Georg Zeller: A Second Birthday

Written 13-02-2016 19:20:40 by Tue Steen Müller

I am biased. I have known about this film to be done for years. I was a teacher at the Zelig film school in Bolzano, when Georg worked there, he showed me material that was very interesting, and I met his boy, the protagonist of the film. Now Georg sent me a vimeo link, he wants my opinion and advice on festivals. I decided, that I would only write a review if I really liked this short film on Misha, with his father behind the camera, edited by Marzia Mete, who has helped what could have ended as a private film to be a personal and universal situational documentary of great sensitivity. First about content, Georg has made a fine film synopsis so let him explain with own words:

”Misha is nine years old when the cirrhosis of his liver and his strong malnutrition make a transplant become the only option. The boy has already come face to face with death several times during his young life. He is used to his family’s constant enormous worries, to the long sojourns at hospitals throughout Europe and to a strongly limited life. But his approach to the big questions of life and death, his self–acquired belief in God and his candid and life-affirming interest to the world, broadly contradict the image of a suffering kid and unveil a conscious and experienced soul in the young body. Misha’s father follows him and his family during the months before and after the threatening but life-saving surgical intervention from immediate proximity creating a poetic and optimistic manifesto for organ donation”.

The last words might make you to think that it is a campaign film, it

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Swedish Documentaries in Krakow

Written 11-02-2016 22:42:17 by Tue Steen Müller

And the festival in Krakow has decided to put focus on Sweden at the upcoming festival. Here is a clip from the press release of today, with a photo of Polish-Swedish Jerzy Sladkowski taken last week, when he presented his “Don Juan” at Magnificent7 in Belgrade. Next to him master of cinematography of “Don Juan”, Wojciech Staron, and festival director Zoran Popovic:

This year's special guest at the 56th Krakow Film Festival will be the cinematography of Sweden. Within the frames of the section, the latest documentary and short films will be shown, as well as the programme for children and teenagers, and a selection of student films. The representatives of film industry from Sweden and Poland will meet at a joint conference.

“This is one of the most energetic cinemas in Europe, achieving many international successes, open to co-production, offering diverse and rich cinema," says Barbara Orlicz-Szczypuła, the director of the programme office.  "We found it out ourselves in the last five years, when three times the Swedish films won the most important awards in Krakow: in 2013 Tora Mårtens was given the Golden Horn for the film "Colombianos," in 2012, the same award went to Peter Gerdehag for his film "Women with Cows," and in 2011, the Silver Horn was given to Marcus Lindeen for the film "Regretters." Besides, we have close contacts with filmmakers who are connected to Sweden in their creative work, such as the eminent documentary filmmaker Jerzy Śladkowski, who repeatedly presented his films at our festival, and Magnus von Horn, awarded in Krakow for his short films, whose feature-film début "The Here After" now wins the most important trophies both in Poland and in Sweden."

56th Krakow Film Festival is held from May 29 to June 5, 2016.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dragon of Dragons to Marcel Łoziński

Written 11-02-2016 15:52:38 by Tue Steen Müller

My first reaction to the press release sent out by the Krakow Film Festival was… why not before? But I will not use it against the fine people of a festival that I have always loved a lot and intends to visit again this year – it takes place 29.5 till 5.6. Łoziński is mentioned and reviewed numerous times on this site, write his name in “search” and you will see. Personally I have had the pleasure to meet Marcel Łoziński way back on Bornholm at the Baltic Sea Film & TV Festival. His "Anything Can Happen" is on my list of Best Documentaries ever. Here is a quote from the text of the festival:

Marcel Łoziński, one of the most renowned Polish filmmakers, frequently awarded at international festivals, winner of countless film festivals and many prestigious awards, will be honoured by Krakow Film Festival with the title "Dragon of Dragons" for lifetime achievement.

"Programme Council decided to award this year's Dragon of Dragons to Marcel Łoziński for his absolute fidelity to documentary film, and, within the frames of this fidelity - for widening its means of expression. Firstly, for many years, this widening applied to examining, by the means of documentary cinema, the state of consciousness in a society undergoing political oppression. Later, starting from 1990s, - asking by the documentary filmmaker the ultimate questions, about fear, passing of time, about relationships with the loved ones and at the same time, about the right to ask these questions," this is how the nomination is explained by Professor Tadeusz Lubelski, an eminent film critic and film theoretician.

The Dragon of Dragons award, given for the 19th time this year, is the highest distinction granted by Krakow Film Foundation Programme Council, the organiser of Krakow Film Festival, in recognition for contribution to the development of international cinema in documentary and animated film genre.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

AmDocs Honours Joe Berlinger and Creates NSDN

Written 11-02-2016 15:16:13 by Tue Steen Müller

… which stands for North South Doc Network, more about that below. The festival that runs from April 30-March 4 opens with the premiere of director Joe Berlinger’s latest film ”Tony Robbins: I am not Your Guru” and includes three of the director’s previous works: ”Brother’s Keeper”, ”Under African Skies” and ”Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger”. Berlinger will receive the “Seeing the Bigger Picture” at this year’s edition of the Palm Springs-based American Documentary Film Festival.

And here follows the press release of the festival explaining the brilliant initiative behind the new festival alliance. Yes, festival should collaborate, not compete as it so often happens:

In a move that is sure to create new opportunities for documentary filmmakers all over the world, the American Documentary Film Festival (AmDocs) has forged an alliance with three other International Documentary Film Festivals, designed to allow each of them to share content.

“From the very beginning, one of our primary goals for AmDocs was to provide independent documentary filmmakers with greater access to worldwide audiences,” says Ted Grouya (photo), Founder and Festival Director for the American Documentary Film Festival (AmDocs).

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tue Steen Müller: Lithuanian Docs

Written 11-02-2016 14:22:19 by Allan Berg Nielsen


- collected posts by Tue Steen Müller on Lithuanien documentaries, directors, photographers and producers


Lituania is a Baltic country, the ost southern, and the most exciting when it comes to documentaries.

They are mostly short and based on images - the Lithuanian documentarians compose the image and treat the spectator as an intelligent person. The information needed to understand a story or a problem or a complex thematic issue is conveyed by the combination of image and sound and montage. In other words, they make FILMS and are still relatively "innocent" when it comes to adapt to television standards.

 "They" are directors like Audrius Stonys and Arunas Matelis and Oksana B. and Rimantas Gruodis. I have just been there to watch new films to be recommended to Leipzig Film Festival to which I offer scouting services. If any reader of this would like to have contact with the Lithuanian filmmakers, you can google Stonys and Matelis, who both have their own websites and will direct you to where to get hold of dvd's. (Blogpost 12-08-2007)

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

IDA: Getting Real

Written 09-02-2016 19:28:18 by Tue Steen Müller

Simon Kilmurry – previously at the POV, now in his new position as executive director of the IDA (International Documentary Association) – asked me to write about the upcoming conference of the association, ”Getting Real”, that has the headline ”Art. Diversity. Sustainability”. If you click on the link below you get more information and are asked to fill in a survey with important questions concerning the documentary genre – I did so, interesting questions, do the same.

Also, you can from the website link to a weekly ”Essential Doc Reads”, text clips on the art of documentary and to ”Documentary Magazine”, that also comes in print. Much to profit from if you make documentaries or are following it as er do on this site.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Magnificent7 Belgrade/Final Report

Written 07-02-2016 11:46:21 by Tue Steen Müller

I am back in Copenhagen after another unforgettable version of the Magnificent7 Festival, number 12 it was and of course there is reason for the organizers to be proud of what they have achieved with a festival of 7 films, one film per night, non-competitive, focus on the makers of the films, excellent picture and sound, Q&A sessions with the makers of around 1 hour, a workshop every day lasting 2 hours for young filmmakers - and for us invited guests a hospitality that is second to none.

Statistics: 6200 sold tickets, 2500 free tickets - for seven screenings - all together 8700. A record in the history of the festival.

The production team of the festival to be honoured, filmmakers themselves all of them: Jelena Stankovic, Sonja Dekic, Mila Turejlic, Andrijana Stojkovic, Iva Plemic Divjak. Press was done by Milica Novkovic. Nevena Djonlic was the programme coordinator, Svetlana and Zoran Popovic festival directors and selectors together with me (Serbian spelling) Tue Stin Mileric. Many more helped, check the website.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Staron's on Brothers

Written 04-02-2016 16:48:57 by Tue Steen Müller

Wojciech and Malgorzata Staron were in the vip room yesterday after the screening of their masterpiece ”Brothers” that was shown in the big hall of the Sava Center in Belgrade at the Magnificent7 festival. Almost 1000 viewers attended and I can not recall such a almost sacred silence of total attention in many of the sequences. To mention one: the older brother is putting on a sock with the help of pliers. The focus is on the foot and the action, the director/cameraman dares to let the camera watch – not a sound is heard in the cinema hall. Noone is checking emails, noone is chatting with the neighbour, it’s magic, because the film is magic! Because every image is composed beauty.

We were all the time during he years trying to find a balance, not to give a lot of information, we were searching for a language. We wanted to make a film in the present, not about the past.

Especially the older brother, the one who had done filming himself, was interested in our filming, also because we used several different digital cameras during the years we were filming.

The problem was that many times they were more interested in talking to us than to each other, when we came. So we were waiting for situations to come up.

Alfons, the painter, thought that the film would be about him as an artist!

One is an Artist of Life, he worked as a cartographer, the other is a dreamer. We met them in 1994, we were 20, they were 70, we became friends and kind of part of their family in Poland. They had to re-learn Polish, when they came home – and Russian when they wanted to speak about something that we should not hear!

A love story, one in the audience asked the couple. Yes, I was searching for the love between them, Wojciech Staron said. I think I found it… Oh, yes, you did indeed!

Photo: the Staron’s behind the brothers.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jerzy Sladkowski on his film Don Juan

Written 04-02-2016 16:11:02 by Tue Steen Müller

Jerzy Sladkowski’s ”Don Juan” was shown here in Belgrade the other night and his Q&A meeting with the audience in the vip room of the Sava Center lasted for more an hour in a packed room, where many were sitting or lying on the floor.

Sladkowski talked so well about the film, assisted by his cameraman Wojciech Staron, that I decided to quote him (almost) word by word, of course in an edited version.

JS: Earlier it was called Gorki, now it is Nizhny Novgorod and I wanted to make a ”feeling good/ feeling better” film on how therapists in a clinic there were healing people with traumas. Through humour. It’s Russia and Chekhov, and I wanted to work in the field between humour and sadness. We went there for research but there was no humour. We woke up in deep shit, so to say. But then Wojciech (Staron) came. To observe. He moved the camera around and said that it always stopped at this boy, Oleg. It would not have been my first choice. But then I heard him

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Cosima Spender: Palio

Written 04-02-2016 15:07:43 by Tue Steen Müller

Taken from the site of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade ( this text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about the film to be shown tonight at the Sava Center in Belgrade:

For centuries, one of the most beautiful old city-republics in Italy, Siena, two times a year becomes divided with conflicts, when all residents, from the youngest to the elderly live for Palio - one of the oldest horse races in the world. It is a specific time machine that magically revives Renaissance costumes, flags, coats of arms and trumpets, ceases everything with its primordial force and completely enchants both observers and participants. This is a real battle for prestige turned into a symbolic competition of horses and riders held in a surprising place - in the very center of Siena, on the largest city square. Old ritual lives its intense life even today with never reduced passions without scruples - turbulent Mediterranean mentality and dark tradition of political intrigues of the past times haunt freely, like a ghost, all the citizens, and no one is spared, not even the players or horses.

The director of the film, Cosima Spender, who grew up in Siena, develops this visually attractive, lavish spectacle, showing us Palio from the perspective of four generations of the best, most important race winners; from those who made the most brilliant recent history to the newest and youngest one who is preparing for a relentless battle to realize his biggest dream. The author of "Palio" conceived and developed a real exciting, cinematic film, with extraordinary photography, carefully interwoven dramaturgical flows, which achieves its dramatic climax in the events that really take your breath away! Exceptionally credited with the most attractive moments in the film, especially during the racing scenes, is the brilliant editor Valerio Bonelli, awarded for his superb work at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

"Palio" is a great and memorable cinematic feast!

Director’s Word: I grew up with the Palio so I was uniquely placed to gain the trust of everyone involved in the film and our narrator character was able to open doors which are normally closed to outsiders. Yet as a foreigner (I work out of London and my parentage is Anglo-American), I shared the jockeys' ambiguous relationship with Siena, and that is what I wanted to capture in this film. 

Review on Filmkommentaren by Sara Thelle: link

Great Britain, 2015, 92 mins.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Wojciech Staroń: Brothers

Written 03-02-2016 08:56:17 by Tue Steen Müller

Taken from the site of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade ( this text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about the film to be shown tonight at the Sava Center in Belgrade:

From the very first moment of the film, from the first wonderful scene, an unusual and poetic story unfolds in front of us, a story about two brothers and their still unsettled life history that surrounds them. This documentary takes you on the small country roads lined with meadows, in beautiful, blossoming fields, in the dark forests where two old charismatic men are walking through - a painter, constantly in search of what excites his creative spirit, and the other one, who looks like his reflection in the mirror, and who managed, like in fairy tales, to get rid of the physical connection with the character and to become its opposite - a silent, reliable companion and protector. And whatever happens, from wandering through the landscapes full of colors and impressions, riding with no apparent purpose and reason, to everyday situations

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sylvain Biegeleisen

Written 03-02-2016 08:41:30 by Tue Steen Müller

I just said goodbye to him, the director of ”Twilight of a Life”, who has played an important role in this 12th edition of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade. He came with his film about which I wrote – before the premiere in Nyon – ”…emotional it is, long time ago that I have watched a film with a smile on my face the whole way through and a tear in my eyes…”.

I had the same reaction, when I watched it here in Belgrade with the more than added value to experience the charismatic director as one who wants to follow his film, whereever he can, doing (as he did here) a masterclass, a Q&A session and a workshop.

A few words about the workshop: Sylvain Biegeleisen was together with a small group of young people from morning till afternoon. He told them that he was there to realise his ”One Day One Film” with the theme ”Memories”, with the participants being invited to bring a photo or an object to talk about what that means for them. ”My part was to be their humble servant”, Biegeleisen said, when he

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jerzy Śladkowski: Don Juan

Written 02-02-2016 09:44:46 by Tue Steen Müller

Taken from the site of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade ( this text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about the film to be shown tonight at the Sava Center in Belgrade:

This year's winner of Europe's largest documentary film festival in Amsterdam, IDFA, without a doubt is one of the best documentaries produced in recent years. The initial idea of the author was to make a film about psychiatric institutions and patients in Russia, and even during the first researches suddenly appeared Oleg, a young man trapped by autism, and his mother convinced that her son can and should do more to improve his life. Especially when it comes to women. And Oleg begins long battles to learn how to become Don Juan, to pierce even a little the armor that safely shields him from the world and girls. The camera begins to follow his therapies that slowly multiply and start turning into an interesting odyssey - from conventional conversation, to shocking, grotesque procedures, and finally to making the theater.

Following his hero, Jerzy Slatkovski with his team, in which an

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Magnificent7 Belgrade/ Report 3

Written 01-02-2016 19:13:46 by Tue Steen Müller

They got up from their chairs but did not leave right away, they stayed to honour the filmmaker, whose ”Mallory” had just ended. Helena Třeštíková received standing ovations for her film at the screening at the Sava Center, where it was number 3 of the 7 films selected for the Magnificent7 festival.

… and maybe also for her work in total – her unique method of long term observational documentary filmmaking that she talked so well about this morning at the masterclass for young filmmakers. Třeštíková brought clips from her films – to mention some: ”René”, ”Katka”, ”Marcela” – and raised the questions of ethical nature and basically how she establishes a contact/ an agreement with her protagonists. I have seen all three previous films mentioned before but the clips made me want to come back to them – they are all available on DocAlliance, link below, price for a film 2€!

Especially ”René”, about this intelligent young man, who goes in and out of prison, robs the home of the director at one point, tells her that in the beginning of their filming relationship (that has lasted 20 years!), he was a bit in love with her, that he has seen her more during the years than he has seen his mother… He is now out of prison, lives with a dancer and her child, a film star after he has been on television several times. (Czech television broadcasts her works in primetime).

Třeštíková is now working on 15 projects! Wow, what a filmmaker!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jakob Brossman: Lampedusa in Winter

Written 01-02-2016 12:57:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Taken from the site of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade ( this text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about the film to be shown tonight at the Sava Center in Belgrade:

Is there anything emptier than idyllic summer resorts in the wintertime? Jakob Brossman arrives with his crew, at such a moment of calm and low tide, when all small local problems become big events, and their main protagonists begin to resemble characters of Fellini films. On Lampedusa this is all tinged by the big, unwanted looming shadow, the drama and present of the People from the Boats, rescued in dramatic operations from storms and high seas, sometimes successfully, often not, but always at great risk. And to top it all off – discussions recalling the spirited traditions of the debate forums of the ancient world – can the fisherman survive, will Lampedusa get a ferry, what are the Africans doing in front of the church? With humor and conviviality of the Mediterranean spirit, with a lot of sound and fury, but with empathy and true understanding for the human condition. A story told in rich layers, of the clash of worlds – of Africa v. Europe, the island v. the mainland, provincial outposts v. the center, and inescapably poor v. rich.

It is certain that suffering and victims often cloud our view of the

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Magnificent7 Belgrade/ Report 2

Written 31-01-2016 16:26:10 by Tue Steen Müller

Last night. Look at the photo – Sylvain Biegeleisen, director of ”Twilight of a Life”, is on stage with festival director Zoran Popovic in Belgrade before the screening of his film at the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade. Biegeleisen is about to sing a Jacques Brel chanson to put the more than 1500 Belgraders present in the mood to be in the company with himself and first of all his mother for 71 minutes. He sings for her in the film that was received with applause for minutes. The well placed comment from my Serbian filmmaking friend next to me was like this, ”we are all crying”, right she was, from watching a woman at the end of her life full of wisdom and humour! There were noone rushing out of the cinema.

Biegeleisen had afterwards a packed Q&A session in the vip room of the Sava Center and this afternoon, in one hour, he will hold a masterclass for young and older filmmakers at the same place. I will report tomorrow about the many interesting comments that the director has conveyed and will come up with concerning his making of this wonderful work.

PS. A Sunday in Belgrade is not ”only” films… I started this morning being greeted by a young hotel receptionist, who said she had seen me several times on Serbien television. Proud I was, ”was it ok what I said”… until the answer came ”I don’t know, I watch tv without sound having music in my ears…”

PPS. And a tradition has grown: We go to the home of festival team colleague Nevena Donlic, an expert of tennis and admirer of – I am that as well now – Novak Djokovic, who played the Australian Open final against Scottish Murray, who as last year was beaten pretty easily by the Serbian phenomenon. Serbian brunch and television hospitality at its best, thanks.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Helena Třeštíková: Mallory

Written 31-01-2016 08:49:15 by Tue Steen Müller

Colleague Allan Berg wrote a review of "Mallory" when it was shown at CPH:DOX, here is how festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic introduces the film that will be shown at Magnificent7 tonight, taken from

The most recent documentary of one of the most important European authors of documentary film, awarded Grand Prix for Best Documentary at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, made in the unique style of her most famous works, born over years of work. This time Helena Trestikova spent 13 years following and recording everything important happening to Mallory, a young, initially problematic girl, who goes on to become a mother before the camera, and struggles in clumsy and unusual ways to find her place under the sun. Despite temptations and weaknesses, she matures, stumbles and falls, but always finds the strength to pick herself back up again. Precisely in these moments of refusal to submit to despair, unusual twists occur, leading this film, one of a series of the best-known films of Helena Trestikova concerning young people left to fend for themselves on the streets, to gradually become a fascinating contemporary fairy tale told in the bitter tones of precisely documented reality.

Masterfully directed, analytical and empathic to its core “Mallory” reaches the pinnacles of verité documentary films. The film was shot by a total of six different cameraman, an unavoidable consequence of the vicissitudes of such a project, but it is astounding how the photography and camera retain their style, and the frames always appear though-out and precise, full of an authentic atmosphere of the filmed space and the lighting dispositions. The excellent editing of Jakub Hejna, a long-time collaborator of Trestikova, lends the films an extraordinary dynamism, while events and years fly before our eyes building a flawless dramatic composition of the film.

“Mallory” is a powerful testament of the wonders hidden in seemingly simple images of reality, which obtain their full meaning thanks to a unique insight, one capable of encompassing long periods in the life of the main character.

Director’s Word: We hope that our film can inspire the audience, who feel that they’re not doing well in their life. (And that can happen to almost everyone.) The message of the film is simple: change is possible and hope always exists.

Czech Republic, 2015, 97 minutes

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Magnificent7 Belgrade/ Report 1

Written 30-01-2016 11:57:15 by Tue Steen Müller

12. Festival Evropskog Dugometraznog Dokumentarnog Filma… the Serbian language version for 12th European Feature Documentary Film Festival that started last night with the screening of German Kral’s ”Our Last Tango” – click on and watch the photo to see how many found their way to the Sava Center. It was record breaking, more than 2000, the first time that the balcony was opened – for the screening of a documentary. I do not recall if I have ever seen so many people gathered for a documentary screening. And judging from the applause that followed the screening the audience appreciated the choice of the lovely, spectacular, elegantly edited story about the fantastic tango dancers Maria Nieves and Juan Carlos Copes. Cinema!

And a love story difficult to make, German Kral told us at the Q&A session after the screening. Maria and Juan Carlos did at one moment not want to take part, then they changed their minds, then he found out that she had more pages in the script than him, and then she got angry watching the final film because a scene she loved was not there… it ended well, the film is there, the two masters are treated with respect and tango is being danced. Playful and joyful.

Yes, Belgrade is a city of art, a city of culture. In between tv interviews together with Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, I had time to celebrate Saint Sava’s Day, an exceptional exhibition of Russian avantgarde art, a tango concert with local Aleksandar Nikolic on bandoneon accompanied by a string orchestra – and of course visits to both classical and modern restaurants downtown and along the river.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sylvain Biegeleisen: Twilight of a Life

Written 30-01-2016 11:16:16 by Tue Steen Müller

Taken from the site of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade ( this text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about the film to be shown tonight at the Sava Center in Belgrade:

A refined documentary pearl, woven out of the finest strands that connect our inner worlds with the hidden, deepest worlds of others. A testament to a warm and fascinating communication with another being, within whom, thanks to the skill of the poet, we see a small but vigorous luminosity shining in all its power inside the body weaker than the frailest of birds. The mother of Silvain Biegeleisen, suddenly loses all physical strength at the age of 94, and he decides to spend with her and film her final days. And then a miracle happens, despite all prognosis – life refuses to bow to knowledge and begins to sing with a thin, but unstoppable voice. And an elegy, condemned to dark and narrow space suddenly, almost from the first, blossoms into a hymn to the fullness of life, the power of touch and pure emotion, an ode to joy and play, lengthening the days into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years.

Minimalist in its approach, made in black-and-white touched with

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

German Kral: Our Last Tango

Written 29-01-2016 09:51:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Taken from the site of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade ( this text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about the opening film, Friday January 29:

Buenos Aires nights echo with the sounds of the bandoneon, with stories of love, and with the unique and unmatchable beauty of tango. During such nights one of the greatest dancers in the history of tango, Maria Nieves, and her legendary partner, Juan Carlos Copes, share their memories with a group of young dancers and choreographers, who in turn convert their stories into breath-taking choreographies. These are stunning in their execution, not only supremely sophisticated and masterful, but also powerful in the emotions they embody with their movements. Before our eyes the dances transform into stories of love and passion, of tenderness and pain, of vulnerability and strength imbued by harmony

Masterful photography and camerawork, echoing unforgettable cinema cast a permanent spell with the scenes and images unfolding on the screen. Equally so, the close-ups of the two charismatic dancers, whose faces still radiate the fullness of emotion and dignity. Also extraordinary are the reconstructions of the milongas of Buenos Aires, those seminal events and places where energies crossed to create tango, where dancers’ steps wrote out its living history, whose essence the participants and authors of the film aim to reach. There is no doubt that German Kral is the ideal author of this documentary – Argentinian by birth, a European filmmaker by education and experience, and long-time collaborator of Wim Wenders, his professor at the Munich film school, whose influence extends beyond the role of executive producer on this film.

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DAFilms Portal Celebrates 10 Years

Written 26-01-2016 20:26:35 by Tue Steen Müller

… and you will, as one of the presents from this excellent ”online documentary cinema” vod, be able to watch 5 films for free, three of them by directors Peter Liechti, Viktor Kossakovsky and Sergei Loznitsa… until January 31. More generous offers like this will follow, it is announced on the site.

Also it is interesting to read a short interview with the manager of the vod, Nina Numankadić, here is a quote:

“Today, online distribution is a common thing, but in the beginnings, we were trying to set the rules and see how festival echoes would work, for instance. We were wondering whether presenting films online could endanger the festival or not, whether festival visitors would come anyway or stay athome with their computers, or how the viewers would react if the film was released online before it was released in regular theatrical distribution. However, in the course of time, even those filmmakers who first refused to put their films online, such as Russian director Victor Kossakovsky and Czech director Jana Ševčíková, dispelled their fears and their films are available on our portal today. What was important for us from the very beginning was the quality of the selected films; we were never after quantity…”

Clever words – and test it yourself, browse the list of directors whose works are available: Peter Kerekes, Helena Trestikova, Miroslav Janek… to mention some of the Central European auteurs, but also Kossakovsky, Jørgen Leth, Loznitsa…



Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Mark Cousins: Dear John (Grierson)

Written 25-01-2016 16:55:09 by Tue Steen Müller

 I love Mark Cousins, his passion for film and his constant pointing at the fact that film history is so much more than American and French and British. That goes for documentary as well. Read this text of his and see his rough cut sketch of a train trip to great films – together with John Grierson…, click below. If you click on the names, you will be taken to info about:

Sight & Sound asked me to make a short film about the wrongs of the documentary canon – which, as I argue in the September 2014 issue, has been essentially Atlanticist for generations now, lacking the bridge-builders between East and West who helped stretch the fiction film canon from the 1950s onwards. When we began cutting the movie, I realised we were going to need a bigger boat, so I am now hoping to turn it into a perhaps three-hour postscript to my 15-hour The Story of Film: An Odyssey.

This postscript will not be a straight history of documentary film, taking us through the Atlantic canon. I love those films, but have decided to leap-frog that canon to get to the rarer treasures. In order to show that my film isn’t a history of documentary, I’m calling it Dear John Grierson, and am imagining that I’m travelling the world on a train with Grierson, one of the founding fathers of the idea of documentary, to see the great films that we don’t, and should, know.

The result, I hope, will be a micro-budget Snowpiercer, in which, as we look out the window, we see masterpieces by people with names like Peleshian, Honkasalo, Tsuchimoto, Kaul, Kötting, Leduc, Perlov, Łoziński… Names that are not household, but perhaps could be, if we loved movies more.

Photo of the cover of the BFI issue with the documentary canon that Cousins thinks is too narrow. Right he is!

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

ARTE Europe – a New Initiative

Written 24-01-2016 23:23:20 by Tue Steen Müller

… that you can only welcome because it brings – for free – some arte programmes, including documentaries, to you with English subtitles (or Spanish), not to all regions but to many. Not bad at all even if you have to live with the fact that many of the programmes are subtitled but also synchronized in German or French. If you want to avoid that irritation, find some documentaries which by origin are German and French so you get the original with the English subtitles – or Spanish. Here is a description of ARTE Europe from the site of ARTE:

“ARTE Europe is a project that ARTE is running with financial support from the European Union. It involves broadcasting a selection of ARTE programmes, with English and Spanish subtitles – as well as the channel’s legacy languages (French and German) – on the Internet.This selection will be available free of charge throughout Europe and, whenever possible, the world. It will comprise 600 hours of programmes in total, which will gradually become available from November 2015 to November 2016. ARTE in English and ARTE en español feature the channel’s flagship magazine shows, including ARTE Reportage and Tracks, with new shows going online each week. Documentaries, reports, and live recordings of performances also enhance the online offering. These different programmes showcase ARTE’s cultural and European identity, and the quality of its content. As linguistic diversity is part of Europe’s cultural richness, this ARTE Europe initiative is aimed at bringing Europe’s citizens a larger choice of high-quality TV programmes. ARTE Europe is an experiment in international broadcasting that bringscontent packed with cultural value to the continent.

ARTE is rebroadcast beyond France and Germany on many satellite and cable networks in Europe and worldwide. In total, over 165 million households can watch ARTE in Europe.

A large portion (56%) of the channel’s programmes is also available in Europe and around the world (depending on distribution rights) on the ARTE+7 catch-up platform.

ARTE programmes with English and Spanish subtitles are also available on a number of other media, inter alia including the ARTE application for connected television sets.”

Photo from available “Killing Time” that won award at Cinema du Réel in 2015, according to Hollywood Reporter “an observant and formally arresting non-fiction feature from Belgian director Lydie Wisshaupt-Claudel.


Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Iikka Vehkalahti: A Good Documentary is

Written 23-01-2016 13:25:44 by Tue Steen Müller

Thanks to our own archive at I am able to bring forward clever words from Iikka Vehkalahti, who – it has been announced – is to receive an award at the upcoming Hot Docs Festival in Toronto. Here they are, first time published by the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in 2008:

...something which on one level is very private to the individual. Something that touches my life, but which also has something very universal - universal. A great film is when the private goes through the heavy block of politics/ economics/ media and reaches the universal, is in dialogue with it. Every action a person takes reflects his/her values. There are things which are common to all of us in the world: basic values (like justice), basic emotions (like fear and joy) and experiences (like pain or falling in love) and a good documentary has this universal nature that makes it so dear to so many. Don’t try to make international films. Make films which are more near to you. The most local films are sometimes the most international, because they are universal.

In a good documentary the director and his camera see things, go deeper than just showing things or events in front of the camera. For several reasons I have really started to miss camerawork where the camera really sees. An example: very often now a director makes a documentary following the story of the protagonist in such a way, that the narrative story (will he survive the sickness? will he divorce? etc…) means that it is not so important how the whole film has been shot at all.
A good documentary needs a story, but the story can be something more than just a flat “story”, it can be associative, emotional, fact-based, philosophical. Life is richer than Hollywood describes.

And finally a good documentary will live in time: it has a timeless character. A good documentary is something that you will look at after 10 years and after 50 years its value is still higher.
The film goes deeper and deeper. There must be a moral and philosophical element too.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Flaherty Seminar 2016

Written 22-01-2016 16:49:47 by Tue Steen Müller

The 62nd Robert Flaherty Film Seminar… an institution, have only heard good about it, and not only from my former EDN colleague Anita Reher, who is head of the Flaherty, has something in common with the Danish folk high school tradition, films are watched and discussed from morning till night. You all stay the same place, eat and drink together. If you sign up, you do so without knowing which films are to be screened, but looking at the cv of the programmer, I don’t think you take a risk. His name is David Pendleton and

“he curates many of (and oversees all of) the screenings that make up the Harvard Archive's ongoing cinematheque programming for the public. He has organized wide-ranging retrospectives of such varied filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock, John Akomfrah and Warren Sonbert and has taught courses on 20th century film history and on the representation of masculinity in contemporary cinema…” His inviting well written promotion text for the seminar, love it, here it is:

A cinema at play is a cinema that breathes -- a cinema open to the shifting rhythms of the world. Play implies looseness, experimentation, chance, a suspension of judgment in favor of a child's open-ended curiosity. Play allows cinema to be a vital, living thing, one that faces the world with innocence, hoping to experience rather than persuade.

If spectacle demands a taut cinema, with no time for digression, the 2016 Flaherty Seminar is dedicated to a cinema of wandering, of curiosity and wonder. The filmmakers featured use the camera to encounter the world in all of its unpredictable glory and horror. The forms taken by these encounters are equally unexpected in their poetic depth and political range: visual sonnets, alternative histories, and diary films. As these films show, cinema at play is not aimless or fanciful but open-the kind of open -- endedness that exists in any system with room for variation, like an image whose meaning is not fixed, a country caught between colonial past and capitalist present, or simply an individual who feels the tug of history.”

All details can be found on:

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Tabitha Jackson – Interview

Written 21-01-2016 20:16:11 by Tue Steen Müller

A couple of days ago the trade magazine Indiewire brought an interview (by Chris O’Falt) with Tabitha Jackson, the director of the Sundance Documentary Film Program. Jackson who, when she was working for Channel4 in England, was a very much wanted panelist when I was working for EDN, because of her always interesting, constructive and analytical comments to the filmmakers and their projects, here she talks like this:

"When we look at how documentaries are discussed, too often it's a focus on what they are about and whether the main character is sympathetic," Jackson told Indiewire in a recent interview. "I’d just like the conversation around nonfiction film to be as exciting as the form itself. When we think about literature, poetry, fiction, or music, it's not about what is being said, it's about how it is being said and who is saying it, that's what makes things last and that's what makes things have cultural value."

Yes, Yes, Yes… agree, the eternal ”what is it about” and ”who and how are the main characters” should be dedicated less attention in the tons of pitching sessions that we organise.

Read the whole interview that gives an idea about what the Sundance Program is supporting. Jackson also mentions the new Polish film that premieres at the Sundance Festival, ”All these Sleepless Nights” by Michal Marczak: "The texture of the film reads like Godard as the filmmaker's capturing the lives of 20-year-olds in Warsaw who are asleep all day and awake all night with such an intensity — that 20-year-old intensity — it's really interesting. It's not about something, but then again it's about everything: Life, death and love."

Photo: Sundance Institute.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Avi Mograbi in Berlin Forum

Written 20-01-2016 16:20:37 by Tue Steen Müller

Israeli Avi Mograbi is one of the most remarkable "auteurs" of our time. If you want to know more you are welcome to check posts made on this site on his work - since 2008, more than 30 that includes his name. Now he is there with a new film, this text is taken from his FB page:

... My new film "Between Fences" was selected to the Berlinale's Forum!
produced by LesFilms Dici, theater facilitator and director Chen Alon photography by Philippe Bella Bellaiche, music by Noam Enbar:

Avi Mograbi and theater director Chen Alon meet African asylum-seekers in a detention facility in the middle of the Negev desert where they are confined by the state of Israel. Together, they question the status of the refugees in Israel using ‘Theater of the Opressed’ techniques. What leads men and women to leave everything behind and go towards the unknown? Why does Israel, land of the refugees, refuse to take into consideration the situation of the exiled, thrown onto the roads by war, genocide and persecution? Can the Israelis working with the asylum seekers put themselves in the refugee’s shoes? Can their collective unconscious be conjured up?

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sylvain Biegeleisen – Interview

Written 18-01-2016 20:38:57 by Tue Steen Müller

A true artist, presented in the interview as ”film director and producer, writer, painter and video artist, photographer and musician, group moderator and singer…”. Sylvain Biegeleisen is interviewed by EDN, that does monthly conversations with members, this one being very informative about the director of the wonderful ”Twilight of a Life” that is one of the Magnificent Seven festival in Belgrade choices.

Here are some quotes from the interview on the site of EDN, read it all, it is uplifting reading, optimistic words from a man who shares his time and work between Belgium, Israel and Switzerland:

“Cinema, for me, can be an important tool to help populations at risk to re-integrate into society and become constructive members, instead of using violence to express their disappointments of life and their personal frustrations. Every group is creating their own film based on issues that are important for the participants. With the help of professionals, they learn to cooperate, become creative, disciplined and at the end, the result is a "broadcast quality film" they can be proud of. That's the power of these Social Cinema Projects and that's the reason why I created the Lahav NGO.

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Miroslav Janek – Interview

Written 17-01-2016 20:15:54 by Tue Steen Müller

As a follow-up on our ”collected posts” on Czech documentary maker Miroslav Janek here are some quotes from an interview made a month ago by Doc Alliance, below is a link to the whole interview, absolutely to be recommended.

Janek on editing: As an editor, I have been successfully driving directors away from the editing room. Now I drive myself away without much effort. After endless talks with editor Tonička (the wife of Janek, ed.), I delegate all of the material to her and I let her look for new connections and ties yet unrevealed by me, hoping that she will find them. I only enter the editing room when the film shape has been roughly sculpted. However, this active involvement in the editorial process is impossible without a thorough knowledge of the shot material. Before I entrust the material to Tonička’s hands, or rather her mind and soul, I map it carefully, I choose the things I consider substantial and later I gradually “taste” the material, drawing various meaningless and sometimes even meaningful partial ideas on paper…

Janek: I still see film as a visual medium, not a radio one. Although I do not underestimate the sound dramaturgy of the film in any way; quite on the contrary. However, if there is to be at least some space for sound dramaturgy, one has to cut the cackle. I really admire those documentaries (and I envy them terribly) in which nothing is said for like ten minutes and yet the viewers are breathless, the poetic suspense and mystery are growing and the screen... I’m speaking too much again…

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

12th Magnificent Seven in Belgrade

Written 16-01-2016 13:51:48 by Tue Steen Müller

… with the long subtitle ”European Feature Documentary Film Festival” starts on January 29 and goes on until February 4… Time for a small warm-up to this yearly celebration of the documentary film on the screen in the Sava Center in Belgrade. For one who during the year watches most documentaries on his computer it is an extraordinary experience for seven nights to sit down with around 1000 viewers to enjoy a documentary film on a big screen followed by meetings with the makers – and to be totally spoilt by the warm hospitality of Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, the festival directors, and their loyal team of young and younger film people, many of them former students of the Popovic couple, who run the Kvadrat film school in Belgrade.

I will post daily from the festival with promotional texts about the 7 films selected by the festival directors and me, plus reports from the Q&A and seminar sessions that the invited filmmakers do with the participation of local filmmakers.

The seven films of this year are, in the order of screenings: ”Our Last Tango” (German Kral), ”Twilight of a Life” (Sylvain Biegeleisen), ”Mallory” (Helena Trestikova), ”Lampedusa in Winter” (Jakob Brossmann), ”Don Juan” (Jerzy Sladkowski) , ”Brothers” (Wojciech Staron), Palio (Cosima Spender).

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Oscar, Robert and Bodil

Written 15-01-2016 06:45:04 by Tue Steen Müller

The nominations are announced for the Academy Awards (Oscar), the Danish Film Academy Awards (Robert) and the Danish Film Critics Award (Bodil). In the feature documentary categories it goes like this:


Amy” (Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees), ”Cartel Land” (Matthew Heinemann and Tom Yellin), ”The Look of Silence” (Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge-Sørensen), ”What Happened, Miss Simone?” (Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes), ”Winter on Fire” (Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmar)


At Home in the World” (Andreas Koefoed), ”15 Minutes – the Dvor Massacre” (Georg Larsen & Kasper Vedsmand), ”Natural Disorder” (Christian Sønderby Jepsen), ”Something Better to Come” (Hanna Polak), ”The Man Who Saved the World” (Peter Anthony)


At Home in the World” (Andreas Koefoed), ”Misfits” (Jannik Splidsboel), ”Fassbinder – to Love Without Demands” (Christian Braad Thomsen), ”The Man Who Saved the World” (Peter Anthony), ”Natural Disorder” (Christian Sønderby Jepsen).

Photo: ”At Home in the World”, my favourite at the two Danish award ceremonies.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

A New Dynasty – Created in China

Written 13-01-2016 18:15:27 by Tue Steen Müller

If in Aarhus, second largest city in Denmark with a very active cultural life, don’t miss the art museum Aros that has always interesting exhibitions and a fine collection of new Danish artists like Per Kirkeby, recently portrayed in a new documentary by Anne Wivel.

In between the Baltic Frames documentary festival there was time to visit the museum that has the rainbow panorama circle roof as the guiding star into the many floors, where ”our” exhibition were placed on two of them with works of 24 ”of the most significant Chinese contemporary artists”, several of them with critical comments in their works to the society and its politics, to Mao’s cultural revolution of course – but several were looking into history and myths with so-called poetic reflection and ”respect for the craft and the rich cultural past”.

There were paintings, installations, sculptures, video art of high quality – and the one on the photo I took:

”Holidays” from 2012 by Ji Wenyu and Zhu Weibing, a visit to the nature, the whole family is there, dressed nicely, ready to be photographed, staged documentary photo, an interpretation of a Chinese reality where nature is something you create!

The excellent exhibition, that also includes a work by super star Ai Wei Wei, runs until May 22 2016

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Frames Aarhus

Written 11-01-2016 19:44:49 by Tue Steen Müller

The Baltic documentary festival in Aarhus, in the wonderful art house cinema Øst for Paradis (”East of Eden”) took off saturday with a full house screening of the classic ”Ten Minutes Older” by Herz Frank and Lithuanian Giedre Zickyte’s ”Master and Tatyana”. Sunday a seminar entitled ”Poetic Baltic Documentaries in a Contemporary Perspective” was held with Pille Rünk, Giedre Zickyte and Uldis Cekulis as speakers – I had the pleasure of being the moderator of the two hour talk that circled around the theme of ”Conversing with the Soviet Past” the theme of all the films in the festival. Zickyte’s film is mentioned, later on the sunday brought to screen Peteris Krilovs film on Gustav Klucis and Martti Helde’s impressive ”In the Crosswind” that ran in Danish cinemas November last year.

Today, monday, two films were screened, Zickyte’s ”How We Played the Revolution” and Estonian ”The Russians on Crow Island” by Sulev Keedus – tuesday Latvian Viesturs Kairiss is on screen with his Tjernobyl film, ”The Invisible City”.

It is the plan of the main organizer, The Danish Cultural Institute, to continue the festival next year, where Aarhus is one of the European Capitals.

Photo: From the left the curators Niels Bjørn Wied and Signe van Zundert, Head of the Danish Cultural Institute in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Simon Drewsen Holmberg, Estonian film producer Pille Rünk, Lithuanian director Giedre Zickyte and Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Giedre Zickyte: Master and Tatyana

Written 11-01-2016 14:15:36 by Tue Steen Müller

So, there it is, the film about the Lithuanian photographer Vitas Luckus (1943-1987), his life, his art and first of all his love story with muse and wife, Tatyana. (Screened at the cinema Øst For Paradis, Aarhus at the festival "Baltic Frames") It is made by Giedre Zickyte, who has been working on it for years. I heard about it five (maybe more) years ago, when she was pitching the film at the Baltic Sea Forum, and since then I have had the pleasure to watch sequences and rough versions. Yes, pleasure, because Giedre Zickyte has kept the passion for her film the whole way through, and pleasure because you can see Quality, high Quality in the final film. For me it’s brilliant, nothing less… the whole review, click. (Blogpost from 28-09-2015)

Trailer: link via Facebook

Categories: Cinema, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Power of Documentaries...

Written 09-01-2016 13:43:52 by Tue Steen Müller

on the Oscar Trail … is the headline of an interesting article in New York Times by Cara Buckley, January 6. It mentions the changed rules for documentaries and reflects a bit on the who could be the winner this year, where15 films are shortlisted waiting for the 5 nominees to be announced on January 14. A quote that outlines what could happen:

”… the Academy is known to favor show business movies and, lo, two of the last three winners of the documentary prize, along with one of this year’s front-runners, “Amy,” the story of Amy Winehouse, are about just that. In 2013, when the nominated documentaries delved into subjects like AIDS and conflict in the Middle East, the prize went to “Searching for Sugar Man,” about a tremendously gifted, woefully obscure musician from Detroit. For the 2014 awards, when the nominees included Oppenheimer’s artful, devastating “The Act of Killing,” about death squads in Indonesia, along with films about the Egyptian uprising and deadly covert American military operations, the Oscar went to “20 Feet From Stardom,” about backup singers who were largely forgotten despite having been instrumental (as it were) in making hits.

“The knock against the system is people think it favors films that are more about show business,” Mr. Powers (director of New York Film Festival) said. “Well, of course it does. The Association of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is an organization of show business people. Why shouldn’t it?”…”

Two other show business films are on the list of 15 are ”Listen to Me, Marlon” and ”What happened to Miss Simone”, as ”Amy” good films – anyway, allow me to cross fingers for ”The Look of Silence” by Joshua Oppenheimer, produced by Danish company Final Cut for Real. This film (and ”The Act of Killing”) has, in terms of subject and innovative storytelling, already found a place in new documentary history. But first the nomination to come next week.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Best Documentaries 2015 Introduction

Written 03-01-2016 14:33:37 by Tue Steen Müller

Below you find my list of ”Best Documentaries 2015” as well as a list of ”Documentary Talents of 2015”. I could also – like the DOKLeipzig did – have called the latter ”Next Masters”. Anyway, here they are, in a random order, 10 in each category. With the comment that I have seen quite a lot but not all of course, and please do not wonder why fine works like ”The Sound of Silence”, ”Democrats” and ”Citizen Four” do not appear. Simple reason: they were on the list of 2014.

Most documentaries have been watched on this MacBook Pro or other computers. Sorry filmmakers, I know that you want the big screen for your works, and you deserve that, but without the generous vod’s IDFA’s Docs For Sale, IDF’s East Silver, DOK Leipzig’s video market, CPH:DOX and distributors and filmmakers who have sent me vimeo links… I would have had no chance to get an overview for filmkommentaren and for the film selection for DOCSBarcelona and Magnificent7 in Belgrade.

Nevertheless thanks to all the festivals and workshops which have invited and treated me well - and where I have been able to enjoy films on a big screen together with an audience.

From winter-cold Belgrade to springtime California, to the warm

Read more / Læs mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Best Documentaries 2015

Written 03-01-2016 14:01:04 by Tue Steen Müller

A Syrian Love Story, Sean McAllister

Brothers, Wojciech Staron

The Wolfpack, Crystal Moselle

Listen to Me, Marlon, Stevan Riley

Amy, Asif Kapadia

Varicella, Viktor Kossakovsky

The Event, Sergei Loznitsa

Twilight of a Life, Sylvain Biegeleisen

Ingrid Bergman, In Her Own Words, Stig Björkman (photo)

Beyond the Fear, Herz Frank & Maria Kravchenko

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Documentary Talents 2015

Written 03-01-2016 13:55:00 by Tue Steen Müller

The Gleaners, Ye Zuyi

Lampedusa in Winter, Jakob Brossmann

Elephant’s Dream, Kristof Bilsen

When the Earth Seems to be Light, Salome Machaidze, Tamuna Karumidze & David Meskhi.

Train to Adulthood, Klára Trencsényi

Ukrainian Sheriffs, Roman Bondarchuk & Dar´ya Averchenko

Olmo & the Seagull, Petra Costa & Lea Glob

Master and Tatyana, Giedre Zickyte

Strange Particles, Denis Klebeev (photo)

Thy Father’s Chair, Antonio Tibaldi & Alex Lora

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Haskell Wexler 1922-2015/ 2

Written 29-12-2015 20:24:23 by Tue Steen Müller

The IDA, International Documentary Association, pays tribute to Haskell Wexler:

“In his rich and impactful career, Haskell Wexler inspired, mentored and befriended scores of filmmakers, who, spurred by not only his artistic verve but also his unwavering commitment to social issues and his singular wit and wisdom, went on to make a difference in their own careers. We reached out to various friends and colleagues of Haskell Wexler to share their thoughts about him…”

They are sound recordist Alan Barker, cinematographer Christine Burrill, cinematographer and director Joan Churchill, director/editor Johanna Demetrakas, director Lisa Leeman, director Pamela Yates.  

Wonderful to read, do so on

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Haskell Wexler 1922-2015

Written 28-12-2015 13:03:11 by Tue Steen Müller

Legendary Haskell Wexler died yesterday, 93 years old. Long obituaries giving information on his impressive career are to be found in Hollywwod Reporter, Variety and Indiewire (links below), several FB friends salute his strong contribution to film history and social documentary.

I met Wexler briefly at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs this year in March. He was on stage with colleagues, one of them being Joan Churchill, who is currently making ”My Dinner With Haskell” – here is a short quote from her website:

“My Dinner with Haskell” is a feature length documentary about the legendary cinematographer and inspirational activist filmmaker, Haskell Wexler, who we follow over a 2 year period as he interacts with the people & events in his life, using his influence to promote his message of social justice and hope, both within & outside of the Hollywood system…

A clip was shown from that upcoming film with Churchill herself behind the camera and Wexler and Pennebaker in debate about “to set up scenes or not to set up scenes”, the latter making films according to what was formulated in the prologue to the seminar by Robert Drew’s son: recording life as it happens, whereas Wexler said the vérité films – another word frequently used over there in the US – is all fiction, somebody’s fiction, ”a lot of what I did in “Medium Cool” was scripted.”

The 93 year old Haskell Wexler was wonderful in Palm Springs, concluding the session by saying ”forget about How and Technique, what matters is Why”.

I took the photo of Wexler (left) and the organiser of the memorable seminar, colleague of Wexler cinematographer Fred Goodrich.

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance: From All of Us to All of You

Written 21-12-2015 16:36:20 by Tue Steen Müller

Yes, this is how one the partners, CPH:DOX, of the very generous DocAlliance, ends the year with a Disney quote. And it IS a veeery good present that you should accept. The online platform – after a brilliant series of films by Miroslav Janek – offers 16 films (including a couple of masterclasses) FOR FREE, to be watched until next year, January 3rd.

If you have not seen them already, it is a must to go to Viktor Kossakovsky´s ”Vivan las Antipodas”, and to Eyal Sivan’s 128 minutes ”The Specialist” from 1999, with a quote from the text of the site:

“The incredible trial of an appallingly ordinary man. Drawn entirely on the 350 hours of rare footage recorded during the trial of Adolf Eichmann (photo), in 1961, in Jerusalem, this film about obedience and responsibility, is the portrait of an expert in problems resolving, a modern criminal. The film is inspired from the controversial book by Hannah Arendt : "Eichmann in Jerusalem, report on the banality of evil"”.

And one more to be mentioned, check the rest through the website, link below, a film from 2012 that I did not see yet, by film essayist Peter Mettler, “The End of Time”:

“Working at the limits of what can easily be expressed, filmmaker Peter Mettler takes on the elusive subject of time, and once again turns his camera to filming the unfilmmable.

From the particle accelerator in Switzerland, where scientists seek to probe regions of time we cannot see, to lava flows in Hawaii which have overwhelmed all but one home on the south side of Big Island; from the disintegration of inner city Detroit, to a Hindu funeral rite near the place of Buddha's enlightenment, Mettler explores our perception of time.”

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Bettina Perut & Iván Osnovikoff: Surire

Written 18-12-2015 08:23:34 by Tue Steen Müller

It starts with a symphony in image and sound. Close up on the earth, the soil somewhere in the universe, focus on small bubbles that become bigger, take a different shape and tune, sounds that take different notes, suddenly it feels more smooth, sometimes like it is coming closer, one bubble looks like a sea animal through the closeness of the camera – and then, cut, to a full size landscape image, some radio communication sounds not identifiable for my ear, cut to fingers which take away ice from clothes that are to be washed and hanged up to dry. It is cold where we are but the sun shines – nature is showing its greatness, diverse, here in layers with mountains at the back. You can only use one word: Beautiful. The filmmakers have taken an aesthetic choice upfront, we as spectators know what to expect, we have high hopes.

A man, the one who washed his clothes, observes and dictates

Read more / Læs mere


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Machaidze, Karumidze & Meskhi: When the Earth...

Written 17-12-2015 09:36:35 by Tue Steen Müller

Some facts:

Full title: When the Earth Seems to be Light

Full names of directors: Salome Machaidze, Tamuna Karumidze & David Meskhi. A Georgian/ German coproduction. Produced by Goslab & Jörg Langkau. Co-Produced by Zaza Rusadze, Zazarfilm.

… and a review: Wow is a word I like to use, when I am surprised in a positive way. This film fascinated me totally. From start till end. You never know what comes next. It seems to be free of classical dramaturgical rules, maybe it is not, but it had so much power that I did not notice any. I went with the flow, literally, of the skating youngsters in Tbilisi (and Batumi), with the music that the skates make, with the music that accompanied their moving around, sometimes a requiem, sometimes rap music, sometimes real location sounds again and again, several of them disturbing, being from archive footage of demonstrations in the streets: Priests acting against a LGBT parade, if I got it right.

My old critic head made me think of Juris Podnieks ”Is it Easy to

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Klára Trencsényi: Train to Adulthood

Written 16-12-2015 13:34:48 by Tue Steen Müller

This film was awarded as the best in the ”Next Masters” section of the DOKLeipzig festival this autumn. Very well deserved as Klára Trencsényi already before (primarily with ”Bird’s Way”) has shown how masterful cinematography looks, when she is behind the camera. With ”Train to Adulthood” she adds to the skills by getting close to two families with kids - and huge social problems. She has made an emotionally strong documentary that is telling us about a social reality in Hungary, that could have taken place in other Eastern European countries. In one family: Mum and Dad work abroad, the kids live with their grandparents. In the other family: Mum lives with her three children but is forced out of her home as she can not pay rent and electricity.

Klára Trencsényi, however, frames her story about kids journey to leave childhood with a bitter-sweet story about them being part of

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Herz Frank – Collected Posts on his Works

Written 12-12-2015 14:42:52 by Allan Berg Nielsen


Always with a camera at hand, be it to catch a moment in life...



by Allan Berg Nielsen

The camera from high above shows me Riga. The city set in its landscape. I'm drawn closer, zooming in on roofs and individual buildings. Ending with the synagogue, the one from back then. The camera dwells on the inscription on a stone tablet: 'Forever remember our Parents, brothers, sisters and children murdered and burned by fascists in the year of 5701. Let their Souls be bound securely in the Bundle of the Living. For Jews of Riga Ghetto, the Martyrs of Faith'.

Herz Frank outlines the story. The Russian occupation, then the German. The latter called a liberation by some, but disavowed by the film. It describes new suppression. The Latvian flag was removed everywhere, the picture shows the arrests being made, and the director comments in his voice-over "Like in all Times they started with Temples". The synagogues burn…

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

Robert Frank – Collected Posts on his Works

Written 12-12-2015 11:57:11 by Allan Berg Nielsen


... it becomes indirectly an adaption of Ginsberg’s poem. And at the same time it is a film about Frank’s doubts about filming this. It sounds wild and it is. It is radical and most unique. Avant-garde and uncompromising, not as a stylistic or artistically experimental take, but because it is necessary for a purpose: a search for truth. (Sara Thelle)



By Tue Steen Müller


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

For instance the one from today: more documentaries are reviewed – and there is a long and informative, and superbly illustrated, article on the phenomenon Robert Frank, “The Man Who Saw America” (link) (Post 02-07-2015)

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Miroslav Janek – Collected Posts on his Works

Written 11-12-2015 14:21:55 by Tue Steen Müller


Three persons in one room. Plus a film crew. Not a lot of space but the great Czech director and cameraman Mira Janek manages to move around to observe and catch the intense atmosphere of quite a unique family: blind mother, blind daughter and seeing man. The mother is the central character and the one that communicates with the camera, the one that performs wonderfully for the viewers and the one whose story we get told without any sentimentality but with energy and humour... (Tue Steen Müller)



The prestigious Berlin film festival, the Berlinale, offers a good selection of documentaries this year. 30 it is according to the excellent website of IDF (Institute of Documentary Film), that is based in Prague. The Berlinale takes place February 7-17 and among the films screened are two that have been writen about on this blog: "Citizen Havel" by Pavel Koutecky and Miroslav Janek (01-02-2008)



The documentary film about Vaclav Havel (directed by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek) has now been seen by 100.000 viewers in the Czech Republic. The film was released in January 2008, runs 119 minutes but can now also be seen in a director's cut version that runs twenty minutes longer.

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Khaled Jarrar: Good Morning Occupation

Written 09-12-2015 18:06:52 by Tue Steen Müller

This text is taken from the FB page of film director and visual artist, Palestinian Khaled Jarrar, whose documentary “Infiltrators” has been reviewed on this site, as well as his visual happenings. This scary, visually strong written report comes from his private life. It is his photo, more on his FB page:

I woke up around 2 this morning to the deafening sound of soldiers in my neighborhood. I went to the window and the (not so) shocking scene of 40 Israeli soldiers were outside, haphazardly breaking into houses. They shifted course and I found them walking toward my street – 20 meters away. What do I do? I thought. As they got closer to my building, I could feel the growing fear build up inside of me, which conflicted with my sense of relief that at least my children weren’t home that night – a small consolation. 
Before I knew it their heavy boots were trying to kick down the door downstairs. The sound of shattered glass shattered the silence of the calm night – which up until minutes before, families and students laid in the safety of their beds, quietly dreaming of something better than the scene before me. I called the Palestinian police hoping they could intervene or help, but I seemed to have wasted my call credit. “You live in Area B,” the dispatcher said over the phone. “We can’t do anything about it.” I played with that idea a moment in my mind – Area B. As opposed to what alternative? Area D? I’ll take that, it’s probably better than whatever this fake designation was.The sound became louder and my anxiety grew more intense when I heard the sound of something small and metallic bounce around the stairwell. Moments later I smelled teargas and ran to the bathroom, the farthest point in my apartment from the stairwell, and tried to wait it out. I put towels everywhere trying to prevent the gas from infiltrating the cracks, but it was pointless. My throat began to dry and burn and I couldn’t see from the amount of tears overflowing in my eyes and down my cheeks. Maybe they thought they could smoke me out, but what sane person would come out voluntarily to a military mob hungry for brutality? It seemed after awhile they had given up trying to break in and moved onto the next innocent target.
 Although they seemed to leave the building, I could still hear them in the neighborhood – so I sat in the bathroom waiting it out. After an hour or so in that state, I finally heard them leave – or at least leave my neighborhood. I opened the door slowly and the tear gas assaulted me. With a towel around my face, I ran toward the windows and opened them, hoping to air out the suffocating gas. 
I made my way downstairs to check on the neighbor, who was in a similar state. I walked outside to check on the other neighbors and it seemed the soldiers were looking for Birzeit University students. Those they found, they arrested in the freezing cold night. Those they didn’t were given orders: surrender to military intelligence tomorrow morning at 9. Good morning occupation. Thanks for Tamara for helping me with the English.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Miroslav Janek

Written 07-12-2015 20:35:30 by Tue Steen Müller

I have run into a slate of giving verbal flowers to documentarians, whose work I appreciate a lot and who are to be highlighted right now for one reason or the other. Earlier today it was Sérgio Tréfaut who visits Copenhagen and a couple of days ago it was Filip Remunda with two new films. Tonight it is due to the exceptional fine offer given to us by the equally exceptional DocAlliance: An online retrospective with director, cinematographer and editor Czech Miroslav Janek FOR FREE, so go ahead folks out there, it is world class.

7 films to be watched available until December 20. ”Citizen Havel” (2007), ”Olga” (2014), ”The Gospel According to Brabenac” (2014) and the beautiful ”The Unseen” (1997) about blind children taking photographs plus 3 more I have not seen: ”For Semafor” (2010), ”Purple Snails” (2001) and ”Little City in Space” (1984).

You can read much more about Janek on the site of DocAlliance, they have good writers and I can fully second the characterisation of Janek having ”empathy without pathos” towards his characters. I have met and worked with him, when we both were tutors at the Ex Oriente, we are the same generation, it helps a conversation with a man, who has an unpretentious and professional approach to filmmaking.

Personally I am looking forward to having this small MacBook Cinema festival – join me, you won’t regret it!

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sérgio Tréfaut

Written 07-12-2015 11:26:31 by Tue Steen Müller

The reason for this small homage to the Portuguese director, producer and promoter for the documentary film genre is that the Danish Cinematheque in Copenhagen shows a mini-series of the director’s work, starting this coming thursday with the masterpiece ”Alentejo, Alentejo” from 2014, that has Joao Ribeiro as cameraman, from my point of view one of the best in Europe. A quote from the review I wrote about the film on this site:

”… In this –to warn you: I will not be short of praising adjectives in this review – wonderful emotional journey into the history of ”cante”, its roots, its connection to the farming and cooking culture (you see how a bread soup is made, and how bread is baked and red wine is enjoyed) you are invited to enjoy the ”cante” singing by primarily male choirs constituted by Men with furrowed faces and well-fed stomachs, who make the most beautiful performances. You may close your eyes and enjoy, but it would be wrong as the camera catches superbly the faces and the English subtitles, as good as subtitles can be, give you the content of the songs…”

Two other films by Tréfaut is on the programme in Copenhagen, ”Another Country” from 2000, produced by Pedro Martins, about the carnation revolution and ”Fleurette” from 2002 about his mother and her son, the director. Informative and personal and always with an artistic ambition. Here is the cv of Sérgio Tréfaut from his own website:

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH


Written 05-12-2015 17:19:20 by Tue Steen Müller

… or you could also say moments from films that don’t leave you even if you have been watching many, really many as I have during the last month or so, in Leipzig, in Copenhagen, in Minsk, in Amsterdam or Paris. Mostly on my MacBook Cinema, through links, not perfect I know that, but practical.

I have picked three, a Danish/Basque, a Dutch and a German/Argentinian.

In ”Pelota II”, a film by Jørgen Leth and Olasz Gonzalez Abrisketa, the cameraman Dan Holmberg knows what he is doing, when he travels the Basque towns and villagers to film the frontons that are used to play the national sport, pelota, that he, Jørgen Leth and Ole John made a film about in 1983. Now the Basque has asked them to come back to remake an informative and artistic interpretation of the culture, in the style of Jørgen Leth, conveying his fascination with his so well known voice taking the viewer along. The sequence with the frontons, one after the other, is so beautifully photographed and put together.

A totally different camera style is used by Dutch Morgan Knibbe in his ”Those Who Feel the Fire Burning”. For a long time the camera

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Letter from Paris

Written 04-12-2015 11:35:00 by Tue Steen Müller

Two days left of a two week holiday stay in Paris. For the third time in the same rented apartment in rue Saint Denis near rue Réaumur and Blvd. Sebastopol. And it was a different stay this time after November 13, where 130 innocent people were killed and more than 300 injured. On the photo me with ”le Monde” carrying the headline, a quote from the President, ”Ils étaient la Jeunesse de France”. I bought it on the day where Francois Hollande presided the National Hommage for the victims in la cour de l'Hôtel national des Invalides. We watched it on television – it was from a visual point of view a perfect mise en scène of dignity with the President in focus, arriving alone to sit on a modest chair in front of the rows of invited relatives of the victims and politicians and soldiers and police and whoever is in the top of the civil and military adminstration. Hollande made a good speech as far as I understood it in a moment of grief. It was not only la marseillaise that was played, there was Bach, a chanson by Barbara and moving it was to hear ”Quand on n'a que l'amour” by Jacques Brel, performed by three women. They did well, but if you want to hear it performed by the master himself, go to youtube.

France is in a state of emergency, the COP21 Climate meeting started last weekend, you see and feel it in the centre of the city of Paris, where we have had our walks. Lots of

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Service Continued

Written 03-12-2015 17:14:56 by Tue Steen Müller

The IDFA festival sent out a newsletter with these words included: “Are you in the mood to reminisce about your last two weeks in Amsterdam, or have a look at what you missed? The IDFA website's got it covered in text, audio and video…”

And right it is, whether you were in Amsterdam or not, take a look, and enjoy interviews with directors, texts, podcasts – the most interesting for me, however, was the section “Kill Your Darlings” that includes deleted scenes from 12 of the films from the festival program.

I picked 3, the first one “Olmo and the Seagull” (photo) that was seen and reviewed by Allan Berg on this site. One of the directors, Petra Costa, explains why the scene was taken out. For me the scene illustrates what intensity in a dialogue scene can be. The review and this clip makes me want to see the film asap.

The second one is from “Ukrainian Sheriffs” by Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko, a film that I have been close to but I had forgotten the scene

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Filip Remunda

Written 02-12-2015 11:13:13 by Tue Steen Müller

I have known Filip Remunda since he and colleague Andrea Prenghyova around the turn of the century came to an EDN workshop in Bardonecchia Italy to get advice on how to set up what became brilliant IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) and the Ex Oriente that I had the privilege to work for – for many years. Filip is still with Ex Oriente, he is a teacher, organisor, producer and director. Some years later he and Vit Klusák made the huge success ”Czech Dream” that went all over the world. This docu-comedy was followed by ”Czech Peace” in 2010, again by the two, who fully demonstrated their satirical talent for clever comments on the Czech society. It was praised by their soul-mate in humourous filmmaking, Michael Moore. The present Czech society and its xenophobia is also going to be the subject of the next film to be directed by Klusák, pitched at CPH:DOX recently by its producer Filip. I wrote the following:

”The White World According to Daliborek” to be directed by Vit Klusak is described as ”… a horror movie about the Czech desire for a white Europe…” Remunda was powerful and engaged on stage and the trailer was indeed a scary meeting with Dalibor, who says that he was ”looking for warmth and found it in a nazi group”.

On that occasion I asked Filip for a link to the film that he and Slovak director Robert Kirchhoff had made and that is still waiting for an international premiere. ”Steam on the River” (photo) is the name of 

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Oscars – From 124 to 14

Written 02-12-2015 09:38:00 by Tue Steen Müller

Luckily, they are not all American, the 14 which are now left for later to be taken down to 5 in January… but the new Michael Moore is there, “Where to Invade Next” as well as Alex Gibney’s Scientology-film and the fascinating “Listen to Me Marlon” by English director Stevan Riley, and ”Amy” by Asif Kapadia, not to forget Danish company Final Cut for Real’s ”The Look of Silence” by Joshua Oppenheimer. Are these the five to be nominated? Anyway, here is a copy-paste of the list:

Below is the complete list of pics that will vie for nominations for the 88th Academy Awards, whittled down from 124 entries. Noms will be announced January 14, and the trophy will be handed out during the Oscarcast on February 28 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Amy, On the Corner Films and Universal Music

Best Of Enemies, Sandbar

Cartel Land, Our Time Projects and The Documentary Group

Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief, Jigsaw Productions

He Named Me Malala, Parkes-MacDonald and Little Room

Heart Of A Dog, Canal Street Communications

The Hunting Ground, Chain Camera Pictures

Listen To Me Marlon, Passion Pictures

The Look Of Silence, Final Cut for Real (photo)

Meru, Little Monster Films

3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets, The Filmmaker Fund, Motto Pictures, Lakehouse Films, Actual

Films, JustFilms, MacArthur Foundation and Bertha BRITDOC

We Come As Friends, Adelante Films

What Happened, Miss Simone?, RadicalMedia and Moxie Firecracker

Where To Invade Next, Dog Eat Dog Productions

Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, Pray for Ukraine Productions

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Anastasiya Miroshnichenko: Crossroads

Written 30-11-2015 14:59:46 by Tue Steen Müller

When in Minsk for the Listapad film festival, I met with several filmmakers, who presented their projects to me to seek advice. One of them was Volia Chajkouskaya, who provided me with a link to “Crossroads”, the winner of the 2014 Belarussian National Documentary Competition, a film in which she was the assistant director. She sent this text to me about the theme and its main character:

“The film "Crossroads" was conceived as a charity project to help the homeless artist Valery Liashkevich. It became a discovery to me that a person deprived of basic comforts of life can strive to his goal so persistently, remain a philosopher, be thoughtful about his actions, preserve kindness to others. I was not alone in this discovery. The character charmed all members of the crew. No one questioned investing time and their own money (the documentary was created without financial support of any organization) into the production. Art historians joined our work. The National Art Museum of Belarus organized an exhibition of Valery Liashkevich’s works; it lasted three weeks and became a huge success. Another exhibition was held in Gomel, the native city of our character. “Crossroads” became a project, which continues even after the work on the documentary is complete. I hope that the life of the character is changing to the better with our help. The proceeds of the sale of his paintings went on to his bank account and we hope that in the very near future Valery Lyashkevich will have a place he can call HOME…”.

So, call that a commitment! I watched the film and can only second, what is written above. Valery Liashkevich is a sweet, modest man, a fine artist, who sells his works in the streets and tells people that they can get them cheaper if they wish! You see him at the railway station in Gomel during winter and spring, he works and sleeps there, you see him in St. Petersburg (photo) on Nevsky Prospekt, you see how he finds a place to sleep at night, you listen to his wise words and watch him fall asleep among his works. He is weak, I am getting older he says. A small film with a big heart!

Belarus, 2014, 62 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Claude Lanzmann

Written 29-11-2015 11:42:50 by Tue Steen Müller

Yesterday Claude Lanzmann could celebrate his 90 year birthday. It gave me the inspiration to celebrate him by visiting youtube, where you can find a lot of clips from from Shoah and other of his films plus a long, very fine filmed masterclass with him from IDFA 2013, where his ”The Last of the Unjust” (220 mins.) was shown. In his written memoirs, "The Patagonian Hare”, comes this statement: “Even if I lived a hundred lives, I still wouldn’t be exhausted.” Indeed, and he repeats this in the conversation parts of the new film with him, ”Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”, directed by Adam Benzine, 40 mins. with BBC, ZDF/arte, DR and HBO as ”involved tv channels” as it is put on the IDFA Docs for Sale, the excellent service from the festival. Lanzmann says that he still is full of ”vitalité”. As usual it is fascinating to watch and listen to him, while the film apart from those sequences does not really add anything (except for some unknown footage from his interview with a high rank Nazi and the trouble it gave Lanzmann). Anyway, for those who have NOT yet seen ”Shoah”, watching ”Spectres of the Shoah” afterwards makes sense. Here is the description from the IDFA website:  

In 1973, Claude Lanzmann started shooting Shoah, a nearly 10-hour film that many regard as the most important ever made about the Holocaust. The Frenchman worked for a full 12 years on the documentary, which was commissioned by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But making Shoah left its mark on Lanzmann. He filmed 200 hours of material in 14 countries, before spending five years editing it. And then there was the infamous confrontation with a former Nazi and his henchmen. The director described his documentary as “a film about death, not about surviving.” He explains in Spectres of the Shoah how it wore him out and almost deprived him of his will to live. Lanzmann experienced the completion of Shoah as a death, and it took a long time for him to recover from it. The now almost 90-year-old filmmaker discusses his warm friendship with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and his teenage years in the French resistance during the Second World War. The film also features unseen material from his magnum opus.

In a post on FILMKOMMENTAREN Tue Steen Müller comments an interview with him in The Guardian.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Forum and Eastern Europe

Written 26-11-2015 19:00:00 by Tue Steen Müller

Hanka Kastelicová from HBO Europe posted a photo and a text on FB that caught my attention: Miha Čelar and Nenad Puhovski just pitching at IDFA. Good luck, guys, you are only pitchers from Eastern Europe at IDFA Forum this year, we are very proud of your achievement, I wish you to find the right partners in Amsterdam.

I can only support the wish for success for this Slovenian/Croatian project.

But the only one from Eastern Europe… It made me go through the list of projects for the Forum and I found one more from the region, the Polish “The Prince and the Dybbuk” by the couple behind “Domino Effect”, Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosolowski.

But only two! Why? Is the simple reason that the selection committee did not find more of good quality for the Forum? Is it because the Eastern European producers and filmmakers did not apply because they prefer to go to Prague for the East Doc Platform in March, or to some of the smaller pitching sessions like the ones at ZagrebDox or Baltic Sea Forum in Riga or the one connected to the Krakow festival?

Is it because the difference in budgets for Eastern and Western European documentary films are so big that – without any bad thoughts – both the selectors and those selecting think that it does not make any sense to have a project with a budget of 100.000€ at the Forum? Where the normal is around 250.000€.

… IDFA announced its winners yesterday. There was a Polish/Swedish, a Latvian/Ukrainian, a Georgian, a Scottish/Georgian.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

IDFA Awards 2015

Written 26-11-2015 09:38:03 by Tue Steen Müller

The festival in Amsterdam is still going on – until November 29. The awards, however, were presented yesterday, For the first time ever, two prizes were awarded per competition: a prize for the best film and a special jury prize.

For the Feature-Length Documentary Competition it was a Polish/Ukrainian triumph. Jerzy Sladkowski got the main award for his ”Don Juan” – a quote from the jury report: "This tender, bittersweet tragicomedy about role-playing within both therapeutic theatre games and family dramas, and the interplay between them, is both subtle and aggressive, speaking volumes about the definitions of normality, abnormality and the dynamics of power and love”. A fine choice by the jury to give a prize to the Polish veteran, who has been living in Sweden since 1982, and who for this film had engaged the master of camera, Wojciech Staron. The Special Jury Award went to Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko for their first feature length documentary, ”Ukrainian Sheriffs”, produced by Latvian Uldis Cekulis – and many times written about on this site. So well deserved!

From my point of view the jury for IDFA Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary made a beautiful choice giving the main award to Danish Andreas Koefoed for his ”At Home in the World” (photo), a quote from the jury report: ”a film that manages to humanize the issues we are so concerned about today. With great sensitivity and compassion for its characters the director gives a face to the most vulnerable of refugees, children bravely coping with a new world. We were deeply moved by a film that provides people everywhere a slight ray of hope.” The Special Jury Award was given to ”The Fog of Srebrenica” by Samir Mehanovic.

The IDFA Award for First Appearance went to Georgian ”When the Earth Seems to be Light” by Salome Machaidze, Tamuna Karumidze and David Meskhi, a quote from the jury report: ”A particular city, a flickering moment in life, and a specific time in history are viewed through the eyes of youth who drift, almost invisibly, through a landscape of crumbling architecture and political protest. Cinema contains many portraits of young masculinity, but our experimential, expertly-crafted… film sees its outsider subjects differently. It finds within their apathy the visions of a different and better life.” The Special Jury Award in memory of Peter Wintonick went to Hassen Ferhani’s Roundabout in My Head (Algeria/France/Lebanon/Qatar).

There were more prizes given, read the titles and motivations by clicking below.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Breaking News: CPH:DOX Moves from November

Written 25-11-2015 17:37:07 by Tue Steen Müller

While IDFA is running, CPH:DOX communicates that it will move from November to March. Festival director Tine Fischer puts it like this:

“This year’s festival has been outstanding. We have once again had great response from our audiences, and the interest from the international film industry is now so significant that we have decided to move the festival to March to give ourselves the space it takes to develop the international ambitions of the festival further. CPH:DOX has taken place in the week before IDFA since the very beginning without too many overlaps and complications, but with the latest year’s growth in international industry attendance we need more space around us.”

According to the press release, link below, the producers and the Film Institute are very happy with this decision, using words like ”unique” and ”a leading platform” about the festival, that in the same text – most important from this blogger’s point of view - stresses that…

… the mission of the festival continues to be to present challenging and critical works of documentary cinema – and other arts – in an original and intelligent context. CPH:DOX aims to set a high cultural standard and to stimulate critical thinking, while insisting on documentary as an art form across different practices…

By the way the 2015 version finished with a new audience record: 91.400 (in 2011 it was 47.000).

Next festival March 16-26 2017.

Photo by Amanda Obitz

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Russian Documentary Survey

Written 24-11-2015 18:36:25 by Tue Steen Müller

Extensive and valuable information was sent to me by Russian Georgy Molodtsov, energetic filmmaker and promoter of documentaries from his country – together with Sergei Kachkin, Alisa Stolyarova and Vlad Ketkovich, contact persons for Moscow Business Square, Documentary Film Center and the Russian Documentary Guild.

43 pages, editor-in-chief Konstantin Nafikov, captions: Festivals, Cinemas, Producers, Distributors, Sales Agents, tv channels.

There is a detailed description of how to get support from the Ministry of Culture through obtaining a status of ”National Film”, there is a statistic of how many admissions foreign films have made in Russian cinemas with ”Citizen Four” (Laura Poitras) and ”Amy” (Asif Kapadia) in the top with 33.000 and 24.000. A list of production companies, of international film festivals, tv channels, and first and foremost the films with credits, links to trailers, information on where to watch the full films – many of the are right now at IDFA’s Docs for Sale and at East Silver run by IDF in Prague. Director names – Alina Rudnitskaya, Tatiana Soboleva, Denis Klebeev (photo from his succesful ”Strange Particles”), Viktor Kossakovsky, Ivan Tverdovsky, Vitaly Mansky, Sergei Miroshnichenko… to mention a few.

At this very moment where the IDFA Forum is running and where projects are presented that have budgets around 250.000€ or more, it is interesting to read the budgets of the Russian documentaries, very few of them exceed 100.000€.

Thanks for doing this big work, I say as one who is always interested in what happens in the big country – and thanks for including the controversial films as well, which are ”only” shown outside Russia.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Becoming Zlatan…

Written 22-11-2015 21:55:28 by Tue Steen Müller

… or how I could not get rid of the football player, whose last name is Ibrahimovic, the man who with two goals last week made sure that we Danes do not have a team at the upcoming European Championship. I watched the match with good friend, true documentarian, Scottish Doug Aubrey and his Danish Film Institute commissioner wife Marie Olesen, a football connaisseur, at their place, we survived the Danish defeat thanks to good whisky and a recognition of the fact that Denmark lost to a great player.

I thought the defeat was out of my mind but at IDFA some days later I met Fredrik Gertten, a football idiot like myself, always AGAINST Messi and FOR Zlatan. With a smile he gave me a postcard invitation to the world premiere of the film he and his brother Magnus have made, “Becoming Zlatan”, Danish editor (traitor!) Jesper Osmund.

My luck was that I could not be in Amsterdam for the screening but it was not possible to get rid of Zlatan… On French television, this evening, here in Paris, there was a long focus on Zlatan, Ibra as they call him here, who in this weekend’s French league, for his PSG club, was the leader, and was praised for his football skills. The two

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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Robert Frank, Ukrainian Sheriffs and Kossakovsky

Written 21-11-2015 11:05:14 by Tue Steen Müller

If you read the post below, ”Viktor Kossakovsky at IDFA”, you will discover his insisting on the form, on the composing of the image, on the aesthetics. If you want to see how this can be done, please go and see Laura Israel’s film ”Don’t Blink: Robert Frank” (Photo) here at IDFA. It was screened at the Stedelijk Museum thursday night and is an excellent introduction to the now 91 year old legendary photographer and filmmaker made by his editor and collaborator in many films, a warm and generous portrait and a look into the creative process of a lovely man, a great artist, who has suffered personal tragedies in his life, that is very much present in his work, but who has also demonstrated how to catch moments in the lives of ”The Americans”, the title of his masterpiece. There was a retrospective of his work – and there is right now at IDFA, including his Rolling Stones film, ”Cocksucker Blues” – in Copenhagen, Sara Thelle wrote about it on this site.

And then last night at the Munt 11 cinema with around 400 seats, full house to the world premiere of ”Ukrainian Sheriffs” by Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko, which I have had the pleasure to follow from the sideline and with a biased look: it is an excellent film that demonstrates fully the talent of Bondarchuk, also present in his ”Dixieland” that will premiere next year. A breakthrough on the international scene. The film has wisely been taken fo the main international competition by the IDFA, where it still has 6-7 screenings.

Finally, there has been quite some discussions here at IDFA about the Viktor Kossakovsky session the other day. I wrote about it and this morning I got an email from VK, who wrote to me something important, I have to correct from my previous text: … one thing: I was saying Sorry, because Russians or prorussians shot the airplane MH17. And when I was watching The Belovs I just realized that you can see in the film the main element of russian mentality: unpredictable aggression - when we talk about Patriotism and meaning of life…

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Viktor Kossakovsky at IDFA

Written 20-11-2015 11:17:19 by Tue Steen Müller

The IDFAAcademy for young filmmakers from all over the world started yesterday. Joyful Meike Statema is the head of this important section of the Documentary Paradise that IDFA was called in the KLM flight magazine I had in my hands during the turbulent journey down from Copenhagen thursday morning.

The turbulence continued… After video introductions of the participants – full of fun – Viktor Kossakovsky and Tom Fassaert were introduced under the headline ”Master and Talent”. It became one of the most memorable sessions I have experienced. It was emotional and informational at the same time – to bring forward two words that Kossakovsky used on a stage that he conquered totally.

The original idea, I think, was that the two of them should have a conversation about filmmaking, the experienced Kossakovsky and the young Tom Fassaert, whose ”A Family Affair” was the opening film of the festival’s 28th edition.

It did not work out like that. Fassaert wanted to show his appreciation of Kossakovsky by showing a long clip from ”Belovs”. He did and it made Kossakovsky burst into tears, kneel in front of the screen, ”I am sorry I shot this”, ”this is a typical Russian person”, he was inconsolable, had to leave the room, came back, left again, came back and stayed.

Stayed, yes, I dare say, to tear apart completely the film of the talent. He

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Listapad Minsk – Eye of Pleasure

Written 18-11-2015 10:15:14 by Tue Steen Müller

Irina Demyanova came up to me at the Baltic Sea Forum in Riga: Tue, it is time for you to come back to Minsk. You were there 20 years ago! I would like to invite you back.

Right she is, I was in Minsk to meet filmmakers two decades ago. I travelled with Ilze Gailite, we represented the Baltic Media Centre and had meetings, that included a presentation of something new called “pitching”. That is one of the things that Yuri Goroulev remembered, when I met him in Minsk a week ago for the 22 edition of the Listapad festival.

I was there for three full days – hospitality warm, perfect organization, good programme for documentaries, which was what I was looking for and at. And – as my Russian language skills do not exist – the festival generously offered me, and other guests, a personal guide. Veronika Bondarovich, young filmmaker-to-be, took me around to films and to the lecture on documentary I made at the festival, where she and Lizaveta Bobrykava, head of the industry section, translated/interpreted my school English so well.

I had time to watch four Belarussian documentaries and meet with the

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Bondarchuk & Averchenko: Ukrainian Sheriffs

Written 16-11-2015 14:15:16 by Tue Steen Müller

I have had the pleasure to follow from the sideline how Ukrainian filmmakers and friends Dar'ya Averchenko (DA), Roman Bondarchuk (RB) together with Latvian producer and friend Uldis Cekulis have developed their “Ukrainian Sheriffs” that will have its premiere at IDFA on this coming Friday, competing in the main feature duration competition.

At DOK Leipzig where I met them and their wonderful little girl Agata. And we had a conversation of one hour that is now in an edited version to read on the wensite of the film. Here is a tiny clip that also demonstrates that a romantic date can become much more in real life, a marriage and a film!

“RB: It was during one of our dates – Dasha and me - that we met each other. I took a car, we went for some driving around Kherson. There was a huge sign on the road like "Georgievska church, 19-th century, fortress, Cossacks graves" and we were interested to find them. They were touristic signs.

TSM: How many years ago?

DA: It was late 90'es.

RB: No! (Roma says) Really?

TSM: And you were not a couple at that time?

RB: No, it was just one of our first dates… and we turned to the road to nowhere, looking for all these attractions. We couldn't find anything, so we stopped on the road to ask the way. That's how we met a local man, a teacher of history.”

This teacher of history became the mayor of Stara Zburjivka and is one of three main characters of the film. Check the website and read the whole interview. And see the film!

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CPH:DOX/ Main Awards 2015

Written 14-11-2015 18:00:34 by Tue Steen Müller

The winner of the DOX:Award, a section characterised like this by the festival: ”The films nominated for DOX:AWARD reflect CPH:DOX’s selection of the best international documentary films. They stand out for their strong personal qualities and cinematic vision and deserve to be shown on the big screen. The award is kindly sponsored by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR)”.

And the winner was 'God Bless The Child’ by Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck.

Jury motivation: “Establishing an otherworldly tone of extraordinary realism and a near magical evocation of family dynamics, the winning film reveals a mastery of observational rigor, and an uncanny willingness to expand the limits of documentary form. More simply, this is a film that immediately inspired us to spread the film as far and wide as possible, and in that spirit, we’re thrilled to present the Dox:Award to ‘God Bless The Child’, by Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck.”

The winner of the F:ACT Award, a section characterized like this by the festival: “F:ACT Award is dedicated to films on the edge between documentary and investigative journalism. Films that do not settle on a simple description of the world, but that also want to change it. The Award is kindly sponsored by The Danish Union of Journalists, TVGruppen”.

And the winner was 'Among The Believers’ by Hemal Trivedi & Mohammed Ali Naqvi (Photo).

Jury motivation: “For its ability to show us a country with complex political situation, for unprecedented access to part of its educational system with far reaching consequences and to the dedication the filmmakers have shown in the following the story the jury has decided to give CPH:DOX F:ACT Award to "Among the believers" by Hemal Trivedi & Mohammed Ali Nagvi.

Several other awards were handed out, please check

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CPH:DOX/ Reel Talent Award to Elvira Lind

Written 14-11-2015 10:39:00 by Tue Steen Müller

Last night the first award at the closing ceremony of CPH:DOX was given to Elvira Lind. This is a copy paste from the press release of the festival, photo stolen from the FB page of producer Sara Stockmann. I was a member of the jury and on stage for the motivation together with director Klaus Kjeldsen:

The Association of Danish Film Directors and CPH:DOX hand out the Reel Talent Award to a documentary director, who has shown an exceptional cinematic vision at an early stage.

Jury statement: “On behalf of Danish Directors and CPH:DOX it is my pleasure to announce the winner of the Real Talent Award of 25.000 Dkr.

The director who is to receive this recognition has a short but impressive filmography that gives hope for future work. She – yes, it is a she – has demonstrated that she is able to get close, to deal with sensitive matters in a gentle and respectful way, to build a story so it comes out as an engaging drama that is much stronger than many feature films. I guess that many of you watched her film at CPH:DOX last year. She is in the process of making a new film that was presented recently on the Nordisk Panorama where it was very well presented and received. Also that film will have an international career. Let me give you the titles - the finished film is “Songs for Alexis”, the one coming up is “Bobby Jene”. So ladies and gentlemen, the winner, a true documentary talent – Elvira Lind. “

The jury consisted of Tue Steen Müller, freelance journalist for; Fredrik Gertten, Swedish filmmaker and journalist; Klaus Kjeldsen, film director; Mette-Ann Schepelern: cand.phil, Danish director and creative producer; and Tine Fischer, festival director at CPH:DOX.

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CPH:FORUM 2015/ First Day

Written 13-11-2015 14:34:49 by Tue Steen Müller

They insist on being different – they are and they are not. CPH:DOX launched its two day Forum within its Industry Section as ”Business as Unusual”, being performed in a huge tent in the Royal Garden in Copenhagen opposite the Film House where you find the accreditation desk, two cinemas, a market, a place to meet and network. Fine and unusual. And not the fault of the organisers that the November windy weather gave additional sound to the presentations and made the inside screen for the teasers sway mildly in the wind. It gave the event its special unusual flavour as did the hearable sound of the marching Royal Guard next door at the Rosenborg Castle! ”Hygge” as we say in Danish, and there was indeed a fine atmosphere in the tent – and unusual is the Forum compared to the many other pitchings around the world in dividing the selected projects into categories like ”Cinema”, F:ACT, Fictiononfiction and Art. This is part of the profile of a festival that wants to place itself between documentary and visual art and is innovative in arranging conferences, showing films in former churches, exhibitions etc. etc. To be a voice in the society. All under the umbrella of Documentary! John Grierson would have loved it!

And what concerns the panelists to comment on the pitched projects: more non-tv people than usual, many representatives from film funds and institutes,

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CPH:Forum 2015/ Second Day

Written 13-11-2015 14:28:27 by Tue Steen Müller

All right I thought after the first day – but where are the weird, ambitious, non-subject, non-linear, personal artistic projects that can only be pitched at CPH:DOX Forum. A couple came on the second day but raised for me the question whether they fit in to the pitching format that we have developed during the last 20 years? The most obvious example was ”Watermark” by iconic Lithuanian master Sharunas Bartas, a film that takes it origin from the essay of Joseph Brodsky, who for twenty years stayed in Venice during the month of December and wrote his famous essay. Bartas was not there and his producer Janja Kralj presented a trailer that was a screening of a (beautiful) text from the book plus some birds in the sky. The problem was that the panelists – apart from distributor Heino Deckert – did not know the two big artists – they could maybe have prepared a bit from home? – and that Bartas apparently did not see the purpose of making a trailer. He might be right, he does not work that way and he will start filming anyway and get the money later? And a film like that will end up at Cannes or Venice (obvious) and at CPH:DOX next edition.

The second one to be mentioned is ”Aeterna” by Swedish Jesper Kurlandsky

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Cosima Spender: Palio

Written 12-11-2015 13:34:55 by Sara Thelle

Don’t miss out on the last screening of Cosima Spender’s Palio at CPH:DOX on Sunday November 15th. It is a feast for the eyes!

Il Palio is the world’s oldest horserace. It takes place at the famous Piazza del Campo in the heart of Sienna twice a year opposing the 17 rivalling districts of Sienna. However, the race is only a small part of the game. Behind it lays months of negotiations, strategy, bribery and treachery and days of ceremonies, rituals and parades. It’s about power and money, a form of legalised corruption and a game whose complexity of open and hidden rules have been forged over centuries. Described as absurd and dysfunctional by locals who yet participate in it with passion.

Anglo-Italian director Spender (who grew up close to Siena) focuses on the perspective of the jockeys. Not bound to a certain district or horse, they are the front pieces in the game. They are the gladiators and the Piazza the Coliseum. As much as the horses are adored, the jockeys are viewed upon with mistrust. Seen as mercenaries, traitors or even prostitutes, the celebration of the winner is only temporarily, the looser risks to get beaten up. It’s brutal; the only race in the world where the horse can win without the rider.

Two rivals: the old master Gigi who is about to break the record of most won races and the upcoming young outsider Giovanni. Two schools of thought: “either you go for strategies… or you go for the good horse”. They race with their lives at stake, riding bareback in medieval costumes and sneakers! And you just hold your breath… The race only lasts for about 90 seconds, but it seems like forever.

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Andreas Koefoed: At Home in the World

Written 05-11-2015 19:46:37 by Tue Steen Müller


Before the review you will first get a slightly shortened version of the precise description of the film taken from its website. In the post below you will find information about the upcoming distribution during the CPH:DOX. The international premiere takes place later this month at IDFA.

”The film is an intimate depiction of the everyday lives of five refugee children on a Danish Red Cross asylum school.

The children; Magomed, Sehmuz, Heda, Amel and Ali have different nationalities and backgrounds, but they have all fled their homes with their families, arriving in Denmark with the hope of starting over.

Over the course of one year, there is an 80% replacement in one class on the asylum school. Few are granted residency in Denmark, and move out of the asylum centres to become part of the Danish society. Others are rejected and sent back to their country of origin. Some go underground and continue their lives on the run from the atrocities in their home country.

Over the course of a year, we follow the children in an ever-

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Nix, Bichlbaum, Bonanno: The Yes Men are Revolting

Written 04-11-2015 18:01:33 by Sara Thelle


It’s not every day that a documentary makes me cry with laughter, I cherished the moment!

For 20 years the social activist duo The Yes Men have performed their happenings around the world. The Yes Men are Revolting is their third film coming after The Yes Men (2003) and The Yes Men Fix the World (2009). I haven’t seen the two previous films, so I wont be able to relate, which I think is not necessarily neither, the third film stands very well alone. This time they have gotten help from a friend, producer and director Laura Nix, and the result is a film that, with success, gets closer to the real life persons behind the activists.

The Yes Men, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, do brilliant stunts when they go after big corporations or organisations by turning their own “weapons” against them: suits, business cards, press conference, PR, communication and media strategies and sweet rhetoric. They create fake websites (for example Yes, Bush Can, the fake 2004 George W. Bush campaign) or press conferences and act as spokespersons announcing false positive news, surprisingly green or social politics, on behalf of the targeted company. When the hoax is revealed, it is a great story for the medias and all there is left to do for the company is damage control and eventually make concessions. It’s not just for the awareness of the cause, the Yes Men can do real harm to their prey as was the case in the 2004 hoax linked to the Bhopal disaster (India 1984, considered the worlds worst industrial disaster, thousands of dead after gas and chemical leaks) where Andy Bichlbaum, posing as spokesperson for Dow Chemicals, announced huge compensations to victims live on BBC! (See the clip here ). In less than 25 minutes the company had lost billions of dollars due to falling share prices (and BBC’s reputation suffered as well). They call it “Identity Correction” defined as: Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them, and otherwise giving journalists excuses to cover important issues (from the Yes Men Website).

In the film they are tuning in on the issue of climate change. We see them in front of the UN with their survivaballs (picture), amongst Occupy Wall Street and working a stunt at COP15 in Copenhagen. We should be freaking out but instead we are celebrating the melting arctic as a business opportunity! they note (well hello Hillary Clinton and Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time Lene Espersen, bonding in Greenland), before going after Shell who’s planning to drill the arctic and pair up with Russian Gazprom.

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DOK Leipzig/ 11/ Being at the Festival

Written 02-11-2015 11:04:36 by Tue Steen Müller

I am writing this in the train back to Copenhagen from Leipzig. The journey is 8 hours long but for one, who has done enough airports in the last 25 years it is just a nice and relaxing experience that gives you time to think (and write) about the last days at DOK Leipzig, four nights, three full days for films and meetings with those, who have made films and those who tell others about them either by making festivals or write about them or sell them.

They treat you well at the festival. The cost for the four nights were covered at the brilliant hotel Arcona Living Bach14, a new one opposite the Thomas Kirche and the sculpture of Johan Sebastian Bach, including the restaurant WeinWirtschaft, where breakfast is taken, and where evening meals with a superb wine list can be enjoyed.

From there the walk took me to the Festival Centre at the Museum and the

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DOK Leipzig/ 10/ Guevara Namer

Written 02-11-2015 10:52:34 by Tue Steen Müller


Last Wednesday I got off the train in Leipzig and walked to the Museum of Bildende Kunst, that serves as Centre for the DOK Leipzig festival, also this year, with space to meet for a coffee or a fine lunch provided by the cuisine of Hotel Michaelis. Top standard.

Repeat… I got off the train in Leipzig and walked to the Museum and the first one I meet is Kurdish Syrian Guevara Namer, one of the courageous and entreprenant persons behind the DOX BOX festival in Damascus that I visited the last time in 2011 three weeks before the revolution started. She now lives in Berlin and is part of the team that has continued the Dox Box that now supports filmmakers from the region, among many initiatives with a Residence Fund, under the leadership of Diana El Jeiroudi.

Guevara Namer was in Leipzig to do camera interviews with sales agents, festival people etc. for the Dox Box. I knew from Damascus times how talented a photographer she is and asked her to send me a photo to put on this site. She did with these words attached:

”… this photo is from Damascus City Center, ”Marjeh Square”. One of my favourites”.

Guevara Namer describes herself: Has degrees in photography and drama studies from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, Syria, and has years of experience in documentary film production and training.

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DOK Leipzig/ 9/ Daddy’s Girl

Written 02-11-2015 10:36:51 by Tue Steen Müller

… directed by Melisa Üneri, who has a Finnish mother and a Turkish father, the protagonist of this unpretentious, light in tone and yet tough and moving, well told story about the relationship between the young girl (the director) and her father, who lives in Finland and who has brought up his daughter with love and strictness. He is a charming man, he knows when the camera is on, he is apparently obsessed by cleaning his house (!), he is single, wants to find a partner, daughter wants to help build up a profile for the dating service on the internet, he has a job as an eye specialist – and drinks too much. With consequences in the relationship to the daughter.

Melisa wants to move to Turkey, she does, she is in contact with her grandmother, the mother of the father, the two of them have not been in contact for long, but although he has been living in Finland most of his life, you understand from where his wish to protect/control his daughter comes. From his mother! It does not take long, according to the film, before grandmother and father get into arguments, when the latter arrives in Istanbul to visit. ”I want you to be nice and lady-like” is one of the sentences said by the father to his daughter, and when he does not hear from Melisa for some time, he knows that something must have happened. It has, she has got a boyfriend and the father is to meet him…

And then… no, I will not tell you, watch for yourself. Producer is Finnish director Mika Ronkainen, you sense his touch in the film, that has an appeal to a big audience, Rise and Shine has the sales rights.

Finland, 2015, 52 mins.


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DOK Leipzig 2015/ 8/ Vitaly Mansky in North Korea

Written 02-11-2015 10:15:27 by Tue Steen Müller

Vitaly Mansky has been in North Korea. If I understand it correctly called in as a professional helper of a local film team that is to make a propaganda film for the regime. He helps, I guess, but he also makes his own film, ”Under the Sun”, that was shown at DOK Leipzig and praised there by several of my professional colleagues as well as by representatives of the local funder, MDR. It is beautifully shot, has amazing sequences of modern civilation, human beings in the streets fighting their way to work, on rolling stairs in the metro, with empty faces and hopelessness in their sad eyes. Images that could have been taken anywhere - for a Dane it brings back memories of our late graphic art master Palle Nielsen and his descriptions of modern urban life: No hope. Despair.

Mansky deserves credit for that. My doubts come when he wants to make a personalised story out of his shooting in North Korea. I could not help feel scepticism while watching, and it changed to irritation over the kliché language that he uses, to say what he wants to say. Yes, what does he want to say? That North Korea cultivates a culture of total adoration for the great leaders, that this indoctrination and brainwashing take place from early childhood, that huge parades are organised, that the people suffer? One thing is that we already knew that, we have seen it many times before, another is that Mansky builds a story through small observations that he has made: In the school class some students moves their hands nervously, a student is on the edge of falling asleep while a military veteran makes his speech, the main protagonist, the girl in the family that plays in the propaganda film, has tears in her eyes while training the dance, so on so forth. The director apparently wants us to suffer with her, when he cuts from her face in the window of the dull appartment building to the parade on the big square, and back again, and back again; to be interpreted as ”this is her future”. Not difficult to understand!

Mansky wants us to see the means of suppression of a country’s population. He assists at the shooting of a propaganda film and that is in itself interesting and illustrative. You see the North Korean director(s) go in and out of the picture to direct the family members, who have been chosen to be the perfect patriots, who in all contexts celebrate Kim Il-Sung and the son, who has followed him on the throne. These scenes are fine, so why do we need Mansky’s squeezing tiny details out from the material shot to prove what is obvious through the whole propaganda circus that is set up? Could it not have been enough – and honest – to communicate that we are invited to follow the making of a propaganda film for North Korea. Mansky insists on making the little girl a tragic character – look she is crying when she dances, look she cries when she can not remember some propaganda lines… Sorry, I do not trust the autenthicity of that. And does Mansky really care about her?

Sorry for being so long about this film. Ethical questions are not often raised around films, in this case also not in Leipzig. Schade, as they say in German!

Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, North Korea, Under the Sun, 2015, 110 mins. 


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DOK Leipzig/ 7/ Main Competition Programme

Written 02-11-2015 09:59:35 by Tue Steen Müller

I have already saluted the jury’s choice of Wojciech Staron’s ”Brothers” as the winner of the feature length competition. I would also like to salute the festival for making a good selection of films for this section. I agree that a festival like this should go – as DOK Leipzig does – for diversity in themes and storytelling. I saw all 12 films and ended up having ”Brothers” as my favourite with Crystal Moselle’s ”The Wolfpack” and Korean Hyuck-jee Park’s ”With or Without You” as runners-up for the Goldene Taube, the Golden Dove. ”The Wolfpack” is an amazing story about six brothers being raised in an apartment on Manhattan with their mother teaching them and their father securing that they do not leave home, where they stay and as said in the catalogue ”liberate themselves through the power of cinema”: they watch and they make their own movies. Until one day, where one of them gets out… The Korean documentary, filmed over many years, is a lovely portrait of two old women, who have been living together all their lives, having had the same husband. A beautiful follow-up to ”My Love, Don’t Cross that River”.

I have written about the quality of the two timely films, ”Lampedusa in Winter” by Jakob Brossmann and ”The Longest Run” by Marianna Economou, as well as ”The Event” by Sergei Loznitsa. ”Under The Sun” by Vitaly Mansky will have a post of its own – ”Francophonia” by Sokurov, well you can discuss why it is there, is it not for feature film festivals, but Sokurov is a good name and I guess this is also the reason why Roberto Minervini’s ”The Other Side” has been included. He got the main prize last year for ”Stop the Pounding Heart”, which had qualities. ”The Other Side”, as a colleague said to me, is just a bad fiction film, which is crossing all borders of decency for me.

Decent with a high level of respect for those involved is ”Wie die Anderen” (”Like the Others”) by Constantin Wulf shot in an adolescent psychiatric centre in Vienna, classic observational documentary style, as – including interviews – is local Andreas Voigt’s ”Time Will Tell” that goes back to the end of the 80’es to show to the viewer what has happened with three characters. The film that was shown in the railway station at the opening night, is interesting for many reasons – the characters and what has happened to them and the city of Leipzig as it looked at that time and today. At least in the ”innenstadt” Leipzig is today a welcoming modern city, eine Kulturstadt, and documentary films are culture. Right? Especially interesting for me, as I was at the first DOK Leipzig ”nach der Wende”.

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DOK Leipzig/ 6/ Awards

Written 31-10-2015 23:32:46 by Tue Steen Müller

I just came from the award ceremony of the 58th edition of DOK Leipzig with a smile on my face, happy that the jury chose, what I also found the best film in the main competiton, “Brothers” by Wojciech Staron. And happy for Marianna Economou, who was on stage twice to receive acknowledgement for her “The Longest Run”. If anyone deserves this it is Economou, who went to many international pitching sessions without getting any funding. Goes without saying that in Greece film funding does not really exist in times of crisis… Also bravo that Hungarian Klara Trencsényi was awarded in the “Next Masters” category. I have seen beautiful material from her winning film “Train to Adulthood” and look forward to watch the final result, and write about it. Below the press release of the festival, more reporting and reviews will follow from me in the coming days:

The Golden Dove in the International Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film was awarded to “Brothers” (“Bracia”) (photo) by Polish director Wojciech Staroń. The prize is endowed with 10,000 euros, donated by the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, and was presented by Dr Claudia Schreiner, Head of Programme Culture and Science at MDR Television.

In the International Competition Short Documentary and Animated Film, the Russian entry “The Conversation” (“Razgovor”) was awarded the Golden

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The Flaherty and The Doker

Written 31-10-2015 08:41:14 by Tue Steen Müller

… New York and Moscow. Strong promotion of the creative documentary takes place these days in the two cities. Or should we call it the cinema d’auteur?

Anyway, no-one would object to put that characterisation on French Nicolas Philibert, who on monday visits Anthology Film Archives in NY to present his film ”Qui Sait? (Who Knows?) that is from 1998. He is there due to the Flaherty NYC series ”The Infinite Child”. Behind it all stands the director of Flaherty, Danish Anita Reher. A description of the rather unknown film by Philibert you will find at the end of this post.

At the same time, with screenings yesterday, today and tomorrow, the Doker Moscow International Documentary Film Festival, that actually took place in May this year, shows and presents the winners of the festival after a crowdfunding campaign to be able to bring over some of the directors. The winner was the Chinese documentary by Ye Zuyi, ”The Gleaners”, best director was Maciej Glowinski with ”Fish’R’Us” and best cinematography went to the film ”The Silence of the Flies” by Eliezer Arias from Venezuela. Behind it all stands Irina Shatilova and colleagues, all filmmakers fighting to get documentaries to the audience. More about the festival and its films, use the link below.

The film of Philibert: WHO KNOWS?, is set in a military hut where, one winter's night, a group of fifteen students at the Strasbourg National Theatre assemble to fine-tune a show on that city that they developed at the bidding of the director. Over the course of many hours, they talk, argue, sing, teeter on the brink of exhaustion.

Still from Qui Sait? (Who Knows?) Credit: Dunn Méas.!home/mainPageмеждународный-фестиваль-документаль/

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DOK Leipzig/ 5/ Loznitsa Award for “The Event”

Written 30-10-2015 23:27:43 by Tue Steen Müller

From a reporter’s point of view this could have been put on the site last night but I wanted to watch the winning film of the Stiftung Friedliche Revolution Prize today and so I did and it was a good decision to give Sergei Loznitsa (photo) one more award to the many he has already. He is a master of creative treatment of archive material, his masterpiece in that genre is still “Blockade” about the siege of Leningrad, and this one, that goes back to the same city – that I visited a month ago, now called St. Petersburg – has the same approach, letting the archive “speak for itself”. And yet Loznitsa has chosen the material, put it together, selected the sound, to be brief, he has directed the film material being intelligent enough not to seduce us to simple solutions and thus conclusions. Those of us who are old enough and interested in recent world history remember the coup d´état in Moscow in August 1990 and we have again and again seen the images of the “junta” at their press conference, the shaking hands of one of them and of course Yeltsin making his victorious climb of a military tank to make a speech about – well about the fall of USSR. But Loznitsa is not in Moscow in his film, he is in Leningrad and gives me

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DOK Leipzig 2015/ 4/DOK.Incubator

Written 29-10-2015 10:34:15 by Tue Steen Müller

Let’s leave our bikes here, Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis said when he, Ukranian directors Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko met me last night at the Museum, the Festival Centre of DOK Leipzig. They had been doing their presentation at the Kabarett Leipziger Pfeffermühle in the morning followed by meetings in the afternoon and they were happy and relaxed, of course much more so as their film ”Ukranian Sheriffs” has been selected for IDFA, main feature duration competition. Photo: Bondarchuk at the editing table.

The DOK.Incubator workshop does not only provide bikes for their participants, it has in no time developed into a very valuable tool for filmmakers with films at a rough-cut stage. Andrea Prenghyova, with whom I had the pleasure to work for years for another precious workshop, Ex Oriente, is a powerhouse, who has analysed what is needed at this critical point just before you lock the picture and go into postproduction of your film. She, Prenghyova, has gathered good people around her as tutors, producers like Sigrid Dyekjær from Denmark and editors like French Yael Bitton and Menno Boerema, not to forget the former DOK Leipzig festival director Claas Danielsen.

If you click below you will be able to watch trailers from the films developed

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DOK Leipzig/ 3/ Leena Pasanen Speech

Written 27-10-2015 12:47:19 by Tue Steen Müller

The festival opened last night and the press people sent out a Release under the heading ”Political Voicings at Opening of DOK Leipzig”. I quote from the text:

Leena Pasanen: “DOK Leipzig traditionally stands for peace and human dignity. Today this is perhaps more necessary than ever before,” said the native of Finland, who had previously lived in Budapest for 3 years and experienced the dramatic changes under the Orbán administration.

These circumstances caused Pasanen to express concern over Legida, whose demonstration took place at the same time as the opening of DOK. “I want to do more than merely ignore this demonstration, I want to take a stand: Our Leipzig is tolerant, open-minded and willing to help those who need help.” Above and beyond this, documentary films are an excellent tool in combatting ignorance and narrow-mindedness. As this was the first time that the opening film was being screened in the east concourse of Leipzig’s central railway station simultaneously to the ceremony, Pasanen was ready and waiting with a suggestion for those sympathising with Legida: “Instead of demonstrating, they would be better off going to the station to watch the great film by Andreas Voigt.”

… I doubt they did, but many welcomed this fine initiative – see photo.

And another voice - Jan Rofekamp, sales agent and Head of Documentary Campus, described what happened in the streets of Leipzig on his FB page like this: Big anti-migrants demonstration here in Leipzig right now, neo-nazis, skinheads, screaming, blowing whistles, lots of German flags, massive police presence on the streets…very disturbing and very scary…

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2015/ 2/ The Programme

Written 26-10-2015 18:38:14 by Tue Steen Müller

If you click the link below you will find an overview of the programme for the DOK Leipzig 2015 festival that starts tonight, see post below. There is the Official Selection, the Special Programmes, Discussions and Events. There is so much you could highlight, let me put the focus on the main competition for feature docs and animated films and first – see photo – mention the film by Andreas Voigt, ”Time Will Tell” that is the sixth part of the Leipzig Cycle. The Head of the festival programme Grit Lemche writes about it, a long quote:

“When Andreas Voigt and Sebastian Richter were shooting in Leipzig in 1996, the skinhead Sven wanted to marry and settle down. The former punk Isabel tried to lead a middle-class life in Stuttgart. And the journalist Renate wanted to come to terms with her past as an IM (informal collaborator) of the Stasi and start a new life.

The Leipzig cycle reaches as far back as 1986. The sixth part is structured by images of the run-down industrial quarter of Plagwitz which casually provide a

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DOK Leipzig 2015/ 1/ Opening

Written 26-10-2015 17:46:21 by Tue Steen Müller

The Press department at Dok Leipzig presents below what happens to night at the opening of the 58th edition of the international festival for documentary and animated films – tomorrow we will be able to report on what has happened outside the cinema and the Central Station, where Legida and anti-Legida demonstrations have been announced:

DOK Leipzig opens this evening at 7pm in Leipzig’s Cinestar Cinema. Burkhard Jung, Lord Mayor of the City of Leipzig, and Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, State Minister for Art and Science, will welcome some 700 national and international guests of DOK Leipzig. The keynote speaker is Festival Director Leena Pasanen. The evening will be led by Dr Grit Lemke, Director of Programming for DOK Leipzig, and journalist Jörg Tashmann.

The festival opens with the Andreas Voigt’s film “Time Will Tell”. The sixth part of Voigt’s internationally renowned Leipzig-Cycle, its World Premiere will be celebrated at the Opening Ceremony. The short Polish animated documentary ‘A Documentary Film’, directed by Marcin Podolec, will also be shown.

For the first time the Opening Film of DOK Leipzig will also be shown at a Public Screening. 'Time Will Tell' by Andreas Voigt will be shown at the Leipzig Central Station at 7.30 pm, in cooperation with Promenaden Hauptbahnhof. The event is public and admission is free. Following the screening, we welcome you to a Q&A with Andreas Voigt.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Amy Berg: Janis: Little Girl Blue

Written 22-10-2015 14:57:26 by Sara Thelle


Nearly two hours in company of Janis Joplin, what’s not to like! I was so ready to just lean back and enjoy and I was… disappointed.

Whoa, slow down, hold your horses! I’m being bombarded with talking heads at a speed so I can’t follow. Too fast a pace when all I want to do is to take my time, hear the music, feel the music and the person I’m about to discover.

I’m disappointed because I’m sitting in the dark theatre all alert and ready to take in impressions, emotions, sound, images and Music and I’m not getting the cinematic experience I thought I would. And I’m annoyed because I think a big part of my disappointment is a question of the editing. I don’t mind a conventional portrait film, I don’t mind seeing a TV-documentary in a theatre, but I do mind the rushing.

All the information, all the anecdotes and the archive footage lose sense if I don’t get the time it takes to “meet” the performer and her music. If there is not a moment where I hear something I haven’t heard before, suddenly discover the lyrics of a well-known song or just get to linger on a live performance…

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Forum Projects CPH:DOX 2015 NB /6

Written 20-10-2015 11:53:09 by Tue Steen Müller

With his permission I break into the slate of CPH:DOX previews and reviews of colleague Allan Berg to tell about the Forum of CPH:DOX, which published its programme yesterday, and it is exciting reading:

32 projects – presented ”in four categories FICTIONONFICTION, CINEMA, F:ACT and ART aiming to attract professionals from related industries to stimulate new production and financing models. This year we welcome, amongst many others… broadcasters such as ARTE, ZDF, NDR, BBC, DR, film funds from all over Europe as well as Ford Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Fondation Cartier, Tate Modern and Sundance Institute.”

Let me highlight four projects, one from each category. Sharunas Bartas, Lithuanian film icon, participates in “Fictionnonfiction” (hybrid is probably another word for the genre), here is the description:  “Joseph Brodsky spent 17 winters in Venice. "Watermark" is the confessional meditation on the relation between water and land, between light and dark, between past and present, between the living and the inanimate.”

In the “Cinema” category you will find Emma Davie and Peter Mettler with

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DOK Leipzig Sagt Nein zu Legida

Written 17-10-2015 15:17:34 by Tue Steen Müller

Look at the photo – it says Pasanen down in the corner on a name tag, Leena is the first name, she is the new director of the DokLeipzig that starts October 26 and runs until November 1st. She presided a press conference yesterday in Leipzig and apart from presenting the programme of this year, with several novelties, she also had to comment on politics, and she did that perfectly, read her statement:

“It annoys me that the Legida manifestation is taking place during the opening of our festival, when hundreds of international festival guests are arriving. Not only because it’s going to be more difficult to come to the Opening Ceremony or free screening in the Main Station. But also because Legida is not representing the atmosphere in Leipzig. No matter how loud they shout, DOK Leipzig will bring diversity and tolerance to Leipzig.”

If you want the German version, go to:

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Masterclasses and DOKLeipzig Films on DocAlliance

Written 17-10-2015 14:47:11 by Tue Steen Müller

Again and again DocAlliance, “Your Online Documentary Cinema”, brings quality to its users, who are hopefully many. This time a series of filmed masterclasses from the Jihlava 2014 festival. I visited one of them last year, the one with Wojtiech Staron, which was great, take that or always interesting Godfrey Reggio. For free until tomorrow included. Then you can pay the small fees that DocAlliance operates with and/or go to watch films from DOKLeipzig, for free from this coming Monday October 19 until November 1st. The offer includes a slate of animated documentaries, one of many specialities at the Leipzig festival:

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web

Hanka Kastelicová HBO Europe

Written 15-10-2015 09:51:48 by Tue Steen Müller

In the series “EDN Member of the Month”, Hanka Kastelicová from HBO Europe presents, what her job at the channel is, what her background is, what she is proud of to have supported…

It’s very informative and good reading (you don’t have to be a member of EDN to get to it) and I can only add that Hanka is one of the most filmmaker supportive commissioning editors that I have met… last time was at the Baltic Sea Forum in September, where she was a very much loved tutor. A busy woman, read the answer to “what lies next for your calendar”:

“A forum, festival and market in Leipzig, an HBO workshop at the Documentary Film Festival in Jihlava, in between a short stop in Prague, meetings with several of our teams, and the premiere of the new HBO fiction series Mamon. Then several days in Budapest, more work in the office and also involvement with our Hungarian projects. After that a visit to the editing room in Belgrade, meetings with filmmakers with new proposals in Warsaw, the local premiere of a Romanian documentary, and meetings with Romanian filmmakers, and then IDFA. I have quite a busy life, but I love it just the way as it is…”

Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Nima Sarvestani: Those Who Said No

Written 13-10-2015 11:42:13 by Tue Steen Müller

It’s playing in Mexico these days, it has been at festivals for a year now, I managed to watch it last night on Swedish television and can only add ”I agree” to the many praising words and awards it has received.

Here is one: At the One World Festival in Prague March this year the film received the Václav Havel Jury Award, the motivation went like this:

“This documentary is first and foremost a message to whoever commits human rights violations: they will be held accountable. Impunity for human rights violations is intolerable for victims, their relatives, and for the society as a whole. Even years after the violations occurred, Iranian victims and their relatives had the power to join forces to reclaim justice – ignoring how much control one might have over State mechanisms or how powerful one might be. The perseverance of those victims and their relatives deserves the highest recognition, because in the spirit of Vaclav Havel they are the proof that one person can make a difference.“

So much for the contentas a film it is impressive how the director Nima Sarvestani and his editor Jesper Osmund have managed to build a film narrative out of the basic material shot at the three day long Iran Tribunal in den Haag, The scoop is of

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Written 12-10-2015 15:13:00 by Tue Steen Müller

Yes, it is documentary festival time, indeed. In this and in the coming month. My mailbox is full of news from festivals that want to tell the film communities about the selection that has been done for competitions, for retrospectives, for focus on a country, for ”panoramas” + the new organisational steps that have been taken.

Yes, it is festival time among my FB friends as well, texts are posted that proudly state that ”my film was taken for xxx”. Good news for many, those whose films were rejected do not announce that on FB.

The documentary film festivals of today want to be open to the current discussions going on in the world (climate, environment, politics, refugees) and invite influential artists, commentators and activists to take part. We have already written about the CPH:DOX (November 5-15), that invites Naomi Klein and Olafur Eliasson as curators and that the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival (October 27 – November 1) will have visual and verbal contact with Julian Assange. The festival now also announces ”the participation of the former member of Pussy Riot, Masha (Maria Alyokhina),

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Riga International Film Festival

Written 11-10-2015 13:14:04 by Tue Steen Müller

… starts this coming week, the 15th of October and runs for 10 days. With many interesting films to watch. Below you will find a review of ”Double Aliens” by Ugis Olte, that is on the programme that includes several documentaries. If I was there I would hurry up to get tickets for the new film of Sergei Loznitsa, ”The Event”, 74 mins., that is introduced like this: ”Leningrad 1991. TV broadcasts ”The Swan Lake”. The streets are full of anxious people. A rumour goes that a coup has taken place… the so-called August putsch will become a breaking poin in history, the beginning of drastic changes and the collapse of USSR…” No need to stress how strong Loznitsa is when he deals with archive material. I will watch the film in Leipzig.

The festival has an official competition, mostly fiction films, a section of ”auteur features” as they call them, a Latvian section, a Nordic Highlights, short films, films for children, a ”In Kino Veritas” that features what has led to what today is called hybrid films: Jean Rouch with ”Chronique d’un èté”, Cassavetes ”Faces” and (good move!) ”Golden Gloves” by Canadian Gilles Groulx.

Most interesting, however, is that the festival has given Russian director of films and the festival Artdocfest, Vitaly Mansky, space in

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Ugis Olte : Double Aliens

Written 10-10-2015 20:26:36 by Tue Steen Müller

In early August Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis sent me a link to this co-production between Latvia and Georgia. The film won an award as best documentary at the BIAFF, the Batumi International Art-House Film Festival, it is in the Focus Caucasus competition at the upcoming CinéDOC Tbilisi, at the mid-length competition at the upcoming IDFA AND in the national selection at the upcoming Riga International Film Festival. Voilá!

Here follows a review, an edited version of the response I gave to Cekulis two months ago, but first the synopsis:

”Road maps are open, endless texts that may contain any number of stories, including the story of the traveler himself. A filmmaker from the north and a photographer from the south travel to a strange place. It is a land where people are worn out by their history, where time tends to freeze and every encounter is a distortion mirror that makes you look into familiar eyes.”

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Essays

CinéDOC Tbilisi 2015

Written 08-10-2015 09:35:21 by Tue Steen Müller

 It starts October 21st and runs until the 25th – the documentary film festival in the Georgian capital. A quote from the website of the festival:

”After a long and difficult selection process, we are very happy to unveil the program of CinéDOC-Tbilisi 2015! We have received hundreds of interesting documentary films from all over the world. Our program department has watched all of them and carefully selected those films which will be presented in the five sections of the festival: International Competition, Focus Caucasus Competition, CinéDOC Young, Guest Country: Israel, and Women in Frame.”

Headed by Archil Khetagouri and Ileana Stanculescu, it is no surprise that the festival has a high quality in selection with Karolina Bielawska’s ”Call Me Marianna”. Giedre Zickyte’s ”The Master and Tatyana” (photo) and ”Twilight of a Life” by Sylvain Biegeleisen as just three of the 10 films in the international competition. The latter is the opening film, brilliant choice of the Belgian/Israeli film and also an introduction to Israel being the Guest Country in the programme of the three year old festival.

In the Focus Caucasus competition you find ”Double Aliens” by Latvian Ugis Olte, produced by Uldis Cekulis, a film that won first documentary prize at the festival in Batumi recently – and ”Be My Brother” by Olga Maurina – and ”Strange Particles” by Denis Klebleev.

Of course the festival has a section called CinéDOC Young, and a ”Women in Frame” with strong titles as ”A Separation” by Karin Ekberg, ”Belleville Baby” by Mia Engberg and ”Dreamcatcher” by Kim Longinotto.

Master Audrius Stonys from Lithuania has his ”Gates of the Lamb”, just awarded in Vilnius, shown in ”Special Screenings”.

Enjoy the festival, dear friends - and the khatchapuri, the khinkali and the chacha, writes a man who twice visited a wonderful Georgian restaurant in St. Petersburg last week!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Message2Man Awards and Results

Written 06-10-2015 20:53:36 by Tue Steen Müller

The English version of the M2M in St.Petersburg awards and statistics was published today on the website of the festival. I have taken some clips from the long text, the whole press release you can find clicking the link below:

”At the closing ceremony, the festival juries announced the winners, the director of the festival presented overall results of this year’s Message to Man and set goals for the future. For the first time in festival’s history, the opening ceremony of Message to Man was held on Palace square. The grand celebration was attended by more than 20,000 people. Many Russian and international film stars took part in the 25th festival. Among the jury members and special guests of Message to Man were Nastassja Kinski, Brilliant Mendoza, Jean Roy, Mikhail Iampolski, Vladimir Posner, Rudolf Thome, Velimir Žilnik, Alice Rohrwacher and 45 other guests from 22 different countries… Altogether more than 30,000 people attended the festival’s events between September, 26th and October, 2nd…

And the prizes that were given to documentary films:

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Avi Mograbi Retrospective

Written 05-10-2015 15:07:39 by Tue Steen Müller

Under the headline “Always The Trouble With Avi”, the Filmforum at the Museum Ludwig in Köln shows a retrospective of films by Israeli Avi Mograbi, introduced by this great text by the curator Rasha Salti:

“He is almost always in front of the camera, but the films are never about him at all; he films the commonplace, the everyday, even the prosaic – only to reveal with unsettling lucidity more profound and unseen truths about the paradoxes of contemporary Israeli society and ist occupation of Palestine. He seems to make films about making films that in reality are never made; he trumps documentary with fiction, performance with reality, back and forth, addling the codes of direct cinema. This is the trouble with Avi Mograbi’s cinematic and artistic practice: it is so essentially and literally subversive that it is impossible to classify. As is he: actor, sound recordist, second cameraman, singer, performer, director and citizen, he embodies all these roles dutifully, responsibly, without ambiguity or affect. And most remarkably, he never

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Astra Film Festival 2015

Written 05-10-2015 13:10:13 by Tue Steen Müller

One film festival follows the other and the months of October and November is high season. Tonight the veteran Astra Film Festival in Sibiu Romania starts and runs for 7 days with an exciting programme that is both looking back and reflects what goes on in documentary filmmaking of today.

For the looking back enthusiasts, the film historical interested, there is a series called ”NeoRealism and New Realisms” with films by Visconti (La Terra Trema, of course) and de Sica as well as ”The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” by Romanian Cristi Puiu and Portuguese Teresa Villaverde’s ”Os Mutantes”, to mention a few titles.

The festival has four competitive programmes: International, CE (Central and Eastern Europe) Europe, Romania, Student – all together 48 films. In the international section of 10 films you find ”I am the People” by French Anna Rousillon – it has this description:

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Message2Man National Competition/ 2

Written 03-10-2015 10:33:19 by Tue Steen Müller

A non-urban selection, indeed. Most of the films in the national competition took place outside the big cities. And very often in Siberia. Films about people and culture, clashes between indigenous people and the so-called civilisation like in ”The Land Where Mammoths Slumber” (Eva Belova), that is an informative documentation about the Nenets culture, where the reindeers have almost disappeared, but where they still have their ”chums”, tents, now often with tv and internet. A man with a foot in both cultures is the one conveying the dilemmas they face, another one is an artist, a charismatic man, who claims that bureaucrats are the worst enemies for the nenets, ”human rats”! The film stays on the informative level far from the artistic ambition that we have seen from the hands of Estonian Mark Soosaar.

I am afraid that I don’t have many fine words for another film far away from big cities – ”Kamchatka – the Cure for Hatred” (Yulia Mironova) that follows a war correspondent, who takes refuge in this far east island filming himself and his spouse, they get a child, she returns to Moscow, he stays and one year later he is back in war in Syria! I don’t see or hear reflections on the traumas he is to have brought from the Chechen war. The title remains a postulate.

Talking about war – ”Edges of Memory” (Anton Moiseenko) is a film with

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Russian Police Attacks Documentary Director

Written 02-10-2015 09:24:50 by Tue Steen Müller

Russian Georgy Molodtsov sent this message to be placed on

Andrey Gryazev, director of the prominent documentary film "Tomorrow" was beaten up by police, who were waiting for him near his house after funerals of one of art group "Voina" members. "Tomorrow" was successfully screened and awarded all over the world and premiered in Russia within the Moscow International Film Festival, where it was noticed by head of the jury Pawel Pawlikovsky, recent Academy award winner.

The description of the film, taken from the website of idfa:

“The most striking sight in contemporary Russian art is Voina ("War"), a radical artist collective. The founders are Vor ("Thief") and Koza ("Goat"), and they walk the thin line between art and crime. They paint a gigantic penis on the bridge across from the headquarters of the Federal Security Service and tip police cruisers over by night, as a protest against the force that they would also like to "topple." Under the title "Palace Revolution," they filmed themselves doing this, suggesting that their actions were only intended to recover the ball of their one-year-old son Kasper. Their little toddler is often in tow during their illegal acts, and when they get brutally arrested, he watches it all happen. A product of the squatter movement, Voina once boasted two members in its Moscow chapter who would go on to Pussy Riot fame. Director Andrey Gryazev passes no judgment on Voina's view on life or its political actions, which the state considers to be vandalism and downright incitement. He spends time with two of the collective's most outspoken members, who provide themselves with food by means of shoplifting and engage in some hefty arguments before carrying out their acts of anarchism. These people live in the moment, hoping that tomorrow they will be able to change everything…”

… link below to a short interview with the director:

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