Written 18-06-2013 23:22:15 by Tue Steen Müller
This is not a review. I am biased. The film is produced by my dear friends Svetlana and Zoran Popovic from Kvadrat, a (their own words) “film production and education firm, especially focused on production and promotion of documentary films”. For 9 years I have collaborated with them on the Belgrade festival “Magnificent7”, which is one of the most written about documentary events on this blog. On top of that the director Sonja Blagojevic has been a dear colleague in running this unique festival together with the Popovic and several other talented young Serbian filmmakers.
Having said so, I have to express my praise for an honest, well told, informative and emotional documentary and documentation of how it is to be Serbian in Kosovo today. It is my hope that the film will travel because a description with an angle like this has never been done before, and because of its quality as a film.
The best way to introduce the film is by bringing its text from the beginning of the work and to give the voice to the director, see the post below, Kosma 2.
The intro text goes like this: After the NATO bombing of Serbia at the end of the 20th century, the Security Council gave the UN authority over the Kosovo region. In 2008, the Kosovo Albanians unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, which Serbia doesn’t recognize. The final status of Kosovo has not yet been resolved. Over the past decade a large number of Serbs fled from this region. About 120.000 remained and live in ghettoized areas. Their only connection is the sound: a network of five radio stations called KOSMA.
Serbia, 75 mins., 2013.
Written 18-06-2013 22:49:08 by Tue Steen Müller
The film has a very inviting and informative website that includes all you need to know about the background and motivation for the director to go to Kosovo and find out “What is it like over there”. Here is her personal statement:
While I was shooting my previous film, I eventually ended up in Kosovo. One night I slept on the floor and desks of the KIM Radio station in a small village in central Kosovo. At that point, I still couldn’t have guessed that this exact radio station would become one of the main characters in my new documentary film.
A few years later, I started to research and realized that the KIM Radio is part of a larger radio network called “KOSMA”. Five radio stations are scattered in different parts of Kosovo and it is only their signal that connects secluded Serbian communities.
And that is how my journey started: a journey of three years, guided by the sound, and resulting in over 120 hours of footage. When I came back from Kosovo for the first time, many people asked me the same question: “What is it like over there?” I wasn’t able to give a precise answer since my stay there was quite short. But I myself couldn’t stop wondering: “What is it really like over there?” And moreover: “What is it like for people who live there?”.
I chose the sound of the radio to be my guide in the search for the answer. I went everywhere where there was sound: to its source (the radio stations and places from which it was broadcast), from one to another, over different regions, over plains and mountains, to the houses where people were listening to the radio. I realized that the answer to the question “What is it like over there” is not a simple one. It is for that reason I chose a mosaic structure, with lots of sights and characters, that as a whole can offer a very vivid description of the spirit of a time and its predominant feelings. I hope that the film will at least partially give an answer to this significant question.
Written 17-06-2013 16:46:14 by Tue Steen Müller
Below the beginning of the speech that the new director of EDN (European Documentary Network) held in Sheffield June 11th, invited by the EBU Documentary Group. The whole analytical text - that should be read by all documentarians – is to be found on the site of EDN http://www.edn.dk/ named EDN Director’s Blog:
On behalf of the independent documentary sector that I have the honour to represent here, I want to thank you for having invited me to deliver this keynote address.
I would like to use this occasion to inform you about how the independent producers look upon the current production situation and the relation between “content providers” and “content distributors”, and to share with you not only our worries and fears, but also to extend an inviting hand to tackle together the many current changes in the media landscape that drive us out of our comfort zone and that force us all to become more daring and innovative than ever before.
I think I can say with absolute certainty that today there are no certainties anymore. Every single current media-model is under pressure and although there are many questions about where the future will take us, there are no clear answers yet to put our minds at ease. I don’t think that I’m the only one who experiences this kind of situation as disruptive, paralysing and threatening. But it’s not because many of us feel disrupted, paralysed and threatened that we should sit back, pretending that nothing is going on and that if we just wait and sit still everything will go back to normal. I’m not the smartest guy on earth but one thing I do know for sure; as far as our common professional activity is concerned, nothing is ever going to go back to how it was before.
Over the past months, I have been talking to many professionals and from these discussions resulted an analysis that I have recently presented to several documentary film makers - directors and producers alike – under the very optimistic title: HURRAH, WE’RE IN A CRISIS.
While I was preparing today’s speech, it dawned on me that although I’m now addressing the players at the other side of the pitch, I might as well use the same title. I own the copyright anyhow, so I can use It for free. Very important in these times of severe budget cuts...
Written 15-06-2013 15:44:54 by Tue Steen Müller
From BBC News online today, link to the full article below: The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has called on the Greek government to reopen ERT. A petition signed by 51 European directors general, including the BBC's Tony Hall, is to be handed over to the Athens government. The EBU called the government's action "anti-democratic" and "unprofessional".
Viewers watching the news on the main ERT TV channel saw broadcasting cease late on Tuesday evening. Journalists however refused to leave the building and online and satellite broadcasts are being maintained with the help of the EBU website. ERT, which began broadcasting in 1938, was funded by a direct payment of 4.30 euros (£3.80) added monthly to electricity bills.
It ran three domestic TV channels, four national radio stations, as well regional radio stations and an external service, Voice of Greece… Read also text on the site of EBU.
Written 14-06-2013 17:20:50 by Tue Steen Müller
Greek documentarian and good friend Marianna Economou sent this text referring to the outrageous closure of ERT: I am sending you this letter that all of us, the Greek documentary filmmakers, wrote as a response to the sudden closure of ERT. It is very important for us to fight this dictatorial act of the government and to ensure that ERT reopens as soon as possible.
The filmmakers of the Greek Documentary Association: All together we will attempt to erase this shame.
The Greek Documentary Association – We the filmmakers, who through the public TV station, have been challenging, entertaining, or disturbing you with our documentaries by highlighting “the other side” of reality, condemn the sudden silencing of ERT based once again on «an act within legal context» which for all intents and purposes bypasses the parliamentary procedure.
This act has no historical precedent during a democracy in a time of peace! Such an act, furthermore, aligns itself with the general degradation of education and civilization, which has systematically been taking place in our country, devaluing the only investment that in the long term could lead to a better society.
With the closure of ERT, it is not only Greece that loses its voice, it is not only the employees of ERT that lose their jobs. It is:
IT IS CIVILIZATION THAT SHRINKS
We, the creators of documentaries, united citizens and peoples, will fight for the immediate re opening of ERT, so that Greek creativity and culture reaches every house. We will fight the bill that the government announced as it continues and even strengthens the interference of the political parties and their control of public television. We will make propositions for necessary reforms in order for this voice to acquire its important educational, cultural and ethnic role, especially during these difficult times that we are traversing.
We are the only country in the world that has a black out on the public television screen and where the radio waves are silenced. Let’s fight, so that these media become the essential means, guardians and catalysts for the promotion of education and culture.
Written 14-06-2013 17:10:21 by Tue Steen Müller
Memories... of a festival on Bornholm, Balticum Film & TV Festival, that ran in the 1990’es in Gudhjem and Svaneke, and meant quite a lot for this blogger. (If you write Bornholm in ”Search” you will get numerous texts referring to a festival and a pitching forum that took place at this wonderful island, initiated by the Baltic Media Centre).
Nostalgia, yes, and it came back last night in Allinge, where a huge People Meeting (Folkemøde in Danish) is taking place until sunday. Politicians make speeches, all kind of associations have tents that you can visit, debates are made in a relaxed climate where you can meet ”your” politician, and/or be enlightened in a classical Danish folk-high-school-kind-of tradition.
For that reason – and now I come to the film side of it – it is only very right that the Danish Film Institute together with the leading Danish newspaper Politiken has arranged film screenings where an introduction is made, the film is screened and then you can go and talk about the topic. Here I finally got to watch Nishtha Jain’s “Gulabi Gang”, produced by Norwegian Torstein Grude, a fine film, in my view more interesting than the one Kim Longinotto made about the same fabulous movement that was formed by Sampat Pal, according to her “not a gang in the usual sense of the term, we are a gang for justice”.
… in the mornings, in the summer house, the film screenings include “Krtek” (The Mole), the masterpice children animation film series by Czech Zdenek Miler, beautiful, funny and more than attractive for two year old Henry. The first he says when he wakes up in the morning! Zdenek Miler said in an interview: “When I draw Krtek I am drawing myself,” his creator, the Czech animator Zdenek Miler, once said. “What I mean is that Krtek is the ideal that should be me. But I can’t meet that ideal.” To my sorrow I found out that the film series is no longer available in Denmark. A cultural scandal! But if you have friends in Czech Republic (I have, thanks Veronika Liskova)…
Written 14-06-2013 09:20:51 by Tue Steen Müller
Have to confess that my knowledge of The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar was very limited until my former colleague from EDN Anita Reher got the job as executive director and put me on the mailing list for news. Frequently press releases arrive in my mailbox giving the impression of an active organisation that makes much more than a yearly seminar, see below. Yesterday was a good day as the executive director could announce ” that it (the Flaherty…) is the recipient of an Educational Grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in support of the Flaherty's continuing efforts to foster all forms of the moving image and encourage dialogue between audiences and makers with the goal of illuminating our shared humanity.” Good that the Academy is not only about Oscars. The grant was 15.000$, Anita told me from a crowded minivan on her way to work:
Tomorrow this year’s Flaherty seminar starts. It runs until the 21st of June at the Colgate University, Hamilton, NY. The theme is History is What's Happening. From the press release: The Seminar will examine the frame and subject of history in cinema to understand how the social and political conditions of the past are inextricably linked to the present. Pablo de Ocampo, a curator based in Toronto and the Artistic Director of The Images Festival, is the 2013 Seminar Programmer.
Written 12-06-2013 10:44:41 by Tue Steen Müller
Got an email from filmmaker Georgy Molodtsov, who is part of the team that runs the documentary programme at the upcoming MIFF in Moscow, that goes from June 20 to June 29. He informs about the selection made by the curators of the documentary competition, Sergey Miroshnichenko and Grigory Libergal. 7 films compete about the ”Silver George” that this year will be accompanied of an additional $5000 prize ” co-sponsored by the Ostrov Studio and Watching&Discussing project run by the Rossiya-Kultura Channel” and thus “aimed at an extended theatrical broadcast”.
The titles are “And Who Taught You to Drive” by German Andrea Thiele, “Holocaust – is it a Wallpaper Paste” by Russian Mumin Shakirov, “The Genius of Marian” by American Banker White and Anna Fritch, Pawel Lozinski’s “Father and Son” (photo) (awarded at the recent Krakow Film Festival together with the father Marcel’s “Father and on a Journey”), “The Condemned” by British Nick Read, award-winning Lucy Walker’s “The Crash Reel” and “The Dark Matter of Love” by British Sarah McCarthy.
The jury to find the winner is headed by Sergey Dvortsevoy, who is accompanied by DokLeipzig festival director Claas Danielsen and Dutch filmmaker Coco Schrijber. Strong team.
About the side programme for documentaries, Free Thought”, Molodtsov writes that it will include titles like The act of killing, The Gatekeepers, First Cousin once Removed, Blood Brother, Blackfish, Colombianos, Dragon Girls The Ridge, Woody Allen: a documentary, Staircase II, Stories we tell, Palme, Char...no-man's island. Strong selection.
Written 10-06-2013 23:24:03 by Tue Steen Müller
I watched it on my MacBook and I can’t wait to see it again on a big screen. I will save some of my many superlatives for that occasion. So what you get now is a first impression of a film that touched me deeply. It is nothing less than magnificent. What a man and what an artist Michael Meschke is and what a beautiful documentary, Wiktoria Szymanska has made.
She could have gone mainstream and told us about the great puppeteer in a more traditional way, and that could have worked as an informational introduction to an artist, but she made a different choice by inviting the viewer to enter Meschke’s world and be with him, when he makes his puppets come alive in his studio, in the streets of Paris, in a house in Greece, in Stockholm, where he had his Marionetteater and where he has his storage. Yes, what becomes of that, when ”I get the final call” as he says!
Everything in this film is so precisely crafted and in harmony with Meschke’s own fascinating puppeteering craftmanship. Wojciech Staron catches all the details with his camera, close-up’s of hands and strings, and puppet faces, which express emotions, be it Don Quixote, Le Petit Prince, Antigone (impressive scenes with the actress Irène Jacob) or Baptiste, who has a special place in my heart – associations to Les Enfants du Paradis, Marcel Carné’s wonderful film, Etienne Decroux, Jean-Louis Barrault... Meschke takes Baptiste on a walk in Paris, where he (Baptiste) meets children, looks at grafitti in the streets, the word Love in many languages (cut to Meschke and his wife), or Baptiste watches the world go by from his window. As Meschke has watched the world go by in different parts of Europe, from he as Jewish was exiled to Sweden at the age of 5 till now. A long life and a long career that also includes experimental films that Szymanska brings in as quotes which are often comments on the world, we live in.
It is such a rich film, you watch it with a smile and the tear in the corner of your eye, that comes from the beauty (also very much helped by the music composed for the film) you have experienced through the eternal meeting of evil and good, life and death. As for the director she has again (last time was with ”Themerson and Themerson”) shown her unique talent for an interpretation of an artist’s world and work.
The film has been shown at the Hot Docs Festival. It will be shown on tv stations in Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands – and on numerous festivals if there is any justice.
France, UK, Poland, 2013, 61 mins. Producers: Wiktoria Szymanska, Estelle Robin You (co-producer), Greg Davis (associated producer).
Written 09-06-2013 14:22:03 by Tue Steen Müller
In connection with the Copenhagen Photo Festival (June 6-16) The Cinematheque in Copenhagen screens a documentary on Saul Leiter, photographer and painter from New York (born 1923). Screening tuesday June 11, the director Tomas Leach will be present for a Q&A. Here follows a review of the film.
The film has the subtitle ”13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter” and is a wonderful visit to the world of an artist, who has so much to share with the viewer – his look on photography and life, his paintings, his pleasant confusion (to be explained below), himself, as he says, ”a lost, confused person that sometimes uses the camera with a touch of intelligence..”
It is joyful to be in his company due to his charisma and the way Tomas Leach chapters the film and gently introduces an artist, who has a humorous approach to life and to his own profession, a modest man, who at the same time knows what he has done and is doing. Leach lets us watch his photos from New York, the famous ones that you can google to study further (and watch (some of them) on the website of the film, link below), and he lets us watch Leiter when he talks, that he does so well. Read this one of many quotable sentences from his mouth, about his Jewish family: ”The Leiter family is not as familiar with the notion of kindness as I believe they might have or should have been. Greatness was important...”, accompanied by photos of family members! This falls in the chapter called ”The Ways to God”.
Leiter objects to any kind of questions that starts with ”why”, he has had too many of them, he also does not want to talk about himself belonging to any kind of school – many have labelled him to be an ”abstract expressionist” – he keeps on stressing how joyful it has been and is for him to take pictures, and paint. And we see how good he is with people in the streets. What he regrets, however, is that he did not have Margit, his assistant and friend, for all these years to help him get organised. On the other side – the chapter ”pleasant confusion” make him say that ”there’s a certain kind of charm and comfort that not everyone appreciates”. During his cleaning up the mess with Margit, he shows photos of Soames, with whom he lived and cared about as she cared about him until ”she kicked the bucket”. At that moment he looks sad, changes to laughing and ”it is my fault”, ”it is all my fault”... What a lovely man, what a lovely film!
Photo of Saul Leiter by Tomas Leach
UK/USA, 75 mins. 2012
Written 08-06-2013 09:44:01 by Tue Steen Müller
On the National Day of Sweden, June 6, SVT (Swedish national public tv broadcaster) had a present for its viewers. At 8.20 in the morning a broadcast was made of the classic documentary by Jan Troell from 1988, Sagolandet (Land of Dreams). The film has a duration of more than 3 hours, is a personal essay, in which the director reflects on the state of the society, he lives in and in which his daughter is to be brought up. The film raised heavy debate when it came out, ran in cinemas for a year and is by the director reckoned as his most personal film, shot over a period of 4 years.
Troell (born 1931) expresses his (mild, often ironic) critique of his country including the American psychologist Rollo May as a questioner and commentator. Among other May talks to the prime minister Ingvar Carlsson, who says the famous sentence ”yes, I think we should have a debate about freedom every tenth year!”.
Troell has, normal for his whole oeuvre, done everything himself, direction, camera and editing. He performs an excellent montage, creating long lyrical sequences, accompanied by precisely chosen music that comments or pays hommage to man.
Troell, world known for his feature films ”Here’s your Life” and ”The Emigrants”/”The New Land”, has done many documentaries, long and short, ”A Frozen Dream” and ”Presence” (”Närvarande”), the latter about his close friend and collaborator, photographer Georg Oddner.
Sweden, 184 mins., 1988
Written 04-06-2013 16:59:27 by Tue Steen Müller
The DocsBarcelona Pitching Forum included a Greek film project, presented by Valerie Kontakos and Despina Pavlaki. The Greek women had earlier communicated their experience with a Kickstarter campaign on FB. I had read it and asked if it could go on filmkommentaren.dk as well. No problem was the answer by the two, who had raised $46.117 for their 52/80 minutes documentary-to-be, which has the following logline:
“A documentary about the fiercest girl gang in Greek Orthodox Church history.”
“And this is the synopsis: It all started in 1962, when four best girlfriends decided to run away from home and join a convent. They were dragged back home and unceremoniously locked in their bedrooms, but there was no stopping them now! They escaped a total of three times and were forced to live in hiding for a total of three years. Their parents recruited the police and even had the church forbid the girls to walk through monastery doors. They didn't just want to become nuns. They wanted to raise other people's children, which was the next best thing to becoming single mothers. And this was the only way they could make their dreams come true without society getting in the way.”
And the generous advice on the kickstarter experience comes here with a beginning text to be continued via the link to the website that you should read if you intend to do a campaign:
We’re now officially the first Greek feature-length documentary to crowdfund a significant portion of its budget and we couldn’t be happier!!! We want to thank everyone who donated, liked our FB Page, commented on our posts, answered our Tweets, read our newsletters, wrote about the project and told their friends and family about our Kickstarter campaign, we honestly wouldn’t have done it without you.
In recognition of all the love you sent our way, we’d like to give something back, by releasing a guide to everything we did right and, most importantly,
Read more / Læs mere
Written 03-06-2013 00:16:38 by Tue Steen Müller
And the winner was... “The Act of Killing”. One of the editors of the film was Barcelona born Ariadna Fatjo-Vilas Mestre, educated at the National Film School in England. She answered like this when the question came if she could see any similarities thematically from Indonesia and Spain:
"I’m very proud to have been able to work on ‘The Act of Killing’ as one of the editors... The film affected me greatly not only in the way it deals with the portrayal of evil but also in its portrayal of a society, which hasn’t dealt with a violent past.
Although there are many differences between Spain and Indonesia, I couldn’t help thinking of all the similarities we share.
As you will see in the film, in Indonesia today the winners version of the country’s history continues to prevail. Here, in Spain, despite now living in a democracy, we also have been unable to re-evaluate our history. Instead, we created a ‘pact of forgetting’
Read more / Læs mere
Written 02-06-2013 12:20:06 by Tue Steen Müller
As programmer for a festival it is always a good idea, I would almost say it is an obligation, to go and see the films you selected on a big screen and with an audience. It is no secret that most films are selected on the basis of a computer screening... will it work on the big screen?
I did the test on three occasions, two of them with the director or producer present.
Dan Geva’s ”Noise” (photo) did indeed and it was a big inspiration to listen to the Israeli director’s speech after the screening, where he took the subject of the film and its comedy elements to a serious reflection on what it means to be a filmmaker as well as a person in constant doubt of what it means to live, simply. A festival is there to create the meeting of a film and a filmmaker with the audience, and Geva gave us a fine insight to both the art and the craft of making documentaries. He referred to Flaherty, who set everything up, and to Grierson, who was there to send a message, as Geva does at the end of the film, where the filmmaker from his noisy location in Tel Aviv gently communicates via his outdoor loudspeakers: please a bit less noise!
Palestinian Khaled Jarrar’s ”Infiltrators” – without the presence of the director here in Barcelona – a film that I have followed from the sidelines, in workshops in Greece and in Ramallah, I can only say that this film about apartheid in Israel again made me shake my head in anger and sorrow, this is the world of today, how can we allow that human beings are being treated like this having to climb a wall or going through a tunnel of dirt or caressing the hand of your mother through a hole in the so-called separation wall. It is a film which in content and intensity is painful to watch, simply!
Producer Signe Byrge represented and presented ”The Act of Killing” in a brilliant way giving basic background information about this most talked about and praised documentary in the last year. It was the director’s cut that was shown at DocsBarcelona, 159 minutes, and seeing it on a big screen with almost 200 people makes a difference, of course. Signe Byrge talked about the screenings in Indonesia and stressed that the film is not a historical film about the killing of communists in the country in the mid 1960’es, it is a film about Indonesia today with the militant paramilitary groups still very much present and active.
Written 01-06-2013 15:53:49 by Tue Steen Müller
The job given to Michael Glawogger at DocsBarcelona was very simple: find 7 clips and talk about them in your master class. He found 6 and surprised this blogger, who thought he knew the work of the Austrian filmmaker, by showing ”Haiku”, a film he made in the 1980’es, wonderful in editing and – as he said – a film that includes the theme that he was to develop a couple of decades later: work. To prove that, he showed a sequence from ”Workingman’s Death”, that has a dialogue between workers about prostitutes, the theme of the director’s latest work, ”Whore’s Glory” (photo), that is in the official selection at the festival.
Glawogger is not only an important artist, he also has the gift to be able to talk precisely about what he does, and how he approaches his characters. And he does that in a provocative way that is perfect for a master class as well as a Q&A session like the one he performed yesterday in the new Filmoteca in Barcelona. The audience wanted to know how he got the prostitutes in ”Whore’s Glory” to participate, how his research was done, if he paid them to take part (yes, of course), how much the film’s budget was (2 mio.€ the answer was), practical as well as ethical question.
Masters come to Barcelona, last year it was Viktor Kossakovsky, this year he was followed by Michael Glawogger. For sure, two of the best documentary (if not the best) artists of our time.
Written 01-06-2013 15:21:23 by Tue Steen Müller
The 16th edition of the DocsBarcelona Pitching Forum ended yesterday. The level of the 25 presentations was high, the organisation was - as always – and as it should be – professional in a warm and generous atmosphere. And the panel's reception of the pitched projects was friendly and constructive with lots of questions to be answered, primarily in follow-up meetings. There is a crisis for the financing of the film projects but there is definitely not a crisis for the creativity for documentary filmmaking, if you evaluate, what was pitched here in Barcelona.
Not surprising the issue orientated projects were the most appreciated by the tv editors around the table. Popular was ”Freightened” by Denis Delestrac, attached to the Barcelona production company Polar Star Films, looks at ”the real price of shipping” searching to ”reveal the mechanics and perils of an all-but-visible industry that holds the key to our economy, our environment and the very model of our civilisation”. Likewise the panel found Swedish Fredrik Gertten's ”Bikes vs Cars – War Time” important. His simple logline goes like this: The bicycle, an amazing tool to change the world. Activists and cities all over the world are moving towards a new system. But will the economic powers allow it?
Also at DocsBarcelona, the more visual and personal film projects had a more difficult time as they do not fit to the way tv operates nowadays. They are maybe too slow or ”too artistic” as some editors put it. Experienced Sérgio Tréfaut presented a beautiful teaser of his work-in-progress ”Alentejo, Alentejo”, a ”journey into the Alentejo hot countryside region (South of Portugal) discovering Cante music and the life of its performers”, English Mark Aitken has 73 hours of material for ”Dead When I Got Here” (photo) from Mexico, about ”a man redeemed from 30 years of self-destruction”, shot in a mental asylum, that the man now manages, and Colombian Juan Pablo Rios showed his cinematic talent with a teaser that accompanied his ambition to tell a story called ”The Return” about a family of 9 sisters, their suffering and need to leave the town, they lived in, when the father took his own life. 45 years have passed, they return...
Awards were given at the end of the two days. The director of ”No es vigilia”, Hermes Paralluelo, from Barcelona, won the ”Best Iberian Pitch” a flight ticket, accommodation and a pass to pitch in Mexico at the Docs DF in October. The WAW Marketing Award (marketing help and consultancy) was given to ”The Challenge” about and with the controversial judge Baltasar Garzón. And access to the East European Forum in Prague next year in March was given to ”Art Killers” to be directed by Alam Raja.
Written 30-05-2013 17:33:32 by Tue Steen Müller
It was indeed a grand opening night of DocsBarcelona. A proud director, Joan Gonzalez introduced all the elements – the festival, still young, and the industry section, a teenager, 16 years, with new or young components like the InterdocsBarcelona seminar on interactive documentaries and the rough cut sessions mentioned in the post below.
Around 1000 people attended the opening screening of the Belgian animation documentary “Approved for Adoption” by Jung & Laurent Boileau, the touching story about Jung, adopted from Korea by a family in Belgium, a family with several biological children already. Jung, who is an excellent draughtsman and has published a book with his drawings – his autobiography that – as he said in the cinema - had been transferred into a beautifully told cinematic story with archive material (official and the family’s home movies) plus a great variety of material from the hand of Jung, both simple animation sequences but also drawings that could work in any art exhibition. The modest director explained after the screening how his family had received the story that at many points are tough with the mother and father reacting to their Asian child, who is searching for his identity. Warm, funny, well told, straight forward it is, a perfect choice for making a good atmosphere for the DocsBarcelona.
Hans Christian Andersen would have loved this fairy tale.
Belgium, 2012, 75 mins.
Written 29-05-2013 18:33:40 by Tue Steen Müller
Ventura Durall is the director of a film that will travel the world. I write ”will travel the world” as the film is not premiered yet. It was screened in a very-close-to-final-cut version yesterday at DocsBarcelona. As in previous two years three rough cut sessions took place with Durall’s ”Casa”, working title, as one of them. The feature length documentary about street kids in Ethiopia took the invited panel by the heart because of its high cinematic quality and sensitivity. The director succeeds to get close to the kids in a story that have great authenticity. You will meet this film in a festival, that is for sure.
The panel invited for the sessions included sales agent Melissa Caron from Echo Bridge Entertainment, Mexican festival director Inti Cordera from Docs DF, Osnat Eden-Fraiman from the active YES TV in Israel, Cynthia Lopez from award winning POV in USA and local Head of Documentaries and Joan Salvat from TVC. Have to say that the panel gave a lot of competent, creative feedback on the films presented.
On a rough cut stage was ”Contact Proof” by Juano Gimenez, a personal documentary about the photographer Pascal le Pipe, a French photographer and a close friend of the director. Gimenez is an ”auteur” and his personal style came through in this version that will be amended and for me will turn out to be a fine film.
In a rough-rough stage was the third film presented, by Brazilian team from Plano 3 Filmes. Directed by Paula Gomes, the film deals with a kid from a circus family, who performs in the backyard of his grandma’s house, in the summer time, slowly losing the possibility of performing his skills as he grows into the serious grown-up world. ”The last summer” the film could be called, working title now is ”Jonas and the Circus Without Tent”.
Written 27-05-2013 17:57:53 by Tue Steen Müller
I was lucky this year (December 2012) at idfa. The first film I saw, was the one that got the award for being the best film of that year’s festival. And it deserved to be, it did stand out, no other film could compete. This is the beginning of the review on this blog written just after the screening:
”Famous for his film about his father, ”Nobody’s Business”, clever and funny with an excellent, playful montage, it was simply great to watch the newest documentary by Alan Berliner, also with a family member as main protagonist, also with a playful montage and also a tribute to Life even if it deals with Edward Honig, who has Alzheimer’s disease, sits in his chair through the whole film, with family archive material flasbacks here and there and everywhere, shot over five years, a wonderful experience, because Edward Honig was wonderful to meet, a poet and a translator of poetry, among others Portuguese Pessao, a man on his way away from the Life he had been praising again and again, sitting in this room full of books and papers not knowing why and where and what and who...”
Alan Berliner comes back to Europe these weeks. He goes in persona to Istanbul to the Documentarist festival (June 1-6) invited by Emel Celebi, the festival director, semper ardent, who has organised a retrospective of Berliner’s work. In Istanbul the director holds a masterclass, which is introduced in this inspiring way:
Alan Berliner will take us on a guided tour through the sounds, images, themes, and storytelling strategies that have helped define his filmmaking career for more than three decades. Berliner will show examples from his films that help us understand both the risks and rewards of using one’s own life as a “living laboratory,” and how and why he’s devoted his life to exploring the personal, familial, and cultural dimensions of identity, memory, aging, love, family relationships, and the fragility of the human condition. Berliner’s master class will also focus on the process of editing, using clips from his films to illustrate how he creates compellingly dynamic montages from the compilation, collage, and counterpoint of a wide variety of personal, poetic, historical, archival, and musical sources -- and how he creates films in which the way a story is told can be as interesting as the story he is telling.
You can’t be in two places at the same time, but his film can, therefore the Barcelona audience can watch First Cousin.... at the upcoming DocsBarcelona, where it will be screened 3 times. Check the site and go and watch, doc people in Barcelonaa – and Istanbul.
Written 27-05-2013 17:42:56 by Tue Steen Müller
Voices, yes voices it will be, communicates Philibert right from the start, before the titles appear on the screen. An hommage to the human voice as it is performed in the public radio of France. Quick sound montage, titles, the building that houses the radio from outside, people walking into it, a working day starts. Voilà, simple, classical.
And then faces, yes, faces it will be, very often close-ups of faces, people who are alone in a studio with the microphone very close to their lips, or faces concentrated on listening to voices which are being recorded. Can be literature, news, talk or quiz shows with people who call the radio, or we, the audience, are invited to attend an editorial meeting, what is important, which choices do we make.
Philibert chooses his characters and situations, he goes from one to the next but he comes back and thus give us the illusion of getting to know the characters better. We do and we experience the development they make in
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Written 27-05-2013 12:27:12 by Tue Steen Müller
Ever since I saw the film in New York last December, the film has been in my head. Or rather the mad Ginger Baker has been in my head. I bought a Cream cd in New York and the music of Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker is giving me fantastic pleasure - "outside my window is a tree... there only for me".
Now I see that the Krakow Film festival that started yesterday, May 26, and runs until June 2 programmed "Beware of Mr. Baker" on its opening night - and at the upcoming DocsBarcelona that opens the coming wednesday, May 29 has two screenings of the film, don't miss it!
Written 26-05-2013 23:07:13 by Tue Steen Müller
In Warsaw, at the Planete+ Doc Film Festival, I was asked to talk about film critic, especially the one about documentaries. I did so and together with a dozen of workshoppers, the new film of Maciej Drygas was screened. I made a call for reviews to add to the one I had already done, see below. Polish Marta Tarnowska, polish sociologist and anthropologist, made one, which comes here and which perfectly illustrates how another perspective on the film can widen your understanding:
The camera eye opens and starts to observe carefully the severe yet harmoniously poetic daily-life routine of the humans and other animal species habiting the fertile lands by the banks of the Blue Nile river. The 'other animal species' part of the narration is not marginal, but just as important as the human one in this story-telling. We see a world where a human is just another symbiotic element of the natural system.
Maciej Drygas and Andrzej Musiał successively visit Abu Haraz for seven years. They spend there one month each year 2005-2012, observing the natural rhythms that organize life in Abu Haraz, a small village where people make their living from agriculture and livestock herding. We enter an idyllic and maybe even slightly romanticized yet appealing world, where the notions of linear, clock-measured time, space and the basic for the westerners binary distinctions like 'richpoor'
We watch an absolutely magical scene where the school-children in the classroom are being taught by their teacher the meaning of the word 'poor'. It seems that none of the school-children had previously had the chance to use this category to describe anyone, although in the eyes of many westerners all of them would probably be categorized as 'poor'. Apparently, there are no people considered as such among them. All of them are affluent. It tells us something important about the anglo-american term 'poor'. It shows us clearly that the notion of 'poor' does not describe 'objective' reality. 'Poor' is relational. It points to the relation between means and ends. Marshall Sahlins, an
Sudan is a relatively young, postcolonial country. Its frontiers were arbitrarily delineated without any respect given to the local ethnical, cultural and political context. The power was given mainly to the muslim Arab elites, ignoring other ethnic and cultural groups. Obviously, this immediately produced multiple military conflicts. Access to the natural resources like water and control over the oil fields are the main drives of the conflicts. In the period of seven years when Drygas and Musiał repeatedly visit Abu Haraz, the Second Sudanese Civil War reluctantly comes to an end resulting in
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Written 23-05-2013 18:45:23 by Tue Steen Müller
In a week from now the thirteen first of 25 documentary film projects have been pitched on the first day of the pitching part of the 16th edition of DocsBarcelona. 12 others will follow the day after. The pitching filmmakers have done their best to draw attention to their project in a room, where observers will guarantee for a good atmosphere with support to those talking and showing their teasers of 3 minutes. The pitchers, most often director and producer, have 7 minutes to present and additionally the same time to answer the questions raised by the panel. 14 commissioning editors and distributors will be sitting around the table, accompanied by the equivalent number of other professionals, who buy or show or invest in documentaries. The latter sit on a so-called Row 0 and will be called upon, when a project falls within their interest area.
No reason to hide that there is a crisis in the financing of creative documentaries in most countries when it comes to the role of the public broadcasters, nevertheless some deals will for sure be made in Barcelona, or let’s say at least some contacts will be made that will result in helping the filmmakers to realise their projects. The organisers of DocsBarcelona are proud to have a strong range of tv channels represented – like local TVC, Spanish TVE, Israeli Yes TV, Dutch AVRO, BBC, arte France, arte/ZDF, American POV, SVT Sweden, YLE Finland – and sales agents and distributors like Autlook, Cat&Docs, Taskovski Films, Echo Bridge Entertainment, Java Films – and many others like idfa and the Mexican doc festival DOCSDF.
Most important, however, are the filmmakers, who come with their proposals to make documentaries for a local and international audience. I can’t mention them all, visit the website, link below, but I am happy that there will be 4 from Latin America as well as many stories that deal with what happens in that part of the world. Many young filmmakers have chosen this pitching forum as the first step into the market. But also experienced directors like Sergio Tréfaut from Portugal, Swedish Fredrik Gertten, Barcelona based Denis Delestrac and Albert Solé, as well as Germany-based German Kral and Paula Rodriguez have been chosen to perform.
Perform... yes, there is a show element to a pitching forum, and I think there should be at such a fest for the the documentary genre – but don’t forget that the filmmakers come there with strong thoughts and the intention to seek help to further their proposal. They will be welcomed with warmth and respect.
Photo: German Kral’s El Ultimo Aplauso – prize winner at previous edition of DocsBarcelona.
Written 22-05-2013 10:12:10 by Tue Steen Müller
From one of the partners of the DocAlliance, DOKLeipzig, we have received this press release: The Portuguese documentary film Cativeiro (Captivity) by André Gil Mata is the winner of this year’s Doc Alliance Award.
Written 21-05-2013 17:42:35 by Tue Steen Müller
The trade magazine Screen Daily has a long article (May 20) on the big presence of documentaries in Cannes. The article, written by Melanie Goodfellow, mentions films to be shown and sold as well as statements from people who sell and distribute documentaries.
Rithy Panh is there with what is called a hybrid work, ”The Missing Picture” and Marcel Ophüls presents his autobiographical film in the Director’s Fortnight section. ”Ain’t Misbehaving” is the title of the film that has interviews with Jeanne Moreau and Fred Wiseman, reflects on the director's relationship to his famous father Max, and includes clips from the director’s two masterpieces ”Le Chagrin et la Pitié” (English title, see poster photo) and ”Hotel Terminus” – that every documentary interested should have on their shelf, available on dvd they are.
At the festival in Cannes there is a Doc Corner with sales agents, documentary festival people – and a documentary Brunch for talking and mingling.
Anaïs Clanet from Wide House in Paris is quoted for this fine statement: “I definitely have a sense that more and more companies are getting into documentaries,” comments Clanet, head of Paris-based documentary specialist Wide House who is selling Ophüls’ Ain’t Misbehavin. “I see a lot of companies, traditionally specialising in fiction, now handling documentaries. They have woken up to the fact documentaries can actually be more profitable than fiction and easier to place, especially when there are fewer and fewer broadcaster slots for fiction features”.
Another important player in documentary sales: “It is a tough time because prices for TV rights have dropped but at the same time I am optimistic,” reveals Peter Jäger of Vienna-based doc specialist sales company Autlook Films. “Digital revenues are beginning to pick-up, not enough to compensate for the loss of DVD sales but enough to give me hope.Documentary, even when dealing with big subjects, is essentially a niche product and niche products lend themselves well to digital distribution although a theatrical release remains important.”
Read the whole article: http://www.screendaily.com/festivals/cannes/cannes-documentary-boom/5056470.article
Written 21-05-2013 09:43:54 by Tue Steen Müller
Artur Liebhart, festival director of Planete Doc Film Festival, had planned the closing ceremony of his festival in an excellent way. Well, he could not know it but Danish director Andreas Koefoed was as the first award winner called to the stage to receive “Chopin’s Nose” for his film “The Ghost of Piramida”. He was accompanied by his three protagonists from the Danish band Efterklang, that made a great concert after the ceremony. On top of that Koefoed’s film was shown after all awards had been given out at this tenth edition of a festival that not only takes place in Warsaw but also in other Polish cities.
Back to Piramida, here is the description of the film from the hand of the director:
Accompanied by their taciturn and not visibly impressed Russian polar bear guard, the group goes on a audio treasure hunt in the empty buildings of the abandoned town, while the narrator, the former Piramida-citizen Alexander Naomkin Ivanovic, takes us back to a bygone era, when Piramida flourished and the immigrant Russian miners and their families lived in a Soviet parallel society far from the brutal reality of their homeland.
And here is my brief comment on what I saw: Koefoed has in an elegant way combined past and present in his charming presentation of a town that once was full of people and life but now is a place where a music band goes to pick up sounds for their next album. Russian Alexander provided the director with wonderful archive material and the three musicians give us good music and sound, at the same time as they are urban cowboys in a nature where even an Arctic fox could be dangerous! Not to forget that the film is beautiful to watch. This film is a small pearl and I have become a fan of Efterklang…
On the site of the Danish Film Institute – in Danish – you can read of the impressive distribution initiative taken by the band and director. 800 so-called private-public screenings in 52 countries!
Denmark, 2012, 65 mins.
Written 21-05-2013 08:59:50 by Tue Steen Müller
I was invited to the Warsaw festival to talk about film critic, which I did last saturday morning with a general introduction followed by a screening of Maciej Drygas ”Abu Haraz” and a discussion of which points should be dealt with in a review. A dozen people took part, some found that Drygas film was boring because of its slow contemplative rythm, others went straight to the content, which they found actual, one used the phrase that the film was about ”uprooting”. Two psychology students pointed out that the director maybe had fallen in love with his own aesteticism in some sequences. Might be right... Anyway, I wrote my review text (see below) after a computer screening, changing a word or two after the cinema screening. Which makes repeat the banality that films like that has to be seen on a big screen, there is no comparison. I saw many details that I simply could not see on the computer.
The Planete+ Doc Review Festival was well attended, the hospitality from the staff was great, the weather was superb summer-like, but as said, nevertheless there was an audience that left the sun to enter the darkness.
I arrived thursday evening and left sunday. I watched six films: Peter Liechti’s ”Father’s Garden” (read Sevara Pan’s enthusiastic review below), Swedish Martin Widerberg’s film ”Everyone is Older than I Am” about his father Bo, who never finished the film about Arvid, his father. The film is complicated when it comes to the storytelling structure but has a lot of fine moments with Arvid and first of all clips from Bo Widerberg’s wonderful films like ”Kvarteret Korpen”, ”Barnvagnen” and ”Elvira Madigan”.
I saw Nicholas Philibert’s ”Maison de la Radio”, review will follow and the new film of the directors, who made ”Rabbit a la Berlin”, Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosolowski's ”The Art of Disappearing”. Again an original film with an incredible fairy tale story about Polish theatre guru Jerzy Grotowski who lands in a helicopter in Haïti to take with him vodoo priest Amon Frémon. I met with the directors after the screening as well as with Anna Wydra, the super-energetic and competent producer, who said that she would bring ”Rabbit a la
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Written 20-05-2013 16:14:34 by Sevara Pan
"For heaven’s sake – what a question!" utters Hedi as her son starts the conversation that they had avoided for decades. Father's Garden – The Love of My Parents is a new documentary film by Swiss director Peter Liechti that traces a close re-encounter of Peter with his comely aged parents, Max and Hedi Liechti. The film is based on 20 interviews of his parents, taken between summer of 2010 and summer of 2011. Everything that appears in the film is verbatim from these conversations.
A couple of minutes into the film, Peter spills a story of an accidental public encounter with his father a few years back. Despite having not seen one another for ages, the two could not embrace. The happenstance perplexed Peter, compelling him to take a closer look at his parents, hence resulted in the following film. After the long absence from his parents' lives, Peter plunges himself into their biographies allowing every moment, no matter how mundane, to reveal disjointed entrails of their subjective memories. Circumventing the comforts of silence, this author-driven documentary attempts to explore the dark corners of his parents' bygone days and resurface things long forgotten through the scrupulous recollection of the common past.
Unsentimental yet empathetic, the film centers upon the difficult marriage of Max and Hedi, who have lived together for 62 years. "Closely knit yet poles apart" – as Berlinale put it – the two are just fundamentally different. "Mother loves to travel. [...] I am just a homebody. She reads a lot. I
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Written 18-05-2013 14:56:38 by Tue Steen Müller
Veteran Polish director Maciej Drygas gives the audience an absolutely fascinating opening of his new film shot in North Sudan. Meditative music accompanies the camera, that circles slowly and softly around trees from the point of view of a man in a boat. He watches this as his Paradise, and his voice comes off the image, ”I often dream that I am back in Abu Haraz...”.
The film starts, the introduction is made, a flashbacked human story unfolds about the demolition of a village and the move of its inhabitants to what (at the end of the film) looks like a refugee camp with modern facilities like electricity, which was not always available in Abu Haraz. The building of a dam and the consequent flooding of the village pushes the inhabitants away from a harmonious life, that Drygas describes as full of beauty following the basic natural rythms of Life.
A child is born and the village celebrates. The men cultivate the fertile fields and take care of the animals. Cooking. A school class. Sand storm. A small conflict between boy and girl. A generator brings light into the houses so the kids can read. Drygas observes, he keeps a distance of respect but he is obviously drawn by this kind of classic life. He refrains from any evaluation of what the dam could bring in terms of progress, his aim has been to follow the villagers literally tearing down their homes, packing their goods – and their donkeys and goats – under – especially from the women - expression of great sorrow.
You could argue that a bit more information would have been welcomed from the side of the director, it is a bit enigmatic what stands behind the strong scenes with angry men shouting ”down with the administration” and ”blood must flow” and this is ”an attack on the culture of the Nile”.
However, the director has made another choice and he performs that brilliantly. There are scenes which are magnificent like the one towards the end where you see a lonely woman walking in the desert with one child on the arm, one holding her scarf, with a suitcase in the other hand. Pure poetry as is the sequence (accompanied by music) where you see a truck driving away with their belongings with a cut to ”our man” watching it all from the top of a mountain with music mingling the sound of water that gets closer and closer to finally be pouring down in a visually stunning image.
The village is under water, the man dreams again meeting someone, who tells him not to think about the past! Which is what Drygas has done so masterly. His focus is the past, the lost paradise.
Poland, 2013, 75 mins.
Premiere at Planete+ Doc Film festival, www.planetdocff.pl
Written 17-05-2013 12:58:04 by Tue Steen Müller
The Guardian published a very interesting article Tuesday May 14. Agnès Poirier had seen the new film by legendary Claude Lanzmann about Benjamin Murmelstein, who collaborated with the Nazis as the last Jewish Council President in Theresienstadt. Poirier talks to Lanzmann about Murmelstein and the film that will be shown in Cannes tomorrow. I have taken some quotes from the long article:
... There are two men on a balcony looking out at the panorama of Rome. It is the summer of 1975. "Are you happy in Rome?" says one. "As happy as an exiled Jew can be," says the other. The man asking the question is Claude Lanzmann. He has just started work on what will take him 10 years to finish: Shoah, the ground-breaking, nine-and-a-half-hour film about the Holocaust, composed of first-hand testimony and eschewing historical footage...
Lanzmann never included Murmelstein in ”Shoah”, now he gets ”his own film”.
... Murmelstein, who called himself "the last of the unjust", perfectly represented (those) contradictions. His testimony raises a trail of questions, all painfully complex. Indeed, his extraordinary presence, blunt sincerity, acerbic wit and erudition would shake anyone who has inherited history's prejudices against those Jews who worked with the Nazis. Lanzmann has endeavoured to rehabilitate them. In the preamble to his new film The Last of the Unjust, which will screen at the Cannes film festival on Saturday, he writes that Murmelstein's revelations never ceased to haunt him, and that the time had come to share them. "Murmelstein was brilliantly intelligent and extraordinarily courageous," Lanzmann says. "During the week I spent with him, I grew to love him. He does not lie: he is as harsh with others as with himself"...
France, 2013, 220 mins.
Written 15-05-2013 14:52:25 by Allan Berg Nielsen
The Guardian to-day: MICHAEL HANN: "Meeting Ginger Baker: an experience to forget. How an onstage Q&A with the great drummer turned into a professional horror show":
Written 13-05-2013 22:28:18 by Tue Steen Müller
On the night where FC Barcelona stars travel their city in an open bus, to celebrate the championship with their fans, it is the 22nd league title for the one and only club, this blogger follows on Danish television, whenever they play, it is time to look ahead to the programme of another institution in the Catalan capital:
... DocsBarcelona, which is an International Documentary Film Festival and a Pitching Forum. The festival runs from May 29 till June 2. The pitching forum is scheduled for May 30 and 31. A one-day interactive documentary seminar takes place May 29.
As head of the pitching forum and as co-programmer of the festival’s official section with Joan Gonzalez, director of DocsBarcelona, I will be reporting on this blog both during and (as now) before the event. Let me give you some overall information at this point:
The festival’s official section presents 19 films, including (let point out 5 titles for now) Jay Bulger’s wonderful portrait of the mad genius drummer Ginger Baker, ”Beware of Mr. Baker” (photo) is the title, full of music and archive from the times of Cream. Alan Berliner’s ”First Cousin Once Removed”, what an uplifting and warm film about Edwin Honig, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, Berliner is a master in montage. Multi-skilled performance artist, Palestinian Khaled Jarrar has made ”Infiltrators” from the Jerusalem wall, important and shameful documentation of humiliation of human beings as it happens right now. ”Noise” is from close-by, in Tel Aviv, where Israeli director Dan Geva experiences a drama of constant noise that in the film is developed cleverly to more than a physical problem. And ”The Act of Killing” by Joshua Oppenheimer, for documentary interested people, I think no further introduction is needed.
Two master classes are scheduled to take place in Gaudi’s masterpiece, La Pedrera: One is with Michael Glawogger, whose ”Whore’s Glory” is in the official section, the other with Fredrik Gertten on ”Bananas!” and ”Big Boys Gone Bananas!”, both films are shown at the festival.
I will come back to the pitching forum and its content on a later occasion.
Football championship is won, the next adventures will come from DocsBarcelona 2013.
Written 11-05-2013 14:28:57 by Tue Steen Müller
7 films on one disc – four ”With Russian Eyes on Sweden” and three ”With Swedish Eyes on Russia”. I will write about the latter, the Swedish documentaries.
The dvd was given to me by PeÅ Holmquist, veteran Swedish documentarian with an impressive filmography of high quality and integrity. PeÅ is professor at Stockholm Dramatiska Högskola, Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts, and he was the one who convinced Swedish Institute to finance a film production project with film school students from his school and students from the Russian VGIK, under the supervision of Sergey Miroshnichenko.
A good week of research followed by some few weeks of shooting in Archangelsk in the North West of Russia formed the conditions of the Swedish students, all in their graduation year from their school. Very good results came out of this.
Martina Carlstedt made ”The Love Agency” circling around a young positive and active woman, the local matchmaker for men and women, who search for someone to share their life with. The tone is light, matches are made, at least for some of the applicants. The film follows conversations in the office and assist at two dating dinners, where you get the impression that one match could work and one was meant to fail from the beginning. You smile when you watch this unpretentious well made documentary that is full of respect for the ones involved. The 27 minutes film will be screened on SVT2 (Swedish Television) May 23 8pm.
Equally well made, with a clear sense of form, is the film which was made by Ida Lindgren and Anna Padilla from a monastery outside Archangelsk. The nuns welcome girls, who have to stand on their own feet, away from parents who are not able to take care of them. The girls are caught by the camera in situations on their own and with the abess in the beautiful monastery, they have an English lesson – and have giggling intimate talks with each other. Girl’s life in other words, ”The Convent Girls” (photo) is 26 minutes of thoughtful precise cinematography, also with respect and warmth, indeed.
Shorter is ”Where the Birches” by Sylvelin Måkestad and Sven Blume, a more difficult film to make, you can easily see, when you go with an ambulance to patients, mostly old people, suffering, wanting to be helped, ”take me to the hospital”, several of them say in a film that is shot on an island outside the city.
Interest in getting hold of the dvd?: Peå Holmquist Pea.Holmquist@stdh.se
Written 10-05-2013 17:39:25 by Tue Steen Müller
”The EDN Executive Committee has appointed Paul Pauwels as the new Director of the organization. The appointment will be effective from May 15th, when Pauwels take over the strategic planning and future development of the international documentary network with over 1000 members and more than 50 yearly activities…”
Breaking news from EDN (European Documentary Network), more facts to be read about Paul Pauwels on the site of the organisation.
For me, who with colleague Anita Reher, and with PeÅ Holmquist as the first President, were there from the beginning of the adventure in 1996 a big BRAVO for this decision. PP has always been part of the activities of EDN, he was the third President (the second was Stefano Tealdi), and with his energy, production knowledge, pedagogical skills warm heart for the creative documentary and humour he has encouraged, inspired, helped documentarians here, there and everywhere. I remember lots of occasions, where we in the office asked Paul to go to do pioneer work, which he accepted without hesitation. He was the one who went to East European Forum in Jihlava to help build up, he was the one “we” sent to Calcutta for the first DocEdge… I could go on.
Written 10-05-2013 08:18:38 by Tue Steen Müller
Normally we do not do promotion for training programmes but there are exceptions. As this one, the Ex Oriente Film workshop based in Prague, that enters a new decade, after – this is how the organisers, led by Veronika Liskova – phrase it themselves: A Decade of Excellence, name of a new facebook page of the workshop.
Indeed it can be characterised like that, says this blogger, who was part of the tutor team the first 7 years having seen great films being born, which took inspiration from Ex Oriente.
Let me pick some from the impressive list:
”15 Young by Young” with Latvian Ilona Bicevska as the tireless producer and organiser of the multimedia project that ended up on arte. ”The Art of Selling”, Estonian/Finnish coproduction by Jaak Kilmi, the name in new Estonian documentary as director and producer. ”Bakhmaro” (photo), unique work by Georgian Salome Jashi produced by German Heino Deckert. ”Blind Loves” by Juraj Lehotsky from Slovakia, produced by director Marko Skop the film went the whole way to Cannes and to theatrical release in several countries. ”Cash and Marry” by Macedonian Atanas Georgiev, produced by Sinisha Juricic from Croatia, and ”Elektro Moskva” by Dominik Spritzendorfer and Elena Tikhonova, the latter had its premiere in Nyon this year and has its next stop at Sheffield Doc Fest – and many more will follow.
I stop here, could have mentioned many more, check out for yourselves, there are website links to most of the films and info on distributors. I took the alphabetical order... Deadline the for 11th season of Ex Oriente: June 1st.
Written 09-05-2013 21:00:11 by Tue Steen Müller
... starts its programme tomorrow May 10 and runs until May 19. The selection is rich – take a look at the website’s ”Film Sections”, link below, and you will notice that the director Artur Liebhart and his team do an interesting editorial promotion work, inviting the audience to have a look at what hides behind the caption ”Political Sciences” or ”Fetish and Culture” or ”Intimate Stories” or ”Heroes Are Among Us” and many more. Click, as an example, the intimate stories and you will find films like Latvian ”Documentarian” by Ivars Zviedris and Ines Klava, Mika Ronkainen’s ”Finnish Blood Swedish Heart”, Alan Berliner’s idfa festival winner ”First Cousin Once Removed”, ”Elena” by Brazilian Petra Costa and ”Private Universe” by Helena Trestikova.
There are retrospective series with Sergei Loznitsa and Peter Mettler, and tonight while this is being written – far away from Warsaw – the opening show goes like this with talented Austrian director Timo Novotny who:
… will create a film remix in front of the audience. He will be accompanied by live music played by Markus Kienzl and Wolfgang Frisch from Sofa Surfers. They use the opportunities that digital technologies offer, but at the same time they take from the tradition of silent films and tapers. The show will take the audience to New York, Los Angeles, Moscow and Tokyo. It will be based on images and musicthemes from Timo Novotny’s “Trains of Thoughts” (photo). Sofa Surfers wrote the score for the movie.
Written 04-05-2013 21:47:06 by Tue Steen Müller
The festival has announced the winners at the 20th edition of the big North American documentary festival. Debra Zimmermann was the Doc Mogul Award winner of this year, of course well deserved for her great work within Women Make Movies. Les Blank, who died beginning of April this year, was honored, the American director who was famous for his humorous and original personal essays like “Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers” and “Gap-Toothed Women” as well as for music docs like “Chulas Fronteras” and the films about/with Werner Herzog, “Burden of dreams” and “Werner Herzog Eats his Shoes”.
Apart from the many North American/Canadian documentaries awarded, a couple of international films were taken to the stage for recognition: The German film from China, “Dragon Girls” by Inigo Westmeier, the Chinese “Cloudy Mountains” by Zhu Yu, an ecological drama and “The Circle” by Belgian Bram Conjaerts.
Difficult to evaluate the festival when you have not been there, but Scottish Emma Davie, director of “I am Breathing” (photo), attended to present her film and has written a fine enthusiastic text, from which I would like to quote. I am sure she will not disagree:
“HotWarm reception of our film at this fab Hot Docs festival in Toronto where audiences have multiplied over the years. Such is this city's passion for documentary that there is now a cinema called The Bloor which shows nothing but documentaries all year – I AM BREATHING will show there on
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Written 02-05-2013 17:56:33 by Tue Steen Müller
It was a film, a photo exhibition and a book of postcards that I experienced when in Kiev for the DocuDays a month ago. I have the book of postcards in front of me, The Roma Album it is called and I take a small quotation from the preface written by Dar’ya Averchenko, scriptwriter and partner of Roman Bondarchuk, a very talented film couple with many projects in development, and with a strong involvement in the festival DocuDays.
Dar’ya Averchenko writes, after she and Bondarchuk have visited several roma settlements in different parts of Ukraine: Almost all the residents of the camp live day to day. They do not even have dreams. They think of themselves as lost and ill-fated, and have no knowledge of their heroes... for almost twenty years, Anna has been visiting the camp. She works in Berehovo in in the healthcare field, and she helps Roma people get their passports issued, and to get free treatment for tuberculosis. This disease is the hardest on them. We enter the cabin of one of her charges – a dark damp hut with one window. A beautiful young gypsy woman is feeding her baby. Five more children run around this only room. Her sick husband lies on the bed. He has fever... why Anna comes here – Believe me, among them, there are better people than some of my own relatives. In order to help them, you just need to love people...
The positive humanistic (some would probably say romantic) approach to the Romas is also present in the four small stories that form Bondarchuk’s short documentary ”Roma Dream”. Well told, straight forward we meet Denys, who is a school teacher in one of the communities, for five kids (!), the rest of the kids are at home as their parents do not send them to school. Denys is a great character, with humour, whereas it is more hard for young Diana, who got her first child when 16 year old, and who is now the one who leads the dancing sessions to keep the culture alive. Myroslav and his wife run a simple tv studio where they report on Roma social problems. We follow him out on a location shoot, which gives Bondarchuk the chance to make amazing close-up photos of a a group of children of a mother who with her husband are in danger of being kicked out by the authorities. The last protagonist in the four good stories is Renata, who sets up an office in a Roma settlement to help (a Roma herself she is an educated lawyer) the people with their legal problems, as one of them says ”the whole world is based on documents”.
Well made, beautifully shot, this is professional work and wonderful it is to get positive angles on the lives of the roma people. We are not used to that.
Ukraine, 2012, 22 mins.
The film can be seen on http://youtu.be/aj8FUpKurbk
If you write to Darya Averchenko you can get the postcard book: email@example.com !!!
Written 01-05-2013 19:20:27 by Tue Steen Müller
Realscreen newsletter of yesterday presents interesting news from NFB, National Film Board of Canada, the pioneer film institution in the world, set up in 1939 (parallel to the Danish equivalent, I want you to remember...) and now very much active in finding new ways to get ”high quality auteur documentaries to an international audience”.
From the article: The destination, available on the Web, connected TV and mobile devices in 2014, will offer interactive documentaries and content that is curated, bilingual, and eventually multilingual. The NFB says it is aiming to create “the Netflix of documentaries.”
Using the NFB’s existing investments in digital platforms, systems, infrastructure and content development, the service will launch first in North America and Europe.
Users will be able to access films from around the world, and create their own playlists, which they will be able to share with others. Documentary and subject experts will also guide viewers through the offerings.”
A subscription service of course, sounds great, let it happen and let other providers of quality docs join the initiative.
Written 30-04-2013 15:25:38 by Tue Steen Müller
For free until May 5 are the new films of two contemporary film artists who have always gone non-mainstream with their own voice and approach. The films of Liechti and Mograbi can be watched on DocAlliance, that has picked them from the Visions du Réel section ”Etat dEsprit”.
”Father’s Garden – The Love of My Parents” (photo) is the film of Liechti (”Sound of Insects”), the description from DocAlliance: After a long absence, Peter Liechti visits his now elderly parents, ready for a close encounter. The stories of their lives and rather difficult marriage are largely presented as a puppet theatre, with the parents, from the lower middle-class, portrayed as hares wearing shirts and aprons. Via the "Punch" character, the rebellious son channels the emotions that overwhelm him in this stunning portrait.
The film of Avi Mograbi is called ”Once I entered a Garden” and has this text: Avi Mograbi and his long-time friend Ali embark on a journey to a land that existed before borders were created. A world that existed, even though most of the people and especially politicians pretend it never did. A world where communities were not divided along religious lines. With a light hand held camera, Mograbi continues to question the history of Israel. Everything is still possible.
Last feature documentary film of Mograbi was Z32, masterpiece.
Both films will be reviewed here asap.
And keep checking DocAlliance, it is a brilliant vod.
Written 28-04-2013 16:37:11 by Sevara Pan
We hear soft piano music, projector clicking... "My family came to America fleeing persecution. […] As children, my brothers and I were taught that we were the lucky ones who made it out. But with that luck came responsibility. "Never again" didn't just mean that people like us should not suffer. It means, others should not suffer either."
With these lines opens the film by New-York based documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, The House I Live In. Fragments of his personal memory deftly stitched together with collective memories primarily drawn from the public archival footage and interview material, The House I Live In captures heart-wrenching stories of those on the frontlines of the American longest war – the war on drugs. While America is concerned with overseas conflicts, a tacit war is taking place at home, effacing lives of its own people and inflicting damage on the society at large.
A recepient of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival 2012, The House I live In does not shine away from the complexity of the given issue; in fact, I believe, it embraces it. From the dealer to the grieving mother, from the inmate to the federal judge, from the addict to the physician, the film lays forward a patchwork of stories of all involved in this war. But as stories of personal struggles begin to transpire, the very problems associated with drug abuse start to seem just one part of an even larger problem facing the country. I reckon, the film brilliantly puts the American drug problem into a socio-historical and economic context, prompting us not to ignore it at our peril. In a tightly knotted sequence of interviews, the documentary portrays young yet smothered by life people from the improverished neighborhoods, barred from proper education, healthcare benefits, or employment; hence they are eventually trapped in the painful self-perpetuating cycle of illegal drug abuse.. As one advocates in the film, "when groups are denied access to the core economic engines in a society, they create their own out of prohibited economies." Akin, the protagonists of the film work for the only company that exists in their company town – the streets.
The impressive statistics dropped mid-way into the film, stating that since 1971 the war on drugs has cost over 1 trillion dollars and resulted in more than 45 million arrests, yet during that time the illegal drug abuse has remained unchanged, are ostensibly there to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the law enforcement policies. Because it is treated in isolation as a legal issue, the war on drugs has dramatically escalated and created havoc
Read more / Læs mere
Written 27-04-2013 15:52:35 by Tue Steen Müller
The DocAlliance does now include 7 festivals with the inclusion of DocLisboa in the group. A welcome gift from Portugal is given to the users of DocAlliance, the vod that calls itself: Your online documentary cinema.
The so-called Carnation Revolution, in 2014 it is 40 years ago it happened, is the theme and 4 good films are available for free today and tomorrow, April 28:
”Good Portuguese People” from 1980, ”Tarrafal: Memories of the slow Death Camp” from 2010, ”25 April – an adventure for democracy” (2000) and ”Another Country”.
If you only have time for one film you could take the latter, directed by Serge Trefaut. Here is the description:
The red carnations revolution in Portugal also known as the last romantic revolution of the 20th century was, for many, an unimaginable communist threat. For others, it was a lab of dreams and politics, an exciting place for young people and bright photographers and filmmakers. People like Sebastião Salgado, Glauber Rocha (photo), Robert Kramer, Dominique Issermann, Santiago Alvarez, Pea Holmquist, Jean Gaumy, travelled to Portugal and lived there until the party was over. What is left of this experience?
Written 27-04-2013 15:24:56 by Tue Steen Müller
Winners were announced last night at the closure of the festival in Nyon, Switzerland. The Grand Prix for the best feature documentary was given to Ramon Giger and Jan Gassmann from the hosting country for their ”Karma Shadub”. The catalogue description of the film goes like this:
Karma-Shadub is one of Ramòn Giger’s four first names, as well as the title of a piece composed at his birth by his father Paul Giger, a world-famous violinist. When Paul asked Ramòn to make a film about the adaptation of this piece, the latter noticed their mutual remoteness… With this project, Ramòn hopes to understand the meaning of love. A sensitive portrait of different perspectives.
I have not seen this film contrary to the winner of the Prize for best medium length, ”Father” (photo) by Marat Sargsyan, that I have followed from the sideline – this is what was written in February 2011 after the pitching at DocsBarcelona:
Young producer Dagne Vildziunaite from Lithuania was very convincing in her presentation of a film about ”The Father”, a seventy year old former criminal (in Soviet times), who in his late years has settled down in the countryside to lead a true and honest family life. The production company (”Just a Moment”) has shot the film and the producer was in Barcelona to seek interest and look for fresh eyes, an editor who can complete the film. In the audience several editors queued up to help to get the film to a rough cut stage – enabling several of the broadcasters to make a pre-buy.
The film is now finished and the producer wrote to me on her way to the award ceremony: The next stop for “Father” will be Krakow, also competition section. But not sales agents yet, cause “it is another dark story from Eastern Europe that TV audience is tired of”. Let’s hope Visions Du Reel result will change something.
I share that hope – come on sales agents, this is a film for an “ordinary” documentary interested audience all over!
Written 25-04-2013 22:47:51 by Tue Steen Müller
“Audrius Stonys deserves much praise for his ”Ramin”, a film about an old man in Georgia, his daily life, his attachment to his late mother, his looking for a woman he knew in his youth... the story is told in stunningly beautiful images by Audrius Kemezys, the story construction is complicated, but there are magical moments (like in most of Stonys films) that you will never forget, and original ideas...” words taken from this site, which has posts about the Lithuanian filmmaker dating back to the beginning of filmkommentaren.dk
He, Audrius Stonys, visits Copenhagen this coming monday to screen his film, ”Ramin”, in the documentary cinema set up by Ebbe Preisler in the PH Cafeen in Copenhagen, check the website below – there might be documentary film fans in Copenhagen, who happen to be ignorant about the quality and commitment behind the initiative. Stonys will introduce the film and talk with the audience afterwards.
On the top of the film of Audrius Stonys, a film by Klaus Kjeldsen from 2006 is shown, shot in ”his” street, Nansensgade, about the fascinating artist Chriatian Lemmerz. The description of the film, in Danish, goes like this:
Christian Lemmerz er en tysk kunstner bosiddende i Danmark. Han er ikke mindst kendt for sine krasse skulpturer, men denne aften skal vi opleve ham skabe nogle såkaldte monotypier i et lille værksted i Nansensgade hos kunsttrykker Michael Schäfer. Der er ikke noget buller og brag i denne film, den er et roligt nærbillede af en arbejdende kunstner, kraftfuld javel, men koncentreret og humoristisk.
Written 24-04-2013 23:59:04 by Tue Steen Müller
... well, not played in Sevilla but watched by a film blogger in a tapas bar the last two nights, both matches performed in Germany, both with German teams as the winners, in the first of two matches in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
The first match, in the bar in Sevilla, FC Barcelona against Bayern Munich, was not very well attended, apart from me I did not see any Barcelona fans, contrary to the second match, that of tonight, where you had to move your head pretty often to get viewing access to the whole screen, and where the bar was enthusiastic when Ronaldo scored to 1-1 for Real Madrid, but making a lot of customers leave when they saw that Dortmund was much more efficient = Polish Lewandowski, who had the night of his football career, scoring 4 goals!
Back to FC Barcelona... the Spanish sport newspapers this morning put it on the front page in different versions but with the same conclusions: Barca’s glorious years are over, something is wrong with the way of playing, something has to be changed, new players etc. They wrote the same after Barca’s first match against Milan, where Barca made a fantastic come back, but to be realistic, the 0-4 in Munich last night is impossible to change into a result that will make Barca reach the final of the Champions League.
Images from the match: Messi, making no successful moves at all, and at a certain moment I saw him in a position that made me think that the best player in the world was suffering from a stomach illness, was he ill? Or Gerard Piqué who had his head shaven (but kept his beard) in a way that illustrated the vulnerable defender being weak, as he could not keep Müller away from his attacks, and goal-making. The same Müller (nice name, but...) who made an obvious dirty obstruction on Jordi Alba, so he could not prevent the goal. The referee did not react. This event, as well as the clear off-side of Mario Gomez, when he scored for Bayern, made me think of the title of the film ”Kill the Referee” – to be fair there were also hands on the ball of Barca players on two occasions that could have given Bayern Munich penalties. Hungarian referee Kassai, the man in charge, will not be given more Champions League duties. Not competent.
Wrote a Barca fan after a Sevilla bar football watching! And let’s take it once more, what Gary Lineker, the English striker said: Football is about 22 players and one ball, and the Germans always win!
Written 24-04-2013 00:31:15 by Tue Steen Müller
Another film that premieres in Nyon (April 25 & 26) (see below), and another film that has been a long time on its way. And another film that gave high expectations that for me who has followed the film from the side, are (almost) satisfied.
Was it one of the Rolling Stones who said that ”my bass guitar gave me a reason for living”? Almost the same says Russian artist Richarda Norvila (= Benzo), one of the protagonist of the film, when he talks about his work:
”I arrive at the studio, turn on the equipment, I hear sounds and turns knobs, therefore I am...”, and he is also the one who intelligently makes the focus of the film clear, by saying: ”Let's assume that phenomenon of Russian life is, as said Lenin, inexhaustible, as the electron, then the nature of the native Soviet synthesizers also have this quality. They translate some kind of profound lifeline, the beginning of which was laid by the great October Revolution...”.
Yes, Benzo and other contemporaries like Aleksey Iljinikh, who finds, buys, repairs and sells the synthesizers to artists like Benzo, are for me the most interesting to watch in action. When music is composed in a studio with Benzo, AND when Dominik Spritzendorfer dares to let go the image side of the film in amazing sequences where the music playfully interprets, or maybe better to say – where the image is adding to the sound to stress the quality of the latter.
The overall theme that the electrification of the Russian and Soviet society, in a belief in the future for the communism, should benefit all citizens, but failed completely, making all inventions serve the military more than the people are conveyed, with wonderful archive interviews with Theremin from 1993, introducing the space adventure as well - in other words the historical part of the film is well made but a bit monotounos and heavy in tone so the flow and the pleasure in watching the film pop up when we leave the past and go to the musicians of today with very free, almost psychedelic sequences. It is the classical dilemma of how much information is needed to give to the audience, and how much you need as background info. Nevertheless, the film is multi-faceted and quite an achievement and deserves a long and good life.
Austria, 2013, 89 mins.
Written 23-04-2013 08:52:40 by Tue Steen Müller
World Premiere in Nyon today of a film that was on its way for a long time. I have not yet seen the final result but clips on its way to completion give high expectations. The text below is taken from the website of IDF (Institute of Documentary Film), that also gives access to the trailer of a film, produced by Bulgarian company Agitprop and creatively written and directed by Vanya Rainova and Svetoslav Stoyanov:
It is like a fairy tale. A band of sun-dried, ganrly desperados live in a lagoon with their dreams about treasure hunting and careless living according to their own set of rules. They are six and each brings in a notable skill. Captain Jack the Whale is the leader, Trifon is the philosopher, Stoyan is the silent, Valyo is the digger, Krasyo is the driver and Nakata is the dynamite. The world of the 21st century, however, eventually locates every romantic piece of land, including pirate paradises, and pulls it down in the name of tourist luxury.
The Bulgarian seaside documentary farce The Last Black Sea Pirates was developed as the participating project of the year-round creative documentary workshop Ex Oriente Film in 2009. The authors later pitched the project to leading commissioning editors and funds at East European Forum, and took the opportunity to present the film’s rough cut to international buyers, sales and festival representatives within Doc Launch presentation in 2011. The film was finished with the assistance of DOK.Incubator workshop.
Soon after, the Agitprop- produced documentary stormed the programme lists of major international film festivals. The World premiere takes place April 23 at the Swiss-based festival Visions du réel, the North American premiere is held May 1 at Hot Docs, Canada.
Written 20-04-2013 09:44:46 by Tue Steen Müller
The following text in Danish is praising the Copenhagen Cinemateket, part of the Danish Film Institute, for its programme for May and June. A real treat for film lovers, film history with the giants Luchino Visconti and Satyajit Ray in front but also a tribute to Christopher Walken and new films from Egypt as well as a series of films by the Korean Chan-Wook Park – and a handful of strong documentaries.
Jo, det er den rene gavebod, som det 64 siders programhæfte fra DFI præsenterer for maj og juni – det er en god idé med det nye format, overskueligt og indbydende – og det siger jeg ikke kun fordi jeg rammes i hjertekulen, når jeg ser at 8 film af mesteren Luchino Visconti bliver vist med et løfte om at flere følger til efteråret. De står alle sammen på dvd-hylden, men at gense ”De lange knives nat”, ”Leoparden” og ”Døden i Venedig” på det store lærred i forhåbentlig flotte kopier – det er derfor vi har et filmmuseum. Og så er der den vidunderlige Apu-trilogi (foto) af Satyajit Ray, dokumentariske og vemodigt poetiske film, som det skrives så rigtigt af Jesper Andersen i introduktionen.
På dokumentar-siden: Anne Wivels grundige Kierkegaard-film med bl.a. Møllehave og Garff, Jørgen Leths ”Det gode og det onde”, og fra udlandet bl.a. Carlo Guillermo Protos gribende ”El Huaso” om faren, der ønsker at tage sit liv. Den vises i en serie med nye fransk-canadiske film.
Personligt glæder jeg mig til at gense Dariusz Jablonskis ”Fotoamator” (”Amatørfotografen”) fra 1998. Jeg var medlem af juryen ved idfa i 1998, hvor filmen fik hovedprisen i konkurrence med Sergey Dvortsevoys ”Bread Day” og Viktor Kossakovskys ”Pavel og Lalya” – jeg tror ikke festivalen har haft et stærkere felt siden da, og jeg har tit tænkt på om vi valgte den rigtige vinder. Jablonskis fremragende film bygger på lysbilleder taget af en nazistisk bogholder i den jødiske ghetto i Lodz.
Written 19-04-2013 12:50:22 by Tue Steen Müller
The FIDADOC festival (the only one in the country with a focus on documentaries) has announced the programme for the 5th edition to take place in Agadir, Morocco. The festival, that was set up by Nouzha Drissi, who died tragically in a car accident in 2011, privilégie les oeuvres de cinéastes émergents (1er et 2ième films), in the competition programme with the opening film being impressive “Camera/Woman” by Karima Zoubir, the premiere of the film in her home country.
The festival takes place April 22-28.
Written 16-04-2013 23:49:59 by Tue Steen Müller
Romanian director Florin Iepan has – according to his Facebook page with a lot of links from the press coverage – shown a rough cut version of the film ”Odessa” in Bucharest on the 8th of April. I have known the director for many years, as a fighter for better conditions for the documentary in his home country, and for his films, first of all ”Children of the Decree” from 2005.
With the Odessa film (cited from an interview with Iepan at the IDF webpage, link below) the director “would like to nudge Romanians to engage in a long-overdue public debate about the Odessa massacre and Romania's involvement in the atrocities of WWII. In Mr Iepan's Odessa, the Odessa massacre refers to the events of October 1941 when over 20,000 Jewish residents were murdered by Romanian and German troops in the occupied Ukrainian town of Odessa. Close to 300,000 Jews and Roma were killed in the territories controlled by Romania's Antonescu regime during the war. Yet disapproving public reactions which the filmmaker has received suggest that some Romanians may not yet be willing to acknowledge the past, and that losing face might seem intolerable to the country's fragile psyche. Mr Iepan doesn't mince words about the dangers of such reactions, and about the difficulties that, for entirely different reasons, come up when he tries to win support from abroad.” Continuing like this (from the film’s facebook page):
"What happens when a documentary film breaks out of its comfort zone and openly provokes the society? To what extent my compatriots are willing to reflect on one particular episode, the reprisals in Odessa from October 1941?"
And a gentle kick to us West Europeans, who love films from Eastern Europe, what do we want to come from this part of Europe, according to Iepan the following, and there is some truth in it, for sure:
“East Europeans should only make observational films about their communities in remote or desolate areas, with a thick fog, long shots, hours of uneventful suspense, following an old person who keeps a cow, a horse or chickens. Just looking and waiting for something. So obviously when you’re trying to do something else, you are a traitor to the good documentary.”
Written 16-04-2013 21:56:55 by Tue Steen Müller
Normally festivals award films and film directors, but festivals can also be awarded, and the Danish documentary festival CPH:DOX has received two recognitions lately, the most important (also important for future funding one can hope, sorry for being so materialistic) to be “The Cultural Event of Year” named by the organization Wonderful Copenhagen and the Municipality of Copenhagen, from the jury statement: In 2003 CPH:DOX had 12.000 visitors. Throughout the last decade this number has risen to over 50.000 admissions in 2012. In itself an impressive achievement, but the effect of CPH:DOX goes deeper than that. Today, viewing documentaries is no longer a niche activity for the selected few. It is an artform that has found a wide and dedicated audience both in cinemas and on TV, and CPH:DOX can claim a good deal of the responsibility for this turn.
The second award came from the readers of the daily newspaper Politiken, that every Friday publishes “I Byen” (a kind of weekly parallel to “What’s On”). Five cultural events were nominated with CPH:DOX as the winner and CPH:DOX got the “I Byen” prize. Politiken, by the way, has a weekly (every thursday) supplement on film, popular it is and much writing on documentaries there is and that helps the cinemas to take the chance to screen documentaries.
Politiken writes about CPH:DOX that it has made the documentary mainstream. That is not right. CPH:DOX has made an audience come to watch films which are not mainstream.
Written 16-04-2013 16:47:01 by Tue Steen Müller
A week ago the French newspaper Le Monde brought an interesting article about the national launch of the Oscar winner Searching for Sugarman theatrically. Released in cinemas by December 26 2012, the film is now running in around 70 cinemas, 75 copies and 130.000 entrées, being on the top 30 list for weeks.
But it started completely different. The film was at Sundance January 2012, the distributor saw it, they tried to get it to Cannes in May, but as it had been around already no success, it had a screening at the American film festival in Deauville, a European fim with an American theme – and a VIP screening in Paris where both film and music people were invited. When the film was over, Sixto Rodriguez entered the stage to perform. Voilà! And then of course promotion from mouth to ear parallel to the news about the many awards that the film obtained.
The film stays in the French cinemas until end of May where a dvd will be released, including the performance in Paris as bonus material on the disc and followed by concerts with Rodriguez in cities in France.
The article in Le Monde was brought April 9.
Written 07-04-2013 20:49:08 by Tue Steen Müller
You can easily spend some hours at the Parisian Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaisme with the excellent exhibition of works of the three photo documentarians Capa, Taro and Chim (open until June 30), also called photo journalists, also called war photographers – they are all of it and indeed documentarians as a huge amount of the photos are just as much interpretations as reports on what happened. Here is the introduction taken from the site of the museum:
“The legendary Mexican Suitcase containing Robert Capa’s Spanish Civil War negatives, considered lost since 1939, has recently been rediscovered and is exhibited in Paris for the first time. The Suitcase is in fact three small boxes containing nearly 4,500 negatives, not only by Capa but also by his fellow photojournalists Chim (David Seymour) and Gerda Taro. These negatives span the course of the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), through Chim’s in-depth coverage from 1936 and early 1937, Taro’s intrepid documentation until her death in battle in July 1937, and Capa’s incisive reportage until the last months of the conflict. Additionally, there are several rolls of film by Fred Stein showing mainly portraits of Taro, which after her death became inextricably linked to images of the war itself. Following the end of the war and amid the chaos of the Germans entering Paris in 1940, the negatives were passed from hand to hand for safekeeping, and ultimately ended up in Mexico City, where they resurfaced in 2007…”
Everyday life situations, soldiers at the fronts, corpses, photos from the refugee camp at Montjuic in Barcelona, copies of the magazines where their articles were published, to whom it may concern letters from authorities within the Communist Party in France and elsewhere asking for a good reception of the photographing comrades (under cover names), the famous photo of the fashionable couple Capa and Taro in a café in Montparnasse…
Capa needs no introduction but to see the photos of Gerda Taro is a revelation as well as the ones of David Seymor (“Chim”). The latter died in 1956 in Suez (Capa in 1954 in Vietnam), whereas Taro lived only to become 26 killed in 1937 at the battle of Brunete. She is buried at the Père Lachaise cemetery.
Trisha Ziff has made a documentary film on the Mexican Suitcase, released in 2011, praised for its qualities, can be bought on dvd. I did so at the museum.
Written 06-04-2013 16:27:16 by Tue Steen Müller
Amir Labaki, director of the It’s All True festival in Brazil (Sao Paolo, Rio, Brasilia, Campinas – from April 4-23), is a man, who loves film history and knows how to celebrate it, as he does this year with a fine retrospective of films by Dziga Vertov, 8 works (photo), including the fantastic ”The 11th Year” (1928) that I had the privilege to watch in Kiev last week.
Apart from that gift to the audience, the festival has an international competition, where you as in many other festivals notice the presence of the Georgian ”The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear” by Tinachin Gurchiani, the Czech ”Private Universe” by Helena Trestikova, Sergei Mironishnichenko’s ”Born in the USSR – 28 Up” and the new film of Avi Mograbi, ”Once I entered a Garden”.
Of course there is a Latin American Showcase with ”The Last Station” by Cristian Soto and Catalina Vergara, a Brazilian retrospective that Labaki thematically introduces to be ”On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état of 1964 that removed President João Goulart (nickname “Jango”) from power and installed a military dictatorship for two decades”. And 7 films in the section, Brazilian Competition. And much more to be studied on the site:
Written 06-04-2013 15:51:13 by Tue Steen Müller
With the subtitle... and all political prisoners, an addition that Angela Davis, the person in question, the hero of the film, the charismatic icon of the Black Power movement, imprisoned in 1970 for involvement in the killing of a judge, with other victims, being the owner of the murder weapon... an addition that Davis insisted on during her time in jail, trying to avoid the focus on her alone, in vain, as she became a symbol for freedom and justice all over the world, including the communist world. Davis was a member of the American Communist party until 1991.
”You know her name, know her story”, says the text on the film poster, right, at least for my generation, but the historical details, the events back in 1970, are good to meet again, as you do in this classically told documentary that uses archive, interviews and the voice of Angela Davis herself, in and out of the image. With the emphasis on the time leading up to her arrest, the trial and the release due to the decision of an all-white jury.
Good to meet her again in a dramatised form that appeals to the emotions, when you see and hear Angela’s sister and others fight for her release then, travelling the world to get support, as well as the lawyers that had her case... not to forget the love story between Davis and Black Panther icon George Jackson (shot dead in 1971) that was used against her by the prosecutor.
You could argue that it would have been interesting to know what happened to Davis in the following decades, the director decided not to go in that direction even if Davis herself (born 1944, still with big impressive hair and characteristic smile), in the film, indicates that the events back then has shaped her life as an activist and fighter for black women’s rights.
The distributor in France mk2 has published an interview (in French) with Angela Davis and the director in the magazine Trois Couleurs, link below. The film was seen in a mk2 cinema in Paris.
Written 06-04-2013 10:44:09 by Tue Steen Müller
Parisian museum Jeu de Paume runs (until May 12) a fascinating exhibition with the Albanian artist Adrian Paci, who lives in Italy. On tv screens, on big screens, with paintings – Paci circles around the theme, as he has expressed it, “of being at a crossroad, at the frontier of two separate identities”, going from one place to another, never leaving all from the first place and never getting all from the new one.
He has picked his small stories from his own life, often with great humour, as when a small 6 minutes video reconstructs him visiting a public office in Italy for an interrogation circling around pedophilia, because his two daughters have a tattoo on their shoulders… or his daughter telling a fairy tale, where she mixes animals and explosions, that she remembers from the war years at the end of the 1990’s. But there are also works which have a focus on the collective (photo) migration or beautiful sequences like one with a white horse and a naked woman in a fenced circle, filmed from outside.
For me the most attractive, however, is what happens on five screens placed next to each other under the title “The Last Gestures”. Run in slow motion you see a bride saying goodbye to her family before leaving for a married life. In documentaries this is what we often ask for – the catch of the magical moments in life.
The Jeu de Paume has posted an introduction to the exhibition, with an interview with the artist on youtube, fine gesture. Link below.
Written 03-04-2013 09:11:04 by Tue Steen Müller
The programme of the 44th (!) edition of the documentary festival (April 19 to 26) in Nyon, Switzerland has been published. The festival includes ” a total of 110 films in competition from 45 countries, including 24 Swiss films. For almost all of the films the festival screenings will be world or international premieres; the fruit of a record number of nearly 3 500 films submitted to Nyon or discovered in festivals around the world by Luciano Barisone and his selection committee. This record number of films screened underscores the growing reputation of the Festival nationally and internationally and enables the organisers to apply particularly stringent criteria in the selection process, Claude Ruey (president of the festival, ed.) proudly announces.”
About the selection, the director Luciano Barisone says, quite interestingly: ”In the face of the contradictions of a globalised system, the world is seeking a possible future. After the social unrest which in recent years has affected the West, the East, as well as the Arab world, filmmakers everywhere are reflecting on the current situation, exploring new ways of life, and imaging the future.” Adding that ”the respect of the spectators and of the persons filmed, the filmmakers’ commitment to their projects, as well as the originality and aesthetics of the films are among the key selection criteria.”
Two strong international names present retrospectives of their works: Israeli Eyal Sivan (Jaffa-The Orange’s Clockwork, Route 181-Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel, The Specialist-Portrait of a Modern Criminal (Eichmann) among others) and Latvian Laila Pakalnina (Dream Land, The Oak, Papa Gena, Three Men and a Fish Pond, The Mail, The Ferry.. among others). There is a series of Lebanese documentaries. There is a film with and about Brazilian icon Gilberto Gil, new films by Israeli Yoav Shamir, Finnish Susanna Helke, as well as international premieres of ”Father” by Lithuanian Marat Sargsyan and Belgian Tülin Ozdenir’s ”Beyond the Ararat”.
A rich programme. Take a look:
Written 02-04-2013 13:29:07 by Tue Steen Müller
First in Danish and then in English: Sarah Polleys film er mesterlig. Jeg satte den på min liste over de bedste dokumentarfilm i 2012. Den er elegant fortalt, underholdende og gribende, en familiefilm eller rettere en film om en familie og en mors hemmelighed. DOXBio har sat den på programmet, et fremragende valg, 50 biografer viser den i morgen onsdag.
This is the review filmkommentaren.dk brought last autumn:
I watched the film with my wife, we agreed on its excellence, I took notes but did never get to the computer to write. Time has passed and I can only pass on some superlatives about a film on a family but I can not go deeper, memory fails – I line up a couple of links, including one to the director’s blog text from the NFB (National Film Board), the producing body behind the film. It is one of the most personal and intelligent texts I have read from a director for years.
Diana is the mother of the director, Michael the father, actress and actor. Rumour has it that Michael is not her father. Sarah wants to and makes a film about this, finds out who is the biological father, she tells a story as her father tells the story and others tell their story... who is then the father is maybe not so important for the film, what is important and what keeps you totally engaged and fascinated is the way Sarah Polley, an actress herself, tells her story, in a flow full of life, full of humour and joy of life, and all kinds of emotions, in a flow with private archive, made-up archive with actors, clips from performances, interviews. The mother, however, the main character, can not tell her story herself as she died, when Sarah was 11.
At the end the biological father, pretty well known in Canadian entertainment life, says to Sarah: I’m the only one who can tell the story about me and Diane. To that the answer is easy: Well, a lot of stories have come up through this elegantly made film, the director’s (one sibling as I remember it says ”and why does she want to make this film?”) and the father’s, the two of them having the most impressive scenes in the film.
Canada, 108 mins., 2012
Written 31-03-2013 20:41:59 by Tue Steen Müller
Let me pass on some words from the Aleksei German obituary in Guardian February 26 (written by Ronald Bergan) – he died 74 year old after he
... for more than 10 years, (German) had been struggling to complete History of the Arkanar Massacre, based on the 1964 science-fiction novel Hard to Be a God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Set on another planet, it is an allegory about the Stalin era that might also be applied, to a certain extent, to Putin's Russia. It was finally nearing completion when German died. According to his son, Aleksei, a superb film-maker in his own right, there remains only some re-recording of sound and editing to be resolved…
Let’s hope so, because what Antoine Cattin and Pawel Kostomarov show in their film (finished before his death) about German, shot almost exclusively on the set, witness that another masterpiece might be on its way from the hands of a director, who made 6 films, half of them being shelved during Soviet times.
Cattin is the one who tells the story about his meeting with German and with Russia after he (Cattin) had left Switzerland. In an intelligent way, through a chaptering of the film, he puts in his own interpretation of what he sees on the shoot of German’s film and the reality of Putin’s Russia. He makes an interview with German in the film, and German says that fascism will always be possible in Russia, although he does not see current signs in that direction.
Otherwise the film is a fascinating insight to a great director (helped by his wife with whom he also argues quite a lot) and his way of working with a lot of footage taken from the screening view post of German. He is constantly angry or grumpy around something that does not function as is his main actor… would say that this film could make weak directors-to-be consider once more if they have chosen the right profession! For the rest of us – please finish the film, and please cinematheques give us a retrospective of German’s work, which by many have been equaled to the one of Tarkovsky.
Written 31-03-2013 20:31:26 by Tue Steen Müller
Kubasov is one of the directors behind ”Winter, Go Home”, a graduate from the school of Marina Razbezhkina. This film, I can see from the end titles, comes from the same source and deals with the writer Evgeny Alekhin (photo), talented writer and desperado, in opposition to the system and its politics and in conflict with himself, wanting to write the big Russian novel at the same title as he in a consequent way takes whatever drug and alcohol to get away from it all. In the film he is with his girlfriend Oksana, who is part of the self-destruction aggressive environment they live in. I cant’t see from the film if they have a child together, or if it is his child, but there is a sweet scene where Alekhin reads Kafka to the baby, in the flat where most of the very intimate situations between the couple take place, with cut-in’s of Alekhin singing/rapping his texts in the band he plays with, or scenes with him totally stoned in the metro.
I know it is another time, another background, and they are older, the couple in this film but – with words from Juris Podnieks in 1984: is it easy to be young? Apparently not for a Rimbaud character as is Alekhin – is he a valid representative for a Russian artist generation that sees no hope and acts increasingly self-destructive? “I want to be a dead, stupid cunt”, as one of his pals says to the camera.
Russia, 43 mins., 2013
Written 29-03-2013 11:28:40 by Sevara Pan
Sevara Pan writes about the DoxBox initiative called Global Day for Syria 2013:
In times when representations of the Orient lends itself to increasing misinterpretations, knowledge of languages and history does not suffice as much as the mechanical gathering of facts does not constitute an adequate method for grasping what is it all about. In such times comes art, which as the renowned poet and human rights activist Cesar Cruz put it, comforts the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
The Global Day for Syria, which took place two weeks ago, is a project initiated by the Syrian documentary film festival Dox Box in support of Syrian filmmakers and in high regard to its people who struggle for their vision of what they are and want to be. In March of last year the management of the Syrian documentary film festival Dox Box decided to cancel the festival due to the upheavals in the country. Instead, they called for documentary film festivals around the world to participate in the project Global Day for Syria.
The second edition of Syria Global Day put in spotlight a few short documentaries by filmmakers from Syria, including Salma Aldairy, Roula Ladqani, and Lina Alabed, among others. Yet, most importantly, it brought forth films made by Syrian citizens themselves in a program called “A Citizen with a Movie Camera” (in 6 compilations: Dialogue, In the Searching for Truth, The Leak, Letters, Moments, and Stories). Beautiful, unsettling, and at last insightful and thoughtprovoking the films were selected from over 300,000 videos from and about Syria that had been uploaded on Youtube. From this enormous amount
Read more / Læs mere
Written 28-03-2013 08:33:11 by Tue Steen Müller
The festival is over, awards were given last night, again the Red Hall in the Cinema House in Kiev was packed with primarily a young audience full of enthusiasm. You may have head-shaking opinions about the architecture of the Cinema House and its many references to communist times but it is very practical to have two screening halls plus big corridors to socialise, a café, a restaurant and the festival office in the same building – with another venue 5 minutes away.
I was in the Docu/Life jury where we (Russian critic Lyubov Arkus, director Audrius Stonys and I) watched seven films of high quality, to give two special mentions and one Jury Prize. The mentions were given to Romanian Noosfera by Ileana Stanculescu and Artchil Khetagouri and to Latvian The Documentarian by Ivars Zviedris and Inese Klava. The motivations go like this:
Noosfera: A warm intimate close-up portrait of the excentric Nico, who as a scientist and a teacher conveys his look on the future of the world and love, trying to adapt his vision to his own life. The directors show great talent for catching everyday life situations and originality with respect and humour.
Documentarian: A hilarious and intelligent film about filmmaking, it raises all basic questions on the relationship between the one who films and the one who is being filmed. Inta is a film star, clever in her analysis of the film that
Read more / Læs mere
Written 27-03-2013 09:28:24 by Tue Steen Müller
I dare the risk of being called a grumpy old man, but why the f... does the audience, quite a good part of it, here in Kiev, at the Docu Days festival, behave so disrespectful to the films being screened, and to those of us, who sit down from the beginning of the screening to concentrate and have a cinematic experience. For days I have been disturbed by members of the audience, who arrive in the middle of the film and insist to have a seat in the middle of the row with the consequence that many have to stand up, blocking the view of others, or the other way around, people leaving the film before the end making a lot of noise.
I know the screenings are for free, it is very good cultural policy, and I love the atmosphere here, professional introductions and q & a’s, big audience, many behave excellently, and it is a good selection of films including the seven in the Docu/Life competition where I am in the jury, more about that later.
Very simple: You produce a sign to put on the doors into the cinemas saying ”no entrance during the screenings”, and you put some doormen/women to talk loud if the sign is not respected. The cell phones being used during the screenings, texts messages being sent - well, that is all over, that battle is lost, I am afraid.
Photo: Monk from "Burma vj" appealing for Respect for the films!
Written 25-03-2013 15:24:27 by Tue Steen Müller
In June 2012 the football championship UEFA Euro took place in Poland and Ukraine. And of course some films came out of that. An Ukranian premiere was arranged at the Docu Days festival. 10 films were collected as a Youth Documentary Almanac, the directors, many of them film students or newly graduated documentarians, who had made films about policemen learning basic phrases of English to be used when meeting the invasion of football fans, or a young poet on his own, or people collecting metal to be sold or one who had a grandfather who built the old stadium, now to be rebuilt etc. – social, about persons, fresh, but in general with no focus and with big editing problems. One of those where you say to most of the films – ah, what a pity, go back to editing and find your film.
A small revelation for me, however, was the screening of the programme ”A Farewell to Cinema”, 5 films from 1987-1992, supported by the state. The times were for social critical films as I knew from Latvian Juris Podnieks and his groundbreaking ”Is it Easy to be Young?”. All films with an artistic quality. First of all demonstrated by (now) veteran director Sergey Bukovsky, who had made two of the five, ”Tomorrow is a Holiday” (1987) (photo) from a poultry factory where the women expressed deep dis-satisfaction about their life conditions, and ”The Roof” (1989) from a shelter for disabled people in a local monastery. The title of the programme comes from the last film in the programme (a dvd is being made by the national film centre), it has the following description, taken from the festival site:
Recently documentary filmmakers have been filming mass protests (end of 80’es, ed.) in the streets of Ukrainian cities, and now they themselves have to organize demonstrations in order to receive an opportunity to film. During the first years of Ukrainian independence, the production of chronicle and documentary films was cut to a minimum. The lack of financing or any state support whatsoever drove the veteran of Ukrainian documentary film, Israel Goldstein, to state: “The authorities are preventing us from filming because they are afraid that in several decades, the viewers of our films might ask: who was in power back then? Who put the people in such a state?” Today, the ‘authorities’ are well-known to everybody, but there is almost no film evidence of the consequences of their work. A Farewell to Cinema demonstrates why it happened this way: the filmmakers had to work as doormen, the studios were closed down, film financing was stopped. This film is one of the most radical in the genre ‘cinema about cinema: this is a film about the way that cinema ceased to exist.
Written 25-03-2013 08:03:48 by Tue Steen Müller
Through reliable sources filmkommentaren.dk has succeeded to get hold of a translated version of the official document read from the stage at the opening of Docudays festival here in Kiev. As earlier announced negociations were held immediately that secured that the festival could start and so it did entering today into its third day... festival openings are normally full of loooong official speeches, the organisers of DocuDays deserve big Bravo for a spectacular alternative:
March 22, 2013 No. 826/3299/13-a
District Administrative Court of Kyiv City comprised of the presiding judge Pomidorov O. P. having considered under the written submission proceedings the administrative case claimed by the Kyiv City State Administration versus Human Rights Film Festival Docudays
In order to ensure the operational functioning of the government authorities of Ukraine, public safety, safety of government officials and facilities, Kyiv City State Administration appeals to the court with the claim for restriction on the right to peaceful assembly by means of prohibiting representatives of Human Rights Film Festival Docudays and other initiators to conduct any film screenings, meetings and assemblies starting with 22.03.2013 and through 31.12.2013 in Kyiv.
Court deems the claim subject to satisfaction in view of the fact that reported total number of potential participants in the referred to event is very substantial, which could provoke clashes and public disorders.
Resolution shall be enforced immediately.
Judge O.P. Pomidorov
Written 24-03-2013 08:39:09 by Tue Steen Müller
Friday night two old boys in the documentary community, Italian Stefano Tealdi and Catalan Joan Gonzàlez got the EDN Award 2013. I allow myself this characterisation of dear friends, who were there, when EDN (European Documentary Network) started and who are still making strong efforts to make documentaries be produced and seen, as well as young talent to be developed. Organisers, tutors, inspirators, producers they are.
Ove Rishøj Jensen from EDN stated it like this: The EDN Award 2013 is presented to Stefano Tealdi and Joan Gonzàles for over 15 years of contributing to the outstanding development of the Southern European documentary culture. The contribution has been done by initiating and running Documentary in Europe and DocsBarcelona… Today we often take international networking opportunities for granted. However, it has not always been so. Behind the international documentary structures and European collaborations we see today, are the works of pioneers. People who created the structures we are now working in. They saw opportunities before anyone else knew they were there, and they have created financing opportunities where there were no financing opportunities before. Among these pioneers are Stefano Tealdi and Joan Gonzáles. Therefore we are honouring them with the 2013 EDN Award.
Pioneers, yes, very well deserved recognition indeed. The award was presented at the Thessaloniki Doc Fest. (Photo: Tealdi left, Gonzàlez right).
Written 23-03-2013 17:04:14 by Tue Steen Müller
Below you can read about the snow storm in Kiev outside the Cinema House, where the festival ceremony took place last night, March 22nd. But compared to what happened inside that was nothing. The nicely dressed presenters on the stage were suddenly pushed aside by representatives of the authorities, who declared, on behalf of a certain Mr. Pomodorov, that the festival would be cancelled due to its oppositional approach to the same authorities. In walked – see photo – uniformed militia with shields being lined up to protect the speaker from attacks and tomatoes... Some protest shouting were heard from the audience and some negociating took place, I could see from my seat on the second row – the soldiers left and the ceremony could take its beginning.
Clips from the many sections followed plus the opening film, Fortress, a film school film from Prague/FAMU by Klara Takovska and Lukas Kokes telling us, in a satirical tone, about The Transnistrian Moldovian Republic, its leader for more than 20 years, Smirnov is his name, an election process, visits to people who live there, a little bit of everything, and a lot of tv propaganda, which evoked a lot of laughter in the auditorium due to the constant reference to the Russian dominance but nothing more than that, in terms of filmic quality. For me the film sometimes crossed some ethical borders making fun of the naïve people living there.
At the end of the opening ceremony we saw the soldiers/militia people again on the big screen, they were out in the snow, suddenly turning their shields to use them as snow boards. The festival slogan came up: ”There is a Choice!”.
Written 23-03-2013 08:36:22 by Tue Steen Müller
Childhood memories! Snow, snow, snow. Well, we had it in Denmark the last week but not dramatic in the Copenhagen area and no problem in taking off from Copenhagen airport friday morning or to go by the connecting flight from Düsseldorf to Kiev.
But Kiev had snow all over – and traffic chaos. It took a long time to get into the city and the driver had to give up to mount the small hill where the festival hotel is situated. So directly we went to the Cinema House, Dom Kino, where the opening of the 10th edition of Docu Days UA was to take place. Time for a lovely warm borstj soup and off we were, Estonian filmmaker Marianna Kaat, partner in crime, and I for an extremely well attended press conference (photo) and afterwards the opening ceremony which was surprising and intelligent in its dramaturgy. Actually the whole festival was on the edge of being cancelled! More about that later.
Later I wanted to go to the hotel due to my winter coughing and general tiredness. But that proved to be a challenge! The hotel is just 10 minutes from the Cinema House but it was impossible to walk. So what to do? Festival organizer, director and cameraman Roman Bondarchuk took action, put me in his car, cleaned it from snow and started the motor. But the wheels were spinning nicely and we could not move. His friend had a car in a better position in the street and he succeeded to bring us to the small hill from where we climbed the snow to reach the hotel. Bondarchuk has a new film, a photo exhibition, a masterclass and is all over the place. I survived and Bondarchuk is a hero!
Now you know where I am and I will be reporting from the snow stormed festival that I attend, also to be member of the Docu/Life jury.
Written 20-03-2013 09:54:36 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Ukranianweek.com writes to a still from the film: ” ’Life Span of the Object in Frame’ began with a photograph taken by Oleksandr Chekmeniov seven or eight years ago at Privoz, a huge market in Odesa. The girl on the right of the picture told the director that the main character of the photograph – the woman sleeping under the counter – used to be a homeless red-haired beauty. She froze to death on the street after an illegal operation to remove her organs…”
Link to ukrainianweek.com/Culture
Written 19-03-2013 15:23:27 by Tue Steen Müller
A good advice – go to the trailer of this film which is to be found on the website of the upcoming festival in Kiev, Ukraine DocuDays UA. Click below.
It will give you a fine introduction to a documentary that is not easy accessible but attracts you with its many layers and angles, its beautiful verbal narration, its sincerety, its editing originality – you don’t see many (hybrid) essay films like that any longer. And it will hopefully give you appetite to watch the whole work, which you can do at the festival, if you happen to be there from friday onwards.
... a film about the film not yet shot... is the undertitle of the film and you see a film crew meeting and discussing, you see the actors, including the director, rehearse, saying lines, building up a labyrinthic studio with photos from the last 20-30 years - if I get it right. Photos that are extremely beautiful in their depiction of Life situations. The main photo that the film comes back to again and again is an almost surrealistic one with a woman sleeping in a marketplace, having found shelter on the ground while life goes on around her. Who was she? What has happened to her?
And what happened to us, the artists, the film narrative seems to ask. Through images from Genoa, from a room with a sea view, it is indicated that the man talking (the director?) had a mistress, forgot to phone home to his mother, these scenes are beautifully shot like a painting by Matisse from Nice. The photos and the colour manipulation of some of them bring forward a kind of nature morte feeling, there are discussions about Dante, verbal tributes to Jean-Luc Godard, and (the title) a constant going-back-sequences to Edward Muybridge, the movement of the dog running, the man coming up from his chair, a woman getting in or out of her bed... There are many side stories and there are for sure references that I do not understand, so let me give you the catalogue text from the festival:
”The time of exposure is the life span of an object in frame. In this regard, no photo is just a two-dimensional graphic composition – it always has the third, temporal dimension, the temporal depth. A photo is a time carrier, a time vessel. That means – a vessel of memory… But whose memory?.. Of the Face or the Thing or the Landscape which are still on the photo?.. Of the photographer?.. Having chosen photos as the material of the film and memory as the theme, we inevitably find ourselves in a labyrinth of our own and others’ memories, of our own and others’ time. And in seeking for the escape, we become a part of this labyrinth and the material of our own film.”
Had no real stills from the film, here is a photo of the director, who is in the film.
Ukraine, 2012, 116 mins.
Written 19-03-2013 11:02:18 by Tue Steen Müller
And there you are – hello, nice to meet you and you are the one with which project? A situation many documentary tutor colleagues will recognise from the extraordinary many documentary workshops in and outside Europe, set up for local and EU money through the MEDIA Programme or other international organisations. I have done this job for a couple of decades, it is not easy and I am still not sure that I am doing it in the right way. I know when I have given some help, and I know when I did not help. More or less at least.
And what is this job? Well you read project proposals, watch teasers (also called tasters, a better word maybe?) and other material and you talk. Yes, you talk a lot. You ask questions, the filmmakers ask questions. You listen, they listen. You try to be honest in your evaluation, you don't want to discourage, on the other hand you don't want to encourage and give false hopes.
It is mostly easy when you meet filmmakers you know and with whom you have had the dialogue many times before. They know what you are good at, and you know what they are good at. You have seen their previous work, you have maybe written about it on your blog – you don't need a lot of introduction, you can go directly to the film project... and there are definitely people who don't want to talk to you
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Written 18-03-2013 09:29:37 by Tue Steen Müller
Got a mail from Koen Suidgeest, whose touching film “Karla’s Arrival” has gone all over the world due to the director’s constant commitment and energy. Here it is, and here is the generous invitation to watch the film for free, this week:
Wondering whether you could help out. Today – March 15th – is the 4th birthday of Karla, the baby in my documentary Karla's Arrival. To celebrate, we're offering the film for free for a week through the below link. I am writing to some of my friends in the doc world to see if they wouldn't mind posting this on their own timeline.
Karla's Arrival is about a Nicaraguan teenage girl who lives on the street, is pregnant and plans to raise the baby under a tree in a park. The story starts shortly before birth and follows mother and child for 14 months.
This ITVS supported doc has been seen by some 4 million people, played at 35 festivals, was broadcast in 14 countries and won four international awards.
Written 18-03-2013 09:16:36 by Tue Steen Müller
They are doing important work for the documentary at AFAC (Arab Fund for Arts and Culture). I have been privileged to be tutoring at two of their workshops, the last one in Beirut late February. Rima Mismar is the woman in charge (photo, two from right), she wrote the following text taken from the website of AFAC. Via the link you will get precise information about the workshop and the upcoming films:
For each cycle of the Arab Documentary Film Program (ADFP), AFAC holds a workshop that aims at providing its documentary projects with professional support in areas where it is needed. In addition to providing financial support, AFAC works closely with individual grantees and involves a number of seasoned film professionals to act as advisors, particularly for less experienced filmmakers, the majority for this edition of the ADFP.
Between February 22 and 24, a development workshop for the 2012 ADFP projects took place in Beirut, with the support of a team of advisors, coming from different cinematic and geographical backgrounds. Seven documentary projects took part in Beirut’s workshop, most still in development phase, one that has finished shooting while two
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Written 18-03-2013 09:03:53 by Tue Steen Müller
Here is an offer you can't refuse, taken from the EDN website: EDN is happy to announce that all members, who are part of the organization on April 12, will get free access to over 700 documentaries at Doc Alliance Films.
EDN and Doc Alliance Films will offer all members of EDN free access to stream the over 700 documentaries available at the DAFilms.com web site. The offer will be available for current EDN members with a valid membership on April 12 and those joining the organization before this date. The over 700 documentary films at Doc Alliance Films will be available for streaming for three months. The free streaming period will start on April 16 and run until July 16 2013.
DAFilms.com is an online documentary distribution site offering access to a selection of over 700 documentary films from around the world, with an emphasis on European cinema. In addition to offering notable recent films, the website also functions as a film archive of important documentaries. This includes works by masters such as Ulrich Seidl, Jørgen Leth and Peter Mettler. Every month, DAFilms.com expands its catalogue with the addition of up to 20 new titles. The films are selected on the basis of strict dramaturgic criteria, with an emphasis on their social and aesthetic value and signature style. Photo from Michael Glawogger's extraordinary "Working Man's Death", one of many classics at DocAlliance.
Written 17-03-2013 20:02:28 by Tue Steen Müller
… is a project initiated by the film festival DoxBox in Damascus where the festival for obvious reasons do not take place. Instead Syrain films have been shown all over the world – and there has been a “soirée thématique” on arte last week. The Danish cph:dox offers until midnight Sunday/Monday free streaming of “professional short films from Syrian filmmakers, but focus mainly on films and videos made by the Syrian people themselves. Films that often circulate and are seen outside of the official media circuit. Therefore we have decided to host this year's event online: Free streaming in support of free speach! “
Hurry up, watch the films – there are a bit more than 3 hours:
and go on facebook, write Dox Box Syria Global Day, to see how wide the support is with screenings all over. Bravo!
Photo: Lina al Abed: Damascus, My first Kiss
Written 17-03-2013 16:14:31 by Tue Steen Müller
The 15th edition of the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival started two days ago and runs until the 24th of March. The programme is as always impressive – as is the communication from the festival that in a classical journaistic form reports on debates, speeches, meetings with the directors present, for us who are not able to attend… The section titles give a clear hint to what the visitors will be able to watch: “Greek Panorama”, “Music and Dance”, “Human Rights”, “Habitat”, “Portraits: Human Journeys”, “Recordings of Memory”, “Stories to Tell”, “Views of the World”. The director and selector for the festival, been there from the very beginning, Dimitri Eipides has put together a tribute to celebrate the 15 years. Here is his introduction and a link to the list of 36 films, in alphabetical order, (PHOTO) "Gaea Girls" by Kim Longinotto:
A retrospective marking the 15 years of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival can only be in the form of a summary. For how can one fit so many films, so many conferences and masterclasses, so many guests, so many parties – so many memories, in other words – in just a few lines? Each one of the Festival’s editions stands alone, as a living, breathing life collage, rich with emotions, experiences, social and existential questions, empathy and spiritual elation. Our tribute entitled “A Fascinating Journey” does not refer to the Festival’s best editions or best moments. In our hearts, each Festival is the best one. Our aim was rather to seek out and bring to mind of some of the documentaries that were especially discussed and loved by audiences; documentaries that followed developments or revaled hidden aspects of our daily lives; documentaries that caused a reaction; documentaries that moved or inspired us. This is a selection of films which we have been unable to been unable to forget; films which drew the public to the Festival; films which gave shape to the Festival’s character, ethos and role. It would not be an exaggeration to say that these documentaries are responsible for the boom of the documentary genre, its renewal, its release from past constraints and its elevation as the main form of expression of the human experience. One could say, then, that this 36-film tribute is our own summary of the fascinating journey the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has been taking us on all these years. We hope you enjoy the view!
Written 14-03-2013 08:20:27 by Tue Steen Müller
A new film by Ken Loach, this time a documentary. The director (born 1936) looks into ”the spirit of 45” in England, the post-war time where a welfare state was built on social and human values which are difficult to discover today. The film opens tomorrow, March 15, with a ”satellite Q&A nationwide” in 40+ cinemas with Loach and other guests. There is an interview available on the Guardian website, and a trailer and a lot of info on the site of the film, see below. Here is a text from that site:
An impassioned documentary about how the spirit of unity which buoyed Britain during the war years carried through to create a vision of a fairer, united society.
1945 was a pivotal year in British history. The unity that carried Britain through the war allied to the bitter memories of the inter-war years led to a vision of a better society. The spirit of the age was to be our brother’s and our sister’s keeper. Director Ken Loach has used film from Britain’s regional and national archives, alongside sound recordings and contemporary interviews, to create a rich political and social narrative. The Spirit of ’45 hopes to illuminate and celebrate a period of unprecedented community spirit in the UK, the impact of which endured for many years and which may yet be rediscovered today.
Written 13-03-2013 17:49:33 by Tue Steen Müller
We have previously praised the work of the vod DocAlliance, its special collaboration with the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in Prague and what this institution is doing to promote films from Central and Eastern Europe. Today a mail came in with the following (edited) text and useful links:
In the week from March 11 to 17, VOD portal DAFilms presents a selection of films from the new collection of recently finished documentaries from Central and Eastern Europe which have been included in the East Silver market.
What is Love (dir. Mader Ruth, Austria, 2012, 81 min.)
We Will Be Happy One Day (dir. Pawel Wysoczański, Poland, 2011, 42 min.)
The Black Box (dir. Krzysztof Kowalski, Poland, 2013, 76 min.) (photo)
New Life (dir. Adam, Czech Republic, Slovakia, 2012, 80 min.)
Out of the original 268 films from the 9th edition of the market, presented in October 2012 in Jihlava, East Silver catalogue has expanded by 75 brand new films introduced at the East Silver Videolibrary within East Doc Platform held in March 2013. DAFilms portal now provides the unique opportunity to watch three of these films for free.
The Black Box is presented like this: Tomasz Tomaszewski (*1953 in Warsaw) is a famous photographer who was working for many Polish newspapers, documenting historical events in Poland (such as Lech Wałęsa and Gdańsk Shipyard, Solidarity, protests in Warsaw). Since December 1981, during the Martial law, using his camera hidden in a glove, he managed to capture the warfare: tanks on the streets of Warsaw, soldiers suppressing manifestations and many more. Those photos were smuggled abroad by diplomats and published in foregin press. He also took some unique photos by smuggling camera in a jamjar with the instructions how to use it to Polish prisons. The most important and famous picture from this action was a photo of imprisoned Lech Wałęsa. It was published in newspapers all over the world.
Written 13-03-2013 09:33:23 by Tue Steen Müller
Danish master Jon Bang Carlsen is in Bucharest these days. He has been invited to present a retrospective of his works at the International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, One World Romania, that runs until March 17, like the one in Prague, ”in memory of Vaclav Havel”. With a reference to his films shot in Ireland, ”It’s Now or Never” and ”How to Invent Reality” the Romanian organizers presents Bang Carlsen as ”the inventor of Reality”. Here is a clip from the text:
This year One World Romania organizes a retrospective dedicated to the Danish documentary filmmaker Jon Bang Carlsen. Fairly unknown in Romania, but considered a legendary director who reinvented documentary film, Carlsen will be... a special guest of the festival. Between the 11th and the 17th of March, the audience will have the chance to see more than half of his works, produced between the 1970s and 2013, and to participate in debates with the director.
In his work, Jon Bang Carlsen has always explored the land between fact and fiction. From 1977 onward, mise-en-scene with real characters plays a very important part in his productions, and this method is detailed in his meta-film, How to Invent Reality (1996) – which will also be screened in Bucharest. His documentaries are often visually and symbolically powerful staged portraits of marginal figures and milieus that involve compelling stories...
There are many other films at the festival, ”Shoah” in its full duration and ”Act of Killing” just to mention two masterpieces.
Written 12-03-2013 08:31:29 by Tue Steen Müller
On the International Women’s Day, March 8, the third session of the EU MEDIA Programme supported training and development scheme Archidoc took place in Prague as part of the East Doc Platform. It was thus very appropiate, that most of the 10 projects pitched to broadcasters and distributors at the director orientated workshop were presented by women.
And some had women as their main characters. Finnish/Estonian Tiina Madisson wants to make an animated archive documentary about Vera Zasulich, who in 1878 shot General Trepov in St. Petersburg in pre-revolutionary Russia, became an icon for the masses and was written about by Dostojevsky and Oscar Wilde – an appealing story about a woman, who has been called Russia’s first notorious terrorist, who became a killer and a martyr and a socialist hero. Title: The Truth about Vera.
More close to our time, and at a more developed stage, is Belgian Ellen Vermeulen’s The Double Life of Marie-Louise, who left her husband and children to realise her ambition to climb the top of Himalaya – and travel the world as an adventurer. The time was in the 1950’es and Marie-Louise, whose husband was mayor of the town, hit the front pages and was subject to public gossip – to leave the family for six months of the year! Vermuelen has brilliant archive material from Marie-Louise’s adventures, family member’s memories, and artistically strong ideas on how to visualise the story.
Portuguese Catarina Mourao (photo) has in the last 15 years with several films demonstrated her talent as a documentarian. The first person project she
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Written 10-03-2013 13:36:30 by Sevara Pan
As the third edition of Cinetrain arrived at its finish line a few weeks ago, it might be just the right time to have a look at one of the first films produced within this unique creative documentary project, which took up the original idea of the Soviet documentary filmmaker Medvedkin, who in the 1930’s pulled a film studio off its stone foundations and reset it inside the train carriage to chronicle lives of his people and open up realms often unattainable in a fixed film studio.
“You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? […]” “Second to the right and then straight on till morning”, Between Dreams too seems to have found its own Neverland. A short documentary conceived as part of the first edition of Cinetrain 2008, the films draws upon the parallel between the dreaming and waking worlds. “A cryptic, puzzling, yet ultimately satisfying vignette of our most peaceful and vulnerable state”, the film explores the unsettling dreams of those who share the sojourn of a train on the 9, 500 km ride from Moscow to Vladivostok.
Perched on the dingy wagon beds, fellow travellers recline as the night approaches falling into the arms of Morpheus. Everything around them is enraptured with drowsiness: the objects, the neighbours, the entire décor reads sleep. The jolting noise of a train sluggishly come in sync with the sound of sleep creating a somewhat hypnotic pacing. This beautifully crafted short documentary attempts to unfetter the dark secrets of passengers through the stories of their dreams. Some stories that are given voice are left anonymous, faceless. “I am sitting on a white bench in a white room,” a woman tells. “My sister's husband enters the room. He has a gun in his hand. I see a bullet fires out in a slow motion towards me. Not long after that dream, he got killed.”
Taking dreams as “part of the adversary’s game” more often than as a harbinger of a good fortune, this 11-minute film hauntingly revisits the characters' night time foregone experiences that are recurrently resisted in the light of a day.
There is a degree of shadow felt in a film that gives it a certain dark mood evincing the relatively abstruse and little known phenomenon.
Gorged by the land of dreams, the train as if having passed through the sweet circles of Morpheus eventually meets the purple sunrise with a love story of a young woman with a little son by her side who tells how she met the father of her son in a dream a few years back...
Written 05-03-2013 08:53:07 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Always with a camera at hand, be it to catch a moment in life...
HERZ FRANK IN RIGA
The exhibition space is limited but the content is excellent. The film museum in Riga, situated in the same building as the National Film Centre of Latvia, in the old town of the Latvian capital, hosts a presentation of the life and work of Herz Frank, a filmmaker so often written about on this site.
Frank himself took part in the construction of the exhibition that includes photos and texts and clips from his work, plus the possibility to see in full duration ”Ten Minutes Older” (1978) and ”Flashback” (2002), just two of the master’s documentaries. The exhibition, I was told, is running at least until this autumn. (17-05-2012 blogpost by Tue Steen Müller)
BALTIC SEA FORUM RIGA 2011
Not only young talents pitched in Riga - 85 years old Herz Frank went on stage with his exciting story about Larissa, who has married the murderer of Rabin, and have a child with him.
It was the 15th edition of the Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries that ended in Riga yesterday with the presentation of a new project by Herz Frank, ”Without Fear”, to be co-directed by the master himself and Maria Kravchenko, with Guntis Trekteris, Ego Media, as the producer. The catalogue annotation goes like this: ”In 2004 Larissa Trembovler, philosophy professor and mother of four, leaves her husband and marries Yigal Amir – the assasin of Yitzhak Rabin. Three years later she gives birth to their son.” The film is in its early production stage and will definitely receive international support when more material is watchable. (14-09-2011 from a post by Tue Steen Müller)
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Written 04-03-2013 20:52:08 by Tue Steen Müller
Many words today to honour Herz Frank. Russian director Vitaly Manski put it like this: "Years will go by, and only 2-3 documentary film-makers will be remembered from each century." But even today it is clear – Herz Frank is on that list for the 20th century!
Mansky did so on the site of the Russian – yes, long name - Documentary Film and Television Guild (that) is the only professional organization in Russia that unites filmmakers and television workers specializing in documentary and popular science films, documentary TV programs and coverage.
Georgy Molodtsov from the Guild asked filmkommentaren to point at the unfinished documentary of Herz Frank, being co-directed by Maria Kravchenko, entitled “Edge of Fear”. The Guild has put wonderful photos of Herz Frank made during the shooting of this film, take a look, link below. This is what the film is about, from a pitch catalogue: ”In 2004 Larissa Trembovler, philosophy professor and mother of four, leaves her husband and marries Yigal Amir – the assasin of Yitzhak Rabin. Three years later she gives birth to their son.”
... and this is a quote from the site of the Documentary Guild texted by Molodtsov and co-director Maria Kravchenko: «Edge of Fear» is a story told by the author, intertwined with unique archival footage, news reports and real life observations that were filmed over the course of ten years. The film is based on intimate dialogs and observations of the most important aspect of life – the relationship between a man and a woman. The viewer is connected with the characters of the films through the Narrator (Herz Frank himself), who becomes one of the characters in the film. He is present at all of the most
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Written 03-03-2013 18:01:38 by Tue Steen Müller
Last sunday morning I showed Ten Minutes Older to filmmakers from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Algeria and Morocco. They had not seen Herz Frank’s masterpiece from 1978 before, they loved it and lined up to make a copy so they can show it to colleagues back home.
This sunday morning I learned from friends in Riga that the old master had passed away the night before. 87 years old.
In Beirut last sunday I introduced the film mentioning Juris Podnieks as well, the cameraman of Herz for this film and the man who later became the Perestroika filmmaker, and who got a much shorter life than Herz: 1950-1992. After the screening I came up with the often used banality about the film: You are ten minutes older now, you have just watched the story of our lives. And it is what it is. The director himself has formulated it like this: For ten minutes, uninterruptedly, we were looking into the face of a little boy on the third row... And in the half-dark of the theatre hall we were watching the depths of the human soul as reflected in this tremulous face.
Herz Frank has died. One of the most important documentary directors ever has died.
Personally I had the privilege to meet Herz Frank many times in the last 20 years, and every meeting left me inspired by his charisma, the way he talked about films and his total commitment to what was his profession. Always with a camera at hand, be it to catch a moment in life or in his own film life, like the wonderful group photo on my wall, from Bornholm in 1999 with him in the middle wearing his beret.
Bornholm because of Balticum Film/TV Festival that went on 1990-2000. Herz Frank was there two or three times and slowly you discovered an oeuvre of great importance and significance. Film people in the USSR knew of course
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Written 01-03-2013 10:39:41 by Tue Steen Müller
They are masters of promotion, the Czech organizers of East Doc Platform that runs from next week parallel to the One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. Here is their press release with all the links you need, start with the one at the end of the text, Beyond Belief!
Prague becomes the capital of documentary film - East Doc Platform starts Monday, March 4, 2013! There is only few days left to the second edition of East Doc Platform, presenting in Prague the traditional events designed to support East European documentary film - East European Forum, Doc Launch Presentation, Project Market, and East Silver Videolibrary. Same as last year, there is more: Master Classes, Case Studies, Lectures, Panel Discussions, Round Tables, Networking Parties and Special Screenings. Major tool for the upcoming week is now available online: the finalized version of East Doc Platform Open programme. Still disoriented? Read all about East Doc Platform in the concise, updated East Doc Platform directory! Should you found yourself in Prague and need any help to get around East Doc Platform, consult the Practical information section on our website, including addresses, maps, important phone numbers and names. Make sure to stay tuned for daily portion of tweets and posts on our facebook! With all the guests confirmed, we are happy to confirm East Doc Platform will host the over 180 East European filmmakers and producers, who seek creative, financial and distribution support, and more than 80 key international decision makers, who arrive to the Czech Republic to decide about the most promising documentary projects and films in Central and Eastern Europe. At the moment we are busy scheduling one-on-one pitching sessions at Project Market – 350 meetings over 3 days, bringing 40 producers and filmmakers from 15 countries together with 50 decision makers – commissioning editors, distributors, ales agents, festival and funds representatives. You can already see that this year's East Doc Platform is Beyond Belief!
Photo: Russian film Winter, Go Away is in competition at the festival.
Written 01-03-2013 10:06:10 by Tue Steen Müller
And there you sit in front of your tv set waiting to see ”The Act of Killing” be honoured at the Danish Film Academy Robert Awards 2013 ceremony. It was not to be seen, not even mentioned in the broadcast by the commercial channel TV2. But Final Cut for Real represented by producer Signe Byrge Sørensen and director of the film Joshua Oppenheimer got their prize as best long documentary. And Danish Documentary Production, producer Sigrid Dyekjær, got the prize for best short documentary, Danish title ”Kongens Foged”, by master director and camerawoman Phie Ambo.
Written 28-02-2013 18:27:54 by Tue Steen Müller
Danish prime time documentary slot Dokumania (on DR) shows two of the Oscar nominated films: Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers and Emad Burat and Guy Davidi’s 5 Broken Cameras (photo) on March 5 20.30pm and March 12 20.30pm.
And in Danish: DR's Dokumania viser de to Oscarnominerede dokumentarer The Gatekeepers (dansk titel: Det hemmelige Israel) og 5 Broken Cameras (dansk titel: Fem ødelagte kameraer) tirsdag den 5. marts OG tirsdag den 12. Marts, begge gange kl. 20.30. Bravo!
Written 28-02-2013 18:06:19 by Tue Steen Müller
Good news (February 27) about the American POV and its commitment to the creative documentary: “The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (that) supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world… has named 13 organizations in five countries as recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award, which recognizes exceptional grantees and helps ensure their long-term sustainability, provides each organization with $500,000 to $1.5 million, depending on the size of its budget.”
American Documentary | POV is one of these 13 to receive “the award, which recognizes exceptional grantees that have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants.”
Filmkommentaren visited POV and its executive director Simon Kilmurry (photo) in NY in December 2012. There you can read more about what POV is doing. Here words taken from the press release of POV from today:
“American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) produces the award-winning series POV (Point of View), which is celebrating its 25th year on PBS. American television's longest-running showcase for independent documentaries, POV has presented more than 365 films since its first season in 1988. POV films have won every major film and broadcasting award, including 32 Emmy Awards® and three Academy Awards®. POV airs from June through October, with primetime specials throughout the year…”
“American Documentary | POV will use its $1 million MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions to build its cash reserves and complete an infrastructure upgrade.” In European words for film cultural purposes. More concretely where the money is planned to go, look at the fine promotion video made by POV:
Written 28-02-2013 12:33:25 by Tue Steen Müller
... is running until March 3rd with a fine programme put together by the founder and director of the festival, now in its ninth edition, Nenad Puhovski.
The international competition includes strong films like ”Elena” by Petra Costa, ”Chasing Ice” by Jeff Orlowski, ”Bengali Detective” by Phil Cox, ”Private Universe” by Helena Trestikova, ”The Act of Killing” by Joshua Oppenheimer and ”The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear” by Tinatin Gurchiani. 19 films all together will be watched by the international jury, and there is a great variety to find also in geography. Just look at the films mentioned, they come from Brazil, USA, UK, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia.
24 films compete in the regional competition, most of them new to me, but notice ”Dragan Wende” by Lena Müller and Dragan von Petrovic as well as the wonderful ”Summer of Giacomo” by Italian Alessandro Comodin.
And then the Croatian audience and the festival guests are offered 8 of Viktor Kossakovsky’s documentaries as well as a Scottish Documentary Institute Retrospective with ”I am Breathing” by Emma Davie and Morag McKinnon, ”Cutting Loose” by Finlay Pretsell and Adrian McDowall and ”Pablo’s Winter” (photo) by Chico Pereira. These are all films that travel to many festivals, but what is (also) interesting about the programme in Zagreb is the short videos that the Institiute, under the leadership of Noë Mendelle, has produced during training sessions in Libya and Morocco.
If you are in Zagreb there is film and fun for you to night according to the website: A Scottish Documentary Institute Retrospective, curated by Finlay Pretsell, is one of the official programmes of this year’s ZagrebDox. After the film part, today at 8pm, Festival Centre, we will raise our glasses to the magnificent Scottish documentaries and their authors with a bagpipe player and some whisky. PS. I know Pretsell very well, and he knows about whisky!
Written 27-02-2013 19:21:51 by Tue Steen Müller
This excellent film by Palestinian Emad Burnat, co-directed by Israeli Guy Davidi was nominated for an Oscar but did not win. The film, however, had already before the nomination won several awards in festivals and has had/has a theatrical release in many countries (FOR THE DANES, PLEASE NOTICE THAT IT IS SCREENED 6 TIMES IN CINEMATEKET IN COPENHAGEN FROM March 1st). The Oscar nomination did of course a good deal of extra publicity. For good and worse. The director had a lot of trouble in explaining to the media in the US and elsewhere that the film is NOT an Israeli film, even if there is Israeli money in the production, and upon arrival to Los Angeles, he was kept back of the authorities that did not believe that a Palestinian could go to Hollywood!
A very interesting creative so-called infographic was made for the film in connection with the award ceremony. Here is what AFAC (Arab Fund for Arts and Culture) wrote about it:
“... Visualizing Palestine released their latest infographic, “5 Broken Cameras”, in time for the Academy Awards ceremony as a specially-requested billboard referencing Emad Burnat’s documnetary film of the same name. Contacted by the manager of Emad Burnat to produce an infographic that would come out in time with the Oscar nominations, VP is increasingly recognized for designing visual stories striving for social justice based on facts and dates on Palestine/Israel. "While the documentary, nominated for best feature documentary, did not win, the infographic was released because it tells the story of peaceful resistance against the wall and settlements in Bil'in,” said VP co-founder Joumana al-Jabri.
The critically-acclaimed 5 BROKEN CAMERAS is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, aWest Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. It is also the first ever Palestinian film to be nominated for best Documentary Feature by A.M.P.A.S.
What a great piece of work to accompany a great film!
Written 26-02-2013 18:32:39 by Tue Steen Müller
No, it is not a forgotten film by ”the father of documentary”, Robert Flaherty. Flaherty is, of course named after him, ”a nonprofit organization dedicated to the proposition that independent media can illuminate the human spirit. Its mission is to foster exploration, dialogue, and introspection about the art and craft of all forms of the moving image. The Flaherty is based in New York City and was established to present the annual Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, named after the maker of such seminal documentaries as Nanook of the North, Man of Aran, and Louisiana Story.”
The Epic Encounters is the title of a film series (6 films), organised by Flaherty on six Wednesdays in March and with critic and tv host Jeronimo Rodriguez as programmer. It takes place in NYC at 92Ytribeca (website below). Regret to say that I don’t know any of the films, but having read about/googling them, I see high quality, a programme maybe to be copied somewhere in Europe? Here is an intro:
“Some things in life fall away into a forgotten chasm, relegated to imperfect human memories, tucked away in a remote abyss where you will probably never hear from them again. Film often reverses the course of events, giving these things a place in our history. This program focuses specifically on the ability of film to shed light on those spots that might otherwise be lost forever. The selected films deal with episodes of a nebulous past, with activities that are not usually represented, with fractured spaces, and finally, with the frailty of memory. Filmmakers, videographers, professionals, and amateurs from Latin America, Spain and the US help create a bridge between what is seemingly irrelevant and what takes on significance. This show features a Hi-8 home video, an underground scream, a fading memory, an unknown story, a rehearsal, and a rarely seen film.
Some of the Spring season highlights include: Xurxo Chirro’s mythmaking in Vikingland, constructed from editing found footage recorded by a Galician sailor in the early 90s; El otro día (The Other Day) in which Ignacio Agüero’s past and the complexities of Chilean society are revealed through everyday objects left in his home; Argentine filmmaker Matías Piñeiro’s Rosalinda (photo), which pulls back the curtain on the act of rehearsing; and a selection of short films that examine rarely seen spaces, many of them fractured or undergoing transformation, like the eerie tranquility of a Peruvian beach resort recorded by Andrea Franco in En Ancón (In Ancon).”
Written 26-02-2013 12:46:46 by Tue Steen Müller
… to be honoured for her work at The Documentary Edge International Documentary Festival in April. Director of the festival, Alex Lee, asked filmkommentaren to convey the news, which we do with pleasure. Some clips from the press release:
“We want to honour Ally for her enduring legacy as well as to introduce her to great New Zealand films and filmmakers. We hope she can help us inspire our city officials, government and business why it is important to support documentary and our vision to be the largest and most important documentary festival and industry event in Asia‐Pacific. And that this is do‐able” says Alex Lee, director of Documentary Edge. “She is the highest international documentary figure to ever visit New Zealand”.
“Called a “High Priestess of Documentary” (IndieWire) and arguably the world’s most passionate and influential documentary voice, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) Founder and Director Ally Derks will attend the Documentary Edge International Documentary Festival 2013 (Documentary Edge) –to make a keynote speech at the Screen Edge Forum and receive the inaugural 2013 Documentary Edge International Documentary Super‐Hero at the annual awards ceremony!”
“Derks has been a champion of documentary fighting for its existence and passionately nurturing its growth. She has been mentor to many filmmakers and festivals worldwide. She has been a key figure and advisor in helping and inspiring Documentary Edge’s work.”
Maybe you smile a bit of all these big words, but they are well placed, indeed!
Photo by Bert Nienhuis / Courtesy IDFA, taken from press release.
Written 26-02-2013 11:34:42 by Tue Steen Müller
First – to sort of sum up – the following quote from Realscreen after Malik Bendjelloul’s got the Best Documentary Feature prize at the 85th Academy Awards February 24:
“The win for director Bendjelloul and producer Simon Chinn (Man on Wire, Project Nim) comes after Sugar Man picked up two Sundance awards, two IDFA awards and two IDA prizes, along with honors from BAFTA, the DGA, the PGA, the Critics’ Choice Awards, Cinema Eye Honors and the NBR, as well as numerous other festivals and critic circle prizes.”
Secondly the welcoming enthusiastic words from Svetlana and Zoran Popovic when the film opened the 9th edition of the Belgrade based European feature documentary film festival Magnificent 7. The film was screened to close to 2000 people on January 30th:
“An exciting story about the search for evidence of one legend’s authenticity and a journey into the unknown. The dramatic composition of a suspenseful cinematic thriller is enriched by subtle yet profound layers, which are seamlessly interwoven into the narrative. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN is a fascinating documentary about a miracle, a testimony to the power of poetry, a story about a prophet who found his place, a fairy tale about an outcast who is summoned back from nonexistence! The wonders of this story bear witness to the incredible connections between Africa and America. This film is one of the greatest festival and theater successes in the history of contemporary documentary filmmaking. Being a charming and enlightening cinematic experience…”
Written 22-02-2013 07:11:17 by Tue Steen Müller
Here we go again, EDN has announced the classic, yearly Marathon Dok where Danish professionals and film/tv students are invited to get updated on new original documentary work. A clip from the website:
“March 2, 2013. From 14:00 to 22:00. Theodor Christensens Plads 1, Filmskolen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Marathon Dok is a looooong day full of funny, fascinating and fantastic documentaries. This one-day screening program brings new international high quality documentaries to the big screen in the beautiful cinema of the Danish Film School. The screenings start at 14:00 and end at 22:00.
We invite you to sink in one of the cosy theatre seats in the nice atmosphere of The Danish Film School's cinema and have a day surrounded by coffee, colleagues and of course the latest of the best international creative documentaries.”
As usual the day starts with short documentaries, 4 of them, 3 from the Nordic countries and one from the US. Later awarded films like Lithuanian UB Lama (photo) by Egle Vertelyte, Jukka Kärkkäinen and J-P Passi’s world hit The Punk Syndrome are on the programme that ends up with The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear by Georgian Tinatin Gurchiani and Kakha Macharashvili.
With their choice EDN programmers deserve credit for leaving the main road with a format that everyone can adopt.
Written 19-02-2013 11:00:04 by Tue Steen Müller
I met Maria Clara Escobar and her producer Paula Pripas in Edinburgh last year in June. They pitched the film that is now finished, original title, in Portuguese, ”Os Dias Com Ele”. A couple of weeks ago the film got three awards at a festival in Brazil. I watched it today back home in Copenhagen, far away from Portugal, where the film is shot, and from Brazilian history and resistance movements against the dictatorship in the 60’es and 70’es. So what would I get out of a film, where a daughter, Maria Clara, in the film often named Clarinha, talks to her father, Carlos Henrique Escobar, who I have never heard about, and who is described, when ”googling” him as ”Um dos intelectuais mais provocativos do Brasil nos anos 1960 e 70, o filósofo, dramaturgo e professor”?
And yet, it does not matter that I do not get all the references to Brazilian politics – names, events, not many, but some – after 107 minutes in company with an old, charismatic, stubborn, intelligent, tired, sometimes not-to-understand, a bit frail man, who has been living 12 years away from Brazil “in total anonymity”, as he puts it himself.
What a man, and what a film the daughter has made! You are totally exhausted after the screening because of your wish to get it all from the man, his words, his reflections and much more important maybe, his face and his movements as the daughter has caught it with her camera in images that sometimes lacks enough light – yes, there is a lot of home video atmosphere in the film. And the exhaustion is enlarged because of the bit of claustrophobia you sense as all the film takes place in his small room and the walled courtyard.
The basic idea you understand very quickly, actually after the first 6-7 minutes that are the most catchy, intense opening minutes of a documentary I have seen for a long time: the father has agreed to make this film with his daughter, “about my life and my intellectual work”, he says. He conveys to us, talking at a table
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Written 18-02-2013 13:37:34 by Tue Steen Müller
For 2.5€ in total you will be able to watch three great films by Lithuanian documentary poet, Audrius Stonys, who is “the event of the week” of the brilliant vod.
The films are Uku Ukai (2006) (photo), Countdown (2004) and Ramin (2011). DocAlliance has made a small talk with the director:
The acclaimed director Audrius Stonys ranks among the most prominent Lithuanian documentary filmmakers. According to Stonys, the issue of freedom plays the main part in cinematography, being more important than any aesthetic criterion. Especially as there still are attempts to restrict such freedom, only they have taken the form of dictatorship of money. Stonys believes that documentary filmmaking was not born out of the desire to provide information. It was born out of astonishment and the possibility of being able to stop time and contemplate the miracle called “the world”.
In response to a seemingly perplexing question: “Who makes your films?” Stonys said: “Recently, I visited a doctor because I had problems with my back. And for only fifteen minutes of work he asked for a lot of money. Sure, he fixed me up, but he is my friend. So I wondered why the heck he was asking so much. This is what he said: ‘Look, those fifteen minutes contained all the years of my practical training, all the books I have read plus the experience of my professors who have shared their knowledge with me.’ And my films are also the result of the work of many souls.”
Written 16-02-2013 15:03:31 by Tue Steen Müller
… of course it does, two awards, the Ecumenical and the Audience Panorama Award. What is more important to notice is the speech given by one of the directors, Joshua Oppenheimer, when he accepted the Ecumenical Award. Here you are:
The perpetrators we filmed in Indonesia destroyed other human beings for money and for power. This greed, unfortunately, is all too human. After killing people, the perpetrators felt trauma, even remorse. This, too, is human. And so they needed excuses, propaganda, so that they could live with themselves, so that they could kill again, and then go on to build a regime on the basis of terror, lies, and the celebration of mass murder.
The new dictatorship quickly obliged, making up lies to rationalize what they had done. Through these lies emerged a distorted morality to justify evil, even to celebrate it.
Written 16-02-2013 00:52:41 by Tue Steen Müller
A newsletter arrived from Torino sent by Stefilm, now the classic Italian documentary production company, once – when we were much younger – the company that was mentioned by everyone as the only one from Italy, that dared to go international in order to make films for the European market. I say ”we” because I have a lot of warm memories for almost a couple of decades, working/meeting with the two architects Elena Filippini and Stefano Tealdi, and the doctor Edoardo Fracchia. The three, who left what could have been decent careers, to enter unstable lives as documentary producers, directors and distributors. Now the trio stands behind a company with an impressive filmography that can be studied on their website, link below. Doing also distribution of films from other European countries in Italy as well as running training and workshops. The aim is to improve the documentary culture in Italy.
One thing was always on the agenda when we met in Bardonecchia for the Documentary in Europe or in Marseille for the Sunny Side of the Doc or in Torino for visits in the office or privately: Food. When Stefano Tealdi was president for the EDN, he often joked that EDN (European Documentary Network) also could stand for Eating and Dining Network... and right he was, having workshops in the South of Europe meant good food and wine. It still does. And coming from Piemonte the wine quality in these meetings had to be high, and now - after a couple of dark years for the club - you can also talk football, about Juventus, the champions.
Concluding: it is therefore only natural that Tealdi and his colleagues send out a newsletter advertising that Stefilm from monday 18th of February till friday 22nd of February ”takes you to the wonderful world of foodmarkets” on arte. The company has produced a tv series of one (television) hour documentaries shot in the bellies of Torino, Barcelona, Budapest, Vienna and Lyon. Before this series Stefilm has been studying and producing docs on coffee, tea, gelato, pizzas of course, pasta...
Written 14-02-2013 18:52:20 by Tue Steen Müller
“Don’t be afraid of showing your passion. Prepare yourself and do your homework. Try to find out who will be present during a pitching session and what kind of slots people are responsible for. Use body language, make sure the producers see you and remember your face. Entertain your audience! They will be grateful for it. Listening to a lot of pitches can be a dull job. Make sure your project stands out. Humor always works, but in the right measure. Don’t turn the pitch into a stand-up comedy routine.”
These are just a few sentences from Paul Pauwels, a veteran in documentary sessions all over the world, a producer – and an always strong supporter of filmmakers, who have something important to say.
Of course there is no recipe for how to pitch but down-to-earth advice conveyed in an entertaining manner as does Pauwels in three texts for POV, on their website, as a guest-blogger, is good reading and useful for beginners as well as for those, who have been in the business for years. Year after year I have seen professionals doing bad presentations at the idfa Forum because they had not done their homework.
Pauwels makes his focus on the written and the verbal pitch – and (see quote above) “when you are in the room”.
Written 11-02-2013 17:24:29 by Tue Steen Müller
We knew it was serious. Ulla wrote it herself in personal facebook messages. Always in her modest, gentle way, returning the question about her health to ”but how are you” and ”how is the documentary world out there?”. A world she took active part in for more than a decade. In her kind, unselfish and competent manner.
And then came the message about her death, Saturday February 9th in Copenhagen. 45 years old...
After Ulla left DOX and EDN in 2009 to go freelance, I had only written contact with her. The following edited article was written, when she left DOX in 2009. This was and is what I recall from our working years together. I am sure many other documentary people have the same kind of memories. Let me start in Syria:
March 2009. A hotel lobby in Damascus. A group of women from the Middle East are sitting at their computers. They are journalists. They are chain smokers. They are concentrated, a bit stressed. They have a deadline for delivering texts to the daily news bulletin of the DoxBox international documentary festival, being held for the second year. A calm, Nordic looking woman goes from one to to the other. She gives advice with a smile on her face. She is the one in charge, the chief editor radiating expertise and kindness. Her name is Ulla Jacobsen. She is the natural choice for this difficult task of encouraging young journalists to express opinions and write good reports...
Ulla, editor in chief of DOX from March 1998 until early 2009, would never have accepted an intro like this. ”I am not important”, she would have said. Personal gonzo-style journalism was never something given priority by her in running a magazine, whose reputation she built up until it became the international cultural documentary magazine, where you’re always sure to find reliable information about what is going on worlwide – with the creative documentary.
DOX’s connection to EDN was clear from the outset: DOX should remain independent and never become an internal, extended EDN-newsletter. The editor should be given free reign and thus Ulla was in charge. On the other hand, the fact of having Ulla in the EDN office was an obvious advantage for both parties. Ulla often found her stories through EDN’s network of filmmakers, and EDN profited from her knowledge. She was simply part of the gang of the early days of EDN, did a lot of work for the organisation (selecting projects for workshops, giving lectures and presentations, serving on juries etc.) and her personal qualifications contributed strongly to the fine working atmosphere both in Skindergade and after moving into facilities at the Danish Film Institute. I couldn’t begin to count the times when I, as director of EDN, went to Ulla for an opinion that I knew would be based on positive analysis and common sense.
After DOX Ulla went freelance. This is how she presented herself: I make short web-videos for organisations and company websites. My film ”The Plastic Battle” for Friends of the Earth (UK) has been watched by a quarter of million people on the internet. I write feature articles about climate change, social issues and film/media.”
A true documentarian has passed away.
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Bartosz Paduch: Full support from Poland!!! Filmmakers all over the world - fight for your right to show your work!!! ...
Paul Pauwels: I hope I'm too pessimistic - and I will find out soon - but I've learned that it's not all gold that glitters... we'll see and in the mean time I'll k...
John Burgan: Sounds like a great initiative - just the sort of exchange that both schools can really benefit from....
Benoit F: J'ai déjà acheté mes places de concert......