The Dox Box Residency

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

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

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

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKU.ARTS Berlin with Sebald and Stan Neumann

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mladen Mitrović: Chasing a Dream

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jean-Gabriel Périot: A German Youth

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

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

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

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

France, Germany, Switzerland, 2015, 92 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Visit – from Armenia to South Africa

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

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

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

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Hazem Alhamwi: Portrait

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

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

“Hello my teacher.  I miss you.

I wish you are fine and in good health.

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

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

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

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

With all love and respect.

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

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

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Georg Larsen & Kasper Vedsmand: Massakren i Dvor

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

New York FF: Spotlight on Documentary

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Liz Garbus: What Happened, Nina Simone?

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

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

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

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

"Life is Sacred" on Tour Around Denmark

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

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

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

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sarajevo Film Festival Documentary Competition

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 6

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 5

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Polish Winners in Locarno

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

New Film on Robert Frank

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Films Announced for Baltic Sea Docs Riga/ 2

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

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

... and Sean MacAllister is in Riga present to meet the audience with his "A Syrian Love Story" on September 3. To quote the review on this site: "...there are few documentarians who like McAllister, goes from the journalistic point of view and the anynomous reportage, to be a true storyteller who captures your attention fully because of the closeness to the characters he can create, because he always involves himself - he is in this case an intruder into the lives and destinies of a refugee family that he met in 2009 and kept a close relation to until this year, 2015. His presence simply changed their lives..."

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Iraqi Homeland Wins DocAlliance Award

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Films Announced for Baltic Sea Docs Riga

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ulla Boje Rasmussen: Western Outposts

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

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

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

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Categories: DVD, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

James Erskine: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist

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

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

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

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

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

I watched the film on Netflix.

UK, 2014, 94 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sean McAllister: A Syrian Love Story

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

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

Having said so, there are few documentarians who like McAllister, goes from the journalistic point of view and the anynomous reportage, to be a true storyteller who captures your attention fully because of the closeness to the characters he can create, because he always involves himself - he is in this case an intruder into the lives and destinies of a refugee family that he met in 2009 and kept a close relation to until this year, 2015. His presence simply changed their lives: McAllister was caught by the regime’s people in 2011, he was put in prison for five days, and had his camera and tapes confiscated. For that reason Amer and Raghda and their four kids had to flee to Lebanon, not to be taken…

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Catarina Mouráo: The Wolf’s Lair

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ron Mann: Altman

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

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

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

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

USA, 2014, 95 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Flaherty NYC Season at Anthology Film Archives

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Steve James: Life Itself

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Cinemateket August-September 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to Me Marlon/ Reviews

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

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

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

Dennis Harvey·Variety

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

Manohla Dargis·New York Times

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Wiseman, Janis Joplin, Helmut Berger

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Michael Moore, Marlon Brando, Orhan Pamuk

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Peter Bogdanovich Retrospective

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

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

Here is - in Danish - the presentation by Cinemateket:

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Se Merry Doyle: John Ford: Dreaming The Quiet Man

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

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

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

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

Available on dvd and blueray

Ireland, 2010, 90 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Wojciech Staron: Brothers

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

”Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 6

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 3

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







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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015/ 2

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance invites to Student Film Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Look of Silence Reviewed in NYTimes

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

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

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

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korea, 2014, 86 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

7 Documentaries for Locarno

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Arman Yeritsyan: One Two Three

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

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

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

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

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

Armenia, 2015, 75 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Riga Welcomes Documentary Projects

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

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

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

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pärnu Film Festival 2015/ Awards

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

”Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 5

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

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

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

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

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Golden Apricot 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

“Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 4

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docu Talents from the East 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Prizren 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pärnu Film Festival 29th Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Craig Tanner: FIFA’s White Elephants

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

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

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

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

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Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Residence Fund for Filmmakers from Arab countries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Morgan Neville: 20 Feet from Stardom

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

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

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

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

To Reach the Audience…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go for it!

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH Movies Update

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

“Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 3

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

AfriDocs July Programme

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

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

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

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

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Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

MIFF 2015 The Winners

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

”Beyond the Fear” in Jerusalem/ 2

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Polemics

Robert Frank

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Cinema, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Klucis DVD – a Gift to Film and Art Lovers

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

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

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

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Categories: DVD, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Karlovy Vary Int. FF has a Strong Doc Section

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Warm Festival 2015 Sarajevo

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Beyond the Fear in Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

And latest:

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

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tarkovsky Award to Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko

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

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

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

And to Trekteris himself, indeed, I can add.

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

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Hazem Alhamwi: From My Syrian Room

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

The Season of Destruction

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

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

MIFF 2015 Programme Announced/ 2

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Le documentaire est le cœur du service public

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Documentarist Shows Censored Films

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

MIFF 2015 Programme Announced

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jihlava: Julian Assange to Inspire Documentarians

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

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

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

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

The festival takes place October 27 – November 01 2015.

Categories: DVD, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Bona & Scalisi: Bath People

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

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

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

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ukranian Docu/Space

Written 07-06-2015 17:29:29 by Tue Steen Müller

The photo is by Ukranian photographer and filmmaker Alexander Glyadyelov, whose exhibition was arranged during the 2015 DocuDays UA festival in Kiev. About him is made a 6 mins. short documentary with interview and examples from his work. Title “You see, My Brother”, the title of the exhibition as well.

The film is part of an “Online Cinema House which presents documentary films on human rights in Ukraine.” Let me quote some interesting words about the photographer, who also sees "war and maidan as events of the same patterns:

”Glyadyelov still makes films the way they made films half a century ago. He shoots his films in black-and-white and uses analog video cameras with manual focus, a mechanical shutter system and no burst mode. It seems as if these details are strictly technical, but it makes his works conceptually different from the stream of images we see every day. It is almost impossible to film like that in the middle of a fight. That is why the cameraman has to scan what is going on during pauses. In other words, he films not death, but life. Then he develops his films and makes photographic prints manually; that takes time. You cannot shoot news broadcasts this way – that’s why the cameraman has to gaze at non-transitory things.”

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Alina Rudnitskaya Interview

Written 05-06-2015 10:06:25 by Tue Steen Müller

”Gateway to East European Documentaries” – that’s what the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) calls its website DokWeb that I check out pretty often because of its information and articles, like the one by Filip Sebek, who has interviewed Russian director Alina Rudnitskaya, whose fine film ”Blood”, that has been awarded here there and everywhere, is to be screened in Prague later this month and is included in the Kinedok screenings ” so it is also possible to see it at non-traditional venues during the whole year within this project organized by Institute of Documentary Film.”

Alina Rudnitskaya talks about the conditions for documentary filmmaking in Russia as they are today, about the big audience that wants to watch documentaries, the insufficent support from the state and her inspiration, here is a quote:

”I was influenced by Czech cinematography of the 60s and 70s, because I am a fan of black and white movies. I like the ironical films by Miloš Forman as well as the bitter tragicomic films by Jiří Menzel and the paradoxical women's world in the films by Věra Chytilová. Tragicomedy is my favourite genre. Laugh through tears. Life is very paradoxical, not only black or white.  Everything has its own contrast: birth - death, love - hate. People are multilayered personalities. I look for the inner collisions and such situations in which people react in various manners.  They cooperate and sometimes contradict and get in conflicts with each other. And one more aspect - I live in Russia where the situation often changes 180 degrees: yesterday one kind of values was acclaimed and today the values are quite different. And if you don't have a good sense of humor you can get depressed.  We live in spite of it.  And I try to catch it in my films.”

Read the whole interview on:


Blood (2014), Victory Day (2015), I will forget this day (2011) , Bitch Academy (2008), Besame mucho (2006), Civil Status (2005), Communal Residence (2002)

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona 2015 The Winners

Written 01-06-2015 09:40:46 by Tue Steen Müller

It was a proud festival director Joan Gonzalez, who welcomed the audience to the final evening of the DocsBarcelona 2015 with the screening of Ivan Gergolet’s fine film about the 93 year old Maria Fux, ”Dancing With Maria”, followed by the award ceremony. He could mention that the audience attendance had grown with 17% from last year – ”more than 6000 viewers have enjoyed more than 40 documentaries…” – that the industry section had more than 600 guests introducing a speed meeting pitch format, where 40 projects had an average of 15 meetings scheduled. 15 minutes per meeting. Plus information meetings like ”what am I looking for” and Latin Pitch and rough cut screenings. I am sure I have forgotten something.

Anyway ”Tea Time” by Chilean Maite Alberdi got the TV3 Award for the best documentary while Joshua Oppenheimer’s ”The Look of Silence” took a speciel mention AND the Audience Award AND the Amnesty International Award! Again Signe Byrge Sørensen from Danish company Final Cut for Real played a main role at the Catalan festival, as she did two years ago with ”The Act of Killing”. By the way – the Spanish title of the film is beautiful, ”La Mirada del Silencio”.

The new talent Award went to local ”Game Over” by Alba Sotorra and the Docs & Teens Award to ”Mirant Amunt” (Glance Up) by Oriol Martinez and Enric Ribes.

The whole list, please consult:

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona Books Wine Alentejo Messi

Written 31-05-2015 09:59:03 by Tue Steen Müller

A very special day at the festival! First step was a visit to the fabulous Libreria Altaïr where ”el vermut de los sábados” this weekend was dedicated to a conversation with the DocsBarcelona directors of ”The Final Stretch” (Oscar Perez), ”Bikes vs. Cars” (Fredrik Gertten), ”Beaverland” (Nicolas Molina & Antonio Luco) and ”Alentejo, Alentejo” (Sergio Tréfaut), followed by an informal drink at a place full of books with a nice small café connected. Altaïr is also an online travel magazine published six times per year.

Next stop was another one of festival director Joan Gonzalez (photo) crazy ideas: Why not combine ”Docs & Wine”, the title of a rendez-vous in a restaurant, where clips from five films were shown to be matched with the tasting of five different wines – what wine would be the best for that wine etc. Joyful event, indeed. The warm and sweet film ”Tea Time” goes with a Moscatell from Catalunya del Nord, right?

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DOKer Moscow Int. Documentary Film Festival/ 3

Written 30-05-2015 10:46:51 by Tue Steen Müller

It was a happy producer, Signe Byrge Sørensen, who checked messages on her i-phone here in Barcelona to find out that Chilean/German Estephan Wagner’s beautiful documentary ”Last Dreams”, produced by Final Cut for Real, had got the Audience Award at the new DOKer festival in Moscow, a festival that attracted a big audience. This will hopefully mean that the film will travel to many other festivals and be picked up by tv stations. Here is the content description of ”Last Dreams”:

Last Dreams confronts us with the probably most engrained taboo in our society: dying. An intimate and delicate exploration of the last months of the lives, loves and regrets of three women, from the moment they arrive at a hospice until they draw their last breath.

The film intimately follows 3 women during their last month of life, from the moment they arrive at their hospice until they are gone. Through them we explore what it really means to get to the end of life in our culture; we are with them when they deal with the most important remaining issues in their life; we are present when they find words to say ‘Sorry’ or ‘I love you’.!last-dreams/c2yd  

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona Danish Dynamite...

Written 30-05-2015 10:20:08 by Tue Steen Müller

All right, a Dane writes about Danes, forgive me please - the photo is taken inside La Pedrera, one of Gaudi's masterpieces in Barcelona where Signe Byrge Sørensen friday night held her masterclass giving around 40 people a personal insight to how she came to film from a strong political engagement and studies of life conditions in the developing countries. She showed clips from films shot in Africa, from the huge impressive work she co-directed with Danish master editor Janus Billeskov Jansen about disappearing languages of the world and from the two masterpieces "The Act of Killing" and "The Look of Silence", that later the same evening was shown at the festival with a Q&A session that ended after midnight. Only natural that one of the filmmakers present called Signe Byrge Sørensen a super-woman!

... and the two gentlemen on the photo, producer Mikkel Stolt to the left and director Jens Loftager were at the speed pitch meetings with what is going to be the third film in a trilogy that started with "Words" followed by "War" - and now "Faith". The film project was chosen to be presented at the prestigious East European Forum in Prague next year in March.

To the right Martina Rogers, the young woman who stood behind all the industry activities at DocsBarcelona, indeed one more superwoman!


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona Presents a Hero

Written 29-05-2015 10:34:18 by Tue Steen Müller

He came into the cinema after the screening, the audience stood up and gave him a standing ovation after they had seen German Marcus Vetter’s portrait of him, ”The Forecaster”, alias Martin Armstrong or Marty as they call him in the film and as the audience called him at the 35 minutes long Question and Answer session in the Aribau Club cinema thursday night at DocsBarcelona.

”I am happy you are alive” was the first remark from a spectator among the around 100 people attending the screening, the first of two for a film that demonstrates a very fine cinematography and skills to tell the story about a man, who sat in jail for 12 years because of his fight against the bankers, to put it in a simple way. Another comment from a spectator: ”You are a hero, and I mean it!”. Marty did not act as a hero in the cinema, his appearance was that of a modest man, a fighter and now a man wanted by everyone to talk and advice. A couple of spectators brought up private economical questions – and got answers from Marty, who – according to his website – sees himself as one who offers public service to all of us, who have difficulties in understanding economy. After the screening people queued with their smartphones to have photos taken with ”el visionari”. 

Let me quote what the film is about through the precise text of the distributor Autlook Films: The story of finance whiz Martin Armstrong reads like a movie script: a man designs a model that can predict the future. He calculates developments in the world economy with eerie accuracy and even the outbreak of wars. Until the FBI is on his doorstep and he is sent to prison. A free man again, he shares his views on the financial crisis and offers his solutions to governments.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Rough Cuts at DocsBarcelona 2015/ 2

Written 28-05-2015 18:43:07 by Tue Steen Müller

It's wonderful when the ever perfect DocsBarcelona team makes a small mistake like the one on the photo announcing that the panelists of the Rough Cut Screenings that took place tuesday and wednesday were... yes, read for yourself. No, your moderator can assure you that a civilised and polite and constructive and critical tone was there all the time!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Rough Cuts at DocsBarcelona 2015

Written 28-05-2015 14:15:38 by Tue Steen Müller

For some years I have had the pleasure to host an exclusivity at DocsBarcelona: Rough Cut screenings. And it is rough cuts that are being screened in their full duration to a panel of hand-picked documentary professionals in a relaxed sitting room setting, see photo, at the CCCB, one of the venues of the festival, for the professional events and with evening screenings.

3 rough cuts were presented – Colombian Clare Weiskopf and Nicolás van Hemelryck came with ”To the Amazon”, a project that was pitched at DocsBarcelona 2014 – Polish Wiktoria Szymanska launched ”Artur”, another title is ”Happiness on the Pavement” – American Christina Antonakos-Wallace put ”With Wings and Roots” on the screen. The sessions went on for around two hours, it was forbidden to talk money, these sessions are not for pitching but for getting creative input and constructive comments from the panel, and the filmmakers got that from
Jose Rodriguez from Tribeca Film Institute (USA). Louise Rosen from Louise Rosen Ltd. (USA), Charlotte Gry Madsen from SVT (Sweden), Gitte Hansen from First Hand Films (Switzerland), Joan Salvat from TV3 (Spain), Àlex Navarro from Europa Creativa Desk-MEDIA Catalunya  (Spain), Àngela Martínez Head of Audiovisual Department from CCCB (Spain) and Oscar Perez, director (Spain). A pleasure it was to moderate these sessions, and the filmmakers expressed that they liked it a lot.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKer Moscow Int. Documentary Film Festival/ 2

Written 28-05-2015 13:25:07 by Tue Steen Müller

The winners of the MIDFFl Doker 2015 have been announced. The jury members (I was part of the one for feature duration documentaries) was working from their homes, the discussion, led by chairman Victor Kossakovsky, who demonstrated that he not only is a great filmmaker but also has diplomatic skills (!), went on via emails. Congratulations to the organisers for doing a new documentary film festival with a global vision – and a lot of people in the audience – see the photo. If you click on the titles below, you will get the descriptions of the film and get to the website of the festival: 

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Xavi - The Director

Written 26-05-2015 14:48:10 by Tue Steen Müller

I am in Barcelona, it's summer, there is an outdoor pool outside my hotel window, and it is crowded. I am not here for holidays, DocsBarcelona has started with some events for professionals and tomorrow is the opening of the festival for the audience - opening film "Falciani's Tax Bomb", a German/Spanish coproduction with an English director Ben Lewis. But in my mind I have been in Barcelona for some days. Saturday at Camp Nou the ceremony was held to celebrate that FCBarcelona won the Spanish League in football AND it was the farewell to Xavi Hernandez, who has been in the club sinde he was 11 years old and has played (from 1998-2015) more than 500 matches. 35 years old he has decided to end his carreer in Qatar, where other ex-Barca players spend their life and earn...including Michael Laudrup as a coach.

Anyway, I was thinking about how squeeze in a text about this wonderful gentleman of the game, a man I have adored for the whole time - and is he not the perfect dramaturg? Has he not been the one who has mastered to find the rythm, the one who has been able to see when the descriptive, the informative should be there, playing the ball around in small circles for suddenly to feel that now is the time to poetry, to surprise the audience making a peak in the narrative and send a player a pass that makes it easy for him to score. A director, an editing director who knows when to set more pace. Always available with an enormous overview, a man with a big generosity to his audience.

Photo taken by friend and colleague Joan Gonzalez, who was there with his son Marti.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Signe Byrge Sørensen to Barcelona

Written 24-05-2015 12:59:13 by Tue Steen Müller

There have been masterclasses with Avi Mograbi and Michael Glawogger, world class directors of documentaries, at previous DocsBarcelona festivals.

This year the festival has invited Signe Byrge Sørensen, producer of ”The Act of Killing” and ”The Look of Silence” AND many, many other important documentaries, to meet the audience at Gaudi’s famous La Pedrera. The participants to this masterclass will experience the carreer of a committed producer during an event called ”7 Shots 7”:

”…  DocsBarcelona’s annual invitation to a prominent figure within the documentary world, who by selecting 7 shots or sequences from their work, opens up a debate around audiovisual language.”

And a quote from when I visited a Q&A with Signe Byrge in Riga at the Baltic Sea Forum:

”It was not the first time that I attended a session with the producer of this all-over-world-going film (”The Act of Killing”, ed.). And it was not the first time that I left the cinema full of admiration for the professional and personal way Signe Byrge addressed the audience giving it precise, inside and interesting background information on the making of a film that was 7 years on its way, with her on board five years.”

I will be the moderator of the masterclass and I have told Signe Byrge not to be modest and polite, but to talk about herself and not (only) Oppenheimer and her editors Janus Billeskov Jansen and Niels Pagh Andersen!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Salt of the Earth in Danish Cinemas

Written 24-05-2015 12:38:42 by Tue Steen Müller

The film of Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, a portrait of world star photographer Sebastião Salgado, runs in Danish theatres right now – go and watch it!

Mikkel Stolt wrote about it at the Danish cph:dox premiere, here is a quote:

”The film’s sense of time and space turns out to be the perfect conveyor of Salgado’s pictures and words. The horror and the beauty in the protagonist’s work are presented to us in a way that reveals how great interpreters of reality both the still photographer and the directors are… ”

And I saw an exhibition of the photographer’s ”Genesis” in New York last year and quoted from the catalogue:

The result of an eight-year worldwide survey, the exhibition draws together more than 200 spectacular black-and-white photographs of wildlife, landscapes, seascapes, and indigenous peoples—raising public awareness about the pressing issues of environment and climate change.

Categories: Cinema, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona 2015

Written 19-05-2015 10:47:43 by Tue Steen Müller

There was champagne on the football pitch the other day in Madrid, where FC Barcelona won the Spanish League. And the Danish fan in his corner chair in the garden house took a cigar from the humidor and celebrated his favourite team once more as he has done so many times in Copenhagen and in Barcelona at Camp Nou. A great prologue to what starts next week in the Catalan capital: DocsBarcelona, another celebration, this time of the art of documentary cinema.

I have been working with and for DocsBarcelona since the very beginning almost twenty years ago, have enjoyed seeing the development of an event that started as a so-called industry training and pitching arrangement to be added with a festival some years ago, and now also an InterDocsBarcelona ” to encourage interactive and transmedia documentary”. If you go to the website of DocsBarcelona, you will also discover that there is a Documentary School coming up, a Documentary of the Month distribution initiative that celebrates its 10th year – and by the way DocsBarcelona also operates in Chile and Colombia!

Yes, DocsBarcelona is super ambitious and still the festival has a moderate size with a reasonable number of films presented in a reasonable number of screening venues. The CCCB (the Cultural Centre) will host screenings and the industry meetings where the format has changed from an open pitching session to speed meetings – 40 projects are to be presented to a selection of 30 financiers and distributors/sales agents. I talked to a friend, who had got 13 meetings. What a logistical process to make this work out!

Back to the festive atmosphere, the festival has introduced ”Docs&Wine” (!!!), a quote from from the site:

…After viewing 5 clips from 5 different films from the festival, the couples will have to pair each film with one of the selected wines. A game in which participants will enjoy a new way of approaching documentary through wine. A pioneering sensual experience that will not leave you indifferent… I have signed up!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

FILMCENTRALEN 4 /Uyarra og Christoffersen

Written 17-05-2015 11:35:28 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Filmcentralen / For alle kan jo gå hen og blive en samling som der trygt kan refereres til og hvorfra filmværkerne til enhver tid langt ud i fremtiden kan hentes frem og bruges af mig, af lånerne, af offentligheden ligesom de litterære værker i de store biblioteker, i dem af dem, som ikke har opgivet at være samlinger. Som da jeg forleden dag via et opslag på Facebook fra Sara Thelle om to artikler af diplomatimedarbejderen Julian Borger i The Guardian om de dramatiske og omhyggelige forberedelser til en retssag mod Bashar al-Assad læste om en af mine dokumentarfilmhelte, den canadiske ekspert i international ret Bill Wiley (FOTO) i Esteban Uyarras og Michael Christoffersens Saving Saddam fra 2008, som netop nu er dybt involveret i den sag. Jeg må jo i denne nye sammenhæng se den film igen. Dengang skrev jeg dette om den:

... Det måtte slutte der på forhøjningen med trappen op. Har nogen mon talt trinene? Bødlen med sort hætte lægger et sort tørklæde om Saddams hals, og derefter løkken, som netop ser sådan ud. Man ser det alt sammen på mobiltelefon-optagelsen. Det er ikke noget smukt billede. Det er forfærdende som den grimme videooptagelse fra retssagen mod Elena og Nicolae Ceausescu. Billedet af dem i overtøj. De sidder i den kolde skolestue, hvor standretten finder sted. Summarisk rettergang.

Denne films hovedperson, Bill Wilay vil forhindre, at noget sådant gentages. Han vil en retfærdig rettergang efter internationalt anerkendte regler, han vil, at drabene hører op, vil afskaffe dødsstraffen som første skridt… (Læs videre

In English from FILM Magazine 1 November 2008:


by Allan Berg Nielsen

In Saving Saddam, Bill Wiley, a Canadian lawyer, wants to abolish the death penalty. The film is produced by Mette Heide and Michael Christoffersen for Team Productions, the company that produced Milosevic on Trial, about The Hague Tribunal.

There it inevitably ended, on the podium, with the steps leading up to it. Did anyone count the steps? The black-hooded executioner ties a black kerchief around Saddam’s neck, next the noose, which looks just so. The mobile phone video shows all, and it’s not pretty. It’s every bit as horrifying as the ghastly video of the trial against Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu with its unshakable image of the two of them wearing their overcoats in the chilly schoolroom where a military court was hastily convened. The protagonist of Saving Saddam, Bill Wiley, a Canadian lawyer, wants to prevent the same thing from happening again... 

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

Cannes Festival Goes for Documentaries – does it?

Written 16-05-2015 17:03:46 by Tue Steen Müller

Interesting article in Nonfics yesterday by Daniel Walber, a clever comment and reflection on the fact that the Cannes Film Festival has introduced a ”Oeil d’Or” (Golden Eye) award of €5000 with 14 films competing and with a jury that includes fine names as Rithy Panh, Nicolas Philibert and Diana el Jeiroudi.

The problem, however, according to Walber, well to anyone who is in for the artistic, creative documentary, is that 10 of the films are films about legendary film directors and actors – a quote:

“There are two 50-minute films on Orson Welles, one of which was produced by Turner Classic Movies. There’s one about actor Steve McQueen‘s love of auto racing, another about pioneering African filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, and a profile of Gérard Depardieu. There’s even a documentary about the history of the Palme d’Or itself. Kent Jones‘s Hitchcock/Truffaut is an inevitable highlight, as well as Stig Björkman‘s Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words. Daniel Raim, Oscar-nominated for his short profile of art director Robert Doyle, is back with Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story. Finally, the one I’m most looking forward to is By Sidney Lumet, a new American Masters film from Afternoon of a Faun director Nancy Buirski.”

I am sure that several of these films are full of creativity (long to see Björkman’s on Ingrid Bergman and the one on Hitchcock/Truffaut) but they “smell” of well crafted television documentaries, where the main subject is commented on by colleagues, experts, whatever. So the competition is in no way reflecting the strong position of author-driven documentaries worldwide today as the feature categories go for the “auteur”.

To be fair Asi Kapadia’s film on Amy Winehouse, Amy (photo), that has received enormously positive reviews after its screening at the festival, is also in this first competition at the Cannes festival. Let’s wait and see what the jury decides.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Franz Grabner 1955-2015

Written 14-05-2015 09:19:58 by Tue Steen Müller

Kind and sweet and warm and knowledgeable Franz Grabner has died. I had the privilege to work with him for many years during my years at the EDN. He was many times at the Ex Oriente workshop and pitching in Jihlava and he found it important to come to ZagrebDox when training and pitching was introduced there. And it was only natural for Mikael Opstrup and me to ask him to join us in September 2011 for the DOCMeeting in Buenos Aires. I wrote the following report on this site:

”Franz Grabner from ORF in Austria, on the contrary to the power point the previous speaker used, opened his textbook and looked down at his handwritten notes. For him the development of a film project is the most important, he wants to create a relationship with the director. We should not lose the audience, he said, and continued to express his concern about the tv audience – no young people watch television – ”sometimes I think that I am producing more for the past than for the future”. But let’s make films for the audience and not for the ratings. Grabner referred to the strong film tradition in Austria after the world war 2, with names like Haneke, Glawogger, Geyerhalter and Ulrich Seidl, and showed a clip from the Bosnian director Begovic wonderful and original ”Totally Personal”.”

Yes, Franz was for the original and personal documentary, the artistic and he was aware that the good days for that kind of films on television were over. He wanted to have a post-ORF life to make his skills available for filmmakers as a consultant after his long hospital stay. Indeed he knew his film history.

Many warm thoughts go through my head when I think of Franz, who was also the one who introduced me to wonderful Austrian red wine. My condolences to his family.  

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Iiris Härmä: Leaving Africa

Written 13-05-2015 11:30:25 by Tue Steen Müller

A bit into the beginning of the film I said to myself: OMG, is this a film where they are going to talk the whole way through! Of course I understood that the filmmakers had to make the viewer agree to ”where” and ”why” and ”who”. Who the characters are, their relationship, their mission in Uganda – in other words to give information necessary for the further development of a story that grows smoothly and slowly as the rythm of life does in the country where it takes place. But that much talking?

I have often thought about openings of a creative non-journalistic documentary film like this as a take-off in a flight. Sometimes you feel it takes ages before you are up there, where there is a flow,  waiting for the turbulences (the conflicts) to come, where you can move on.

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Frederick Wiseman: 11 Doc Lessons

Written 11-05-2015 15:30:21 by Tue Steen Müller

 Realscreen is a useful source for information on what is going on in – that’s what they call it – non-fiction. Normally it is short news, sometimes however longer articles of fine quality like the one from May 1st by Kevin Ritchie that I would recommend you to read because it conveyes an old master’s wise words - Frederick Wiseman being interviewed at Hot Docs by CBC journalist Piya Chattopadhyay, to the left on the photo with his producer and distributor Karen Konicek to the right. Lessons on how to stay independent, quite an inspiration.

Here are the headlines of what the reporter calls ”11 Doc Lessons”, read them all, link below:

1. A good idea can come anytime, anyplace.

2. In Jackson Heights is about the “new face of America.” (In Jackson Heights is a new film project that Wiseman pitched at the Hot Docs).

3. Wiseman gets permission by asking for it.

4. Raising money is the most “demeaning” part of making a movie. 5. His shoots generally last four to six weeks.

6. Half of documentary filmmaking has nothing to do with filmmaking.

7. The filmmaker’s point of view exists between literal and abstract levels.

8. He never does research.

9. He never cuts a film to meet the needs of a broadcaster.

10. Self-distributing his films on DVDs has been successful.

11. The key to longevity in film is a good producer.

Words to all of us, who run around teaching what to do and what not to do, and how to pitch and how not to pitch from the man who has given us ”the other side of America”.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKer Moscow Int. Documentary Film Festival

Written 10-05-2015 14:47:14 by Tue Steen Müller

Respect! All right, we can get no official support due to the economical crisis, but we will make the festival anyway. We will finance it out of own pocket. This was the thought of a group of independent Russian filmmakers, who stand behind the MIDFF DOKer that starts May 22 and runs until May 26. 16 features will take part in the Main Competition and 19 films in the Shorts Competition. 10 films have been selected for this year's Special programme Cinema in Cinema.

Some background taken from the site: DOKer is a project of screening independent documentaries, it was created in the beginning of 2011 by a group of enthusiasts to promote contemporary art documentaries in Moscow and other Russian cities. It has enjoyed 9 seasons in 6 cities. Altogether, 300 screenings have been staged for more than 20,000 viewers

The project doesn't limit itself to screenings, it also organizes discussions with the filmmakers, master classes, closed screenings before the world premieres, regular social and cultural surveys of the audiences, campaigns to attract media attention to new Russian films, lengthy partnerships with various film festivals and organizations, assistance and support of local theatrical releases and many other activities…

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Giedre Zickyte: Master and Tatyana

Written 08-05-2015 14:43:36 by Tue Steen Müller

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

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Flying Film Festival/ 3

Written 07-05-2015 20:12:58 by Tue Steen Müller

… and the winner is, was the headline of the e-mail I received from Francesca Scalisi today. She sums up the experience with the Flying Film Festival, that she was initiating, like this: It went so well that probably we will do it again next year. We had smg like 6000 visualizations!!!

”Nos jours absolument doivent etre illuminés” by Jean Gabriel Périot was the film among the 9 films that flying passengers and grounded jury members picked as the winner

“A simple and beautiful film carrying strong emotions. It shows how much can be communicated without even saying one word”, were the official jury motivation, very right characteristic – in a previous post I wrote about the film: intelligent and touching film where you hear inmates from behind the prison wall give a concert, while you see faces outside experience the music emotionally, close-ups of family to the one in prison.”

Fine Flying Film Festival – please come back and export the idea to other airlines than Swiss.

- also on FB.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ostap Kostyuk: The Living Fire

Written 05-05-2015 19:36:28 by Tue Steen Müller

I have to go to words from literature, as we normally do when writing about films. This Ukrainian documentary is prose and poetry and essay at the same time. It is informative and emotional. You learn from it as you always do, when a skilled film crew takes you to a place, where you have not been before and that you know nothing about – and it does not limit itself to an anthropological or etnographic approach but succeeds in conveying an amazingly beautiful (in image, sound and characters) artistic interpretation of a tradition that is disappearing. And it invites you to reflect as does an essay.

The location is the Ukrainian Carphatian Mountains and as for content, here is a quote from a text brought on screen in the beginning of the film: … (they) leave their villages for 4 months to graze their flocks on highland pastures... only a few remain to carry on the craft of their ancestors...

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOCAviv: (Un)free World

Written 04-05-2015 13:08:53 by Tue Steen Müller

Subtitled The Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, DocAviv, 7-16.5.15, has launched its programme and it looks well thought and categorized in themes, that apart from the traditional Israeli and International competition are ”Art and Culture”, ”Art” and ”Depth of Field Competition” (what is that?) and a theme that reflects the state of the world we live in and what documentarians are making films about in these years:

”(Un)free World”, that lists more than 20 films, including the ones that are already internationally known and awarded like ”1989”, ”Citizenfour”, ”Democrats”, ”The Act of Killing” and ”The Look of Silence”.

One film especially attracts my attention and it takes place within the border of Israel, here is the website description of ”God’s Messengers" (photo):

This film contains rare documentation of the Hilltop Youth of Gilad Farm, the most radical Jewish outpost in all the West Bank. Due to American and European pressure, the threat of evacuation hangs over their heads. They confront the Israeli government, its security forces, and the Palestinians, and pose a rebellious, sometimes violent and lawless challenge to their foes, always guided by an ideology that knows no compromise. As they see it, they are God’s representatives on Earth. The settlement was founded by Itay and Bat-Zion Zar in 2002 to avenge the murder of Itay’s brother. Although it was dismantled on several occasions, Gilad Farm was never abandoned.

Directed by Itzik Lerner, 76 mins.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Simon Kilmurry New Head of the IDA

Written 01-05-2015 19:33:26 by Tue Steen Müller

Simon Kilmurry will be missed in pitching sessions around the world. He has several times been nominated as the best commissioning editor at idfa in Amsterdam. Personally I have had the pleasure to moderate sessions, where he was a panelist -  always a safe card to play, Kilmurry has always contributed with competence and passion for the documentary genre. Generous and unpretentious in his remarks to the pitching filmmakers.

I have no idea whether this means that the international profile that Simon Kilmurry has given POV will continue or not. Of course I hope it will go on so the Americans can watch good documentaries from outside the US.

Goes without saying that the IDA is happy to get Simon Kilmurry to lead the organization. Here is a clip from the press release sent out yesterday:

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Denis Shabaev: Together

Written 28-04-2015 18:49:56 by Tue Steen Müller

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

They both have a camera and they film each other inside the car, in the hotel rooms where they stay, the landscape, playgrounds along the road and Pippi’s park – and out comes this wonderful portrait of a girl, who is able to reflect on her own life, formulate what she thinks and hopes for, and at the same time be the little girl, who sits with a toy horse on her lap, misses her grandmother and talks with her father on whether they shall turn around and go back to Moscow – or continue to Pippi Land.

A small conflict in a film that has a lovely sketchy non-formatted character with shaky camera movements, warm moments between the two, a playful journey that is interrupted by the ring of father’s cell phone, and her father asking: Would you like to live with me instead of with grandmother. The film has a wonderful b/w opening – ”you can’t run away from yourself” – and an ending with the girl anticipating/imitating the everyday world she has to go back to. A film with a universal appeal.

Russia, 2014, 52 mins.

Winner of Main Prize at DocuDays UA 2015 in the Docu/Life Category.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Denis Klebeev: Strange Particles

Written 28-04-2015 18:43:14 by Tue Steen Müller

I have to confess that I have no idea of what the young physicist Konstantin talks about to himself, when he sits writing his equations in his datcha or when he tries to make his students interested in physics at the summer camp, where he is one of the teachers and where he has no success in making the students do their homework or have the same enthusiastic ambition as he has – to find out how the world is built. He is, as I understand it from his continous awards mentioned, a scientist of high quality. And a totally lonely wolf.

And yet I follow the film in great concentration because it is a very fine piece of vérité filmmaking, where the director, who is also the cameraman, who is also the editor, ”simply” follow the protagonist, who often communicates directly to him. At least he, the director, is interested in him, the physicist, who sees himself as ”a fish out of water”.

You can’t help feel sorry for him in most of the situations – totally absurd it is when he tries to teach on the beach on a lovely night at the same time as another group of students are having a lesson in how to dance chacha.

Is he one of these classical Russian characters we know from drama and literature, who does not fit in and gets no inspiration to develop their creativity, as he says at the end to the director behind the camera? One who finds his joy in listening to music that he ”feels”.

Russia, 2014, 51 mins.

The film won the Joris Ivens Award at the Cinema du Réel Paris,2015 and will be shown at Hot Docs in the coming days.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Beata Bubenec: God’s Will

Written 28-04-2015 18:39:12 by Tue Steen Müller

This is the kind of portrait documentary, where you learn a lot. In this case you watch the film with open mouth whispering to yourself, ”this can’t be true” even if you know from other media that this kind of fanatic intolerance and hatred exists in today’s Russia and that a youth organisation leader as Dmitry Enteo is welcomed to meet high ranked representatives from the church as well as politicians and people from the legal administration. I googled ”Dmitry Enteo” after my screening and saw that he has the opinion that the murdered Charlie Hebdo journalists were the real terrorists and deserved the punishment for blasphemy – and that he thinks that Putin might be God!

Much credit to the film team for inviting the viewer to get close to Dmitry Enteo in his home, to hear him recite poems, to see him with his girl friend , to see him in the streets with his colleagues from the organisation God’s Will. There’s a lot of street clashes caught on camera, maybe too many, and yet there are moments that stand out like one with a young woman crying because a friend of hers, a former friend, now is on the aggressive anti-gay side, including his beating up of innocent demonstrators.

Some might say, why make a film about such a fanatic, some might say idiot, who advocates violence. I would say precisely therefore, we have to know what goes on in the heads of rethorically competent, seducing youth leaders like him, don’t we?

To have empathy with him if that has been the ambition, sorry No.

Russia, 2014, 55 mins.

The film won the Main Prize at the DocuDays UA 2015 in the category Docu/Right


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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