Dixie Land Wins in Odessa

Written 28-07-2017 10:55:26 by Tue Steen Müller

Had to bring this red-carpet-photo of producer Ilona Bicevska with protagonist Polina with the most amazing hat, and her parents, who are also in the film, the winning film, Dixie Land, Best Ukranian film, at the Odessa International Film Festival some days ago.

A well deserved award to those on the photo, and to the makers, Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko.

I attended the Ukranian premiere in Kiev at the festival DocuDays earlier this year and wrote:

…The film about jazz music performed by kids in a band in Kherson Ukraine, led by their old teacher, who founded the band just after WW2, picking up homeless children to give them the chance to develop their skills, gave them a life, simply - is a warm, so well made - Bondarchuk has indeed a documentary-eye - interpretation of a happy childhood, where kids have a good time developing their creative skills. As it is written in the catalogue: We all live once in Dixie Land – the country where politics, money and death do not exist at all…

The film will late August be at the MakeDox Festival in Skopje, Macedonia – and hopefully at many other festivals to come.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance: Hybrid Films

Written 27-07-2017 17:57:56 by Tue Steen Müller

Look at this list of films presented by DocAlliance:

Life in Denmark (Jørgen Leth)

Cooking History (Peter Kerekes)

Blind Loves (Juraj Lehotský)

Alda (Viera Čakányová)

Ex Press (Jet Leyco)

The Wolf from Royal Wineyard Street (Jan Němec)

The Perfect Human (Jørgen Leth)

Love from Above (Petr Marek)

I can warmly recommend you to take a film historical look at the two films by Jørgen Leth, “Life in Denmark” (1972) and “The Perfect Human” (1967), both of them have been inspiring new generations of filmmakers in Denmark, the latter being the starting point for the film he made with Lars von Trier, “Five Obstructions” (2003). Jørgen Leth celebrated his 80year birthday this year, he is still going strong, working on a biographical film, working title “I Walk”.

“Blind Loves” (2008) by Juraj Lehotsky with Marko Skop as the producer was one of my favourites, when I was working with the training program Ex Oriente being able to see how the director found solutions that quite rightly can be called hybrid. As can for sure another masterpiece, “Cooking History” (photo) (2009) by Peter Kerekes.

The rest of the package I have not seen – yet. Here is the intro made by the DocAlliance, that again shows generosity and sense of artistic quality:

“Is it possible for a documentary film to capture reality in a way that is undistorted? Is it possible to truly see reality reflected in a documentary film? Where is the boundary between documentary and fiction? In our selection focused on hybrid films, we examine the borders of fictional worlds.”

Available until August 6.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Khaled Jarrar: Displaced in Heaven

Written 25-07-2017 14:53:43 by Tue Steen Müller

Found this on FB the other day, posted by Palestinian multi-artist Khaled Jarrar: Happy to announce that the film that I'm working on since two years 'Displaced in Heaven' is nominated to The Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

And I am happy to say that I have read the script of Palestinian Jarrar, whose work as an artist and filmmaker I have been trying to follow since I met him in 2011 at the Storydoc workshop in Greece. Trying to… not easy, since his activist work has brought him to galleries and exhibitions and streets in for example Paris. His film “Infiltrators” has gone all over the world. I wrote these words about it on this site: …a film that with its non-aggressive approach gives the viewer a unique account of the climbers, big and small, old and young, who go to Jerusalem illegally. To work first of all. It uses a non-linear structure, it has many angles and stylistical elements that wonderfully surprise you as a viewer, who is used to strong films in all genres, aggressive against the Israeli occupation. You have sometimes a clear laugh when you see the different ways of climbing, sometimes you laugh because of the absurdity, and sometimes you are moved and feel angry: this can not be true, this is not civilisation 2012! But it is.”

Under the title “A Dinner that Never Came” Khaled Jarrar has written a kind of background treatment for the film “Displaced in Heaven”. It is long time ago a story has moved me so much. Here is a long quote and a link to where you can be acquainted with it:

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Layla Abyad: Letters to S.

Written 24-07-2017 15:18:36 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s a very fine choice of style, Syrian Layla Abyad has made for her short film made in Switzerland. It works with the personal essay form, it gives an intense atmosphere, her English voice and the shift from English to Arabic is perfect, and the image never ”kills” the text, vive versa. It gives you a glimpse of what it means to be in exile in a Western European country communicating with someone dear to you back home – Sama is online from Damascus, the young woman who is talking and who you never see gives ”advice” on how to survive here in Switzerland, where a demonstration lasts one hour without any conflicts and where you can film it all, if you wish. On her way round in the country in the middle of Europe she attends a meeting with Swiss citizens, who are afraid of muslims…

”Where do I start to explain to this nice, polite old man that I have statistically more odds and reasons to fear his vote’s support for the arms industry than he has to fear the underground fanatics already killing way more Syrians than Swiss”, a quote from the very well composed commentary in a film, that ends up with words to Sama in Damascus on what to do when ”they” interrogate her and if torture is to be used…

On the production background: …5 well-known filmmakers from Syria, Palestine, Israel, Ukraine and Russia were invited to Winterthur for 5 weeks. Together with Swiss film students, they realised a short documentary about the theme „Exile“. The result is a documentary with 5 episodes and 5 personal, touching, yet provocative views of Switzerland.

Switzerland, Syria, 11 mins., 2015


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Joshua Oppenheimer

Written 23-07-2017 05:15:58 by Tue Steen Müller

…there's never been a deeper or more diverse time for documentary cinema… That’s how IndieWire introduces its article about the 25 documentaries four critics have found the best in the still young 21st century. And it is an impressive list of films that are to be found. Mostly American and English language films. That can be discussed of course, but what is indisputable – the two films of Joshua Oppenheimer are there, “The Look of Silence” as number 4, “The Act of Killing” as number 1.

Which leads me to turn to the upcoming Sarajevo Film Festival (starts August 11), where “A Tribute to Joshua Oppenheimer” is part of the programme with a masterclass with the director, a so-called career interview that I have been asked to lead. With great pleasure! On the website of the festival Oppenheimer’s two films are presented like this:

Born in 1974, USA, two-time Oscar® nominee Joshua Oppenheimer’s debut feature film, THE ACT OF KILLING (2014 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary), was named Film of the Year in the 2013 by the Guardian and the Sight and Sound Film Poll, and won 72 international awards, including a European Film Award, a BAFTA, an Asia Pacific Screen Award, a Berlinale Audience Award, and the Guardian Film Award for Best Film.

His second film, THE LOOK OF SILENCE (2016 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary), premiered at the 71st Venice Film Festival, where it won five awards, including the Grand Jury Prize, the international critics award (Prix FIPRESCI) and the European film critics award (FEDEORA Prize). Since then, THE LOOK OF SILENCE has received 72 international awards, including an Independent Spirit Award, an IDA Award for Best Documentary, a Gotham Award for Best Documentary, and three Cinema Eye Honors, including Best Film and Best Director.

I wonder how many people have seen the two films. Does he know that, I will ask him in Sarajevo…

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sarajevo Documentary Competition

Written 19-07-2017 11:26:14 by Tue Steen Müller

14 films, “important stories, new voices, relevant debates”, that is how Rada Sesic, the programmer, presents the documentary competition at the upcoming Sarajevo Film Festival, August 11-18. New films from the region, 4 of them world premieres.

I have seen 4 of them, to recommend with pleasure, the Arash Brothers “Kinders”, “Ultra” by Hungarian Balazs Simonyi (…Year after year, runners from around the world participate in one of the most prestigious and challenging of races, the Spartathlon – 246km from Athens to Sparta in under 36 hours… a film that is much more than a sport film), the wonderful ”Planeta Petrila” (PHOTO) by Andrei Dascalescu that I reviewed on this site, here is a clip ” a film about creativity and… a beautiful homage to a dangerous industry and those who worked there or ”died for the coal”, Macedonian Ilija Cvetkovski’s sweet ”Avec l’amour”, written together with Atanas Georgiev about the teacher and his passion for cars.

For the rest – because I have heard about them – I look forward to seeing the Georgian ”City of the Sun” by Rati Oneli, not to forget ”In Praise of Nothing” by Boris Mitic, who has talked about the film for years. I have high expectations to what this talented director comes up with.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Julia Bobkova: The Last Waltz

Written 18-07-2017 20:48:12 by Tue Steen Müller

It was shown at the Moscow International Film Festival in the international competition for documentaries, this fascinating film about Oleg Karavaichuk, composer and piano player from St. Petersburg, in which city I – during the years of visit to the M2M (Message to Man) – heard again and again producers wishing to make a film with/about the charismatic musical genius, as he is called by many. Totally understandable it is when you watch this work finished and released after his death in 2016, 88 years old.

Because he is a great musician, he is wonderful to look at, the way he walks, the way he talks, the way he dresses with a beret on his head, hair coming out anyway, his piano playing, close-ups on his hands almost smashing the piano keyboard, his behaviour when he performs at a concert recordings on a big screen standing with his back to the audience in a corner…His compositions.

A showman, yes, an akward one, in a film that primarily is built up

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ai Weiwei: Human Flow

Written 15-07-2017 21:41:38 by Tue Steen Müller

Realscreen, the trade magazine, revealed yesterday information about some of the distribution aspects of the upcoming film by Ai WeiWei, ”Human Flow”, that I am sure I am not the only one who is looking forward to see. I have picked some lines from the article: 

”Filmed over more than a year and shot in 23 countries, the doc aims to capture the scope of the global migrant crisis, which involves more than 65 million individuals searching for a better life after having been forcibly displaced due to war, famine and climate change…

The film will be distributed in the UK and Ireland by Altitude Films a deal struck by Lionsgate International on behalf of Participant Media and AC Films. Human Flow is produced by Weiwei, Chin-chin Yap, and Heino Deckert. Andy Cohen of AC Films and Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann are the executive producers. Amazon is holding the US rights.

The premiere of the film, that will have a duration of more than two hours, is not yet announced. When that is done, and we have seen the film, you can count on a follow-up on this site.

The chief editor of the film is Danish Niels Pagh Andersen.

On Youtube:

Ai Weiwei, in a one-minute visual, talks about his film.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Golden Apricot Festival Cancels Program

Written 13-07-2017 07:55:33 by Tue Steen Müller

Shameful conduct at the Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan that ends July 16…

“We want to inform you that the ARMENIANS: INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL VIEWS non-competition program is completely cancelled. We apologize for any inconveniences.” This was the content of an email that was sent to the filmmakers, whose films had been selected. Around 40 there were. The films were to be screened in a theatre that belongs to the Cinematographers’ Union of Armenia. The former director of the theatre Rouben Gevorgyants passed away June 23 and the new temporary director, when he discovered that there were two LGBT related films in the program, demanded to the festival to take them out. The festival would not do so and thus the whole program was cancelled.

Which naturally created a lot of protests from filmmakers, critics, rights activists et al., who wrote an official complaint including this: … “We condemn the actions

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Polish Doc Promotion

Written 11-07-2017 11:38:06 by Tue Steen Müller

What is the best country in documentaries right now? I have for decades tried to answer that question based on what I have seen at festivals and online. When I was working at EDN at the beginning of the 2000´s I always said Finland, a country with a documentary culture that has a good financial support. Now I am not so sure that the artistic quality is the same as then, I might be wrong, whereas I can only salute what comes from Poland of original work from experienced directors and new talents. The Danes reading this will say that ”we” are also doing well, look at the amount of good films that travel to festivals, yes yes, and let me also include Norway as a country that delivers important documentaries these years.

Back to Poland and Polish documentaries. Yesterday a newsletter came in from KFF Sales and Promotion which is ”… a new branch of the Krakow Film Foundation, so far devoted to the festival promotion of Polish films under the brands of Polish Docs, Polish Shorts and Polish Animations. Starting in 2016, film promotion is also accompanied by sales, which seems to be a natural development of the Foundation’s former activities. KFF Sales & Promotion is the only selling agency of documentary films in Poland and the first one dealing with promotion of Polish documentary cinema on such a large scale. Every year, in the database of films represented by KFF abroad, there are over 70 films.”

The main emphasis in the newsletter is put on the success of Piotr Stasik’s masterpiece “21xNew York” that travels to numerous festivals in Italy, Estonia, South Africa, Macedonia, Lithuania. The film was reviewed on this site in connection with last year’s Krakow Film Festival - - I was at a critics panel, where the film was number one but the jury decided not to give it the main award it deserved.

For more info on Polish documentaries, check this site or go to

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DokuFest Kosovo/ Competitions

Written 10-07-2017 16:33:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Many tweets fill the world of today… One for us film freaks came earlier to day: DokuFest XVI announces the full slate of films in competitions, featuring an outstanding body of work!

Yes the organisers can be proud of their work in selecting the films for the competitions which are divided into the sections ”Balkan Dox”, ”International Dox”, ”Human Rights Dox”, ”Green Dox”, International Shorts” and ”National”, the latter meaning films from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia – mostly short films.

Let me mention some of the films, that I have seen and eventually also written about on this site:

Machines” by Rahul Jain, ”A Hole in the Head” by Robert Kirchhoff, ”Mogadishu Soldier” by Torstein Grude and Niels Pagh Andersen, ”Nowhere to Hide” (PHOTO) by Zaradasht Ahmed, ”The War Show” by Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon and ”Woman and the Glacier” by Audrius Stonys. 

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dokufest Kosovo 2017

Written 10-07-2017 10:23:14 by Tue Steen Müller

I was in Prizren last year and loved it. This year my August trips to the region go to Sarajevo and Skopje. But I will follow Dokufest on this site and start with a copy-paste from the announcements coming from the organisers:

The theme of FUTURE will be highlighted in the upcoming edition of DokuFest, running from August 04-12 in Prizren, Kosovo. We will take a daring look into future’s uncertainties, challenges and hopes through a fusion of a carefully curated film strand, visual exhibitions, various master classes and talks, collaborative workshops, diversified music performances, as well as platforms for use of new media and new technologies.

The seeds for this edition’s theme arose from the recent years’ growing move of citizens striving to have a stronger say in their own future. Our program will be a glimpse between dystopias and utopias, borders and openness, fear and love.

Competitions will be announced on July 10 on festival’s website, link below.

”North Korea seems interesting to almost everyone these days but few would imagine a concert of legendary Slovenian rock band Laibach in Pyongyang in celebration of countries national holiday. That’s exactly what happens in Morten Traavik’s and Ugis Olte’s wry and humorous film Liberation Day, a first such concert for a western rock band.” The film is one of 7 films in the music category, already announced.

”…a retrospective of British filmmaker John Smith’s work, by showing 21 of his films and hosting a master-class with the filmmaker. John Smith (photo) has been a pioneer in the British avant-garde film scene for over three decades. His films are known for their ingenuity, inflammatory wit, and unorthodox storytelling.”

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Peter Kerekes: Censor

Written 07-07-2017 13:42:16 by Tue Steen Müller

High expectations. What else can you have with a project from Peter Kerekes, who won a big award at the Karlovy Vary festival the other day. Let me remind you of the many entertaining and thought-provoking films by the Slovak director, who refrains from making observational documentaries, has developed his own style, as you can see for yourself in the short film “Second Chance” from 2014, “Cooking History” (2009), “66 Scenes” (2003) and “Velvet Terrorists” that he made with colleagues, among them Ivan Ostrochovsky, who is the script writer of “Censor”. Here is a quote from Variety about the film and the award:

““Censor” directed and produced by Peter Kerekes, and written by Ivan Ostrochovsky, has won the 14th edition of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s Works in Progress competition, which is open to projects from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey, Greece and former Soviet territories.

The jury… awarded the prize to the Slovak film for “its original and vivid human portrait of a lonely woman.” The film centers on Irina, who works as a censor in a prison in Odessa, Ukraine. She spends eight hours a day in her office reading love letters. “Through her, we follow various love affairs that only she can observe,” according to a statement. “Although she sees how women being used, and how the relationships end in disaster for them, she cannot take any action. She is a single woman and after 12 years of reading love letters full of the lies men tell, she is not capable of any relationship. If a guy on a date says, ‘You are special,’ she feels sick. But, of course, even she dreams of love.” 

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Svetlana Alexievich – a True Documentarian

Written 06-07-2017 11:00:21 by Tue Steen Müller

I have for the past weeks been reading the Danish translation of ”Second-Hand Time” by Ukrainian/Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich, 2015 Nobel Prize winner, a brilliant book, an amazing insight to what it meant to live in Soviet Union and today in Putin’s Russia. ”A history of human feelings” as she writes in the text below (from her website), were she describes her documentary method; must be an inpiration for all documentarians…:

I've been searching for a genre that would be most adequate to my vision of the world to convey how my ear hears and my eyes see life.I tried this and that and finally I chose a genre where human voices speak for themselves. Real people speak in my books about the main events of the age such as the war, the Chernobyl disaster, and the downfall of a great empire. Together they record verbally the history of the country, their common history, while each person puts into words the story of his/her own life. Today when man and the world have become so multifaceted and diversified the document in art is becoming increasingly interesting while art as such often proves impotent. The document brings us closer to reality as it captures and preserves the originals. After 20 years of work with documentary material and having written five books on their basis I declare that art has failed to understand many things about people.

But I don't just record a dry history of events and facts, I'm writing a history of human feelings. What people thought, understood and remembered during the event. What they believed in or mistrusted, what illusions, hopes and fears they experienced. This is impossible to imagine or invent, at any rate in such multitude of real details. We quickly forget what we were like ten or twenty or fifty years ago. Sometimes we are ashamed of our past and refuse to believe in what happened to us in actual fact. Art may lie but document never does. Although the document is also a product of someone's will and passion. I compose my books out of thousands of voices, destinies, fragments of our life and being. It took me three-four years to write each of my books. I meet and record my conversations with 500-700 persons for each book. My chronicle embraces several generations. It starts with the memories of people who witnessed the 1917 Revolution, through the wars and Stalinist gulags, and reaches the present times. This is a story of one Soviet-Russian soul.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Street Photography 1917-2017 /Jean Hermanson

Written 04-07-2017 21:25:36 by Tue Steen Müller

Swedish master of photography Jean Hermanson is also at the Street Photography exhibition in Copenhagen. With photos from

Dublin in the 60’es. I picked – with the help of curator Finn Larsen and a link to information about his exhibition in Swedish town Landskrona 2016 – one:

A girl on a rainy street in Dublin 50 years ago. Of course it reminds me of the boy with wine bottles in Paris, caught by the camera of Henri Cartier-Bresson. The girl in Dublin carries a bottle of milk and – can’t really see it – a pack of cigarettes? She is waiting for cars to pass so she can pass and go home to mum and dad. The Swedish filmmaker and photographer caught the situation and as a true documentarian conveys the atmosphere. In an upcoming film about Hermanson, he says ”when it rains, it is damn poetic and sensual”. And a text taken from the Landskrona exhibition:

At the end of the 1960s the photographer Jean Hermanson (1938–2012) travelled to Dublin. His plan was to follow in the footsteps of James Joyce, with the camera as his instrument. But instead of recreating Leopold Bloom’s route on that famous day he chose to point his camera at the children. Children became Hermanson’ guide in the streets, in this world of both darkness and play, and his documentation of their life developed into a large, full work with a strong feeling for the children’s experiences. The photographs from Dublin were Hermanson’s first major photographic work. But almost fifty years were to pass before he began to sort the rich material towards the end of his life…

The film being made on Hermanson is produced by Stavro Film and supported by SVT, Sweden among others. So at some point it will be broadcast. Link below.

Gadefotografi 1917-2017, Øksnehallen, København. 28. juni - 1. august, Daily 10.00 - 20.00, Friday and Saturday 10.00 - 22.00.





Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Street Photography 1917-2017 /Jens-Olof Lasthein

Written 04-07-2017 14:49:58 by Tue Steen Müller

Swedish photographer Jens-Olof Lasthein travelled six years in the Caucasus area. In the Street Photography exhibition in Copenhagen his newly published photo book ”Meanwhile Across the Mountain” is represented through big panoramic colour photos documenting everyday life from the countries in the region plus a 20 minute long slideshow of great quality. As one who has visited Georgia and Armenia several times I was happy to get acquainted with Lasthein’s well composed and poignant pictures. One of them above:

Grozny, Chechnya 2011: The boys stand in a ruin, behind them a ruin landscape as well, and a church and some buildings, appartments probably. What is the future for the boys, for Chechnya, from where we nowadays are used to see glossy propaganda pictures from the Russian led Kadyrov regime. The photo is of course taken out of a context, when watching the slideshow you get the sense of watching a film with a narrative. Lasthein was interviewed in connection with the book coming out, here is a quote, link below:

”Now, about street photography. For me, the term simply means that I start out by working in the streets. Occasionally, I can be so lucky as to catch something in an instant, but mostly I need more time with my subjects. I have learned that only through getting to know people really well am I able to put myself in the most unpredictable situations. These surroundings then evolve and become circumstances that take me much farther than I could ever have imagined. Searching for these moments is very much what drives me.”

Gadefotografi 1917-2017, Øksnehallen, København. 28. juni - 1. august, Daily 10.00 - 20.00, friday and saturday 10.00 - 22.00.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Street Photography 1917-2017 /Krass Clement

Written 03-07-2017 13:45:34 by Tue Steen Müller

1991, Moscow, the failed coup d´état, extensively described in literature and films. I am right now reading the documentary novel ”Secondhand Time. The Last of the Soviets” by Svetlana Aleksijevitj, where she brings together conversations she has had with Russians over a period of 20 years. The life in Soviet Union including reactions to what happened in 1991. In films ”The Event” by Sergei Loznitsa comes to my mind, filmed in St. Petersburg. Eminent use of archive material.

Danish photographer Krass Clement was there, in Moscow, where he did not take pictures of Jeltsin in front of the parliament in Moscow or other post-coup events – he went to attend the funeral of three of the victims of the riots. In Krasnaja Pesnja Park. At the exhibition ”Street Photography” five of his photos are presented, see one of them above.

They stand like statues, lined up, two men, two women, they are touched by the situation, are they relatives to the deceased, are they present because they were, like many, for the coup that the so-called junta wanted to happen to save Soviet Union – we are not told, Clement does not want to inform, he aims at conveying a moment in the lives of four people, a serious moment, a moment of grief, a moment ”where noone talked”, my translated title of ”Hvor Ingen Talte”, the photo book, Clement published from Moscow. He – as written on his website, link below – wants ”to capture a state of mind”.

Krass Clement, educated at The Danish Film School, published his first book in 1968. Photos from his last book ”Impasse Hotel Syria” are on display at David’s Samling in Copenhagen.

Gadefotografi 1917-2017, Øksnehallen, København. 28. juni - 1. august, Daily 10.00 - 20.00, friday and saturday 10.00 - 22.00.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Street Photography 1917-2017 /4

Written 03-07-2017 13:41:55 by Tue Steen Müller

… with the subtitle ”A Tribute to Everyday Life”, a big and impressive exhibition in Copenhagen, that runs until August 1st.

International it is content-wise, and everything – i.e. the fine catalogue and the short informative texts next to the photos of the artists are in Danish AND English. It is very professionally set up, let me salute the curators: Morten Brohammer and Finn Larsen, and the text writer Jens Erdman Rasmussen.

Why and how? ”We have for some time been keen on doing an exhibition on street photography but could not decide on the right story, We found that story in Vivian Maier, who after her death became a sensation, when her amazing photographic legacy by chance was discovered at an art auction 10 years ago. Since then the myth of the nanny with the camera has grown; especially as the story of a loner who worked alone on her own photographic vision”.

So the Vivian Maier exhibition is launched as the main attraction, including the opportunity to sit down and watch the film about her, ”Finding Vivian Maier”. BUT the exhibition, as the curators indicate in the quote above includes much much more. There are photo classics like Diane Arbus, Atget, Krass Clement, my personal hero Robert Frank, Walter Evans, Hans Eijkelboom, Jean Hermanson, Koudelka, Jens-Olof Lasthein, Garry Winogrand, and many other fine photographers from Denmark or abroad.

I was there for some hours and have not seen it all the way I want to. It is overwhelming and I was happy to sit down to rest and re-watch not only some of the Vivian Maier film but also ”Don’t Blink” about and with the phenomenon Robert Frank, who is given a whole wall with the special edition of Süddeutsche Zeitung, 64 pages, printed by his publisher Steidl in 2016.

Copenhageners and foreigners who visit the capital of Denmark, go and visit:

Gadefotografi 1917-2017, Øksnehallen, København. 28. juni - 1. august, Daily 10.00 - 20.00, friday and saturday 10.00 - 22.00.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Stone Puts Questions, Putin Answers

Written 30-06-2017 21:39:08 by Tue Steen Müller

The last part of the Putin Interviews is by far the best of the four. It is shot after Trump was elected as President in the US and the first half hour of the conversation deals with that issue: Did Russia influence the American election, did Putin know about it, did he order the hacking etc. Stone seems now much better prepared and puts direct questions that leads to Putin – to a certain degree – analysing the American election and the victory of Trump. With archive clips put in from American media (Hillary Clinton, Obama, Biden, McCain etc.). From there the conversation goes to cyberwar, the American use of the stuxnet computer worm in Iran, the fear of a world war, of another Hiroshima and Nagasaki…

”It’s not possible to give fear to the Russian people”, says Putin, who reflects on all the questions put to him.

The last part also works better because the first half hour is set up like on a stage: Two chairs in front of each other in a big room. Next to Oliver Stone the indispensable interpreter Sergei Churdinov on one side, on the other side the dop Anthony Dod Mantle pointing his small camera towards Putin – and around them standing or sitting on chairs along the walls, security people, many more camera and sound people, producers I guess, it’s all visible, they are all part of a play, and now I accept the dramatising editing that I felt confused about in the first part. Maybe I just got used to it? After this Stone goes to the Red Square, without Putin, he visits the grave of John Reed, he says with a smile ”where is Trotsky”, it’s a part that fills the gap before the final meeting, where Stone questions Stalin, asks about Putin’s parents, characterises him as one of the wealthiest men in the world, Putin denies he has bank accounts all over, and finally of course: If you are elected in 2018 you have been in power, in 2024, in more than 20 years… Putin seems a little irritated, the only time during the four interview parts, about the theme (my words, Stone is more polite) ”power corrupts”… The interview sessions are over, Oliver and Vladimir hug each other, Putin says to Stone that he, Stone, will get in problems for this documentary program, advises again Stone’s wife to go to St. Petersburg during the White Nights and off he leaves with all his people through the pompous halls. The show is over. The actors leave the stage.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nordisk Panorama 2017

Written 29-06-2017 16:35:49 by Tue Steen Müller

A press release came in this morning from Nordisk Panorama. The film program for the festival is already made, selection has been done. Here is an edited clip from the text and mention of some of the titles for the Documentary section:

”Nordisk Panorama Film Festival takes place between 21-26 September in Malmö Sweden. Out of 562 submitted titles, 55 films have now been selected as nominees to Nordisk Panorama Awards 2017.

There are three competitive sections: Best Nordisk Documentary, Best Nordic Short Film and Best New Nordic Voice, a fourth catagory is the Audience Award, sponsored by the city of Malmö.”

Already well known and awarded Nordic documentaries at international festivals compete: Elvira Lind’s ”Bobbi Jene”, Feras Fayyad’s ”Last Men in Aleppo”, Morten Traavik’s musical documentary ”Liberation Day”, ”Nowhere to Hide” (PHOTO) by Zaradasht Ahmed, ”The War Show” by Andreas Møl Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon… and many other that I look forward to see like John Webster’s ”Little Yellow Boots” and ”Death of a Child” by Frida Matilda Barkfors & Lasse Barkfors.

List of films for the other sections are to be found on the site, link below and Nordisk Panorama does also include a Forum and masterclasses and much more.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Putin Talks, Stone Listens…

Written 29-06-2017 15:42:29 by Tue Steen Müller

… the best he can, to Putin and the third man, who is next to Oliver Stone all the time interpreting the words of the President to the film director. In itself a difficult situation, I found myself suffering a bit with Oliver Stone, who obviously has problems in understanding right away what Putin says. And if he does, he most of the time does not know how to react. At least when it is serious stuff, world politics, Ukraine, Crimea… ”The Putin Interviews” are not critical interviews.

I watched episodes 2&3 and the reason I have changed the caption is the very simple that the entertainment part has got limited space. In my head. Well, there is still Putin as superman, playing hockey on ice, learning that sport when he was 60, Putin telling about his training and swimming every day, Putin revealing that he has two daughters and is a grandfather, I could almost see him being moved… but otherwise he does not lose control and Stone – as he promised – lets him talk. The beginning of the second episode deals with the American withdrawal from the ABM in 2002 after 30 years, the ABM being the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Putin expresses his disappointment with that decision and worry for ”the balance” if NATO continues to put missiles around the borders to Russia. Meaning that ”we have to respond”. Stone invites him to watch ”Dr. Strangelove”, the film crew films him while watching, no reactions, while the interpreter is having a good time with Peter Sellers. Putin speaks long and committed about ”the balance” problem.

Who started in Georgia, who stood behind the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, it was the population in Crimea that decided to be part of the Russian Federation, we did not want Assad to have the same ”treatment” as Sadam Hussein and Gadaffi, that´s why we do what we do with a focus on fighting ISIS etc. etc. It’s all well known, what the Russian president thinks about these issues. He talks, he performs as Oliver Stone wanted him to do, he is well formulated, OMG compare him to Mr. T. In the White House! Locations for the talks differ, a tour in Kremlin, his palace 20 mins. from Kreml, Sotji and as said the hockey stadium, where he greets Oliver Stone’s wife and tells her to visit St. Petersburg. On this point I agree with him.    


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Oliver and Vladimir on Television

Written 27-06-2017 18:16:56 by Tue Steen Müller

”The Putin Interviews” is the title of the four part series made by Oliver Stone with Vladimir Putin in the leading role. Long awaited and with some expectations as Stone had visited the President a dozen times and had this approach to the meetings, formulated in one of the many interviews he has given:

”I’m here to get Putin to talk. Let him talk. If I can encourage him to talk by having an empathetic ear, that is the reporter’s way. I’m also a dramatist. I’m encouraging my actors to be better. To say more. To give me a performance..”

Fair enough. And Putin does talk as I witnessed it last night, where DR2 broadcast the first part of the series.

And Stone puts questions, which are kind and respectful without any attempt to go deeper in Soviet or post-Soviet history. Or in Putin’s profession as a KGB man. Or… Stone asks ”what do you think about Jeltsin and his alcohol problem” or ”why did you not say hello to Gorbatjev at the May 9 celebration ceremony”. Or ”so

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Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Laura Poitras: Risk

Written 26-06-2017 19:46:08 by Tue Steen Müller

The right to fail… which is, I am afraid, what Laura Poitras does in her newest film ”Risk” that was released in theatres in the US early May. Actually she showed a version of the film at the Cannes Film Festival 2016, but changed it after the US Elections, one reason with Wikileaks and eventual Russian hacking into the Democratic party files and because (she says so in the film): "This is not the film I thought I was making. The hardest dilemma was the decision I had to make after the screening at Cannes. I had two choices: either walk away from the film and not release it or to address the [rape] allegations."

Which she does in what is her most personal film after the fine works ”The Oath”, ”My Country, My Country” and of course the Oscar-winner ”Citizenfour” with Edward Snowden as the main character.

In ”Risk” it is Wikileak founder, the iconic Julian Assange, who is in

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Moscow IFF Documentaries

Written 24-06-2017 21:13:41 by Tue Steen Müller

The documentary film competition at the Moscow International Film Festival (June 22-29) includes 6 films:

”A Hellish Chaos” by Sergey Debizhev, that refers to ” the 100th Anniversary of the revolution in Russia. Film researches the reasons of the “Russian revolution”, First World War, external and internal conspiracies, which led to the collapse of the monarchy and traditional world order. Narration is build of quotes, memoirs and inferences of eyewitnesses. The facts are told based on the views of the authors of the film…” Curious to see how this historical period in interpreted by Russians of today.

”Devil’s Freedom” by Mexican Everado Gonzalez, is an investigation into ”the phenomenon of violence (that) has emerged

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Happy Birthday Messi

Written 24-06-2017 12:54:00 by Tue Steen Müller

We have had many posts on this site about the magician on a football pitch, Leo Messi, who today can celebrate his 30th birthday. Congratulations! We picked one text to celebrate. The one about Alex de la Iglesia’s film ”Messi” Here it comes:

Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, directors of the Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade present ”Messi” that will be screened February 1st (2015) at the festival. The text also includes words from the director:

When one of the most important Spanish directors, Alex de la Iglesia was asked to make a documentary about world famous footballer Lionel Messi, he decided not to make the film about the sport but to look for the mistery behind it, for what he calls the “rosebud” moment. De la Iglesia was fascinated by the way that

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docu Talents in Karlovy Vary

Written 22-06-2017 10:21:57 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s such a fine idea and it works: Docu Talents from the East, the 13th edition, to take place during the festival in Karlovy Vary, July 4 14.00-16.00, organised by the always innovative people from the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival that I have had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times.

The concept is well-known: Director/producer behind 12 selected projects get 8 minutes to present their projects, all of them to have premiere late 2017 or in the first half of 2018. In other words a great opportunity for festival representatives, sales agents, broadcasters etc. to check out what is coming up from Eastern and Central Europe.

There are films from Kazakhstan, several from Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine/Luxembourg/Estonia, Lithuania.

I know of some of them so these are the ones I will mention, read about all of them on the site, link below.

”D is for Division”, in post-production, is directed by Davis Simanis

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tamar Tal: Shalom Italia

Written 20-06-2017 16:49:19 by Tue Steen Müller

The director name seemed familiar, Tamar Tal, and looking back at the posts on the site I found this on the wonderful one hour film that I saw at DOK Leipzig in 2011:

”Life in Stills” by Tamar Tal from Israel … is a very funny and warm film with a 96 year old grandmother and her grandson, who keep a photo shop alive in Tel Aviv. The scoop photos are from the declaration of independence of the state of Israel…

Now her newest film is Documentary of the Month at the Danish Cinematheque from June 22-June 28. I saw the trailer, link below, you should do the same, it will make you want to go and watch ”Shalom Italia”. Here is the synopsis of the film:

Three Italian Jewish brothers set off on a journey through Tuscany, in search of a cave where they hid as children to escape the Nazis. Their quest, full of humor, food and Tuscan landscapes, straddles the boundary between history and myth, both of which really, truly happened.

In Danish: Tre jødisk-italienske brødre på 73, 82 og 84 sætter hinanden stævne i Toscana. Som børn måtte de under 2. verdenskrig flygte fra nazisterne fra Firenze ud i en toscansk skov, hvor de skjulte sig i et helt år med deres familie i en hjemmebygget hule blandt nogle klippesten. Nu har de sat sig for at finde stedet i skoven, hvor de i frygt og stilhed levede et helt år og på den måde overlevede krigen. Der er masser af humor og varme imellem de tre brødre, der husker deres fortid meget forskelligt.

Israel, 2016, 70 mins. 

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK

Celebrating Syria – a Festival of Arts and Culture

Written 18-06-2017 09:30:21 by Tue Steen Müller

… in Manchester, July 10-23, organised by Rethink Rebuild Society: ”A fortnight of exhibition, films, theatre, live music, talks by writers, panel discussions and interactive art workshops exploring Syrian arts and culture before and after 2011.The first of its kind in the UK, this festival is a celebration of a hopeful, inspiring and imaginative face of Syria and the Syrian people and their rich contribution to the collective history of human expression.”

And it is indeed an inspiring program that is offered. CHECK THE WEBSITE, LINK BELOW. When it comes to films there are three works to be screened:

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Vit Klusák: The White World According to Daliborek

Written 17-06-2017 10:09:13 by Tue Steen Müller

It is a great film that will evoke a lot of reactions and maybe legal questions: Are you in Czech Republic allowed to express, in public, racism as he does?

… Dalibor’s view on the world is bad - at the same time as he is (no irony) a poor guy who lives at home with mum and her boyfriend, who are also racists. Dalibor wants to get out of his boring life, so he puts himself into some roles, singing, recording… and he does not seem to have luck with the girlfriend, to say the least!

These were my short email-comments from months ago when I was asked whether there are festivals for this strong, pretty controversial documentary, Vit Klusák’s “The White World According to Daliborek”, that will have its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival that takes place June 30-July 8.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Silver Crane Awards 2017 Lithuania

Written 14-06-2017 21:15:00 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s been some good weeks for Lithuanian director Audrius Stonys. He won an award at DocsBarcelona and one at Krakow Film Festival and last night he received for the fourth time the national award for the best documentary 2017, “Woman and the Glacier”. The award is a trophy statuette of Silver Crane created by the sculptor Audrius Liaudanskas, given out for the 10th time.

Viewers of “Woman and the Glacier” will agree that the award for best cinematography went deservedly to Audrius Kezemys for his work on “Woman and the Glacier”. Superb is the only word that fits.

And no surprise that the award for best co-production went to Giedre Zickyte for her work with Chilean Maite Alberdi “I am Not from Here”.

Same Zickyte was not present at the ceremony as she was pitching a project at the Sheffield Doc/Fest together with director Marija Stonyte, who won the award for Best Student film, “Mountains Mountains”. Yes, Marija is the daughter of Audrius…

Photo of the two x Audrius, Stonys and Kezemys.

More winners for fiction and animation… check the website of Lithuanian Film Centre, an English list must be on its way:

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Folkebio Allinge Shows Docs

Written 13-06-2017 19:38:13 by Tue Steen Müller

And then you should know what that means. Allan Berg introduces the films that will be shown in Allinge on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, where Folkemødet, Denmark’s Political Festival on Bornholm takes place June 15.-18. 2017. The idea behind the Folkemødet is a meeting of people and politicians, where Bornholm provides the venue for Danish politicians to debate current political issues. All events are free and within walking distance of each other. Each political party represented in Folketinget has the opportunity to hold a major speech…

And there are films, selected by the Danish Film Institute and the newspaper Politiken. The first ones to be shown on thursday are Lise Birk Pedersen’s Italian based ”Tutti à Casa”, followed by Danish photographer activist Jabob Holdt and the film about him, and Pernille Rose Grønkjær’s portrait of stand up comedian Anders Matthesen, ”The Other Side” – of the artist.

Follow Allan Berg and his recommendations on this site.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Peace Award Comeback at DOKLeipzig

Written 13-06-2017 11:13:15 by Tue Steen Müller

At the 60th edition of DOKLeipzig (October 30 – November 5) the so-called Leipziger Ring Film Prize returns to the festival after having been away for one year due to lack of funding. It comes back in a new form, here are quotes from the press release that reached us this morning:

”After a one-year break, the Stiftung Friedliche Revolution (the Peaceful Revolution Foundation in Leipzig) will once again be awarding the Leipziger Ring film prize at DOK Leipzig. The 2,500 euro prize will honour a documentary film about human rights, democracy and civic action. From 2010 to 2015, the prize was awarded annually but the foundation had to break with this tradition last year because of a lack of funds. The response of dismay encouraged the foundation and DOK Leipzig to re-launch the prize. In its new form, the festival audience will decide on the winning film instead of a jury of experts.

"Thanks to the overwhelming reactions of Leipzig citizens, the international audience and the resolve of the Stiftung Friedliche Revolution, this significant prize has returned to DOK Leipzig," says festival director Leena Pasanen. "The response showed how important this award is for the city in which the Peaceful Revolution began. The prize is also extremely necessary at a time when political developments indicate that democracy and human rights are at stake all over the world."

… DOK Leipzig will nominate five documentary films (at least 25 minutes long) from its Official Selection for the award, which will reward artistic documentary films that focus on the civic action of people all over the world and explore the non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights and participation in societal processes. The prize might also honour the achievement of directors who make films in a courageous way and with great personal commitment against the odds and despite a lack of freedom of speech and press.”

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017/2

Written 12-06-2017 16:17:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Carol Nahra, one of many fine contributors to the late DOX Magazine, made late May a fine interview with the new Sheffield Doc/Fest festival director Luke Moody (photo) on her ”Docs on Screen”. The whole interview – link below – is recommended as Moody not only talk about films from the festival but comes up with interesting comments and reflections on the documentary of today, like these ones:

Question: I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how documentary storytelling is evolving creatively and expanding and overlapping with drama?

There are two directions, or trends that I’ve seen in particular. There’s a renewed interest and passion for verité storytelling. Really strong observational films produced over three or four or six years in some cases, that are just like really close and warm narratives. The majority of those are family stories, things like The Cage Fighter, or Quest, which is a really outstanding debut by a filmmaker who was a photographer… Mama Colonel is another one of those,  by Congolese filmmaker Dieudo Hamadi,  which is like a Kim Longinotto film. So there has just been this – I guess it’s not a reemergence of that style of storytelling, because a lot of them are made over a long period of time –  but perhaps it’s a reaction to the presence of fake news these days. People are wanting to return to very much the nitty gritty of factual storytelling and observation and just being very embedded within a community that they’re trying to portray. So that they get some sort of shared truth within that development. And I think the majority are films which have not been initially funded. They are things that have evolved from other projects…

… (the other) has this really strong conceptual approach to filmmaking and the way that we interpret reality to storytelling. Ghost Hunting is one of the most powerful. A really reflexive piece that explores the power between direction of a filmmaker and those portrayed on the camera, to the point where the tide turns and they start to question what he’s trying to achieve with the film. And he has to then become open and become vulnerable as a director to be part of that shared experience of change within the film…

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017

Written 10-06-2017 20:44:30 by Tue Steen Müller

… is running right now. The industry part has for years now proved to be the place to go to pitch in the first half of the year with the IDFA Forum being the one at the second half. The list of tv editors visiting is impressive and producers want to go there it seems; the list of projects to be pitched at the so-called Meetmarket is looong.

But what about the festival part of Sheffield Doc/Fest that I have previously criticized for being totally UK/USA orientated with tv documentaries as the dominant genre. Going through the program on the website it still looks like that and yet behind the many titles that I don’t know so let me take a quote from an interview in Screen Daily:

“Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Luke Moody is looking to expand the creative scope of the festival and welcome more experimental works.

This year’s edition of the UK festival, which runs from 9 to 14 June, marks Moody’s first turn as director of film programming, having moved to Doc/Fest after six years at non-profit organisation Britdoc, where he was most recently head of film.

“There’s an increasing hunger for artful films, and a growing confidence for filmmakers to make long-form docs that are playing with form,” he said.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Adam Papliński: Pitch the Doc

Written 09-06-2017 16:41:14 by Tue Steen Müller

While at the Krakow Film Festival I ran into an old documentary friend, Polish producer Adam Papliński, who invited me to hear more about a new online project that he is launching right now at different festivals around the world: Pitch the Doc. He has received financial support from the EU Media Program and from the Polish Film Institute and the projects is endorsed by EDN, European Documentary Network. On the website of the latter, in an interview with Papliński as ”EDN Member of the Month”, he explains how he got the motivation for this project:

“The official launch of the platform in beta version was publicly announced during the 2017 Berlinale. The idea to launch such an internet service came to my mind 2-3 years earlier… I had received a phone call from a Russian filmmaker that we had selected to pitch a project at one of our events (Dragon Forum, ed.). He explained to me that right now he was on the Barents Sea shore shooting the film and, even though he was honoured by our decision, he could not afford to come. He had no money to pay for accommodation, he had no passport and so on… I found it a real pity that such a good project could not show up on the European market and that around the world there are probably a lot of other outstanding ideas and film projects struggling with similar problems. On the other hand I heard feedback from decision makers that the market lacks fresh new ideas. The obvious place for matchmaking the projects and investors seemed to me to be online, but I was surprised when after several days of surfing I didn't find a site providing an effective solution…”

That well known gap Papliński intends to close with Pitch the Doc, a place where the authors can place their proposal with the key information, we all know: logline, synopsis, treatment, link to trailer etc., all that which is asked for when you go to “live” pitching sessions – and where decision makers can place their demands.

I asked Papliński whether he thought that decision makers would sign up. He answered that several c.editors he had met liked the project very much, as “I am tired of travelling”.

A fine initiative in development, go the website and learn more and read the EDN interview where the Polish matchmaker explains more about Pitch the Doc that has a team of evaluators that is strong: Steven Seidenberg, Pawel Lozinski and Marijke Rawie.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Chris Marker Collected posts & notes on his works

Written 08-06-2017 18:55:12 by Allan Berg Nielsen

... and the euphoric discovery of "direct cinema" (you will never make me say "cinema verité") and on the crew's day off, I photographed a story I didn't completely understand. (Chris Marker)


I et interview med Chris Marker i Libération, 5. marts 2003 spørger intervieweren: ”… Hvorfor har De indvilliget i at udgive nogle af Deres film på DVD, og hvordan foretog De valget? ”

Der er tale om en to Arte / CNC udgivelser, en med med La jetée, 1962, Sans soleil, 1983 og en med Le tombeau d’Alexandre, 1992, sat i album med Alexandre Medvedkines Le bonheur, 1934. Alle franske originalversioner med engelsk speak og undertekster. Marker svarer intervieweren:

”Tyve år skiller La jetée fra Sans soleil. Og andre 20 år skiller Sans soleil fra nu. Hvis jeg skulle tale i den persons sted, som lavede disse film, ville det ikke længere være et interview, men en seance. I virkeligheden tror jeg ikke jeg valgte eller accepterede: nogle talte om det, og det blev gennemført. At der var et særligt slægtskab mellem disse to film var noget, jeg var klar over, men jeg mente ikke, jeg behøvede at forklare det - indtil jeg fandt en lille anonym tekst i et program i Tokyo, hvor der stod:

’Snart vil rejsen være til ende. Det er først på det tidspunkt, at vi vil vide om juxtapositionen af billeder giver nogen mening. Vi vil forstå, at vi har bedt med film, som man må på en pilgrimsrejse, som vi må hver gang, vi har været i nærheden af døden: på kattenes begravelsesplads, stående foran den døde giraf, sammen med kamikaze-piloterne i take-off øjeblikket, foran guerillaerne dræbt i uafhængighedskrigen. I La jetée, ender det dumdristige eksperiment at se ind i fremtiden med døden. I bearbejdningen af det samme tema 20 år senere, har Marker ved bønnen overvundet døden.” Når man læser dette, skrevet af en, man ikke kender, en som ikke kan vide noget som helst om filmenes tilblivelse, rammes man af en særlig følelse. Et eller andet er sket…’ ” (Notat, 2008, ABN)


The interview that Allan Berg refers to in his Danish language article Juxtapositionen is in English and is one of the very rare conversations that are printed with the enigmatic French master. The interview is wonderful reading. Here are two bites to evoke your hunger for more:

Read more / Læs mere

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


Written 07-06-2017 12:21:16 by Tue Steen Müller

I had a talk with colleague Allan Berg yesterday. He remembered the time of repertory cinemas, where classics could be seen. Nowadays this is mostly the film historical job for the cinematheques. BUT, we agreed, some vod’s have classics on their repertory and when it comes to high quality, nothing compares to DOCAlliance.

That now launches a scoop: 7 films by legendary master of the essay film, French Chris Marker (1921-2012). Quote from the presentation:

DAFilms presents a cross section of the work of the writer, photographer and explorer, ranging from Sunday in Peking from 1956 through his most renowned documentary essay Sunless and The Pier which inspired Terry Gilliam to make his cult film 12 Monkeys to one of the most famous cyberpunk films Level Five from 1997. Read an interview with Bamchade Pourvali, French film critic and author of Marker’s biography. Le temps de la rétrospective est arrivé!

The films are (English titles): Sunday in Peking (1956), Letter from Siberia (1957), Level Five (1997), Sunless (1983), Junkopia (1981), Description of a Struggle (1960), The Pier (1962). Sunless = Sans Soleil and The Pier = La Jetée being the most famous.

Dear readers, the cost for a monthly subscription to DOCAlliance is 5€!!!

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Krakow FF Winners International Comp.

Written 04-06-2017 11:41:04 by Tue Steen Müller

Voila, now it happened. I wrote this when at DOKLeipzig last year : ”Dum Spiro Spero” (photo) by author Pero Kvesic, a man who suffers behind the camera from reduced lung capacity. It’s a wonderful simple film, it has a tone, he talks so well behind the camera going around in his house, where wife and sister-in-law and son do also live, not to forget the two dogs. One could hope for one of the many awards be given to this film, produced by Nenad Puhovski.

A very pleasant surprising decision taken by the jury presided by Pawel Lozinski. Pero Kvesic was on stage saying that he had enjoyed days in Zagreb, had gone home – 900 km to Zagreb – to wake up saturday morning being asked to come back. Into the car and 900 km together with wife and friend.

The two other titles awarded was in my list of favourites from yesterday: Silver Horn for Medium lenght documentary ”Woman and the Glacier” by Audrius Stonys (who also won the Fipresci critic award and drove 11 hours with his wife from Vilnius to receive the awards) and Lissette Oroczo got Silver Horn for feature length for her courageous ”Adriana’s Pact”. The young director has made a film that keeps your attention from start till end. She wants to find out if her aunt was involved in torturing the opponents to the Pinochet régime, for which she was working in the secret police. The aunt was young and beautiful, the generals liked her, did she take part in the atrocities? It sounds like a journalistic story, an investigation, it is that in a way but the film is built like a psychological study of the two, their relationship, the love and doubt and anger. It is one of those films where you sometimes feel embarrased to watch, but it is a film that trancends the private to become personal.

Special mention – out of politeness? – to Marcin Borchardt for „The Beksinskis“ and Piotr Stasik for „Opera About Poland“.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Krakow FF National Competition Winners

Written 04-06-2017 11:07:06 by Tue Steen Müller

I saw only a few of the Polish films from the national competition but two of them I saw got awards from the jury headed by Dariusz Jablonski, who is also the head of the Polish Film Academy. In that capacity Jablonski asked the audience to hold up a paper with the text ”Release Oleg Sentsov”, the Ukrainian filmmaker and writer, who was arrested by the Russians in March 2014 in Crimea and sentenced to 20 years in jail on suspicion of “plotting terrorist acts”. Respect!

The winner of the main prize, the so-called Golden Hobby-Horse, for the best film was ”The Ugliest Car” by Grzegorz Szczepaniak, a funny and moving film about mother and son travelling in a Wartburg car, which is more than 50 year old. Bogdan… shouts the 94 year old mother when he gets too far away from her to talk with other people about the award-winning car, that is on its way to Germany to see the camp where the mother was in 1943. The son, who is physically disabled, is sooo much caring for the mother and they have beautiful conversations in the pensions that they stay in on the way. Hilarious. Sweet. There is a long international festival career waiting for this film.

The same could happen for the Silver Hobby-Horse winner, ”Stranger on my Couch” by Grzegorz Brzozowski, who manages to bring fine moments to the screen, when foreign couchsurfers with a Vietnamese or Korean or German background come to visit and end up sitting on the couch having deep conversations with the hosts about life and love. Well in one case you almost think – or hope – that the Vietnamese who lives in Germany would stay with the single moter and her son. Or the middle aged engineer who makes a messy room ready for a heavy metal musician and go to the street to play with a toy helicopter.

Photo: The winning director Grzegorz Szczepaniak (red trousers) on stage.

The national competition also includes animation and fiction films. Go to the website  and check:

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Krakow FF: Docs to Go!

Written 03-06-2017 13:07:39 by Tue Steen Müller

Below, in a previous post, some positive words about Doc Lab Poland and its Docs to Start, and now I repeat myself by talking about Docs to Go!, the presentation of 8 projects hosted by always enthusiastic and professional Rada Sesic. To Go means that the films are in post production to be released later this year or in 2018. As with Docs to Start there was a good audience, a supportive atmosphere and interesting material to be watched on the big screen in MOS1 at the Festival Centre.

If I was a festival programmer (and I am for Magnificent7 Belgrade and DocsBarcelona) I would keep an eye on two of the eight film projects presented. Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski, who made ”Domino Effect”, are working on ”The Prince and The Dybbuk”, which is announced to be ready this September. It is a fascinating story about Michal Waszynski, ”the son of a poor Jewish blacksmith from Ukraine, died in Madrid as Prince MW, Hollywood producer and exiled Polish aristocrat. The producer Malgorzata Zacharko showed wonderful material, including an archive clip where the Prince is smoking a cigarette in his palazzo in Rome. He could have played in a Visconti film with that appearance.

The other one that for me stood out was ”The Wind. A Documentary Thriller” with Michal Bielawski as director and Maciej Kubicki as producer. ”A multi-layered story about the clash between people and the forces of nature”, in the form of a documentary thriller. Location is Southern Poland/Slovakia in the Carpathian mountains. There more than strong winds can  destroy not only houses, forests, creating avalanches but can also create mental changes… the material shown with people and nature was great and surprising. Let the final film surprise us, don’t go classical, break the story-telling rules.

It was brave of the filmmakers to come with their unfinished material, trailers and raw scenes and show that to an audience. It is obvious that the Doc Lab Poland organisers Adam and Katarzyna Slesicki has the film background needed to run the development programs in a professional way. To develop new talent with respect and inspiration.

Photo: Waszynski and Sophia Loren




Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Krakow FF DocLab & My Favourites

Written 03-06-2017 08:31:18 by Tue Steen Müller

Text that I wrote for the Daily newspaper of the festival: I started the wednesday morning at the Festival Centre moderating the „Docs to Start“ session, that is part of the impressive and super-professionally run DocLab Poland. 9 projects were pitched to be followed by individual meetings with producers, festival representatives and broadcasters after a lunch. 100 people sat in the audience, the pitching filmmakers did very well, having been for a couple of days in good tutor-hands of Danish producer Lise Lense-Møller, EDN director Paul Pauwels and DOK Leipzig’s Head of Industry Brigid O’Shea.

Let me pick three projects that I think will become good films. To exemplify the good quality: Maciej Cuske, a skilled director who is always chasing Russian stories, has a strong one in the pipeline from Chukchi Peninsula, where indigenous people live from hunting, which is a profession that is disappearing, title: „The Whale from Lorino“. And „War Watchers“ by Vita Drygas about

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Krakow FF Content is King or...

Written 02-06-2017 08:00:25 by Tue Steen Müller

Content is King, we are often taught, the issue/theme is the most important, the form is only the carrier. Mostly those ”teaching” are television people, who I have often heard saying at diverse pitching sessions: ”This film is too artistic for me!”

I wonder what happens with Sergey Loznitsa’s artistic masterpiece ”Austerlitz” in terms of broadcast. Will it happen? Will it end up on television? The film which is shown in the ”German Films” section is based on Form. The director has made a clear aesthetical choice for watching the tourists, who are visiting the former concentration camps. How they walk, how they talk, how they dress, how they take pictures with their smartphones, there are (almost) no words but a strongly manufactured sound score that in the long sequences are nerve-wracking. I suffered when I saw that film.

Form, another fine director, French/Czech Stan Neumann, has said, is the face of the film, the way the content appears to the

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Krakow FF Main Competition

Written 01-06-2017 08:54:31 by Tue Steen Müller

A first glance at the main competition of the festival makes me say Diversity. In terms of countries represented, in terms of duration with several films that have the television length of around 52 minutes and films which are around 80 minutes, probably targeting a theatrical distribution… and a couple which are 100 minutes or more.

When it comes to characterise the kind of films listed in this program of 17 titles, the word diversity is even more evident. I am happy that I am not a jury member, who is to compare Audrius Stonys visually stunning ”Woman and the Glacier”, a film that breaks the rules of classical dramaturgy leaving the portrait of the glaciolog to go wild into the ice making images that are like abstract paintings with Vitaly Mansky’s personal ”Rodnye. Close Relations”, a first person film with the director in the picture visiting his family in Lviv, Odessa, Donbass, Sevastopol on Crimea. A personal very timely comment from the acclaimed director. Or with the Croatian minimalistic ”Dum Spiro Spero” shot and directed by Pero Kvesic. Or with the charming feature by David Rane and Neasa Ni Chianáin, ”School Life” is the title listed, when at the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade, it was ”In loco Parentis” (Photo), but when American distribution company Magnolia took over the distribution, the title changed!   

At a time where festival after festival take stands/express opinions through their selection for the side programs, Krakow keeps the official selection, the one for the main competition, as the one where ”the best of the best” should be. Which does not mean that the films taken are free of statements or opinions. When films are taken for a festival both form and content count in the decisions being considered. And history – I am looking forward to watch ”Adriana’s Pact” by Lisette Orozco, that deals with the life of the director’s aunt during the dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile. As well as ”The General and Me” by Tiana Alexandra Silliphant that goes like this in the description ” Over the period of 25 years the director met General Võ Nguyên Giáp, a legendary hero of Vietnam’s independence wars, a number of times. She was the first American who entered the home of the “Red Napoleon”. The fruit of this friendship is a film, personal and politically involved at the same time...“. It is typical that documentaries, contrary to the more mainstream tv-documentaries, dare narrate history in first person.

I was in the jury – main competition – in 2011. It was a pleasure for many reasons. One was that we were able to honour Wojciech Staron for his masterpiece „Argentinian Lesson“, and for his cinematography, and we also had Pawel Kloc on the award list for hisPhnom Penh Lullaby” – two very strong Polish documentaries. I still remember festival director Krzysztof Gierat’s happy smile, when we told him the result, „really...“ he said, two Polish films on the top! Another reason for the joy of being in the jury was that fellow juror Marcin Koszałka gave me tasting lessons in the many different Polish vodkas! Yes, a festival is a feast for art and the good life!

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Rahul Jain’s Speech in Barcelona

Written 30-05-2017 23:45:45 by Tue Steen Müller

Indian director Rahul Jain said the following to the audience sunday night at the closing ceremony of DocsBarcelona, where he got the Amnesty Award:

Thank you to DocsBarcelona and the Amnesty International Jury. In my youthful idealism I’d like to think that we make art about the things that we don’t like about the world. We as filmmakers deal in the business of empathy, And empathy knows no geopolitical boundaries. In a documentary film festival, all of us here are fascinated and intrigued by the human condition. And as predictable and granted one can and should take human rights to be, every time even the simplest and most logical of notions have had to be fought for. It is certainly a privilege to be known to the world for the things you believe in. And have believed in your whole life.

A review of the film can be found on

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DocsBarcelona 2017: The Winners

Written 29-05-2017 13:55:04 by Tue Steen Müller

It was a proud festival director Joan Gonzalez, who before the award announcement last night told the audience that almost 16000 spectators had visited DocsBarcelona this year. An increase of 50%! Much to do with the festival being longer than before, and, Gonzalez told me, the media and press coverage has been bigger. For the content, Jury President Rada Sesic told me – who is head of the programming – that she found the selection of films for the Panorama very strong.

I was happy with the awards. Maite Alberdi from Chile had her second Best Documentary Prize for ”Los Ninos” (”The Grown-Ups”), the first one was for ”Tea Time”. TV3 Catalunya stands behind the award of 5000€ in cash. The New Talent Award, also decided upon by the Panorama Jury went to ”Last Men in Aleppo” by Feras Fayad.

The Latitud Award went to ”Al Otro Lado Del Muro” (”The Other Side of the Wall”), also 5000€ to be used for completion of a work, sponsored by the facility house Antaviana Films. With a special mention to the impressive film ”Los Ofendidos” by Marcela Zamora from El Salvador.

Great pleasure to see two good friends on video on the big screen for the newly established ”What the Doc” award: Audrius Stonys for ”Woman and the Glacier” and Pawel Lozinski for ”You Have No Idea How Much I Love You”. The two documentary artists were glad to share with each other an award given by a one man jury, local great filmmaker Inaki Lacuesta.

And then Rahul Jain with ”Machines” was on stage to thank for the Amnesty International Award. He made a brilliant speech that I will try to get hold of. Listen readers, Jain is only 24 years old and has made this cinematic masterpiece…

The audience decided to give Catalina Mesa the award for ”Jerico” that is wonderful warm film about wonderful warm women.

Some more local awards were given, you can check them on

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DocsBarcelona: La Chana

Written 29-05-2017 08:54:14 by Tue Steen Müller

Una Noche Fantastica, she said, when she came to the stage after the film ”La Chana” about her had been shown. Full house for the closing film of the 20th edition of DocsBarcelona, standing ovation in several stages – when the film was finished, when Antonia Santiago Amador, a true diva, entered the cinema and walked to the stage, and when she sat down and danced her flamenco again.

This was indeed an unforgettable night, and for me who had seen the film a couple of times before, I am happy to say chapeau to the young Croatian born director Lucija Stojevic, who studied architecture in Edinburgh, film in Prague and who is now living in Barcelona. The film is well made, the rythm found, the use of photos and archive and the footage of today superbly mixed. It’s not easy to make a film where you have to choose when to direct the camera towards the face and when towards the feet of La Chana!

You filmed my soul, La Chana said to Lucija Stojevic.

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DocsBarcelona: Pawel Lozinski

Written 28-05-2017 13:01:51 by Tue Steen Müller

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

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

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

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

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

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DocsBarcelona: Women Talk Documentaries

Written 28-05-2017 10:35:50 by Tue Steen Müller

”New Directions and Perspectives in Documentary Films” was the title of the 90 minutes long panel discussion at the CCCB friday afternoon, moderated in a professional and warm manner by Debra Zimmerman from Women Make Movies in New York, the organisation that has 600 films in its catalogue. After one hour Zimmerman said, ”Sooo, I am sure you have noticed that I have not yet asked you what it means to be a woman filmmaker…”.

Instead we got a very interesting one-by-one presentation of the young filmmakers, who showed a clip from their films and told the audience how they came to make documentaries. A classic comment came from Roser Corella, Catalan director living in Berlin, ”I used to work in television but I wanted to try on my own, develop the creative part”. Her film is ”Grap and Run” about bride kidnapping in Kirgizstan”, a film that has had a big audience at the festival.

As has indeed ”Amazona” by Clare Weiskopf, filmmaker and journalist. The opening film of the festival, a film about

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Barcelona Blues

Written 26-05-2017 13:29:40 by Tue Steen Müller

Oh, my dear Barcelona, city of architecture, Gaudi, a beach, mountain, gourmet restaurants, football… I have come here for DocsBarcelona for 20 years, I love you but I suffer to see you killing yourself.

The traffic is noisy, overwhelming, polluting, the crowds of people in the streets are simply too many, I understand that the local population has moved out from the city to rent out flats for us foreigners, I know that your local government with the new mayor wants to do something about it, but has done nothing so far. I talked to one of the staff members of the DocsBarcelona who told me she had to keep her window closed as small black particles of dirt entered her room. My wife and I have almost been run down by people on bicycles, who are allowed to ride on the pavements, WHY, we come from a bicycle country, this is not usual in DK, and why so much dog shit in the streets… There is a feeling of stress when you go around. Total change after 20 years.

So it is actually veeery nice to escape the street reality and go to the cinema to watch documentaries at the 20th edition of DocsBarcelona. Photo from The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev.

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DocsBarcelona Rough Cuts

Written 24-05-2017 17:16:57 by Tue Steen Müller

I have organised this together with Martina Rogers from DocsBarcelona for years and I enjoy it very much. From the picture (from last year) you might see that in nice sofas there is seated an exclusive panel of people from different sides of the documentary community. The goal is to generate creative and constructive discussions that will favour the further development of the projects, i.e. the story building, the character development, the editing quality.

We were again fortunate to have a fine panel: filmmaker, teacher and programmer at the festival Daniel Jariod, festival director Inti Cordera from Mexico, Jordi Ambros from TV3 Catalunya (for one session), Rada Sesic from Sarajevo FF, where she is head of documentaries, at DocsBarcelona she is president of the main jury, Debra Zimmermann from Women Make Movies in New York, Hanka Kastelicová from HBO Europe, Esther van Messel from First Hand Films in Switzerland (for two sessions) and Chris Hastings from PBS – World Channel.

And most important the filmmakers, who received valuable positive and constructive criticism from the panel:

Marlén Viñayo from El Salvador with ”Cachada” about wonderful women, who gather to talk about ”the circles of violence” they have experienced and who end up, with the help of a theatre director, making a play about these issues. Director Roberto Salinas and choreographer Laura Domingo from Italy/Nicaragua and Cuba with ”Cuban Dancer”, the story of the enormous talented ballet dancer, 15 year old Alexis, who with his parents move to Florida. How will he be able to continue his career after having been at the Cuba Ballet School? Director Sebastian Saam with ”Tatap” about super star, one-armed guitarist Andrés Godoy from Chile, his life in that country, the family, the Allende period, the accident where he lost an arm and his Asian concert tour.

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DocsBarcelona: Xavi, Alberdi, Deir Yassin, Olga

Written 22-05-2017 11:51:48 by Tue Steen Müller

We had the traditional sunday dinner invited by festival director Joan Gonzalez. His wife and my wife were there, Joan and his son Marti, with whom I always talk football. Barca – FC Barcelona – first of all, on the situation now for the club that ended up being number 2 and is out of the Champions League. What remains is to win Copa del Rey. Which players will be sold and who will come for the next season…

And then the magical moment happened – reminding us of the time when Barca won it all: Into the restaurant comes Xavi Hernandez, the maestro, with his family, the playmaker, the man who gave the play a flow, a humble and total loyal man to the club, 600 matches. He is now playing in Qatar, 37 years old.

… and now back to the festival, where I saw three films. Chilean Maite Alberdi’s ”Los Niños” (”The Grown Ups”) featuring adults

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DocsBarcelona: Bride Kidnapping, I.F.Stone, Father

Written 21-05-2017 11:38:57 by Tue Steen Müller

… and Son, and Jens Soering. I saw four films yesterday i.e. saturday here at the DocsBarcelona 20th edition. Let me start with a wonderful moment at the Q&A after the film ”All Governments Lie”. A 12 year old girl asked in fine English (not that common in Catalonia!) the director, Canadian Alfred Peabody, ”do you think that my generation can change the world”! Apparently she was inspired by the film and its timely subject, a free and independent press. The director told her ”why don’t you become a journalist” as was the man, who inspired Peabody to make the film, legendary journalist I.F. Stone. I am old enough to remember him and his direct criticism of the Americans being at Vietnam. There is great archive with Stone but the film also introduces people who have been inspired by him: Michael Moore, who of course praises Stone’s humour, Glenn Greenwald who worked on Laura Poitras’ Snowden film and set up The Intercept together with her and Jeremy Scahill. Greenwald says that had Stone been alive today, he would probably have been a blogger. Below a link to the website of the film, where you find all the journalists in the film and their comments on the mass media manipulated world we live in.

Before that film I had seen Catalan Roser Corella’s ”Grab and Run”, that introduces and discusses the Kirgisz tradition for kidnapping of women for marriage. An anthropological study that also includes a shocking ending, where the filmmakers follow a kidnapping of a woman. I did not follow the discussion in Catalan but I guess the ethics of filming this incident was raised. The photo pictures the couple, the photo was chosen by the festival to be the poster.

And then I had fun with father and son in ”Deux Cancres” by French Ludovic Vieuille (who will be present for the second screening May 26 20.15, COME!). It is an excellent piece of documentary, full of embarrassing moments when the two fight with the French grammar, the boy being impatient, the father trying his best, having to give up again and again because he does not understand the questions raised in the books the boy brings home. Shot over a long period, the camera registers their mood and lets us have a bitter-sweet laugh. Why does he have to go through all this stupidity in the French education system. OMG! It is a clever film, and emotional!

Where ”Deux Cancres” is minimalistic in tone and scope, Marcus Vetter’s ”The Promise” is a brilliant piece of journalism that is taken to the level of a Shakespearean drama, a love story, a demonstration of the crazy American judicial system, and first of all the meeting with German Jens Soering, who has been in jail for more than 30 years for something that he has not done; that is the conclusion you make having seen the film and listened to him. Vetter got permission to make an interview with him for four hours. I watched the television version, 3 hours, on Danish television and enjoyed to see it here in Barcelona on a big screen with Marcus Vetter present to answer questions at a screening that lasted till just after midnight.

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DocsBarcelona: Glawogger, John and Amanda, FARC

Written 20-05-2017 14:00:36 by Tue Steen Müller

It was the third time that I saw ”Untitled” by Michael Glawogger and Monika Willi. Glawogger was here in Barcelona in 2014 to show his ”Whore’s Glory” and do a masterclass. Some months later the same year he passed away. His editor Monika Willi made ”Untitled”, interpreting what Glawogger would have done with the material and adding her own interpretation. I discover new moments every time. There were 25 spectators for the screening at 4pm at the Aribau Club Cinema, there will hopefully be more for the next screening this coming wednesday. There are great films and there are films that are more than that, that stand out – I was happy to watch ”Three Rooms of Melancholia” by Pirjo Hinkasalo in Tbilisi and I am happy to have met Glawogger and seen also this last film by him, and the trilogy he left to us, ”Whore’s Glory”, ”Workingman’s Death” and ”Megacities”. Honkasalo and Glawogger: Film History. I will try to write a review of ”Untitled” later on. Maybe I should watch it for the fourth time.

It was also the third time I was with John and Amanda, wonderful teachers, who are the main characters in ”In Loco Parentis” by Irish Neasa Ni Chianáin and David Rane, who were at the screening yesterday (see photo) to meet the audience for a short Q&A session. The film is a fine success all over and is now going to theatres in the US with the distribution company Magnolia taking care of it. Watching the film always makes me think back to my own school time and the teachers, yes, there were some fine ones who cared.

The selection for DocsBarcelona of course has a special eye for Spanish language documentaries and I enjoyed to be taught about the peace process in Colombia in ”El Silencio de los Fusiles” by Natalia Orozco, who has done interviews with the government and its representatives as well as with several comandante’s from FARC. Amazing she could get that access to make an interesting journalistic work!

Tough evening in Aribau Club 1, thematically – the last film to be shown was ”Last Men in Aleppo” by Feras Fayyad, we have written about that touching tragic and human film that wins awards at many festivals. Is it a candidate here as well?

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DocsBarcelona Opening 2017

Written 19-05-2017 12:55:07 by Tue Steen Müller

So there we were last night for the opening of the 20th edition of DocsBarcelona in the Aribau Multicines. Full house and fine atmosphere. The audience got up to sing the Beatles ”All you need is love”, changed to ”All you need is Docs”! I was asked to come to the stage together with dear friend Aurora Moreno to receive flowers as the two of us together with Joan Gonzalez, director of the festival, were there 20 years ago, when the event was started after one year of prologue in Granada. What has happened during these 20 years is the theme of a Catalan round table later in the festival, that this year has extended its duration so it goes on for 11 years.

Joan Gonzalez made a welcome speech in Catalan, so I can not tell you what he said but for his welcoming Clare Weiskopf, whose film ”Amazona” as previously reported on this site was shown in the presence of the director, her husband, producer and cameraperson Nicolas van Hemelryck and little Noa, who is at the beautiful end image of the film about mother and daughter: Val and Clare.

The film was from my hearing of the applause very well received, for me a fine opening film, also because Clare and Nico pitched the film at DocsBarcelona and was at the rough cut session.

… and it goes well deservedly to festivals all over the world.

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CinéDOC-Tbilisi 2017/ The Winners

Written 18-05-2017 08:06:05 by Tue Steen Müller

No objections to the choice of the jury at CinéDOC 2017, who gave the main award to ”You Have No Idea How Much I love You” by Polish Pawel Lozinski. With a special mention to Miroslav Janek’s ”Normal Autistic Film”. Ulli Pfau, spokesperson for a jury that also included Ukrainian Gennady Koffmann and Lithuanian Giedre Beinoriute, said that they would have loved to share the award between the two but that was not possible. For me Audrius Stonys ”Woman and the Glacier” and Helena Trestikova’s ”A Marriage Story” could also have qualified.

Lozinski can be double happy as he was also the favourite of the audience and received the so-called Audience Award. In other words: the jurors from the documentary world and the audience agreed.

The ceremony at the beautiful building on the Rustaveli Avenue – in Soviet times it was the venue for the pioneers, festival director Artchil Khetagouri told me, ”I came here as a child” – ended with a skype thank you from Pawel Lozinski, who had returned to Poland after having spent a couple of days at the festival with well attended Q&A sessions.

The beginning was equally exciting. The Youth Jury was on stage

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CinéDOC-Tbilisi CivilPitch

Written 16-05-2017 12:42:15 by Tue Steen Müller

Sooo, what is that. I was curious and happy to be invited to see if that can work – the match of ngo’s and filmmakers. Such a good idea, a challenge for the filmmakers and for the ngo’s. Supported and hosted by Open Society Georgia Foundation. 11 projects had been selected after a call that included both ngo’s and filmmakers, who had met before at a meeting, where the matching was established.

The festival direction: We want ”to link civil society organisations with filmmakers, media professionals and donors. Together we can transform CivilPitch into an important annual event that inspires, provokes and ultimately proves to be invaluable to civil society as well as to donors and media professionals. CivilPitch is a central platform where professionals representing different fields can merge their skills and experiences in order to create a valuable film product that can appeal to a wider audience, transcending the limited number of interest groups that may usually follow these topics.”

I attended a training session and was asked to moderate the pitching of the 11 projects yesterday. The training had been led by two young filmmakers, Dutch/German Daniel Abma and Georgian Ana Tsimintia and the 10 panelists were representatives from ngo’s with the addition of a couple of film people.

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CinéDOC Tbilisi Third Day

Written 16-05-2017 10:39:26 by Tue Steen Müller

3 Rooms on Melancholia” by Pirjo Honkasalo: The film is from 2004. I had not seen it for many years and it was a different experience today. The film was the same but I had changed. There are children in my life today, grandchildren, small children like the ones in the film. Who suffer because of the war in Chechnya. Who have no parents and/or come from socially hard backgrounds, alcohol, sexual abuse, illnesses. Looking at the kids and their faces and their tears. Heartbreaking.

When was the last time you saw the film, I asked Pirjo Honkasalo at the masterclass that followed just after the screening for a full hall in the Amirani Cinema. I have not seen it since it was premiered, she said. I make the film and give it to the audience to make their film in their heads.

The two hour masterclass with the legendary director, who was the special guest of the festival, could have lasted much longer. Honkasalo gave the audience the story of the film from a to z talking about how to gain trust with the characters, how her ratio (this time 6:1) was much more than usual (!), how she and her producer Kristina Pervilä got the permission to film at the military academy in Kronstadt, how she does not like to pitch, how she does not make scripts, the writing she does is to get the money, ”but of course it helps to write, makes things clearer for yourself as well”, how she had decided on the form before filming, the triptych that the film works from – with the headlines ”longing”, ”breathing” and ”remembering”. And how she insists on having the final cut. No compromises!

Today ”Tanjuska” is being screened. We did not have time to talk about that film or ”Mysterion” or ”Atman” – but Pirjo Honkasalo touched upon the ethical questions connected to Tanjuska and to the Atman-film.

A pleasure to be with a great film director. The audience was inspired, I am sure.

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CineDOC Tbilisi Second Day

Written 15-05-2017 14:08:34 by Tue Steen Müller

With Lithuania as the guest country here at CineDOC Tbilisi festival, it was natural to have Giedre Zickyte visiting. The director, who has had a big success with the film ”Master and Tatyana” with and about the brilliant photographer Vitas Luckus and his widow – and with the film she made with Chilean Maite Alberti, ”I’m not from here”, was giving a masterclass on the way she has used archives in ”Master and Tatyana” and in her ”How We Played the Revolution”. It was a very much alive, energetic and passionate Zickyte, who showed clips and told the audience how she kept on looking for material that could be used, sometimes (with the revolution film) it could take weeks to find the right material as she did, when she discovered a wonderful scene, where two children discuss – around 1990 – what the street demonstration was for. Hilarious! And she demonstrated how she integrated archive footage into the narrative flow. And how she used the photos of Luckus in two ways: to tell the dramatic story of his life and to show how fantastic a photographer he is.

Zickyte is now working on ”The Jump” that was pitched last year at the IDFA festival in Amsterdam. Logline: ”A breath-taking jump over the icy ocean propels a sailor from a Soviet boat to an American vessel. But is it enough to fulfil his dream of freedom?”

The film will have amazing archive material and Zickyte told us that she will travel back to the US, Florida with the protagonist Simas Kudirka as she after one and a half year now has the permission to film on the American ship. She showed the trailer of ”The jump” that Simas took in 1970. There is a very promising film coming up.

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CinéDOC-Tbilisi First Day

Written 14-05-2017 07:17:46 by Tue Steen Müller

… for me, arriving early saturday morning to the Georgian capital to have a wonderful first day at the five year old festival led by Ileana Stanculescu and Artchil Khetagouri. ”Welcome home”, a Georgian filmmaker said to me, and right he is, I feel very much at home here among the many talented Georgian directors and with the Lithuanians, who are here as Lithuania is the Guest Country.

One of them, of course, is Audrius Stonys, who is experiencing a great festival success with his ”Woman and the Glacier”. Just back from HotDocs festival in Canada, the world traveller had a one hour conversation with me about the film and about ”The Baltic New Wave”, his next film where his task is to introduce the audience to what was and is the poetic cinema as it comes out/came out in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

I sat on the first row in the Amirani Cinema, full house for the film of Stonys and for the film that followed, Pawel Lozinski’s ”You Have No Idea How Much I Love You”, the magic chamber play by the Polish director, who took the audience behind the film, how was the casting, how many cameras, the research, the ”why” he wanted to make the film. Anna Dziapshipa, filmmaker, producer, photographer – and professional interpreter gave the long Q&A the rythm it needed. I was happy to be there, also because this was the preparation for the two hour masterclass with Lozinski at the upcoming DocsBarcelona.

Finally an outdoor screening of the Israeli ”Presenting Princess Shaw” by Ido Haar, a film I had heard about and thought ”ah, another of these ”American Dream came through” films”, and it was, but Samantha aka Princess Shaw is such a lively and charming character and the Israeli musician Kutiman, who makes fine art out of her youtube clips is such a sympathetic person, it is a warm film that has its magic moments.

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Joe Bini Interview

Written 13-05-2017 09:41:28 by Tue Steen Müller

I was there in Prague when American editor Joe Bini made his lecture in connection with the East Doc Platform. I wrote a small report that first of all had its focus on his collaboration with Werner Herzog. Now you have the chance to read a more in-depth interview with the editor, made by Marta Obršálová and brought on the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) website, link below.

Two clips to stimulate your appetite to read it all:

On trailers: To be honest, I hate trailers. For me, it is putting the  cart before the horse, as they say. Especially when you are asked to cut a trailer before the film has been edited or perhaps even shot. How can I make a trailer when I do not know what the film is about? It’s more like advertising. I absolutely understand how important it is but it is not something I am good at. I did a couple early on in my career and I just realized it is definitely not something I enjoy doing…

On the director and editor relationship: A film is generally edited by two people – the director and the editor – two people who have a different relationship to the same material. In a documentary, I usually start my job after the filming is done. By that point, the director has already formed a relationship with the material. He or she already has an idea about the characters – who is lying, who is telling the truth, who is important in the story or not. The editor does not have any of that in his mind. The editor has only what they see when they look at the footage. I have often had the experience, especially with young filmmakers, when they come back from shooting, they say to me: This is what happened, it was an amazing scene, the guy was great! etc. But after I have a look I often have to say: Maybe so, but that’s not what I saw…

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Carolin Genreith: Happy

Written 11-05-2017 13:29:17 by Tue Steen Müller

The CinéDOC-Tbilisi festival starts tonight and what is the habit of most festivals for the opening night film, this is a light and entertaining one. With a subject that has been treated again and again, mostly in kliché-language: White male from Western country goes to Thailand and finds a wife. He wants an obedient woman with whom he can have sex. Thai woman wants to marry to be able to survive herself and support her family. Of course there are many nuances and the director manages to get some of them out of the shade because Carolin Genreith’s father is wonderful as a film character. He is quite open to all the questions coming from his daughter, he fights hard to learn the thai language, he likes his wife to be, who is 30 years younger than him, close to the age of his daughter – he wants as a 60 year old to have a good rest of  time, he can not stand to be alone any longer. He is energetic at his farm in Germany, a farm he takes care of, when he is not in his office at the city hall, if I got it right. In other words, he is present, the camera likes him. But the cultural differences are big, the understanding of what is love, the understanding of what is a family is not the same in Germany and Thailand. The first third part of the film takes place in Germany with father and daughter. Then off to Thailand where father Dieter, daughter Carolin and Thai woman Tukta are in focus.

The festival has included the presentation text of the director/daughter. Here it is:

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nick Fraser to Receive BAFTA Award

Written 11-05-2017 08:41:45 by Tue Steen Müller

My first reaction was ”oh, did he not get that already”, but no. But this year the former BBC Storyville editor is to get it, the Special Award at the British Academy Television Awards 2017. No objections!

Nick Fraser has been a name mentioned on filmkommentaren since we started almost 10 years ago. He has been a clever, often tough commentator at pitching sessions, he has commissioned classics as “Searching for Sugarman” and “Man on Wire”, he has written books and articles on the importance of documentaries in today’s society.

And he has – with Danish Mette Hoffman Meyer, producer Don Edkins and previously Finnish Iikka Vehkalahti – been behind the “Why”-series, like “Why Democracy” and “Why Poverty”, tv documentary series that went all over the world.

A press release came in yesterday from Yaddo, “the global online documentary platform” with Fraser as founder and editor. It was set up in 2016, interesting to see what he can get out of that.

I remember Nick Fraser from the 90’es, when he came to Bornholm to the Baltic Sea Forum. He was enormously positive to the Eastern European documentaries and their makers, and his commitment to Viktor Kossakovsky and his “Wednesday” was very important for this “documentary star”.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Cinédoc Focus on Civic Activism

Written 10-05-2017 14:59:39 by Tue Steen Müller

More and more documentary film festivals pick a theme for their programs. The festivals want to state their comments on what goes on in the world and/or in their own country. This goes for the young Cinédoc-Tbilisi festival in Georgia. I asked Ileana Stanculescu from the festival what the poster represented. She answered like this outlining the chosen themes:

“This year (the festival runs from May 11 till May 16) we have a strong focus on civic activism. Our program this year covers five themes reflecting five human needs: safety, passion, faith, imagination and solidarity. 

Under the umbrella of the theme ‘solidarity’ we will present and

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Their Finest Hour… and Humphrey Jennings

Written 08-05-2017 20:19:36 by Tue Steen Müller

… is the title of the British WW2 comedy drama, directed by Danish Lone Scherfig, that I saw this morning in Grand Teatret in Copenhagen. It is a lovely picture to bring up the same term the protagonists use, when they talk about their job, which is to make good scripts for propaganda films that serve one purpose: to keep the population optimistic while Hitler’s bombs are hitting London and other bigger cities. The propaganda films were screened after a short film and before a feature. And there were many of them.

Authenticity and Optimism are – in the film - the key words given by the leaders of the Film Division of the Ministry of Information during the years of 1940-1945. But I suppose that these words were also important for the documentarians, who worked at that time. While watching the film by Scherfig I was thinking about the true auteur of that time, Humphrey Jennings, whose films I saw when I got the job at Statens Filmcentral (National Film Board of Denmark) way back in 1975. Thanks to Werner Pedersen who loved his works as did another mentor of mine, Niels Jensen. They imported and promoted several British war time propaganda films.

Derek Malcolm wrote in the Guardian about Jennings and his ”Fires Were Started” (check Youtube) from 1943, 65 mins. – a quote: ”… Jennings had founded the Mass Observation movement which collected information on the British way of life much as Malinowski had documented the behaviour of the South Sea islanders. He put this to good effect in Fires Were Started and other films, notably the equally famous Listen To Britain and Diary For Timothy. But, though ineffably patrician, he transcended the class clichés of the time by recognising the way war can unite disparate people and by making us think about what would have been lost if the conflict had gone the other way…”

Yes, ”Listen to Britain” from 1942 (it is on Youtube) is THE masterpiece of British wartime propaganda documentaries… written together with Stewart McAllister. 19 minutes of superb seducing montage and use of sound (including songs), reconstruction of authenticity (!). It is still a very modern film in its playfulness.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKLeipzig 2017

Written 06-05-2017 09:22:58 by Tue Steen Müller

The press releases coming from the Leipzig festival are always well written. The one about the 2017 is copy-pasted here:

DOK Leipzig’s anniversary edition’s theme is Nach der Angst (Post-Angst). It runs through the Special Programmes and is also linked to the festival’s history.

In its 60th anniversary edition, which will be taking place against a backdrop of political polarisation and the erosion of democratic values across the world, DOK Leipzig will propose forward-thinking strategies for art and politics. The leitmotif of this year's festival is Nach der Angst (Post-Angst) and also runs through the Special Programmes.

Taking place as it is 100 years after the October Revolution, the Retrospective will be about totalitarian regimes' filmic strategies for the representation of power after 1917. It will highlight the geographic and temporal range of visual politics in communist states and also show how methods resorted to in the past are once again being employed today, in times of heated political debate.

The festival’s Country Focus will be Georgia; thus DOK Leipzig will

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DocAlliance Celebrates Ex Oriente Film

Written 04-05-2017 11:49:24 by Tue Steen Müller

A press release came in: ”In collaboration with its organizer, Institute of documentary film, Film, we have prepared a selection of the best works that have gone through this prestigious workshop throughout its history of 15 years! Nine critically acclaimed films, among which you won’t miss festival winners or even an Oscar nominee, are going to guide you across the film region that has been bubbling over with excitingly increasing energy incomparable with the rest of Europe…”

I was Head of Studies of Ex Oriente until 2009 and have only sweet memories of the three yearly sessions organized by the people at the IDF (Andrea Prenghyova, Ivana Milosevic, Hanka Rezkova, Filip Remunda and many others), as well as the many skilled tutor colleagues (Miroslav Janek, Emma Davie, Kristina Pärvila, Jan Gogola, Stan Neumann not to forget the two who took over as “Heads”, Mikael Opstrup and Marijke Rawie). BUT first of all the filmmakers, who came with their film projects, got feedback, learned about market and storytelling, and got inspiration from the mentioned people and colleagues.

The ”nine critically acclaimed films” offered by DocAlliance to

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

BIG TIME & Den anden side

Written 02-05-2017 13:41:17 by Tue Steen Müller

For those of our visitors, who don’t read Danish: I have written two reviews, with top scores, in Danish language as this could push Danes go to the cinema. ”Den anden side” by Pernille Rose Grønkjær about and with standup comedian Anders Matthesen has been running in cinemas all over Denmark since April 27, mainly through the chain of Nordisk Film Biografer. Big marketing work has been done, good reviews, hope it will give results, the film deserves it. The film will definitely have an international appeal as well, when it gets to the festival circuit.

Where ”BIG TIME” by Kasper Astrup Schröder will also go, for sure. It premieres tomorrow May 3 in more than 50 cinemas in Denmark with DoxBio as distributor. Again big marketing work, interviews with Bjarke Ingels, the now world famous architect, clips on tv etc.

(A footnote from one who started as consultant and press person at the National Film Board of Denmark (Statens Filmcentral) in 1975, where it was almost impossible to make the press interested in documentaries – why… because they were not screened in cinemas or at festivals. Today Copenhagen (and some other bigger Danish cities) are full of festivals like CPH:DOX, like the architecture festival that runs now, Cinemateket has its ”documentary of the month” etc. etc. So happy about this development!)

Back to the standup comedian Matthesen and the architect Ingels. Both have been followed over several years, you see that in the final results and both deal with men, who face crises in their private and professional work at the age around 40! The directors Pernille Rose Grønkjær and Kasper Astrup Schröder go close to their protagonists, both public persons, who are often in the media and who deserve a bravo for letting the filmmakers into their stressful lives. These two well-produced films fit perfectly into the international line of direct cinema portraits of celebrities, that we know mostly from the American documentary history.    

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Elvira Lind: Bobbi Jene

Written 28-04-2017 13:36:13 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s not every day that a documentary takes it all as did ”Bobbi Jene” by Elvira Lind at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Three awards given yesterday to the film produced by Julie Leerskov and Sare Stockmann. The film is right now on an international festival tour, Tribeca being first stop. Danish premiere in autumn. Which makes us do some copy-paste – first the description of the film taken from the website of DFI (Danish Film Institute):

”After a decade of stardom in Israel, American dancer Bobbi Jene takes intensity to a new level when she decides to leave behind her star position at the world-famous Batsheva Dance Company, as well as the love of her life, to return to the US to create her own boundary breaking performances. A love story, the film portrays the dilemmas and inevitable consequences of ambition. It is a film about a woman’s fight for independence and her attempt to succeed with her own art in the extremely competitive world of dance.”

And the well formulated motivations of the jury for the Tribeca 2017 Documentary Competition (R.J. Cutler, Alma Har’el, Barbara Kopple, Anne Thompson and David Wilson) like this:

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lidia Sheinin: Harmony

Written 27-04-2017 13:47:16 by Tue Steen Müller

Grandmother is old and fragile, she can not live on her own. Her daughter with four children, 3 boys, the oldest 6-8 years old I guess, and a baby girl, moves in, to help; into a flat that has little space. Not difficult to imagine the messy consequences, the constant ”don’t do this and that” from granny, whose space is invaded, who does not eat regularly – and to imagine and see the constant exhaustion of a mother of four.

The director is there with her camera, observing, no intervention.

Watching how life goes on under these hard conditions. It’s tough to be there with the family as a viewer but it’s also life-affirming and fun because the situation is recognisable, the energy from the kids, their questions, ”why are we living here”, the patience of the mother, the despair of the granny when the screaming and crying fill the rooms – and the piano that takes so much space, has been part of her life, if it could go there would be more space…

It could take place in many corners of the world – well, in Denmark the granny would maybe have been skipped off to an old people’s home – here it is in St. Petersburg; I was happy to be with the family in a very fine and balanced documentary, on 3 generations, that you leave at the kitchen table with a smile on your face.

The film is shown this afternoon and tomorrow at the Visions du Réel festival in Nyon.

Russia, 2017, 59 mins.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Laura Cini: Punishment Island

Written 26-04-2017 17:25:53 by Tue Steen Müller

Director Laura Cini was at DocsBarcelona 2016 at a rough cut screening in front of a selected panel with me as the moderator. She has now finished the film, sent it to me, asking my opinion as she experiences rejections from many festivals. What’s wrong, she asks? I answer ”well the competition to get into festivals is strong” and ”most festivals play safe and your film is not very ”sexy” subject-wise” in comparison with the many current social and political issues in the world right now. Even though you can see it is as a women’s story.

Nothing is wrong, I can tell the director after I have seen the final version of the one hour long documentary. My impression is the same as when it was selected for the Barcelona session: The director has made her aesthetic choice that brings a quiet, intimate tone and brilliant cinematography – she mixes fiction and documentary in a way that you don’t think about what is what. And content-wise the story about the unmarried pregnant women, who were taken to the island Akampene in South-Western Uganda to be forgotten and die by starvation in loneliness, is touching more than shocking due to the way the old women and (some) men tell what they remember or what they remember to have heard. Some were chosen by men without bribes and taken from the island, often to live as outcast. Wonderful expressive faces meet the camera, mixed with images from the lake and nature, where the island was and is no longer. My grandmother came back, a man tells, (grand)mother and daughter next to each other, a woman who does not remember her age, ”does it matter”, reverend Stephen introduces the story about Mauda, who was 4 days on the island, ”I was raped”, says she or another woman, again it does not matter as the film turn it all into a collective voice on pain and survival. Other stories came up when religion came, when the whites came, they are not in the film.

Some small dramatizations are made (unfortunately the words of the one impersonating the island that speaks to the audience are difficult to understand, please subtitle), a fine song is song, and a man is drawing scenes from the stories on Punishment Island.

Festival readers of this post, take a look.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jude Ratnam: Demons in Paradise

Written 24-04-2017 15:44:14 by Tue Steen Müller

There are a handful of documentaries  in ”La Sélection officielle 2017” at the 70th edition of the Cannes Festival, May 17-28. No surprise that films by Agnès Varda, Raymond Depardon, Claude Lanzmann and Eugene Jarecki are listed, and no surprise that world famous actress Vanessa Redgrave’s directorial debut ”Sea of Sorrow” has been taken.

But such a pleasant surprise that Jude Ratnam´s personal and highly cinematic film essay ”Demons in Paradise” stands next to Lanzmann and Redgrave in the section ”Séances Spéciales”. World premiere for the director’s first film. Here is the synopsis of the film:

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocsBarcelona 2017

Written 19-04-2017 15:47:41 by Tue Steen Müller

So there they are the films selected for the 20th edition of DocsBarcelona. Listed in alphabetical order or in sections or according to screening hours and venue, it starts May 18 and ends May 28, with an extension of some screening days compared to previous years. It started being an industry event, years ago the festival was added. I have been ”part of the furniture” from the very beginning, first working for the industry and now for the festival selection. It’s been pure pleasure and I am looking forward to a long stay in Barcelona in a professional and warm festival atmosphere.

At the launch of the festival today festival director Joan Gonzalez informed about the opening film, Clare Weiskopf’s ”Amazona” (PHOTO), a film that has already been at several festivals but now returns to Barcelona, where it was presented, when it was a project and where it took part in the rough cut session that DocsBarcelona organises every year.

I have had the privilige of following the film at editing stage, from time to time. I have been worried about the final result – those worries are gone, the final version is excellent. To quote the catalogue text: ”A fascinating journey between mother and daughter through the Colombian Amazon, filled with conversations that fire sparks and leave us facing a moral dilemma around freedom and responsibility.”

I will later return to the films being shown at the festival in Barcelona, a pretty big portion of them have been reviewed on this site – no need to hide that I have been part of the selection team. BUT let me mention the three sections.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Andrei Dascalescu: Planeta Petrila

Written 18-04-2017 16:31:22 by Tue Steen Müller

I had high expectations. I had seen and admired the director’s ”Constantin and Elena” from 2008. I had seen Andrei Dascalescu pitching the project at East Doc Platform in 2016, I wrote these words on this site: ”(Planeta Petrila was) presented with passion and humour, the director said it to be a rockn’roll film, about a mine to be closed and an artist fighting to keep the old buildings and make them into art. A Don Quijote, the director asks? The trailer was unconventional, hopefully the film will be the same…”

I am not disappointed. There is some rockn’roll atmosphere in the film, there is a Don Quijote, Ion Barbu, and yet he is very grounded in the reality that he lives in; he is a creative charismatic artist, who used to work in the mines of Petrila as topographer; he knows and expresses compassion for the history of the mines and for the few miners, who are there. The last ones before the mine activity stops.

Ion Barbu argues that the only solution for Petrila after losing the mining industry is culture

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Krakow Film Festival: Music without Borders

Written 17-04-2017 13:38:52 by Tue Steen Müller

A press release came in from one of the oldest documentary film festivals, in Krakow, that celebrates its 57th edition BUT with a young competition on music documentaries, the fifth edition of this novelty.

A quote of a quote: “As Anita Piotrowska, film critic and the co-creator of the programme of Krakow Film Festival points out, "music documentary film becomes more and more inclusive. Music always plays the main role here, but often it is additionally charged - it tends to be a political manifesto, an expression of rebellion against stereotypes, a new look at history or a sign of a complicated ethnic identity. It is increasingly difficult to find an "unadulterated" music documentary film. But this is which, in my opinion, proves its vitality and richness. And this is precisely this diversity - not only of the music itself, but of the contemporary ways of telling stories about it - that we tried to capture while selecting the competition titles."

Wise words and here you have the films selected:

"Chavela," dir. Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi, USA, 90’

"Far Western," dir. James Payne, Japan, USA, 82’

"Red Gringo," dir. Miguel Angel Vidaurre, Chile, 69’

"Festival," dir. Tomasz Wolski, Anna Gawlita, Poland, 85’

"When God Sleeps," dir. Till Schauder, USA, Germany, 88’

"Sara Baras, All Her Voices," dir. Rafá Moles, Pepe Andreu, Spain, 91’

"Revolution of Sound. Tangerine Dream," dir. Margarete Kreuzer, Germany, 90’

"Born To Lose-a film about Lorenzo Woodrose," dir. Palle Demant, Denmark, 82’

"Soul Exodus," dir. Csaba Bereczki, Hungary, 92’

"The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev," dir. Tal Barda, Noam Pinchas, Israel, France, 74’

I have seen the latter, which is a family story full of music with the Papa (see the fantastic photo) of the Alaev family (who emigrated from Israel to Tajikistan in 1990s) as the main patriarchial character, who has to face, but does not want to, that children and grandchildren wish to take over, or at least have their independence as members of the family, and a religious community. And the orchestra! Sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching, always with great music! And very well told.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CAFx 2017 /Introduction

Written 16-04-2017 17:53:23 by Tue Steen Müller

This is a copy-paste of the press release from Copenhagen Architecture Festival, that is indeed very active when it comes to the inclusion of the film medium:

Denmark's largest architecture festival Copenhagen Architecture Festival opens its fourth edition Wednesday, April 26th with a wide program spread over three cities and with the opening film and world premiere of "BIG TIME" on Bjarke Ingels. 

More than 150 architectural events in Copenhagen, Aarhus and Aalborg. 40 film and 42 venues.

The festival takes place over 11 days. The more than 150 events provide a variety of approaches to architecture and through film screenings, exhibitions, lectures, debates, walks, concerts and conferences there are enough to choose from again this year - both for ’feinschmecker’ and the general public. Again this year you can meet experts from home and abroad who will contribute to the audience to get a glimpse of the world of architecture.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Cinédoc-Tbilisi 2017

Written 14-04-2017 15:24:45 by Tue Steen Müller

With its fifth edition the organisers of this still very young Tbilisi Georgian festival, director Archil Khetagouri and coordinator Ileana Stanculescu, took the decision to move the event from October to May 11-16. Argumentation: Too much happens in October. And my additional argument: Weather must be better in May. I am happy to be able to check that out myself, as the two mentioned have invited me back to a city and a festival I like very much. Regarding the weather: Outdoor screenings are planned.

About the program – there is an international competition, a focus Caucasus, a CivilDOC section, including a pitching session for NGO’s matched with filmmakers, and a CinéDOC Young competition.

There are so many good film titles to be mentioned, let me drop

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKer 2017

Written 12-04-2017 13:28:59 by Tue Steen Müller

I was a jury member of the first DOKer festival in 2015 and am very happy to see that the filmmakers behind the event are able to continue their pioneer work of bringing films from around the world to the Russian audience. Let me quote the promotion text from their website that you should pay a visit:

”Do not miss Moscow International Documentary Film Festival DOKer. Spend 5 days in the atmosphere of the best creative documentary cinema from around the world! Watch, think, criticise, create!”.

The 3rd DOKer festival takes place May 18-23.

Take a look also at the illustration that says that the selection has a global perspective – and the world is not united. Anyway, here is the list of films for the main feature competition as well as the short film line-up. A third competition ”Let’s DOK it”is still to be announced.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ivars Tontegode: Knutifiction

Written 11-04-2017 14:25:59 by Tue Steen Müller

Luckily I live in a country where subtitling of films is the rule – no dubbing as in German or France, where as an example European cultural channel Arte is the big sinner in the language killing discipline. In Denmark we hear the language spoken in the original film and when we don’t understand that language, we get help from the subtitles.

BUT sometimes it is hard to watch and read, as it was for me with Latvian Ivars Tontegode’s impressive biographical documentary about and with writer, poet and translator Knuts Skujenieks, who talks almost through the whole film of 100 minutes at the same time as I had to follow the interesting visual bombardment from Tontegode. I am saying this upfront to admit that my viewing of this new Latvian work suffered from me having to read and watch at the same time. On a MacBook Pro computer.

It will be better when I get to watch the film on a big screen… nevertheless I don’t hesitate to state that I have seen a remarkable film about a remarkable man, whose story is the one about 7 years

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Shorena Tevzadze: Didube, The Last Stop

Written 10-04-2017 16:22:07 by Tue Steen Müller

I have met Shorena Tevzadze and producer Nikoloz Gogochuri several times at workshops in Georgia, where this fine film was developed. Their dedication to the theme and their love towards the characters of the film was always there; watching the final result I feel like saying hello to an old friend Niko, in his shop, with his partner, waiting for clients but no one comes to buy at the veterinarian pharmacy, only friends like the singer Nodar with his guitar, performing his ballads which serve as a commentary to the place and to the dreams of the two on having a garden in the countryside instead of where they are now at a bus station, where shops still exist; at a stop that used to be more important when the train had its last stop here, now it only stops for two minutes.

The filmmakers present the film like this: “A musical fairy tale about a noisy station, where Niko, a veterinarian man is trying to save his peaceful kingdom from its demise.”

But time stands still and Niko uses it to reflect on life and to write poems, one about one of the many floods in the country. He phones television (or radio?) but they don’t have a format for reading of poems.

Luckily a festival has a format for this simple unpretentious portrait of a place and a shop owner: Premiere at Visions du Réel, Nyon, at the Regard Neuf section, the festival takes place April 21 to 29.

Georgia/Switzerland, 2017, 64 mins.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pawel Lozinski: Being a Tutor

Written 07-04-2017 11:24:04 by Tue Steen Müller

The IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) has published a very informative, well made interview with Polish director Pawel Lozinski, who was at the EastDoc Platform in Prague, where he had a double role: to show his film ”You Don’t Know How Much I love You” and to be a tutor.

In the interview – made by Marta Obršálová – Lozinski goes in detail about his film in terms of the aesthetical and technical choices that he made; you should definitely read it, whereas I have chosen to pick a quote from the director on being a tutor. A very honest dilemma is described by the director as well as some advice that many tutors should follow…:

Speaking about students, how do you like to share your experience with others? How do you react when someone asks your advice?

Tutoring for Ex Oriente Film was sometimes difficult for me. I try to be a tutor but still being a film director at the same time. Obviously, if someone is showing me his materials I am automatically making my own film of it.  But I tried to stop myself - it is their film.  I try to follow their way of thinking the director´s or cameraman´s feeling. I ask them the questions: What do you want to say?  What you want to show? How do you intend to do it? What is the story going to be about? What is your message? Why are you showing it to me and then to the audience? I think the crucial thing in teaching is not giving an answer but just asking the questions and making students or directors think about the right answer from their side. I try to find different paths, ways of thinking for each project. Maybe you can change protagonists? What do you think about putting the camera on the other side? So this kind of talk, not giving a straight yes/no, good/bad answer, just discussing it. When I make my own films, I still need somebody to discuss them with - it could by my cameraman or editor or both. Because when you make a film, you are alone, facing a lot of questions with no answers and having to find the answers on your own. So you have to ask people what they think about it. That is why this kind of training is so important for filmmakers. - and go to articles.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Robert Kirchhoff: To Choose Your Genre

Written 07-04-2017 11:01:04 by Tue Steen Müller

This is a clip from an interview with Slovak Robert Kirchhoff, whose ”A Hole in the Head” was reviewed on this site:

Cineuropa: In your previous documentary, Normalization, you investigated a sensitive issue, and you are now pursuing another difficult theme, the Roma Holocaust, in A Hole in the Head. Why do you choose such difficult subjects? 
Robert Kirchhoff: Every subject that I have chosen to make a film about or to think about is an opportunity to approach that topic differently. It's a challenge. And this is the way I feel about it. Neither of those subjects came to me by chance; it was always some particular story that brought them to my attention. With Normalization, I attempted to shoot a genre film, an investigative crime film, but there is a difference between the two films. Normalization depends on facts, literally — you have to follow the continuity in terms of the story, the past and the present, and you are working with people you do not necessarily like. In the case of A Hole in the Head, I got to pick the characters myself and I came up with the form of the film. I was facing a dilemma in terms of genre between a classic historic documentary or a documentary essay; I picked the latter. I intentionally resisted pathos — that's why you can encounter humour in a film revolving around the Holocaust and the Roma genocide — and I resisted any kind of pathos that might have resulted from tying different meanings to a particular character. Those characters lived with their memories and the holes in their heads and I approached them not through the past but the present. That may be one of the reasons why I did not use any of the archive footage, period photos or illustrations. 

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics

Yaser Kassab: On the Edge of Life

Written 06-04-2017 15:13:31 by Tue Steen Müller

It feels unfinished, sketchy this personal film by Syrian Yaser Kassab. It is one long reflection and interpretation of, as the director has formulated it in the catalogue of Cinéma du Réel, “loss and grief”. Far from mainstream. In dark images, often metaphoric, from empty spaces, “detached from reality” as he says, with the fragments of skype conversations with his father, who does not want to leave the country, and at a later point states that we live “like bears in winter sleep”.

The synopsis: “Yaser and his partner Rima leave Syria to Lebanon, but after receiving the news that his younger brother passed away in Aleppo, they end up in a remote and an empty place in Turkey. In this place where the silence and the monotonous daily life being broken by the loud noise of the family calls whom still living in Aleppo. To spend a year and a half, which was almost like a slumber and a coma, waking up every day on the recurring nightmares echo.”

It is one of those rare films that does not move but places itself in a waiting mood full of sadness, memories and longing for a better life. A very much welcomed essayistic lyrical addition to the many war-filled documentaries from the country.

Got the Joris Ivens/ Cnap Award at Cinéma du Réel

Syria, 2017, 45 mins.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Lviv Film Center

Written 04-04-2017 12:28:26 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s a handmade cinema, Roman Bondarchuk said, after our pleasant tour to Lviv Film Center, where we visited the rooftop sunday morning. Saturday night a party had been held and Mr. Mykhailo, responsible for the running of the place, was in the beginning not that keen to show us around. It’s a mess, he said. Never mind, we responded. So we were there and got the fine story about the place:

The cinema used to be called Condor and later Falcon, and was built in Soviet times by the factories around the area – for the workers to have a cultural meeting place. Today it is Lviv Film Center, an arthouse cinema with a hall on the ground floor, and a rooftop cinema. As you can see from the picture (taken by Dar’ya Averchenko) there is a small table for the projector, a screen, chairs of different quality. In summer time with summer weather there is often three screenings at night, a ticket costs 2€, reduction if you take all three. Beer is sold, bottles with vodka etc. can be brought to the place.

”Toni Erdmann” was to be played sunday in this handmade outdoor cinema that very often has full houses. Audience? Between 18 and 30 sympathetic Mr. Mykhailo said.

Photo: Ellen and me.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Pavel Kostomarov: Together

Written 04-04-2017 11:04:00 by Tue Steen Müller

Do you remember the film by Kostomarov called Together, Roman Bondarchuk asked me on the Virmanska Street, when we sunday were walking around in sunny Lviv in Western Ukraine. The couple in the film, Ludmila and Vladimir Loboda, were sitting outside the café. We joined them for a grappa and Turkish coffee and I was proud to tell them that I had written a review about the film, praising them and their Love Story – and their art. They told us that they were very happy with the film but since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, they had no contact with Kostomarov – and Vladimir had no longer a gallery in Moscow selling his work. The film is excellent as you can read in this repeat of the review from 2009:

A house in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe a house in the centre of the universe. A couple lives there. They are artists, they do paintings and wooden sculptures. The sculptures have their own home in the house, a room for themselves where they stand in a circle, in harmony, in a room that is visited by the artists with lamps in their hands, pointing at them, making them come alive. It is a phantasy world with a couple – the man, who is talking in philosophical terms moving his arm around, a bit of a pretentious performance, but charming and with humour, if he is not throwing rude language at the woman, calling her dumb at one moment, and praising her as Mother Earth in the next. She looks strong, moves around as a powerful independent character, but she has her views on the relationship between man and woman: ”If she dominates it’s over”. Well, from the 48 minutes that I was invited to share with her and her husband, I did not get the impression of a suppressed woman.

And that is not at all what brilliant cameraman and director Kostomarov is after. He goes for beauty. The light playing in the face of the woman. Their hands cutting the sculpture figures. Their hugging and caressing, their letting the outside world be rude and cruel – they are murdering us, the man says peeping out of the window after a sequence with cranes and cars destroying something that we dont get to know what is. Not important, what is important is what we see inside, what Kostomarov (cameraman and co-director of ”Mother” and previously cameraman for Loznitsa) catches of Life and Love between two people who have been together for a lifetime. The name of the couple is Vladimir and Ludmila Loboda, and to summarize: This is such a wonderful intimate close-up of a Russian artist couple, an observation, yes, but what makes it extraordinary is the interpretative layer that the director adds, or should I say paints with his camera. There are superb sequences playing with light and shadow, where you see objects in the house or art pieces in compositions that stays in your mind. Taking the risk to have King Crimson music as an accompagnement!

Russia, 2009, 48 mins.


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docudays Kiev 2017 Awards

Written 31-03-2017 09:35:21 by Tue Steen Müller

A press release came out last night: The 14th International documentary films about human rights festival has ended in Kyiv. The awards ceremony was held in the Cinema House. The closing ceremony began with a gesture of solidarity with Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, imprisoned in Russia.

Films were competing for prizes in categories: DOCU/LIFE, DOCU/RIGHT, DOCU/SHORT, DOCU/UKRAINE and for the special prize from Students’ Jury. The festivals’ Orzanizing Committee favorite is awarded with the Andriy Matrosov Award. The ceremony was followed by the Ukrainian premiere of “Liberation Day” by Ugis Olte and Morten Traavik.

The results of the final stages of three long-term workshops were announced during the closing ceremony – DocWorks: UA/UK, Warscape, and Youth about Ukraine. During the closing ceremony the results of WARSCAPE international competition were announced. The award of 5.000 USD was given to the “Double trap” (director Valeria Treshchova and producer Viktoria Gusenok). Also the international programm DocWorks: UA/UK announced the results. The winning project “UNDERWATER” (dir. Oksana Kazmina and producer Ljosha Chashchyn) received 3.000 GBP. "(N)OSTALGIA" (director Vicki Thornton Written and producer Marion Guthdirector) received a prize (50 000 hryvnia) for the best pitching from KWA SOUND PRODUCTION company.

Winners were also announced for Instagram competition #ECOOKO: show the country's environment. A prize from the WWF in Ukraine was given to Oleksandr Stepanenko. Prizes from the Green School educational project were received by: Oksana Vashchuk, Serhiy Handusenko, Oleg and Dariya Promahovy. Oleg and Dariya Promahovy received prizes from the Docudays UA team.

Docudays UA 2017 Winners:

DOCU/LIFE - Main Prize

All This Panic dir. Jenny Gage/ USA

Deliberate well thought through camerawork serves the subject matter and the desired atmosphere. Daring use of colors together with sensual use of depth of field made this film particularly efficient. The filmmakers are thinking outside of the box at the same time as the directorial approach creates unparalleled intimacy. It is transparent that creators are coming from contemporary art. The film unveils the secret life of teenage girls who usually go out of their way to keep their inner life closed to adults. It is the opinion of the jury that by giving these girls a voice the filmmakers are creating a bold platform for young women. Girls all over the world deserve to be heard - it is a crucial human rights issue that also resonates here in Ukraine.

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Categories: Cinema, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docudays: Children

Written 31-03-2017 08:55:39 by Tue Steen Müller

What kind of world do we leave for our children? A banal and pathetic question maybe. But it came to my mind this morning, when I attended the Warscape pitching in Kiev at the Docu/Pro section of Docudays. 6 projects from around 25 were selected – ”an international competition for documentary film projects about Ukraine or the Eurasia region, on the consequences of conflicts and other situations of violence inflicted upon civilians.”

In ”84” by cameraman Volodimir Yermakov, his first film as a director, to be 10-15 mins. long, children are playing in the city of Sloviansk, that was occupied by rebels for 84 days. The final scene of the lyrical clip presented by the director shows children ”playing funeral”. Heartbreaking, makes you think.

In the Georgian ”The Playground” by Ana Tsiminia and Esma Berikishvili children of Abkhazian refugees play among the ruins of a paper factory near the border between Georgia and Abkhazia chatting about where to go. Paris? The plays represent their social reality in what is going to be an observational documentary. Expectations are high after the director’s ”Biblioteka”.

The pitching this morning ended with the French/Ukrainian ”The New Life of Vitaly”, a film by director Vadim Moiseenko, produced by Marie Odile Gazin to be shot in small Krymske in the Luhansk region close to the frontline. Like small grown-ups the kids, with Vitaly as the main protagonist, talk about who is in war with whom, what foreign nationalities are there as soldiers, what the rebels took and destroyed, when they were there… They lost their childhood.

Photo: Ana Tsiminia and Esma Berikishvili preparing their pitch outside the venue of The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the sponsor of the workshop and the award for the best project.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docudays Kiev: Form Comes First

Written 28-03-2017 20:50:01 by Tue Steen Müller

… which is of course a simplification but I was thinking of it several times during the days here in Kiev, where the Docudays goes on, one of those many festivals, less known, compared to IDFA, CPH:DOX, DOKLeipzig and Hotdocs BUT with a high quality selection and, as far as I have been able to register attending a handful of screenings, full houses. With a professional relaxed atmosphere.

Form comes first has director and editor French/Czech Stan Neumann said at many tutoring sessions. The same goes for Viktor Kossakovsky who talks about making an aesthetic choice as the first thing to do before you start shooting.

But sometimes you find the form, the shape, the handwriting as you go along, as did Georgian Alexander Kvatashidze, when he

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CPH:DOX 2017 /Return of a President

Written 27-03-2017 13:05:35 by Sara Thelle


The Danish filmmaker Lotte Mik-Meyer has made a documentary about a very important and interesting subject and a region that certainly could need our attention. Return of a President is about the fight for democracy in Madagascar in the aftermath of the 2009 military coup and the influence interests of foreign powers have on the political situation of poor countries in a post-colonial context.

Mik-Meyer has gained access to the diplomatic negotiations surrounding the efforts of making possible the return of the ousted president Ravalomanana to Madagascar from his exile in South Africa, where he has been living since the coup d’état. Through her contact with the Danish advisor to the former president, Jens Thorsen, she has embedded the inner circle of the delegation, consisting of Thorsen, the South African media advisor Peter Mann and the Madagascan human rights lawyer Bakoly Rakotomalala, and has come close to the couple Marc and Lalao Ravalomanana during her five years of filming.

The negotiation process is full of obstacles. The young Andry Rajoelina, in power since the coup as the president of the High Transitional Authority of Madagascar, supported by the military and quite possibly French interests, is firmly opposing to Ravalomanana’s return. Ravalomanana is counting on help from the international community and in particular the intergovernmental organization SADC (the Southern African Development Community), but realizes that larger interests are pulling the strings in the diplomatic game. He finally returns to Madagascar in secret in 2014 and spends 6 months in prison.

Unfortunately Mik-Meyer’s focus is on the intimacy of her relationship to her characters, that is her method and it is, in my opinion, not to the film’s advantage. If, as a filmmaker, you choose to place yourself in your film, it has to be for a good reason, here it only distracts the story. We are getting surprisingly little out of the closeness, I still don’t feel that I got to know Ravalomanana more than superficially. I would have liked more substantial portrait of the man, his (ultra-liberal) political thoughts, more information about his presidency while he was in power (2002-2009). I get curious, what is the story of Jens Thorsen? How do you go from being the manager of the largest dairy company in Madagascar, part of the Ravalomananas’ business group TIKO, to become a political and diplomatic advisor? Who are the other people involved? I would have liked to hear more voices and have a broader view. Paradoxically, had Mik-Meyer kept more distance to her characters, she could have maybe made a more powerful film.

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Categories: Cinema, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Roman Bondarchuk: Dixie Land

Written 27-03-2017 12:21:13 by Tue Steen Müller

It was one of those lovely moments, where a huge audience had come to celebrate the premiere of a film, ”Dixie Land”, that was 7 years on its way – for many reasons, one of them being that the director Roman Bondarchuk and his script writer Darya Averchenko were busy with the making of and promotion of ”Ukrainian Sheriffs”.

The film about jazz music performed by kids in a band in Kherson Ukraine, led by their old teacher, who founded the band just after WW2, picking up homeless children to give them the chance to develop their skills, gave them a life, simply - is a warm, so well made - Bondarchuk has indeed a documentary-eye - interpretation of a happy childhood, where kids have a good time developing their creative skills. As it is written in the catalogue: We all live once in Dixie Land – the country where politics, money and death do not exist at all. But over time this country is disappearing… yes, we are in Ukraine of today.

Back to the fest of a premiere where the superstar of the film (see photo from the screen of the cinema) Polina was present and performed with three instruments, when the closing images of the film came up. It was marvellous and there were flowers and standing ovations to a film that is full of love. A human film that gave many of us tears in the eyes. Look at the photo… Polina is now 15 years old, study in Moscow, we had thanks to Ilona Bicevska, the producer of the film, the chance to meet her after the screening. And her parents… you learn so much by being here at Docudays in Kiev.

Latvia, Ukraine, Germany, 2016, 60 mins.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Docudays UA 2017 Has Started

Written 25-03-2017 23:38:49 by Tue Steen Müller

… and runs until March 31. I am happy to be here participating at the Docu/Pro, the industrial platform of a festival that celebrates its 14th edition this year. The platform includes talks from knowledgeable people like Brigid O’Shea from DOKLeipzig, Miriam Ryndová from IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in Prague and Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis. My job is to coach filmmakers, who have been selected for Warscape, ”The international competition for documentary film projects about Ukraine or the Eurasia region, on the consequences of conflicts and other situations of violence inflicted upon civilians”…6 projects.

They will be pitching their projects on Thursday March 30 in a competitive session open to the public. The same goes for 5 projects in another competition, ”DokWorks”.

The screenings of the festival opened last night with the screening of ”The Yes Men are Revolting” by Laura Nix, an excellent start for

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CPH:DOX 2017 /Forum

Written 25-03-2017 11:49:55 by Tue Steen Müller

2 days of Forum at the CPH:DOX March 22-23. I was there to check out what is happening with the ”creative and visually strong film projects”, that the CPH:FORUM ”financing and co-production event” is set up to help. Are great documentary films that use the language of cinema coming up? Concluding impressions at the end of this text.

First the venue, the new ”palace” of CPH:DOX, Charlottenborg in central Copenhagen near the harbour area. An absolute improvement for the ambitious festival. Lively activities inside and outside in the courtyards. Open to the public were several activities – discussions on subjects of today’s world.

The Forum took place in the colourful (see photo) Social Cinema, a very good place, a bit too hot, some called it a sauna, but I sat well and heard and saw, what was going on up there on the stage, where Tribeca’s Ingrid Kopp and Sundance’s Tabitha Jackson were moderating. They did that well. Not an easy task as most of the pitchers and panelists talked too much and went over the 14 minutes dedicated to each project. 300 projects had been submitted, 30 were picked. With overlapping categories ”fictionnonfiction”, ”cinema”, ”f:act”, ”art”.

In its presentation of the Forum, CPH:DOX circles around big names, well-known auteurs, who unfortunately were not there in persona, but were presented by producers, who often had brought

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CPH:DOX 2017 /The Festival Winners

Written 24-03-2017 23:40:43 by Tue Steen Müller

…of the festivals many sections are – in an edited and shortened Danish version of the press release of the festival of tonight:

DOX:AWARD:’De sidste mænd i Aleppo’ (“Last Men in Aleppo”), instrueret af Feras Fayyad samt debuterende co-instruktør Steen Johannessen, som er et uforglemmeligt portræt af tre modvillige heltes arbejde med at redde Aleppos civile midt i krigszonens centrum – og årets åbningsfilm på CPH:DOX.

Juryen udtaler om vinderfilmen: “De sidste mænd i Aleppo’ er en film hvis ødelæggende, følelsesmæssige umiddelbarhed kaster os ind i en shakespearsk’ tragedie om en befolkningsgruppe, der kæmper for at bevare deres menneskelighed på trods af den ubarmhjertige realitet, de befinder sig i”. 

Special mentions til ’Gray House’ af Austin Lynch og Matthew Booth og ’The John Dalli Mystery’ af Jeppe Rønde. ’Gray House’ er et mørkt og

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CPH:DOX 2017 /Psychosis in Stockholm

Written 24-03-2017 23:15:23 by Tue Steen Müller

… was one of the around 30 projects pitched at the CPH:FORUM that took place wednesday and thursday this week. Director Danish/Swedish Maria Bäck, producer Anna-Maria Kantarius. Who did a strong presentation of a project that in CPH:DOX terminology is FICTIONnonFiction – hybrid is another word for a film like this, where the director will have to find creative solutions to build a narrative for the five days the director experienced alone as 14 years old in the Swedish capital after her mother was brought to hospital to be treated for her mental illness. The film to be – no objections - got the the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award of €15.000.

Maria Bäck graduated from the Danish Film School, documentary line in 2013.

Chapeau for a jury that chose to go for a talent and not one of the established directors, who pitched or whose projects were pitched by producers.

General comments on the Forum will follow.

Photo: Director Maria Bäck.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sergey Kachkin: Perm-36. Reflexion/ 2

Written 23-03-2017 22:32:22 by Tue Steen Müller

As the /2 says I have written about Kachkin’s film from Perm before – in August 2016 – where he told me that the film - the most obvious place to show it - was rejected by the local Flahertiana festival because it criticises the local Ministry of Culture in its talk about the prison camp, stalinism and Soviet times. What happened then with the film? Today I received an email from the Russian director, I quote from it, a report from an independent filmmaker, who travels to have his work shown:

Perm-36. Once we agreed that as soon as I have the screening outside of Russia I should let you know this and maybe you can make a post on your blog. So, it will be on March 24 at 12:00 in Tartu, Estonia. This is World Film Festival:

I write you know in a bus which brings me from Moscow to Tartu :)

On March 27 will be another screening in Saint Petersburg in one of the main cinema theatres of the North Cultural Capital as we call it. 

Actually, the film is very demanded in Russia but much less abroad... I've screened the title at many independent venues or cinemas... well, it's hard all the time to gather the audience but I've got much of help from some independent media, internet sites and radio stations... You can have a look the news here on the film's web page:

So, only in Moscow, I had eight screenings. Then there were in Yekaterinburg at Yeltsin Centre, in Perm three, then other places. Also, some screenings should be during the summer. Well, I'm satisfied in a way. But it takes me much to promote all the screenings and negotiating with media...

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX 2017 /On the Edge of Freedom

Written 21-03-2017 14:38:19 by Tue Steen Müller


I heard myself saying “don’t do it, stop” several times, alone in front of the screen, when the young Russians and Ukrainians were climbing unfinished buildings and cranes. To take photos of themselves. Or videos. Scary like hell. And I am after having seen the film not sure that I understand why they challenge themselves in that way. Says someone from another generation. Yes, I understand that this could be the way to money as they are selling tours – especially the Ukrainians who go underground to make “tours in the drainage system” – and document them, put them on the social media. Create an identity.

Let me educate you as I was from the texts in the beginning of the film: Roofing is the exploration of heights. Digging is the exploration of underground area. In Moscow Angela (the photo) goes up, in Kiev Vlad goes down. With friends around them. They are all very young and beautiful, and cool, they are looking for a way in their lives, which they stage. They pose like fashion models, at least Angela does, she gets ill, a blood cot in the arm, she takes care of her medicine and seems to have recovered towards the end of the film.

Vlad, the Ukrainian, experiences the Maidan revolt and makes a tour to Pripyat, to the Chernobyl Zone, he is well formulated and talks about the digging as “going from one reality to another”, seeing “an urban renaissance”.

This ignorant critic has seen an energetically made, professional, visually scary, fascinating close-up documentary about youngsters in Moscow and Kiev, who are playing with their lives or searching for a meaning, for freedom the title says… Well…

The film will be shown at CPH:DOX tonight March 21 22.30 at Empire, March 23 10.30 at Nordisk Film Palads and March 25 at 22.15, Empire Bio. Broadcast on DR3 March 27 at 20.30.

Denmark, 2017, 75 mins.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX 2017 /Kirsten Johnson

Written 20-03-2017 22:22:56 by Tue Steen Müller

90 minutes with Kirsten Johnson thursday morning 23rd of March at Cinemateket, that’s a good time investment. I can guarantee that knowing Kirsten’s knowledge and commitment, and having attended her classes and Q&A sessions several times. Of course it is good if you have seen her film ”Cameraperson” – but if not there is a screening at 16.40 that same day at Grand Teatret with the director present.

”Cameraperson” was on my list of the best documentaries of 2016, here is some text from my review:

It is a film that deserves all the attention it can get. BECAUSE it puts the cinematographer and his/her work in focus through Kirsten Johnson, who says – a text in the beginning of the film – ”for the past 25 years I’ve worked as a documentary cinematographer. I originally shot the following footage for other films, but here I ask you to see it as my memoir. These are images that have marked me and leave me wondering still”.

Memoir, yes, the film comes out as not only an offer to reflect on ethical and aesthetical choices of a cameraperson, it is also an autobiographical essay, as – luckily - Johnson connects what she is doing behind the camera with her own private life as mother of twins with a mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and a father/grandfather playing with her Viva and Felix, the names of the twins. In other words private footage is included in a film that is very rich in its thematically structured narrative…

… and has the most wonderful scene towards the end of the film, where Kirsten Johnson goes back to the family in Bosnia that she had filmed before – to show them the footage that constitutes her pleasant memories from her first visit, where she was the cameraperson for a film on the war. A scene full of dignity from both sides.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX /To Stay Alive - A Method

Written 20-03-2017 16:44:40 by Mikkel Stolt


If you are a fan of either Michel Houellebecq or Iggy Pop or both: read no further and go and see this film immediately. For those of us who is something less than a dedicated fan (I’m more of a Tom Waits and Haruki Murakami kind of guy myself) there is, however, plenty of reasons to watch this “feelgood movie about suffering” as the front credits say.

I’m not going to tell you the narrative since there isn’t really any, except towards the ending: Iggy is coming to visit Houellebecq (who here is called Vincent) and after a truly spellbinding and kind of nuts dialogue scene, Vincent is showing Iggy Pop to his basement where he has built or created… something. It’s wonderfully staged, and just watching their faces, bodies and clothing are priceless. One look nerdier that the other, in their own way.

Beside the scene mentioned above, the film consists of Iggy Pop reading or reciting the words of Houellebecq in different settings and the crew’s visits to three somewhat unfortunate souls who all suffer or have suffered from different form of poor mental health. They also express themselves in poems (some recited by Iggy Pop) and other art forms but somehow the essayistic form of the film lacks the ability to really grab you in all the scenes. Maybe the staging gets too evident or too pointless with camera trackings and other visual means and maybe there just IS too much text after all.

However, the film grows on you after watching it, and you have never seen a film about creative force and mental illness just like this. And as “Vincent” says I my favourite scene: “Art shouldn’t be a movement”. Luckily, Iggy Pop - who you could argue was part of the punk music movement - agrees in the most self-ironic way. I want to watch that scene again…

Erik Lieshout a.o.: “To Stay Alive - A Method”, 2016. Seen at CPH:DOX. Filmkommentaren: 4/6 penheads 


Categories: Cinema, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX 2017 /Where is Rocky II?

Written 19-03-2017 16:55:50 by Mikkel Stolt


Since he saw an old BBC documentary from 1980 about American pop artist Ed Ruscha, the director has seemingly had an obsession to find the topic of that doc; a piece of artificial rock that Ruscha planted in the Mojave Desert in California among other rocks. What became of it? Is it still there?

Bismuth hires a private detective to help find the rock, but soon we learn that he also hires a couple of scriptwriters. Bismuth was on the scriptwriting team on the unfathomable “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (dir. Michel Gondry”) and it is therefore no surprise that ”Where is Rocky 2” is composed in a puzzling way, combining with what looks like (staged) documentary scenes; scenes with the scriptwriters working, and scenes from the fiction film on which they are working.

I’m a sucker for meta-films and for films playing with the genres – thus giving us a chance to ponder which reality we prefer or can relate to and ultimately understand. Bismuth has called this film a piece of “fake fiction” which is a great term I intent to steal.

However, something goes awry during the last fifth or so of the film, at least for me. The essence of the story itself is something like: “Is a piece of art still art if nobody knows it’s there?” and the film’s problem is probably that the documentary-like scenes with the private detective (who plays himself) turns out to be the most engaging ones. The film that the scriptwriters are working on doesn’t add much but a flavor of trivial storytelling techniques, and it’s like the structure and the conundrums are both too obvious and too obscure. Towards the end, it seems just unnecessary and too apparent to reveal the film crew in a certain shot with the actors.

Still, until the last five or ten minutes I was rather amused and it is definitely worth a look – unless you hate this sort of thing. Then don’t look. It’s still a film of some significance even though YOU don’t watch it.

Pierre Bismuth: Where is Rocky II?, 2016. Seen at CPH:DOX. Filmkommentaren: 3/6 penheads. 


Categories: Cinema, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX 2017 /The President from the North

Written 18-03-2017 12:23:11 by Tue Steen Müller


It’s a Dane writing this review. Important to say as the main character of this film, Ahmed Dualeh, is Danish, well he is born in Somalia but has been living in Denmark for 47 years – and he speaks the most perfect, classic Danish. An accent is there but the vocabulary is huge, which is heard, when he in first person tells the amazing story about his life in the country he loves and where he settled in 1967. He became a captain of ships at Maersk, he set up his own company and became a millionaire, he established a family… but he has his heart in Somalia, where he was born in poverty, adopted by an Italian family, and where he – voted by exile Somalis – became the president of Jubaland in 2012, the republic in the South of Somalia. As it turns out there are many other, who want that job, and also a position as prime minister is not reachable for the charismatic idealistic man, who wants to help his native country and dedicates a lot of time to go to political meetings and to meet people in the streets. Most of the time outside Jubaland, in Mogadishu or in neighbouring Kenya as Jubaland still is a dangerous place because of warlords.

The structure of the film goes from here to there, from Denmark to Somalia, from the family to politics. Very simple and efficient. His wife Zhara is worried about him – and their life together - as he is so much away from home. In a scene she is packing her suitcase, cut to him trying to catch her by phone, no success, cut to a daughter who tells him to stop all that travelling, cut to him and wife on what is said to be the last tour, where he is bringing computers and other technical equipment to a school in his native region in Somalia.

Apart from the drama, which is actually not described as a drama, of the couple who has been together for 45 years, the film lives through the way he – and she – is described. An almost constantly smiling, well formulated positive Danish Somali and his adventurous life with Zhara. You will be in a good mood watching this film, which of course also in a Denmark of today full of restrictions towards foreigners is a very timely documentary.

Denmark, 2017, 65 mins.

The film will be shown at CPH:DOX Sunday 19.3 at 21.30 Park Bio, Saturday 25.3 12.30 Empire Bio, Sunday 26.3 13.30 Nordisk Film Palads.    


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

CPH:DOX 2017 /The Unforgiven

Written 18-03-2017 10:46:56 by Tue Steen Müller


1992. Celebici in Bosnia-Hercegovina. A prison camp for Serbs. Esad Landzo, 19 years old was a guard. He killed and tortured, he was one of the worst, say survivors who remember what ”Zenga”, his nickname, did to them and friends and relatives. In 1996 he was arrested and in 1998 sentenced to 15 years in prison at the Court in den Haag. He sat in a Finnish prison from 2003 till he was released in 2006. He now lives and is married in Finland.

Facts about a war criminal, who is the main protagonist of this important documentary that puts focus on the question whether you can forgive. Esad suffers after his release, ”my old demons come back, they don’t let me sleep”, ”I am a dead man walking”, ”I need my life back”. His life story is told, you meet his parents, there is archive material from the camp, showing strong emotional material of prisoners sitting in a squat position, waiting for the next atrocity to be committed. He visits a psychiatrist.

It all builds up to the confrontations. Esad writes to some of the former prisoners to ask if they will meet him. And the film takes its time to let us viewers meet them - before the confrontation - to hear, what they remember, and to see them get ready to meet Esad – at the camp. Several other people are built up as characters in the film. Accompanied by the man, who was a doctor at the camp, and who seems to be respected by the survivors, as well as by Esad, they come to meet Esad, who asks for forgiveness, ”I am not here to excuse”, ”I want to apologize”, he says to one after the other, a broken man talking to people, broken as well, they have scars on their souls – it is very tense, very sad to watch these authentic and actually mostly silent scenes that reminds you that the best documentaries do not give answers, they raise questions.

Lars Feldballe and his Finnish producer have worked on this film for years, with respect for the theme and the involved, they have avoided tabloid journalism to make a film that will have a long life ahead. Hopefully not only at festivals but also whereever post-war traumas are being dealt with. It deserves to be used like that.     

Finland/Denmark, 2017, 75 mins.

The film will be shown at CPH:DOX Monday 20.3 at 8pm Empire Bio, Wednesday 22.3 at 4.30pm Nordisk Film Palads, Saturday 25.3 Nordisk Film Palads. At the two first screenings there will be debates. More about who and what on


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