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: 

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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... 

Read more / Læs mere

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.

Read more / Læs mere


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…

Read more / Læs mere

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.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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...

Read more / Læs mere


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

Kateryna Gornostai: Maidan Everywhere

Written 28-04-2015 18:32:20 by Tue Steen Müller

Synopsis from director: This film tells the story of the previous year, that for me began, when Maidan had started and maybe didn't end yet. The whole year we have lived in the atmosphere of revolution, then war. Whatever you did - you saw this things on the background, you always mean them, although you live not even on a border of war, but deep in the rear. I want to remember this year, I want to keep the memory of all the people who surrounded me. The year of Maidan, the year marked by war and peace…

And the director does so in a film that is impressionistic in style, a bit difficult to grap when it comes to montage principles, but it lives through its obvious presence in situations, through the joy and enthusiasm that comes from the screen. A fine framed location is the Red Square in Moscow: the young woman unfolds at the end of the film the Ukranian flag, has to pack it away, when the police arrives, she does so with a smile and whispers “Maidan is Everywhere”, as she said in the beginning as well… There are some great scenes from private appartments, where the youngsters live, and from the countryside, I would have loved to have more of that. Maybe a small fatigue is coming to me now after many Maidan-films.

Ukraine, 2015, 36 mins.

The film won the Andriy Matrosov Award from the DocuDays Organization Committee at the DocuDays UA 2015. Motivation: For the victorious spirit of freedom.

PS. Words about Andriy Matrosov from the website of the festival: Andriy Matrosov was an unusual person. Everything he did, he did with much creation and love. In his incomplete 42 years of life, Andriy had time to become photoartist, cameraman, journalist, human rights activist, the head of journalist association “South”, film producer and producer of Docudays UA festival. And the main thing – he was a man who lived with an open heart, who put all his forces into good and useful deeds.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Doc Alliance (Also) Gives an Award

Written 28-04-2015 11:50:47 by Tue Steen Müller

A press release came in this morning from Andrea Pruchová, Doc Alliance. As usual well written and precise in information. Easy to quote from. As a true fan of Doc Alliance I hurry to bring you the newest from the Prague based documentary promoter:

”Discovering new film talents has become an inherent part of the brand of the European Doc Alliance Selection Award. (The) seven key European documentary festivals (see below) have chosen seven remarkable films and filmmakers, one of whom will become the eighth holder of the award this year…

Read more / Læs mere

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Herz Frank & Maria Kravchenko: Beyond the Fear

Written 24-04-2015 21:41:02 by Tue Steen Müller

This article is brought now because the film has its international premiere at HotDocs in Toronto , tomorrow, April 25.

A long prologue: On this site Herz Frank (1926 – 2013) has an iconic status. Co-editor Allan Berg and I met the director at the Balticum Film & TV Festival on Bornholm in the 1990'es, later on in Riga, where we contributed verbally and (a bit) financially (Allan as consultant for The Danish Film Institute) to “Flashback”. Personally I have had the pleasure to have met Herz (Frank) in Tel Aviv on a couple of occasions. He has been a huge inspiration for me in my understanding of what documentaries are and can be.

Allow me to quote Herz: In front of me on my work table is the central fragment from Raphael's fresco "The School of Athens". Plato and Aristotle discuss the philosophical meaning of life. Plato is pointing upwards - the essence is the Idea! Aristotle, on the other hand, has his palm pointing down to the ground - the basis is the material! Even earlier in the Old Testament (Genesis) both views are united. In the first book of Moses the first lines states: In the beginning God created heaven and earth. Read - the spiritual and the material.

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Play.Doc Festival in Galician City Tui

Written 23-04-2015 22:02:08 by Tue Steen Müller

Thanks to a Cineuropa website (very actual, well written and edited, covering also a lot of documentary events and films) and a link from the article, I got to know about the Play-Doc 2015 festival (Festival Internacional de Documentals) that runs now and until April 26, the 11th edition, with welcoming words from Mexican director Nicolás Pereda, I have taken a clip:

“In a world in which people communicate with each other by phone and computer, in which artistic collectives are becoming ever thinner on the ground and cultural events are becoming more and more impersonal, Playdoc is a breath of fresh air, a model for other festivals across the world to follow.

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Luciano Barisone Interview

Written 23-04-2015 20:01:53 by Tue Steen Müller

The 46th (!) edition of Visions du Réel is going on with still a couple of days left. Before the festival Doc Alliance brought an interview with the festival director for some years, Luciano Barisone, a man who is not afraid of bringing non-tabloid, non-journalistic artistic documentaries to his festival. I have copy-pasted from the interview a couple of interesting sequences:

Barisone: The “vision” is in the name of the festival together with the word “réel”. It’s a gaze upon human evolution, a tight connection between reality and imagination, a meeting between a state of mind and a state of the world. We deal with creative documentaries and we think of creativity as Robert Bresson did: “To create is not to distort or invent people and things. It is to weave people and things who exist and as they exist into a new relationship.”

This year’s edition of the festival has been strongly linked with the personality and the work of Barbet Schroeder, a Swiss-born director playing an important role in the French Nouvelle Vague movement as well as working with famous Hollywood stars. Why have you decided to focus on Schroeder’s work? Your decision has also affected the visual style of the 46th edition...

Barisone: Last year we decided to create an award named Maître du Réel, in order to honour a major filmmaker who has been working in documentary and narrative features, following the path of a realistic representation of world history and human events. Barbet Schroeder completely embodies this for his career as a whole and for his way of approaching reality.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Avi Mograbi Retrospective in Munich

Written 20-04-2015 18:04:01 by Tue Steen Müller

The 30th edition of the DOK.fest in Munich invites the audience to watch five of the Israeili documentary master Avi Mograbi's films. Mograbi travels apparently from one (well deserved) homage to the other, last one was in Paris at the Jeu de Paume museum in March. The films – "August: A Moment before Eruption" (2002), "Happy Birthday, Mr. Mograbi" (1999), "How I Learned to Overcome my Fear and Love Arik Sharon" (1997), "Once I entered a Garden" (2012) and "Z32" (2008) – show the director's personal style and his unique skill to convey his critical analysis of Israel in a humourous language.

Mograbi has been a frequent guest on this site, I am true admirer of him and his film essays, here are just two quotes:

…he innovates the documentary language by using talking masks, as his main character, the killing Israeli soldier, does not want to face the camera. Very intelligent trick that combined with his Brechtian musical element, himself singing comments to the soldier’s crime, makes the film into a universal essayistic wish for reflection… (about Z32)

…A masterclass, a master’s class, Mograbi is exactly as his films are: tense, sometimes comic, but always dealing with the embarrassing reality of the country he lives in. A frustrated artist, as he says himself, who wants to move something, raise a debate in Israel, but does not succeed, he is met with total silence, no reactions, whereas he now is an estimated artist in Western Europe! In the next issue of Cahiers du Cinema, the headline is characterising him as ”Le Grand sculpteur de notre temps”. (DocsBarcelona 2009, masterclass with Avi Mograbi).

The festival takes place May 7-17 and has a good and interesting international programme, check it. Link below.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Flying Film Festival/ 2

Written 18-04-2015 22:48:37 by Tue Steen Müller

At the beginning of March I posted a text about a great initiative taken by young filmmakers - Francesca Scalisi and Mark Olexa – both graduated years ago from the Zelig Film School in Bolzano:

”The festival will start beginning of March and run until end of April. The 30 longhaul aircraft  (A330-A340) of the SWISS are loaded (with films) within the first week of March, it serves all SWISS destinations around the world non-stop…

These are words from the website, link below: Welcome to the “Flying Film Festival, the first festival taking place entirely in the air. It will be “flying” in the months of March and April 2015 with the aim of promoting to a wider audience short documentaries with a strong cultural connotation and emerging directors.”

I have had the pleasure to watch the 9 competing short films as a member of a jury (grounded), I have given my points, not to be revealed here, and look forward to see the final result of jury AND airborn passengers votes. Nevertheless I dare – in short – to write

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Leena Pasanen Makes Radical Changes

Written 16-04-2015 22:48:12 by Tue Steen Müller

… at DOK Leipzig, a press release announces from the festival. Like American presidents the new director of the important festival has chosen to reveal her changes after her first 100 days in office! Here comes most of the press release from yesterday:

... Most substantially, the division between documentary and animated films in the competitions will be abolished.  “It is a bold move, but this is how I see DOK Leipzig - fresh and bold,” says Pasanen. “The international competition among festivals is fierce.  We want to stand out with our cutting-edge approach to storytelling and our unpredictable programming. We will have a festival that is surprising its audience every year.”

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Written 16-04-2015 13:15:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Of course IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) stands behind this wonderful initiative, it calls itself “Project Father and Mother”, but there are other well-known partners - One World Romania Association (Bucharest, Romania), Restart (Zagreb, Croatia), Mozinet (Budapest, Hungary) and Filmtopia (Bratislava, Slovakia), (who) “will create an extensive and continuous distribution network for the documentaries on the territory of all the participating countries, and will thus help to significantly extend the audience base and increase the general interest in creative documentary.”

Take a look at the website to know more about the high-quality films that will be shown non-theatrically in the countries mentioned. The IDF website includes a fine text from where I have kidnapped the following appetizer:

“Wednesday April 15, the official launch of project KineDok in Slovakia will take place in Bratislava in A4 -Association for Contemporary Culture. The introductory film will be the Danish-Hungarian documentary “1989”. During the following year, screenings at 20 more non-traditional venues will take place in Slovakia...

"It will be officially launched with the public screening of a Danish-Hungarian film, “1989” and a discussion with its directors Anders Østergaard and Erzsébet Rácz. A docu-party will follow. The authors of 1989, which I personally consider a great political drama about the fall of the Iron Curtain, will accompany the film tour throughout Slovakia in the next three days. After the screening in Bratislava they will introduce their film in the film club of The University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava and then in Topolčany," says the main coordinator of KineDok in Slovakia Eva Križková from Filmtopia...

In the course of the year, up to 12 documentaries will be screened at each of the twenty alternative spaces and film clubs...”

Photo from “Joanna”, Oscar nominated Polish documentary by Aneta Kopacz.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Cinema Komunisto

Written 15-04-2015 14:16:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Apropos the sad news about the Avala Studio in Belgrade, here is a written flashback to a night at the Sava Center at the closing night of the Magnificent7 2011:

It was one of those evenings that you will never forget – and that Mila Turajlic will never forget. A totally packed Sava Centre in Belgrade gave her a minute long applause for her great work on making the 100 minutes long documentary on Yugoslav film history, ”Cinema Komunisto”, a film that in this and shorter versions will travel the world, to festivals and television companies. It is an enjoyable and informative voyage the young director takes, in film history and in history – back to a country that no longer exists. And with Tito as the main character, a man who loved films, watched film every night, and also wanted to have films made about himself and his greatness in fights against the Germans during WW2. The greatest man, as Orson Welles says in an archive clip from his visit to the country. Hundreds of partisan films were made, we see clips from them and from loads of other Yugoslav films, matched with documentary archive material and interviews and situations from today. All done in a way that is so excellent that it is hard to believe that this was done by a young filmmaker and a young editor (Aleksandra Milovanovic) with many others who were not alive or were kids. But they had the courage, the patience and the skills to research and produce, and the maturity to make a film of that size. Bravo!... and go to their website where a lot is to be learned as I did last night in Belgrade at a magnificent screening for a couple of thousand people:

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Avala Film Yugoslavia to be sold!

Written 14-04-2015 23:57:54 by Tue Steen Müller

Dear friends, guests and colleagues of MAGNIFICENT 7 Festival, we've got a terribly important issue to share with you, hoping you will react, sign the petition and spread the word about the unthinkable events that are about to take place in Serbia and the tragic effect they will have on the Yugoslav film heritage:

It’s been looming as a threat for years: AVALA FILM, Yugoslavia’s biggest film studio and its entire film catalogue, will be sold at auction on April 22nd.

The Avala Film catalogue, consisting of over 200 fiction feature films, and 400 documentaries, including winners of the Cannes, Berlin and Venice film festivals, produced between 1947-1992, is included in the sale. Seeing as Avala Film almost half of all Yugoslav films, this means that the rights to half of our film heritage will fall into private hands.

The Serbian filmmaking community, despite valiant efforts, has not managed to achieve its goals in lobbying the Serbian government to attach conditions to the sale.
We have put up a petition to protest this act of inexplicable negligence towards Yugoslav film heritage, demanding that the rights to the Avala Film catalogue be nationalized and transferred to the Yugoslav Cinemateque, which was the legally-nominated depot for films in Yugoslavia.

The "City of Lost Films" campaign will mark the final 10 days before the auction, in a countdown of clips from cult films produced by Avala film that we will post daily, as well as videos taking you on a last tour through the Yugoslav Cinecittà.
If you would like to get involved in this campaign, please sign&share the petition and follow & share the content on facebook page and website of the campaign.




PHOTO from Cinema Komunisto.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Iikka Vehkalahti Interview

Written 10-04-2015 13:39:23 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s not because he says something new, Iikka Vehkalahti, who is now out of YLE, Finnish public television, active as always with different international activities, one of them being the rough cut service that he has set up together with respected editors like Niels Pagh Andersen, Erez Laufer and Menno Borema – link below. For that reason and because he will be one of the tutors at the first session of the upcoming Ex Oriente workshop series, the organiser of these, IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) has made an interview with Vehkalahti, from which we take a quote, but read the whole, not because he says something new but because he says something important:

What mistakes do the young documentary filmmakers frequently make? It is possible to give some examples in general? 

Mistakes are not made only by the young ones, we all make them. There are so many. For example: not to adjust the film to the audience; not to leave any space for the audience to create the final version of the film in their own heads; to play too much; not to stay simple and preserve the complexity of the issue at the same time. Not to be truthful, or not to be open to all kinds of filmmaking tools and methods. I, for example, do not understand a person who, by principle, says: “And I don’t use voice over“. It is like leaving out the music! What would such films as Citizen Kane, Sans Soleil or Sound Of Insects be without voice over? As I said: we all make mistakes all the time and often we make the most fundamental ones in the old age – such as those on the informative level (where are we, who is who, what is the question/dilemma/conflict/quest of the film, what is the role of the back story, etc.), which make the film unclear and messy and at the same time full of too much detailed information. Very often the need just to finish the film already, to get rid of it or too get the film to a certain festival makes the team think: „we have to finish the film now“ and rush it… But in fact, very rarely the film has to be ready immediately.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Duane Hanson: Old Couple on a Bench

Written 07-04-2015 04:18:38 by Tue Steen Müller

In my sculpture, I attempt to detach myself from the subject. Although my earlier works were rather expressionistic with oubursts against war, crime and violence in general, I now find my most successful pieces are less topical and idiographic. They are naturalistic or illusionistic which results in an element of shock, surprise and psychological impact for the viewer. The subject matter that I like best deals with the familiar lower and middle class American types of today. To me, the resignation, emptiness and loneliness of their existence captures the true reality of life for these people.

Consequently, as a realist, I am interested in the human form and especially the faces and bodies which have suffered like some weather worn landscape erosion of time. In portraying this aspect of life I want to achieve a certain rough realism which speaks of the fascinating idiosyncrasies of our time. I want my sculptures to convey a certain sense of stylelessness which will capture the contemporary feeling of reality.

(Contemporary Artists, St. James Press, 1998, p. 480)


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sylvain Biegeleisen: Twilight of a Life

Written 04-04-2015 21:20:01 by Tue Steen Müller

In documentary workshops and film schools all over I have forbidden the participants to use the term ”poetic” talking about films. It’s banal, over-used and what does it really mean? Nevertheless this is the only word to be used for this film, here it does fit perfectly, to summarize a wonderful intimate chamber play featuring mother and son in a room, he the filmmaker, she the 94 old mother, he wants to make a film with. Always in her bed, declared by the doctor to have only a few days more to live – eight months ago!

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mekas: Scenes from the Life of Raimund Abraham

Written 03-04-2015 20:21:35 by Sara Thelle

First I have to make a confession, I didn’t make it to the end of the 5 hours long film! Not because I was bored, I just had a painful neck. But I did see about 240 minutes and I will be writing about those.

92 years old Jonas Mekas’ latest film Scenes from the life of Raimund Abraham is a portrait of his friend, the Austrian architect Raimund Abraham (1933-2010), who lived and worked in New York for more than four decades. Abraham was a radical and consistent architect and an important figure at the Cooper Union, a renowned progressive architecture school in New York.

Mekas generously sent the film to the Copenhagen Architecture Festival at his own initiative with a handwritten note saying that he thought this would fit in well with the festival. And it certainly did.

The film is not an integrated oeuvre in the sense of As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief glimpses of Beauty (2000), which is a true work of poetry. No, Scenes from the Life of Raimund Abraham is more of a footnote to the latter, a thread to be followed where the caption could be “Friendship”. And within the friendship lies the admiration for the work of the architect. The method is the same, an interweaving of old and new material, the new material filmed with a small handheld DV-camera (with the image and sound that goes with it), recordings of life as it happens around Mekas. A lot of cooking and eating meals, drinking wine in bars, gatherings of family and friends, discussions between friends about work, art or just this and that. But we also meet Abraham at work, the hectic end to the restoration of the Anthology Film Archive, Mekas’ lifework, and the construction of the Austrian Cultural Forum, designed by Abraham down to the smallest detail, which we follow until the opening in 2002. A crazy 26-floor building squished in on a tiny stamp-sized site on the crowded eastside of Manhattan, an impressive and beautiful piece of architecture.

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DocAlliance Traces the Future…

Written 03-04-2015 02:40:53 by Tue Steen Müller

After five days of watching documentaries on a big screen in Palm Springs, USA, back to the MacBook Pro screen to promote another fine offer from the unique DocAlliance, this time linked to the Swiss documentary festival Visions du Réel – short films made by (60!) directors, including Peter Mettler, Bartek Konopka, Nicolas Humbert, Jérome le Maire, Jukka Kärkkäinen and J-P Passi, Laila Pakalnina, Fernand Melgar, Max Kestner, Thomas Heise (photo from Material), Peter Entell and Jay Rosenblatt. What a (short) film festival you can make out of this! Here is a long quote from the press release of DocAlliance:

The beginning of the new Doc Alliance season is drawing near! The Swiss festival Visions du Réel is traditionally the first one to pick up the documentary baton. However, even before the opening of the 46th edition, the festival has a spectacular online surprise for all impatient viewers; 60 short films by renowned local and global directors in which selected personalities celebrate the past anniversaries of the festival and introduce their vision of the future. What is the “Trace of the Future according to...” like? Watch from March 30 to April 12, 2015 at for free!

The theme of the past was a key theme of the past edition of the Doc Alliance festival Visions du Réel. The 45th edition offered two important anniversaries for celebration; 45 years since the founding of the festival in 1969 and 20 years of the festival’s history under its current name Visions du Réel. The events of the past and celebrations of the present are inseparably linked to the visions of the future. That is why the festival asked internationally renowned filmmakers who have a long-term connection to the festival about their idea of the future. What traces will we leave to the future generations? What traces will be left by documentary film?

Exactly 60 filmmakers were selected and asked to carry out a task that seems simple at first glance; to make a short film that is approximately 3 minutes long. However, how to capture the future within the merciless limit of three minutes? Whose future – the personal one, the national one, the global one, or perhaps the future of film? You can see how acclaimed documentarists and audiovisual artists coped with the task; for the first time online and for a whole two weeks!

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nicolas Wadimoff: Spartans

Written 01-04-2015 22:20:48 by Tue Steen Müller

Marseille. The city of Zinedine Zidane. A multicultural melting pot with areas/quartiers, where violence is a daily menu with gangs operating, murders and huge social problems. If Zidane is an icon for football fans, Yvan Sorel is it for practioners of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). He is the character of this impressive piece of observational documentary at its best – camera Joseph Areddy.

Yvan Sorel – whose face reminds me of Karim Benzema, full of aggression and vulnerable at the same time – has his ”Team Sorel”, where he and other fighters teach kids and teenagers the sport and how have to behave in the world. He is a father figure for them, being tough if they have not attended school or having lied or other matters that do not fit into good manners. Contrary to the teachers I had in school, Yvan Sorel does this by swearing the worst in the French vocabulary and/or promising them ”to beat the hell out of them”. In French!

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Esther Julie-Anne: Out of Love

Written 01-04-2015 20:49:37 by Tue Steen Müller

Esther’s father married and divorced 5 times. Why? And how might that influence my life, the director wants to find out and makes a film that ends with footage from her own marriage, where she is walking the aisle with her grandfather – the father would not come to Toulouse for the wedding. To be said, Esther is French/American.

The father is the main protagonist, who does not want to be in the film. Well, he is in the many archive clips that his daughter uses for the film and we see him being married for the sixth time and on several other occasions. But he is never in a conversation with the daughter behind the camera. So the answer to the Why, we don’t get from him.

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American Documentary Film Festival 2015/ 6

Written 31-03-2015 23:51:19 by Tue Steen Müller

Peter Bogdanovich joked about himself, ”I master the namedrop”, he said, referring to his enormous knowledge of films and film stars, actors and directors. What I am about to do now is precisely the same, namedropping, films and directors, which I have seen during the 5 day festival here in Palm Springs. Some films will in the coming days get their own longer review.

Taking them in the order that I watched them: ”On Beauty” (31 mins., Joanna Rudnick) was a fresh tv-portrait of fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, who left the celebrities and top models

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American Documentary Film Festival 2015/ 5

Written 31-03-2015 20:30:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Sunday morning in the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs. The headline of the morning discussion in the festival’s panel series is ”The Mating of Documentary & Narrative Cinematography”. And the panelists are ”Award winning D.P.'s Haskell Wexler ASC, Joan Churchill ASC, Stephen Lighthill ASC and Frederic Goodich ASC, who will discuss the pros and cons of current digital image capture and the impact of newly devised languages on both traditional reality capture and formal fictional narrative.” ASC stands for American Society of Cinematographers.

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American Documentary Film Festival 2015/ 4

Written 30-03-2015 19:42:00 by Tue Steen Müller

A morning seminar moderated by English film critic Neil Young. Subject: International Film Festivals. What to remember if you go to them as an American documentarian. 20 people listening, asking questions. Basic information was given, especially from Neil Young, who visited 26 (!) film festivals during 2014. Yes, twentysix…

Tips from Young: Things you have to check out before or when you arrive to the festival: Find a cheap laundrette in the neighbourhood, it is far too expensive to use the service offered by the hotel. Remember to bring business cards and to make notes on those you receive and write a ”thank you for the meeting we had etc.” If the festival offers you three nights at a nice hotel, check the cheap and crappy hotels – and ask the festival if they will accept a change so you can stay for more nights for the same price. The quality of the hotel is not important as you are only there to sleep…

Veton Nurkollari, artistic director of the Dokufest in Prizren, Kosovo, told that at his festival – and at many other, like the one here in Palm Springs  - you can stay with families. In Prizren there is also a camping possibility to use for almost no money. And why not share rooms, Young said, who has been with colleagues in twin rooms many times. By the way, he added, remember to break away from the festival industry and go visit the most horrible bars – if someone tells you not to go to that bar, go! The panel that also included Manolo Sarmiento from Ecuador, filmmaker and festival director of e-doc, also discussed the prices of a festival pass, provoked by the amount asked by the Sundance festival – 150$ was mentioned – and if you have to travel from Europe it is another 150$ and if you have to stay at a hotel… Sarmiento mentioned that 26$ gives you access to all events, Nurkollari said that people should not be shy to ask for a free pass. Idfa was mentioned many times as the place to go with or without a film, and go to the many receptions and you can easily reduce your costs for food.

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Bogdanovich: Directed by John Ford

Written 29-03-2015 17:53:12 by Tue Steen Müller

Ohhh, film history and personal history for me as for many others, I am sure. Let’s get the last matter settled first: When I was studying at the Library school in Copenhagen in the beginning of the 1970’es, my teacher Werner Pedersen showed us few students specialising in film and tv, ”Directed by John Ford”, made by Bogdanovich and later on my other mentor Niels Jensen, who has written the best Danish book about film history – with John Wayne on the front page – taught me why he, a true connaisseur of the director found him to be the important American film director.

And there they were in the film that Bogdanovich had revised in 2006: James Stewart, what a storyteller, giving us anecdote after anecdote from films that he had played in. John Wayne doing the same. And Harry Carey. And formidable Henry Fonda. In the new version including Spielberg, Scorcese, Eastwood and Walter Hill, all of them analysing films and scenes from works that had influenced their filmmaking.

Bogdanovich knows how to link the interviews with clips so you want to revisit films  – right away after the experience and knowledge that this well made director-film has given you. Home again dvd’s of the films will be bought and enjoyed.

John Ford is in the film, of course, sitting in a chair with the landscape we know from several westerns in the background. Answering yes and no and maybe to Bogdanovich, playing with him, but sitting there with his enormous charisma and his cigars. Great Great stuff, I said to myself sitting outside the hotel room enjoying my cigar later in the evening. Thank you American Documentary Film Festival for showing this piece of wonderful film history!

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Hussin Brothers: America ReCycled

Written 28-03-2015 18:28:25 by Tue Steen Müller

Had they pitched this project in Europe, producers and financiers would have hesitated committing themselves as the brothers are debutants. And would have continued ”don’t start before you have all the money”. In this respect there is a difference between filmmaking in Europe and over here. In the US filmmakers take risks, well they have to, as public funding does not exist.

The brothers Hussin went off to do their first film with very little funding. From a production side point of view crazy and impressive! Noah and Tim Hussin went biking, 5000 miles in two years. On bikes built by themselves. America reCycled. Many case stories on how they made this happen, must be waiting for them - out there at festivals in the US and in Europe.

And they have made an impressive film! They allow us to meet

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American Documentary Film Festival 2015/ 3

Written 27-03-2015 18:20:48 by Tue Steen Müller

So there he was, Peter Bogdanovich, conceived in Serbia, born in the US – as he has put it himself – 75 years old, still a great storyteller and imitator of voices, which was proven when he gave us in the audience anecdotes from his film life as a director, a film historian and one who knew them all, the big names: Cary Grant, Jimmie Stewart, Orson Welles, John Ford about whom he has made a film, ”Directed by John Ford” to be presented here at the festival: ”a new, updated version of the original 1971 documentary which was written and directed by Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, What's Up, Doc?, Paper Moon and Mask) and profiles the life and works of the acclaimed director”, as put by the TCM on their site, including interviews with Eastwood, Scorcese and Spielberg.

Why is cinema important, Bogdanovich had asked Jimmie Stewart, who told that he once met someone on a set, who said to him, ”I remember the poem you recited in a film, you were good”. About cinema: ”You are giving people little pieces of time they will never forget”, Stewart said – the film the man remembered was 20 years old.

Bogdanovich, full of humour, he could have gone on for hours, said that for him direction was an extension of acting, himself being an actor in numerous films. To be seen in the film tribute to him, 90 minutes long, by Bill Teck, entitled ”One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich & The Lost American Film”, a documentary that premiered in Venice to have a revised version here in Palm Springs. The film puts a focus on the films of Bogdanovich and on the life of the director, whose love for Dorothy Stratten is in the centre of the story. Stratten who was murdered in 1980 and plays in ”They All Laughed”, a film that flopped with the audience, that Bogdanovich bought back the rights for, and a film that Tarantino praises in the interview he has given for the documentary. Lots of clips from the film with adorable Audrey Hepburn and amazing Ben Gazzara makes you want to watch the film.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

American Documentary Film Festival 2015/ 2

Written 27-03-2015 17:39:25 by Tue Steen Müller

It all started  at 10am Wednesday March 26 with the Film Fund Competition (with around 15.000$ awards to be distributed) in the Camelot Theatres, the main venue for the festival. Moderated by Teddy Gruyoa, festival director, 12 projects were presented in a way that is pretty much different from the usual European way. Where ”we” give the pitchers 7 minutes of presentation (talk and trailer of maximum 3,5 minutes) the pitch here starts with 5 minutes of trailer/teaser/visuals, whatever you will call it, followed by another 5 minutes of questions from professionals in the audience. This year there were critic Neil Young (Hollywood Reporter), university professor John Osborne who after retirement is involved in several productions and has helped with the selection of films for this year’s Amdoc program, Joel Douglas (son of Kirk and Michael’s brother of ”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), Adam Montgomery from the Sundance Festival – and me.

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Categories: TV, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

American Documentary Film Festival 2015/1

Written 25-03-2015 23:34:59 by Tue Steen Müller

After 10 hours and 40 minutes of flight Copenhagen to Los Angeles and a good night’s hotel sleep off to Palm Springs for the fourth edition of the American Documentary Film Festival that opens tomorrow March 26 and goes on until March 30. Transportation manager Tim Alexander picked us up at the hotel, was great to see him again after many joyful moments at last year’s edition. On the freeway that Danish director Jacob Thuesen made a documentary about (Freeway, 2005), by the way. Now resting at Villa Royale Inn in Palm Springs, an oasis of green, swimming pools, gourmet restaurant and cosy rooms.

Business tomorrow – the festival that is founded by and programmed by enthusiastic and energetic filmmaker Teddy Groya has also what we in Europe call an industry event: The American Documentary Film Fund that gives financing for new film projects. 12 projects are to be pitched tomorrow with a visual as well as a verbal presentation. The winners (I think it was three last year) are announced at the end of the festival that also has awards for participating films. I was invited to take part in the selection in both categories. I got to watch American documentaries that never reach European film festivals – and European documentaries that in many cases shamefully have been overseen by European festivals.

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One World Romania/ 4

Written 24-03-2015 11:05:13 by Tue Steen Müller

You must have a passport or an id, the woman at the desk said. Mikael Opstrup from EDN and I were at the entrance of the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest an early morning and we wanted to enter to see the palace of Ceausescu. I showed my official yellow health card and told the lady that I had several cards with my photo on. Little did it help, no passport or id no entrance. Opstrup, who had brought along his passport, went in, I stayed out prepared to sit on a plastic chair for an hour in an ugly entrance hall. Luckily I could go into an equally ugly hall where there was a very fine photo exhibition of photos taken by students at photo schools in Romania. The one I have chosen is by Alma Ghiuela called SFF05, she must have seen paintings of Paul Delvaux or Giorgio de Chirico.

I was happy to meet Laura Capatana again. She was way back a participant of the Ex Oriente workshop, where I was tutoring and where she developed ”Here... I mean there”, 73 mins., a touching story from a Romanian town about two sisters, whose parents work in Spain. Over years the director has followed the girls and their development and struggles with themselves. In the house where they live with their sweet granny.

She is still in touch with the girls and I think she should make a sequel. We the audience have got to know the girls so well that we want to know what happens in their lives. The youngest, Sanda, still lives at home, the parents have returned, what happens with Sanda, when she flies from the nest?

Capatana, observer at the Cooking a Doc workshop, and her husband, actor Gabriel Spahiu, parents of Hugo, 3 years old, drove me to the hotel one night. I have something for you, Spahiu said, and played NHØP from his car radio. Danish jazz bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen talked in Danish-English and played the melancholic ”I Skovens Dybe Stille Ro”. Wonderful end of a nice evening!

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Adrian Pirvu: Our Special Birth Day

Written 23-03-2015 18:23:28 by Tue Steen Müller

We normally do not promote individual film projects on this site but exceptions were invented to be done... Yesterday in Bucharest, Adrian Pirvu, at the One World Romania's "Cooking a Doc" went on stage to present (photo by Adi Marineci) an amazing film project about himself. He showed a touching clip with his mother, who tells how Adrian's sight was (almost) saved just after he was born. This is one of the most intriguing stories I have heard for a long time. Adrian Pirvu needs a producer, eventually a co-director, in other words help to develop, and funding for research! Here is his own fine text written for the workshop:

 A documentary by Adrian Pirvu

90 minutes, 4K

Stage of production: Development

Budget: 72 800 EUR


What are the biological citizens of Chernobyl, born in 1986, doing for the 30th anniversary of the nuclear accident that changed their lives and the continent they live on?


I started on the path to becoming a filmmaker on the 26`th of April, 1986. I was not born yet but a nuclear accident in a country that my pregnant mother was visiting, set me on the journey to make this film. In late July, I was born with all fingers and all toes, a little overweight but completely blind. I have partial vision in one eye now, thanks to a very dedicated doctor, a cornea donated by a fresh corpse and 28 year old country girl with the strength of a lioness, my mother.

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One World Romania/ 3

Written 23-03-2015 16:11:22 by Tue Steen Müller

Went to watch ”Queen of Silence”, full house, a film directed by Polish Agnieszka Zwiefka, her first film, produced by Heino Deckert and shown at this festival as one of four films in a well deserved homage to Deckert as the strong producer of documentaries he is. The film has been at several festivals and has been awarded.

So it is good? No, it is not, sorry! It is a mess of good wills and ambitions. It wants to portray Denisa, a Roma girl with a hearing handicap. And she is great and you want to live with her. But it also wants to give a characterization of the environment, she lives in, an illegal ghetto in Poland next to high apartment buildings. And it wants to give her the chance to live her dream to be a dancer like the dancers she has watched on the tele through Bollywood films. The result unfortunately is not successful as the editing remains automatic with no space for (poetic) breathing and interpretation of the girl’s inner emotions – as you all the time has to go forward for another musical scene where she is dancing. And then back to social reality - the police comes and we understand that the houses must be taken down. But we also have to see that she and

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One World Romania Festival/ 2

Written 21-03-2015 16:16:28 by Tue Steen Müller

I arrived a couple of days ago to Bucharest for the One World Romania. Together with EDN’s Mikael Opstrup we were taken to the hotel, I was given one of those rooms, where you can not open the window so I had to change for another one, and then down to the lobby to meet an old friend André Singer, whose ”Night Will Fall” is part of the programme. I saw the film on Swedish television in January, it is impressive and unique as a historical document, made by André Singer, who after many years, as he put it ”was happy to be back to filmmaking”. Among many jobs as a producer Singer has been producing documentaries by Werner Herzog. You see him on the photo with the microphone at one of the discussion sessions after a well attended screening. A true English gentleman!

To the left Alexandru Solomon, the director of the 8 year old festival about which I can only say Bravo! A good programme, several good debates and information gatherings, among them one by Mikael Opstrup talking about the (impressive) research, he has done for the organisation about Co-Productions in Europe. Solomon was on that occasion giving his input on the good and bad sides of co-productions – to be done if necessary, otherwise stay away from it (my comment), far too complicated. Unless an artistic element is involved and not only the financing side.

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Albert Maysles – The Eye of the Poet

Written 19-03-2015 23:00:46 by Tue Steen Müller

Realscreen News publishes today (editor Manori Ravindran) a tribute to Albert Maysles, who passed away on March 5. We take the liberty to bring to you what colleague and cinema vérité pioneer as well D.A. Pennebaker wrote:

“I was on my way to Russia in the spring of 1959 to film the American Exhibition that was about to open in Moscow. Al Maysles found out about it and came to see if he could come along. He and his brother David had already gone there on a motorcycle and he showed me a film he’d made at a Russian mental hospital.  How he’d gotten them to let him film there intrigued me and since I’d never been there he seemed like a good companion for my filmmaking. I could see he was not just looking for a job but wanted to get to Russia as badly as I did. For us both it was going to be an adventure. So I arranged for an extra visa and the two of us spent the next four months filming Russia together, wherever the trains and trolleys would take us.  It was a fantastic adventure, and Al’s eager curiosity and ability to watch tirelessly through a camera bonded us as filmmakers for the rest of our lives.” 

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The Great Kate

Written 18-03-2015 16:54:00 by Tue Steen Müller

In the middle of all (the necessary) documentary films about wars and conflicts, going on now and/or some decades ago, it is nice to receive a newsletter from the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, with a report from a press conference on a film on ”Katherine Hepburn – The Great Kate”. I share the words of the report:

Andrew Davies, who directed Katharine Hepburn – The Great Kate along with Rieke Brendel, spoke first (at the press conference, ed.). As the director explained, inspiration for the movie came from a tribute that the TV channel ARTE showed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the great actress. “With the help of Hepburn's nephew Mundy, we discovered how important a part her family had played in her life. The experiences of her childhood years were incredibly important. Her mother was an activist, who fought for human rights and women's right to birth control. Hepburn grew up going to demonstrations. As a child, her parents would tell her that she could do anything she wanted, but that she wouldn’t get anywhere if she didn’t try hard.“ With regards to her long career, Davies thought that the secret of her success was “a product of hard work and a creative working ethic”. Answering the question of whether or not he thought Hepburn would like the documentary, Mundy told him that he “thought Hepburn would have liked the documentary more than anything else that had been written or filmed about her life, because she didn’t like biographies.”

Photo of Hepburn and Spencer Tracey – I remember how my mother talked about the two and how she adored to watch her films as I have done and do – remember Bringing Up Baby with Cary Grant!

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocuDays UA 2015

Written 17-03-2015 13:30:21 by Tue Steen Müller

"May you live in interesting times." This Chinese curse pops up in my mind when I think about you, Ukrainians. To a documentary filmmaker, times like these are not only a curse, but also an opportunity. After all, we are witnesses to change and movement: in society, its consciousness, individual fates and emotions. It is all about movement: the word ‘emotion’ is derived from the Latin emovere, ‘movement in a certain direction’.”

Words from Aliona van der Horst, Dutch director of Russian origin, going to Kiev to be in the jury of the DocuDays UA and to hold a class on ”Tone, sound, music and ”libretto” in the film ”Voices of Bam” – a film she made in 2006, followed by ”Boris Ryzhy” (2008), both of them part of a retrospective tribute to the director.

Ukranian DocuDays – I was there two years ago – is a wonderful festival to be at because of its generosity, the commitment to quality and the filmmakers who run it and who know how to put together a programme that is appealing – competition, non-competition in themes or around a director and the so-called Docu/Class that is like a small documentary university for the audience and the visiting guests. Apart from the class with van der Horst, Askold Kurov is there – he was part of the team who made ”Winter, Go Away!”, he made ”Leninland” and ”Kids 404”, and is at the moment making a film on the

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IDFA Offers Video Reports

Written 16-03-2015 18:09:39 by Tue Steen Müller

For those of us who were not able to visit the documentary film festival in Amsterdam, the good news is that the festival (link below) is bringing out videos from the festival. You can watch the opening and closing ceremonies but more important is that there are small interviews with directors whose films you might have seen on other occasions.

Three films that I like a lot are there: Maite Alberdi talks about her wonderful ”Tea Time” (photo), you can meet the winner of the festival with ”Of Men and War” Laurent Bécue-Renard and there is a more than one hour long registration of a masterclass with Heddy Honigmann, who had a retrospective at the festival, had chosen her 10 favourite documentaries to be screened  AND showed her ”Around the World in 50 Concerts” as the opening work of the festival. I am looking forward to watch that masterclass – Honigmann is a master and (by the way) her ”Forever” was the first film reviewed here on the filmkommentaren, August 2007... Nostalgia.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Copenhagen Architecture Festival x 2015

Written 13-03-2015 12:36:56 by Sara Thelle

Denmark has a new festival. The first Copenhagen Architecture Festival took place last year and the second edition is coming up soon and has spread to the city of Aarhus as well. More than 70 events in 19 different venues: Seminars, exhibitions, conferences, debates, urban walks, and plenty of interesting film screenings!

Behind this great initiative are Josephine Michau (festival director), architect Peter Møller Rasmussen (responsible for the program) and Ph.D. in landscape architecture and film Mads Farsø (chief of development). Josephine Michau has played an important role in promoting documentary film in Denmark for the past five years. She is the co-founder of DoxBio, a national distribution-network that has, literally, been pulling out the red carpet for documentary films released in theatres across Denmark. Earlier this year, CAF received the prize Lille Arne (“Little Arne”, named after Arne Jacobsen of course) from the Danish Association of Architects for its ability to “rethink the promotion of architecture, emphasize its qualities and diversity, and create a relevant debate”.

Film and architecture are a good match. The themes can be bend in multiple directions and perspectives. And this might be a way to get an audience for a film program that could be seen as somehow audacious – which should be applauded!

This is where I have put my red marks in the program:

A world premiere of Jonas Mekas’ latest film, Scenes from the Life of Raimund Abraham (2015), a portrait of an architect. The festival also shows As I was moving ahead occasionally I saw brief glimpses of beauty (2000), one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen.

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Flying Film Festival!

Written 13-03-2015 10:25:50 by Tue Steen Müller

Why not? Yes, why not activate us frequent flyers and all the others, who sit up there in the air for hours? Why not give us passengers quality (short) documentary and animation to watch and ask us to vote.

Three young filmmakers – all graduated from the Zelig Film School in Bolzano Italy – got this fantastic idea, went to the air company of their country, Swiss, who said yes to this initiative, made the selection of the films, cleared rights and all that, totally con amore, and there you are:

”The festival will start beginning of March and run until end of April. The 30 longhaul aircraft  (A330-A340) of the SWISS are loaded (with films) within the first week of March, it serves all SWISS destinations around the world non-stop…

These are words from the website, link below: Welcome to the “Flying Film Festival, the first festival taking place entirely in the air. It will be “flying” in the months of March and April 2015 with the aim of promoting to a wider audience short documentaries with a strong cultural connotation and emerging directors.

It is created by le Système D, a non-profit cultural association, in partnership with SWISS…” Système D consists of the artistic directors Francesca Scalisi and Mark Olexa, Stefania Bonia has made the graphic booklet of the association.

The winners of the Flying Film Festival (9 short films) will be chosen by a jury of experts and by the passengers of SWISS, who can cast their vote on this website until the beginning of May. The jury and the guests of SWISS will award a prize consisting of two airline tickets for a trip within Europe or one to an intercontinental destination.”

As a jury member I will get back to you with a review of this FFFF: Fantastic Flying Film Festival.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance Offers Kino Maidan Online

Written 10-03-2015 10:30:15 by Tue Steen Müller

Voilá - 5 films for free taken from the upcoming festival programme of One World Romania (see post below)… words from the site of DocAlliance:

…For the eighth time, the international festival One World Romania brings a critical voice as well as a rich film programme to Bucharest. For the third time, you can watch a selection of the best films online. This year, too, we will present films dealing primarily with the questions of democracy, observance of human rights and reflection of various forms of public protests. One of these protests, held at Maidan square in Ukraine, gave the name “Kino Maidan” to this year’s festival edition. As the festival’s director Alexandru Solomon points out in an exclusive interview, the festival celebrates all the Maidans across the world as well as documentary film as one of the best tools to fight injustice…

The films are ”Vitosha” (Bulgaria, Lyubomir Mladenov), ”Waiting for August” (Romania, Teodora Ana Mihai), ”Naked Island” (PHOTO) (Croatia, Tiha K. Gudac), ”The Serbian Lawyer” (Serbia, Aleksandar Nikolic) and ”Outside” (Germany, Romania, Andrei Schwartz).

These films can be watched for free until March 15. Read the descriptions, read the interview with Alexandru Solomon.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

One World Romania.. Festival

Written 10-03-2015 10:19:49 by Tue Steen Müller

… or to take the long version: One World Romania International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, taking place March 16-22.

35 films in 10 categories – like ”Agents of Change” (with films like ”Citizenfour”, ”Euromaidan.Rough Cut” and ”Iranian”, ”Comrade Capitalism” (with ”Cardiopolitika”), ”Focus: Africa” (with ”Democrats” and ”Beach Boy”), ”Traumas” (with ”Night Will Fall”, ”The Missing Picture” and ”Naked Island”), a tribute to producer Heino Deckert (well deserved!) (with four of his productions including wonderful ”Julia’s Madness” by Hannes Schönemann from 1999)… take a look at the impressive programme that also includes a fine series of panel discussions and lectures that focus on content, narratives, funding, webdocs etc.

Words of welcome from Alexandru Solomon, the director of the festival: In 2015, for the 8th edition of One World Romania, we decided that we would gather on the “kino-maidan.” That’s because the word maidan has changed meaning: it no longer describes a mere feature of urban geography, but, rather, a public space where people gather to discuss their problems and to be together. We want One World Romania to become a meeting place where people come to see great documentary cinema, and where ideas are freed from the structures of the status quo. On our maidan, we are guided by our empathy for our fellow human beings and the freedom to be ourselves. Our program of films and side events opens our eyes towards maidans on five continents…

Well thought by Solomon… I will post texts from the festival, where I am invited to be tutoring at a three day workshop.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

One World Festival Prague The Winners

Written 10-03-2015 10:07:11 by Tue Steen Müller

The press releases from the festival in Prague are comprehensive and informative so here is a copy-paste of the one about the awards to be given at... the closing ceremony of the festival in the Lucerna cinema in Prague on Wednesday, March 11.

The award for Best Film this year went to The Look of Silence by American director Joshua Oppenheimer, who took home the same award at One World 2013 for his film The Act of Killing. Both documentaries deal with the same topic: the mass murder of accused communists in Indonesia in the 1960s.

One World this year screened a record number of films: 114 documentaries as well as a screening of Winter, Go Away! in response to the murder of Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, which occurred two days before the start of the festival. The number of festival guests was also significantly higher, with exactly 100 filmmakers and protagonists coming to Prague to present their films. In total One World invited 234 foreign guests, including human rights activists and film festival organisers.

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Manon Loizeau: Chechnya, War without Trace

Written 09-03-2015 18:23:21 by Sara Thelle

French journalist and documentary maker Manon Loizeau has made a remarkable film about todays Chechnya that premiered on Arte last week and just received the Grand Prize of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva this Saturday.

Loizeau has lived in Russia for many years and she has covered Chechnya since 1995. In Chechnya, War without Trace she returns for the first time in 10 years. Gone are the ravaged buildings of war-torn Grozny, the city has been completely rebuild and transformed in to something that resembles a Caucasian mini-Dubai with glass-facade towers and colourful neon lights along sleek avenues now named after Kadyrov and Putin. Gone are the traces of the two recent wars with Russia (a fifth of the population died), Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic since now eight years, has cleaned it all up. Supported by Russia, he holds the population with the use of fear. A reign of terror where the fight against terrorism, encouraged by Russia, becomes a carte blanche for a monsterous regime turned against its own people. Disappearances, torture, death squads, false accusations of terrorism or drug possession. But also the eradication of the history and the memory of the Chechen people, who has fought fiercely for independence from Russia for centuries (such as when the commemoration of the deportation of Chechens under Stalin in 1944 was replaced with a celebration of the Winter Olympic in Sochi last year). It is absolutely terrifying. And it is an impressive achievement that Loizeau has been able to gather the voices of the few who still dares to speak. The film is dedicated to the memory of Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova.

Loizeau is showing us the immensely sad latest chapter of the history of Chechnya. And she is also giving us an important part of the picture, the context and history, in order to better understand Russian politics, Putin and the situation in Ukraine as well as the apparent powerstruggles behind the pointing out of a suspect for the murder of Boris Nemtsov.

Here are the comments of the jury in Geneva: For its strength and accuracy in the testimony of human rights violations, its tribute to victims of torture and kidnappings by the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov, who rules as an absolute autocrat. The film reminds us of the dramatic situation, which continues to escape international notice.

Manon Loizeau: Tchétchénie, une guerre sans traces / Tschetschenien - Vergessen auf Befehl, France, 2014, 82 min., prod. Magneto Presse for Arte

You can watch the film in French or German at Arte+7 until March 11th:


Categories: TV, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Albert Maysles 1926 – 2015

Written 07-03-2015 09:57:46 by Tue Steen Müller

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our founder, legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles.  Albert was a loving husband, father, brother and friend to many.  For more than five decades, Albert created groundbreaking films, inspired filmmakers and touched all those with his humanity, presence and his belief in the power of love.  He was also a teacher, mentor and a source of inspiration for countless filmmakers, artists and everyday people.

A statement from the Maysles family from yesteday – photo also taken from there:

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Avi Mograbi in Paris

Written 06-03-2015 17:42:23 by Tue Steen Müller

The French love the Israeli film artist Avi Mograbi – and do so this film blogger, who has followed his carreer with great enthusiasm. From March 14 the prestigious museum Jeu de Paume has invited Mograbi to meet the audience, discuss art and politics, and show his works, oeuvre, to stay in the French cultural context. A well deserved hommage!

A couple of quotations from this site:

…he innovates the documentary language by using talking masks, as his main character, the killing Israeli soldier, does not want to face the camera. Very intelligent trick that combined with his Brechtian musical element, himself singing comments to the soldier’s crime, makes the film into a universal essayistic wish for reflection… (about Z32)

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Jestem Oleg Sentsov

Written 04-03-2015 13:22:01 by Tue Steen Müller

The following is a text excerpt from the site of Human Rights in Ukraine:

In a wonderful show of solidarity, members of the Polish Film Academy have called on Russia to release Crimean film director Oleg Sentsov and have promised not to abandon their Ukrainian colleague.  As can be seen from the photos, all those present at the Academy’s Orły 2015 award ceremony on March 3 were invited to raise placards reading ‘Jestem OLEG SENTSOV’ [Je suis Oleg Sentsov, after the original act of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo). 

The announcement on the Polska Akademia Filmowa [PAF] website explains that they are continuing their action “in support for Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian film director imprisoned in Moscow for his protest against Crimean annexation.”

Oleg Sentsov’s letter to Agnieszkka Holland in response to joint protests with other European film directors, actors, etc. is cited.  He wrote:   

I am sincerely grateful to all the film people who support me, and I particularly thank Poles who are helping Ukraine at this difficult time, and who are proving to be real brothers.”

Read more on:

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Film Themes Accepted in Russia

Written 03-03-2015 18:22:04 by Tue Steen Müller

Yesterday Guardian brought an article on the official Russian film political line for 2015. It was taken from “The Calvert Journal” that is (taken from its site) … a daily briefing on the culture and creativity of modern Russia. From art and film to architecture and design, avant-garde Russian culture has helped shape our view of modern life. But as a consequence of its difficult politics and history, contemporary Russia still remains unfamiliar territory to many… (Photo: The Calvert Journal brought an article on Michael Glawogger’s cinematic ode to the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg – a part of the Cathedrals of Culture series, which became the last film of Glawogger.) 

And from the article of yesterday: Russia’s ministry of culture has released a list of approved themes for films which will be financially supported by the state in 2015:

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Alain Cavalier: Le Paradis

Written 02-03-2015 17:11:22 by Tue Steen Müller

In the mid 1980’es I fell in love with the French film ”Thérèse” by Alain Cavalier. Like many others did. Let me refresh your memory and let newcomers know about it –

The back cover of the dvd, according to Amazon, goes like this: ”Winner of eight Cesar Awards including Best Film and Best Director, Alain Cavalier's monumental film depicts the true story of St. Therese de Lisieux, a young woman who found personal joy and spiritual liberation within the restrictive traditions of an austere religious order. Wishing to dedicate her life to Christ, Therese (Catherine Mouchet) enters a cloistered convent of Carmelite nuns at the age of 15. But shortly after joining the order, she finds her devotion to the Lord tested by a grim battle against the debilitating effects of tuberculosis, for which she refuses any treatment. The strength of her faith eventually becomes an inspiration to both her fellow sisters and the millions of admirers who remember her as "The Little Flower of Jesus.”

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Bodil Award to The Look of Silence

Written 01-03-2015 16:47:45 by Tue Steen Müller

The Danish film critics yearly ceremony took place last night and Joshua Oppenheimer, director and Signe Byrge, producer were on stage to get the statuette, named after the two important actresses in Danish cinema Bodil Kjer and Bodil Ipsen, an award established in 1948. The statuette is of porcelain, designed by Ebbe Sadolin, sculpted by Svend Jespersen for Bing & Grøndahl, porcelain manufacturer. The motivation speech went like this:

“Dear Joshua. Back in 2012 you blew us away with your thought provoking, original and absolutely brilliant film “The Act of Killing” You had just moved to Denmark to work with Signe Byrge and Final Cut for Real, and we were regrettably not able to award you the prize for Best Danish Documentary – so we awarded you the special Bodil instead. We simply had to give you something back for all that you had given us. This time, with “The Look of Silence”, we insist on claiming you as one of us. As a most welcome addition to the Danish film society. Thank you for that, and thank you, most of all, for “The Look of Silence”, an amazingly brave and at the same time harsh and loving follow-up to “The Act of Killing”, in which you give the victims a much needed voice and allow us viewers an unprecedented access into the events of 1965 and into the minds and lives of the people involved on both sides – killers and victims. Your film makes us feel, it makes us think, it opens our eyes to the world. For that we thank you”.

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ZagrebDox 2015/ 2

Written 01-03-2015 10:02:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Awards were given out last night in Zagreb. ”Virunga” (photo) by Orlando von Einsiedel got the Big Stamp for best film in International Competition with mentions to Finnish ”Garden Lovers” by Virpi Suutari and Polish Hanna Polak for ”Something Better to Come”.

In the Regional Competition Hungarian Marcell Gerö got the Big Stamp with a mention to ”Russian” by Damir Ibrahimovic and Eldar Emric from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The festival has a section for ”best film of a young author up to 35 years of age” – the winner was ”Another Hungary-The Life of a Village-Fragments” by Dénes Nagy with a mention to ”Veruda – a Film About Bojan” by Croatian Igor Bezinovic. Congratulations young people!

”Movies that Matter” (hopefully they all do..) award to films ”that promotes human rights in a best way” went to ”Rich Hill” by Tracy Droz Dragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, whereas ”Virunga” received a mention to add to its many recognitions.

Finally, young people in the Teen Dox Jury gave an award to ”best film about issues concerning the young”: ”Maidentrip” by Jillian Schlesinger from USA.

Read more on the site of the festival:

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Festivalists on Magnificent 7 Festival

Written 28-02-2015 16:48:26 by Tue Steen Müller

I have often been calling for festival criticism coming from outside the festivals themselves. The site Festivalists is a place to check once in a while. Here is what it is – quote from the ”about” on the site:

…Festivalists is a team of high-profile film journalists and critics from all over the world who cover for you the real magic of festivals, special events and independent cinema in general. Our community exists thanks to FIPRESCI's trainee programs in Rotterdam or Berlinale and gets constantly inspired by projects like Dana Linssen’s Slow Criticism. As we manage to keep in touch and work together thanks to social media, we thought it is a good start to share our passion with you, no matter if you are an industry professional or a cinephile…

Greg de Cuir, living in Belgrade, delivers a Festivalists article on the Magnificent 7 festival, three weeks after  it happened. Two quotes:

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Festivals All Over

Written 27-02-2015 13:10:01 by Tue Steen Müller

News about festivals and their selection are pouring in to the mailbox. Yes, it is indeed festival time now for documentaries as well, after the Berlinale that is strong in documentaries nowadays and "steals" a lot of attention and people. Let me – more might come – mention three of them.

Paris classic Cinéma du Réel in Centre Pompidou (March 19-29) has announced what is picked for the competition programmes – ”41 films of the International, French, First Films and Short Films Competitions is revealed! 25 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres.” The festival programmers of this festival deserves a bravo for not going shopping at other big documentary film festivals. Apparently, it has the ressources to create their own profile. The so-called thematic sections were announced the other day with a retrospective of works by British Keith Griffiths, Indian Amit Dutta, amazing Haskell Wexler and with Stan Neumann’s ”Austerlitz” as the opening film: ” A stroll across Europe in the footsteps of Jacques Austerlitz, a character from W.G. Sebald's novel, played here by Denis Lavant.

In Prague (and 33 other cities in Czech Republic) the One World Festival (March 2-11) has a motto “Burst Through Your Bubble!”, “which which aims to combat prejudice, apathy and hearsay in Czech society…. calling upon Czechs to burst out of their protective bubbles, for example, by attending a screening of a documentary film about current topics and the discussion that follows. "We also burst out of our own bubbles while choosing some of the films, whether about Islam, South American migrants or mental illness," Kulhánková (festival director, ed.) added. The symbol of this year's festival is protective bubble wrap, which needs to be removed. No surprise that the festival shows “Citizenfour” by Laura Poitras, “Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson, “Felvidek” by Vladislava Plancikova, “Something Better to Come” by Hanna Polak and “The Look of Silence” by Joshua Oppenheimer in a programme that counts 114 documentaries in 12 thematic categories.

Finally a look to the North – to the Tempo Documentary Festival (March 2-8) that has focus on the City and welcomes the new film by Fredrik Gertten, “Bikes vs Cars” (photo), as the opening film. 120 films, Swedish and international, in 8 sections. After legendary Swedish director a competitive section (9 films) is named “Stefan Jarl International Documentary Award”, where you find “The Look of Silence” competing with “Silvered Water: Syria Self-Portrait”, with “Maidan” by Sergey Lotznitsa and “Rules of the Game” by Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard as dark horses….

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tibor Kocsis: Barca's Untold Legends

Written 26-02-2015 18:55:43 by Tue Steen Müller

At the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade two weeks ago I had the pleasure to make a short class about football documentaries. I did so as a follow-up to the showing of "Messi" by Alexis de la Iglesia, enjoyed by more than a thousand spectators at the festival. I brought along clips from Ramón Gieling's "Johan Cruyff - en un momento dando", "Michael Laudrup" by Jørgen Leth, "Zidane" by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Pareno and Támas Almási's "Puskás Hungary".

Some days ago I received a link from director and producer Tibor Kocsis to watch his new film that is a wonderful, emotional tribute to the three Hungarian football players, who played for Barcelona: Kubala (1951-61, 1961-63, 1980 as coach), Sándor Péter Kocsis (1958-1965) and Zoltán Czibor (1958-1961). PHOTO: Kubala in the middle, Kocsis left, Czibor right.

The film is built around interviews with the sons and friends of the three and team mates still alive, with a lot of clips from matches, black and white of course, goals and goals, although before the tv times we have today still enough material to understand how great players they were. And generous personalities, not to forget, as the former controversial President of the club, Núnez, so beautifully phrases it. And Luis Suarez, no not the one who plays in the club now, famous for his bite, but the one I remember when I started watching football, the playmaker, who played for the club 1954-1961. What a player, who talks so well about his close friend Kocsis.

Yes, Tibor Kocsis has made his research and he has found the right persons to tell us about the three, especially Kubala, who left Hungary after ww2, whereas Kocsis and Czibor – as Puskas who went to Real Madrid – came to the West after Soviet invasion in 1956. There is nothing like old football players, who remember, and do so with warm emotions. Three personal stories, very different, tragic when it comes to the best header ever, Kocsis, who died so young. There are in the film amazing clips with him showing how he trained to score with the head. Ronaldo must have seen those clips!

Again (as in the film about Puskas) we are told about the golden team that Hungary had, the team that beat England 6-3 on Wembley in 1953 and went on to win everything – and then lost the match against Germany in 1954. In Bern. In other words, Kocsis integrates the political with the football history. An obvious choice.

A scoop, however, and the one who makes the strongest impression, is Hungarian radio reporter of all the big matches, György Szepesi, who was close to the players and is able to characterise the players: Kubala, the blond miracle, Kocsis, the conductor (Xavi of today, my comment) and Czibor, the crazy bird. The one who returned to live in Hungary.

Ahhh, football – and Visca Barca!

Hungary, 2014, 84 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Silvered Water/Syria Self-Portrait/3

Written 25-02-2015 19:57:20 by Tue Steen Müller

In its important tour around the world, to festivals but also to a theatrical release in some countries, the film by Wiam Simav Bedirxan and Ossama Mohammed was at the Istanbul Independent International Festival to get a big award. The jury said:

″In the spirit of the mission statement of the festival, we the jury of the Love and Change section, acknowledges that the world is hurting, and that it is the responsibility of civil societies to participate in positive change”. 

Of their unanimous decision to award the film the $10.000 prize, they said: ″The film that the jury felt most strongly about, is one that forces us to look oppression, torture, violence, despair and death directly in the face. It is bold and loud, yet poetic; it is intimate and yet collective. It is a timeless telling of people's pursuit of freedom, as much as it is a timeless telling of governments' failing in serving and protecting their people in the name of power and tyranny. ″

Receiving the award, an emotional Wiam Simav Bedirxan said: ″Maybe right now, I am receiving the award for this film, but this film is the story not of me, but all of humanity. ″

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nadav Schirman: The Green Prince

Written 25-02-2015 10:12:23 by Tue Steen Müller

På fredag viser Cinemateket i København – i forbindelse med Jewish Film festival - ”The Green Prince”, her anmeldt på engelsk.

In 2010 Mosab Hassan Yousef wrote a book, ”Son of Hamas”. A feature film adaptation of the book is planned, a documentary has been made, the one that is to be shown at Cinemateket Copenhagen (February 26 – March 6) and the one that opened the Sundance documentary section 2014. Popular at festivals.

From a story point of view totally understandable – it has everything of a dramatic spy story, it is built like that, very well crafted, its has two charismatic main characters Mosab Hassan Yousef and the Shin Bet (the Israeli internal secret service) ”handler”, the one who recruited Yousef to work as ”a source”, Gonen Ben Yitzhak. If it brings anything new to the everlasting tragic conflict or to the way Shin Bet operates… having seen ”The Gatekeepers”, the answer is no. As well as ”The Collaborator and his familiy” does give an insight to the social aspect of being/havong been a source. Both recent Israeli documentary films.

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Categories: Cinema, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Farouky & McEvoy: Tell Spring Not to Come this Yea

Written 24-02-2015 17:04:57 by Tue Steen Müller

I have been there before. Danish director Janus Metz went to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan to make ”Armadillo” about ”our” soldiers on mission. After more than a decade in the country, the NATO troops have withdrawn leaving the job to fight the enemy, the Taliban, to ANA, the Afghan National Army.

The mood of the Afghan soldiers is quite different than the one of the Danish soldiers, who (until they end up in a real battle) saw the trip, one of them puts it like that, as like going to play a real football match after long training and preparation. Quite different, a true understatement, because what you get in the impressive film by Saeed Taji Farouky and Michael McEvoy, shot over a period of one year, is an insight to a situation that seems to be without any hope and perspective: an army with soldiers, who have no respect for the politicians or for what the NATO troops achieved, an atmosphere of depression, they have not been paid for months, they see the local population as stuck between taliban and the government’s army. No actual way out.

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Citizenfour: Filmmaking as an Act of Justice

Written 24-02-2015 14:48:03 by Tue Steen Müller

… is the headline of an article written yesterday by Cara Mertens from Fordfoundation. Read the whole article, here is a quote:

…CitizenFour reflects the historical moment in which it was made, and influences it at the same time. It is a film that is deeply concerned with democracy, and may well become one of the defining documents of the early 21st century. This is Poitras’ (photo, with Glenn Greenwald) third film in what she describes as a post-9/11 cinematic trilogy: My Country, My Country, nominated for an Oscar in 2006, and The Oath (2010) are the first two, and they are also crucial viewing.

As a trilogy, they stand as a singular achievement: one artist’s decision to use cinema, arguably the most powerful and far-reaching art form, to understand complex, contradictory global forces as they play out in individual lives. Few artists have the audacity, the commitment, the capacity, and the imagination to work in such bold and longitudinal terms. (Joshua Oppenheimer’s recent diptych, The Act of Killing and Look of Silence, is perhaps analogous.)…

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Awards – Olga, Joanna, Ida, Snowden

Written 23-02-2015 14:26:22 by Tue Steen Müller

Ok. if you say A, you have to say B as well: Let’s make a conclusion to the award postings we have made on this site:

Olga by Miroslav Janek won the Czech Lion,  Joanna by Aneta Kopacz did not get the Oscar in the documentary short category (the award went to a film about American war veterans, surprise surprise...), but ”Ida” got the award as the best foreign language film and Laura Poitras had the Best Feature long documentary with ”Citizenfour” (photo).

... and ”Birdman” got Best picture and Best director, not ”Boyhood”. Hmmmmm!

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mladen Matičević: My Craft

Written 22-02-2015 17:00:55 by Tue Steen Müller

Of course it is difficult to write about a film on the for me unknown singer, composer, poet and actor Arsen Dedić, who is very well known in the ex-Yugoslav countries, 76 years old and still going strong, as the film shows so well.

I don’t get the nuances of the language reading English subtitles and I don’t have the background knowledge needed to enjoy fully, as I understand the audience has done in Sarajevo (premiere at the festival), Zagreb and Belgrade, the home town of director Mladen Matičević. And as the audience in the film does.

No more excuses, I wanted you to know my starting point and I did watch the film with great pleasure. Dedić is charismatic, sings in a way that brings memories of my personal hero Yves Montand, the songs are about love (“I also have divorce on my repertory”, he says), the film is in black & white, like that, the man has irony, he is a charmer and dares to be pathetic, has big affection for his family…

Mladen Matičević has luckily avoided a portrait, where other people tell the audience, how great this man is. He lets him sing his songs in a café with an audience, that reacts, close-ups of faces, mostly women, lets him finish the songs (bravo!), we see him in Sibenik at the coast, from where he comes, we see him in his home, walking in the streets, in a hotel, the camera likes him and he likes to pose and perform, and talks openly about hard times in his life – it is not difficult to understand why he was so popular then and now. He performs with his wife, also in archive, there is a lot of that from television shows, and it is great to be in his company, especially in the room where he composes and writes and smokes.

Croatia/Serbia, 2014, 72 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Training Possibilities

Written 21-02-2015 12:40:07 by Tue Steen Müller

Knowing that many of our readers are looking for ways to improve their skills, meet colleagues, develop their documentary projects... here is (below) a link to a very useful Guide to "Training and Networks", published by Creative Europe MEDIA, giving good information on the many possibilities offered for workshops and seminars co-financed by the publisher.

Let me just mention one that I know very well, as I have been working for Archidoc that has directors (and not producers which is otherwise mostly the case) as the main target. Here is an introduction, check it out: Knowing that many of our readers are looking for ways to improve their skills, meet colleagues, develop their documentary projects... here is (below) a link to a very useful Guide to "Training and Networks", published by Creative Europe MEDIA, giving good information on the many possibilities offered for workshops and seminars co-financed by the publisher. Let me just mention one that I know very well, as I have been working for Archidoc that has directors (and not producers which is otherwise mostly the case) as the main target. Here is an introduction, check it out:

Archidoc is a European training workshop focused on the development of documentary film projects using archives. This workshop of three residential sessions lasting three to eight days provides participants with the professional and artistic tools to bring their project to a successful conclusion, develop their professional know-how and reach the international documentary market. The first session focuses on defining and fine-tuning the main narration choices, the second on preparing the film’s professional file and trailer, and the third on presenting the projects to potential professional partners (broadcasters, festivals, co-producers). Between sessions, participants dialogue with the tutors, according to a pre-established schedule.

The key target groups for this course are European documentary film directors with a project using archive materials, and their producers...

Photo: Archidoc-developed film on "Gustavs Klucis, The Deconstruction of an Artist" by Peteris Krilovs.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Documentary César to Wenders & Salgado

Written 21-02-2015 12:05:10 by Tue Steen Müller

Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado were given the French Documentary César at the ceremony last night in Paris for their film on photographer Sebastião Salgado, ”The Salt of the Earth”. The film competed with Stéphanie Valloatto's ”Cartoonists - Foot Soldiers of Democracy” and Frederick Wiseman's ”National Gallery”. On this site Mikkel Stolt reviewed the film, here are two quotes:

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

They lend their ears and their time to the protagonist and they arrange the material and write a voice-over that weaves their film and Salgado’s life together. Because they all want us to see – really see – the world and what’s in it...

The film is also nominated for an Oscar in the long documentary category.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Let Joanna Win an Oscar!

Written 20-02-2015 20:21:00 by Tue Steen Müller

I subscribe to the Realscreen trade magazine, which gives sometimes very valuable and reflective articles, among many others that line up who has left Discovery Channel and who comes, and who has bought the rights for that series etc.

The one I got today was very good, let me give you the annotation: “With the Oscars on the way for this Sunday, Emmy-winning director Pamela Mason Wagner discusses the subject matter of this year’s short documentary nominees, and asks where the line can, or should, be drawn when delving into difficult territory… And she does that in a very good way, read the whole article, click below. And she writes so well about my favourite (the only one nominated that I have seen to be honest but a masterpiece...):

“… In Joanna (directed by Aneta Kopacz) a young mother in Warsaw, with a terminal diagnosis, lives out her final months as purposefully and thoughtfully as she can. Her bright seven year-old son Jas appears in nearly every scene. Their relationship, full of intimate, tender rapport forms the heart of the movie.

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance puts Focus on Czech Documentaries

Written 19-02-2015 16:21:57 by Tue Steen Müller

Energetic Andrea Pruchova from DocAlliance invites you to watch 5 new Czech documentaries that compete for the Czech Lion, read what she writes:

“Already this Saturday, February 21, the statuettes of the major Czech film award, the Czech Lion, will be presented to their new holders. These will include the fresh winner of the Best Documentary Film category. The nominees include five renowned and popular films Into the Clouds We Gaze, The Magic Voice of a Rebel, Olga, The Century of Miroslav Zikmund and Václav Havel – Living in Freedom. You have a unique chance to watch all of the nominated films for free or for a small fee from Monday, February 16 to Sunday, February 22! You can also join the vote and choose your own winner of the prestigious award!...”

It’s for free (until this coming Sunday) and if you click below you get an introduction to the films. One has already been reviewed on this site, Olga (photo) by Miroslav Janek, a wonderful work by the Czech master.!-2646/?

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Alexandru Solomon Tribute

Written 19-02-2015 15:18:46 by Tue Steen Müller

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival is one of the best when it comes to communication – and programming. This text is taken from the website, a very well deserved tribute to Alexandru Solomon is planned for the festival, that takes place March 13-22:

Incredible stories from the past, shocking truths and lies, memory and reality: this is the work of Alexandru Solomon, one of the leading political documentary filmmakers in Romania.

Filmmaker, cinematographer and producer, Solomon was born in Bucharest in 1966. He studied in the Film and Theater Academy School and started working as a cinematographer, before he moved to documentary directing. An active producer as well, he has been developing projects since the 90s, focusing on co-productions with countries like the UK, Canada, France and Germany. He is also teaching at the Film School and within the Arts Academy in Bucharest. His films have participated in numerous festivals internationally.
Solomon’s work does not subscribe to a single, given genre, style or narrative methodology. Through either observation or detailed journalistic research, Solomon looks to the past in an exploration of history, politics and society that allows him to succinctly comment on the present.

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

MOMA Documentary Fortnight

Written 19-02-2015 15:12:30 by Tue Steen Müller

… in NY is running now and until February 27 with many interesting titles, like ”Of Men and War” by Laurent Bécue-Renard, ”Domino Effect” (photo) by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski, and ”Around in the World in 50 Concerts”, the latest film by Heddy Honigmann awarded at idfa 2014. MOMA has its youtube channel, link below, where you can watch trailers and excerpts. And get small annotations of the 15 films on the programme.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Away From Home…

Written 19-02-2015 11:53:57 by Tue Steen Müller

CoExist is what it says the photo of the poster we took today in Paris, when visiting Institut du Monde Arabe. A fine statement after the events in Copenhagen – and Paris. On the wall of the building was written ”nous sommes tous Charlie”. Inside was an impressive exhibition, Le Maroc contemporain, photos, paintings, videos, carpets, dresses, sculptures, a huge effort has been done to capture culture and soul of an Arab country. The exhibition can be seen until March 1st.

We arrived in Paris sunday morning after having been watching television the whole evening and most of the night. As well as been standing at the windows of our fourth floor appartment to see and listen. In the street people were walking quickly away from the nearby Nørreport Station, the blue lights from the police cars were flashing on the other side of the park and the sound of police car sirens were constant. Horrifying!

In Paris the attack was on the front page of the newspaper Libération: Vi er danskere = nous sommes danois, the text put on a photo taken outside the synagogue, where Jewish Dan Uzan was killed. In Le Monde Danish author Jens Christian Grøndahl conveyed his impressions from the moving memorial and in Le Figaro Danish-Syrian Naser Khader, former member of the Danish parliament gave a personal interview on how he grew up in the Danish society, so much different from Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, the man believed to be behind the killing of Uzan and Finn Nørgaard, Danish filmmaker, on that black weekend in Copenhagen.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Vladimir Tomic: Flotel Europa

Written 14-02-2015 18:35:52 by Tue Steen Müller

There were no Danish feature films awarded at the Berlinale but out of almost nowhere comes a Danish/Serbian documentary “Flotel Europa” and wins an award according to a press release of today from DFI, the Danish Film Institute: Vladimir Tomic's documentary about his memories from growing up on the refugee ship "Flotel Europa," received the Reader's Jury Award from the Berlin-based daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. Bravo! Background annotation of the film’s content:

“In 1992, a wave of refugees from the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina reached Denmark. With refugee camps completely full, the Red Cross pulled a giant ship into the canals of Copenhagen. The ship, Flotel Europa, became a temporary home for a thousand people waiting for decisions on their asylum applications. Among them was a young 12-year-old boy, Vladimir, who fled Sarajevo together with his mother and older brother. They spent two years in the limbo of Flotel Europa. Two decades later, Vladimir Tomic takes us on a journey of growing up on this ship filled with echoes of the war - and other things that make up an adolescence.”

I watched the film today and it is a very nice documentation – based on amateur video material – of the life on board a ship that we Copenhageners remember so well, also for the discussions on the bad conditions that were offered the refugees. Tomic story, however, is much more than that, through the personal and well written commentary that he delivers about the young kid growing up, seeing many of the grown ups going down mentally at the same time as he gets more and more aware of the girls around him, especially one called Melisa. In other words a fine small growing-up story in the middle of a sad political situation that brought Vladimir, his brother and strong mother away from Sarajevo. Interesting is also to hear about the internal ethnic conflicts among the refugees on the ship, as the kid saw it, remembered by the director more than 20 years later.

Denmark/Serbia, 2015, 70 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

ZagrebDox 2015

Written 14-02-2015 13:25:42 by Tue Steen Müller

Festival director Nenad Puhovski and his ZagrebDox team has announced its programme for the 11th edition – around 150 films in 16 sections. The Croatian festival runs February 22 to March 1, take a look at the (as always) inviting, well designed website, link below.

25 films in the international competition, great films waiting for the audience like Virpi Suutari’s “Garden Lovers”, Laurent Bécue-Renard’s “Of Men and War”, Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard’s “Rules of the Game” and “Tea Time” by Maite Alberdi. Bravo that ZagrebDox takes films like Laila Pakalnina’s “Hotel and a Ball” and Viestur Kairish “Pelican in the Desert” (photo), overseen by bigger documentary festivals. The latter is a masterpiece.

The festivals also has a section for controversial documentaries that “explores and expounds political, social, religious and sexual controversies”, a section for “state of affairs” that “question some of the most important issues and controversies of today, from the current changes in Greece and the fates of prominent information freedom fighters Swartz and Snowden, to environmental and economic manipulations”, (but “Citizenfour” is not there?), and a special one titled “Discover Russia at ZagrebDox”. Here is the text from the website:

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American POV's Summer Season

Written 12-02-2015 16:07:13 by Tue Steen Müller


Good for the Americans who love non-American documentaries that POV exists. The channel's summer season has been launched yesterday – a quote from the announcement below taken from the website – and includes Chilean Maita Alberdi's wonderful "Tea Time", the Israeli "Web Junkie" by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia, Danish Andreas Johnsen's "Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case" and most important I think Talal Terkl's "Return to Homs". The quote:

"Today, we’re excited to share with you the lineup from POV’s summer season, which starts June 22. POV is American television’s longest running independent documentary series and we’re getting ready for our 28th season on PBS of acclaimed, provocative films unlike anything else on television. Highlights from the season include the Oscar-nominated "Cutie and the Boxer", an unprecedented look behind the Syrian insurgency in "Return to Homs", and "Point and Shoot", a film that will mark the 10th anniversary of filmmaker Marshall Curry’s first film (of many) on POV, the Oscar-nominated Street Fight."

Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pioneers Flaherty and Linklater

Written 10-02-2015 19:36:49 by Tue Steen Müller

Tom Roston, film blogger with his own column, Doc Soup, on the site of American POV, writes today on Flaherty and Linklater, an elegant reflection on the two’s pioneer work with each their own genre.

Here is a quote: ”… Like Flaherty, Linklater (Boyhood) is pioneering a new form — he certainly isn’t the first, but he’s made a fictional film that hues so close to being real that it feels like real life. It’s a beautiful film. I think it’s a marvel. It was inspiring to see, even in our age, that the film medium could feel so new. It must have been somewhat like what audiences felt watching Nanook when they first watched it. So where Flaherty bent the rules of nonfiction to create a cinematic documentary, Linklater bent the rules of narrative fiction filmmaking to create realistic cinema. Bravo to both…”

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Russian Documentaries

Written 10-02-2015 11:20:05 by Tue Steen Müller

It is very difficult to make documentaries in Russia. It is very difficult to organise film festivals in Russia. It is very difficult to touch upon controversial subjects in Russia. We know that, but we also know how important it is to support the filmmakers there and to help them bring the films to life and to an audience abroad. I have had contacts with Russian documentarians for years, some of them since the existence of the Balticum Film & TV Festival on Bornholm in the 1990'es - some of them (because of their age) for a shorter period. To this category belongs young Georgy Molodtsov, who sent me a press release yesterday promoting the Russian Film Market Guide 2015 that is strongly recommended. Here is a quote:

"Moscow Business Square, Documentary Film Center and Russian Documentary Guild issue an English-language catalogue which includes detailed information about Russian documentary market. The print catalogue is now being presented at the Berlinale-2015 and its online version is available on Russian Documentary Guild web-site:

Printed version of the catalogue might be downloaded from web-site as well -

Both catalogues include a list of leading international documentary film festivals based in Russia. There is also a list of internationally successful production companies, national distributors, industrial sites, and Russian TV-channels. Besides this, the print catalogue shares an article which covers two important things such as financing sources available in Russia and opportunities of co-production with the Russian film companies..."

The Guild also publishes a Top 20 called "National Documentary Rating (is) a project (of Russian Documentary Guild), which determines the success of Russian films in domestic and international festival, tv and theatrical distribution during the 2013 calendar year (from Jan, 1 to Dec, 31)." On the list you find fine works as "Winter, Go Away", "Linar", "Vivan las Antipodas"-

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Magnificent 7 Belgrade Day 6 & 7

Written 07-02-2015 16:56:43 by Tue Steen Müller

Finnish Virpi Suutari visited the festival for a very short time. She had just left the national documentary celebration DocPoint on Finland where her ”Garden Lovers” got the Jussi award as the best Finnish documentary and composer Sanna Salmenkallio received the award for the best music for that film. Knowing the general high quality of Finnish documentaries, I can only say – tough competition but the right winner, the film is a poetic masterpiece and has a universal appeal. I see it as one long visit to a Garden of Love, an hommage to people, who have lived for a long time together and care about their garden and each other. Virpi Suutari has her own style, there is unique flow in her narrative supported by the music. ”Garden Lovers” got applause for minutes, was enormously appreciated by the Belgrade audience – I know I repeat myself: the best in Europe!

In her masterclass Suutari (photo) talked about and showed her inspiration that comes from her education as a photographer (never been to film school). ”It affects your aesthetics what you have experienced in your childhood”, she said and referred to Martin Parr , Billy Brandt, Hopper and Billingham. She showed clips from ”Sin”, that she made together with Susanne Helke, a true inspiration from Swedish master Roy Andersson, and from ”White Sky”, also together with Helke, from Northern Russia, before she showed clips from ”Hilton”, made at the same time as ”Garden Lovers” in a completely different style.

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Magnificent 7 Belgrade Diary 5 & 6

Written 07-02-2015 13:22:13 by Tue Steen Müller

Full house for the Q&A of Jorge Pelicano after the screening of his ”Suddenly My Thoughts Halt”, a film from a Portuguese hospital for mentally ill people, very well received by the Belgrade audience, again around 1000 spectators – to judge from the long applause that accompanied the end titles on the screen in the Sava Centre. Pelicano, with his third documentary film, that he directed, filmed and he also took care of the final editing process, invited the 50 people in the VIP room to know more about the difficult process of getting authorization to film, about several patients who did not want to take part or rather their guardians did not give the permission, about the 4-5 weeks of shooting, about him not sleeping there contrary to the actor Miguel, who installs himself to prepare for a theatre play with the patients – have to be said that the hospital uses theatre as a therapeutical tool several times per year.

I was there for three weeks without camera, Pelicano said, and after some time I/we became one(s) of them. We ended up having 250 hours of footage, we edited for 6 months. And we found our main characters – my comment: indeed he did, it will be impossible to forget Alberto, the laughing man with teeth only in the left side of his mouth, and Mr. Andreu, who walks with Alberto, looking like a English gentleman with an umbrella, intellectual, a perfect companion for Alberto, they get along. There is a brilliant scene that Pelicano told us about in his masterclass the next day, with young film students and filmmakers as participants in the

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Democrats on BBC

Written 06-02-2015 12:29:57 by Tue Steen Müller

Monday 9th of February Camilla Nielsson’s Democrats will be shown on BBC Four within the strand ”Storyville”, headed by Nick Fraser.

On that occasion the director has been interviewed for the website of ”Storyville”, one of those small talk promotion of the film. She reveals that her favourite film of all times is Cassavetes ”A Woman under the Influence”, that she would love to make an interview with Henry Kissinger, that Albert Maysles ”Salesman” is the documentary that has inspired her most, that character for her is more important than story – and that her favourite website is


Photo: Camilla Nielsson on stage with Zoran Popovic at Magnificent 7 in Belgrade.

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Written 04-02-2015 18:48:09 by Tue Steen Müller

Maja Medic took these photos of two men on the stage at the Magnificent 7 Festival in Belgrade. It was on the night when the film on "Messi" was to be shown. From left the body language signals the mountain gorillas in the film "Virunga", then how the local Novak Djokovic did that sunday, when he won the Australian Open tennis tournament and finally, yes, Leo Messi when he scores. To the right festival director Zoran Popovic. 

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Magnificent 7 Belgrade Day 4 & 5

Written 04-02-2015 14:31:23 by Tue Steen Müller

One day takes the other here in Belgrade that has the most changing weather I have experienced for a long time. Yesterday Portuguese director Jorge Pelicano, Danish director Camilla Nielsson and I, accompanied by two young students of painting and film, went on a tour to the House of Flowers, the burial place of Tito and his wife Jovanka. The weather was warm with spring in the air, so we moved from Tito to Zemun to enjoy the river with its boats, and the many people strolling on the boardwalk.

Today Belgrade is back to Nordic weather, grey with rain.

Flashback to monday night where ”Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson was shown. Again close to 1000 spectators, great atmosphere with the director asking the audience if she could take a photo! Could one imagine one thousand people watching a film on Zimbabwe in a cinema in Copenhagen… No.

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Democrats to be Shown in Harare

Written 04-02-2015 14:23:39 by Tue Steen Müller

Camilla Nielsson, director of ”Democrats” that was shown here in Belgrade (see post above) monday night, told me that the film will have its premiere in Harare Zimbabwe this coming friday. A press release from the Danish embassy goes like this:

The Royal Danish Embassy Office (RDEO) will present the screening of Democrats, a documentary about Zimbabwe’s power struggle for a new constitution, on Friday 6 February 2015. The film which was directed by award-winning Danish filmmaker Camilla Nielsson, will be shown at 6:30 PM to invited guests and the general public at the Book Café in the capital.

Democrats is an exciting, compelling and shocking documentary that presents a rare, vital snapshot of Zimbabwe’s democratization process in its initial planning stages. The film follows the co-chairpersons of the parliamentary select committee COPAC, Munyaridzi Paul Mangwana (central committee member of ZANU-PF) and Douglas Mwonzora (General Secretary for MDC-T) who were charged with creating a new constitution that satisfies the principles of both parties and the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.

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Magnificent 7 Belgrade – Day 3/4

Written 02-02-2015 10:55:59 by Tue Steen Müller

Take a look at the photo. This man is the one that emotionally carries the Oscar-nominated ”Virunga” by Orlando von Einsiedel. Whenever André is in the picture with his mountain gorillas, you understand how important the message of the film is: We must protect the nature and animals of the Virunga National Park, ”one of the most biologically diverse places in the world… part of UNESCO's world heritage”. The dramatic documentary tells its story (or stories) through powerful music and effects with undercover journalism as one important storytelling tool.

Around 2000 (yes, two thousand!) attended the screening Saturday night at the Sava Center in Belgrade!

Sunday morning was time for relaxation, at least for us non-Serbians. We were at the home of Nevena Đonlić, part of the festival team and a passionate connaisseur of tennis, the sport of Serbia thanks to Novak Djokovic, who played the final of Australian Open against Scottish Andy Murray – and won easily after four sets, the first two of them with some exciting moments. I had not seen a tennis match for years, enjoyed it due to the numerous interesting camera angles and superb close ups of feet and facial expressions of the players.

Last night back to the cinema, to the third film of the festival, “Messi” by Spanish Alex de la Iglesia. It gave me the chance to put on my Barcelona shirt and go on stage with Zoran Popovic to greet an audience that was different from the regular one: Hundreds of kids were in the hall accompanied by their parents. Wonderful!  I sat next to four boys around 12 years old. When there was talking on screen, they also talked to each other, when Messi was on the pitch their eyes were wide open adoring the little master’s movements. Film and football, what a cocktail!

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Documentaries at the Berlinale

Written 02-02-2015 09:45:50 by Tue Steen Müller

Press release from the upcoming film fest in Berlin:

The Berlin International Film Festival (February 5-15) has long been committed to documentaries in their diverse forms. This is reflected in the programmes of the Berlinale’s different sections and initiatives, as well in the European Film Market (EFM), NATIVe, and Berlinale Talents.

In 2015, a total of 87 documentaries will be screening in a variety of forms. In addition, discussion of a wide range of different aspects related to documentaries will be intensified – at workshops, panels and presentations…

At the European Film Market there is a “Meet the Docs” – organized together with EDN (European Documentary Network) – panel discussions are being held as well meetings with festival representatives and there is a ““Docs Spotlight” series by CPH:DOX, DOK Leipzig and IDFA that present a selection of the previous documentary festival programmes.” “Messi” by Alex de la Iglesia is there, “The Look of Silence” by Joshua Oppenheimer as well – the film just won awards as the best Nordic documentary at the festival in Gothenburg and the Danish Robert. Other titles – Hanna Polak’s “Something better to Come” and “Daniel’s World” (photo) by Veronika Liskova.

At “Berlinale Talents” ten projects are presented and “receive a week of assistance in developing”, quite a generous initiative.

What else? A world premiere “The Pearl Button” by Patricio Guzmán, “Fassbinder – To Love Without Demands” by Danish Christian Braad Thomsen, also a world premiere, and a new one from Laura Nix, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, “The Yes Men Are Revolting”.

But take a look at

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Magnificent 7 Belgrade – Day 2/3

Written 31-01-2015 19:25:24 by Tue Steen Müller

”I was asked to do that film”, Oeke Hoogendijk said at the Q&A session after the opening screening of ”The New Rijksmuseum – the Film” friday night January 30 at the Sava Centre in Belgrade. The hall was full, more than 1000 spectators, the reactions were positive during the film – the 130 minutes version was shown, director’s cut, she stressed in the small VIP room, where also the masterclass was held this morning with around 25 young filmmakers and students. ”At the beginning I wrote a script but I had to throw it away as we went along and things happened that could not be anticipated”. Nobody could imagine that the reconstruction of the museum could take more than a decade.

Oeke Hoogendijk ended up with 400 hours of material. She made a film out of the material already in 2008. She made a four part series for television and ”I learned a lot from making that film – go with the film, trust your intuition”.

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Magnificent 7 Belgrade – Day 1

Written 30-01-2015 11:41:30 by Tue Steen Müller

I warn you – it is my intention to report from the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade that starts tonight with the screening of ”The New Rijksmuseum – the Film” by Oeke Hoogendijk. The reporting will include a lot about films, for sure, but also about the atmosphere in this wonderful city and about the equally wonderful team behind the festival’s 11th edition. Dedicated and passionate film lovers who can be proud of a festival that attracts a huge audience. We expect more than 1000 spectators at the Sava Centre at 8pm!

We (my wife is with me) arrived wednesday around midnight with Wizz from Malmö, where we lined up to check in next to a fine photo of football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, local hero in Malmö, where he grew up, Bosnian origins. At Nikolaj Tesla airport we were met by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, and one of the loyal Magnificent7 team members, Andrijana Stojkovic, film director and editor. To stay in the football world, Svetlana Popovic brought me a poster that advertises the screening of ”Messi”, a film we are looking forward to show to the Belgrade audience, who might be more interested in a certain Djokovic…

Yesterday morning Zoran Popovic and I were interviewed on N1 television, which is a new (started October 2014), a regional news channel à lá CNN, broadcasting from Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade. It is my general impression – take a look at the FB page of the festival – that the press is very interested in the festival and so are a good number of restaurants that in all years have been supporting the festival by inviting its guests for lunches or dinners. Yesterday we were at a vegan restaurant Radost House, Pariska 3 – delicious meal, ”good for your stomach before all the meat you will have”, as said cinematographer Jelena Stankovic, also a loyal team member of M7. Back to Crown Plaza, which has been the festival hotel since the very beginning, apart from one year where it was under renovation. It is difficult to be negative here, actually impossible, lovely hotel.

Photo from previous festival - Zoran Popovic, Svetlana Popovic and I having a rakia at the legendary ?.

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Bringing Truths to Life - at Sundance

Written 29-01-2015 22:21:47 by Tue Steen Müller

Realscreen reports from the ongoing Sundance festival. And documentaries are shown and discussed. Last saturday a panel of three directors were talking about ”the blurring lines between journalism and non-fiction storytelling”.

Laura Poitras (Citizen Four etc.) (Photo): “It’s not a blurry line, it’s additive, It’s ‘Journalism Plus.’ It’s not just telling the facts. We don’t make films to break news. Hopefully we make lasting narratives, so that’s different.”

Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side etc.): “I consider myself a filmmaker, but with journalistic baggage. I do have a commitment to make something in the visual medium that stands the test the time.”

Mark Silver (3 ½ minutes)… To illustrate how different journalists and filmmakers are perceived in the U.S., the British-born Silver said that he applied to be part of a journalists union in the UK before directing 3½ Minutes, a very American crime story debuting at the festival. “I needed something to help me get through customs without having to explain myself,” he said. “Being a journalist union member did that. And to get access to the courtroom, we couldn’t have pushed that without being a journalist.”

Just a taster for the article by Michael Speier on a theme that comes up whenever the documentary genre is on the agenda.

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