened almost day by day in 1917, in Petrograd and Moscow primarily; and it was a concert with images or a film with musical accompagnement. Everything. Joyful to watch:



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Piter My love

Written 18-11-2018 22:51:51 by Tue Steen Mller

Piter  My love

I am leaving Saint Petersburg after a few days with a conference and a re-visit of the places, where I have been during the last 20 years… That explains the headline of this post.

Tomorrow – I am writing this in the Arlanda airport in Stockholm waiting for the plane to Copenhagen – the Forum in Amsterdam starts. I will not attend but I will be at IDFA to watch films and write about (some of) them and hug the new director Orwa Nyrabia, hoping that all goes well for him.

Back to the Forum, where I am sure that many of the broadcasters or



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Saint Petersburg Film School Conference

Written 18-11-2018 09:48:52 by Tue Steen Mller

Saint Petersburg Film School Conference

I was at the opening of The PiterKiT International Student Film Festival in Piter – Saint Petersburg. On Wednesday. Huge celebration, three hours with music, clips from films and speeches, maaany speeches due to the celebration of 100 years of the film school, St. Petersburg Institute of Film and Television. Even if the festival carries the name “international” all words were in Russian! I was lucky to have Polish Krzysztof Kopczyński next to me, who whispered translation of some important words. Some names were understandable and I was happy to see Sokurov on stage being honoured.

Several “old boys” were on stage and Kopczyński whispered that they were addressing the audience of students saying that they should make films about “good people”!

As moderator of the conference “How to Educate Students to Meet the Cinema and TV Audience – art and/or craft” at the film school I picked up on this point of view, when the Dean of the faculty of screen arts and Head of the Producer’s Department, the sympathetic, open-minded Pavel Danilov was on stage explaining to us how the school functions as a state institution according to a film law with standards to follow, as the equivalent VGIK in Moscow. Is this what you tell your students, that they should make films about good people, I asked the Dean. Well, he said, there are too much negativity in films right now, we have to remember that cinema is an educational tool – words to that effect from the Dean, who also said that the school suffers from far too much bureaucracy. And there are too many F… words in films, he said, which made the representative from Perm, Pavel Pechenkin - who earlier spoke passionately about the media education projects they run in his city – remind us all that we are in the city of Dostojevski! “Crime and Punishment”! No polished words.

The conference took place in a small room, the interpreters were excellent, the technique functioned and the invited speakers were prepared and inspiring: Kopczynski, Pechenkin, Danilov, Ruth Olshan, Riho Västrik, Ivan Zolotukhin, Andrijana Stojkovic, Elena Khoroshkina. You can find more on the conference here:

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4397/

and in a couple of months a Russian and an English version will be available on Youtube.

The speakers and the audience, primarily teachers from the school, there were from 25 to 7 listeners – the teachers had to go back to their classes – agreed that a continuation of the conference would be of great value. It lies in the hands of the organizer Viktor Skubey.


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IDFA Opening Words from Kaag and Nyrabia

Written 15-11-2018 16:48:20 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Opening Words from Kaag and Nyrabia

This text is taken from the website of the IDFA festival:

The 31st IDFA has just officially been opened by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag in Koninklijk Theater Carré with Aboozar Amini’s film Kabul, City in the Wind.

This is the first festival under new artistic director Orwa Nyrabia, who in his opening speech referred to the inestimable importance of artistic authenticity, pluralism, and dialogue. The festival, which takes place at several venues around Amsterdam, runs until November 25. The winners of the various competitions will be announced on Wednesday, November 21.

Before the screening of the opening film, Minister Kaag gave a speech in which she spoke about the importance of filmmakers and film programmers who are able to transmit and depict the ideas, images, and emotions of others. Creative documentaries can make us reflect, see, and experience in such a way that we, as audiences, are prepared to stand up for others and build better societies with more democracy, more openness, and more humanity.

Nyrabia, who has taken over as artistic director for IDFA 2018, then talked in his opening speech about the focus devoted to inclusivity within the festival. According to Nyrabia, this is something that lies at the heart of IDFA: a deeply rooted belief in the value of artistic freedom, in pluralism, and the importance of pluralism in our everyday lives, both locally and in the wider world. A film festival is a place for dialogue, for questions, for curiosity, and for discoveries. Nyrabia expressed the view that artistic authenticity is the antidote to lies and manipulation. Nyrabia also announced a new cooperation between the Netherlands Film Fund with the IDFA Bertha Fund to stimulate international co-production between Dutch producers and filmmakers from non-Western countries…

www.idfa.nl


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Aboozar Amini: Kabul, City in the Wind

Written 15-11-2018 06:36:05 by Tue Steen Mller

Aboozar Amini: Kabul, City in the Wind

It’s about creating the feeling of being there. To quote Richard Leacock. First time feature length director Afghan Aboozar Amini, who emigrated from the country when a teenager, was educated in Holland and in the UK, does that. Takes us there, to the dusty and windy and dirty Afghan capital Kabul, where he lets us meet three protagonists: a bus driver Abas and two kids, brothers, the small Benjamin and the bigger Afshin.

The brothers live up the hill of the city – with another brother Hussein, too



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Conference on Film Schools in Saint Petersburg

Written 12-11-2018 10:36:41 by Tue Steen Mller

Conference on Film Schools in Saint Petersburg

I have for years been visiting Saint Petersburg – for the Message2Man festival or for seminars/workshops organized by dear friends Ludmila Nazaruk and Viktor Skubey. In 2016 Skubey organized the conference “How to Reach the Audience”, which was filmed and is to be found on

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXGMu-9ScJZDOvizeYvODkUzJsAql15e7

This year a one-day conference will take place with the headline “How to Educate Students to Meet the Cinema and TV Audience. Art and/or Craft”. With 4 speakers from outside Russia and 4 from Russia. Viktor Skubey (producer, president of the filmmakers non-fiction/tv guild and teacher at the St. Petersburg Institute of film and television, were the conference takes place) asked me to moderate the conference and pick the non-Russian speakers for a set-up that is classical: 30 minutes presentation, 15 minutes of discussion.

Polish Krzysztof Kopczynski will be the first foreign speaker. I have asked him



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The Five EFA Documentary Nominations

Written 10-11-2018 20:06:59 by Tue Steen Mller

The Five EFA Documentary Nominations

Don’t want to start arguing that this or that documentary film could also have been nominated – the five that made it are all very good films, congratulations. The winner will be announced December 15 at the ceremony in Sevilla. Among these – four of them have been reviewed on this site:

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4093/

Bernadett Tuza-Ritter: A Woman Captured

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4094/

Talal Derki: Of Fathers and Sons

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4268/

Simon Lereng Wilmont: The Distant Barking of Dogs

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4296/

Jane Magnusson: Bergman – A Year in a Life

Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar: The Silence of Others

As festival programmer happy to say that the films of Talal Derki and Simon Lereng Wilmont were screened at DocsBarcelona . “A Woman Captured” was wanted but got a no from the distributor and the Spanish was at other festivals. Wilmont won the first prize.

At Magnificent7 in Belgrade (seven films, seven days, a huge audience) Wilmont showed his film for the always interested Serbian audience.

https://www.europeanfilmawards.eu/en_EN/nomination-current


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Israel: The Loyalty in Culture bill

Written 07-11-2018 20:11:41 by Tue Steen Mller

Israel: The Loyalty in Culture bill

... a major threat for freedom, a major threat for cinema

Is the headline for at text I received from filmmaker Avi Mograbi, who wants readers/filmmakers outside Israel to know about a proposal put forward by the Minister of Culture in Israel. If you want to sign - like the filmakers above do - a protest, please contact Avi Mograbi  (mograbi@netvision.net.il) or French Jean-Michel Frodon (jmfrodon@gmail.com). Photo from Mograbi's film "Between Fences". Here is the text:

In the last twenty years, Israeli cinema has been thriving. This boom did not happen by chance. The Film Law (1999), which infused the film funds with unprecedented public funding, was instrumental to this flourishing. Similarly, numerous co-production agreements signed with various European and North American countries injected quite a lot of money into Israeli productions and helped raise the production values of Israeli films. Another important factor in this blossoming is openness. Many Israeli films have dealt openly with sensitive social and political issues from a critical perspective. The openness testifies for a healthy and strong growing cinematic culture.

But now, the government of Israel is in the process of amending the Culture and Arts Law (2002) with a “Loyalty in Culture” bill. The Minister of Culture will have the right to cut the budgets of bodies supported by the Ministry of Culture should they in turn support works that:



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Polemics, Directors

DOK Leipzig

Written 07-11-2018 11:02:13 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig

… 2018 ended. Was it good or bad? I normally watch all the films in the main international competition, the long documentaries to make my own hit list. This year it was not possible. I watched three, the winner of three awards Claudia Tosi’s “I Had a Dream”, Alina Gorvola’s “No Obvious Signs” that received the regional broadcaster MDR’s award and Sergei Loznitsa’s “The Trial” that got no prize, which was completely wrong. Excellent films, I would say.

Being at the festival was good, as it has been all the years I have been there, invited by Claas Danielsen and now Leena Pasanen. I liked the putting together of the program done by the selection committee, and I can easily see – without taking part – that the industry section is being taken care of with enthusiasm and professionalism by Brigid O'Shea.

Atmosphere… is crucial for a festival, and DOKLeipzig manages to create it.



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Sergey Loznitsa: The Trial

Written 05-11-2018 20:36:04 by Tue Steen Mller

Sergey Loznitsa: The Trial

No doubt, Sergey Loznitsa is the master of making creative archive documentaries – a part of his impressive oeuvre that also includes fiction films and documentaries like “Austerlitz” - http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3841/

in the archive films he stands out with films like “Blockade” (2005), “The Event” (2015) and “Maidan” (2014).

“The Trial” is more than two hours long, you have to be fresh in head and interested in history, I was the first one afternoon at DokLeipzig and I am more and more being drawn to films that deal with history, especially Soviet & Russian.

“The Trial” is astonishing. Let me give you the annotation from the Venice festival website, where it had its premiere:

“Moscow, USSR. 1930. The Pillar Hall of the State House of the Unions. A group of top rank economists and engineers is put on trial accused of plotting a coup d’état against the Soviet government. It’s alleged that they made a secret pact with the French Prime Minister, Raymond Poincaré, aiming to destroy the Soviet power and restore capitalism. All charges are fabricated and the accused are forced to confess to the crimes they never committed. The court delivers death verdicts. Unique archive footage reconstructs one of the first show trials, masterminded by Stalin. The drama is real, but the story is fake. The film gives an unprecedented insight into the origins of a deadly regime, which made the slogan “Lie is Truth” its everyday reality…”

To give you an impression of how the film looks like, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wlNu32e01k

that is a three minutes long trailer of the film, made for IDFA where the film will have three screenings as part of the Masters section. The man speaking is Sitinin, working at a textile factory. He confesses to have been drawn into a group called “Industrial Party” – it never existed – that worked in sabotage against the Soviet government. Loznitsa lets the confessions go the whole way, confessions made through the 11-day process under excellent filming, where you see that the packed hall and its spectators again and again had to protect their eyes – from the sunshine or from the light put up for filming?

And again and again the prosecutor Andrey Vyshinsky (1883-1954) (who was also at the Nürnberg trials, Stalin’s man, who later became minister of foreign affairs and the Soviet representative at the United Nations) – again and again he brought up the question of the foreign involvement in planning an overthrow of the Soviet government.

How did this happen, said Vitaly Mansky in his talk at the festival in Leipzig. How could these intelligent men become shadows of themselves and confess something they never did? In the film you see that they all promise – if they are not shot – to remorse and serve the country loyally.

Vyshinsky is leading the Court of the Proletariat, the hall is full and applauds when death penalty is given to several of the accused – and Loznitsa brings in images from the streets where banners proclaim “death to the saboteurs”.

It’s an amazingly (film) historical documentation that Loznitsa presents in this 129 minutes long film shot in the 1930’es in the Soviet Union.

Actuality, Russia today…? Oh yes, in many ways.

Read the post below the background for the film written by the director.   


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Sergey Loznitsa: The Trial/ 2

Written 05-11-2018 20:29:19 by Tue Steen Mller

Sergey Loznitsa: The Trial/ 2

I started working on a film about Stalin’s show trials, which were held in the USSR in 1930s, a couple of years ago. My initial idea was to edit the footage from different trials in order to show how the machine of Soviet terror was established, and how the system gradually took over the minds of innocent citizens. However, soon after I began studying archive materials, I discovered the footage, which I found to be absolutely unique. I decided to make the film in such a way, as to give the spectators a chance to spend two hours in the USSR in 1930: to see and to experience the moment, when the machine of state terror, created by Stalin, was launched into action. My intention was to reconstruct the trial stage by stage. We restored and kept all the sound that was recorded in 1930. The only commentary I allowed myself to make in the entire film is right at the very end. I need this commentary in order to tell the truth, since it is impossible to learn the truth from any other episode of this documentary film. In fact, Process is a unique example of a documentary, in which one sees “24 frames of lies” per second.


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DOK Leipzig Vitaly Mansky and Putin

Written 04-11-2018 23:13:30 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Vitaly Mansky and Putin

You have to be careful with "vonhörensagen" but in this case it had its influence on the talk with Vitaly Mansky, that took place friday afternoon at the Polish Institute in Leipzig, a couple of hours after his film had been screened at the Cinestar Cinema. At the Q&A after the cinema screening of “Putin’s Witnesses”, he was attacked for having made a propaganda film for Putin. One of the attacks came from Viktor Kossakovsky, who according to my sources was pretty rude towards Mansky. It was apparent that the two do not think high of each other.

Is it a propaganda film the moderator, Barbara Wurm (very competent university teacher and festival advisor) asked Mansky picking up on the discussion in the cinema - after she had introduced the film as a kind of found footage and characterized Mansky as one, who has introduced the family chronicle film as a genre in post-Soviet Russia.

A good point I think, Mansky masters the personal commentary and it is nothing but a scoop that he is using material he made at the beginning of Putin’s period as president, where he, Putin – they are talking to each other as if they were old buddies – praises the democracy: I am happy that after a certain period I can go back to a normal life. You can’t do that in a monarchy. 18 years later he is still there – and the democracy does not function, if you are allowed to put(in) it like that!

A pan shot in the room where Putting salutes the victory after the election has been held, is accompanied by a commentary by Mansky, who mentions that most of the people in the room are now in opposition. That the mastermind behind Putin taking over from Yeltsin in 2000 – after the sensational New Year television speech where Yeltsin apologizes – forgive me, he says - his retirement and makes Putin an ad hoc President – is Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana. Mansky makes that pretty clear. The publicity clip Mansky made for Putin was broadcast the night before the election!

One more sentence from Putin: Our main goal is to make people believe in everything we say and do. Did you hear what he said, Mansky almost whispers to us!

Mansky who now lives in Riga, was doubtful, he said, if his festival ArtDocFest will be allowed to continue, a festival of high quality including critical films – see http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4373/ - as there is now a law on its way that will limit the possibilities for the festivals in Russia. Colleagues have made an open letter against the proposal and asked Mansky NOT to sign, as he – Mansky – thinks the law proposal is made because of ArtDocfest

Well. There are many assumptions in this small documentary world. Mansky’s film is important, well made and actual. He takes a standpoint – others think that not having a position is a position, he said with a hint to colleague Kossakovsky. You have to define your position and start from there.

Vitaly Mansky has a long and really important filmography to study - go to https://dafilms.com where his films are to be found  


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DOK Leipzig 2018 Awards

Written 03-11-2018 23:34:26 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig 2018 Awards

A piece of the press release that came out from DOK Leipzig an hour ago, check the whole list and the jury motivations on the festival's website, link below:

“I Had a Dream” (photo) by Claudia Tosi has won the prestigious Golden Dove in the International Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film, granted by Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR). In the long term observation of the last political decade in Italy, Claudia Tosi and her two protagonists pose the brutal question whether democracy and politics are still alive at all. Goran Dević (from Croatia) received an honourable mention for “On the Water” – a poetical and political study of people on the water.

The Golden Dove in the German Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film was awarded to the film “Lord of the Toys” by Pablo Ben Yakov who has been the subject of a controversial debate here in Leipzig. By observing a youth culture in a very precisely way, the film reveals a milieu and their frightening use of language and the internet as a platform – with far-reaching impact on everyday-life. 

Ricardo Calil won the Golden Dove in the Next Masters Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film for “Cinema Morocco”. The prize, which is



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DOK Leipzig 2018 LBJ and Jan Palach

Written 03-11-2018 18:33:04 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig 2018 LBJ and Jan Palach

I would have loved to see more from the Retrospective 68 - An Open Score but I was anderswo engagiert, i.e. introducing the Lithuanian retrospective and moderating the discussions afterwards BUT I saw the last section, number 7 which was introduced like this in the catalogue:

The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and DOK Leipzig share an eventful history that reaches back to the founding of the two festivals in the 1950s. With its long-term festival motto “Way to the Neighbour” and its focus on Eastern European film, Oberhausen during the Cold War was both ally and challenger of the Leipzig Documentary Film Week. The two festivals lived through one of the most turbulent phases of their long-distance relationship in the wake of the departures, ruptures and upheavals of 1968. The major issue was the crushing of the Prague Spring, which strained the East-West dialogue and created a frosty atmosphere for cinematic diplomacy, too. The selection, compiled by Tobias Hering and Andreas Kötzing from the festival editions of 1968 and 1969, is inspired by a spirit of boycott, of refusal, evasive manoeuvres and tit-for-tat that turned screening or not screening a film into a political issue...

The two mentioned introduced and did it perfectly and the five films were French, German, Cuban (Alvarez "LBJ" that is pretty well known in film history), Yugoslav (Zilnik's "June Turmoil") and "The Wake" ("Trzyna") that is a diary built reportage on the days that followed the death of Jan Palach, with a few interviews, one of them introducing a very young Vaclav Havel. 24 mins., they showed a 35mm copy, bravo DOKLeipzig, moving was it to follow more than 200.000 Czecoslovaks in the streets of Prgaue and Bratislava. Get that film out to cinematheques and other festivals!

https://www.dok-leipzig.de


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Viktor Kossakovsky at DOK Leipzig

Written 02-11-2018 14:24:21 by Tue Steen Mller

Viktor Kossakovsky at DOK Leipzig

I have known him for years – since back to the days of the Bornholm festival in the 90’es. He came to Leipzig for one screening of the film and for a talk. We hugged and I told him that “Aquarela” is an ingenious film! No, no the next film is better, he said and went into the room, where the talk was to take place. Viktor Kossakovsky is not one, who answers the questions put to him, he takes his own roads of improvisation. Impossible job to be a moderator, when he is in the chair, does not matter, he is entertaining and has something important to say.

Let me quote Ukrainian Darya Bassel, who wrote on her FB: “Kossakovsky pours nectar in my ears. He sings an ode to a cinema, which doesn’t put story and character (person) in the middle of everything. A cinema which is art not storytelling.”

Yes, that’s what he keeps on saying and thanks for that in times of constant “what is your story, who are your characters”. We make movies for the cinema, the industry should know that, he said. In “Aquarela” you can´t have a shot of water that lasts 1 to 1,2 seconds. It has to be longer to give you a chance to think. When I’m editing, I’m always thinking about 10 people – one will think like this, another like that, and I try to put it together so many interpretations are possible. Why do we make films? If it is to prove our ideas, then it is not cinema! No brain first, I’m trying to use my eyes, my camera. Brain first, it is insulting!

And oh, Kossakovsky always refers to – this time – Leonardo da Vinci, Malevich – and to literature, it’s refreshing, include it in the curriculum of the film schools. (My comment!)

He talked about teaching, that he does not like, he talked about some of the sequences in “Aquarela”, about “how little we are” in this world (as is so obvious in the film), he praised his fellow cinematographer Ben Bernhard, he talked about “Tishe!” that he made while waiting for funding for his next film – a film that none of the tv commissioning editors would take when it was a project (I want to shoot a film from my window in Saint Petersburg), but all bought when it was made. Paper work is needed when you want funding for a film.

I have promised producer Aimara Reques also to watch the film in Amsterdam, at IDFA, I will, and will try to write a review of this masterpiece.


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Herzogs Missing Questions

Written 01-11-2018 10:13:37 by Tue Steen Mller

Herzogs Missing Questions

An understatement: They were angry my friends from Lithuania, Georgia and Ukraine. After having watched Werner Herzog and André Singer’s “Meeting Gorbachev”. Nothing, absolutely nothing about the violent Soviet attacks that took place in Vilnius, in Riga, in Georgia…

Did he ask these questions, Herzog? Did he answer, Gorbachev? Why were they not in the film?

Have to confess that I did not react immediately on this failure from the side of Herzog & Singer but was taken by the compassion and admiration that Herzog demonstrated towards the 87 year old former statesman.

Yesterday, the Lithuanian documentary by Giedre Zickyte, “How We Played the Revolution” was shown as part of the impressive documentary retrospective from the small Baltic country. In the fine film by Zickyte, based on archive, Gorbachev reacts in the Duma  towards to the tanks entering Vilnius and the brutality performed by his people at the tv station. We want them to stop (= we will make them stop) the demonstrations and then we can talk. Words to that effect. People were killed in Vilnius as they were in Riga, where the – among others – two cameramen of Juris Podnieks were shot down by Soviet soldiers. It’s all documented, Gorbachev knew what happened, he was in charge as the president, he wanted to establish more democracy in the country, he did not understand that the Baltics and Georgians and the Ukrainians wanted freedom, independence.

The film by Herzog/Singer wants to give a historical background through archive and interviews. Essential questions were not raised or touched upon.  


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Werner Herzog Ecstatic Truths

Written 30-10-2018 17:49:55 by Tue Steen Mller

Werner Herzog  Ecstatic Truths

10.30 in the morning, Kupferstrasse in Leipzig. There is a line outside the Kupferhalle, where Werner Herzog is to hold his masterclass or as the DOK Leipzig organisers called it, “a conversation” with Kristina Jaspers, who knows about the director and has written a book about him, (as has Danish Kristoffer Hegnsvad). (And let me lead those who are interested to this site´s “Collected Posts on Werner Herzog”: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1940/).

Those in line waited to see if there were tickets to get. We had already been given tickets so in we (my wife and I) went with high expectations as we had heard that Herzog is a brilliant and inspiring speaker. And deep as had colleague Allan Berg experienced at the Danish Film School.

He was not deep this morning where everyone got in – festival director Leena Pasanen mentioned that we were around 500 to listen to the master. Not deep but entertaining he was from the very beginning, where he corrected Pasanen on how to set the audience microphones in the right positions! A director going in details.

Herzog followed up on yesterday’s film “Meeting Gorbachev” saying that on all three



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DOK Leipzig 2018 Opening

Written 30-10-2018 08:39:39 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig 2018 Opening

Full house in Cinestar, two cinemas with people ready to watch "Meeting Gorbachev" by André Singer and Werner Herzog. Two wonderfully short and good official speeches came from representatives from the city of Leipzig and from Sachsen. A longer one from festival director Leena Pasanen, relaxed, happy she was with the goal reached of having quite as many female directors as male at the festival already now, hoping that this example of equal opportunities could inspire other cultural institutions. She thanked the funders, of course, and made a fine statement on the "premiere circus" that the festival takes part in, an issue often mentioned on this site: why is it so important to have premieres, an absurdity Pasanen said even more so in times of coproductions, where one or more festivals have national premieres, others European premieres, others world premieres. Etc. This year we have introduced "late harvest" (in German Spätlese) to secure that the audience have the chance to watch films that have been going around succesfully to other festivals.

And Werner Herzog on stage introducing the film - co-director André Singer was not there but his son was Nick Singer, who made the music for the film. Before the film the organisers had found a funny clip with the young rebellious Herzog talking about filmmaking, a bit "peinlich" Herzog said, not at all, a fine reference back to a filmmaker, who if anyone has put his mark on German and world cinema.

The film has a kind and compassionate approach. Herzog, he says so in the interview, loves Gorbachev for his silent contribution to the reunification of his Germany, for his nuclear disarmament agreements with the Americans, for his positive attitude to the Western world.

To the interviews made by Herzog are added archive material and interviews, for instance with Lech Walesa, Hungarian Németh and George Schultz who was with Reagan at the famous meeting in Iceland concerning the reduction of nuclear weapons. There are some fine anecdotes in this historical part.

In that way it is obvious that the film wants to give the audience a historical background, fair enough as the film goes on television, for me who is old enough and knows the history, the most appealing is to watch and listen to the 87 year old man, sitting there, not in good health but open to say that it was wrong to give up the USSR, expressing worries for what is happening now in his country and elsewhere. Moving is the sequence were he talks about his wife Raisa - "when she died I felt that my life was taken away from me". A statesman yes, but also a human being suffering a loss.

https://www.dok-leipzig.de


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Andr Singer on Meeting Gorbachev

Written 28-10-2018 10:18:58 by Tue Steen Mller

Andr Singer on Meeting Gorbachev

From variety.com I received a very informative interview with André Singer on his making of the documentary with Werner Herzog, written by Damon Wise. The film is to be shown at the Ji.hlava Festival and opens the DOK Leipzig tomorrow night. Singer talks about how he approached Gorbachev, how he included his long time partner on many films, Werner Herzog, how other interviews were conducted, how he had a structure in beforehand that was dropped after the interviews that Herzog conducted – “… The essential quality we wanted from the interview was of two intelligent and concerned men engaged in discussion – not a formal Q&A. Gorbachev never asked for questions in advance and was happy to enter into any area of questioning Werner wished to take…”.

André Singer, who explains the technical issues connected to the shooting of the three interviews, is going to Moscow beginning of November to show the film to Gorbachev, “this legendary giant of the 1980s and ’90s”.

To conclude the fine interview Singer says “…I feel strongly that the most important thing about the film is that it “humanizes” him. I found him a warm, genuine, generous man who has been neglected by history and in his current rather sad position isolated in Moscow deserves to be heard and remembered. If the film helps achieve that, I would be a happy man!”.

On the photo you see André Singer, Werner Herzog, Gorbachev and the interpreter Pavel Palazchenko.

More on André Singer, The True Documentary Gentleman, in Danish on http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3032/

https://variety.com/2018/film/festivals/mikhail-gorbachev-werner-herzog-andre-singer-1203006531/


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Martina Melilli: My Home in Libya

Written 27-10-2018 16:32:00 by Tue Steen Mller

Martina Melilli: My Home in Libya

One year ago good friend, producer Stefano Tealdi sent me a rough cut of what is now a finished film that has been screened in Locarno, Chicago and is in the programme of DOKLeipzig, that starts next week. I found my immediate email reaction from then and am happy to state that it lives up to, what it promised:

“This is going to be a great film! Really… It is original, surprising in style and it has several layers: The world of today. The world of yesterday - the grandfather is excellent as
is his parrot. And the director makes very good shots from the apartment. To be away from each other, long-distance, maybe not a love but then a true friend story. You see Tripoli as it looks today, beautiful it was and is and then you see closed doors and shops.

You can see that this is made by someone, who comes with another “visual approach”, hurra for that… “

Yes, it is different, far from mainstream, sketchy, including the search for making the film, collecting material from the past in Tripoli, family archive, notes, drawings and first of all the internet conversation with the Libyan Mahmoud, a conversation that overtakes the narration more and more; unfolding the desperate situation of the young man, who formulates sentences like “Libya is Hell” from the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. He can’t leave, she can’t go there.

But it is also history – about the Italians in Libya until Gadaffi came to power in 1969 and the grandparents and their children had to leave the country. Libya today, well what do we know, it’s ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood and militias, we hear from Mahmoud. And wonderful images from the apartment of the grandparents, memories…

“Who is (not) missing something” is a question put in the beginning of the film. For this blogger, who is taking a lot of time of reorganizing family photos and papers right now, this sentence is quite relevant – my father was born in Buenos Aires, where my grandfather etc. etc. We all have these stories…

Italy, 2018, 66 mins.

https://www.dok-leipzig.de/


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Rugil Barzdiukaitė: Acid Forest

Written 26-10-2018 18:22:42 by Tue Steen Mller

Rugil Barzdiukaitė: Acid Forest

I have been there. On the wonderful Curonian Spit in Lithuania: The dunes, the sea, the forest, a place to relax – and a place where you find drama and at the same time are invited to reflect on our relationship to nature. I remember running like crazy away from a true Donnerwetter at the sea with my wife, and filmmaker Audrius Stonys and his son. We took refuge in the car of the filmmaker and after a while it was quiet blue sky.

Another day we went to the cormorants at Juodkranté to study this amazing phenomenon of fallen and naked pine trees caused by the acid shit of the cormorants, who live and nest there, eat fish from he water, and can do so, protected as the species is by EU and national law.

This location is where this cleverly made, cinematically brilliant documentary essay takes place. The birds are there, they are filmed from a distance sitting as shadows on the branches with the sky in the background, in daylight, at dusk, at night – or in close-ups, or like small dark spots in the amazing drone images that break the almost motionless images of the trees – and US who are in the picture most of the time.

Meaning we tourists who come to watch and talk about the cormorants. The film has caught the conversations and they are fun to follow. Tourists who are filmed from a distance standing on a platform for viewing. What we get are comments in Japanese, German, Finnish, Russian, American etc. Many comments go in the direction of “this is like a nuclear disaster”; several say that it is the fault of the EU that this shit exists; some discuss politics (Russia is just around the corner), and a young couple in love has a great conversation – she adores what she sees, he says jokingly that he will bring his gun; photographic gun he corrects after his first comments.

The film lives because of this dialogue in the nature – and your own dialogue with a film that insists on its theme, and brings us visual tourists to see and experience the paradoxical situation. The birds are watching us, we are watching – and smelling – them!

To see what comes out of continuous poop, hatching, trees that are almost falling to the ground…

Another proof of the poetic, reflective documentary tradition in Lithuania. It was at festivals in Locarno, Riga and Ji.hlava – more will come. Of course.  

Lithuania, 2018, 63 mins.


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Lithuanian Cinema Travels

Written 25-10-2018 16:10:13 by Tue Steen Mller

Lithuanian Cinema Travels

Here we are – watch our films, meet our filmmakers. It seems like this is the policy of the Lithuanian Film Centre this year, where the population-wise small country celebrates its centenary. According to an article in Cineuropa – link below - … Over the past four months, thanks to support from the Lithuanian Film Centre, the heavy presence of both completed films and projects was evident in almost 20 countries worldwide…

The article mentions fiction films that have travelled, going on to mention documentaries that we deal with (mostly) on this site - … Moving onto documentaries, Rugilė Barzdiukaitė’s debut, Acid Forest [+], premiered at Locarno, whereas the co-production Bridges of Time [+] by Kristīne Briede and Audrius Stonys did likewise at Karlovy Vary. Previously premiered documentaries also pressed on with their festival runs. Lithuania’s Oscar submission, Wonderful Losers: A Different World [+] by Arūnas Matelis, was at the Belfast “Pull Focus” Documentary Festival and Ulju Mountain Film Festival, where it was also awarded, and The Ancient Woods [+] by Mindaugas Survila unspooled at the Sydney Film Festival…

I am still waiting to see “Acid Forest”, the three others have been reviewed on this site.

And when it comes to the so-called “industry presence” - …  the Lithuanian Film Centre was one of the partners in the Pula Film Festival’s Matchmaking Forum (see the news), while Lithuania was featured as one of the countries participating in Locarno Pro’s Match Me! producers’ networking programme (see the news). Also, Lithuanian producers Giedrė ickytėDagnė VildiūnaitėMarija RazgutėPaulius Juočeris and Andrius Lekavičius were included in the selection of the Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum and the Glocal Meets the Baltics section of San Sebastián…

DOK Leipzig hosts an impressive retrospective of Lithuanian documentaries from next week – read http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4368/ - and apart from the retrospective two new Lithuanian documentaries are in the “Next Masters” section at the festival: “Animus Animalis (A Story about People, Animals and Things)” by Aisté Zegulyté and “Nijole” by Sandro Bozzolo, produced by Dagnė Vildiūnaitė, experienced Lithuanian fiction and documentary producer. Several directors from the country have been invited to Leipzig.

https://cineuropa.org/en/newsdetail/362126/

http://www.lkc.lt/en/2018/10/cinema-spreads-the-word-about-lithuania-across-the-world-four-months-four-continents-leading-festivals/

https://filmfinder.dok-leipzig.de/en/?&section=284


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IDFA Press Conference

Written 25-10-2018 10:07:40 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Press Conference

There he was, Orwa Nyrabia, the new artistic director of IDFA, to be watched through streaming yesterday afternoon. I saw the first half of his presentation and could only nod, when he started telling us press people that documentaries are not made to answer questions, no they are there to raise and trace questions. Orwa stressed that the selection has not been made according to subject – subject is not enough, there should be much more. And journalistic documentaries should accordingly be more than mere reporting. Good to be reminded of basics of the artistic documentary, or call it the creative – in other words: documentary is an Art form.

Orwa showed clips and apart from looking forward to the Vertov-film, “The Sound of Masks” by Sara de Gouvela, placed in the Luminous category, of South African and Portuguese production background, is now a Must for me. Wow, for a clip. Anyway, go to the website and study the selection for the feature-length competition, for me new names but also films by Geyerhalter, Hungarian Eszter Hajdú, Israeli Tomer Heymann, Chilean couple Bettina Perut & Iván Osnovikoff, Indian Anand Patwardhan. Read this shortened clip from the press release:  



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No Eastern European projects at IDFA Forum 2018

Written 21-10-2018 19:38:48 by Tue Steen Mller

No Eastern European projects at IDFA Forum 2018

Here comes IDFA’s response to the question of no Eastern European projects in the selection of IDFA 2018’s Forum, sent today by the artistic director Orwa Nyrabia:

The fact that there are no East European projects in IDFA’s Forum 2018 selection is simply bad and sad. This needs to be examined and analyzed indeed. At IDFA we are examining how this happened and why it is such a surprising zero in the year’s projects slate. We also note that this is the selection of one year. The share of Eastern European projects over the past 15 years has been between 2 and 7 projects per edition, 3 to 4 most of the time. One year does not represent a trend. It might also be relevant here to say that our process was inclusive, that our pre-selectors and jurors were widely-representative are diversified. They did a difficult job and for that we are thankful. The selection process was long and as thorough as possible, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes. We could have missed on great projects, it is our loss too.



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IDFA Forum/ 2

Written 20-10-2018 13:57:24 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Forum/ 2

Below you have the presentation from IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival) of the Forum, no doubt the gathering of documentary film professionals, who want funding and/or publicity of the film, that they are working on. The event has been there for decades, it’s been instrumental as a gathering for the documentary community to meet, exchange, network, tell each other that documentaries are important – and communicate that to the funders, the broadcasters, the politicians etc. The Forum – and the IDFA – is crucial, when it comes to stressing the importance of the documentary genre in a democratic world. I did not say in Europe because there we have a problem, dear IDFA Forum people:

Maybe you are not to blame, maybe it is a problem that mirrors the sad development within the EU and its surroundings: EU did not become what we (EUropeans like me) wanted it to become. There is a Western Europe as before and an Eastern Europe as before. There is a rich and a poor Europe. And there are conflicts within the EU, where Eastern countries are politically turning to the right – as is the case in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and I could go on exemplifying from Western countries like the one – Denmark – where I have my home and where intolerance and xenophobia are alive and kicking…

AND NOW TO MY QUESTION WHEN I LOOK AT THE LIST OF COUNTRIES REPRESENTED AT THE FORUM AT IDFA 2018, 51 COUNTRIES REPRESENTED, BUT ONLY ONE FROM EASTERN EUROPE IF YOU INCLUDE GEORGIA:

There are NO projects from Estonia, Latvia. Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Ukraine…

But of course I salute the selection of Georgian “The Platform” by Nino Orjonikidze and Vano Arsenishvili – I know them, they are sooo good!

AND HOW TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS…

Is it really because there were no more than one project good enough among the 768 projects submitted?

Is it because projects from Eastern Europe were very few?

Because they prefer to submit projects to – for instance – East Doc Forum in Prague?

Because the IDFA Forum is too expensive (submission fee, travel and stay, publicity…) for filmmakers from Eastern Europe?

Why… tell me

Because if you look at the IDFA festival and the films taken for the many sections, there is a lot of great films selected from the Eastern part of Europe – and beware it is not “only” Kossakovsky, Loznitsa, Mansky. The festival lives from excellent films from Eastern Europe, also this year; take a look at the selection for mid-length section, there are films from Serbia (Photo from Andrijana Stojkovic “Wongar”), Belarus, Poland, Russia… It seems there is a total lack of harmony this year between the Forum and the Festival!   

https://www.idfa.nl/en/article/105926/51-projects-selected-to-pitch-at-idfa-forum-2018


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Forum/ 1

Written 20-10-2018 13:48:39 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Forum/ 1

The Forum at IDFA is for documentary filmmakers the place to launch the new projects, they want the documentary community to be aware of, and eventually be interested in, eventually to invest in. Projects are presented/pitched followed by meetings. It is all very well organized and respected. “You have to be there”, filmmakers working internationally say, “otherwise “they” think that your company has died”. Words to that effect.

IDFA has announced that 51 projects have made it to the grande finale – the pitch that takes place November 18th-21st.

The press release – a long quote from that – says “…

“The selection process was particularly competitive this year: with a record-breaking 768 projects submitted. Of the 51 projects selected to present at IDFA Forum, 24 different countries are represented, reflecting the inclusive emphasis of IDFA and its continuous word-wild support of documentary filmmakers.

This year's IDFA Forum selection casts a wide net, ranging from projects that examine pressing social issues to ones exploring the artistic boundaries of documentary filmmaking. Returning IDFA guests include Nanfu Wang (Untitled Cuba Project, United States), Camilla Nielsson (Democrats 2, Denmark), and Renzo Martens (A Gentrification Program, the Netherlands). Several selected projects demonstrate a clear interest in experimenting with documentary syntax, such as Lash by Yoonsuk Jung (South Korea) and The Way We Were by Marten Persiel (Germany).

The 2018 selection also features new projects by established filmmakers as well as emerging talents. Guy Davidi, co-director of the Academy Award-nominated 5 Broken Cameras, presents Senseless (Denmark/Israel). The renowned Mohamed Al-Daradji (Iraq’s Invisible Beauty, Belgium), and Hemal Trivedi (The Half Truths, India, United States), as well as up-and-coming talents Sun Hee Engelstoft (Forget Me Not, Denmark) and Ayse Toprak (The Other Half, Turkey) will also present their latest projects at IDFA Forum 2018…”

Questions raised in IDFA Forum/ 2 above.

Photo from “Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson, she is pitching a sequel.

https://www.idfa.nl/en/article/105926/51-projects-selected-to-pitch-at-idfa-forum-2018


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

ArtdocFest in Riga

Written 19-10-2018 12:42:11 by Tue Steen Mller

ArtdocFest in Riga

Well, I should have been in Riga now, where the International Film Festival is one day old, and were it goes on until the end of the month. It is a festival with many sections: a tribute to Ingmar Bergman, a competition for fiction films, Latvian and Baltic films… and, the reason why I should have been there: Artdocfest Riga with 21 documentaries, competitive with legendary theatre director Alvis Hermanis as one of the jurors. The festival, founded and run by Vitaly Mansky, who now lives and works out of Riga, presents itself like this on the festival’s website:



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Astra Film Festival

Written 18-10-2018 11:57:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Astra Film Festival

… in Sibiu, Romania celebrates its 25th edition. For that reason Cineuropa brings an interview with the founding director Dumitru Budrala. He looks back and makes a status on the state of the documentary art. Here is a quote – but read it all, link below – including a question:

You said that documentary films are “lifeboats in a sea of alternative facts”. Can you elaborate on this opinion on the power and usefulness of the genre?
The audience potential of documentary cinema is amazing, as it can reach both a wider public and a specialised, niche audience. At every edition, Astra Film Festival offers a host of thematic sidebars that explore reality by proposing an intimate, detailed portrait of humanity. These films are a shortcut to social consciousness and a tool for change, “a therapy for the mending of society”, as Cristi Puiu [a jury member at Astra 2018] puts it. Both in Romania and around the world, daily events in the social and political landscape leave a mark on the very essence of the human condition. Reality is more spectacular than fiction – or, as they say, “life beats film”. Documentary has become more and more relevant because people feel the need for an alternative source of knowledge and new tools for understanding reality in a world where fake news, intolerance, cynical dissimulation and the redaction of the past are becoming more and more invasive…

Looking at the programme a thematic choice catches my eye, “On the Road to Europe” that features 10 films that deal with how Eastern European countries have been dealing with the post-communism reality. I was reminded of the fine films by Vuk Janic “Last Yugoslavian Football team” (for a football freak what a great team it was and what a tragedy that all went into pieces, at least football-wise), Hungarian Tibor Kocsis “New Eldorado”, a perfect illustration of new capitalism, Latvian Kaspars Goba’s “Homo@Lv” from 2010 (homophobia, intolerance) and Marcin Latallo’s “Our Street” from 2006, the deroute of working class family.

A clever so-called side-bar in a cleverly curated festival that runs until the 21st of October.  

https://www.astrafilm.ro/films/

https://cineuropa.org/en/interview/361723/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Meet Gorbachev at Hauptbahnhof!

Written 17-10-2018 11:09:44 by Tue Steen Mller

Meet Gorbachev at Hauptbahnhof!

... on a big screen… for free, read what DOKLeipzig has to offer its film interested audience, taken from the website, what a good idea:

The East Hall of Leipzig’s Central Station is turning again into a festival cinema during DOK Leipzig 2018! For the third year in a row, we present free, public film screenings in the scope of the festival week. Besides the opening film Meeting Gorbachev by Werner Herzog and André Singer to be shown in parallel to the official festival opening, a further seven documentary and animated films will be shown on a big screen in the East Hall of the Central Station.

The screenings take place in cooperation with Promenaden Hauptbahnhof shopping centre and Deutsche Bahn AG and start from Monday 29 October till Saturday 3 November daily at 7:30pm. Free entry!

The following films will be shown:

Monday, 29/10 | 7:30 pm

Meeting Gorbachev | Werner Herzog, André Singer | 180 min. | German version | from 6 years old

Tuesday, 30/10 | 7:30 pm

Exit | Karen Winther | 76 min. | Danish/English/French/German/Norwegian OV with English subtitles | from 12 years on

Wednesday, 31/10 | 7:30 pm

The Yellow Mazda and His Holiness | Sandra Hermans | 10 min. | French OV with English subtitles
Der Esel hieß Geronimo (A Donkey Called Geronimo) | Arjun Talwar, Bigna Tomschin | 80 min. | Danish/English/German OV with English subtitles

Thursday, 01/11 | 7:30 pm

All Creatures Welcome | Sandra Trostel | 87 min. | English/German OV with German subtitles

Friday, 02/11 | 7:30 pm

Oro Blanco | Gisela Carbajal Rodríguez | 23 min. | Spanish OV with English subtitles
Was kostet die Welt (The Prize of Paradise) | Bettina Borgfeld | 91 min. | English/German OV with German subtitles

Saturday, 03/11 | 7:30 pm

Chris the Swiss | Anja Kofmel | 90 min. | English/German/Spanish OV with German subtitles | from 12 years on

https://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/festival/festival-news?start:int=0


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lithuanian Documentaries A Poetic Look at Reality

Written 14-10-2018 21:00:48 by Tue Steen Mller

Lithuanian Documentaries A Poetic Look at Reality

There is a grand focus on Lithuania at DOKLeipzig this year. Festival director Leena Pasanen has since her time at the Finnish television YLE been an admirer of the small Baltic country’s impressive documentary tradition. She stands behind a uniqe presentation of three generations of film directors, who worked during Soviet time, after the independence and today.

The festival shows the films and has arranged a special session, where it invites the audience to meet two of the most prominent Lithuanian directors from the “new generation”, called “the digital age”, Giedre Zickyte and Mindaugas Survila, who will talk about and show examples from their country’s beautiful tradition for documentary Cinema, which is wonderfully described by Audrius Stonys, now “the grand old man of Lithuanian documentary”, in the following way:

“What is called the poetic school of Lithuanian documentary “…created an independent world, free from Soviet ideology, lie and propaganda. It was a declaration of inner freedom. The black and white world of poetic documentary films was full of colours. Sadness was full of joy. And joy was touched by deep existential sadness. These films reminded us about what is Cinema—to film and to enjoy the beauty of the leaves, moving in the wind.”

The two younger directors will refer to the tradition, talk about their own films, how it is to work internationally in a European market, with the television demands – and how they strive to keep their own voice. And they succeed…

In the films by Giedre Zickyté (“How We Played the Revolution”) and Mindaugas Survila (“Field of Magic”) you will see that they have their own style, still with a bridge back to their colleagues.

The meeting is an invitation to explore a unique documentary cinema tradition before and after independence, a wave of a personal free visual language that celebrates life and humanity. Magical moments are waiting for you.

I will be the moderator of this session that takes place Thursday November 1st. I have been privileged to follow the Lithuanian documentary scene for 25 years.

https://www.dok-leipzig.de


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ji.hlava IDFF Announces Programme

Written 11-10-2018 17:10:21 by Tue Steen Mller

Ji.hlava IDFF Announces Programme

… IDFF standing for International Documentary Film Festival. A press release came out today from the festival that starts October 25 and runs until October 30. With its 22nd edition.

I have taken some bits and pieces to highlight what is to happen in the Czech provincial town, where I have been many times, especially when I was involved in the Ex Oriente workshop. But click below, the website of the festival tells the details.

Let me start with a quote from festival director Marek Hovorka, a true cinephile: … Altogether, the programme will have 327 films on offer. ‘I’m surprised that documentary films still remain overlooked, even though they are some of the most interesting cinema out there. Compared to narrative films, they more accurately reflect our own questions, doubts, joys and failures. Documentary films aren’t meant to be an escape from our own lives – they are a way for us to better understand them,’ says Marek Hovorka, the festival’s director.

‘The true struggle of cinema happens in documentaries which open up new



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DOK Leipzig Official Selection

Written 10-10-2018 20:39:25 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Official Selection

So here it is, the announcement of the Official Selection for DOKLeipzig. The filmmakers were of course informed in beforehand but were not allowed to express their enthusiasm before publication, which they can do now. First step for me who will report from the festival every day, is to copy paste the press release, plus give some links to the programme sections that have already been written about on this site. The festival starts the 29th of October, so those of you who go there have time to study and make your agenda, link below. The press release:

It’s Official! We are happy to present the full programme for DOK Leipzig 2018. From Argentina to Egypt, Lebanon to Latvia, Montenegro to Madagascar, Sierra Leone to Saudi Arabia – this year we are showing a grand total of 306 films from 50 different countries.

Of the 3,150 works viewed by the selection committee over the course of the last year, 160 have now made it into the Official Selection, the further films will be screened in the scope of our Special Programmes.

“The courage displayed by the filmmakers this year is quite remarkable,” as festival director Leena Pasanen reflects. “They engage critically with the world



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ME - at IDFA

Written 08-10-2018 21:15:37 by Tue Steen Mller

ME - at IDFA

IDFA presents a main focus program, ME, about the personal and autobiographical documentary film. Me is a selection of different cinematic expressions by filmmakers whose study of themselves is both a journey into their own private history as well as an artistic exploration…

The first paragraph in a press release from IDFA, the festival taking place in November, that announces new titles every Tuesday until then and whose competition programs will be announced October 24… In other words feeding the hungry documentarians with small bites as DOKLeipzig that starts October 29 has done with their announcement taking place on Wednesday the 10th.

ME, I thought when I saw the announcement… we have had enough of that biting my tongue when I think about my constant preaching at workshops and on this site that films have to be personal, maybe not autobiographical but with a personal touch, a personal motivation and – please – a personal handwriting, a personal style…

For that reason it is wonderful to see that the festival has chosen to show both “Father and Son” by Pawel Lozinski AND “Father and Son on a Journey” by Marcel Lozinski. It was meant to be one film by son Pawel, produced by him but father Marcel broke the agreement and insisted on making his version of a fascinating, painful and humorous car trip from Warsaw to Paris. This film is personal and has found its own expression.

Happy also that Avi Mograbi (PHOTO) is there with his “Happy Birthday, Mr.Mograbi”, the most critical, both sarcastic and satirical characterization of Israel and its policy under Bibi – it is almost 20 years old but what it describes is unfortunately still actual and even more worse than in the late nineties.

It is actually a slate of wonderful chances to re-view films by Kossakovsky (“Wednesday”), Ross McElwee (“Sherman’s March”), great to have Andrés di Tella with his masterpiece “Photographs”, Rithy Panh with “The Missing Picture” – and for me to have the chance to discover Japanese Naomi Kawase and re-view Kazuo Hara’s “Extremely Private Eros: Love Song 1974”.

Many more films, it’s very inviting this selection of 20 documentaries from IDFA.

https://www.idfa.nl/en/selection/101804/me 


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Best East/Central European Documentary 2018?

Written 05-10-2018 22:33:47 by Tue Steen Mller

The Best East/Central European Documentary 2018?

The IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) based in Prague hosts a yearly so-called Silver Eye Award that has been granted annually since 2009 to the best East and Central European documentary films in two categories: short and feature documentary film with approx. 11 films in each category. There are juries and the winners will be announced at the Ji.hlava festival and of this month: “The winner in each category receives not only a unique award trophy, but also a prize money of 2 250 € and a year-long festival service of the East Silver Caravan worth of additional 2 250 €.”

With all respect to the short film genre, I will only mention the feature documentaries with links to the reviews written on this site:



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Orwa Nyrabia at Getting Real Conference 2018

Written 05-10-2018 20:57:30 by Tue Steen Mller

   Orwa Nyrabia at Getting Real Conference 2018

… where he made a keynote speech introduced by the IDA’s Claire Aguilar in this way: Orwa is the Artistic Director of IDFA Amsterdam.  But unfortunately he is not here in person. He is skyping in from Amsterdam. As a Syrian national, he was not allowed into the US!! IDFA is the largest doc fest in world. Last year he was appointed art director. This Nov will be his first edition. He is a filmmaker/activist/programmer/actor.

Here is a small quote from the speech, I warmly recommend you to join the D-Word that has covered the conference extensely and where the whole speech can be found:

I spent much of my childhood with Troy and Achilles, and fight with Hannibal, and take elephant over mts. And Yemeni magical flying beast. I was a kid. My father, a political prisoner. Mother, sleepless. Expected to be imprisoned too. My experience is parallel to others. I was so afraid of reality as a kid. So I lived in mythology and then to be an actor. But I decided I didn’t want that. Documentary film felt like a outlet for my anger and my terrible reality. In the sense that in documentary film, the great works showed me that even when we make a film about the self, it can be ruthless truth and sincere and meaningful for all.

In my life conferences like this became expected, not a surprise. 15 yrs ago I was asking Jeeve where are you guys, and then I’d found d-word. It’s the best form of community I could have. Travel is difficult. We were lonelier than today but distance is different today. Today if we look at the reality of international doc filmmakers -- are tortured, exiled, and killed. More than ever. Not everywhere. There is a normalization of what happens in Russia – 130 day hunger strike. But it will affect all of us, filmmakers being persecuted. Everyday in world, filmmakers face a lobbying campaign against them.

In Europe, it’s a special moment with the rise of right wing, and budgets are aggressively cut back, as the social democracy and public welfare state is being challenged. Denmark right wing voted to cut budget of public TV, and so documentaries are harmed. Denmark recently also now has a question of content. Prefer production in Danish language. A closing of the borders of country. ..

https://www.d-word.com/


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Neuland at DOK Leipzig

Written 04-10-2018 14:23:32 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Neuland at DOK Leipzig

Demand the Impossible! In his essay The Ultimate Display from 1965, Ivan Sutherland formulated the almost prophetic dream of a computer display of reality that creates a perfect illusion of materiality. Films like The Matrix interpreted this as a nightmare, generating a fundamental scepticism of mediated spaces. At the same time, in 2015, hopes were raised that VR was an “empathy machine” that would make us all better human beings. Immersing yourself in other worlds via a headset, however, does not necessarily produce empathy. Today artists are exploring new aspects of immersion and leaving more space for a more complex experience of absorption.

The festival motto Demand the Impossible! serves as the guiding principle of our exhibition of interactive and VR works, too. We are transported to worlds that expand, defamiliarise, distort or temporally bend our present environment. This is where places that exist only in our imagination or in individual perceptions can be made accessible. This year, DOK Neuland focuses on works that turn their users into explorers: not like Neo in the matrix, but like Alice in wonderland.

Exhibited Works. DOK Neuland invites from 30 October to 3 November to discover and experience 12 interactive and VR works. Read more about the DOK Neuland projects: 

https://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/festival/dokneuland/projekte-2018


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Helena Třetikov: My Top 10

Written 03-10-2018 11:27:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Helena Třetikov: My Top 10

More documentary film history… chapeau for DOKLeipzig and IDFA that both festivals (more than before?) look back and not “only” take the temperature of what’s new in the documentary world. Here some words on the selection done by Czech documentary superstar (she will hate that I call her so!) Helena Třeštiková, who has been asked by IDFA to make her Top 10. The link below brings you to her article about the choice, she made, personal and with this wonderful quote by Věra Chytilová, whose film from 1963 “Something Different” is on the list: ““A film should have truth, aesthetics, intellect, feeling and a belief, because film should be true, exciting, necessary, beautiful and full of hope”.

 

Of course there must be a film by Milos Forman, “The Firemen’s Ball” (1967), and I loved her choice of Georges Rouquier, “Farrebique – The Four Seasons” from 1946, farmers in France; we had this gem in the catalogue of Statens Filmcentral (National Film Board of Denmark), no objection either to have “The Seine Meets Paris” (1957) by Ivens and Jacques Prévert, and Třeštiková reminds us about Havel, when she writes about “Citizen Havel”:



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Jonas Mekas on DocAlliance

Written 02-10-2018 12:01:49 by Tue Steen Mller

Jonas Mekas on DocAlliance

 

I hurry to give you this news from Prague, where the excellent online cinema of DocAlliance keeps on offering film lovers high quality retrospectives into film history – to a very low price:

We present an extensive retrospective of Jonas Mekas, 95-year-old director straddled between Europe and the US, documentary and the avant-garde. Discover the work of the Lithuanian-American director, poet and visual artist often called the godfather of American avant-garde cinema and founder of the diary genre in documentary film.

The collection includes a cross-section of the works by Jonas Mekas which often follow a personal line. We present 13 films altogether, including The Brig about a Marine Corps jail in Japan. Following a day in the life of the inmates, the ultra-realistic film captures the tough treatment and shocking ways of physical and mental humiliation. The film won the Grand Prix at Venice Film Festival in 1964. This Side of Paradise follows the Kennedy family after the death of JFK. Jackie Kennedy decided to distract the children and hired Mekas as a film chronicler. The director spent several summer holidays at the house of Andy Warhol with the family, making a very personal film with a touch of home video and deep friendship which gradually emerged between him and the family. Made in diary style, Williamsburg, Brooklyn shows the neighborhood where Mekas settled after his arrival in the US; most of the scenes were shot between 1948 and 1951 and show the everyday life and little stories from the streets of New York. The film was screened at IFF Rotterdam.

https://dafilms.com/program/671-retrospective-jonas-mekas


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Shevaun Mizrahi: Distant Constellation

Written 30-09-2018 17:22:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Shevaun Mizrahi: Distant Constellation

You can’t see the wind a four year old family member said the other day.

Right she is. But you can hear it. And it can be part of a very excellent sound design as it is in this debut documentary film that I was happy to watch, having missed it in a couple of festivals, the last one Message2Man in St.Petersburg, where it received an award.

Music is an important part of the film of Shevaun Mizrahi. Within the walls of the house for old people, where the film is shot and where music forms a discreet background for scenes, creating atmosphere.

The atmosphere of the constant waiting the old people experience; those you can’t help loving from start till end. The old woman who comes from Armenia and remembers how her family had to change their names when they took home in Turkey. The old photographer (on the photo) who is almost blind and is repeating his sentences again and again. The charmeur who plays piano, reads an erotic text and asks the director if they should marry, “I need someone in my life”. And others.

They are on the edge of leaving Life with their memories in a dark film with bright absurd moments like the conversations in an elevator between the two old men, who go up and down talking to each other, hilarious it is, yes it reminds me of Beckett.

And outside there are construction workers, who are not from Turkey, who get out of their beds in poor container homes to go to work to earn money to send home. It looks like it is just outside the old people’s retirement home – it’s not important, for the old people it is another world than the one they lived in when younger.

A first film, a debut – bravo, a mature documentary film with many layers, visually with more interpretation than information, beautiful to watch, full of details, you see that the director, who is also the camerawoman was there for more than just a visit. Next film, please!    

Turkey, 82 mins., 2017


Vurdering:

 
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Guevara Namer Barcelona Photo

Written 28-09-2018 10:54:24 by Tue Steen Mller

Guevara Namer Barcelona Photo

This is the second - and it will not be the last - time that we bring a photo taken by talented Guevara Namer. The first one was here

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3349/

from the Damascus where Guevara lived and was part of the team behind the DOXBox festival's four editions. A couple of weeks ago I met her again. She was pitching a project in Riga together with German Antonia Kilian, very succesful pitch, read

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4342/


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKLeipzig New Section: Late Harvest

Written 27-09-2018 14:35:08 by Tue Steen Mller

DOKLeipzig New Section: Late Harvest

The festival in Leipzig works apparently according to film editing rules: Don’t give all the information up front, give it piece by piece. The official programme is not announced yet but the festival introduces a new section called Late Harvest. Read all about it in the press release:

In anticipation of announcing of the complete Official Selection for DOK Leipzig 2018, we give a little taste of what you can expect at this year’s edition. In introducing the new programme section LATE HARVEST, we aim to draw attention to important films from the current season, works which have managed to capture the cinematic and political spirit of this year – by winning awards at other festivals, serving as catalysts for heated debate, or making echoing contributions to social and cinematographic discourses which complement and enhance DOK Leipzig’s themes and perspectives...



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IDFA Dziga Vertov

Written 27-09-2018 10:26:07 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA  Dziga Vertov

 A mail arrived from IDFA announcing quite a film historical event as part of the festival: “You are cordially invited to the IDFA 2018 world premiere of Dziga Vertov's recently found and restored film, The Anniversary of the RevolutionPossibly the first feature-length documentary film ever made, The Anniversary of the Revolution screens November 20th in Tuschinski 1.” And about the film it goes like this:

The Anniversary of the Revolution was made by pioneering filmmaker Dziga Vertov (1896-1954) between early 1917 and 1918. Filming the developments surrounding the Russian Revolutions of February and October 1918, and the following civil war, Vertov documented events and protagonists that would change history. Using his own footage and occasionally the material of a few others, Vertov assembled his chronological account of the historical year into a two-hour film in 1918, making The Anniversary of the Revolution possibly the first feature-length documentary film ever made... to be continued



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Sources Mentoring Workshop

Written 27-09-2018 00:17:39 by Tue Steen Mller

Sources Mentoring Workshop

I was meant to arrive in Herrsching at the Haus der bayerischen Landwirtschaft Sunday, the day before the day where I should speak to mentors, who had signed up for the workshop, that dealt with mentoring. But coming from the Zelig film school in Bolzano to Munich, I had hoped, as experienced before, for a stay in the city to visit museums and relax…. I had forgotten about Oktoberfest and there was NO hotel rooms available. None at all. Marion Gompper from Sources saved me, providing a room with a bed at the venue by the Ammersee from Saturday night. Sorry Germans and lovers of Oktoberfest, but great to get away from Lederhosen and liters of beer after having enjoyed wonderful Italian Lagrein wine and grappa in Bolzano.

The training course, described by the organisers as “intensive”, was meant to



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Dok.Incubator: Play the Trailers

Written 26-09-2018 13:41:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Dok.Incubator: Play the Trailers

I could not be there – Sunday in Malmø at the Nordisk Panorama, where 8 projects developed at the Dok.Incubator were presented. For that reason I was happy to receive an email from the organisers saying “play the trailers” – the 8 films made by international talents right before release. I played the trailers.

I suppose the presentation in Malmø was as in the previous years, professional in an enthusiastic atmosphere: A verbal presentation, a trailer plus one or two scenes from the upcoming film. Especially the latter was for me important for getting an idea of the quality. Where a trailer is a trailer, in most cases a piece of information about the content.

Nevertheless, let me - from the trailer watching - mention three of the films that I definitely MUST see – to review on this site and/or consider to suggest for the festivals, where I am part of the programming team. Take a look and see if you agree:

“Of Friends and Gods” by Reetta Huhtanen. “Searching Eva” by Pia Hellenthal. “The Men’s Room” (PHOTO) by Petter Sommer

http://dokincubator.net/preview-2018/


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M2M Message to Man Fest Awards

Written 22-09-2018 17:57:02 by Tue Steen Mller

M2M  Message to Man Fest Awards

The festival in St. Petersburg is over and awards were announced yesterday after a grandiose (experienced through photos on Facebook) closing evening that had Viktor Kossakovsky's "Aquarela" on the program, of course, this is his home town!

Grand Prix and the Student Jury prize went to Hungarian "A Woman Captured" by Bernadett Tuza-Ritter, it must be one of (if not THE) most winning documentaries of the last year. If you want to read what I wrote on this site about the film:

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4093/

There were 3 awards for the Russian documentary "White Mama" by Evgenia Ostanina and Zosya Rodkevich - Best full length documentary, TV Kultura and Fipresci. Here is the synopsis of the film: "Alina and her family have been put under severe strain. The woman, who has six black-skinned children born out of her relationship with an Ethiopian man, decides to adopt a white boy with mental health problems. Will the characters have enough good will and sufficient child-raising skills to tame – and love – the little tyrant? A film for those who have nerves of steel as it takes viewers to the very centre of the family hell."

The festival has not yet published the whole list of winners, check it on the website or on FB.

https://message2man.com


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Enthusiasm

Written 13-09-2018 21:46:07 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Enthusiasm

To meet the audience with a positive attitude is of course the best festival invitation you can make. I thought about it this morning, when receiving a newsletter from Leipzig: They have a good press office in DOK Leipzig that in tone is able to convey what the programmers want to achieve:

We finally have the first film titles for our DOK Leipzig edition 2018. Our Special



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Kusturica & Kossakovsky

Written 12-09-2018 17:23:47 by Tue Steen Mller

Kusturica & Kossakovsky

”El Pepe, a Supreme Life” is a new documentary by Emir Kusturica about the former Uruguayen president José “Pepe” Mujica, loved by his nation, being President 2010-2015 after having spent 13 years in captivity. (Photo of the two in Venice).

In an interview with Cineuropa, in connection with the Venice festival, Kusturica says “Many years ago, I was in France, and someone told me there was a president who drove a tractor. I saw the pictures and said: “This is my next movie.” He is probably the only one in the whole world who is not corrupt. He gives his salary away to lower the poverty line. In the film, he says that when you are chosen by the majority, you have to live like the majority – not the elite. He accepts all that’s needed to improve society…

Throughout his life, “Pepe” was a former guerrilla: he was kidnapping people, robbing banks, fighting fascists, and then he studied in prison, ultimately becoming the Minister of Agriculture…

Also Victor Kossakovsky was at the festival with his new film “Aquarela” and talked to Cineuropa, a quote, the question was why water:

… If you are a fiction film director, you search for an actor and hope to find one with a great range of faces who can portray many emotions – who can be evil one moment and good in the next. For example, Meryl Streep - she can be everything. I thought: “If I’m a documentary filmmaker, what would be a good subject, showing this same variety of emotions?” And I realised that water is perfect - the sea can be peaceful one moment and kill you in the next.  

http://cineuropa.org/en/index/


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Wonderful Losers Win in South Korea

Written 12-09-2018 12:11:00 by Tue Steen Mller

Wonderful Losers Win in South Korea

At the third edition of a mountain film festival in South Korea, Lithuanian Arunas Matelis received the award for the best adventure and exploration film. Here are some words about the festival, followed by the clever jury motivation for the award: 



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Janus Metz og Sine Plambech: Heartbound

Written 10-09-2018 19:16:13 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Janus Metz og Sine Plambech: Heartbound

International release: 10th of September 2018 – TO-DAY – at the Toronto International Film Festival / Domestic release: 20th of September 2018.

Janus Metz og Sine Plambech’s films about this tale are Love on Delivery, 2007, Ticket to Paradise, 2008 and Heartbound, 2018.

ARRANGED MARRIAGES THAIS & DANES

The films take us to a windblown corner of North Jutland, where 575 Thai women live with their Danish husbands. Fifteen years ago there was only Sommai, a former sex worker from Pattaya. Opening with Sommai, the two films describe a network of strong, resolute Thai women who, through their marriages in Denmark, provide for themselves and an entire village in Thailand. Underlying Janus Metz’ documentaries, "Love on Delivery" and "Ticket to Paradise" is a focus on globalisation, poverty, prostitution and the universal need for security and love. Allan Berg Nielsen’s reflects on these two works, selected for IDFA 2008.

The location is introduced in beautiful photography by cinematographers Lars Skree and Henrik Bohn Ipsen. There is authority to these shots. A Jutlandic landscape that’s much, much more than a windswept corner of the country. A region and a people with a singular way of life, great dignity and their integrity intact. The photography conforms to my vision of the place that was shaped sometime back in the Romantic Age. Sommai is introduced with similar beauty and sureness. At first, it’s all about her. Once a stranger to these parts, she is now so integrated as anyone can be who looks different and comes from the other side of the globe. Then the story begins. All is well and good. I feel in good hands, from the beginning of the first documentary, Love on Delivery. I know I’ll stick with it. I sense that right away, because there’s a real story here, a love story that continues and concludes in part two, "Ticket to Paradise.”

LOVE ON DELIVERY (2007)

Sommai has been asked to arrange a marriage. She has done so before, found women in her home village and partnered them with men in Denmark. These women stick together, and we get to know two of them. As usual, Sommai has three months to get the job done, the duration of a tourist visa. The person we now turn our attention to, her sister’s daughter, arrives and is uneasily plunged right into things: classified ad, replies, choosing, meeting the man. Kjeld is his name, a nice, shy guy. Her helpers leave. Despondent, she stands in the doorway of the man’s house, the first truly gripping scene. What will become of her, this young woman, Kae?



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Categories: Cinema, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Forum Public Pitching

Written 10-09-2018 11:18:04 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Forum  Public Pitching

24 projects were presented in Riga at the big hall of the Ministry of Agriculture (!) Saturday and Sunday. To a panel of 9 women and 5 men representing television or sales companies. Mikael Opstrup and I moderated the sessions that were planned efficiently and with warmth by Zanda Dudina-Spoge and her team from the National Film Centre of Latvia.

Time will show what will come out of it, but good advice, constructive criticism, contacts, “I am interested, let’s talk more” were expressed to the pitching teams that had been trained



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nordic Documentary Films

Written 07-09-2018 22:36:50 by Tue Steen Mller

Nordic Documentary Films

Diversity is the word to characterize this selection of Nordic documentaries. Veterans and young talents, classical documentary language as well as so-called hybrid storytelling including fiction and animation in the documentary narrative.

The selection shows that the documentary environment in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark is based on tradition; there is an audience, there is good funding through film institutions. To put it a bit solemn and maybe elitist: In the Nordic countries documentaries are considered as a tool for debate, information and an artistic expression in democratic societies.

Ah, fuck off, legendary Jörn Donner would say to these lines, a true provocateur, who 85 year old makes a follow-up to his Finland-film from 1971, “Fuck Off 2” is the title, where he sends a sometimes sarcastic love declaration to his country, a journey he calls this personal essay, with songs written by another legendary Finn, the composer M.A. Numminen.

Where the visual side of Donner’s film is straight forward documentary mixed with reportage, the Icelandic “Innsaei” (“The Power of Intuition”) is a personal essay including animation, a film full of original visual solutions, that demonstrates how rich the documentary language is today. No limits from the side of Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir and Kristin Ólafsdóttir.

The Norwegian “69 Minutes of 86 Days” by Egil Håskjold Larsen combines emotion and information in its journey with a 3 year old child’s from Greece to Uppsala in Sweden. The girl is wonderful in her way of dealing with her refugee situation and the classical approach to documentary filmmaking works here: Don’t ask your characters to do anything, don’t put any questions, be there, be with them, observe…

As it is beautiful to follow the mayor in the small Swedish Ydre, when he goes with a small gift to couples, who have added a new citizen to the depopulated community. With a baby. The documentary, full of humour, gives the information and interpretation of the universal problems of Ydre, but has also a side where myths about the existence of Giants and trolls are visually brought to life in the beautiful nature of the small gem in Sweden. Malla Grapengiesser, Alexander Rynéus and Per Bifrost have made the film together, Grapengiesser also being the producer and the two males doing the camera work. Title: Giants and the Morning After.

Finally the Danish contribution, “Bad Circumstances” by Max Kestner, experienced director, like all film directors in this series a true auteur with his own “handwriting”, takes to the detective genre to carry the story together with an essayistic touch, still with an observational camera style and a fascinating main character, the amateur historian, who wants to find out, what happened to the Danish adventurers and scientists, who died in Greenland in the beginning of the 20th century.

https://message2man.com/en/


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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