Filmkommentaren

Mila Turajlic: The Other Side of Everything

Written 18-11-2017 23:06:57 by Tue Steen Mller

Mila Turajlic: The Other Side of Everything

I am biased. I have known the director Mila Turajlic for the many years that I have taken part in the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade. And I have shared opinions about the films, we have shown at the festival - with her mother, Srbijanka Turajlic, who watches all films at the festival, and is the main character of the daughter's film, that shows the courage of the mother, a university professor in mathematics, whose political engagement brought her to be minister of education, when Milosevic was taken down from power in October 2000. She was a speaker at many huge manifestations against the Milosevic regime.

The film, however, has many layers: It takes place in the fine home of the family, where there are locked doors into some rooms of the apartment, doors which were locked when the communists came to power at the end of the 1940'es. Another family moved in and an old lady lives there, when the film takes its start. A metaphor for the past.

But it is also a film, that questions what revolutions are good for. Srbijanka Turajlic is awarded and says - she has a lot of dry humour - that this is first time she has got an award for a failed revolution, referring to what happened in the country after Milosevic.

Asked about that at the Q&A after the screening tonight here at the IDFA festival, where the film is in the international competition for long films, the strong veteran activist said that of course something changed - we got rid of Milosevic. And asked if daughter Mila - as she says in the film that she wants to leave the country - can do something? Of course she can, we all can and should be engaged to change not only Serbia but also Europe.

The photo for this review/report is not one that I like, but it was what I could find. In the film Srbijanka Turajlic has a cigarette in mouth or hand the whole way through. I love to see her in the big apartment, I love to see her polish silver, I love to see her lying on her bed reading Agathe Christie while the phone is ringing, she does not care, but she cares for her country, she has felt that she should help the students in their protests, I love to see the dinner and lunches she sets up with classical bourgeois plates, forks and knives... the scene for political discussions.

I ought not give marks, I do it anyway, high ones for daughter and mother. I raise a glass for them and the film!

Serbia, 2017, 104 mins. 

http://www.othersideofeverything.com

www.idfa.nl 


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Finlay Pretsell: Time Trial

Written 18-11-2017 12:46:03 by Tue Steen Mller

Finlay Pretsell: Time Trial

Of course you - as a Dane - are sceptical, when someone wants to make a film about one of the superstars of professional bicycling. Our national hero Jørgen Leth has made, what is to say about the suffering, the pain, the different styles, in many films - and he keeps on doing so as a commentator on Danish TV2 every year during the Tour de France. So why another one...

But young Scottish Finlay Pretsell dared to challenge the old master, and according to Pretsell Jørgen Leth likes the film, which he will be able to say to the audience this afternoon, where the film is being screened on a huge screen at the Carré, the national theatre, followed by a panel including the two.

I watched the film yesterday in a smaller cinema, Munt 13, and I was suffering with the protagonist David Millar on screen. My suffering was in solidarity with poor Millar, who fights to get his last Tour de France but loses - and very much due to the music composed by American Dan Deacon, music which is constantly surprising and sometimes a torture to take into the ears.

It has changed my view on music in documentaries, which normally is just filling in holes in weak scenes. Here it goes with the race and the situations, the sequences, the scenes. A great example of music in documentaries - here used for a film, which is so well constructed, full of funny moments, it’s not “only” the tragic fall of a hero.

Look at the photo, David Millar talking to one of his colleagues. A scene of calm contrary to the sequences at the race San Remo-Milan, where Millar should prove that he was good enough for his 13th Tour de France. He was not, as we experience. He is fighting with putting on his gloves in the terrible weather, he has to stop so a helper can get his rain coat in place, it is total misery as the two coaches in the car indirectly communicate to each other. They are wonderful side characters in a film, where also Millar’s room mate, Thomas Dekker, makes one laugh, when he says to Millar “there’s no time for you anymore”!

The beginning of the film showing Millar’s speciality, the time trial, one man against the clock, is breathtaking, maybe a bit to long, but once we are away from that, the film works perfectly in being a Film far away from what we watch on television every summer. Millar gives good information on technical matters like what are the breakaways, he does not want to talk about his doping scandal anymore, “I just wanted to do one Tour de France, I have done 12 and now I am pulled from number 13”.

Pretsell gets very close to Millar, a charismatic sportsman, indeed he is. A free man now! It’s an emotional race, enjoyable, it will go around, be sure of that.

http://www.timetrialfilm.com/ 


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Being at IDFA

Written 17-11-2017 23:38:42 by Tue Steen Mller

Being at IDFA

Look at that picture from a bridge in Amsterdam, where the biggest documentary film festival is taking place these days. It was here that I ran into Ally Derks this afternoon. Are you alone here, she asked, where is your partner? At home I said, remembering great moments my wife and I had with Ally at the It's All True Festival in Brazil, the one run by my cigar-smoking friend Amir Labaki. Lots of documentary talks in Rio and Sao Paolo, lots of caipirinha, fun, warm atmosphere. I am not going to be at the de Balie celebration of Ally Derks tomorrow - as I am working for "her" festival at the IDFA Academy - so I send this verbal hug to her and apologise that I had to to run for a screening, when we met in the street. I have seen 70 films before the festival she said... before we had to run for a screening. And for our lives as you have to in this city, that is governed by those on bikes, some of them pretty aggressive. 


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Mohamed Siam: Amal

Written 17-11-2017 11:00:56 by Tue Steen Mller

Mohamed Siam: Amal

The day after the opening of IDFA the director of “Amal”, Egyptian Mohammed Siam met the participants of the IDFA Academy to talk about the film, which they had all seen the night before or that very same morning. Siam was interviewed by the head of the IDFA Bertha Fund, Isabel Arrate Fernandez, and the two were joined on stage by the editor of the film Véronique Lagoarde - Ségot, praised, very well deserved, by the director, who outlined the process of getting to the final film.

“I had filmed 25 hours (in 6 years, ed.) and had started to assemble scenes… when I showed it to Véronique. She said “what the hell is that?”. She pointed to the fact that I had no rhythm skills, I am far too fast when I put things together”. Véronique Lagoarde - Ségot: “It was a beautiful gift, she was so pure, I had first of all to respect her. And to find the rhythm”.



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Mindaugas Survila: The Ancient Woods

Written 17-11-2017 09:15:44 by Tue Steen Mller

Mindaugas Survila: The Ancient Woods

Thursday was a beautiful evening for the Lithuanian director Mindaugas Survila, who celebrated his world premiere at IDFA with a full hall in the Munt Cinema 9. He was there with his wife, as was the editor Danielius Kokanauskis, who also worked with Survila on his first documentary “Field of Magic” (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/768/). An editor in strong demand by Lithuanian directors, but difficult to get hold of as he is working permanently for Sergei Loznitsa, who is almost constantly in production.

This second film of Survila, “The Ancient Woods”, could also easily have included the word magic. Or maybe better magnificent as the experience was for the viewer with this visit to some woods of Lithuania, that are still full of nature's wonders. There is no narration in the film - contrary to what is normal in nature films - the director, as he said, does not want to point at what we as viewers should see and think. 



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IDFA 2017 Opening

Written 16-11-2017 08:41:25 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA 2017 Opening

It was a brilliant IDFA opening night yesterday at the amazing Royal Theater Carré in Amsterdam. Film and tribute to Ally Derks, who has stepped down from her post as director of IDFA that she co-founded 30 years ago. The hall was full of people, who was more than pleased to join a standing ovation to her after a beautiful speech by Derk Sauer, chairman of the Board of IDFA, who characterised Derks as we know her, energetic, always on the side of the directors, the makers, and not that fond of all the administration and meetings, that follows when a festival has reached the size that has IDFA: 280.000 tickets sold last year! Before the speech to Ally Derks, who received a medal from the royal family, there were acrobats on stage and afterwards the new artistic director, Barbare Visser, introduced the programme of this year highlighting the program section “Visual Voice” which is dedicated to Ally Derks, a whole day at De Balie with the presence of documentary masters, who have grown up with the festival…. and then the opening film, Amal by Mohammed Siam, fine choice for a more than fine film, touching, more about that later.

www.idfa.nl 


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The European Documentary Magazine/ 2

Written 14-11-2017 12:32:03 by Tue Steen Mller

The European Documentary Magazine/ 2

The second print edition of the documentary magazine, MODERN TIMES REVIEW, that took over when DOX was stopped by its publisher EDN (European Documentary Network), is out. It was in the festival bags at DOK Leipzig and it will be at IDFA as will the editor, Norwegian Truls Lie, chapeau for him and his work. 24 pages, lots of reviews, features, opinions – it took me hours to read it all, very good quality.

The magazine says that it deals with ”… keywords could be conflicts, peace work, surveillance, control societies, climate. Ecology, ethics and philosophy…”

Over two pages three of the competition films at IDFA are reviewed: Jessica Gorter’s ”The Red Soul” (PHOTO) (the Stalin cult today and before), Mila Turajlic’s personal ”The Other Side of Everything” from Serbia today and before, and Håvard Bustnes visit to Greece, ”The Golden Dawn Girls”. Watch the films and read the reviews afterwards to see if you agree. There is also a mini interview with IDFA’s artistic director Barbara Visser, who says that IDFA is there ”to promote the cinematic documentary… the cinematic experience is something that many  filmmakers aspire to, and for good reasons: one works on film to create a memorable experience, not just to transfer information”. Agree, but don’t underestimate the information side. Another question to her was ”what do you think about the term ”movies that matter”. Answer: ”All good movies matter”. YES, and let’s get rid of that kind of meaningless slogans!

Take a subscription to the magazine and read about the new films and dig into the archive:

”A yearly subscription gives you the spring and fall issues of Modern Times Review, full access to all (soon 1000 articles from the last 20 years) online articles, and the monthly documentary screenings.”

www.moderntimes.review 


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Masters at IDFA

Written 13-11-2017 16:33:29 by Tue Steen Mller

Masters at IDFA

Not all films can go to the competitive sections, of course not, so festivals arrange strands like Panorama and Masters, at IDFA both are there, with 32 titles in the first and 29 in the latter, where also older films are brought into the spotlight.

As a visitor for five days I know it is impossible to watch all the films, which are listed in the masters section. Luckily there are several that I have already seen and that we have written about on this site, and luckily there are films that we can take a look at later in the long dark winter nights coming up in our part of the world…

This is really gonna be a slate of name-dropping: Malek Bensmail tells the story behind Pontecorvo’s ”The Battle of Algier”, Andres Veiel has made a film on ”Beuys”, Romanian ”The Dead Nation”  by Radu Jude ”is a documentary-essay, which shows a stunning collection of photographs from a Romanian small town in the 1930's and 1940's. The soundtrack, composed mostly from excerpts taken from the diary of a Jewish doctor from the same era, shows us what the photographs do not: the rising of the anti-Semitism and eventually a harrowing depiction of the Romanian Holocaust, a topic which is not very talked about in the contemporary Romanian society.”

I am so much looking forward to seeing Agnès Varda’s ”Faces



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16 Classics and New Docs from the Arab World

Written 12-11-2017 16:34:21 by Tue Steen Mller

16 Classics and New Docs from the Arab World

… at the upcoming IDFA with the title ”Shifting Perspectives: The Arab World” with a clear intention: ”IDFA offers a counterbalance to Western stereotypes that ignore the complexity of the Arabic-speaking world and keep ‘the Arab’ at arm’s length, as ”the other””.

If you want to see this program, which is excellent, you should be in Amsterdam November 17-19, where the films are screened followed in many cases by discussions.

Among the classics are two films by late Syrian documentary master Omar Amiralay, ”A Flood in Baath Country” and ”The Misfortunes of Some”. I met the gentle director when in Damascus for the Dox Box festival, that was organised by Diana El Jeiroudi and Orwa Nyrabia. Here is a text-link written for the opening of the fourth edition of the festival in March 2011 – Amarilay passed away in February that same year: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/1492/

Several of the films have been reviewed on this site:



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Jury at Listapad Minsk Festival Protests

Written 11-11-2017 20:42:02 by Tue Steen Mller

Jury at Listapad Minsk Festival Protests

… like many other festivals have done holding up a sign saying ”Free Oleg Sentsov”, the Ukrainian filmmaker who was arrested by the Russian authorities in March 2014 in Crimea and sentenced to 20 years in jail on suspicion of “plotting terrorist acts”.

The Belarussian media did not want to publish the photo showing the protest, this is how it looked like – www.filmkommentaren.dk


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Wonderful Losers Wins Two Awards in Minsk

Written 11-11-2017 11:13:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Wonderful Losers Wins Two Awards in Minsk

Photo of a happy man, Lithuanian Arunas Matelis, on stage in Minsk at the Listapad Minsk International Film Festival. As I wrote some days ago the selection for the main documentary competition was very strong - http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4077/ - so also from that perspective it is a true appreciation of the work by Arunas Matelis that he received not only an award as the best documentary film but also the audience award for the best documentary. The film ”Wonderful Losers: A Different World” (with coproducers from Lithuania, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Latvia, UK, Ireland, Spain!) has now participated in two festivals (first one in Warsaw) and won 3 awards! Matelis is - by the way – used to receive awards. His previous film ”Before Flying Back to the Earth” got the main awards at DOK Leipzig and at IDFA.

The Georgian ”City of the Sun” by Rati Oneli (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3995/) received the Special Jury award and there was a diploma for the Polish masterpiece ”The Prince and the Dybbuk” (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4052/ by Elvira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski.

Both of these films are screened at the upcoming IDFA but not the film by Arunas Matelis, why not? However, it is available at the festival's Docs for Sale.

Also to be mentioned: there were a couple of special prizes for the wonderful ”The Last Waltz” by Russian Yulia Bobkova (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3984/ and one for the fine ”Country of Women” by Aliaksei Paluyan (http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4071/)

None of them are at IDFA.

Read more on the website, link below.

Photo taken by Lithuanian film critic and festival programmer Edvinas Pukšta. Thanks.

http://listapad.com/en/

PS. The jury for the documentaries – Andrei Zagdansky, Dmitri Makhomet, Zanete Ašcuka, Anna Zamecka and Gennady Kofman – advocated at the festival for ”Free Oleg Sentsov”. Respect! http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3943/


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IDFA Preparations

Written 10-11-2017 12:24:37 by Tue Steen Mller

IDFA Preparations

Wednesday IDFA, International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, starts. And I am going there for five nights. Due to being part of the IDFA Academy, this great initiative of the festival, where young filmmakers get the chance to meet each other, share their ideas and projects and get inspiration from cameraperson Kirsten Johnson and directors like Kim Longinotto and Frederick Wiseman to mention the most famous ones. Together with Cecilia Lidin, with whom I worked at the EDN way back in time, I will be available for meetings in the afternoon.

The last couple of days I have been preparing my stay in hopefully not too foggy Amsterdam. The festival is overwhelming with talks, masterclasses, industry screenings (very good as many take place in the mornings) and good friends invite you to premieres of their films. Happy that there is a Docs for Sale, got to find films for a couple of festivals and for writing on this blog.

Let me mention two which are scheduled in my agenda:



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Tereza Nvotov: Mečiar

Written 08-11-2017 14:25:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Tereza Nvotov: Mečiar

”Vladimir Meciar was the first Minister of Interior post Velvet revolution of 1989 and the threetime re-elected Prime Minister of Slovakia. He was an undeniably charismatic politician „ loved by the nation“ and his profound influence on the contemporary political climate of Slovakia cannot be doubted. His final period in government 1994-1998, was marked by an authoritarian almost autocratic rule, misuse of power in the biggest privatisation causes and scandals and unauthorised activities of the secret services. It was this governance which ruled Slovakia out of the process of being accepted in the EU and NATO…”.

These words come from the website of the film about Meciar, link below. The film that has the subtitle ”Lust for Power”, was the opening film at the Jihlava festival recently, understandable as it deals with a politician known, hated and loved in Czech Republic and Slovakia.

I met Tereza Nvotová in March in Prague this year, where she



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Listapad Minsk: Truth Love Beauty

Written 07-11-2017 14:06:26 by Tue Steen Mller

Listapad Minsk: Truth Love Beauty

I was there a couple of times, in Minsk Belarus for the film festival, that has a well chosen documentary program with Irina Demyanova as the responsible. 12 films are competing in the documentary section. I am happy I am not in the jury. Let me point at four films of high quality, written about on this site:

1. Julia Bobkova: The Last Waltz: ”… fascinating film about Oleg Karavaichuk, composer and piano player from St. Petersburg,”

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3984/

2. Elwira Niewiera & Piotr Rosolowski: The Prince and the Dybbuk ”…for me "The Prince and the Dybbuk" is a strong candidate to be my Documentary of the Year.”

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3993/

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4052/

3. Miroslav Janek: Normal Autistic Film

”… dynamic and playful documentary, the work of one of the most important European authors when it comes to children, especially children who don’t blend in and who are different from the majority.”

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3816/

4. Arunas Matelis: Wonderful Losers: A Different World

”…deserves to travel the world because of its cinematic qualities”

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/4048/

http://listapad.com/en/programm/osnovnoy-konkurs-dokumentalnogo-kino/


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Ana Dumitrescu: Licu a Romanian Story

Written 06-11-2017 22:20:19 by Tue Steen Mller

Ana Dumitrescu: Licu  a Romanian Story

The jury for the long, international documentaries at DOK Leipzig chose Ana Dumitrescu’s ”Licu-a Romanian Story” as the winner of the 60th edition of the festival. I did not watch the film in Leipzig but did so tonight on a computer and I can only nod YES to the decision taken by musician and writer Anne Clark, master documentarian Heddy Honigmann and former arte commissioner Luciano Rigolini. I copy paste their motivation:

"In a humble house, there is a very old man sitting and telling us not only his story but the story of 2 centuries. To make this possible in a film is a very difficult task which requires love for your character and an exceptional cinematic eye. In these days when the only thing that counts is viewing figures a filmmaker with almost no budget dares to say I will do it in another way. This way goes directly to our hearts, creating a filmic journey which lasts only 86 minutes but for us it is a life lesson."

And a copy paste as well of the fine DOK Leipzig catalogue text by Sirkka Möller:



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Ivars Seleckis: To Be Continued

Written 06-11-2017 12:48:28 by Tue Steen Mller

Ivars Seleckis: To Be Continued

Antra Gaile from Mistrus Media in Riga asked me if I wanted to see and eventually comment on an almost final cut of the new film by Latvian master of documentary Ivars Seleckis, whose work I know so well and have appreciated since I started to visit the country around 25 years ago. The film, the first one about children from the hands of the director, will have its national premiere in the beginning of next year as part of the celebration of 100 years of Latvia. Of course I said yes and wrote this letter to the director:

Dear Ivars, dear friend, dear master.

I have seen your film. I love it. As FILM and as one who has the age of a grandfather and very often are blessed with visits from
kids at the same age as those in your film: 2 are 6 years old and have just started in school, 2 are 4 years old.

Children are children, wherever they are and I could recognise



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DOK Leipzig 2017 Ceremony

Written 05-11-2017 11:21:30 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig 2017 Ceremony

… took place at Westbad, a former venue for the citizens to go to swim. Now turned into one big room for concerts, conferences and the prize ceremony of the 60 year old festival. Tables were put up with wine and snacks, very nice, as was the performance of the conferencier, former MDR commissioning editor Claudia Schreiner. Not an easy job – seven Golden Doves and an overall total of 21 awards, comprising €73.500 – and it was not her fault that the ceremony took almost three hours.

One who contributed to the overtime was the spokesperson for the Interreligious Jury. She talked and talked and came up with a harsh criticism of the festival for its selection and lack of political films. Schreiner, as conferencier, opposed her on stage and the producer of ”The Congo Tribunal”, Arne Birkenstock, used his thank you speech for an honorary mention to the film to make a pretty tough attack on the jury spokesperson for saying – in German that many in the audience do not understand – that 11 films out of the 12 in the main competition were bad. His speech was warmly welcomed. Also festival director Leena Pasanen felt that she had to make the comment that the festival does not look for films that directly point to what the filmmaker wants the audience to think. Of course not.

No reason to hide that this incident – a jury member that makes a strong critique of the selection, a jury member from the Interreligious jury! – did take away some of the good atmosphere of the ceremony, especially because we non-fluent-in-German-language did not get what was going on.

Having said so, it was great to have competent filmmakers and –



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DOK Leipzig/ Delta

Written 04-11-2017 17:01:09 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig/ Delta

The introduction of a ”Next Masters Competition” at DOKLeipzig is an excellent idea. I have seen some of the choices for this year and so far one stands out, the Ukrainian ”Delta” by Oleksandr Techynski. It lives up to the reasons I give when asked why I often praise Eastern European documentaries:

It is multilayered, it has a clear aesthetic choice with a skilled camerawork that suits the theme or rather the location, it’s a Film: the delta of the Danube, a kind of Klondyke, where people live under harsh chaotic conditions and where men with worn faces struggle their way through the reed that they harvest to sheaf, to bring in to be sold. They work in all kind of weather – ice cold winters, and under milky foggy skies. Most often on a boat as you can see on the photo, where a man lies dead drunk next to wood that has been cut down to stump. But it is also a place where the transport of a dead body demands quite an effort. There are some moments, where the film takes the viewer inside a house, where a grown-up son has his hair cut by his mother and there are many scenes with vodka being drunk. Lots of focus on faces.

Stylistically there is a move on the film, a flow that is carried by painting-like images superbly composed, no music (thank you for that!). No message, it seems to me that the director wants to say: this is what I saw, he keeps a distance, he interprets with his images, he is not from there, he observes.

http://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/


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DOK Leipzig/ Congo and Russia

Written 04-11-2017 11:57:30 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig/ Congo and Russia

I have not (yet) been able to watch all films in the international competition for long documentaries – there are 12 – but I want to highlight two, which could deserve an award tonight:

Experienced Aliona van der Horst has made a wonderful film, ”Love is Potatoes” (Netherlands, 2017, 90 mins.) that takes place in the countryside in Russia, where her mother grew up before she as a grown-up married a Dutchman and moved with him. Her mother had five sisters. Van der Horst goes to the small house (PHOTO), meets up with cousins as she is inheriting 6 square meters of the house! It’s a film, where she wants to find out what kind of life her mother had in Stalinist Soviet Union. She looks at photos, she talks to cousin Tanya, to aunt Liza, who does not remember any big problems, ”all was normal”, but it was NOT, she slowly finds out – women were dying in the corn fields, 1933, the deadly famine… Van der Horst uses (brilliant) animation by Italian Simone Massi and what is so unique about the film showing the safe hand of the director: the quiet, non-dramatic tone of the film and some unforgettable scenes like the one, where she puts all the shoes on the floor, lots of shoes… why, the male cousin asks, because they did not have shoes, so after the famine… The film has touching scenes: the mother, still alive but not able to talk, to react to the daughter’s questions. The daughter/director looking at photos of her mother as young. Yes, I can identify. Great film.

”The Congo Tribunal” by Milo Rau is an amazing achievement by the film&theatre director. He set it all up, two tribunals, he found his characters to come to one tribunal in Congo, one in Berlin, he shot a lot of material in the country, he has witnesses to the many massacres talk, he has so-called experts analyse the mining industry and its international players. A fictional tribunal, a documentary theatre, but one that brings forward the human atrocities of a country that seldom is on the front pages of the media. It is full of strong moments and characters. After this film I want to know more, to understand better what has happened and what is happening in the tormented country forgotten by the EU and and the UN.

http://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/


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Aliaksei Paluyan: Country of Women

Written 04-11-2017 08:34:39 by Tue Steen Mller

Aliaksei Paluyan: Country of Women

One of the many good things at the DOK Leipzig is the market, where you go with your 300 page catalogue to choose between 272 films from 66 countries! You have your code, you find a film, put on your headphones and you watch a film in good quality on the monitor. All films screened in the festival cinemas are there but you can also find small pearls that did not make it to the competition like ”Country of Women” from Belarus, by young Aliaksei Paluyan, who lives in Germany and in Belarus.

Look at the photo, she is one of the four women in the film, who are introduced one after the other, tell about their lives, sing a song or two, while they take the viewer around in their houses. She lived 56 years together with her husband, ”a peaceful life together”, she is full of life as are the other three, although two of them had a tougher life. One has been a widow for decades, the other says ”I suffered with him for 40 years” – alcohol. It’s memories, it’s survival and it’s put together in a simple montage with shots from the landscape surrounding the village and storks who reside on the houses. And the singing is wonderful.

Go to the website, link below, look at the photos and the trailer; fine film by the director, who prepares a new one, ”People from the Moor”. He asked me if it was a good idea to take it to the training programme Ex Oriente. Indeed! That’s where talents can grow.

Belarus, 26 mins., 2017

http://www.countryofwomen.com/


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DOK Leipzig Opening/ Leena Pasanen

Written 02-11-2017 07:47:24 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Opening/ Leena Pasanen

Festival director of DOK Leipzig Leena Pasanen regrets the lack of female directors in the German competition for long documentaries. She wants to do something about it, read this from the opening of the festival monday night:

"Women in film business have been in the headlines over the last weeks, but once again not for the reasons they should be there, as celebrated directors.

Unfortunately, our news are not good either. In the German competition for long films, we only have one female director as a co-director.  After a strong year in 2016, we are again in this situation.

We have checked our statistics and we can see, that every second or third year, there is a lack of female directors in German competition for long documentaries. This is the case even when the number of submitted films and the selection criteria stay the same. What is wrong?

It would be easy to blame others, say that we are just the receiving end, and the problem is in funding and production. There surely are structural issues, and we need a proper research to look into the problem. But it is also our duty as one of the leading festivals to push for the change. For the film selection of 2018 and 2019 the head of the selection committee Ralph Eue and I have decided to put a quota in our German Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film for female filmmakers. I’m well aware that there will be strong voices against this quota, also from women filmmakers, but I can only say, sometimes you need strong decisions to break the tradition and push for a change.  We cannot have another year, without female voices in German competition."

http://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

TV3 Catalonia to be Taken Over by Madrid?

Written 30-10-2017 15:48:17 by Tue Steen Mller

TV3 Catalonia to be Taken Over by Madrid?

I take the liberty to copy-paste an article from the Website of Audiovisual in the Mediterranean, which is powered by CMCA. The article, based on several sources, is from today: Having activated Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution on Saturday October 21st, suspending Catalonia’s autonomy, Madrid now wants to place the Catalan public broadcasters under state supervision, including the television channel TV3.

This measure would allow the Madrid government to put new leaders in place at TV3 and dismiss those currently in office. In a 20-page press release published Saturday, prime minister Mariano Rajoy sets out the terms of this takeover and makes it clear there will be sanctions if anyone disobeys the channel’s new bosses.

TV3 employees have in return announced their intention “not to recognize Madrid’s authority” over Catalan public media. They signed a manifesto published on the evening of Monday, October 23rd reaffirming their rejection of Article 155, and denouncing “the will of the Spanish Government to control the Government of Catalonia […], threatening the citizen’s right to information by forcefully intervening in Catalan public media.”



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dmitry Bogolubov: The Wall

Written 30-10-2017 12:05:53 by Tue Steen Mller

Dmitry Bogolubov: The Wall

At the Jihlava Intl. FF they have a fine tradition that has been picked up by other festivals: to have a one man/woman jury for one of the competitive sections, the Opus Bonum.

Legendary filmmaker from Latvia Laila Pakalnina was the one to choose this year according to this rule (quote from the festival site): … an outstanding documentary film of the year from a diverse collection representing tendencies in world documentary; since all of the films are significant, the festival suggest the following game; a single juror picks a single film, a “brilliant” work…

The Best World Documentary Film 2017 was – according to Pakalnina: ”The Wall” by Dmitry Bogolubov. Motivation: ”For using the film language to express the inexpressible. For Film”.

The synopsis goes like this: ”The Stalin Cult is once again gaining



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Ai WeiWei: Human Flow

Written 28-10-2017 11:51:37 by Tue Steen Mller

Ai WeiWei: Human Flow

… og dagen sluttede med visningen af Ai WeiWeis ”Human Flow”. Efter det var lykkedes festivalledelsen (Antalya Film Festival 2017) at få fat i en kopi som ikke var skadet. Aflysningen den første dag rejste en mængde spekulation om censur – filmen berører (også) de tyrkisk-kurdiske relationer – men tale om censur af den årsag er total nonsens. Der er ingen grund til at ikke tro, hvad der er detaljeret beskrevet i den redegørelse fra festivalledelsen, som jeg refererede i et tidligere blogindlæg.

ANMELDELSE

Filmen er strålende, den er en ekstraordinært rig 140 minutter lang dokumentation af den verden vi lever i. Der er tekster på lærredet, kendsgerninger fra steder fyldt med flygtninge og migranter, lyriske citater fra digteres værker, det er et filmværk i mange forskellige stilarter: Ai Weiwei i billedet, reportage metode, fantastiske, næsten surrealistiske afsnit, åndeløst smukke billeder (FOTO), samtaler med talrige UNHCR medarbejdere, små varme filmscener, børn børn børn. Det er sat mesterligt sammen. Og det fortjener en endnu længere anmeldelse og den kommer næste gang jeg ser filmen på det store lærred.

CANCELLATION

… And the day ended with the screening of Ai WeiWei’s ”Human Flow”. After the festival (Antalya Film Festival 2017) had managed to get hold of a copy that was not damaged. The cancellation of the first screening raised a lot of speculations about censorship – the film touches upon the Turkish-Kurdish relationship – which is totally nonsense. There is no reason NOT to believe what is detailed described in the statement of the festival that I referred to in the previous blogpost.

REVIEW

The film is brilliant, an extraordinarily rich 140 minutes long documentation of the world we live in. There are texts on the screen, facts from places full of refugeees and migrants, poetic sentences from writers, a film full of different styles, Ai WeiWei in the picture, reportage style, some fantastic almost surrealistic sequences, stunning images (PHOTO), interviews with many UNHCR representatives, small warm scenes, children children children, it’s masterly put together. It deserves a longer review and that will come the next time I see it on a big screen.

www.antalyaff.com 


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

Antalya Film Forum Winners 2017

Written 27-10-2017 08:17:31 by Tue Steen Mller

Antalya Film Forum Winners 2017

For the fourth time the Antalya Film Forum took place. I was here last year as well and can say that the always smiling and positive Zeynep Atakan and her young female team has established an event that has grown and is run with professional generosity.

The documentary has found a place at the Forum – it is still a little brother but one that is taken care of and recognised. The six selected projects were all interesting one way or the other and I had the privilege to get to know the people behind the films to be. Through training and meetings.

The two jurors Sevdije Kastrati from Kosovo and Dennis Wheatley



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Eurimages Supports 7 Documentaries

Written 26-10-2017 08:53:28 by Tue Steen Mller

Eurimages Supports 7 Documentaries

 First the bigger numbers from the press release of Eurimages… The Board of Management of the Council of Europe’s Eurimages Fund agreed to support 22 fiction, 1 animation and 7 documentaries at a meeting in Skopje, for a total amount of €5,598,535.

A very good result for the documentary genre. Here are the documentaries supported:

”Frem” by Viera Cakányova, €53.000, Czech Rep. & Slovak Rep.

”Baltic New Wave” by Audrius Stonys & Kristine Briede, €70.000, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

”Ingmar Bergman-Legacy of a Defining Genius”, €86.000, by Margarethe von Trotta and Felix Moeller, Germany, France

”Fugue” by Artemio Benki, €100.000, Czech Rep., France, Argentina, Austria

”Epicentro” by Hubert Sauper, €190.000, Austria, France

”Photograph-Women” by Ester Sparatore, €100.000, France, Belgium, Italy

”Exemplary Behaviour” by Audrius Mickevicius, €50.000, Lithuania, Bulgaria

Readers of this site will recognise several strong names, auteurs, as the French call those who use the camera as a pen.

Photo: The people behind "Baltic New Wave" at the pitch in Riga 2016, with Kristine Briede speaking.

https://rm.coe.int/support-decisions-at-the-148th-eurimages-board-of-management-meeting/1680760c5c


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Antalya FF Pitch of Turkish Docs & Ai WeiWei

Written 25-10-2017 23:28:52 by Tue Steen Mller

Antalya FF  Pitch of Turkish Docs & Ai WeiWei

The pitching of 6 Turkish documentary projects took place wednesday mid-day with a good audience and two competent jury members Sevdije Kastrati from Kosovo and Dennis Wheatley from the UK. Slightly different from what we are used to in European pitch sessions, the Antalya Film Forum has chosen to give 8 minutes for presentation, including clip plus 5 minutes for the jurors to ask questions and/or give comments. Tomorrow night the two winners of each 8000$ for development will be announced and I will write a bit more about the projects, two of them connected to Cyprus and one dealing indirectly with the Kurds.

And the day ended with the screening of Ai WeiWei’s ”Human Flow”. After the festival had managed to get hold of a copy that was not damaged. The cancellation of the first screening raised a lot of speculations about censorship – the film touches upon the Turkish-Kurdish relationship – which is totally nonsense. There is no reason NOT to believe what is detailed described in the statement of the festival that I referred to in the previous blogpost.

The film is brilliant, an extraordinarily rich 140 minutes long documentation of the world we live in. There are texts on the screen, facts from places full of refugeees and migrants, poetic sentences from writers, a film full of different styles, Ai WeiWei in the picture, reportage style, some fantastic almost surrealistic sequences, stunning images (PHOTO), interviews with many UNHCR representatives, small warm scenes, children children children, it’s masterly put together. It deserves a longer review and that will come the next time I see it on a big screen.

www.antalyaff.com


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Antalya Film Forum 2017

Written 23-10-2017 18:01:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Antalya Film Forum 2017

For the second time I am at the Antalya Film Forum in Turkey that is the industry event connected to the festival that celebrates its 54th edition. Last year I was in a documentary jury that gave awards to two Turkish projects, and did a pep talk on documentaries with clips - http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3728/ - this year I have been part of the committee that selected the projects to be pitched this year. There are 6 of them, two will be awarded with $ 8000, each.

I had the pleasure of making a training session for the filmmakers behind the 6 projects that will be pitched on wednesday. With follow-up meetings like the one on the PHOTO, where I am looking at a trailer for a film called ”Ada” (The Island). To the left the director Sevinc Baloglu, to the right the producer Su Baloglu, mother and daughter, who are making a film from Cyprus from a personal point of view and including a 99 year old woman, who is living in the buffer zone in the divided island. She just published a book called ”My First Hundred Years”!

This morning I went to watch AiWeiWei’s ”Human Flow” at 9. But



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Wonderful Winner at Warsaw International FF

Written 22-10-2017 10:37:22 by Tue Steen Mller

Wonderful Winner at Warsaw International FF

”Wonderful Losers” was the wonderful winner in the documentary competition at the international film festival in Warsaw. Here is what I found on the website of the festival, after the award ceremony last night:

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION Jury: Volia Chajkouskaya - Belarus, Anna Zamecka - Poland, Jude Ratnam - Sri Lanka awarded: Best Documentary Feature: WONDERFUL LOSERS: A DIFFERENT WORLD by Arūnas Matelis, Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, Belgium

… competent jury of filmmakers who made a choice that for sure will help the film of Arūnas Matelis in its future life around the world. This is what the film is about, taken from its website:

”For spectators, cyclists in the back of the race are simply the losers. They are called water carriers, domestics, gregarios, and Sancho Panzas of professional cycling. Moreover, they have no right to personal victories - these sportsmen sacrifice their careers to help their teammates.

We follow the magnificent world of the race from the point of view of the doctors' team situated in a claustrophobically small medical car surrounded with wounded cyclists. The life of the medical team in race reminds one on the frontline of war. Cyclists crash, rise and race again. And amongst this fight, many magnificent things happen.

This film-odyssey reveals the untold world of the wonderful losers, true warriors, knights and monks of professional cycling…”

Lithuania is a country that has a fine tradition in professional cycling with Edita Pučinskaitė as one of the stars. She was in Warsaw for the premiere and she has been helping Arūnas Matelis and Algimantė Matelienė as a consultant and researcher. Read more about her, link below.

topics.revolvy.com/topic/Edita

http://www.wonderfullosers.com/ 


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Gertten Brothers Honorary Doctors

Written 19-10-2017 23:40:54 by Tue Steen Mller

The Gertten Brothers Honorary Doctors

… in documentary filmmaking, at Malmö Högskola (Malmö University), ceremony tomorrow. Bravo! A very well deserved appreciation of their work as documentarians with films that have gone all over the world: Fredrik Gertten with debate creating films like ”Bikes vs. Cars” (2015), ”Bananas” and ”Big Boys Gone Bananas” (2009, 2011), Magnus Gertten with a film on legendary Björn Afzelius ”Tusan Bitar” and two beautiful films on concentration camp survivors arriving to Malmö, ”Harbour of Hope” and ”Every Face Has a Name”. Both of them have, through their companies, served as producers for Swedish filmmakers and have co-produced internationally.

Look at the photo (taken by Pierre Mens), Magnus to the left, Fredrik to the right, and in the middle a young football player named Ibrahimovic from Malmö, who after a fantastic international career right now plays, when he is not injured, for Manchester United. ”Becoming Zlatan” was their common film from 2016 based primarily on material that goes 25 years back.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Andreas Horvath: Helmut Berger - Actor

Written 18-10-2017 17:56:20 by Tue Steen Mller

Andreas Horvath: Helmut Berger - Actor

In the 1970’es my friend Kjell Væring and I went to see Luchino Visconti’s ”Ludwig” about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, 235 mins.(!). A masterpiece that we watched in a big cinema on Champs Élysées in Paris. We wrote about the film for a Danish newspaper and our admiration for the master director was made bigger with that film as with those that followed – ”The Damned” and ”The Conversation Piece”. Very much because of the unique acting by Helmut Berger, the companion of Visconti.

So I expected that Andreas Horvath’s film on Berger from 2015, decades after the films mentioned, would be about how it was to live with and act in films by Visconti. The life of an actor, what is acting… I am sure that was also what Horvath intended to do. It never happened. Well he cuts some times to a signed photo of Visconti on the wall in the flat in Salzburg, where most of the film takes place.



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

What is documentary?

Written 17-10-2017 09:30:41 by Tue Steen Mller

What is documentary?

A month ago I was teaching at the film school department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius. The first morning of the week I asked the students to write down 3 words that comes to their mind, when they hear the word “documentary”. We put the words on a whiteboard. At the end of the week we looked at the many words after having discussed and watched many films. Screenwriter student Eva Sinicaite (PHOTO)volunteered to make an essay out of the words, here it comes:

Wikipedia describes documentary as a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record.

But anyone would agree, that this is a big understatement. Documentary is much more than that. It is an observation of reality. Three partners – time, sound and picture – dance together, creating poetry on screen. Using your own style and aesthetic, you can create a unique world. This world can be directed, put into structure or set free to flow naturally – like life does. Documentary enables you to portray emotions, very intimate and sensitive moments. These truthful glimpses change you. There is no better way to see the point of view of others, to acknowledge different perceptions. To explore the lines between concepts – subjective or objective, fiction or reality. To teach and learn history through individual stories. To get to the core of philosophy simply by contemplating life. To give an ironical approach, to provoke people, to make contrasts, to inspire…

There are so many words that the description of documentary cinema contains, almost as many as the concept of existence does. Maybe because documentary is life itself. So just open your eyes, hearts and minds and indulge in this extraordinary world.

The photo is from the favourite documentary of Eva Sinicaite, “Earth of the Blind” (1992) by Audrius Stonys. 


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics

DOK Leipzig Alvarez, Varda, Kluge, Panh, Rau

Written 15-10-2017 11:42:34 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig  Alvarez, Varda, Kluge, Panh, Rau

Yes, political films, films on political issues, film history. DOK Leipzig offers at its 60th edition 24 short and longer documentaries under the title ”commanders, chairmen, general secretaries”. Which refers to an event at the festival. Catalogue text by Ralph Eue goes like this:

”An experimental application of the thesis of many early theorists of cinematography according to which cinema is less an illusion machine to transport ready-made narratives than a machine to pioneer a new type of thought and narrative. Alexander Kluge gave his nine-hour audiovisual investigation of Eisenstein’s plan to adapt Marx’s “Capital” on film the title: “News from Ideological Antiquity. Marx – Eisenstein – Das Kapital” (2008). Intelligent work on a monument has turned into a monument itself by now. Let us address it by making this appeal: Re-Think!

The media scholar Christian Schulte, co-editor of the “Alexander Kluge-Jahrbuch”, and the publicist Jörg Becker invite us to a joint reading of some passages of this mammoth project (and other, thematically related films, contributions and broadcasts by the director). What is the purpose of this reading? Recovering from ideological antiquity a few clues, even though they may be only fragments, that will help us to better understand the future.”

Otherwise I am tempted to watch and rewatch ”Black Panthers” by Agnés Varda, ”My Brother Fidel” by Santiago Alvarez, ”A Day at the Grave of Karl Marx” by Finnish Peter von Bagh, ”The Missing Picture” by Rithy Panh and ”The Moscow Trials” by Milo Rau.

Rau also has a film in the international competition, ”The Congo Tribunal” (PHOTO) , 2017, 100 mins. Go to the site of the festival to watch the impressive, strong trailer. And check the website of the tribunal and the comments of the director.

https://filmfinder.dok-leipzig.de/en/?&section=236

http://www.the-congo-tribunal.com/film.html#statement


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries/ 2

Written 15-10-2017 10:49:18 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries/ 2

Leena Pasanen, director of DOK Leipzig, wrote this to me yesterday:

Dear Tue, bad news from Poland indeed. This is the text i had written for our catalogue to introduce our Polish special programme. Had no idea at that time, that Sroka would be fired a week later:

“It took a decade of constant development, hard work and financial effort to bring Polish films back to their former fame, but it paid off. Today Polish filmmakers are again familiar faces at award ceremonies all over the world and respected and wanted co-producing partners.

How long will it take to vitiate this success, if the shadow of right-wing populism reaches the filmmaking community and puts in danger the current support system? How long will it take, before the market is full of pretty little films of Polish history, if the decision makers are selected by political and not by professional merits? This little programme is to show how much we love these films and how very unfortunately it would be for the whole filmmaking world, if these films would not exist.”

Photo: Communion by Anna Zamecka, part of the programme


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries

Written 14-10-2017 11:37:27 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Loves Polish Documentaries

… and has put together a special program, ”a declaration of Love to Polish docs”, for the festival. Readers of this site will know that Polish documentaries are highly valued through reports from the Krakow festival, lots of positive reviews (last one being ”The Prince and the Dybbuk” some days ago) and below you will find a link to an article called ”Why I love Polish Documentaires”, a love story that has lasted more than 25 years…

More about the Leipzig program later, first some sad news that makes one wonder if the good period for Polish films is over with the increasing involvement of the government, that through their minister of culture has made the move to dismiss the director of the Polish Film Institute, Magdalena Sroka. You can read all about it on the site of Film New Europe, link below, but here comes some quotes:



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Astra Film Festival in Sibiu Romania

Written 13-10-2017 11:07:44 by Tue Steen Mller

Astra Film Festival in Sibiu Romania

… has existed since 1993 and offers a quality program, of course with a focus on what happens in current Romanian documentary but also with an international scope – the festival takes place October 16 to 22 in nice Sibiu. I was there some years ago and enjoyed the stay and the festival.

Let me quote from the site and urge you to get the whole picture through the link below:

”Voices of Doc is a theme section dedicated to authors whose names have become a synonym of authenticity and creativity in cinema. This section bring the latest works signed by three



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jihlava International Documentary FF

Written 12-10-2017 23:30:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Jihlava International Documentary FF

… takes place October 24 till October 29, DOKLeipzig starts October 30 and runs until November 5, 10 days later it is IDFA in Amsterdam. It is rather crowded with important documentary festivals within a month, one can say, I have before been able to jump from one to the other, this year I go to Leipzig and Amsterdam.

But let me start by commenting on some of many fine elements of the 21st festival in Jihlava in Czech Republic: 10 competition sections, including ”testimonies” on politics, knowledge and nature. Let me mention one fine title from each – ”Ghost Hunting” by Raed Andoni, ”… when you look away” by Phie Ambo and ”Wilder than Wilderness” by Marián Polák. I saw a clip from Polák’s film in Prague in March, very appealing, here is the synopsis: ”An expedition into the Czech countryside reveals the adventurous stories of plants and animals that take place all around us, and explores fascinating places where nature is returning after being devastated by man. The film, narrated by the filmmaker, captures the true wildness of nature and the course of filming.”

Film history is represented through a retrospective of films by legendary Jean Rouch and I would have loved to be in Jihlava to



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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Niewiera/Rosolowski: The Prince and the Dybbuk/ 2

Written 11-10-2017 09:44:00 by Tue Steen Mller

Niewiera/Rosolowski: The Prince and the Dybbuk/ 2

I had high expectations to the new film by Elvira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski. I liked their ”Domino Effect”, link to the review below, and I have followed ”The Prince and the Dybbuk” through a read of the treatment and I  attended a clip presentation at the Krakow Film Festival. The expectations became even higher, when it was picked for the festival in Venice and won a big award. Had the couple succeeded to fulfill their ambitions to make a big, archive-based adventurous Film? YES they had! For me "The Prince and the Dybbuk" is a strong candidate to be the Documentary of the Year. I will tell you why in this review, but first an intro to the story. Here comes a synopsis borrowed from the catalogue of the festival in Venice:



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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Award at the Aegean Docs festival to

Written 09-10-2017 16:08:40 by Tue Steen Mller

Award at the Aegean Docs festival to

… ”The Beast is Still Alive” by Bulgarian Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova as the best International Documentary of the 5th Aegean Docs in Greece, that was held October 1-6, in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos.

It is a film that I have reviewed on this site as an interview with myself (hmmm!), here is a quote, link for the whole thing below:

”The period of communism is not dealt with in the school books in current Bulgaria. You understand why, when you in the film, person by person, is told what this and this parliament member did during the years of communism and when you see and hear about the concentration camp Belene, where thousands of opposition people ended their lives. This is the strong side of the film, the focus on Bulgaria – present and past…”

The film that has created a lot of debate in Bulgaria (and anger from politicians) has been long on the festival circuit, which proves that the festival life of a film can be longer than the normally mentioned one year.

Go also to the first link to discover more about the fine small Greek festival. 

http://www.aegeandocs.gr/en/?cat=25

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3672/

http://beast-film.com/beast-film_home/index.html


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Finland in Focus in Belgrade

Written 07-10-2017 15:26:56 by Tue Steen Mller

Finland in Focus  in Belgrade

The M7 in Belgrade stands for the Magnificent7 Festival – 7 feature duration European documentaries. The festival has launched 13 editions, number 14 is coming up January 31st till February 6th 2018.

But before that the tireless director couple of the festival, Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, has decided to put Finland in Focus this month, very soon: October 13 & 14th. As an extra M7 activity.

To be shown are what you could call Finnish neo-classics, and gosh they have made good films in that country. Opening film will be ”Screaming Men” (2003) about the famous screaming men choir. It is the hope of the organisers that the Mika Ronkainen, who will be present, will scream the National anthem of Finland!

The next day ”Living Room of the Nation” will come to the screen, the film by Jukka Kärkkäinen from 2010, followed by Ronkainen’s ”Finnish Blood, Swedish Heart” (2013) and ”Soundbreaker” (2012) by Kimmo Koskela with the fantastic mucisian Kimmo Pohjonen.

Ronkainen will have a busy stay in Belgrade as there will also be a masterclass with the director, whose presence has been supported by the Finnish Film Foundation, Marja Pallassalo.

All films have been shown at…

http://www.magnificent7festival.org/en/index.php


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Arunas Matelis: Wonderful Losers

Written 04-10-2017 21:45:26 by Tue Steen Mller

Arunas Matelis: Wonderful Losers

… with the subtitle ”A Different World”, a film that many of us, who think Lithuanian Arunas Matelis is a great artistic documentary film director, have been waiting for – will have its premiere at the Warsaw International Film Festival that takes place October 13-22, a festival for fiction, shorts and documentaries. Arunas and his wife Alge, from their Studio Nominum in Vilnius, have produced a film of high quality (I have seen it just before final cut) that deserves to travel the world because of its cinematic qualities and its invitation to us viewers to look into – as the subtitle says- a different world. It’s (also) a film on professional cycling that touches upon existential questions. Here is the synopsis from the site of the film, link below:

”For spectators, cyclists in the back of the race are simply the losers. They are called water carriers, domestics, gregarios, and Sancho Panzas of professional cycling. Moreover, they have no right to personal victories - these sportsmen sacrifice their careers to help their teammates. We follow the magnificent world of the race from the point of view of the doctors' team situated in a claustrophobically small medical car surrounded with wounded cyclists. The life of the medical team in race reminds one on the frontline of war. Cyclists crash, rise and race again. And amongst this fight, many magnificent things happen. This film-odyssey reveals the untold world of the wonderful losers, true warriors, knights and monks of professional cycling.”

From a production point of view the credits show an amazing list of co-producers (with 10 cinematographers!) – let me mention them from the credits: Stefilm Italy, Dok Mobile Switzerland, Associate Directors Belgium, VFS Films Latvia, Dearcan Media N.Ireland/UK, Planet Korda Ireland, SUICA Films Spain, Arturas Jevdokimovas for Kino Kontora.

Normally you say that too many cooks spoil the meal – having know Arunas Matelis and his work for more than 25 years I can assure you that this is a film that has his signature.

Wish you luck wth the premiere!

http://www.wonderfullosers.com

https://wff.pl/en/festival-2017/programme


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

3 Documentaries from Netflix

Written 03-10-2017 20:45:25 by Tue Steen Mller

3 Documentaries from Netflix

I have no real overview of what Netflix offers, when it comes to documentaries. Below you find a link to an article that recommends the best documentaries on Netflix and there are many fine names. And titles which you can also find, when you go to Netflix itself and click on the documentary section. You find names like Werner Herzog, AiWeiWei, Banksy, Errol Morris, Marina Abramovic, Nick Broomfield, Albert Maysles and titles like ”O.J. Simpson”, ”Long Shot”, ”Making a Murderer”, ”Amanda Knox”, ”The Promise”, ”Strong Island” – all crime documentaries, not to forget the films on Janis Joplin and Nina Simone... But you have to search carefully as they are listed among a lot of tabloid stuff.

Nevertheless – as we are Netflix subscribers in our household - I assure you that the grandchildren already from age 3 know the name Netflix – I watched three documentaries recently, two of them were at Nordisk Panorama competition in Malmø and the third one I picked up because it was the subject of a double page article in a Danish newspaper.



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

International support to Catalonia

Written 01-10-2017 14:06:23 by Tue Steen Mller

… after the violation of its democratic and individual rights. This is how the DOCSBarcelona team addresses colleagues around the world. Here is the mail I received:

Dear colleagues

I contact you on behalf of DocsBarcelona director Joan Gonzàlez, who is in Chile at the moment, and the whole team of the project in Barcelona.

At DocsBarcelona we have been very respectful and neutral in the last years with the political situation in our territory, but the events that are taking place these days in Catalonia deeply disturb us. 

Democracy in our country is at serious risk at the moment. We are suffering from direct repression, with the combined use of security forces, legal action, and attacks on our institutions and our political representatives, through direct economic intervention and the absorption of competences of our legal public institutions.



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Loznitsa & Rosenblatt

Written 30-09-2017 16:59:53 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig  Loznitsa & Rosenblatt

One more quote from a DOK Leipzig press release:

Two DOK Masterclasses will cover the topic of archival footage given by world-renowned directors. Sergei Loznitsa will introduce his personal way of working with found footage, talk about the power of montage to shape a film, and discuss how he deals with the boundary between documentary film and fiction. This event is taking place in cooperation with ARTE. Experimental short filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt, to whom the festival dedicates its homage this year, will explain how he assembles his collage and essay films. For his sometimes highly personal films he uses, for example, excerpts from educational, amateur and corporate films.

Various discussion formats address current trends and pressing issues of the documentary film industry. The Industry Talk "North American Distribution Expanded" will explore the distribution opportunities and strategies that the North American market has to offer. Panelists include Orly Ravid (The Film Collaborative, Los Angeles) and Robin Smith (Kinosmith, Toronto). The risks to filmmakers, protagonists and funders when shooting documentary films will be addressed in the talk "Protecting Yourself, Protecting your Protagonists" with Mike Lerner (Nutopia Films; work includes "Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer"), Zeynep Güzel (Yeni Film Fund, Istanbul) and Yulia Serdyukova (producer of "All Things Ablaze" (PHOTO) among others). 

As part of the rough cut presentations "DOK Preview Germany" and "DOK Preview Training" (in cooperation with seven European training initiatives) 13 film projects are set to be presented, all of which are ready for international distribution. Around 80 decision-makers from 30 countries will be present…

http://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Co-Pro Market

Written 28-09-2017 17:18:34 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Co-Pro Market

DOK Leipzig (October 30-November 5) has a strong market side parallel to the festival. The film selection for the competitive sections will be announced October 10 but already now you can get an impression of which projects to be presented at the DOK Co-Pro Market. From 350 applications, 35 were picked. And from the ones that I know about, I can only say – well done, strong projects, many of them away from the ordinary tv language like:

”The Smuggle Town” from Latvia by director and cinematographer Ivars Zviedris, presented at the Baltic Sea Forum in September, as was ”I’ll Stand by You” by Lithuanian/Italian Virginija Vareikyte and Maximilien Dejoie, both films with high-quality cinematography as you can also expect from another Lithuanian Audrius Mickevicius with his ”Exemplary Behaviour”. It was Mickevicius, who many years ago made ”Man-Horse”, a lyrical wonderfully slow documentary that was actually bought by several tv stations. His new project is different but also with a strong emphasis on the visualisation. And from Ukraine, by Alina Gorlova, the touching project about ”Andrey Suleyman”, who went from one war, in Syria, to another, in Eastern Ukraine. From Serbia comes Dragan Nikolic with his ”The Black Wedding”. Nikolic you will remember as the one, who made ”Caviar Connection” years ago.

Not to forget that Heddy Honigmann will come to Leipzig with her ”100UP”, a portrait of the lucky, or are they, people who reach that age!

And there are film projects from Afghanistan, Russia, Colombia, South Korea, Poland, Czech Republic, Georgia, South Africa, Turkey – and of course some from France and Belgium and Italy.

http://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/industry/co-pro-market/co-pro-projects-2017


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig/ History

Written 28-09-2017 16:29:09 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig/ History

Take a close look at the photo that is to be found on the website of the festival in Leipzig in connection with a very interesting article written by Andreas Kötzing, who has written several books on the festival. Written because the festival this year celebrates its 60th edition. Amazing! Let me quote his opening of the article:

Unannounced screenings after midnight? Films smuggled over the border in a suitcase? Hotel rooms bugged by the Stasi? Legends about the Leipzig film festival abound. Many of them date back to the GDR days when the festival was still called Internationale Leipziger Dokumentar- und Kurzfilmwoche für Kino und Fernsehen. And as always with stories that have been retold again and again over the years, it’s hard to tell where the truth lies. Impressions of the early days are entering oblivion. Take this famous photo from 1964 for example.

Group photo 1964. First row (f.l.t.r.): Jean Lods, Santiago Alvarez, Basil Wright, Paul Rotha, Frances Flaherty, Richard Leacock, Alberto Cavalcanti, Dolmetscherin, Bert Haanstra; Second row (f.l.t.r.): Andrew Thorndike, Henry Storck, Gianvittorio Baldi, Goverhandas Aggarwal, John Grierson, Ivor Montague, Karl Gass, Bruno Sefranka, Joris Ivens, Walter Heynowski, Annelie Thorndike, Václav Taborski, Chris Marker, Saad Nadim, Gerhard Scheumann, Dušan Vukotič.
Photo: Bundesarchiv, DR 140/ Bild (1964) / Alfred Paszkowiak.

Oh yes, this is film history. Looking at the photo makes me think about the great films these nicely dressed gentlemen and a couple of women (Frances Flaherty and Anneli Thorndike) have made. Basil Wright (Night Mail) puts himself in the foreground, Richard Leacock (Primary and hundreds of other films…) talks to Cavalcanti (editor champion of Night Mail and director of the Paris film Rien que les Heures), Bert Haanstra (Glass and all the films about Holland), Henry Storck (Borinage), John Grierson (the Godfather of it all), Joris Ivens (no introduction needed), Heynowski and Scheumann (the GDR political documentarians, remember Congo Müller!), and the master of them all Chris Marker (Sans Soleil…)… One could make a week long (or more) film historical session from this photo from 1964.

http://www.dok-leipzig.de/en/festival/jubilaeum/essay


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Nordisk Panorama Festival Winners

Written 28-09-2017 15:20:56 by Tue Steen Mller

Nordisk Panorama Festival Winners

No surprises. For the Best Nordic Documentary at the festival in Malmø the jury chose to go for two films that have already achieved recognition and won awards outside the Nordic countries, so naturally also ”at home”, even if the films not at all deal with ”home”:

”Last Men in Aleppo” by Feras Fayyad and ”Nowhere to Hide” by Zaradasht Ahmed, from Syria and Iraq. The jury motivations for the Grand Prix and the Honorary Mention go like this:

”Last Men in Aleppo” (is an) example of outstanding filmmaking portraying one of the greatest tragedies of our time. Risking their lives, with great respect for their characters and an impressive sensitivity to the complexity of war, the filmmakers take us into a world made up of choices that very few of us would be capable of making: Last Men in Aleppo.

”Nowhere to Hide” (that) gives us a unique insight into the long-term consequences of war, from the perspective of an ordinary man whose life is turned upside-down: Nowhere to Hide.

Both films have been reviewed on this site:

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3858/

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3756/

For other winners please go to

http://nordiskpanorama.com/en/festival/award-winners-2017/


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Nordisk Panorama: The Forum Day Two

Written 26-09-2017 15:38:43 by Tue Steen Mller

Nordisk Panorama: The Forum Day Two

Second day at Amiralen in Malmø for the Forum with twelve productions to be pitched. I was hoping for Cinema, for stories with an emphasis on visual storytelling, and I got it with the third project of the day, ”Swimming Pools” from Iceland, director and cinematographer Jón Karl Helgason. Also in terms of the verbal side of the presentation this was the most original pitch of the two days. Helgason asked us all in the room to close our eyes and gave us the job to visualise some scenes. We did. And I was pleased that finally here was someone who broke the schematic and predictable rythm. It was a wonderful, warm and funny, visually magnificent trailer about the many bathing facilities offered to the Icelandic population, and what it means to them. And the director told us that in Iceland people get old, also because of the pools. He wants to go to cinema with the film, and of course also with a tv version. 

Unfortunately the two first tv editors to comment (from SBS and YLE) spoiled the party. What is the film about, was the question? Well we just saw and heard that. You should go very close to the old people, was a comment. Well I will, the director said, it is only in the pools that personal questions are not allowed. After these two opening remarks it all went flat, as producer Heino Deckert said to me in a break – meaning that you hear ”thank you for the pitch” and similar sentences of politeness.



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Nordisk Panorama: The Forum Day One

Written 25-09-2017 18:56:47 by Tue Steen Mller

Nordisk Panorama: The Forum Day One

Look at the i-phone photo. Two good friends: Gitte Hansen and Mikael Opstrup. Danes. Moderators at the Nordisk Panorama Forum in Malmø as they have been for years. They smile because they know that everything is under control. The photo is taken before the first pitch. It will be the same procedure as last year, the technique will function, microphones and screening of clips will work, the two will try to get as many comments as possible to the 12 projects, which are on the menu. And they know who to ask as they have had meetings with the pitching teams the day before. It’s a table full of editors from Nordic television, consultants from Nordic film institutions and a fine group of representatives from outside the Nordic countries. From France, Germany, Holland, USA – I am sure I have forgotten someone.

The atmosphere is relaxed, also thanks to Hansen and Opstrup. The latter fights with the right pronunciation of last names of the non-Nordic panelists at the table, Hansen asks the same to be careful with the microphones, don’t touch them, just talk, ”don’t fuck it up”, the Dane living in Switzerland says.

Sooo, it is not their fault that I felt the day a bit boring. Representing FILMkommentaren and not TVkommentaren. Let me gently question the selection of projects. Most of them were for television, fair enough, but the balance to the more cinematic, to the Films? Let me exemplify: With all respect, the Danish project ”Fat Front" about fat women or as it was said fat activists, who use their body as an activist weapon – it is relevant and will have a tv life. The same for the Icelandic ”The Farmer and the Factory” about ”an unknown illness that plagues horses". As Helle Hansen from Norwegian Film Institute said, ”how are you going to visualise it”? A nice tv documentary coming up on Madeline Stuart, who is a model with Down syndrome, ”Everybody Loves Madeline”. A Norwegian pop star Aurora, title ”Once Aurora”, the tv people loved it… and so it went on and on. Almost. For there were projects that had trailers, which were not just informative but also showed Filmic quality.



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dok.incubator Bravo!

Written 24-09-2017 15:35:06 by Tue Steen Mller

dok.incubator Bravo!

Full house at Inkonst in Malmø Sunday morning at 10. The director of the training program Andrea Prenghyova had no reason to doubt if anyone would come. But she was right in her welcoming speech: No cars, no people in the streets this morning but a full house to get acquainted with 8 films, that will be finished in the coming months. Bravo! It was the sixth season of the Prague based, three session long training that is there – to quote the brochure I got this morning – to sharpen the final cut, increase the film’s international potential, prepare an ingenious marketing strategy, create a sophisticated distribution plan, break into the international market…

The atmosphere was great. Members of the 8 pitching teams for the preview saluted each other. There were applause after the introduction by one of the tutors, applause after the introduction by the producer/director, applause after the clips etc. Too much? Maybe they overdo it, but if you see it as a tribute to the documentary as genre… If you salute that films are made which are important thematically and has a cinematic approach to the topic. Let me put it in another way: It was enjoyable to be there this morning and many could learn from the presentation concept of dok.incubator: Words of course and then a trailer AND two selected scenes. The latter is a scoop. And dangerous of course because a trailer can be seducing but scenes tell you something about, whether a filmmaker stands behind.

That is absolutely the case for ”Over the Limit” by Marta Prus



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Lidia Sheinins Harmony Wins at M2M

Written 24-09-2017 09:07:44 by Tue Steen Mller

Lidia Sheinins Harmony Wins at M2M

From the sideline I have followed Lidia Sheinin’s fine film ”Harmony”, that won the main award at the Message2Man festival in St. Petersburg. So happy for the director. Here is a repeat of the review that I wrote, when the film was shown at Visions du Réel in Nyon earlier this year:

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

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

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

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

Russia, 2017, 59 mins.


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

dok.incubator in Malm

Written 22-09-2017 15:04:45 by Tue Steen Mller

dok.incubator in Malm

I have promised Andrea Prenghyova, director of the praised and popular dok.incubator workshop to promote the preview that she organises in Malmø within the Nordisk Panorama this coming Sunday 24th of September at 10am at Inkonst Festival Centre.

I do so with pleasure. I have attended previous sessions and it is always exciting to see, what is coming very soon. The filmmakers are there, they show trailers and scenes, the atmosphere is accordingly warm and supportive.

8 projects… and I know some of them, look fwd. To see how far they are.

”Over the Limit” by Polish Marta Prust that follows a young sportswoman on her journey to the Olympic gold. She is Russian, will she make it through what is called ”the extreme Russian training system”. What I have seen before is very promising.

And good friend from visits to Tbilisi, Georgian Mari Gulbiani is there with a film called ”Before Father Gets Back” – and well known Norwegian Håvard Bustness who has a story about ”women inside one of Europe’s most nationalist parties”, title ”Golden Dawn Girls” and then we know where we are: in Greece.

www.dokincubator.net


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Sara Broos: Spejlinger

Written 20-09-2017 10:26:17 by Tue Steen Mller

Sara Broos: Spejlinger

This is a repeat of the review written last year. Because the film now has its theatrical premiere in Denmark in Posthusteatret Copenhagen tomorrow September 21st. Go watch that film!

- You have to catch the attention of the audience right from the beginning. The opening of a film is so important. Here you have to  make an invitation to the viewer, give some basic information that indicates, what he/she can expect but first of all demonstrate that you are a filmmaker, who can create an atmosphere, a tone that makes you curious, that surprises you, that gives you something special, that in this case convinces you that this is personal and not private.

Swedish Sara Broos does so with the first four minutes of her ”Reflections” (”Speglingar” in Swedish). You get a close-up of a young beautiful face in profile and thereafter of an older beautiful face in profile. A fine voice (how attractive the Swedish language is spoken like this) tells us what this is about – mother and daughter together, filmed in Latvia in a house and on a beach. The daughter, Sara, the filmmaker, invited mother Karin, painter, on a trip as a present when she became 60. Sara wanted to ask questions – a classic: I want to know more about you, mother, there is so much I don’t know.

The combination of the text of Sara, the super-stylized arranged



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Elvira Lind: Bobbi Jene

Written 19-09-2017 08:53:30 by Tue Steen Mller

Elvira Lind: Bobbi Jene

I had seen the film before via the vod Festival Scope on my MacBook. The vod allows only one screening but thanks to Youn Ji from the sales company Autlook I got the invitation to screen the film again, which I did on a big screen at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Together with Lithuanian film students. They enjoyed – as I did – the film. The following review includes observations and evaliuations we made at the academy. For those who know nothing about the film and its content, see the neutral description below taken from the dfi.dk.

It’s so complex. It has so many layers. It is so well built. As a fiction film you are carried from one scene to the next, from one conflict to the next. Bobbi Jene is ambitious, she wants to try on her own after 10 years with Ohad and his Israeli dance group Batsheva, where she developed to be the star. She wants to leave Tel Aviv,



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Message2Man St.Petersburg

Written 16-09-2017 22:43:33 by Tue Steen Mller

Message2Man St.Petersburg

The festival in magnificent St. Petersburg started last night with an opening ceremony on the Palace Square, in rain as last year where I was there – unfortunately not possible for me to be present this year. Look at the picture of Marcel Ophüls (born 1st of November 1927) on the stage to be honoured for his contribution to the history of cinema. Let me mention the two titles that appear in all 100 Best Documentaries lists: ”Le Chagrin et la pitié” and ”Hotel Terminus”. The film shown at the opening was a restored version of ”Man With a Movie Camera” by Dziga Vertov, made in 1929… when Ophüls was two years old!

At the festival there is a series of independent Chinese documentaries and a well deserved retrospective of Helena Třeštíková’s Czech Chronicles. Also to be noticed that the trilogy of Bulgarian Andrey Paounov is in the programme, with the masterpiece ”The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories” in the foreground.

Kirsten Johnson is in international competition with ”Cameraperson” as is Lidia Sheinina with her ”Harmony”, both reviewed on this site as is Mariam Chachia’s ”Listen to the Silence”.

http://www.message2man.com/en/


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Lithuanian Talents

Written 16-09-2017 21:35:47 by Tue Steen Mller

Lithuanian Talents

It’s not everyone, who leaves the country – even if one of the students said that the amount, who does, equalises one full airplane per day. Going away from Lithuania to live and work in another country. He said so at the film school department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where I was invited to teach for a week. But they should stay, these young people, even if the funding possibilities are small. The teacher said. There is a fine tradition for artistic documentaries in your country – we have written about it again and again on this site ever since it (the site) started 10 years ago. Names… Henrikas Sablevicius, Arunas Matelis, Giedre Zickyte, Giedre Beinoriute, Audrius Stonys. The two latter are teachers at the school. And are referred to again and again by the students.

Yes, I spotted talents during the week. I saw material of films



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Anna Eborn: Lida

Written 16-09-2017 15:51:01 by Tue Steen Mller

Anna Eborn: Lida

Yes. Documentary is Cinema. Where the best directors know what they are doing. Have chosen a form for what they want to tell. Before shooting. This is what Swedish Anna Eborn has done with this gem of a documentary film. She is working with video and with 16mm film, she has created a superb sound design and used music so it matches the sequences. The critic has no objections!

… an extraordinary cinematic interpretation of something ordinary. No Lida Utas Andreasdotter is not an ordinary person, but her story, her destiny as a victim of geography and the related events of war and deportation is heard and told about so many times before:

She lives with her family as a child in Zmiivka (used to be a Swedish colony) in Ukraine. During the world war the family is deported by the Germans, they go to Germany, Poland and after the war they are sent to a camp in Siberia. She comes back to Zmiivka and has stayed there since then. She gave birth to four boys, two of them died as children, the two others live far away from their mother, as does her sister, there is no contact between them.

The film brings them together. On film. Not in reality. Lida is a



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Henrikas Sablevicius - Sobles Kino Klubas

Written 11-09-2017 20:01:36 by Tue Steen Mller

Henrikas Sablevicius - Sobles Kino Klubas

Finally I am at the film school in Vilnius - Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre - to teach for a week. On this first day my host Giedrė Kabašinskienė took me to see Sobles Kino Klubas named after my dear friend Henrikas Sablevicius from the time of the Balticum Film & TV Festival on Bornholm. I took the photo of a poster on the wall and re-post a text written 6 years ago on this site:

They know how to remember and honour their artists in Lithuania, including the documentary filmmakers, I was reminded again today at the Vilnius Documentary Film Festival. Talking to directors Giedre Beinoriute and Audrius Stonys, they told me that a film club had been established in the name of Henrikas Sablevicius, a wonderful teacher and a fine documentary director, a father figure, for many the main creator of the Lithuanian documentary tradition, based on the image, always with many layers, lyrical in tone, like the city Vilnius often filled with an atmosphere of spirituality.

Henrikas Sablevicius (1930-2004) came to the Balticum Film & TV Festival on the Danish island of Bornholm in all 10 years of the festival’s existence. He was the proud leader of the delegation, he was the one who stood forward and made speeches and introductions, he invited the audience to retrospectives of Lithuanian documentaries, including some of his own, and he was a generous party organiser after the screenings at the Kino Gudhjem on Bornholm. He was also the one, who received us, the Danish selection team, when we came to Vilnius to watch films. He organised the screenings at the Film Studio in the city (torn down, what a shame!) and he served us tea and 999, the secret code that later became the way that I and director Arunas Matelis for years adressed each other.

I got a book on Sablevicius today, published last year, edited by Ramune Rakauskaite, entitled ”Soble” (his nickname), with contributions from colleague filmmakers and students like the three names I have mentioned. I can not read it, but just browsing through the book looking at the photos of the charismatic man with the wild beard, brings me back to our meetings on Bornholm, always with conversations that included an interpreter... Sobles Kino Klubas is the name and it has a facebook page!

http://www.facebook.com/sobles.kino.klubas

http://mubi.com/films/didnt-come

http://www.documentary.lt/?Lang=EN


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Baltic Sea Docs 2017

Written 10-09-2017 14:58:25 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Docs 2017

… is over. During two days 24 projects were presented in a good atmosphere on the top floor of Albert Hotel in Riga. Business as usual from an organisational point of view but with fresh projects at different levels of development. Some had just come back from first days of shooting, some lacked some shooting and some had a rough cut or were entering final stage of editing. That’s how it is, the decision makers and broadcasters know it, as do the filmmakers. They also know that positive remarks from the panelists do not necessarily mean that a pre-sale/distribution contract can be signed. It takes time and the most common remark in a pitching session like this still is: I want to see more. However my gut feeling is that many will profit from the forum, and that many good films will arrive.

The photo is taken today (by the forum photographer, Latvian Agnese Zeltina). The old man moderating is congratulating the filmmakers with a fine presentation of ”Journey to the End of the Night”, the last production at the forum, pitched by skilled and experienced Estionian Max Tuula and directed by Russian Ksenia Elyan, who has filmed nomadic families living above the Arctic Circle with a focus on the children and their teacher, who comes to stay in the darkest months of the year – to teach. And they are so bright these kids and ask clever questions that could challenge any grown-up, questions like: when does the universe stop or similar more existential questions.

I leave the workshop with quite an increase of knowledge of what



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Baltic Sea Docs+

Written 09-09-2017 18:20:34 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Docs+

The+ goes for the extra events organised by Creative Europe’s Latvian representative – formerly it was called Media Desk – Lelda Ozola.

First element of a long and good friday afternoon was the presentation of documentary series produced by Danish television, the DR3, a relatively new channel (4 years old) targeting a young audience, as the presenter Erik Struve Hansen said between 15 and 40. So out of my reach age-wise… anyway I had nothing specifically against watching 26 minutes of ”I am the Ambassador” aka the American Rufus Gifford. It was one of 10 episodes and it was light and entertaining and can not do any harm… One tutor colleague found it a disgusting promotion for the USA. Promotion it is of course, Gifford is a media person, who knows what he is doing. He is now being substituted by a Trump-lover, Struve Hansen, a woman who used to play in ”Glamour”!

Second element was the showing of one episode of ”Petra Goes Dating”, in this case in Belgrade, for me interesting to be back in a city That I have been visiting the last 15 years. A daring program, Petra goes the whole way, 3 Serbian men, the last one she stayed with for the night.

Third element was the presentation of Pitch the Doc by Polish Adam Paplinski, that I have written about before: … A fine initiative



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Baltic Sea Docs Pitch Getting Closer

Written 08-09-2017 09:20:52 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Docs Pitch Getting Closer

I am sitting here on the 11th floor of the Albert Hotel in Riga, where the Baltic Sea Docs, edition 21 is taking place. The filmmakers have been preparing their presentation since wednesday, many trailers and verbal texts have been changed, it is very intense and yet a relaxed, non-hysterical atmosphere. There is nothing better than helping each other… after quite many years this is my experience with the documentary community. They do so.Tomorrow and sunday it’s show time. 24 projects are to be pitched to a panel of so-called decision makers: 7 minutes of presentation and 7 minutes of feedback followed by individual meetings.

On the photo you see one of the pitching teams, Latvian Marta Bite, Ivars Zviedris and Haralds Ozols. Their project is called ”The Smugglers”, takes place at the border of Russia and Latvia, where Vietnamese people come to Latvia, with the help of local people, hoping to have a better life there or in another Western country. The filmmakers have been filming for one year, will continue for another year to make this film about a small community, where you survive through breaking the law. The material shown is very promising and for those who remember Ivars Zviedris brilliant ”The Documentarian”… you can only have high expectations.

http://balticseadocs.lv/ 


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Baltic Sea Docs Workshop Started Today

Written 06-09-2017 17:16:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Baltic Sea Docs Workshop Started Today

- and we bring the welcome catalogue text by the director of the National Film Centre of Latvia, Dita Rietuma entitled “With a Taste of Certainty”

I warmly welcome the Baltic Sea Docs participants and Forum team! Baltic Sea Docs continues on – now for the 21st time, bringing together documentary filmmakers, popularizing documentary films and offering a special film programme Flavours of Conviction for a wider audience in Riga and several other Latvian cities.

This year’s festival poster features an eccentric, grey-haired woman with giant glasses – those in tune with the fashion industry may recognize fashion and lifestyle icon Iris Apfel, while in turn, those familiar with documentary film history will perhaps pause in reverence upon seeing the name of the film’s director – Albert Maysles. Yes, he is one of the legendary Maysles brothers who made documentary film history with their direct cinema style films of the 1970s.

Iris was Albert Maysles’ second last movie – a clear testament to both the direct cinema tradition and to the power of creativity, irony, style and vitality, which this inspiring lady named Iris undoubtedly possesses. For the most part, these qualities are also reflected in the 25 projects selected for Baltic Sea Docs.

In total, 25 creative teams will be presenting their projects – from the Baltic States, Belarus,



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N.L.Hulusić & S.B.Corić: Undercovered

Written 02-09-2017 11:46:39 by Tue Steen Mller

N.L.Hulusić & S.B.Corić: Undercovered

This review is written by young Bosnian film critic Arman Fatic, who I met in connection with the Sarajevo Film Festival.

Two Bosnian directors, Nejra Latić-Hulusić and Sabrina Begović Ćorić, with their film production company „Hava“, have been working for the last five years on women's affirmation in culture, education of young filmmakers and they have promoted diversity and human rights in film. Their second directorial collaboration  „Undercovered“, a documentary short, had its premiere at the 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival, where it got huge ovations with a Q & A session that almost overlapped the start of the forthcoming film, due to audience interest.

The film opens with the introduction to the history of the city, where the film takes place. They show us Sarajevo occupied by the Ottoman Empire, by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, then as part of Yugoslavia and of course Sarajevo today. By giving us the context of the city, not to the East, not to the West, not spiritually lost, not occupied by consumerism - Sarajevo appears to be a fertile ground for "miracles," or perhaps better, a great place for diversity, understanding and progression.

In this environment, Nejra and Sabrina chose six successful women to



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BSF in Riga now and Next Week

Written 01-09-2017 13:33:34 by Tue Steen Mller

BSF in Riga now and Next Week

… BSF meaning Baltic Sea Forum that with this edition holds edition 21… organised by the National Film Centre of Latvia, helped by EDN, European Documentary Network and with ”the largest financial support from the EU funded Creative Europe Media Program”. BSF includes a project development workshop with pitching at the end (18 panelists) of the 24 projects that have been selected, all of them thematically connected to the region, and many of them touching indirectly on the present political situation with the tensions between Russia and her neighbours.

I will – I have been there all years – be present to tutor the filmmakers, which is a privilege and an experience full of joy. I learn so much from these sessions as I am sure will do the colleagues Mikael Opstrup from EDN, filmmakers Daniel Abma and Ester Gould from Holland, Noe Mendelle from Scottish Documentary Institute, consultant in all documentary matters Peter Jaeger and film editor Phil Jandaly, who is there to help the filmmakers to shape their trailers.

The workshop runs from the coming wednesday September 6 till sunday September 10, but already a documentary film program runs in cinemas in the Latvian capital – and it is good:



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TUE STEEN MLLER 70 R

Written 29-08-2017 08:25:35 by Allan Berg Nielsen

TUE STEEN MLLER 70 R

Photo: Nenad Puhovski


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

Makedox Winners with Jury Words

Written 28-08-2017 11:42:36 by Tue Steen Mller

Makedox Winners with Jury Words

Here they are, all the winners from Makedox 2017, with the jury motivations:

Onion Award for the Best Film in the Main Program

Jury: Choosing from the highly competitive films with an exceptional authorial voice, the jury decided to give the award to the film “21 x New York” by Pjotr Stasik, considering its mastery to complement the cinematic and visually sophisticated expression with the layered fluency of the film’s subject and content. The film by Pjotr Stasik radiates with its emotional dimensions as much as with its intellectualism.

Young Onion Award for the Best Film by First or Second Time Director - Jury: “A passionate trip of visual beauty, filmmaking at its best. A multilayered story of Georgia seen through the eyes of youth, and the fine balance and collaboration of these three filmmakers. For its unconventional and surprising visual narration, we award the prize toWhen the Earth Seems to be Light.

For succeeding in ambitious storytelling on an essential 21st century subject, we need to highlight Guillermo Garcia Lopez’s beautiful essay film, “Delicate Balance with a special mention.

Onion Seed Award for the Best Student Film – Jury: “To do a



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Piotr Stasik Wins Main Competition in Skopje

Written 26-08-2017 12:02:44 by Tue Steen Mller

Piotr Stasik Wins Main Competition in Skopje

Last night the award ceremony of the MakeDox festival took place outdoor in the Kurshumli An, a unique place for a festival in Skopje in August – one of two open air screening venues. I will announce all the winners when the motivation texts from the juries are available but allow me to start with the Main Program where we jurors – Anton Calleja, Vladimir Blazhevski and I – decided to give the Onion Award to Polish Piotr Stasik for his ”21 x New York”.

Here is a quote from the review I wrote long time ago about the film on this site:

What is it that makes Stasik’s film so attractive… Everything actually. It is a musical composition with a superb score, with use of music of very different nature, with a sound design that includes all that comes from the subway trains with an editing and a rythm, that is carried by the director’s fascination and ability to bring the film to a level of reflection on human existence…

Stasik was in Skopje and took part in the workshop on ”visual narration” – the photo with him and me and filmmaker and translator for Stasik Katarzyna Gondek is taken at the venue, the National Gallery. We are waiting for the light to be turned off so the clips to be shown could be more visible.

http://nov.makedox.mk/en/festival-2017/


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

MakeDox 2017/ Notes From a Juror

Written 25-08-2017 13:09:33 by Tue Steen Mller

MakeDox 2017/ Notes From a Juror

Go home Alexandra, she kept on saying, the dog-lover from Karelia in Finland, producer Kristina Pervilä. We were on our way back from a restaurant half an hour from Skopje. Good food, amazing location at a lake, and good company, a tour of adventure organised by the Makedox festival couple Petra Seliskar and Brand Ferro.

Going to a festival means that you meet old friends and get new friends. For me a pleasure to see Pervilä again after many years, remembering years of teaching at Ex Oriente seminar, where we were having drinks at the teachers appartment at the Czech film school FAMU with a view to the bridge and the castle, where Vaclav Havel resided.

And Roberto Blatt who has been to this festival several times. Last



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MakeDox 2017

Written 25-08-2017 10:54:05 by Tue Steen Mller

MakeDox 2017

I have been here in Skopje for three days and the festival is exactly like I expected it to be. High quality selection, totally relaxed atmosphere, outdoor screenings at Kurshumli An in the old city, a workshop with the title ”visual narration” and the legendary talks under the fig tree. Tonight we are going to announce the jury decisions, including the one where I was a juror together with Anton Calleja from Eurimages and Vladimir Blazhevski, filmmaker and teacher from here and there – Macedonia and Serbia. I will tell you about the winners tomorrow, but here you have the titles of the 8 films in the main competition, we were watching - with links to the reviews, which have previously been brought on this site:

21 x New York by Piotr Stasik

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3578/

The Girl Down Loch Änzi by Alice Schmid

Dixieland by Roman Bondarchuk and Darya Averchenko

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3877/

Woman and the Glacier by Audrius Stonys

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3818/

Machines by Rahul Jain

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3772/

Normal Autistic Film by Miroslav Janek

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3816/

Chavela by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi

Untitled by Michael Glawogger and Monika Willi

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3788/

http://nov.makedox.mk/en/main-program-2017/


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Dusan Zoric: Love

Written 23-08-2017 09:10:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Dusan Zoric: Love

This review is written by Mina Stanikic, young Serbian film critic, who took part at 23rd SFF as part of Talent Press.

After having his debut PARALYSES screened at the majority of regional festivals, up-and-coming Serbian director Dušan Zorić hits the international scene with his second short LOVE. This new production moves Zorić to the next level, as the film premiered at Visions du Réel in Nyon early on this year. At just finished 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival, LOVE was competing for the Heart of Sarajevo in the official student selection. Unfortunately, LOVE did not grab the Heart of Sarajevo, but it surely grabbed and gripped hearts of many in the audience.

Zorić used the trick we have already seen in Gaspar Noe’s latest film: naming it LOVE, but dealing with what, at first, rather seems to be sex.



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Georg Zeller on Sarajevo Film Festival

Written 22-08-2017 19:25:55 by Tue Steen Mller

Georg Zeller on Sarajevo Film Festival

I had come to Sarajevo with the idea to discover this city apart from memories of war and violence in order to honour the city’s life and present instead of concentrating on its  grim past. I soon discovered this idea to be very naive. In a place where parks are cemeteries and schools bear plates with the names of their dead pupils on the still granade-sprinkled walls, how could one deal with the past by just forgetting it?

The wonderful Sarajevo Film Festival, an important referring point for the Balkan region and beyond, seems to point at the elaboration of this dark heritage in its entire selection of films. „Dealing with the past“ is thus the perfectly fitting title not only for a section within the festival of already existing documentaries as well as projects still to be done.

It even fits with the red-carpet screenings I have been able to watch during the week, where the question whether it is possible to forgive and how, is a sort of red thread. With Aki Kaurismäki’s  „The other side of hope“ as festival opener, signs were given that



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MakeDox Skopje Starts Tonight

Written 19-08-2017 15:39:05 by Tue Steen Mller

MakeDox Skopje Starts Tonight

Tuesday night back to the region. After Sarajevo comes Skopje in Macedonia. I will be in the jury, 8 films to watch, creative documentaries – indeed they are. More about them later. But here are copy-pastes of two lyrical texts from the organisers with filmmaker Petra Seliskar leading MakeDox that is much more than a festival:

“On 19th August, when the storks are taking off, we are opening the eighth edition of MakeDox, honoring Louis Daguerre, the Sputnik, Belka and Strelka. The savoring of grapes has already begun, so let's enjoy its descents as a toast to Dionisys.”

“Doc Talks under the Fig Tree… Someday, hundreds of years from now, who knows if people would believe that every summer, countless storytellers would gather under the old magnificent fig tree in the backyard of the unique Kurshumli An in Skopje just to talk until nightfall. Just to give words to the images in their heads, words that created unbelievable images in front of the listener’s eyes… every summer, for years. Join us in the shade of the fig tree, lets’s enjoy while we still can.”

http://nov.makedox.mk/en/home/makedoxfestival/


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European Film Academy Shortlists Documentaries/ 2

Written 18-08-2017 14:47:02 by Tue Steen Mller

European Film Academy Shortlists Documentaries/ 2

Need to bring a correction or actually two after this FB message from Anna Wydra: Dear Tue, I just read about EFA on your site and I would like to add one thing: films are selected not only from those recommended by 10 festivals. For example COMMUNION was submitted by us. And every film has a chance for EFA. I think its important for people to know this. Its the same with Oscars - documentary category. Everyone who meet requirements can submit a film.

Thanks to Anna, who also asks me to bring the correct credit of producers for the film – I copied from the EDN page, which was not correct. Below link to EFA page:

PRODUCED BY Anna Wydra, Anna Zamecka, Zuzanna Krol, Izabela Lopuch & Hanka Kastelicova

http://www.europeanfilmacademy.org/News-detail.155.0.html?&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=529&cHash=9d874cc88faf71808e59447490fdb006


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Awards John Cleese, Cat Activists, Documentaries

Written 18-08-2017 14:14:32 by Tue Steen Mller

Awards John Cleese, Cat Activists, Documentaries

Whenever my wife and I need a break (she from Netflix series, me from documentaries), we watch the Fawlty Towers series with John Cleese. His wife Sybil does what she can to make the hotel owner Basil (Cleese) behave but he can not resist to humiliate German guests – ”don’t mention the war”, she says, but he does – and the French get their treatment as well, when one of them complain about the wine. Hilarious. Still wonderful even if 40 years old.

John Cleese (photo), master of silly walking, got the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Film Festival the other day. So well deserved for his long contribution to film and television.

But many others got awards as well – I focus on documentaries and documentarians:



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European Film Academy Shortlists Documentaries

Written 18-08-2017 12:11:30 by Tue Steen Mller

European Film Academy Shortlists Documentaries

The selection system is a bit heavy and complicated: 10 festivals – including all those which are part of DocAlliance – suggest titles for a committee of documentary connaisseurs, who have chosen 15 films. These will be watched and voted on by members of EFA to end up with 5 nominations - and then the European Documentary 2017 will be announced in Berlin in December. Having said so – yes, there are many good films on the list, but I miss Miroslav Janek’s “Normal Autistic Film”, Audrius Stonys “Woman and the Glacier” and Pawel Lozinski’s “You Have No Idea How Much I Love You” – all films that cross borders, where most of the ones below are pretty run-of-the-mill in terms of storytelling. My favourite: Loznitsa’s “Austerlitz” (photo) but I can not vote…

Austerlitz | Director: Sergei Loznitsa | Producer: Sergei Loznitsa | Germany

Communion | D: Anna Zamecka | P: Zuzanna Krol, Anna Wydra, Izabela Lopuch, Hanka Kastelicova | Poland

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas | D: Joakim Demmer | P: Margarete Jangård, Heino Deckert, John Webster | Sweden, Germany, Finland

How to Meet a Mermaid | Director: Coco Schrijber | Producer: Frank van den Engel | Netherlands, Denmark



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DokuFest 2017 Awards

Written 17-08-2017 15:45:03 by Tue Steen Mller

DokuFest 2017 Awards

Back from Sarajevo, now here comes important info that waited some days to be brought. Namely the information about who were the winners at the DokuFest in Prizren. I bring some of the categories with the jury motivations – always appreciate when festivals publish them. This is not that often I am afraid. But the great people down there in Kosovo do:

INT’L DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION/FEATURE DOX WINNER

EL MAR LA MAR by Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki.

Jury: Carmen Gray, Cíntia Gli, Melody Gilbert, Rodolfo Castillo-Morales, Wood LIN.

Statement: With 16mm film, the filmmakers gaze into time and the desert landscape at the border between U.S. and Mexico. Signs of human life are barely visible, but the empty desert along with the soundscape serves as a vivid metaphor of everything invisible, yet influential, to our daily lives. The geographical, ideological and political aspects are also illuminated through the narrative structure as the journey unfolds. El Mar La Mar is a beautiful poem and a highly political statement in the contemporary context with sincerity.

The same jury gave the “Special Mention” to 69 MINUTES OF 86 DAYS by Egil Håskjold Larsen.



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Film Activists Save Kittens

Written 16-08-2017 13:54:57 by Tue Steen Mller

Film Activists Save Kittens

The wonderful film couple Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova, Bulgarians, who with their fine films “Uncle Tony, Three Fools and the Secret Serviceand “The Beast is Still Alive” have raised discussions and anger in their home country, run a company called Activist 38. The other day they demonstrated their activism in quite another field. This is what Mileva wrote on her FB wall:

When entering Sarajevo for the CineLink Industry Days we found these brothers. We've had to rescue them from underneath a massive lorry. The ginger one was ready to be flattened curled up right under the huge tire. We're supposed to talk about "Cat in the wall" here but what to do with these two?

We had a drink with the two yesterday. Mina Mileva told us how she survives as an animation artist in London, Vesela Kazakova lives in Sofia, is an actress, has performed on theatre and in films and of course in “The Beast…”.

But they are almost never in their homes travelling as they do to festivals and markets raising money for the next project – or saving animals… Bravo! Below links to reviews of their two films:

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3672/

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/2747/


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Docu Rough Cut Boutique in Sarajevo

Written 16-08-2017 11:26:55 by Tue Steen Mller

Docu Rough Cut Boutique in Sarajevo

First a brief intro for those who don’t know about the excellent Rough Cut Boutique initiative, that is a joint programme created by the Sarajevo Film Festival and the Balkan Documentary Center, focused on documentary films from the region of South East Europe and Caucasus, films in post-production. 5 chosen projects are offered tailor made coaching by editors and other documentary experts.

After a session in Sofia (where the Balkan Documentary Center is placed, run by Martichka Bozhilova) the Boutique, that worked for days in a room in Hotel Europe, led by Rada Sesic, presented the 5 projects to documentary interested people at the Sarajevo Film Festival, including me.

Sorry to say, I was not really impressed by the quality. The simple question you put to yourself, when you attend a pitching/presentation like this: Woiuld I like to see that film when finished? Do the films have cinematic quality, do they play with many layers…

One did, one stood out – ”Srbenka” by Nebosja Slijejcevic from



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Egil Hskjold Larsen: 69 minutter af 86 dage

Written 15-08-2017 11:40:46 by Tue Steen Mller

Egil Hskjold Larsen: 69 minutter af 86 dage

En lille stor pige på rejse. Månedens Dokumentar i august er den knugende ’69 Minutes of 86 Days’, der følger den tre-årige Lean og hendes families rejse fra en græsk flygtningelejr til Uppsala.

Umiddelbart er Lean som alle andre tre-årige børn: En legesyg lille pige, der driller og synger sange med sin onkel, går med ’Frost’-rygsæk og følger med sine forældre, hvor de end går hen. Samtidig er hun en meget observerende og reflekterende pige, der til trods for sin alder forstår imponerende meget af situationen. Selv om hun ikke kan skelne Tyskland fra Sverige, vil hun gerne lære at svømme, når de ankommer. Det var der mange, der ikke kunne, da de faldt ud af bådene, som hun selv beskriver det.

’69 Minutes of 86 Days’ er Månedens Dokumentar i Cinemateket i august 2017. Spilleperiode 17.-23. august.

Norge, 71 mins.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sarajevo FF: True Stories Market

Written 15-08-2017 11:04:35 by Tue Steen Mller

Sarajevo FF: True Stories Market

… was a public presentation of 9 stories by different organisations, which are Dealing with the Past. It took place yesterday at Hotel Europe, the centre for the Industry part of the Sarajevo Film Festival. The manager of the project Masa Markovic formulates “that the purpose is evident in its name. We believe that an open and honest discussion about our painful recent past is a prerequisite if we want to resolve the problems stemming from the wars in the former Yugoslavia that continue to be a burden on us…”

It would be wrong to say that it was a pleasure to attend the 90 minutes presentation – one horror story after the other – to an audience of – among others – filmmakers, who might be interested in turning the stories into films.

These are stories with many layers, said the moderator, Croatian



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Joshua Oppenheimer Masterclass

Written 13-08-2017 21:37:40 by Tue Steen Mller

Joshua Oppenheimer Masterclass

One hour is too little time, Joshua Oppenheimer said to me, when we met to prepare the masterclass with him here in Sarajevo, where a tribute was given to him in connection with the festival’s Dealing With the Past theme and program, organised by Masa Markovic.

I was to be the moderator, the easiest job I have had for a long time, as Oppenheimer is such a brilliant speaker – and we got almost 2 hours for the class, that followed just after the screening of The Look of Silence, described as the companion piece to ”Act of Killing” that was shown the day before. How can a man, who has met his audience hundreds of times in the decade he has been making these Indonesian films, keep on being so committed and enthusiastic and respectful to his audience. Amazing!

He talked a lot about the gentle, sympathetic Adi (photo), the protagonist of The Look of Silence, the alter ego of Oppenheimer, and the way he was able to make the perpetrators talk about the killings they performed in 1965, including the one on Adi’s brother. The film is full of intimate, long silent scenes with the camera on the beautiful face of Adi, and for me – having seen the film several times – especially the scenes with Adi and his mother and father are emotionally so strong. The father who at the end does not know where he is without knowing that Adi is his son.

About lies, boasting, why Anwar suffers every night from what he has done – that he shows in ”Act of Killing” – and much much more from the intelligent Oppenheimer. Read all the words we have written on these two masterpieces here:

http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/2729/

www.sff.ba


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Sarajevo FF Friends Forever

Written 13-08-2017 20:53:59 by Tue Steen Mller

Sarajevo FF  Friends Forever

There we are in the middle of the street that leads to cinemas and Festival Square in Sarajevo on a quiet sunday afternoon. A couple is waving at us from the pavement opposite us. We meet, it is dear friend Rada Sesic and her husband John. It’s my birthday, she says, we have to make a photo. John takes the picture, it is Rada in the middle, Ellen my wife to the left and me. Congratulations!

Rada Sesic is here, there and everywhere during the festival. She is running, together with Martichka Bozhilova the Rough Cut sessions at the Hotel Europe and she has selected the documentary competition films, where she makes introductions and Q&A sessions. Semper ardens!

www.sff.ba


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Sarajevo Film Festival Opens With Kaurismki

Written 12-08-2017 10:56:57 by Tue Steen Mller

Sarajevo Film Festival Opens With Kaurismki

Look at the photo from last night’s opening of the 23rd festival in Sarajevo. Surrounded by appartment buildings, a huge screen, a red carpet and how many spectators – thousands? – to watch Aki Kaurismäki’s ”On the Other Side of Hope”, the right choice for an opening film: It is an excellent piece of work by the Finnish auteur, it is about the most pressing issue in today’s Europe, how do we welcome refugees, who want to live in our countries – in a superb mix of humour and seriousness, and for someone like me from the North: this is also Finland as it used to be, flavoured by wonderful music performances. How lucky we northeners are to have original directors as Roy Andersson and Aki Kaurismäki. Enjoyed to be there with people smoking on our row, with a technical fault that gave a break, with a brilliant atmosphere. Open air screening. My wife and I were back at the hotel at midnight.

Before that – with good friend from Bolzano Georg Zeller and his girl friend Azra Frchko, raised in Sarajevo – we had meze at a restaurant facing the National Library, destroyed in 1992 and now restored to be the Town Hall of Sarajevo, a beauty, currently with an exhibition of paintings by local master Mersad Berber.

The bridge to the theme ”Dealing with the Past”, a focus of the festival.

www.sff.ba


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Sarajevo FF, Redgrave & Dealing With the Past

Written 11-08-2017 18:14:06 by Tue Steen Mller

Sarajevo FF, Redgrave & Dealing With the Past

Arrived in Sarajevo this afternoon surviving a pretty windy flight from Vienna – I’ll never get used to flight turbulence! And it feels provocative when several people around me has fallen asleep ignoring the most bumpy moments.

But wonderful to be in Sarajevo again invited by Masa Markovic, industry coordinator and responsible for the programme Dealing with the Past”, that includes a well deserved (and so obvious) Tribute to Joshua Oppenheimer, who has, if anyone, dealt with the past in his two films ”Act of Killing” and ”The Look of Silence”. Happy also to see that Danish Lars Feldballe-Petersen’s fine ”The Unforgiven” (photo) is included as is Bosnian ”Restless Dreams” by Muris Beglerovic. I will get back to the exciting initiative ”Dealing with the Past” later.

One who is also dealing with the past is Vanessa Redgrave, who was meant to come to Sarajevo – with me as the one asking some questions after her debut as a film director with ”Sea Sorrow” – but cancelled. I had seen her film or maybe it is better to say her visual statement on the situation for the refugees. She makes a personal journey back to her childhood during WW2, she interviews Lord Dubs, a brilliant man who came to England as a refugee with the Kindertransport and she and he make parallels to the refugee children of today, who come without parents to end up in the Calais ”jungle”, that Dubs and Redgrave have visited. She talks about the Human Rights Declaration that was presented by Elinor Roosevelt in 1948, about the Geneva Convention, about the declaration for rights of children. Redgrave is passionate, but not a filmmaker, and she also includes Shahespeare in her statement for humanity.

www.sff.ba


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Message2Man Selection

Written 10-08-2017 16:10:46 by Tue Steen Mller

Message2Man Selection

The annual international film festival of documentary, short, animated and experimental films "Message to Man", which will be held from September 15 to 22, 2017 in St. Petersburg for the 27th time, has announced the competition programs.

We (Allan Berg and I) have seen five of the ten films in the full-length international competition. About A Modern Manwrote Allan (in Danish, here a clip, shortened, translated by me): Maybe she (Eva Mulvad, director) wants to build a new modern film style, where the characteristic is, that the film - freed from the literary progressive narration, and freed as well from the journalistic investigative drama – functions on old cinematographic conditions by putting scene by scene next to each other… Only Connect as said English director Lindsay Anderson

Cameraperson by Kirsten Johnson is also competing, one of the



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Rati Oneli: City of the Sun

Written 06-08-2017 16:12:46 by Tue Steen Mller

Rati Oneli: City of the Sun

One more good example from the wave of the new, well deserved, praised Georgian documentaries that offer an artistically formed interpretation of life and people in the country in the Caucacus. This time the location is Chiatura, a dying city that used to live from its mining industry. It is now falling apart, a future is difficult to see – and yet the population tries to find ways out of the misery.

A miner goes to perform in local amateur theatre, when he is not underground. A music teacher – apart from when he is teaching and performing local songs, and some he has composed himself – hammers to destroy abandoned buildings to set free metal that he can sell. Thirdly two young women run to stay fit.

These are the characters in a film that makes them represent the society falling apart. Their stories are intertwined and you follow



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Jude Ratnam: Demons in Paradise/ 2

Written 01-08-2017 10:32:43 by Tue Steen Mller

Jude Ratnam: Demons in Paradise/ 2

The film by Jude Ratnam had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. I had seen it but promised not to write a review before the festival. I have now returned to the film, which made and makes a strong impression on me. Why? This is what I will try to find out with the following text.

It is always difficult to find your own tone in a documentary. To create an atmosphere, a space for the viewer where he/she can be and stay, caught by the strength of a story. Ratnam succeeds – because he uses the cinematic language in a brilliant way. There is a rythm, fine cinematography and a commentary, where Ratnam in first person expresses his feelings bringing back the horrible memories he and his family have ”etched deeply in my (their, ed.) mind”. He says so when he recalls how and when he and his parents were fleeing the capital in Sri Lanka, Colombo - he being 5 years old – in July 1983, when the war started, that suppressed the tamil population, that fled to the North; a war that took the country into terrible violence until peace was made in 2009.



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Niewiera/Rosolowski: The Prince and the Dybbuk

Written 29-07-2017 11:39:35 by Tue Steen Mller

Niewiera/Rosolowski: The Prince and the Dybbuk

At the Krakow Film Festival I saw convincing clips from a film that I had heard about/seen pitched for a couple of years – and wrote this:

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

It was taken for premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, in the VENICE CLASSICS - Documentary on Cinema competition section.

Kasia Wilk brought the good news on Polish Docs, link below. A small quote outlines the film: "The Prince and the Dybbuk" is a cinematic journey on the trail of Michał Waszyński, filmmaker and human chameleon, who in flight from the spirit of intolerance continually changed his identity, rejecting his Jewish origins and hiding homosexuality.

Photo: Waszynski with Sophia Loren.

http://polishdocs.pl/en/news/3628/the_prince_and_the_dybbuk_at_the_venice_international_film_festival


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Loznitsa and Dostoyevsky

Written 28-07-2017 17:05:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Loznitsa and Dostoyevsky

One more Odessa-story of quite a different flavour. Vassilis Economou has for Cineuropa interviewed Sergei Loznitsa, whose fiction film, ”A Gentle Creature”, was shown at the festival. As always it is interesting to listen to the director, whose documentary ”Austerlitz” has travelled the world. Read the whole interview, link below, here is a clip:

Cineuropa: A Gentle Creature is loosely based on the short story of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Do you think that he still remains an inspiration for current events?


Sergei Loznitsa: I believe that nothing much has actually changed in Russia since Dostoyevsky wrote his story. Dostoyevsky was a prophetic author. He predicted the horror that arrived in Russia soon after. In The Demons, one of his most prophetic novels, he describes a very particular type of human being – immoral, very devious and dishonest. They appeared in



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Dixie Land Wins in Odessa

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

Dixie Land Wins in Odessa

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DocAlliance: Hybrid Films

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

DocAlliance: Hybrid Films

Look at this list of films presented by DocAlliance:

Life in Denmark (Jørgen Leth)

Cooking History (Peter Kerekes)

Blind Loves (Juraj Lehotský)

Alda (Viera Čakányová)

Ex Press (Jet Leyco)

The Wolf from Royal Wineyard Street (Jan Němec)

The Perfect Human (Jørgen Leth)

Love from Above (Petr Marek)

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

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

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

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

Available until August 6.

https://dafilms.com/program/633-hybrid-films


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Khaled Jarrar: Displaced in Heaven

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

Khaled Jarrar: Displaced in Heaven

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

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

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



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Layla Abyad: Letters to S.

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

Layla Abyad: Letters to S.

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

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

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

Switzerland, Syria, 11 mins., 2015

http://langfilm.ch/en/catalogue


Vurdering:

 
Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Joshua Oppenheimer

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

Joshua Oppenheimer

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.sff.ba/en/news/10562/tribute-to-joshua-oppenheimer

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/07/best-documentaries-21st-century-1201857688/


Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Sarajevo Documentary Competition

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

Sarajevo Documentary Competition

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

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

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

http://www.sff.ba/


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Julia Bobkova: The Last Waltz

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

Julia Bobkova: The Last Waltz

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

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

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



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Ai Weiwei: Human Flow

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

Ai Weiwei: Human Flow

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

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

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

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

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

On Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWgC5pCR1AE

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


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Golden Apricot Festival Cancels Program

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

Golden Apricot Festival Cancels Program

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

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

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



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Polish Doc Promotion

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

Polish Doc Promotion

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

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

The main emphasis in the newsletter is put on the success of Piotr Stasik’s masterpiece “21xNew York” that travels to numerous festivals in Italy, Estonia, South Africa, Macedonia, Lithuania. The film was reviewed on this site in connection with last year’s Krakow Film Festival - http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/blog/blogpost/3578/ - I was at a critics panel, where the film was number one but the jury decided not to give it the main award it deserved.

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

http://polishdocs.pl/en/news/3610/21xnew_york_on_world_tour


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DokuFest Kosovo/ Competitions

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

DokuFest Kosovo/ Competitions

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

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

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

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

http://dokufest.com/ 


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

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