Marc Isaacs: This Blessed Plot

Written 28-09-2023 15:13:49 by Tue Steen Mller

In 2007 Marc Isaacs made ”All White in Barking”, in 2020 “The Filmmaker’s House” and now “This Blessed Plot”. You should know, when reading this article that I am a big admirer of Isaacs having seen, loved and written about these three films. In many workshops and seminars we lucky mentors, who follow documentaries and documentarians always stress the importance of finding your own “handwriting”, your way of filmmaking, the “how” being much more important than the “what”. Form before content.

Marc Isaacs is a unique example of a filmmaker, who has found and developed his way of filmmaking outside the established British (television) formatted way of documentary storytelling. Together with Adam Ganz, who wrote the story, he has made “This Blessed Plot”, which has many layers and a beautiful way of dealing with Life and Death. With humour and compassion.

Here you will have my focus on the story that I enjoyed from start till end:

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

DocuDays UA Dana Bunescu and Niels Pagh Andersen

Written 07-06-2023 13:02:14 by Tue Steen Mller

DocuDays UA Dana Bunescu and Niels Pagh Andersen

It was one of those moments he has called "The Authentic Now", Danish editor Niels Pagh Andersen. In the Docudays online seminar the other day with Andersen and Dana Bunescu. The latter showed clips from the masterpiece she did with Andrei Ujica, "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu" (2010) (3hours), unknown footage put together, 2 years of watching the material, 7 months of editing - a lot?, not when you have seen the film and immediately know that this film will stay in the book of world documentary history.

But back to the authentic moment that I enjoyed and which was not foreseen: Between two clips there was an unintended technical break, where editor Andersen suddenly was alone on the screen. He did not know apparently, smoking a cigarette, maybe a bit nervous, waving his hand in the air in the room of his appartment from where he was zooming. To get the smoke away from the webinar... I was looking at Andersen and associated to the Jørgen Leth film, where Andy Warhol is eating a hamburger without saying a word. He knew that he was filmed, Andersen did not. Pure documentary! Catching a man passionate with what he was doing, totally concentrated, profiting from the situation to have a cigarette.

The conversation between Bunescu and Andersen were informal and informative. They commented each other's clips with respect and comments and questions. Bunescu: Today it seems that there is a fear of silence - a reference to the example of Andersen, "The Look of Silence", that he did with Joshua Oppenheimer. Andersen mentioned that he was always working with hold-back, which is obviuos from the 10 minutes he showed in the webinar, the beginning of the film: "Don't tell too much up-front, don't kill the curiosity". Bunescu: "In documentaries you search for the truthful, you can cheat but not lie". Andersen: "Documentaries are today's alternative to tik-tok, news, fiction, journalism - it's first of all an emotional experience".

90 minutes it lasted, the last 30 were questions from the audience. Thanks for this meeting to DocuDays. 

photo: niels pagh andersen (dfi)

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Jon Bang Carlsen: Dreaming Arizona

Written 22-03-2023 15:23:38 by Tue Steen Mller

Jon Bang Carlsen: Dreaming Arizona

”Most of what follows is true, but reality and dreams are like conjoined twins, if one dies both will perish”, a text from, who else, Danish master Jon Bang Carlsen, a text he could have used already almost 50 years ago, when he made “Jenny” and started his personal and unique storytelling in film after film, a gift to Danish cinema. And yet he always renews himself, this time working gently and caring with teenagers, who live in a small town in Arizona, Winslow is the name; at the same time as he is keeping the sound and the image of some of his favorite narrative elements, in this case the freight trains - do you remember his film on his mother, “Livet vil leves” (1994) (“Life will be Lived”), the trains were there and the fascinating sound of them passing through the landscape. As in Winslow. The film, before the title comes up, starts with that sound, it is never silent in Winslow, these damn trains as one of the girls say.

Her name is Makenzie, who in the film is joined by Amber and Kristin (both Navajos), Sydney and Bryson. The five get together on the stage of the local cinema to do this “documentary fantasy played by real people” as Bang Carlsen puts it. On a stage in front of the silver screen, where dreams can be dreamt and realized through the wonderful cinema language. They get together with Makenzie, who sells popcorn in the cinema, as the one taking the floor to tell her story asking the others to do the same. And they do. It becomes “our” story, which is not a happy one. Makenzie’ s father left to live with Sydney’s mother, Bryson would like to meet his grandfather who lives as a homeless, Kristin suffers from her sister’s loss of a child, Taylor, Amber wants to leave mother and child to go to study journalism in Los Angeles… To put it briefly and to say that from there they and the director go on to perform a visual poetic trip or - using the title of one of Bang Carlsen’s previous works - “invent reality”.

And visually it is breathtaking beautiful, I was thinking, when I saw the film on the big screen in the theatre in Copenhagen. Estonian cameraman Erik Põllumaa is visualizing as his director wishes him to do; Bang Carlsen is a cinematic painter.

The yellow school bus is there, white horses, one of them in Makenzie’s story passing by in the street in front of the cinema, the Navajo landscapes familiar to Amber’s story, Bryson in the church: “I call for your help but there´s no answer”, Kristin and the others in front of a closed mine from where Taylor comes out on a white horse, Sydney and Makenzie arguing on the stage and in the swimming pool hugging each other, stories after stories are connected to the five protagonists and to the magic screen up there, where Rose appears… there is a story about her, who lived in Winslow in the sixties, no spoiler from me.

“We all got baggage, we are not alone in this battle called life”, says Makenzie, who has a conversation with Amber leaving the hard stories of their childhood that they all carry and have put into the film. … played by real people, oh they play so well. Authenticity!

Denmark, Estonia, Norway, 2022, 76 mins.

Still: cph:dox


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Anna Shisova: The New Greatness Case

Written 15-08-2022 16:58:41 by Tue Steen Mller

 Anna Shisova: The New Greatness Case

One of my Russian friends wrote this to me not long ago: “A few days ago…Two women and their five children aged 7 to 11 were detained at the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow yesterday. The children drew a poster “No War” and went with it. All of them were detained by the police. At first they were kept in a paddy wagon and then they were brought to the Presnenskoye police department. They were going to leave everyone at the station but then children and their mothers were released. Now parents are waiting for a court, fines and are afraid of deprivation of parental rights, they are looking for a human rights lawyer…”.

Surprised? No, I guess not, if you follow the reports coming from Russia. I used to go to Russia for film events and I know a lot of filmmakers, friends with whom I have talked about Life that passes while you are not busy doing something else than making films. Always being careful not to get into trouble when demonstrations take place. As Anna Shisova, the director of “The New Greatness Case” chosen for this Human Rights Day said in an interview: “For 10 or 20 years, the legal system in Russia has drifted in a totalitarian direction. We have many new laws. One of those laws says that if you say something bad against authority, you can be put in jail. Another law punishes extremist organizations, which means you are guilty if you say something against authority within a group.”

Words I have heard again and again when visiting St. Petersburg or Moscow. Often said with a twist of irony making fun of the regime and its leaders.

After February 24 2022 I have not travelled to Russia – and many filmmakers have left the country. The brutality has grown, demonstrators are knocked down and imprisoned. And the brutality in the war against Ukraine is indescribable. There is no need for irony – there is a need for constant good journalism AND documentaries like “The New Greatness Case”.

The film: Anya Pavlikova. 17 years old. She is in a court room behind the terrible glass room, we know so well from films about and news from Russia. Her parents sit in front of the glass room. The camera catches the nervous face of Anya , she seems to be on the edge of a breakdown. Fear! A judge enters the room and reads out the verdict: Anya is sentenced to 3 years of prison for her participation in a group of youngsters called “The New Greatness”… The beginning of a superb film.

Anna Shisova’s documentary is what a documentary should be: It documents and it interprets, it asks for reflection, it has a strong emotional impact on the audience. It tells the story of youngsters, who were chatting on the internet discussing all kind of matters including social and political. And it stays with the parents and makes a gripping portrait of the mother.

We know all that, what we did not know, at least that goes for me, is the skills with which the regime works with informers, who - as the film shows so well – infiltrated the youngsters, invited them to have their own “office” and pushed them to go for demonstrations with leaflets. Until they were arrested for wanting to go against and overthrow the government etc. Anya was one of them caught by the surveillance cameras set up by the secret service people. In a room that comes back again and again with the main informer in the picture. Absurd!

Contrary to many other films on opposition from Russia, like the ones on Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, “The New Greatness Case” goes with Anya to her family, especially to her mother who turns fear into a hunger strike and herself into one of the many political activists, we hear too little about.

The film has been characterized as “a chilling portrait of the intensified crackdown on dissent and free expression in Putin’s Russia” (Sheffield DocFest). True!

Below is the link to the UN declaration of Human Rights.

Read the paragraphs and tick the ones you find relevant for a discussion after the film screening. Quite a lot I would say!


Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Viktor Kossakovsky Collected Posts on his Works

Written 30-12-2018 13:49:23 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Viktor Kossakovsky  Collected Posts on his Works

The courage to address the world with ambiguity never stooping to easy answers, can also be attributed to the Russian filmmaker, Victor Kossakovsky, who never tires of reminding us that film is an emotionally charged medium, and even when it comes to reality based filmmaking, expressing and arousing emotion should always be at the heart of the work… (Karolina Lidin, from an article 1999)



by Tue Steen Mûller


BELOVY (1993)

Vivan Las Antipodas! … a new tone for a director whose filmography includes films that you want to see again and again, from ”The Belovs” (Belovy) to ”Svyato” and ”Tishe”. (From a post 08-05-2012))

… "The Belovs", this film from the countryside of Russia brilliantly depicts the Russian soul as we have experienced it in works of Dostoyevsky and Thechov. (From a post 02-08-2014)

... Fassaert wanted to show his appreciation of Kossakovsky by showing a long clip from ”Belovs”. He did and it made Kossakovsky burst into tears, kneel in front of the screen, ”I am sorry I shot this”, ”this is a typical Russian person”, he was inconsolable, had to leave the room, came back, left again, came back and stayed. (From a post 20-11-2015)


SREDA (1997)

Back to the progression of the Balticum Festival years in Gudhjem, Bornholm and 1997, when one film in particular, "Sreda" (Wednesday) by Viktor Kossakovsky, overshadowed all others. He was the festival’s central figure in a year when not only his film, but many of the other’s are also a return to present-day portrayels and a rediscovery of dayly life with all its problems, but also its poetry. (Tue Steen Müller, from an article 1999)

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Categories: Cinema, Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Directors

Israel: The Loyalty in Culture bill

Written 07-11-2018 20:11:41 by Tue Steen Mller

Israel: The Loyalty in Culture bill

... a major threat for freedom, a major threat for cinema

Is the headline for at text I received from filmmaker Avi Mograbi, who wants readers/filmmakers outside Israel to know about a proposal put forward by the Minister of Culture in Israel. If you want to sign - like the filmakers above do - a protest, please contact Avi Mograbi  ( or French Jean-Michel Frodon ( Photo from Mograbi's film "Between Fences". Here is the text:

In the last twenty years, Israeli cinema has been thriving. This boom did not happen by chance. The Film Law (1999), which infused the film funds with unprecedented public funding, was instrumental to this flourishing. Similarly, numerous co-production agreements signed with various European and North American countries injected quite a lot of money into Israeli productions and helped raise the production values of Israeli films. Another important factor in this blossoming is openness. Many Israeli films have dealt openly with sensitive social and political issues from a critical perspective. The openness testifies for a healthy and strong growing cinematic culture.

But now, the government of Israel is in the process of amending the Culture and Arts Law (2002) with a “Loyalty in Culture” bill. The Minister of Culture will have the right to cut the budgets of bodies supported by the Ministry of Culture should they in turn support works that:

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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Polemics, Directors

Jon Bang Carlsen fr livsvarig ydelse

Written 10-10-2018 15:27:51 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Jon Bang Carlsen fr livsvarig ydelse

… fra Statens Kunstfond – ”Hædersydelser fra Statens Kunstfond er livsvarige og kan tildeles kunstnere, der har en sådan kunstnerisk produktion bag sig, at de har placeret sig afgørende som kunstner.”

Og det kan man da vist godt sige at Jon Bang Carlsen har! Uden at overdrive! Han er den danske filmkunstner, som vi på Filmkommentaren har skrevet mest om. Allan Berg har på dansk præsenteret og analyseret de mange fremragende værker fra instruktøren, jeg – Tue Steen Müller – har skrevet på engelsk om de mange gange JBC og jeg har mødtes på festivaler rundt om i Europa, hvor han været efterspurgt til masterclasses og i forbindelse med retrospektiver. Han har forfattet flere bøger og Lars Movin har skrevet den imponerende ”Jeg ville først finde sandheden”, hvor de to rejser rundt til steder i verden, hvor instruktøren har filmet.     

Statens Kunstfonds begrundelse for indstillingen:

Jon Bang Carlsens filmværk har altid stået i dialog med hvad filmkunst også kan være. Længe før dokumentargenren havde nydt nutidens bevidsthedsmæssige gennembrud og popularitet hos det brede publikum arbejdede Bang Carlsen i et dansk hovedværk som ”Før gæsterne kommer” (1984) med iscenesat dokumentarisme, hvor virkelighed og fiktion blander blod og ny virkelighed gestaltes, udfordres og indvindes. Dette personlige og skabende blik på verden udfolder sig videre i en række ligeledes personlige og essayistiske film, såsom ”Addicted to solitude” (1999) og Portræt af Gud (2001).

Det er muligt at opfatte centret i Bang Carlsens filmkunst som selve det fraværende, i forstand af dét som ikke kan ses med det blotte øje eller kameraets objektiv, men som kun kommer til syne hvis set og gengivet inde fra et eget, subjektivt rum. Derindefra hvor også beskueren kan få kastet nyt lys over sig. I den selvbiografiske skæbnefortælling ”Deja Vu” (2016), som sampler og trækker på hele Bang Carlsens oeuvre, genereres en dialog med fortiden og dens forunderlige, talende stumhed i et liv langt senere.

Bang Carlsens fortsatte livsrejse og skæbnefælleskab med selve det at fortælle i levende billeder, dette eksistentielle forsøg på at tilegne sig virkeligheden og fremvise alt det usynlige som livets landskab er vævet af, afventer fortsat hidtil ukendte egne som kun kan besøges af mod som det Jon Bang Carlsen besidder.

Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Chris Marker Collected posts & notes on his works

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

Chris Marker Collected posts & notes on his works

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



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

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

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

’Snart vil rejsen være til ende. Det er først på det tidspunkt, at vi vil vide om juxtapositionen af billeder giver nogen mening. Vi vil forstå, at vi har bedt med film, som man må på en pilgrimsrejse, som vi må hver gang, vi har været i nærheden af døden: på kattenes begravelsesplads, stående foran den døde giraf, sammen med kamikaze-piloterne i take-off øjeblikket, foran guerillaerne dræbt i uafhængighedskrigen. I La jetée, ender det dumdristige eksperiment at se ind i fremtiden med døden. I bearbejdningen af det samme tema 20 år senere, har Marker ved bønnen overvundet døden.'

Når man læser dette, skrevet af en, man ikke kender, en som ikke kan vide noget som helst om filmenes tilblivelse, rammes man af en særlig følelse. Et eller andet er sket…” (Notat, 2008, ABN)



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

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

Jon Bang Carlsen: At opfinde virkeligheden

Written 03-05-2017 15:46:15 by Tue Steen Mller

Jon Bang Carlsen: At opfinde virkeligheden

– tekster om film og liv, … redigeret og med forord af Lars Movin, som I 2012 skrev en monografi om instruktøren: “Jeg ville først finde sandheden”. Den fik 6 penne, det højest opnåelige på dette sted med disse ord: Resultatet er blændende, den bedste filmbog jeg har læst i årevis.

Nu har Movin/Carlsen fået konkurrence af Carlsen/Movin. Denne bog er for mig ligeså vidunderlig læsning. Seks penne! De to bøger skal stå ved siden af hinanden på reolen og ved siden af dem dvd’er af instruktørens film. Flere er udkommet i boks-format, andre kan erhverves hos Bang Carlsen eller ses på DFI’s streamingtjeneste. Lad mig præsentere bogen ved at citere omslagsteksten:

“I mere end fyrre år har filmkunstneren Jon Bang Carlsen skabt fabulerende fortællinger, der svæver I mellemrummet mellem dokumentarisme og fiction. I film efter film – heraf mange I den selvopfundne kategori: iscenesat dokumentarisme – har han digtet med virkelighedsfragmenter. Og altid med et dobbeltblik, hvor iagttagelser af en ydre virkelighed filtreres gennem lag af

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Lars Johanssons film og bger

Written 05-07-2016 08:42:12 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Lars Johanssons film og bger

Det er en bog. Det er en film. Det er nat. (Marguerite Duras: Elskeren fra Nordkina, 1991/2012)

Lars Johansson er den anden af de to fotografer (den første som jeg har skrevet om i forgårs er Finn Larsen) med udstillingen i Øksnehallen, København, ”Ung i Randers 1978-1979”, som Tue Steen Müller for nogle dage siden, som altså tidligere nævnt, anmeldte begejstret her på Filmkommentaren og derfor må jeg igen lige repetere de tos arbejdsmæssige løbebaner, i dag altså Lars Johanssons. Om et af hans allerførste arbejder filmen Anholt, som han skrev, instruerede og fotograferede i 1988, lavede jeg en programtekst. Den tager jeg lige frem igen og citerer et sted fra den:

”… Efter vi har set os gennem det lange vinterafsnit klippes der til kirken, hvor lyset står ind på øens degn Ejner Boisen som for filmholdet alene synger Jakob Knudsens salme. Trygge ved vi at ved årenes sortering vil bestemte af vort sprogs udsagn, vort lands billeder, de musikstykker, vi kender fra opdragelsen, vende tilbage. Nok umistelige simpelthen, ”luft og bølge blusser i brand, i glød…” Sætningen får her nye betydninger, fordi filmens billeder af havet nænsomt har inddraget Noldes erfaringer, hans tilkæmpede akvareller fra Sild. Og da selve personen, der synger er skolelæreren på øen, må den tanke, hvormed vi ser filmen en tur om ad vores litterære bevidstheds ø og dens degn i Martin A. Hansens bog og filmens scener tager farve herfra. Da det jo er Anholt konkret her henter den endelig som en selvfølge viden fra Tang Kristensen, fra Achton Friis og fortolkende indsigt i myternes væsen fra Vagn Lundbys værk. Respekten for de andres arbejde har i den udforskning, den afdækning af feltet, som det lange filmarbjde også var, bragt instruktøren vidt omkring og afstedkommet rækker af inspirationspunkter, tydeligst måske fra malerkunsten, så de ligger som lag af indsigt under de nye billeder. Søndergaards havs blå oprørthed og knoklede mennesker, som på én gang er store nok til at håndtere det element og ydmygt små på den vældige flade af vand og luft. Høsts hvide længer og sorte portrum med hjemlig tryghed.”


Røgdykker, 1985. Om mandsmod og professionalisme. Om munterhed og sammenhold. Et filmisk hyldestdigt til et røgdykkerhold ved Københavns Brandvæsen. Stilen veksler mellem både lyrisk og dramatisk reportage og en scenisk stilisering som hos Jørgen Leth.

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Finn Larsens fotografier og udstillinger

Written 03-07-2016 12:04:27 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Finn Larsens fotografier og udstillinger

En handling, en facade, et beboelsesrum, et ansigt - hver af disse er altid en opsummering. (Sune Jonsson: "Ni funderinger over 1/125-delen", 1978)

Finn Larsen er den ene af de to fotografer (den anden er Lars Johansson) med udstillingen i Øksnehallen, København, ”Ung i Randers 1978-1979”, som Tue Steen Müller for nogle dage siden anmeldte begejstret her på Filmkommentaren og derfor må jeg lige repetere de tos arbejdsmæssige løbebaner, i dag altså Finn Larsens. Om hans fotografier skrev jeg engang i 1993 en introduktion i et tidsskrift, den tager jeg lige frem igen.

”Man kan godt begynde med de tre tyrkiske teglas. Fotografiet er titelvignet i Finn Larsens bog ”Billeder fra Tyrkiet” (1985). Jeg standser hver gang ved det billede. Sidder længe og funderer. Glassene er tømte, personerne har forladt dem, og de står tilbage på deres små tallerkener på cafébordet. De minder mig om en respektabel kultur, hvor man nøjes med lidt. De er så forbavsende små for en dansk tedrikker. Kan jeg forfriskes af så lidt, før jeg skal videre med dagens program, videre på rejsen? Ja, sådan er der i det land. Et glas te er nok. I den ting ligger landets sjæl som et konkret og materielt faktum. ”Tyrkiske teglas, Ankara, 1983” kan der stå på skiltet ved montren.


Billeder fra Tyrkiet (1985)

Finn Larsen er et rigtigt museumsmenneske. Allerede tidligt i 70’erne havde han opgaver på museet i Randers, han hjalp til ved udgravninger, indmålte tingene og noterede deres data. Han assisterede ved udstillingsarbejder, lærte at udvælge genstanden med fortællingen og skrive dens kendsgerninger på det lille skilt. Da han i 1977 begyndte sin fotografuddannelse, blev det helt selvfølgelig museet, som blev praktikstedet og museets fotograf Lars Johansson, som blev læremesteren. Finn Larsen blev museumsfotograf. Læretiden var et regulært samarbejde mellem de to, det førte blandt andet til den store fotodokumentariske registrering med udstillinger og en film om ungdomskultur i Randers 1978-1979…” I kataloget/avisen, som ledsager den aktuelle udstilling af dette materiale findes en fyldig og på mange måder forbavsende oversigt over hvad der videre skete:



Af Randi Jensen

Finn Larsens arbejde er over tid løbet sammen i tre tematiske spor, der alle består af en mangeårig, løbende indsamling af materiale til stadigt voksende arkiver, som er råstoffet for hans kunstneriske udstillings-virksomhed, udgivelser mv.: Tyrkietsporet startede 1983. Finn Larsen har rejst i/genbesøgt Tyrkiet hvert 5 år siden. Landskab-sporet har han arbejdet med siden 1988 i form af en række større og mindre fotografiske projekter om landskaber, der er formet af menneskelig/samfundsmæssig aktivitet, især i Danmark og Sverige. Grønlandssporet har han arbejdet med siden 1991, baseret på op mod 30 rejser.

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Til lykke med fdselsdagen JRGEN LETH

Written 14-06-2016 15:04:33 by Tue Steen Mller

Til lykke med fdselsdagen JRGEN LETH

... ønsker vi her fra Filmkommentaren. Vi gør det med et af vores yndlingsportrætter af dig, det er godt nok dit, fra  din blog, men vi tilegner os det lige, for det er et af de mest inspirerende, et af dem hvor du er på arbejde. Og så vil vi bare endnu engang henvise til det, vi gennem nogle år har skrevet om dig og dine film, mest om filmene i vores rå opsummering ”Jørgen Leth - Collected Texts on his Works”, som begynder med en lille kursiv …the Danish director, who has been an inspiration for generations of Danish filmmakers. With Lars von Trier as number one as readers will know from the film”The Five Obstructions” og så fortsætter med første post, som er et af mine mange dagbogsnotater på bloggen: “Mid wednes(day) off from Copenhagen with troubled SAS to Amsterdam to attend the 25th idfa (International Documentary Film Festival). On board is also Jørgen Leth on his way to idfa as several times before. This year to be in the main jury with (among others) Michael Glawogger, and to attend his own ”My Name is Jørgen Leth” exhibition that is part of the idfa ”Expanding Documentary” that opens at 7pm tomorrow November 15th at De Brakke Grond here in Amsterdam…” Læs eventuelt videre og så igen tillykke og hav en dejlig aften! Allan og Tue

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

Peter Greenaway: A Medium for Visual Intelligence

Written 15-04-2016 12:36:42 by Tue Steen Mller

Peter Greenaway: A Medium for Visual Intelligence

Always provoking, always exaggerating as part of the provocation, and yet there is always some truth in what he says – Peter Greenaway, this time as part of his getting a BAFTA recognition for his work at an event in London. I take a couple of citations from the article in Guardian of today:

… “I always think, and this is probably a very unpopular thing to say, that all film writers should be shot. We do not need a text-based cinema … we need an image-based cinema…”

Greenaway said text has so many opportunities. “For 8,000 years we’ve had lyric poetry, for 400 years we’ve had the novel, theatre hands its meaning down in text. Let’s find a medium whosetotal, sole responsibility is the world as seen as a form of visual intelligence. Surely, surely, surely the cinema should be that phenomenon…”

… “I believe that cinema died on the 31 September 1983 when the zapper or the remote control was introduced into the living rooms of the world. “Bang! Cinema ceases to be passive and becomesactive, you the audience are now in some senses in charge of the filmmaking process. You have all got mobile phones, you have all got cam recorders, and you’ve all got laptops, so you’re all filmmakers…”

Read the whole article on The Guardian: link

Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Avi Mograbi-Collected Posts on his Works

Written 07-03-2016 07:53:20 by Tue Steen Mller

Avi Mograbi-Collected Posts on his Works

”… Mograbi is exactly as his films are: tense, sometimes comic, but always dealing with the embarrassing reality of the country he lives in. A frustrated artist, as he says himself, who wants to move something, raise a debate in Israel, but does not succeed, he is met with total silence, no reactions, whereas he now is an estimated artist in Western Europe!”



By Tue Steen Müller


Z32 (2008)

DocLisboa Diary: … Well, I saw two films yesterday... the heartbreaking observational Kim Longinotto doc ”Hold me Tight, Let me go”, what a brilliant filmmaker and fine person she is, and Avi Mograbi´s ”Z32”, a mise-en-scène film that once again shows how clever this controversial filmmaker is, in finding new ways of dealing with strong themes of the world. This time in a Brechtian musical form. (Blogppost 17-10-2008)

DocLisboa Diary: … I went directly to the videothèque to watch films from the international competition programme to prepare my article for the DOX magazine. It was a long journey through the misery of this world filmed and conveyed by committed and sometimes narratively involved directors and cameramen and –women. Made by English (”All White in Barking” by Marc Isaacs), French-Iranian (”The Faces on the Wall” by Bijan Anquetil and Paul Costes), Chinese (”The Red Race” by Chao Gan) and Israeli (”Six Floors to Hell” by Jonathan Ben Efrat). To mention the four films that impressed me mostly. Themes: xenophobia and loss of identity, the forgotten martyrs, children paced to served the state and inhumanity in the state of Israel.

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Joshua Oppenheimers works

Written 28-02-2016 12:32:36 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Joshua Oppenheimers works

Som alle andre har vi her på Filmkommentaren meget længe været optaget af Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence og den tidligere The Act of Killing. Jeg har samlet det meste af det vi skrevet om de to film her:

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

Herz Frank Collected Posts on his Works

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

Herz Frank  Collected Posts on his Works


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



by Allan Berg Nielsen

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

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

Read more / Læs mere

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

Robert Frank Collected Posts on his Works

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

Robert Frank  Collected Posts on his Works


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



By Tue Steen Müller


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

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

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

DocAlliance the Power of Documentary

Written 05-05-2015 10:27:43 by Tue Steen Mller

DocAlliance  the Power of Documentary

Newsletter  from DocAlliance with generous offers to watch films FOR FREE in the month of May.

Strong recommendation from me to (re)watch Jørgen Leth and Ole John’s ”66 Scenes from America” (photo: Andy Warhol and Jørgen Leth). This classic  was made in 1982 and was totally financed by the National Film Board of Denmark (Statens Filmcentral). I was on the programme committee that decided to commission the film which – as many of Jørgen Leth’s film – has Dan Holmberg as cinematographer, whose postcard approach to the theme, ”Americana”, contributed to the success of the film that in 1989, in connection with the 50 year celebration of the Canadian Film Board, was placed on the list of the 100 Best Documentaries ever.

The film was commissioned on the basis of one or two pages from the

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Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Glawogger - Collected Posts on his Works

Written 25-04-2014 09:27:37 by Tue Steen Mller

Glawogger - Collected Posts on his Works

”A World of Troubled Beauty…”







NY Times brought the most precise headline to an article about the films of Austrian filmmaker Michael Glawogger’s impressive work: A World of Troubled Beauty – referring to his trilogy ”Megacities”, ”Workingman’s Death” and ”Whore’s Glory”. (Post 08-08-2012)



The IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) website informs that the first retrospective of the Austrian documentarian is taking place in New York at the Museum of Moving Images until April 29. The website of the Museum includes interesting text excerpts from a soon to be published book on Glawogger. Here comes the series intro by the museum:

”One of the most versatile and original talents in contemporary world cinema, the Austrian filmmaker Michael Glawogger has made an art of crossing boundaries, both geographic and formal. He spans diverse, far-flung locations within a single film, often dealing with ambiguous notions of home and foreignness, and moves back and forth between fiction and documentary, sometimes combining and subverting both modes. Glawogger’s career resists classification at every turn, but whether set on the margins of the developing world or in precincts of privilege, his surprising, beautifully photographed films are testaments to his own boundless curiosity and to the endless complexity of the human condition. This retrospective, his first in the United States, includes his widely acclaimed and much debated documentary trilogy on harsh working environments, as well as a selection of fiction features and experimental short films.” (Post 22-04-2012)

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Jon Bang Carlsen, Collected Posts on his Works

Written 06-12-2013 15:12:33 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Jon Bang Carlsen, Collected Posts on his Works

“For me documentaries are no more real than fiction and fiction films no more invented than documentaries,” the filmmaker says of his approach, which he consistently developed since graduating from the National Film School of Denmark in the mid-1970s. (TSM)



- Collected Posts on his Works

by Tue Steen Müller and Allan Berg Nielsen 


About Jon Bang Carlsen, who had a retrospective in Bucharest early 2013: With a reference to his films shot in Ireland, ”It’s Now or Never” and ”How to Invent Reality” the Romanian organizers presents Bang Carlsen as ”the inventor of reality”. Here is a clip from the text: "This year One World Romania organizes a retrospective dedicated to the Danish documentary filmmaker Jon Bang Carlsen... a legendary director who reinvented documentary film. In his work, Jon Bang Carlsen has always explored the land between fact and fiction. From 1977 onward, mise-en-scene with real characters plays a very important part in his productions, and this method is detailed in his meta-film, ”How to Invent Reality” (1996). His documentaries are often visually and symbolically powerful staged portraits of marginal figures and milieus that involve compelling stories..." His new film “Just the Right Amount of Violence” were shown at DOKLeipzig and idfa 2013. (TSM)


JENNY (1977)

På billedet ser vi familieportrætter af den alvorlige slags fra fotografen dengang. En kvindestemme, ældre, siger på vestjysk: Det er fredag den anden januar 1977, og jeg føler mig sund og rask... Portrætterne fortsætter i overtoninger, en lille pige bliver ung pige, ung kvinde, ung kone. Og stemmen fortsætter sin optegnelse. En mellemting mellem dagbog og tilbageskuende vurdering, testamente: Der er sket meget i min tid... Og den sammenligner den nye usikkerhed. Vi er i det moderne. I et kontrolrum et sted i USA, har kvinden læst, er der altid to til stede. Hvis den ene skulle bryde sammen og ville trykke på knappen, skal den anden kunne gribe ind. Sådan også på Cheminova, vores kemifabrik. Der er der også to, skulle den ene falde i søvn. For mennesket må selv tage ansvar og ikke give Gud skylden for ulykkerne, det selv har skabt grundlaget for.

Vogels saxofon begynder på et tema. Gruszynskis store landskabsbillede oppefra som hos Søndergaard viser os stedet, vi er. Vestjylland. Refleksionen over kemifabrikken nærmere hvor. Det må være Bovbjerg. Kameraet panorerer til vejen. 

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Categories: Film History, Directors

Nicolas Philibert on DocAlliance

Written 09-06-2013 22:36:17 by Tue Steen Mller

Nicolas Philibert on DocAlliance

One more generous free offer from ”your online documentary cinema”, the vod DocAlliance, starts tomorrow and runs until June 23:

7 films by Nicolas Philibert, who once wrote the following about his method:

”I feel the need to create a frame for each film, a starting point that I can build upon. This frame consists of the things that I find motivating and exciting when working together with the subjects of the film. When filming starts, the final destination is unknown to me and I don’t know which path I will follow. A lot depends on the things that emerge through work and encounters. Naturally the journey is different with each film...” (A quote from a text for the Finnish Docpoint festival). has posted several texts about the works of the French documentarian. To mention a couple of them – ”La ville Louvre”, ”La moindre des choses”, ”Nénette” and of course ”Etre et Avoir” – all of them available online for two weeks.

Make your own retrospective of films by Nicolas Philibert!

Categories: Film History, Web, Directors

Christian Snderby Jepsens film

Written 09-04-2013 09:48:30 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Christian Snderby Jepsens film

... Over sådanne særprægede menneskeliv ude i det almindelige liv bygger Sønderby Jepsen i klipperummet ved optagelser han har lavet som fluen på væggen under lange samvær med den medvirkende gennem måneder og år et drama, som skildrer dette hver gang eksistentielle projekt, denne lidenskab i en kurve gennem modstand og tilbageslag hen imod en løsning, en succes, en indsigt.






Det dokumentariske still her er uden nåde ærligt, men bag det ligger i dets filmscene også medfølelsen, som Mira Jargils og Christian Sønderby Jepsens værk, deres tv-dokumentar ikke et øjeblik forlader men langsomt undersøger og folder ud over tre aftener på TV2. Det ved Anders Kristensen, manden på fotoet godt, det er han indforstået med, han lægger alle sine muligheder for sprogets præcision ind i sine replikker og livsbeskrivelser. Han ved også godt at han skal drikke med sugerør og mades med et viskestykke under hagen resten af sin tid, men det er han imidlertid ikke indforstået med, ikke endnu. Resignationen ligger og venter, men han er ikke nået til den, han vil ikke skilles. Det er hustruen imidlertid ved at være parat til. Hans flytning til plejehjemmet er nok næste gang eller næste igen ikke den midlertidige aflastning i et kort ophold, nej, det er en flytning for al tid, en adskillelse. En skilsmisse i virkeligheden.

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Ulla Boye, samlede tekster om hendes film

Written 14-03-2013 15:00:27 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Ulla Boye, samlede tekster om hendes film

Fulde af trodsalthumør behandler hendes film alvorlige sager og konstruerer verdener, hvor udveje og lyssyn overalt er til stede som konkret iagttaget realitet - og den vamle sentimentalitet og organiserede bedreviden helt ukendte størrelser...






Ulla Boye er månedens instruktør i FILMKLUB FOF i Randers. Vi skal se ”Kun med hjertet” og før den klip fra andre af hendes film. Og bagefter diskutere det hele.


Lattermilde Ulla Boye laver leende film. Også om tunge emner. Fulde af trodsalthumør behandler hendes film alvorlige sager og konstruerer verdener, hvor udveje og lyssyn overalt er til stede som konkret iagttaget realitet - og den vamle sentimentalitet og organiserede bedreviden helt ukendte størrelser.

"Ludvig og lidenskaben" fra 1999 er om en enlig mand og hans gennemorganiserede dagligdag, "To må man være" fra 2001 var en folkelig succes på tv vistnok uden lige blandt dokumentarfilm. Det er en række ti minutters film med par, som har været gift i mere end et par årtier og stadig er forelskede. Og fulde af mild latter. "Rêverie", 2002 er korte sansninger i en græsk landsby, et forelsket smil med kant af smerte og "Dage med Kathrine", 2003 er en hjerteknuser af en biografi over en kvinde, som sandelig ikke har haft det let, ikke har det let, det forstår man i hendes overdådighed af begavet og selvironisk fortællekunst, som Ulla Boye har lokket ud af hende. Ja, så det forstås gennem tårer og - ved latter. (Blogindlæg 09-01-2009) 


Portrættet er en vanskelig kunst. Den som portrætteres skal sidde længe. For han skal iagttages af maleren, som skal finde alle overensstemmelser og uoverensstemmelser. Alle ligheder med sig selv og alle forskelligheder. Fra sig selv. Så dette menneske foran ham skiller sig ud fra ham og bringes i kontakt med ham. På én gang. 

Dobbeltportrættet er endnu vanskeligere. Her går forbindelseslinjerne, disse elektriske impulser, vi benævner udstråling, nærvær, forståelse ikke alene mellem maler og modeller, men også mellem de to.

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Herz Frank - Collected Posts on his Works

Written 05-03-2013 08:53:07 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Herz Frank - Collected Posts on his Works


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



by Allan Berg Nielsen

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

Herz Frank outlines the story. The Russian occupation, then the German. The latter called a liberation by some, but disavowed by the film. It describes new suppression. The Latvian flag was removed everywhere, the picture shows the arrests being made, and the director comments in his voice-over "Like in all Times they started with Temples". The synagogues burn. The investigation concentrates on the fate of the Jews. "I am intrigued by the secret, mysterious nature of Jewry, by its Biblical origins," he writes in the catalogue. "In the course of the millennia, this was the source of energy for our forefathers. It helped the Jews to survive many catastrophes. Perhaps that is the lesson taught by the history of the Jewish people: How one survives under catastrophic conditions. Perhaps this is the fate that has haunted the Jews an ancient symbol of the destruction of mankind..."

Above an expansive landscape of Riga's ghetto with the catholic church on one side and the evangelical church on the other, the voice tells us (which I perceive to be Herz himself) that over there near the horizon above the neighbourhood is Rumbula, Riga's Babyi Yar, as he puts it.

The Christian churches confine and guard the ghetto; the elements in Herz's analysis summarise the analysis' accusations in quiet ascertainment. No reason to shout any more; just adding these local facts to what I already know is enough. And I nod to myself in the cinema's darkness, the placement of the churches, yes, the Babyi Yar massacre, yes.

The film is a description of the director's investigation. He methodically works his way toward the appalling knowledge of what happened and toward understanding the inevitable fate of the Jewish people. I follow him from witness to witness, archive document to archive document. As the film gains insight into these shocking events, so do I.

I am witnessing the director's personal project. I see him in the picture holding the camera on his shoulder. (A big one. This is before the compact DV's were introduced and laid the foundations for the video note, the cinematic outline.) He is the one looking up facts in the stacks of books in the beautiful Jewish library in Stockholm, opening the archive cartons.

On the trip through the worn streets and dilapidated buildings of the former ghetto, we enter back courtyards and outbuildings. At one spot, a surprising artefact in the middle of this story's monuments. A suitcase is brought out from an outbuilding. I see that the suitcase's owner is Adele Sara Wolff. Her name still clearly painted on the suitcase. What happened to her? This object from the past crystallizes the recollection of this overwhelming sequence of events into one tangible moment. 'Museum pieces are memories' as Danish painter Asger Jorn once said. This festival is continually teaching me that this remembrance process is existential. This film, too. Sara Wolff was one of thousands from many countries who were brought to Riga to die.

One of the witnesses in Herz Frank's investigation is novelist and physician Bernhard Press. He wrote the book Judenmord in Lettland 1941-1945 (The Murder of Jews in Latvia, 1941-1945). I meet him together with the director and his film on this guided tour through uncluttered landscapes, but at a point in time when I have become disoriented and have entrusted everything to my guide. Press talks energetically as he stands in some kind of corridor that wanders off into darkness, and I hear his story in one of the condensed sequences of this narrative dramatisation. When Press was a young man, he escaped from Riga's ghetto before the extermination, but after the Russian's occupation of Latvia, and ended up in Gulag. He worked as a doctor in a Siberian prison camp where he met a man who had been put there because he was a nazi collaborator. The man suffered from paralysis in his legs and had given up all hope. Press, however, got him going, planned a physical training program and built a special wheelchair for him. After this the man improved. Press tells that "after a month or so he started walking with a stick. When I asked him, 'Why are you imprisoned?' he answered, 'Because I shot those hooked nosed.' He meant Jews. What does a Jewish doctor do in this situation? I kept treating him. What else could I do? I couldn't violate my Hippocratic oath, so I took revenge in a childish way. When he was released from the camp as a disabled man, he went to his relatives somewhere in the East. He asked me to give him a letter for his future doctor. I wrote something on a slip of paper and sealed it in an envelope. It said, 'Your paralysis is God's punishment for your sins.' A Jew's revenge.



by Tue Steen Müller

Riga, the city where came to life so many great documentaries during Soviet times and around the fall of the empire. I was invited to teach at the Discovery Campus session that was held at the coast, 40 minutes from Riga, and did the night before a small one hour retro session where also participants from another MEDIA training programme, Esodoc, took part.

I showed, among others, a clip from Juris Podnieks masterpiece from 1991, "Homeland", and the 1978, 30 year young film that Podnieks photographed for his master Herz Frank. Very few of (their youth excuses them) the participants knew anything about this important part of world documentary history and as always all of them were enthusiastic about "Ten Minutes Older". The title of Frank's film. Podnieks died in 1992, but his studio continues in his spirit under the competent leadership of his editor, Antra Cilinska, now both director and producer.

But Herz Frank is still around and I saw his new film,"Perpetual Rehearsal", where he warm-hearted and intelligently invites the viewer into the magic world of theatre. 10 years of video diaries has been put together by Frank from his meeting with the charismatic theatre director Yevgenij Arye from the Gesher Theatre in Tel Aviv.

If Latvia still lacks directors to fully reach the quality level that had the tradition of Podnieks, Frank and Ivars Seleckis, there is much reason to praise the activities of many people around the well functioning National Film Centre and its MEDIA Desk, Lelda Ozola, the person behind the Baltic Sea Forum that now takes place every year in September in Riga.

The current most internationally active documentary name in Latvia is Uldis Cekulis. With his company, Vides Film Studio, he presented this year a handful of films of fine quality. Personally I expect most from the film about Klucis, "Deconstruction of an Artist", that has been written about earlier on this blog, see below. But Cekulis has also a wonderful follow-up to "Dream Land" in his catalogue, one more film in the tradtition of the company - man and nature - made by Maris Maskalans and Laila Pakalnina. "Three Men and a Fish Pond". The first paints with the camera, the latter puts in humour and sense of situation. A happy working marriage. (29-07-2008 post by Tue Steen Müller)



The Finnish documentary festival celebrates Broomfield and Leacock. It points in the direction of a selection policy that respects the old masters, which is furthermore stressed by the latest news from festival director Erkko Lyytinen on the dokblog of YLE. 3 strong Eastern European films by masters have been taken for screening in Helsinki January 20-25: ”Holunderblüte” by Volker Koepp, ”Perpetual Rehearsal” by Herz Frank and ”Low Level Flight” by Jan Sikl... I saw the film of Herz Frank this summer, recommended it to the Leipzig Festival that did not take it. 4 lines about this film: "... the director warm-hearted and intelligently invites the viewer into the magic world of theatre. 10 years of video diaries has been put together by Frank from his meeting with the charismatic theatre director Yevgenij Arye from the Gesher Theatre in Tel Aviv." (05-01-2009 from posts by Tue Steen Müller)


30 YEARS OLDER (Cooper's remake 2008)

Lars Gehrmann, film student at Zelig in Bolzano, has, on his blog, made the following reference from a new short film “Immersion”, produced by the New York Times, to a documentary classic:

"1978 Latvian film maker Herz Frank did a short documentary about children in a cinema. “Ten minutes older” is simple, beautiful and for sure one of the must-sees in (documentary) film history. If you don’t know it; YouTube is your friend: 10 minutes older.

30 years later NYT Photographer Robbie Cooper did his remake of the Herz Frank film. Time has passed and for todays kids gaming is more important than going to the movies or watching TV. This may be the reason why his four minute film shows kids playing video games.
But this is the only thing that changed in 30 years. Like the “original” he limits his camerawork to showing only the mimic and expressions on the kids faces. And like 30 years ago it’s simply fun to watch." (24-04-2009 post by Tue Steen Müller)



I read on that Herz Frank is going to head the jury of the upcoming Russian festival Flahertiana (October 15-22-2009). Sitting in an airport thoughts go back to the many times I have met this master of documentary, and eaten his words of wisdom - in Bornholm, in Riga, in Tel Aviv, in Leipzig, in Paris, in Amsterdam, in Stockholm. Always he was prepared to share his knowledge with colleagues and audience, many times after an illness that almost killed him. I think of the endless times that I have shown his ”Ten Minutes Older” from 1978, the film shot by Juris Podnieks, the one-shot-film of a boy watching a puppet theatre with a camera that reads the many expressions of this boy, who in his grown up life became a renowned poker player, one of those who are not supposed to express anything. Poker Face! With his intelligence Herz Frank has meant a lot for filmmakers all over, always claiming that documentaries should have a philosophical message – I have quoted him on this site several times. One of his admirers, Lithuanian Audrius Stonys joins him in the jury, among others. Bravo and thank you Herz, and please take good care of your... Heart! (11-09-2009 post by Tue Steen Müller)



Latvian Herz Frank, a master in the history of documentary, with works like "Ten Minutes Older", "There were Seven Simeons", "The Song of Songs" and "Flashback": "In front of me on my work table is the central fragment from Raphael's fresco "The School of Athens". Plato and Aristotle discuss the philosophical meaning of life. Plato is pointing upwards - the essence is the Idea! Aristotle, on the other hand, has his palm pointing down to the ground - the basis is the material! Even earlier in the Old Testament (Genesis) both views are united. In the first book of Moses the first lines states: In the beginning God created heaven and earth. Read - the spiritual and the material.

As a documentarian, I follow these principles directly. Facts have to be the basis for documentary films. And if we want to uncover the truth in them, facts have to be portrayed not only on the surface and as purely informative, but also with sensitive, spiritual eyes. Even better if one eye is dry, and the other - damp... Life has to be filmed imaginatively, and only then will we understand its deeper meaning. There is an image hiding in every detail of each fact, in each living and inanimate thing. You only have to know how to see and record them. A documentary camera is not a video-recorder in the street..." (26-05-2009 post by Tue Steen Müller)



…some stories have to go out now but actuality and little time mean less creative thinking, and less sense for the detail and for eventual other layers that can be taken out from a story. To say it in a less polite way – we can not keep on watching Israeli soldiers beating the shit out of Palestinians. Or keep on watching victims of suicide bombers. We need distance to the events, analysis, breathing, other approaches. The camera leaves often far too early a face instead of staying and wait for more from a scene, to interpret the pauses, to let a narrative breathe. Learn from Leacock and his magic moments. Learn from Herz Frank and his emotional analysis. (29-03-2011 from a post by Tue Steen Müller)



by Tue Steen Müller

We have posted texts about the master of documentary, Herz Frank, at least 6 times on this site. He is for this blogger the intellectual observer and interpretor of Life, where Richard Leacock was the instinctive reporter and interpretor. I met Herz Frank in Tel Aviv the other day. He, 85 years of age, is in a very good shape. We talked about the good days on the Bornholm festival (Balticum Film & TV Festival 1990-2000), about his living in Jerusalem close to one of his daughters (the other lives in Moscow), about the Latvians soon doing a retrospective celebration to him, about the Jerusalem Cinématheque having fine 35mm prints of 20 of his films. He showed me his book on his life and thoughts on documentary film making, it exists in a Russian version, and in a shorter German one, but not in an English version. Who could help with that, he asked. I had no spontaneous answer.

Herz Frank and Tue Steen Müller, Tel Aviv, spring 2011

Another undone matter – it would be obvious to make a dvd-box collection with his films, who could help with that?

Herz Frank understands English, speaks ok German, and is fluent in Hebrew. During our small café meeting he adressed, in Hebrew, Kearn Telias, who works for the CoPro (more about that is posted elsewhere) (Kearn took the photo of Herz Frank and me) and was immediately invited to visit Herz Frank to watch works like ”Ten Minutes Older” and ”235.000.000”, the film from 1967 made by Uldis Brauns and Herz Frank to celebrate the 50 years of USSR. The film was not celebratory enough for the Soviet leaders and was put away. And has therefore not taken the place in the hall of fame for documentaries that it deserves.

Ten minutes older (1978)

New film project? Yes? What about and how? Herz Frank will send me an exposé and trailer, what I can disclose is the name of the character he wants to make a film about/with. Larissa Trimbobler. Read this text from an article I found online, to give you an idea of the context: Yigal Amir, an ultra-nationalist Jew, shot Rabin to death after a peace rally on November 4, 1995, because he opposed the prime minister's policy of ceding West Bank land to the Palestinians. He was sentenced to life in prison. Although he is held in isolation, Amir has been permitted conjugal visits over the past year with his wife, Larissa Trimbobler, whom he married while in prison. Their son was born in 2007... (28-03-2011 post by Tue Steen Müller)



Not only young talents pitched in Riga - 85 years old Herz Frank went on stage with his exciting story about Larissa, who has married the murderer of Rabin, and have a child with him.

It was the 15th edition of the Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries that ended in Riga yesterday with the presentation of a new project by Herz Frank, ”Without Fear”, to be co-directed by the master himself and Maria Kravchenko, with Guntis Trekteris, Ego Media, as the producer. The catalogue annotation goes like this: ”In 2004 Larissa Trembovler, philosophy professor and mother of four, leaves her husband and marries Yigal Amir – the assasin of Yitzhak Rabin. Three years later she gives birth to their son.” The film is in its early production stage and will definitely receive international support when more material is watchable. (14-09-2011 from a post by Tue Steen Müller)



The exhibition space is limited but the content is excellent. The film museum in Riga, situated in the same building as the National Film Centre of Latvia, in the old town of the Latvian capital, hosts a presentation of the life and work of Herz Frank, a filmmaker so often written about on this site.

Frank himself took part in the construction of the exhibition that includes photos and texts and clips from his work, plus the possibility to see in full duration ”Ten Minutes Older” (1978) and ”Flashback” (2002), just two of the master’s documentaries. The exhibition, I was told, is running at least until this autumn. (17-05-2012 blogpost by Tue Steen Müller)


HERZ FRANK 1926 - 2013

by Tue Steen Müller

Last sunday morning I showed Ten Minutes Older to filmmakers from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Algeria and Morocco. They had not seen Herz Frank’s masterpiece from 1978 before, they loved it and lined up to make a copy so they can show it to colleagues back home.

This sunday morning I learned from friends in Riga that the old master had passed away the night before. 87 years old.

In Beirut last sunday I introduced the film mentioning Juris Podnieks as well, the cameraman of Herz for this film and the man who later became the Perestroika filmmaker, and who got a much shorter life than Herz: 1950-1992. After the screening I came up with the often used banality about the film: You are ten minutes older now, you have just watched the story of our lives. And it is what it is. The director himself has formulated it like this: For ten minutes, uninterruptedly, we were looking into the face of a little boy on the third row... And in the half-dark of the theatre hall we were watching the depths of the human soul as reflected in this tremulous face.

Herz Frank has died. One of the most important documentary directors ever has died.

Personally I had the privilege to meet Herz Frank many times in the last 20 years, and every meeting left me inspired by his charisma, the way he talked about films and his total commitment to what was his profession. Always with a camera at hand, be it to catch a moment in life or in his own film life, like the wonderful group photo on my wall, from Bornholm in 1999 with him in the middle wearing his beret.

Bornholm because of Balticum Film/TV Festival that went on 1990-2000. Herz Frank was there two or three times and slowly you discovered an oeuvre of great importance and significance. Film people in the USSR knew of course how important he was, and you had seen some of his films in Leipzig or in other Eastern European festivals. But our Western European knowledge of documentary films from the East was pretty limited before the fall of the empire.

The festival on Bornholm, not only in connection with Herz Frank, but very much with him as a central character, opened the eyes for a documentary film tradition far from mainstream rationality. And Riga was in the 60’es the place for poetic originality and innovation in documentaries.

The Film Museum in Riga had until October last year a fine, precise exhibiton named “Herz Frank Code”, to which the director himself contributed with photos and texts. The organisers wrote the following on the site of the museum:

Herz Frank is the prophet of documentary cinema – a philosopher, moralist, researcher, having explored the secrets of the joy and the tragic of being, an artist whose works allow the truth to gleam with a thrill of revelation. His films encompass the human life from the sacred moment of birth to the mystery of death and enable to look into the abyss between the good and the evil, the truth and the lie. It is really stunning how fragile the human heart is in front of the look of the camera of Herz Frank.

Before and after 1990, big difference. Herz Frank and others had been employed at the Riga Film Studios during Soviet times, but after Latvia got its independence he had to find his way to funding through production companies. Where all his previous films had been shot on 35mm films, with skilled camera operators, he started to shoot on his own with small video cameras. In 1993 he went to live in Israel, made a couple of films there, gave his films prints to the Jerusalem Cinematheque, had some retrospectives but was never really recognised as he was in his home country Latvia.

Herz Frank’s filmography is full of great titles. Let me mention the 1967 film 235.000.000, a film he wrote, the director was Uldis Brauns, for the 50 year celebration of the 1917 revolution, a beautiful modern “nouvelle vague” cinematic work, totally non-propagandistic, and probably therefore put on the shelf by the authorities before it got its rightful circulation. And the 1989 Once there Were Seven Simeons about the jazz family, which hijacked a plane to escape the USSR.

"Flashback", however, from 2002, stands out as a superb autobiographical documentary, essaystic, reflective, touching. Herz Frank had with Guntis Trekteris met a producer, who found the necessary funding for the big film to which, let’s be proud of that, also the Danish Film Institute gave a bit of money, when my filmkommentaren colleague Allan Berg was film consultant there. Herz Frank writes about the film:

This is a confession in film. I have dedicated it to all the cameramen whom I had the honor of working with, and whose one eye was dry and the other one - in tears. Every single shot out of 400 shots this film consists of is a true document. Altogether, they form an imaginative weave of a dramatic plot, unique philosophy, personal world perception, and certainly, visual culture. All the rest - words, music, noises, silence, all having their own voice - have grown together with the images dwelling in this film… A person's inner life, personality, and the eternal problems - love, birth, death, and destiny - are what have always attracted me as a documentary filmmaker... And I have always doubted if we, documentary filmmakers, have the right to expose other people's life? I was doubtful, still I went on filming.

The original idea behind the film was to go and find the boy from 10 Minutes Older, and Herz did so, but the film took another road as his wife passed away and he himself had a herz operation performed, which by the way is filmed close up! He turned the camera to himself.

In 2012 Herz taught at the Zelig documentary film school, and in March he re-pitched his newest film project that he worked on for years and told me about, when we met in Tel Aviv in March 2011. In September same year he presented the film in Riga, here is the catalogue text: ”In 2004 Larissa Trembovler, philosophy professor and mother of four, leaves her husband and marries Yigal Amir – the assasin of Yitzhak Rabin. Three years later she gives birth to their son.” Lot of footage has been filmed and when I talked to Guntis Trekteris this morning, he said that the film definitely will be finished by co-director Maria Kravchenko and himself.

Link to:

Link to:



by Tue Steen Müller

Many words today to honour Herz Frank. Russian director Vitaly Manski put it like this: "Years will go by, and only 2-3 documentary film-makers will be remembered from each century." But even today it is clear – Herz Frank is on that list for the 20th century!

Mansky did so on the site of the Russian – yes, long name - Documentary Film and Television Guild (that) is the only professional organization in Russia that unites filmmakers and television workers specializing in documentary and popular science films, documentary TV programs and coverage.

Georgy Molodtsov from the Guild asked filmkommentaren to point at the unfinished documentary of Herz Frank, being co-directed by Maria Kravchenko, entitled “Edge of Fear”. The Guild has put wonderful photos of Herz Frank made during the shooting of this film, take a look, link below. This is what the film is about, from a pitch catalogue: ”In 2004 Larissa Trembovler, philosophy professor and mother of four, leaves her husband and marries Yigal Amir – the assasin of Yitzhak Rabin. Three years later she gives birth to their son.”

... and this is a quote from the site of the Documentary Guild texted by Molodtsov and co-director Maria Kravchenko: «Edge of Fear» is a story told by the author, intertwined with unique archival footage, news reports and real life observations that were filmed over the course of ten years. The film is based on intimate dialogs and observations of the most important aspect of life – the relationship between a man and a woman. The viewer is connected with the characters of the films through the Narrator (Herz Frank himself), who becomes one of the characters in the film. He is present at all of the most important parts of the film shoots, comments on the events and discusses them not only with the viewer but with the director. Together they attempt to find the essence of this illogical and devoid of reason story...

Herz began work on this epic documentary drama over 10 years ago. Three years ago he was joined by Maria Kravchenko, who became co-director on the project. The film is currently at the shooting stage. For many years Herz looked for financial support to finish shooting and complete the film, personally attending international pitchings and forums to gain interest for the project among international producers, even though he was already in poor health. At the moment Latvian Film Center is in the project after Guntis Trekteris has joined the project (he also produced Herz Frank "Flashback").

Maria Kravchenko, director:

«Herz worked on this film up until the last days of his life. His one phrase, one shot were able to embrace the universe in one swift move. Herz Frank is the universe's great painter. When you see the material he's shot – it's simple, without any particular beauty or gimmicks – but there is so much life in it, such a concentration of feeling and thought, that you end up wondering – how did he do that?! During one of our last meetings Herz said to me – «You know what this film is really about? It's about Life being unpredictable!». This is what attracted Herz to documentary film – lack of predictability, a desire to touch this enernal mystery of the existence of man, beginning with the creation of the world. He never ceased to wonder at life, like a child who runs out on a sunlit porch and sees his own, new and immense world for the first time. That is how I knew him to be – the Man, the Artist, the Teacher, the Colleague – Herz Frank. May God rest his soul. I will continue working on the film he wanted to make. I promised him that we would finish our film. Definitely. And I hope, that, finally, there would be brave people, who could help us finish this film, which was started by Herz”.

So. film and tv people with access to funding, support/pre-buy/buy this film. Why hesitate? Generosity, please. Photo: Maria Kravchenko, co-director with Herz Frank during the shooting of "Edge of Fear".

Link to:


PLAQUE (2014)

I like this tradition so much – the plaques that are put on the walls of the houses, where great artists have been living and working. To honour them and remember. They do so a lot in the Baltic countries and it is only just that a plaque of Herz Frank was unveiled some days ago in Riga at Lacplesa Street 29. In the presence of his two daughters and friends.

Guntis Trekteris, who produced ”Flashback” and is now finishing ”Edge of Fear” together with Frank’s co-director, sent me the photo. If you can not read the text, which is in Latvian and English, it goes like this:

”Prominent Latvian documentary film maker HERZ FRANK 1926-2013 lived and worked here from 1960 to 1993”. (30-06-2014 blogpost by Tue Steen Müller)



I am in Riga – again – to take part in a “Baltic Sea Region Documentary Film Research Seminar” arranged by LAC Riga Film Museum. It starts today and my job is to give a brief introduction to the Danish documentary fllm history. More about that in the coming days.

Last night I met with producer Guntis Trekteris to catch up on the theme: When is the premiere of ”Beyond The Fear”, the last film of Herz Frank, made in collaboration with Maria Kravchenko, who finished the work after the death of Frank.

Trekteris told me that idfa had rejected the film so the premiere will be in Riga as the opening film of the new Riga International Film Festival on the 2nd of December. The festival runs until the 12th of December and includes the European Film Academy Awards Ceremony. Also the film will be the opening film of the ArtDocFest in Moscow (December 9), run by renowned director Vitaly Mansky. It was Mansky, who said the following about Herz Frank: "Years will go by, and only 2-3 documentary film-makers will be remembered from each century." But even today it is clear – Herz Frank is on that list for the 20th century!”

… and the photo is me in front of the beautiful plaque of Herz Frank in Lacplesa Street 29, Riga. Photo taken by Lelda Ozola early September when we still had "indian summer"! (TSM, posted 17-10-2014)



Sundance Documentary Film Program director Tabitha Jackson talked at the DOC NYC, the documentary film festival that runs in new York right now, until the 20th of November. Jackson who used to work at Channel 4 in London, and was one of those commissioning editors that I always loved to have at a panel in EDN workshops, because she was able to formulate constructive criticism and not just say ”yes” or ”no”, presented the profile and policy of the Sundance Documentary Film Program saying that “The lingua franca of non-fiction filmmaking should be the language of cinema and not the language of grant applications.”

There is a fine report on Jackson’s keynote speech at the festival in the “Filmmaker” – what I loved to read – a quote – was this:

… she found a rallying cry for sensitive and artistically compelling documentary practice in the work and words of Latvian filmmaker Herz Frank, whose ”10 Minutes Older”, an excerpt of which she screened, contained for Jackson “every emotion you might experience in an entire lifetime” in the single shot of a child watching a puppet show.

She quoted from Frank’s writings: “The first rule of the documentary filmmaker is, have the patience to observe life. If you are observant, if you look not only with your eyes but also with your heart, then life for sure will present you with some particular discovery. And then the reality recorded by you will gain an artistic point of view, become inline with art and always excite people. The facts and events will become old — they become history — but the feelings we felt regarding those events stay with us. Therefore, art is the only living bridge between people of various generations and time periods.” (TSM posted 18-11-2014)



By Tue Steen Müller

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

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

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

As a documentarian, I follow these principles directly. Facts have to be the basis for documentary films. And if we want to uncover the truth in them, facts have to be portrayed not only on the surface and as purely informative, but also through sensitive, spiritual eyes. Even better if one eye is dry, and the other - damp... Life has to be filmed imaginatively, and only then will we understand its deeper meaning. There is an image hiding in every detail of each fact, in each living and inanimate thing. You only have to know how to see and record them. A documentary camera is not a video-recorder in the street...

The deeper meaning... is what Herz Frank was seeking in his entire oeuvre. With a constant doubt in his search. Like for this film project that became his last film, made together with Maria Kravchenko, who finished their work in a brilliant way as co-director and editor. Half way through the film Herz Frank formulates the following linked to the film, the two are makingand to the work of a documentarian:

Was it necessary to intrude with the camera into the complexity of life? Will our inclinations result in something heartbreaking, moving and artistic? But it is beyond me to give it up! Do you get me? To give it up mean to say that I am not alive anymore...

A short prologue IN the film: You hear the voice of Maria Kravchenko to an image of Herz Frank telling us the audience that Herz started shooting this film about ten years ago; and that she joined him later to finish the film after his death. Cut to three persons on their way to a prison, a grown up Larisa and two children. Cut to archive material of November 1995, Rabin was shot. Cut to the murderer, Yigal Amir. Cut to a phone conversation between a small boy Yinon and his father Yigal. This opening of a film should be obligatory to watch for all documentary professionals.

These five minutes before the title “Beyond the Fear” appears on the screen, presents the story lines that are followed. Here is the synopsis, cited from a press release I received from the producer Guntis Trekteris, EgoMedia Riga :

Decisions made by the protagonists of the film change their life irreversibly. Yigal Amir at the age of 26 assassins the Israeli Prime Minister. He is sentenced to life imprisonment and becomes the most hated criminal of the state. Larisa, an émigré from Russia, a mother of four, divorces her husband to marry the assassin and give birth to his son. In the course of many years the authors of the film are trying to understand this complicated story until one of them – Herz Frank – does not live to see his film finished, remaining on the threshold of the eternal secret of life, death and love…

It's a precise text that avoids any tabloid approach or sensational sales talk but conveys that the ambition of this dramatic, psychological film essay is to get closer “to understand”. Contrary to how the media in Israel covered the story (a crazy woman, a fanatic murderer, the fall of a nation, a marriage, a child is born...) this is presented as the eternal fight between Good and Evil, the subtitle of Herz Frank's film from 1978, “Ten Minutes Older”.

Which is about children watching a puppet show with all their innocence readable in their faces. “Beyond the Fear” cleverly also takes us down that alley. Slowly the focus is put on the small child of Larisa and Yagil. What will his future be, the son of a murderer, who sits for life. The mother Larisa expresses her worry about having drawn her children into moments, where they are cursed in daily situations and knows that Yinon one day will experience that his father is in prison because... where she in the beginning told him that his father was away for work. Yinon learns why. The dramaturgical stroke of genius, actually what binds the film, the red thread in a way, that gives the emotional impact that Herz Frank wanted, is the phone calls between Yinon and his father- They have to be short, according to prison rules, but Yagil tells Yinon stories from the Bible – about Good and Evil and what God can do and has done. And Yinon asks questions as children do it. As the film grows he is taking more and more space. “Heartbreaking and moving” to think about his future.

That was two of the Herz words, the third is “artistic”. Yes, this film has a high artistic quality, even if (as Allan Berg noted the first time we saw it together) you lack the voice off commentary of Herz Frank, this quiet voice of reflection on “la condition humaine”. I could also have done without the predictable vox-pop reporting from the streets, where most people condemn Yagil and Larisa in short rude bites of aggression. On the other side Kravchenko has fully succeeded to give the film space for beautiful wordless sequences and a montage that is superb. I want to re-use the phrase “stroke of genius” to describe how the visual information of the death of Herz is connected to Yinon's trying to understand what death is.

Do we get to a deeper understanding of the relationship between Larisa and Yagil? No, we get to know them, to have sympathy for them and their constant being in the media, but first of all we get to know that Life is a mystery, never to be solved but to be lived and experienced and interpreted by great artists.

A short epilogue: The film had its national premieres in Riga in December 2014 at the new Riga International Film Festival and in Moscow at the prestigious Russian documentary film festival, “Artdocfest”, famous for its free spirit and open turning against the official state policy.

According to the producer Guntis Trekteris “it is a huge success in Russia, where we got two main professional awards - Laureal Breach (the National Prize for documentary and TV films, ed.) and Russian Film Critics guild prize for the best documentary.” And now Canada and consequently many other festivals, I guess.

Herz Frank & Maria Kravchenko: ”Beyond the Fear”, Latvia, Russia, Israel, 2014, 80 mins. (Posted 24-04-2015)



To receive an award at a festival that carries the name of Andrey Tarkovsky… Ego Media’s Guntis Trekteris proudly announces that: “ ’Beyond The Fear’ by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko (photo of the two) got Documentary Grand Prix in Andrey Tarkovsky International Film Festival "Zerkalo" (Mirror). Congratulations to director Maria Kravchenko, our co-producer Vitaly Mansky and the team!”

And to Trekteris himself, indeed, I can add. The synopsis of the film: Decisions made by the protagonists of the film change their life irreversibly. Yigal Amir at the age of 26 assassins the Israeli Prime Minister. He is sentenced to life imprisonment and becomes the most hated criminal of the state. Larisa, an émigré from Russia, a mother of four, divorces her husband to marry the assassin and give birth to his son. In the course of many years the authors of the film are trying to understand this complicated story until one of them – Herz Frank – does not live to see his film finished, remaining on the threshold of the eternal secret of life, death and love… (TSM, posted 15-06-2015)



By Tue Steen Müller


Years ago, when in Israel as a tutor for the documentary CoPro event organised by Orna Yarmut, I visited the Jerusalem Cinematheque. I was there with Herz Frank, whose favourite cinema of his home town it was. Herz was proud that 35mm prints of his films were in the prestigious collection. We met the charismatic founder and leader of the Cinematheque Lia van Leer, who died 90 years old this year, always praised as a true supporter of the art of film. She talked warmly about Herz Frank and his films.

Her name has come up in connection with the controversy around the film of Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko, ”Beyond the Fear”, that has been selected for the upcoming Jerusalem Film Festival, July 9-19. According to i24News (link below) the Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev has threatened to withdraw funding for the festival if the film is screened at the festival, making film critic Gidi Orsher write on his FB page: "Had Lia van Leer still been with us, she'd tell Regev where to go…” and many have suggested that filmmakers with films at the festival withdraw their films.

The festival has taken the film out of the festival programme to make it be screened the day before, July 8, according to the website of the festival it is still in the documentary competition! So it seems that it will be screened even if the Minister “calls on the public to stay away from watching the film even when it's screened outside of the festival…” And, yes, Shimon Peres, has called upon a stop of the screening! Both Peres and Minister Regev have not seen the film, you understand by their comments that the film should be glorifying Yigal Amir, the man who killed Rabin. In all existing reviews of the film seen at international festival and on this site it is stressed that the film is a complex interpretation of a love relationship between mother (Larisa, photo), father and son.

The controversy about the film has been covered internationally by several media, see links below, like Variety: “…In response to her remarks, several hundred artists and filmmakers held an emergency meeting to discuss the threat of censorship and signed a petition that declared, “We hope with all our hearts that Israel will not deteriorate into a country where artists who express their views are blacklisted.”

Much more explicit in tone are opinions by columnists in the newspaper Haaretz like Carolina Landsmann, who has this headline for her article: “Censoring of documentary on Rabin's murderer shows entire nation lost its marbles”, not to mention an article by Gideon Levy (Headline: Fascism is Bubbling in Israel, and that’s good News… The right-wing is attacking because it is afraid, and it is afraid because it is unsure if it’s right…)

Here is a small quote from his interesting analysis: “How is it that an obscure play put on by an obscure theater in an obscure language, which few people have seen or will see, has raised a storm that refuses to abate? Or that one word in the speech of an aging theater director became a national scandal? Or a documentary that nobody has seen, set to be screened at a film festival, also became a scandal? How is it that artists – most of whom have no impact whatsoever – were the target of such frenzied attacks? Behind all this is the feeling of inferiority complexes and, mainly, insecurities about the rightness of their path. The purpose of turning each and every incident into a scandal is to divert attention from the real problems and incite the masses. Under the surface, however, are explanations from the realm of psychology.”

Also writer Amos Oz has contributed – headline “Why are Israelis so afraid of a culture War – stating that the film that many have opinions about without having seen it could be one that is trying to go deep behind the sensations, maybe with “an Shakespearean approach”? Herz Frank would have loved that!

Sooo… in a country where a government seems to favour cultural censorship, it still stands as a fact that “Beyond the Fear” will be shown July 8 in a cinema in Jerusalem and still in the competition of the Jerusalem Film Festival. And according to the Latvian producer Guntis Trekteris, who has fed me with links, thank you, with the face of the boy blurred. A right decision. (Post 28-06-2015),7340,L-4669125,00.html

A comment to the post: Peå Holmquist wrote 29-06-2015 09:42:40: ”There is a war in Israel in the cultural sector - The new minister of culture is very conservative and has threatened to close down several theatres Where Jews and Palestinians Are Working together.”


Still waiting for Israeli film critics having watched and evaluated the film by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko – that is to be screened in Jerusalem July 8, the day before the Jerusalem Film Festival officially starts but still as part of the documentary competition – here is a clip from a competent review from Hollywood Reporter, read the whole, link below:

“…the filmmakers are less concerned with political context than with Tremblover, an Orthodox Jew and Russian émigré to Israel who fell in love with Amir, fought for years to marry him in prison, and is now mother to his young son. Though muddled and elusive at times, ’Beyond the Fear’ is an absorbing meditation on the emotional and psychological aftershocks of violent political events. With Mideast tensions constantly in the news, further festival play seems guaranteed, possibly leading to niche distribution and small-screen interest…” (Posted 02-07-2015)


The film by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko was shown on the 8th of July, the day before the official opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival, whose leaders felt they had to play according to the rules of the Israeli Minister of Culture, who had told them that the funding for the festival would not happen if the film was shown as part of the festival. The Times of Israel (link below) put it like this: (The film was shown) in the small auditorium of Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim center. The screenings were held at the nearby arts center to avoid unnecessary publicity and to abide by the agreement with Regev to keep the film separate from the partially state-funded Cinematheque. There were no protesters in sight… Both screenings were sold out.

I have been in contact with Guntis Trekteris, main producer of the film, who was there with Maria Kravchenko and Israeli co-producer Sagy Tsirkin (photo Trekteris to the left). Trekteris reported that he publicly thanked the Minister of Culture for making this the third time the film opened a festival (the others were in Riga and Moscow) – the film is, even if not shown at the festival venue, the Cinematheque, still part of the official documentary competition!

Trekteris: Yesterday was an alternative (outdoor) screening in the Jerusalem Park opposite to the Old city Park organized by Israeli filmmakers during the official opening of the festival. Very special atmosphere. Many said to us that its a very important film for Israel… Chapeau for the Israeli filmmakers, who made this act of solidarity! (Posted 11-07-2015)


Finally an Israeli competent, reflective review of the film by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko, written by Nirit Anderman in ”Haaretz” yesterday July 12th. The introduction goes like this:

“If you hoped to find out why a married mother of four fell in love with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, the film 'Beyond the Fear' will not leave you any wiser. But the controversial documentary about Amir, his wife and son, has other lessons…”

The extensive review (read it all) has this paragraph that for me is spot on: “The important thing that this film does manage to do, however, and the reason the title the filmmakers chose is successful is this: It reflects and emphasizes the extent to which the public’s attitude toward Amir and Trimbobler is colored by a prism of hatred and fear, and the extent to which this prism has made the discussion shallow. Nearly 20 years after the despicable murder Amir committed, the film helps viewers see how the newspaper headlines relate to him and his wife in demonic terms and how politicians and citizens propose denying them basic rights. This is also what was done in recent weeks by Miri Regev, opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog and former president Shimon Peres, who wanted to shelve the film and thereby preserve the demonic image of Amir and Trimbobler instead of grappling with the fact that they are flesh and blood people who also have softer and gentler sides…” (Posted 13-07-2015)


One more addition to the slate of posts on the premiere of ”Beyond the Fear” by Herz Frank and Maria Kravchenko, again from the Haaretz and again by Nirit Anderman, who wrote a competent review of the film.

This time Anderman launches the story that world famous director Herz Frank was a legend in the documentary community, ”but not in Israel”, where he lived from 1993. Anderman outlines his film carreer in broad terms (should however have mentioned the for many forgotten masterpiece ”235.000.000” that he made with Uldis Brauns) and declares that ”Beyond the Fear” is ”a natural continuation of his former work”, that is described like this “a curiosity to understand the human soul in a non-judgemental way, a readiness to expose himself to an audience and a strict maintenance of the visual language and quality filmmaking were always the cornerstones of Herz Frank’s movies.”

The article of course refers to the debate about the film in Israel and there is a critique expressed, that “the film’s producers kept their movie close to their chests in recent weeks, not showing it to anyone, refusing to let us see it in preparation for this story. The inevitable result was that the endless discussions around it often missed the truth…”

And it has some clever words from influential director Nurit Kedar, who was part of the team that recommended adding the movie to the Jerusalem Film Festival’s competition. “Frank accompanied her (Larissa, who married Amir, ed.) for a long period, perhaps six or seven years, trying to establish why she fell in love with him, how it happened. I didn’t feel any sympathy towards Amir while watching the film. All his images are known from media stories, and the only new thing is his voice during the conversations with his son.” (Posted 22-07-2015)



By Tue Steen Müller

During the many years that I have followed Latvian documentary cinema, the name Uldis Brauns has always been like a magic enigma. Who is he, where is he, what is he doing? The master, that is how he is characterised by many, including his late close colleague Herz Frank. The man who directed ”235.000.000” (1967), a work that far too few know about, that story comes later. I did not see him at the Riga symposia organised by another big name Ivars Seleckis et co. and when I asked around, I was told that he lives in the countryside and is not involved any longer. A loner, he was said to be.

Finally I had my curiosity saturated. Sunday after the Baltic Sea Docs Uldis Cekulis, Arvids Celmalis, Kristine Briede and I drove to his place ”Upeskalni” near the nice town Kuldiga (often pronounced Cool Diga!) in the Kurzeme district of Latvia. 90 minutes from Riga you turn down a dirt road and drive twenty minutes to reach a house standing alone (2,5 kilometer to nearest neighbour) in what you can only describe as a paradisiacal garden with tall trees, chickens and geese walking and running around, a greenhouse for tomatoes, rows of vegetables and a river down at the bottom of all the green. Silence! Not to forget an old chevrolet and a tractor, and a cottage where Uldis Brauns took us for a traditional Latvian welcome – homemade beer.

From the first moment Uldis Brauns proved to be a storyteller, first when passing trees that had been planted in memory of his and his wife Dainuvite’s parents. We communicated with translation help of Kristine Briede, who has been visiting Brauns many times and has his confidence. We talked about ”235.000.000”, and I got the story about the film (working title USSR 1966) that was first rejected on a project basis, when Brauns and his colleagues turned up in Moscow with a very precise budget, but on the way out from the meeting, they were called back and had an ”ok, go ahead”. Which they did to make the film that was shown in Leipzig. With consequences. Brauns was called to Moscow and was told that he should cut from the moment where the GDR high representatives left the cinema (!), no further explanation, plus some other moments including a scene from the official welcoming of de Gaulle to Moscow. Brauns was not in Leipzig, he did not know that the film would be shown there! The film exists in three versions, 70 minutes, 110 minutes and 140 minutes. The latter, the director’s cut, lies on the floor in the Riga flat of the director and needs to be restored – on the way back our small group decided to address the National Film Centre of Latvia to ask for help to have this happen.

Brauns and his wife hosted us wonderfully, we saw a painting he had made, ”Boy with Red Balloon”, a fine work, that made us talk about Albert Lamorisse’s film from 1956 and he had great anecdotes about his meeting with Jacques Demy and Agnès Varda on an international festival.

(Before the visit I had seen a dvd ”Comeback” issued by Society European Documentary Symposium with 5 of Brauns many short films, including the beautiful ”White Bell” that he shot, Herz Frank script wrote and Ivars Kraulitis directed. One of the films, directed and shot by Brauns, is ”Summer” that is made in Kuldiga. We did not have time to talk about them).

Photo: The last couple of hours of the visit took place in the sleeping room in the house. From left you see Uldis Brauns’ wife Dainuvite, Kristine Briede, Müller with number 10, that´s me, Uldis Brauns and Arvids Celmalis doing sound and the dog Voucher being carressed.

We were looking at sequences of ”235.000.000” – with big difficulties because of dvd machine treating the dvd in a strange way – sabotage, Brauns said – but we had no problem in seeing how magnificent the film is. And how actual it is: many scenes deal with ”departure” and ”love” and ”waiting” for the soldier to come home. The camera work is the whole way through amazing, Brauns told us how he had prepared the camera people in beforehand in a film that have now words and when you see it today, is an homage to Life and to the joyful co-existence of people from the many republics of USSR. The reason for putting aside the film can only be found in the advanced poetic storytelling and the focus on ordinary people and their lives in grief and happiness.

Uldis Brauns, a man of 81, walking with a stick, slow but fresh in mind and generous and mild. He has been living in the house in the countryside since 1971, nature surroundings shape people… (TSM, post 09-09-2014)

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Michael Madsen, Collected Posts on his Works

Written 22-02-2013 14:34:40 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Michael Madsen, Collected Posts on his Works

… Filmen er i stilfærdig blidhed ved sin skildring af himmelnattens poetiske sammenhæng en nænsom trøst. Det skal blive værre i de følgende film, rejsen fortsætter, metoden ligger fast: Opsøge og skildre stedet, spørge de kloge, være nysgerrig, fordomsfri naiv, høfligt insisterende...



Af Tue Steen Müller og Allan Berg Nielsen 

Michael Madsen er månedens instruktør i Filmklub FOF i Randers på onsdag 27. februar 2010 hvor vi skal se hans FILM og diskutere dem. Han har længe rejst fra festival til festival med en smuk og klog film, Into Eternity, 2009. Før den havde han færdiggjort Celestial Night og To Damascus, som nok begge kan ses som skridt på vejen og senest har han lavet Middelfart / Gennemsnit. Fire kloge og smukke og sande film efter hinanden. Det ligner en vedholdende tanke, et fortsat arbejde, et stort personligt værk i udvikling:



Himmelnattens kejser er den danske titel, ”en film om synlighed” hedder det i undertitlen. Og for en gangs skyld er undertitlen ikke irriterende og omklamrende. Den er på plads af to grunde. Den er regulært begyndelsen på filmen, udgør det allerførste udsagn, og den er smuk. Som filmen er smuk. Som Otto Norns titel på en meget ældre, tilsyneladende ganske anden, men på afgørende måder tilsvarende æstetisk-historisk undersøgelse At se det usynlige er smuk, som hele hans kloge bog er smuk. Michael Madsens film er tilsvarende klog. Det er frydefuldt, der er langt mellem kloge film.

Celestial Night begynder Madsen altså med at overveje synet og synligheden. Læser om en japansk kejser, som var blind. Hvad vil du gøre, nu du er blind, havde hans far, den gamle kejser spurgt, da tiden nærmede sig. Leve blandt de blinde, svarer sønnen. Og faderen ansatte otte hundrede nye embedsmænd, alle blinde. På den måde skete det, at Japan blev regeret ved blindes indsigt gennem en meget lang periode. For det gik godt, må vi tro.

Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Audrius Stonys, Collected Posts on his Works

Written 19-02-2013 14:45:56 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Audrius Stonys, Collected Posts on his Works

Myterne, legenderne, ritualerne, det er omkring det, jeg ser Stonys hele oeuvre dreje sig: det irrationelle, det uforklarlige, det spirituelle, det som ikke kan og ikke skal forklares. I utallige sammenhænge har jeg som ordstyrer ved filmforevisninger forsøgt at få ham til at forklare. Men altid stritter han imod de hurtige fortolkninger og konklusioner, hvor ord efter hans mening banaliserer den visuelle oplevelse og følelse, han ønsker at give sin tilskuer. Og hvorfor lige det klip og den overgang. Kunne det være fordi... måske, siger han, det er op til dig... (TSM)



Audrius Stonys made a lecture this morning. I have heard him doing so many times and have written several praising sentences on – about this filmmaker who is for sure to be considered as a national poet in his own country, and from a world perspective as an excellent representative of a different documentary cinema.

The biggest censors are inside yourself, Stonys said, who grew up in a country occupied by the big empire and who did not really see films in general geting better after the independence. He said so after another pleasant view of the 1978 Herz Frank film ”10 Minutes Older”. I truly believe that film is a conversation between equal partners, Stonys continued, the audience takes part in the creative process, this meeting is the most important part of the filmmaking.

I don’t believe in films without mistakes, he said and went on to show a clip from his own ”Flying over Blue Fields”, where a sport aeroplane lands on a field, a man gets out, parks the plane and goes inside while the camera observes chicken and bushes accompanied by music. No words, I don’t trust them, Stonys said, and showed another clip, from his early work, ”Earth of the Blind”, that has no words at all. I want to catch the impossible, he could also have said the invisible and the emotions in a face, like he demonstrated in the film from 2000, ”Alone”, a film in many layers: a girl that visits her mother who is in prison, a film crew that is (the director’s words) ”using” her, and an atmosphere of melancholy, a feeling that is present in most of Stonys films. He did not show films from recent years, he could have done so, and demonstrate that he can also cope with words as he did in ”The Bell”. (Post 25-06-2009 11:42:45 by Tue Steen Müller)



This Stonys film was made using the prize he received in 1992, the Felix Prize, for the best short film in Europe, Neregiu Zeme (World of the Blind). It was shown in Gudhjem that same year. In 1995, he returned with the result, a film about our longing to overcome what keep us on the ground.

For a long time, Stonys had wanted famous Lithuanian cinematographer Jonas Gricius to photograph a film for him. He finally succeeded. And what wonderful pictures! We are moved into the beautiful old tradition of large black-and-white 35 mm film sequences where every shot is considered down to the last detail. Stonys subsequently pursues this artistic deliberateness by putting every single scene into a perfectly harmonious context, whose authenticity I thoroughly accept. A soundless work. I have rarely experienced a film that leaves me so utterly incapable of objecting, of imagining other solutions. This film is definitively finished.

But what's it really about? Like his previous films, Stonys portrays empathy. At the 1991 festival, he brought his film from 1989 called Atverti duris ateinanciam (Open the Door to Him Who Comes). Like Neregiu Zeme, it is photographed in the same dignified and old-fashioned manner, 35 mm film, black and white, features shared by subsequent films. With Harbour from the 1998 festival, he finally brings colour into his meditation on body and water. The film's setting is public baths. Its plot is purification. It also describes a pastor in a remote parish who is visited by people, from large cities too, because of the peace of mind and answers the big questions he gives them. The other film portrayed people without sight in a world of sounds and dim contours, and changing degrees of light and darkness. Reflecting, almost wordless, states of mind. Dreaming, they yearn for existential relics. Dismal tones, will the project succeed?

Stonys' manuscript for the gravitation film demanded that the crew had to shoot sequences for at least a year, because as a matter of course the scenes jump from snow-covered landscapes to sweltering village streets in spring, from spring floods to a sleigh in crunchy frost. And the young director pulled the fine old cinematographer, who here made his first documentary, up to heights, on roof scaffolding, on high railway bridges and at the very pinnacle of church towers. Because the pictures must show us how the world looks from these man-made structures reaching to the heavens. The film's heroine is an old woman who forces her way up the longest ladder I have ever seen to the tip of the spire on the village church. At the very top she gazes out on summer landscapes. The next clip shows us, very correctly, the scene from her angle, but now it is in the bitter cold of winter. She climbs up there all year round. We don't know why, she does it out of necessity. (Allan Berg Nielsen in Tue Steen Müller, ed.: Balticum Film & TV Festival 1990-99, Baltic Media Centre, 1999)


ALONE (2001)

A girl visits her mother in prison. That’s the story. The whole story. The girl sits on a bed in a room at her grandparents’ house. She says nothing.s nothing. She is in a car, her grandfather drives. She says nothing. They take a break and have a bite to eat at a highway café. She says nothing. She enters the prison and sits with her mother. No words.

Nothing really happens. You don’t get any explanations – what I have just told you is my interpretation. They must be her mother and her grandparents. Three generations gathered around an event, which we don’t know anything about. Why is the mother in prison? We are not told. It is not important.

The girl is important. The pace of the film is slow and insisting. The filmmaker wants you to look at the girl, to see her. A beautiful face, a dreamy look, yet sad maybe. What is she thinking of? What are her feelings? Is she scared? Of what? Maybe of taking part in a film and being shuffled around by the filmmakers, who are busy placing the camera in the car! ‘This is a film, we set the whole thing up, we want you to be aware of this fact,’ is what the filmmaker tells us. When the cameraman with his Arriflex appears in the picture, it creates a meta-level and a certain distance. The face of the child is not the face of a specific child, it is the face of a child. Music by Händel and Purcell accompanies this image. With a magnificently strong metaphor at the end of the film – the Tree of Life.

After a handful of short documentaries, Lithuanian filmmaker Audrius Stonys has, as (too few) festival connoisseurs know, positioned himself as a true poetic documentarist. With films like World of the Blind, Antigravitation, Harbour, Flying over Blue Fields and now Alone, he has left his unique signature on the short documentary genre. Though he has a much more romantic approach to reality and a more distinct narrative style, Stonys is the most obvious follower to the Armenian master Arvand Pelichian and his enigmatic film language demonstrated in Seasons. Stonys believes in the strength of the picture and prefers to avoid dialogue if possible. He knows how powerful and manipulative film can be. This is why he introduces the filmmaking aspect in this new film. He wants us to look at the face of the child. At innocence. That is what I read into this beautiful visual poem.

(Tue Steen Müller in Modern Times 2017)


UKU UKAI (2006)

The film starts in deathly silence. Make-up is carefully being applied to a woman’s face by another woman. Death in disguise? Is this about death? Are we death in disguise? All of us? Or does the first scene of the film also infuse our thoughts with the idea of closeness and distance? The closeness of the old woman, the distance of the young. To death. And their distance to each other. And then, at the end of this chain of thought, the alarming realisation: their closeness to each other. The long scene finally ends.

Death is a condition and a moment. Of silence. Life is a long-distance race. Surrounded by good advice and soft, noisy punchlines, “… just sit back and close your eyes / take a deep breath… / … breathe in and out / again, breathe in deeply …/ …and breathe out / listen to the sounds around you / accept them / become one with the environment,“ – he is running against time, for his life. In every respect, someone quite unlike the woman being made up. But his scene follows close on the heels of hers. Because they basically think alike, they are both struggling for life, pleasure, beauty. Audrius Stonys wants his films to gather lonely people who think alike into groups. This is his method of making films. And he has used it to make this one. The long-distance runner runs into the picture, through it and throughout the film. Against time.

Sleep is the living sister of death. Just before the woman in the third scene falls asleep (and also at that moment), her thoughts resemble the runner’s in the second. She surrenders to sleep as day to night, life to death. Confident of reawakening. Later on, awake again, she is jogging barefoot on her living-room carpet. The scene emphasises tactility, repetition, reality. In another scene, she is standing in front of the mirror, carefully applying night cream to her face. Revitalising it after removing her make-up. Working against time.

The film is indeed difficult, and we observe its relentless quest: to pursue the themes throughout the filmmaking. Like all auteurs, Stonys apparently works from film to film as if crafting a single work. In his lyrical, documentary meditations, the familiar motifs recur. His perception of time, of beauty and – starting with the etude Alone – he tests his art’s ability to endure in genres and idioms. To keep it from dying an early death, like nostalgia or aestheticism. Moralism or entertainment. Mainstreaming or consumerism. Which is why it requires such an effort for us to watch it. As Tarkovskij recalls what Goethe wrote, ”Reading a book is just as difficult as writing it!”. In other words, much remains to be done before we can truly claim to have watched Stonys’ film.

This is also the film’s major dilemma: it is so self-absorbed, we’re denied its reward; we become so accustomed to the way it jars our sensibilities that we all too easily abandon it instead of being taken in by it. Because we are not seduced, as in Earth of the Blind, by the beauty of Rimvydas Leipus’s magical black-and-white tapestry. Nor, as in Antigravitation, by the tension created by Jonas Gricius’s camerawork, drawing on an illustrious tradition (for which he gave his life). Will the old woman reach the top of the ladder? And if so, what will she do then? Nor, as in Harbour, by the fascination of travelling along an old wall in dignity, like the tired bodies in the public baths. And absolutely not, as in Alone, by the movement as the music infuses a dimension of measured infinity into the face of the grieving child on the back seat of the car.

As we watch Uku Ukai, we are once again robbed of retrospection’s comfort of convention. As in Countdown, where we were brutally and without warning delivered up to the aesthetics of television, here we are abandoned to the unique pictorial beauty of the TV commercial repeatedly disturbed by the ugly colours of sportswear. There’s no getting around it. The world has changed. Alone in brief silent night scenes of the city silhouetted against the sky, yes, and trees blowing against the same sky, yes, and a young dancer practising, yes, – leading our thoughts sadly back to the master, Henrikas Sablevicius, and his era. (Allan Berg Nielsen in DOX 2006)


THE BELL (2007)

The sixth film to be shown at the unique festival in Belgrade, starting tomorrow saturday, under the subtitle "European feature documentaries", organised by Svetlana and Zoran Popovic and their team, and with me taking part in the selection is made by Audrius Stonys according to the old stories, written about 300 years ago, during the Lithuanian - Swedish war, the bell from the bell tower of Plateliai Church has been removed and taken off. It was carried away across the frozen lake, but the ice cracked near the Kastel island and the bell sank. One hundred years later a snorkeling expedition went on a search for the bell. It has been told that they found it, but for inexplicable reasons, they let it sink again. It has been told that the sound of a submerged bell can be heard from the lake’s depth. In the Summer of 2006, the film crew, along with a snorkeling team, went on a search for the legendary bell. This diving into the still water of the mythical lake was a motive for the search through the time dimension and through shady silhouettes of memory and ancient tales. Audrius Stonys penetrates behind the surface of reality and tries to transform simple actions into fantastic sights allowing us to take a glimpse into the methaphysical world.

Audrius Stonys has always remained faithful to himself and to his unique conception of cinema and a poetical interpretation of the world. He has probably won all the prizes worth winning, including the European Oscar, the Felix, but it has not made him less uncompromising in his film language. Or maybe it is better to call it film paintings! Watch ”The Bell” that can be seen as the director’s hymn to legends and irrationality. Or to the beauty of human creativity. (Post 25-01-2008 19:13:35 by Tue Steen Müller)



Jeg har kendt Audrius Stonys siden begyndelsen af 1990’erne. Som andre baltiske filmfolk kom han til Bornholm til Balticum Film & TV Festival, som fandt sted i ti år med hovedsæde i Gudhjem. Ved de første festivaler drejede mødet med balterne sig om politik og historie. Verden havde ændret sig omkring 1990. Det sovjetiske imperium var faldet sammen, Berlin-muren var væk, og Estland, Letland og Litauen var blevet selvstændige republikker. Det var det, som filmfolket talte om. I al fredsommelighed og med kun få nationalistiske udfald.

Der var et væld af historier, som skulle fortælles og de fleste drejede sig om de sovjetiske overgreb på balterne – og om glæden ved friheden til igen at være sig selv, at kunne udtrykke sin mening og hylde sit land og dets kultur f.eks. gennem sangfestivalerne og andre samlende manifestationer.

Så der var ingen markante kunstneriske præstationer at lægge mærke til det første par år. Det ændrede sig hurtigt og for mig var det en fryd at kunne se unge talenter markere deres helt egen stil. Jeg fandt ud af, at der var stor forskel på de tre landes dokumentarfilmtradition, helt naturligt når man tænker på de meget forskellige udgangspunkter, landene havde haft tilbage i tiden før den sovjetiske besættelse. Nok var der kraftig censur i USSR, men de lokale statslige filmstudier havde en vis bevægelsesfrihed og fremragende dokumentarfilm var blevet skabt i såvel Tallinn, Riga som Vilnius. Vi havde set nogle af dem, men alt for få. Det blev der rådet bod på i løbet af de 10 år festivalen varede og for mit vedkommende også siden da.

Audrius Stonys og hans kammerat Arunas Matelis kom tll Bornholm med en film, der skildrede den smukke kæde af hænder, der blev formet fra Estland i nord til Litauen i syd. Det var den rene eufori, som bar denne menneskekæde og dette udtryk for solidaritet. Som Stonys har udtrykt det, ”alle kameraer ville fange disse første frihedens åndedrag”. ”Baltic Way” hed filmen, som er 10 minutter lang og var instruktørens første og formentlig også sidste direkte politiske kommentar. I det hele taget var alle Stonys film fra 1990’erne kortfilm, optaget på 35mm materiale med henblik på at blive vist i biografer og på festivaler.

I 1992 fik han så sit internationale gennembrud med filmen ”Earth of the Blind” og i en alder af 26 år fik han den fornemste europæiske filmpris, Felix, uddelt af tv-stationen arte, for bedste europæiske dokumentarfilm. Filmen blev også vist på Bornholm, og Stonys blev en af festivalens faste gæster. Jeg var med til at arrangere festivalen og siden begyndelsen af 1990’erne har han været en god ven, hvis kunstneriske udvikling, jeg har kunnet følge tæt på, og hvis internationale karriere jeg har kunnet skubbe på gennem retrospektiver på forskellige festivaler og gennem at få ham ansat på European Film College i Ebeltoft, hvor han var dokumentarlærer i et år i begyndelsen af dette årtusinde. Stonys er nu en ofte brugt lærer på workshops i og udenfor Europa, han har en stor filmviden og det har været vigtigt for ham at videreføre sin læremester Henrikas Sablevicius arbejde som mentor for yngre filmfolk. Sabelivicius var vor mand i Vilnius, når vi tog dertil for at vælge film ud til festivalerne. En fremragende dokumentarist som holdt fast i dokumentarfilmen som et kunstnerisk udtryk og undgik at lave propagandafilm, som mange af hans jævnaldrende gjorde under USSR-tiden.

I sommeren var min kone og jeg i Litauen, jeg for at vælge film til Leipzigfestivalen, men vi var der også for at holde nogle dages feries med familierne Stonys og Matelis. Vi blev taget ud til kysten, kørte rundt i de Sahara-agtige dunes, som så ofte har været en kulisse i litauiske film. Stonys tog os til sine locations, vi aflagde et besøg ved Sablevicius grav, og mødte nogle af personerne fra hans 15 film, som alle er optaget i hans land.

Det er det, som jeg kender til, det er hvad jeg er en del af, den kultur og det sprog, som jeg elsker, har altid været svaret, når jeg har spurgt ham, hvorfor han aldrig har optaget udenlands.

Et af de steder, vi besøgte på vores Litauiske rundtur, var søen Plateliai, rammen om ”The Bell”, og stedet hvor der angiveligt skulle ligge en kirkeklokke, i følge de mange historier, der florerer herom. Men om ”The Bell” i virkeligheden handler om om noget helt andet, vil jeg lade stå et øjeblik. Det er ihvertfald klart ret tidligt i filmen, at der er ikke er tale om en reportageagtig dokumentar a la National Geographic, hvor plottet er: finder de klokken eller ej?

Ikke desto mindre sender instruktøren et hold dykkere ned på søens bund for at kigge efter klokken, samtidig med at instruktøren tager rundt til folk i regionen for at spørge dem om de har hørt noget. Om den forsvundne klokke. Det er der mange, der ikke har og nogle, der har. Der var vist noget om... er et svar, der dukker op.

Stonys spiller med tre elementer i denne film, der som ”Countdown” er usædvanlig både i forhold til længde og i forhold til den ordmængde, den indeholder. Han bruger interviewet, han bruger fortællingen om dykkerne der gør klar til og går ned under vandet og han bruger arkivmateriale, der fortæller om den folkelighed, der har udfoldet sig og stadig udfolder sig omkring søen. I dag er der rockkoncerter, tidligere var der andre former for fester, ofte knyttet til religiøse helligdage.

Der er ingen faste fortællestrukturer i ”The Bell”, som der aldrig har været hos Stonys. Det virker som om han konstant bliver nødt til at dvæle ved en ny opdagelse eller reflektere over det materiale, som hans fotograf har givet ham. Når han går fra nutid til datid til undervandsbillederne, er der ingen speciel dramaturgisk logik, der er blevet fulgt. Og det er tydeligt at han bliver mere og mere optaget af at arbejde med arkivmateriale, hvilket kommer til fuldt udtryk i hans seneste film ”Four Steps”, som er en reflektion over kærlighedens vilkår med udgangspunkt i bryllupsritualer, som de har udspillet sig over fire årtier.

Myterne, legenderne, ritualerne, det er omkring det, jeg ser Stonys hele oeuvre dreje sig: det irrationelle, det uforklarlige, det spirituelle, det som ikke kan og ikke skal forklares. I utallige sammenhænge har jeg som ordstyrer ved filmforevisninger forsøgt at få ham til at forklare. Men altid stritter han imod de hurtige fortolkninger og konklusioner, hvor ord efter hans mening banaliserer den visuelle oplevelse og følelse, han ønsker at give sin tilskuer. Og hvorfor lige det klip og den overgang. Kunne det være fordi... måske, siger han, det er op til dig.

Kameraarbejdet er alfa og omega for Stonys, som altid har valgt sine fotografer med stor omhu. Det er indlysende, at hans reference er den russiske tradition for den visuelle fortælling og når jeg har presset ham til at nævne sine inspirationer, kommer han altid tilbage til armenerne Paradjanov og Pelichian, og naturligvis kan han sin Tarkovski forfra og bagfra og er langt bedre til at komme ind i dennes værker med alle de for os svære religiøse henvisninger.

Tilbage til strukturen i ”The Bell”, den ulogiske, hvor det ofte virker som om instruktøren glemmer filmens mål og indledende hensigt (er der en klokke på søens bund?) og falder i visuel svime over den skønhed, som materialet indeholder.

Den gamle dame, der besværet går sin tur til det lille klokkehus... langsomt med horisonten bag sig, krumbøjet er hun der og viser tilbage til andre gamle kvinder, som lader klokkerne give musik fra sig, f.eks. i ”Antigravitation”, et af Stonys hovedværker, hvor man bliver helt svimmel ved at se den gamle dame stige op i klokketårnet.

Der er lange sekvenser af den slags i ”The Bell”, som bevæger sig fra at være meget konkret og interviewpræget – ”har I hørt at der skulle være en klokke på søens bund” – til at være en udforskning af den verden, som findes under vandet, en paradisisk jungle som den visualiseres i billeder, der minder mig om surrealisten Yves Tanguy og hans drømmebilleder.

Man må være logisk, siger en dame i filmen, selvfølgelig er der ikke en klokke under vandet, så var den jo fundet for længe siden, man børnene har en anden opfattelse, nogle af dem har faktisk set klokken.

Og Audrius Stonys har en anden opfattelse, denne fine kunstner som er helt sin egen og som stadig søger nye veje, men altid indenfor sin egen kulturkreds blandt de mennesker, han holder af og hvis historier og sange han aldrig bliver træt af at høre.

Det er så fortjent at Stonys bliver hilst på som den litauiske nationalpoet, han er. (Tue Steen Müller, introduktion til foredrag 13. marts 2009 i FOF, Randers)



… My host in Lithuania, a name I mention with much respect and admiration is Audrius Stonys, who makes one film per year, always related to the culture and traditions of his native country, always challenging to watch, born out of humanistic thinking. This time the title is "Four Steps", made out of a deep fascination of super-8 mm wedding films, shot in 1961, 1972, 1983 and 2007. And of course it is not "only" about wedding traditions, it is also philosophy and literature and songs and music. I look forward to see this film for the third time! (From a post 29-07-2008 09:17:34 by Tue Steen Müller)


RAMIN (2010)

Audrius Stonys deserves much praise for his ”Ramin”, a film about an old man in Georgia, his daily life, his attachment to his late mother, his looking for a woman he knew in his youth... the story is told in stunningly beautiful images by Audrius Kemezys, the story construction is complicated, but there are magical moments (like in most of Stonys films) that you will never forget, and original ideas. In this one it is a cross-cut from a loong celebration of Ramin’s birthday to a cat crying outside the house with a nice warm hen to lean on! (From a post 02-07-2011 22:01:28 by Tue Steen Müller)

The festival in Vilnius 2011 (September 22 – October 2) opened with the newest film by local master Audrius Stonys, ”Ramin”, produced by Vides Film Studio in Riga, Latvia. The fllm (not in the Baltic competition) is a both touching and amusing portrait of an old man (Ramin), who has been a fighter (wrestler) his whole life and now (as the catalogue says) fights the old age loneliness. Magnificent camera work and the courage to let scenes grow reminds us how important a film poet Stonys is. (Post 29-09-2011 by Tue Steen Müller)



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

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

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



I have written - and so has Allan Berg - many times about Lithuanian documentary poet Audrius Stonys, who by the way is a big admirer of the films of Jørgen Leth, who is on the cover of for the moment. At the University of Pompeu Fabre in Barcelona, a student made an interview with Stonys, 8 minutes long and placed it on YouTube:  (Post 20-09-2008 by Tue Steen Müller)



For 2.5€ in total you will be able to watch three great films by Lithuanian documentary poet, Audrius Stonys, who is “the event of the week” of the brilliant vod.

The films are Uku Ukai (2006), Countdown (2004) and Ramin (2011). DocAlliance has made a small talk with the director:

The acclaimed director Audrius Stonys ranks among the most prominent Lithuanian documentary filmmakers. According to Stonys, the issue of freedom plays the main part in cinematography, being more important than any aesthetic criterion. Especially as there still are attempts to restrict such freedom, only they have taken the form of dictatorship of money. Stonys believes that documentary filmmaking was not born out of the desire to provide information. It was born out of astonishment and the possibility of being able to stop time and contemplate the miracle called “the world”.

In response to a seemingly perplexing question: “Who makes your films?” Stonys said: “Recently, I visited a doctor because I had problems with my back. And for only fifteen minutes of work he asked for a lot of money. Sure, he fixed me up, but he is my friend. So I wondered why the heck he was asking so much. This is what he said: ‘Look, those fifteen minutes contained all the years of my practical training, all the books I have read plus the experience of my professors who have shared their knowledge with me.’ And my films are also the result of the work of many souls.” (Post 18-02-2013 by Tue Steen Müller)



Jeg satte for nogen tid siden dette still ind som nyt gruppebillede på Filmkommentarens Facebookside. Sevara Pan så straks, at det måtte være fra en film, og spurgte fra hvilken, og Tue Steen Müller synes, jeg skal rykke ud med hele historien. Den er så her. Billedet er fra Ensom (Viena / Alone), 2001, 16 min. af Audrius Stonys fra Vilnius. Filmen er fotograferet af Rimvydas Leipus.


Da vi begyndte august 2007, skulle grafikeren, som lavede vores blog, have et visuelt forlæg. Vi valgte dette still fra Stonys film, scenen, hvor den lille pige i en travelling går langs fængslets mur hen mod porten for at blive lukket ind til sin mor. På besøg.

Grafikeren brugte murens struktur, som herefter minder os om adskillelse og menneskets tilværelse og ensomhed i den og, ved vi, som har set filmen, skønheden og glæden i kærlighedsmødet. Filmkommentaren indrømmer noget sent lånet af disse fotos og krediterer på det taknemmeligste Rimvydas Leipus og Audrius Stonys for deres definition af vores filmkunstneriske profil. Som vi gør, hvad vi kan, for at leve op til.


Den handler om cinematografiens sublime evne til at skabe en mere virkelig virkelighed. Jeg plejer at se den som en etude, på én gang et katalog over en række filmiske greb og så også en ganske lille gribende og smuk fortælling om ubodelig ensomhed. Fortællingen rives hele tiden i stykker ved det Brechtske verfremdungsgreb (husk, dette er film…), men derved understreges alene fortællingens og filmens styrke.


Han begyndte at skrive og at lave film, da Litauen var en del af Sovjetunionen, og han har siden som uafhængig filminstruktør og producent lavet 14 film. Hans film har vundet adskillige internationale filmpriser. 2004-2005 var Stonys lærer i dokumentarfilm på filmhøjskolen i Ebeltoft. Siden 2006 har han undervist på Tokyo Waseda Universitet. Audrius Stony er af den overbevisning, at frihed i film er det centrale, det er vigtigere end nogen æstetisk opfattelse. Særligt når der har været forsøg på at begrænse denne frihed har det vist sig, at filmene kun har ændret deres ydre skal. Dette synes at være særligt tydeligt i dokumentarfilmene, som forsøges presset ind i en standard ramme af en slags produktion af information, underholdning, følelser og undervisning. I modsætning til dette mener Stonys, at dokumentarfilmen ikke er sat i verden med ønsket om at informere. Den er født af undren med opdagelsen af muligheden for at standse tiden og fordybe sig tænksomt i tilværelsens mirakel. (Written 14-04-2014 by Allan Berg Nielsen, efter hvorfra flere af hans film kan streames)



Stonys asked me some time ago what I thought of ”Gates of the Lamb” and its festival potential. These were my words:

This film, which is visual, have very few words, uses music, has no "story" as such but lets us enjoy Faces Faces Faces, mostly in profile at the right part of the image - great cinematography - and music and a solemn atmosphere with fine small humoristic sequences with children with open faces not really understanding, and yet… what is going on. You are back to a world that you master to convey.

I have no information if “Gates of the Lamb” has been to other festivals so far, but to have it here in the hometown of the director is an obvious choice. (TMS 13.09.15 in a post on Vilnius Festival)



The winners of Vilnius Documentary Film Festival Baltic competition have been appointed and the top two were from the hosting country:

Veteran Audrius Stonys took the first prize for his “Gates of the Lamb” that I have written the following words about: This film, which is visual, have very few words, uses music, has no "story" as such but lets us enjoy Faces Faces Faces, mostly in profile at the right part of the image - great cinematography - and music and a solemn atmosphere with fine small humoristic sequences with children with open faces not really understanding, and yet… what is going on. Audrius Stonys is back to a world that he masters as noone else.

Giedre Zickyté took the second prize for her ”Master and Tatyana” that I have written the following words about: So, there it is, the film about the Lithuanian photographer Vitas Luckus (1943-1987), his life, his art and first of all his love story with muse and wife, Tatyana. It is made by Giedre Zickyte, who has been working on it for years. I heard about it five (maybe more) years ago, when she was pitching the film at the Baltic Sea Forum, and since then I have had the pleasure to watch sequences and rough versions. Yes, pleasure, because Giedre Zickyte has kept the passion for her film the whole way through, and pleasure because you can see Quality, high Quality in the final film. For me it’s brilliant, nothing less… the whole review, click:

The photo of Audrius Stonys thanking for the main award is taken from the FB page of the festival - © Mindaugas Česlikauskas (Posted 28-09-2015 by Tue Steen Müller)



… this is just a natural thing in documentary filmmaking, the moment you think you know everything and it only remains to capture your “discoveries”, the truth of life takes over and turns against you. So, I let my visions be transformed. The essence lies in the quest. Subsequently, the films will live the lives of their own….

Says Audrius Stonys in an interview on cineuropa, very well made by Aukse Kancereviciute. I recommend you to read it all, here is a taster:  

The film Ūkų ūkai emerged from a desire to expose the beauty industry, but in the course of shooting your attitude changed radically. Does it often happen that life adjusts preconceived visions?

Perhaps not a single one of my films was unaffected by this. The idea changes, because reality turns it upside down and destroys it. At first I was very frightened; it seemed to me that was it – that was the end. I had an idea and everything took another turn. Then I understood that this was supposed to be so. None of my films are as I originally conceived them. In Ūkų ūkai both the theme and the characterchanged. Instead of a strong, healthy, young man who goes swimming every day irrespective of whether it rains or snows, we have a tiny old woman tip-toeing across her room. Alone (Viena) was supposed to be about a girl who is going to visit her mother, who is in prison, and talking what she sees and feels, but instead I made a completely silent film. New Martyrology (Tas, kurio nėra) was supposed to show a man who died unbeknownst to anybody, but instead the Lithuanian film director Augustinas Baltrušaitis, whom fate and circumstances tossed into complete oblivion, became the protagonist of the film. When shooting Cenotaph it seemed that the film was about the meaning of reburial, but it turned out to be about meaninglessness. The initial concept is therefore diametrically opposite… (Posted 25-04-2016 by Tue Steen Müller)



Yes, it started yesterday, the fabulous documentary event in Amsterdam and today it’s all over with screenings, masterclasses, the academy, some films are in competition, others are not, facebook is full of ”come and see my film”, there will be many full houses. And many who prepare their pitches for the Forum. With meetings and parties.

I am not there this year for family and friend reasons – birthdays – but I have seen some of the films already so comments will arrive on this site, don’t have time for longer reviews but I will pick some films via links and Docs for Sale. So check it out – there could be recommendations you want to follow.

For instance the world premiere tonight of Audrius Stonys' new film

– yes we love him here on filmkommentaren and have done so since his debut at the beginning of 1990’es. The title is ”Woman and Glacier” and this is what I wrote to the director, when I had seen the film:

“…Magic, Audrius, mind-blowing to be there, ... Will watch again, it brings me in a meditative mood, love the way you use archive and the structuring with the musician. Thanks for letting me watch - on a computer... you will have a lot of success with that film…” and later on, ”… this quote from Swedish Sune Jonsson in 1978 fits well to your film, especially the last words "inner landscapes": “…A documentary work is not intended for the esthetic connoisseur or the preoccupied consumer, but rather for people in vital need of increasing their knowledge: of transforming communicated environments, epochs, nature scenes into personal experiential substance - something with which to enrich their own inner landscapes.”

The IDFA website short description of the film: A filmic ode to a woman’s choice to live in solitude. For 30 years, a Lithuanian scientist has been conducting climate research at the Tuyuksu Glacier in Kazakhstan.

New (almost) wordless masterpiece by Audrius Stonys with his genius cameraman Audrius Kezemys. (Posted 17-11-2016 by Tue Steen Müller)



De oprindelige dansksprogede versioner til to af teksterne ovenfor:


Stonys film blev lavet for præmien, han modtog i 1992, Felix¬prisen, for bedste kortfilm i Europa. Den hed Neregiu Zeme (World of the Blind) (Den blindes verden), og den blev vist i Gudhjem samme år. I 1995 kunne han så præsentere resultatet, en film om længslen efter at overvinde, hvad der holder os ved jorden.

Stonys havde meget længe ønsket at få den berømte russiske fotograf Jonas Gricius til at fotografere en film for sig. Det var så lykkedes denne gang. Og hvilke billeder! Vi flyttes ind i den smukke, gamle tradition af store sorthvide 35 mm filmscener, hvor hver enkelt optagelse er overvejet til mindste detalje. Denne kunstneriske velovervejethed følger Stonys herefter op, så hver enkelt scene fuldstændig harmonisk sættes på plads i en sammenhæng, som jeg er overbevist om, ikke kan være anderledes. Et lydefrit værk. Sjældent har jeg oplevet en film, hvor jeg i den grad er ude af stand til at komme med indvendinger, ude af stand til at forestille mig andre løsninger. Den her film er lavet helt færdig.

Men hvad handler den så egentlig om? Som i de tidligere, skildrer Stonys kontemplativiteten. På festivalen i 1991 havde han sin film fra 1989 med. Den hedder Atverti duris ateinanciam (Open the Door to Him, who Comes). Både den og Neregiu Zeme er fotograferet på samme værdige og gammeldags måde, 35 mm film, sort/hvid. Sådan også med de senere. Først Harbour fra festivalen 1998 tager farvefilmen ind i sin meditation over kroppen og vandet. En badeanstalt er filmens sted. Renselsen dens handling. Den tidlige er om en præst i et afsides sogn, som søges af mennesker også fra de store byer, fordi de hos ham, i hans kirke, finder fred i sindet og svar på de store spørgsmål, og den anden film fortalte om mennesket uden syn i en verden af lyde og svage konturer, vekslende lys- og mørkegrader. Tilstande i eftertanke, ordløse næsten. Drømmende søger de tilbage mod eksistentielle relikter, vemodige i tonen, vil projektet lykkes?


Stonys manuskript til tyngdekraftfilmen har krævet, at holdet har måttet lave optagelser gennem i hvert fald et år, for der klippes som en selvfølge fra snedækkede landskaber til summende forårsvarme landsbygader, fra tøbruddets oversvømmelse til en kane i knirkende frost. Og den unge instruktør har hevet den fine, gamle fotograf op i højder, på tagstilladser, på høje jernbanebroer og allerøverst i kirketårne. For billederne skal fortælle, hvordan verden tager sig ud fra de himmelsøgende indretninger, mennesker konstruerer. Filmens heltinde er en gammel kvinde, som forcerer den længste stige, jeg mindes at have set, til det øverste i landsbykirkens spir. Helt oppe kigger hun ud i sommeren. I næste klip ser vi hendes syn, helt efter bogen, men det er bidende vinter. Året rundt, livet igennem klatrer hun den tur. Uvist hvorfor, men nødvendigvis må hun klatre. (Allan Berg Nielsen i Balticum Film & TV Festival 1990-99, red.: Tue Steen Müller)



UKU UKAI (2006)

Der er ganske tyst i filmens begyndelse. En kvindes ansigt sminkes omhyggeligt af en anden kvinde. Er det et sminket lig? Handler det om døden? Er vi sminkede lig? Alle? Eller bygger den første scene i filmen også nærheden og afstanden ind i vores tanke? Den gamle kvindes nærhed, den unge kvindes afstand. Til døden. Og deres afstand til hinanden. Og så ved tankerækkens slutning alarmlyden af overraskelse: Deres nærhed til hinanden. Scenen er lang, men den er slut nu.

Døden er en tilstand og et øjeblik. I tavshed. Livet er et langdistanceløb. Omgivet af gode råd af blide, larmende punch-lines: ”.. let’s sit easily and close the eyes / take a deep breath in… / … and out / again a deep breath in / …and out / listen to the noises around you / accept all the noises / be in harmony with the environment “ løber han imod tidens retning, løber han imod livets retning, for livet. I ét og alt forskellig som person fra kvinden, som sminkes. Men hans scene kommer lige efter hendes. For de tænker grundlæggende ens, kæmper for livet, nydelsen, skønheden. Audrius Stonys vil i sine film bringe de ensomme mennesker sammen. I grupper som tænker ens. Sådan vil han lave film. Og sådan har han lavet denne. Langdistanceløberen løber i billedet, gennem billedet, igennem filmen. Mod tiden.

Søvnen er dødens levende søster. Lige før kvinden i tredje scene falder i søvn (også i det øjeblik), tænker hun som løberen i anden scene. Hun overgiver sig til søvnen, som dagen overgiver sig til natten, som livet til døden. I trygheden om genkomsten. Senere, vågen igen, løbetræner hun rundt i sin stue på bare fødder mod tæppet. Scenen fastholder det taktile, gentagelsen, det konkrete. I en anden scene smører hun stående foran sit spejl omhyggeligt natcreme i ansigtshuden. Giver den liv efter at have fjernet sminken. Arbejder mod tiden.

Filmen er vel uomgængelig, vi følger dens konsekvens, som er at forfølge linjerne i hele filmarbejdet. Som alle auteurs arbejder Stonys tilsyneladende fra film til film på ét eneste værk. Motiverne er genkommende i hans lyrisk dokumentariske meditationer. Det er tidsopfattelsen, det er skønhedsopfattelsen, det er fra og med den fuldkomne etude Alone også at afprøve kunstartens overlevelsesmulighed i genrer og greb. Så den ikke dør ung som nostalgi og æstecisme. Moralisme og underholdning. Mainstream og konsum. Og det er derfor et arbejde for os at se den. Som Tarkovskij citerer Goethe for at have skrevet, at det er lige så stort et arbejde at læse en bog som at skrive den! Vi har således langt igen før, vi har set Stonys film.

Filmens store problem er da også, at den så koncentreret om sig selv forholder os belønningen, vi var vænnede til, at den støder ind i spørgsmålet om smag, så vi meget let forlader den frem for at suges ind i den. For vi forføres ikke som i Earth of the blind af skønheden af Rimvydas Leipus’ sorthvide magiske billedtæppe. Ikke som i Antigravitation af spændingen, som Jonas Gricius med sit kamera fra den store tradition (og med livet som indsats) leverer. Når den gamle kvinde mon op til toppen af den stige? Og hvad så deroppe? Ikke som i Harbour fascinationen ved en travelling langs en gammel mur i værdighed lig de trætte kroppe i badene. Og slet ikke som bevægelsen i Alone, lige da musikken lægger sit lag af præcis uendelighed på det sorgramte barneansigt der på bilens bagsæde.


Når vi ser Uku Ukai er vi atter berøvet de bagudskuende konventioners komfort. Som vi uforberedte i Countdown brutalt blev overgivet til tv-æstetikken, er vi nu prisgivet reklamefilmens særlige billedskønhed, ofte forstyrret af sportstøjets grimme farver. Der er ingen vej uden om. Verden er forandret. Alene i korte, tyste nattebilleder af byens profil mod himlen, ja, og træer i blæst mod samme himmel, ja, og en ung danser, som øver sig, ja – føres vores tanke vemodigt bagud mod mester Henrikas Sablevicius og hans tid. (Allan Berg Nielsen i DOX 2006) 

Categories: Web, Directors

Janus Metz, samlede blogindlg om hans film

Written 23-11-2012 09:58:36 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Janus Metz, samlede blogindlg om hans film

Janus Metz and Lars Skree seek and succeed perfectly, from a humanistic point of view, to bring us into a world that we could not imagine existed in the way it is documented and interpreted here. Even the most horrendous words coming out of the mouth of Rasmus, the platoon commander, or from Ølby, the tattooed constantly joking warrior, are put forward with a no-finger-pointing, non-moralisinggentleness... (Tue Steen Müller)


Janus Metz er månedens instruktør i landets nok mindste og måske også mest forvænte filmklub, FILMKLUB FOF i Randers. Det er anledningen til at samle, hvad vi har skrevet om hans film gennem årene og placere dem under overskriften DIRECTORS, som vi lidt efter lidt udbygger med instruktører, hvis film har optaget os og stadig optager os særlig meget.



af Allan Berg Nielsen

Stedet introduceres i smukt fotografi, Lars Skree og Henrik Bohn Ipsen er fotograferne. Der er myndighed over disse billeder. Et jysk landskab, som er meget, meget mere end et vindblæst hjørne af Danmark. Det er en egn og en befolkning med en særegen livsstil og en stor værdighed og en bevaret integritet, bekræfter fotografiet for mit blik, som er dannet tilbage i romantikken. Og kvinden, det til en begyndelse handler om, introduceres tilsvarende smukt og sikkert. Hun er egentlig fremmed her, men er så integreret, som det har været mulig at blive her, når man ser anderledes ud og er fra den anden side af Jorden. Og så begynder fortællingen, det er som det skal være, jeg er tryg. Fra dokumentarens begyndelse, i del 1, Fra Thailand til Thy. Og jeg skal bestemt nok blive ved den, det mærker jeg fra første begyndelse. For der er jo en ægte historie derfra, en kærlighedshistorie. Som fortsætter og finder sin afslutning i del 2, Fra Thy til Thailand.

Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Jrgen Leth on Docalliance

Written 22-11-2012 20:36:29 by Tue Steen Mller

Jrgen Leth on Docalliance

To be repeated:

You can watch 7 of Jørgen Leth’s films for free on the vod Docalliance (link below), a – too use one of the director’s favourite words – generous offer to film lovers all over to see ”A Sunday in Hell” (Paris-Roubaix race), ”Moments of Play”, ”Good and Evil”, ”Notes of Love”, ”66 Scenes from America”, ”Haiti Untitled” and ”The Perfect Human”. A small festival in itself with the usual high quality text intros from the Docalliance people. For free until November 25. A must for all film students! And cinéphiles of course!

To be added:

You are now also invited to watch Truls Lie 2012, director’s cut version of his “The Seduced Human”, 70 mins. long, reviewed on this blog by Allan Berg, in Danish. Here is the intro from DocAlliance:

"What is the meaning of a whole life lived as an observer? 
Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth has lived in chaotic Haiti for 20 years. In 2010 the catastrophic earthquake changed his life. Was it a turn from aesthetics to ethics?
 This documentary follows Jørgen while he is making his last film Erotic Man in Haiti before the earthquake, all the way up to its premiere. Jørgen also looks back at his films made over 40 years – like The Perfect Human, Life in Denmark, Play, Notes on Love, Good and Evil, Haiti Express, 66 Scenes From America, and his work with Lars von Trier called Five Obstructions. But not least, this inquiry asks how an artist lives existentially with desire, doubt and despair – the three fundamental concepts in the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard."

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Web, Directors

Jrgen Leth - Collected Posts on his Works

Written 15-11-2012 09:27:34 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Jrgen Leth - Collected Posts on his Works


Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Festival, Film History, Directors

Mira Jargil: Turn out the Light

Written 28-10-2012 17:13:30 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Mira Jargil: Turn out the Light

They kiss and embrace. I watch through the window, out in the yard. It’s a ritual. Indeed, it’s love, the terminal behaviour of a marriage in an erotics of thrift. They undress. The camera tracks him. He brushes his teeth. They meet in bed, say goodnight. Loving to polite. The last night. The old place.


TURN OUT THE LIGHT - and how little it takes to make a film

(translation: Glen Garner)

Everything is very matter of fact. The first shot is of a king-sized bed (I later understand it’s the conjugal bed) with two comforters, two pillows. Everything is very neat and clean and airedout.The shot makes that clear. Then we see him. He is of the older generation, the kind that used to alwayswear patterned “Icelandic” sweaters. He still does. He’s wearing one now. That’s no coincidence. Nothing is. He’s busy packing a box, and I understand. He writes a label with a marker and sticks it on: “Ruth’s sewing kit”. I sense his compassion beneath his irritability, which is palpable already in the second shot. He pants with the effort, the first sound in the film.

Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Directors

Mira Jargil, samlede blogindlg om hendes film

Written 27-10-2012 17:13:42 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Mira Jargil, samlede blogindlg om hendes film

Hun er den, som i sine film hele tiden er til stede, stiller sig med kameraet det rigtige sted. Filmer de sarteste, de mest sjældne øjeblikke...



DET SIDSTE DØGN (8 min, 2005)

Det er meget nøgternt, det her. På det første billede dobbeltsengen (som jeg senere vil forstå er ægtesengen) med to dyner, to puder. Det er pænt og rent og luftet. Det ses også af billedet. Så er han i billedet: Han er af den ældre generation og fra den gruppe, der brugte islandske sweatre. Han bruger sådan en trøje stadigvæk, han har den på i scenen nu. Det er ikke tilfældigt. Ingenting er tilfældigt. Han er i gang med en flyttekasse, og jeg forstår. Han skriver mærkesedler med tuschpen, klæber dem på: ”Ruths sygrej”. Jeg fornemmer, han er omsorgsfuld bag irritabiliteten. Som også er der, mærker jeg helt bestemt allerede i andet billede. Han puster af anstrengelse, det er filmens første lyd.

Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Poetics, Directors

Jrgen Vestergaard, alle blogindlg om hans film

Written 13-10-2012 12:53:10 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Jrgen Vestergaard, alle blogindlg om hans film

Præsten i Vrensted, Karsten Erbs, havde den torsdag i oktober 2012 inviteret pensionistforeningen og alle ældre til en eftermiddag i præstegården. Han skrev på sin hjemmeeside, at noget særligt havde været på færde: ”Vi havde bagt boller og lavet lagkage. Og det blev et rigtig godt kaffebord, men eftermiddagen blev rigtig god også fordi jeg viste to små film af Jørgen Vestergaard om Hanstholm. De to film var Vagt ved Havet (1965) og Havnen (1967). To meget fine dokumentarfilm. Det er instruktøren på billedet under optagelserne i 1965 (FOTO, red.). Og naturligvis så vi billeder fra vores bustur til Hjerl Hede.”

Ja, det er nemlig to meget fine dokumentarfilm, og det er stærkt, at de stadigvæk formidles og ses og netop som de er lavet, med den dybt rodfæstede indsigt i egn, og folk og sprog og selvforståelse, udfordre og bekræfte et publikum med så udbygget konsekvensekspertice som den ved kaffebordet i Vrensted i torsdags. Vestergaards film lever og godkendes hver eneste gang.


Det er så godt, at Jørgen Vestergaard sørger for at få sine mange vigtige film fra en lang og i ordets forstand enestående produktion ud på dvd. For disse film har alle årene været noget helt for sig selv, og de vil blive stående som enestående. Som en særlig filmkultur, han er alene om. I hvert fald på det niveau. En kultur i landets midte, som journalister og politikere for tiden kalder nationens udkant.

Read more / Ls mere

Categories: DVD, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Ada Bligaard Sby, alle blogindlg om hendes film

Written 06-09-2012 11:43:51 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Ada Bligaard Sby, alle blogindlg om hendes film

Scene efter scene stilles i kø i disciplineret række og forbindes kontrapunktisk med interview- og dialogmateriale, dokumentariske beretninger i løsreven fastholdelse. Det er meningsfuldt i en ganske anden form for filmfortælling end den normale danske tradition; og det er befriende, så befriende…


Ada Bligaard Søby var atter i januar 2014 månedens instruktør i FILMKLUB FOF i Randers. Vi skulle se klip fra nogle af hendes film og snakke om dem, og til sidst skal vi se den da Petey & Ginger - a testament to the awesomeness of mankind og på dens hjemmeside hed det kontant om den: “When the global economy collapses the only true victors are those that weren't invited to the boom. Petey & Ginger elegantly and honestly documents two very real characters who semi-happily live on the fringes of I-don't-really-give-a-fuckville-and-that's-okay-ish. Filmmaker Ada Bligaard Søby again invites us into her ongoing infatuation with the treasure that is the blissfully detached lives of American Losers. Take notes…”

Her havde jeg da samlet, hvad vi til nu har af kommentarer til hendes film, og hvad vi senere suppleret med nye blogindlæg:

AMERICAN LOSERS (58 min., 2006)

I have had occasion to see Ada Bligaard Søby’s film which lasts just under one hour. I am impressed. I cannot bring to mind a more convincing début film in all the years I have been involved with documentary films.

I would like to explain why in a kind of review. It starts with the very first scene. With a glance to the camera, the main character, a woman, invites us to follow this story. Of course this is quite simple and innocent – and it works. We follow willingly. This provides an effective framework.

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Categories: DVD, Cinema, Festival, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Web, Directors

Jytte Rex' Kunstnerkvartet

Written 04-07-2012 14:12:59 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Jytte Rex' Kunstnerkvartet

…jeg kan roligt sætte mig ned og fordybe mig i noget af det klogeste, der er lavet på dansk film. Tilsyneladende blot fire kunstnerportrætter. Men nej, de fire film lukker sig op som én sammenhængende tanke om livets omfang og tankens grænse så smukt rollebesat med: Inger Christensen, Palle Nielsen, Pelle Gudmundsen - Holmgreen og Henning Larsen som medvirkende i undersøgelsen af det særlige ved digtet, billedet, musikken og arkitekturen og det almindelige ved kunstnerisk arbejde.




Jeg glædede mig dengang sådan til at se den film. Det er så sjældent, jeg glæder mig til at se en film. Efterhånden.

Og jeg blev da også helt opslugt af dens én eneste bevægelse af skønhed og klogskab fra først til sidst – dette er film som musik, i den lille time for mig i hvert fald større end musik, selv om den største, Bachs musik, lå nedenunder. Et menneskeliv fra først til sidst, med døden nærværende siden barndommen. "Den sorg mit liv har overhalet.." siger den rolige, omhyggelige digterstemme. Den unge kvinde bliver ældre, men forbliver det smukkeste sted den samme. I stemmen, og i det stemmen siger, og på den måde, den siger det.

Venligt fortæller den om mødet med og fascinationen af den ældre og mere erfarne digter. "Jeg kendte nogle få, Rilke og Eliot især (hvilke omhyggeligt valgte få kendte denne unge kvinde ikke..), men han havde rejst og kendte mange, svenskerne især. Han havde boet et år i Stockholm på et legat..." Det er formuleringerne, som griber mig ved en særlig finhed, også om for eksempel det blot, at leve i Roms varme, "i de sydlige lande", hvor der "ingen påfaldende overgang er mellem krop og verden..." Sådan er bogen Det blevet til, forklarer stemmen. Klogskaben synker i mig som forelskelse, mens Jakob Bonfils ustandselige kamera, Grete Møldrups enkle klippebords-fortælling og Jytte Rex' generøse valg former Inger Christensens liv og digtning til en arabesk. "Piller lidt rust af min kind..."

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Categories: Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Werner Herzog, Collected Posts on his Works

Written 04-04-2012 10:03:58 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Werner Herzog, Collected Posts on his Works

From being an arthouse feature film director known for extravagance and his work with legendary Klaus Kinski, he is now (also) a hit among documentary lovers, even if he would not accept to be a documentarian as his many joyful attacks on the direct cinema people have shown… (Tue Steen Müller)

... Og min læsning af Werner Herzogs film har længe været, at hver eneste scene er en tydeliggørelse på film af hvad, han tænker og skriver netop de sekunder, han optager scenen, og de sekunder jeg senere ser den i biografen. (Allan Berg Nielsen)




Skrevet den 01-11-2018 10:13:37 af Tue Steen Müller

An understatement: They were angry my friends from Lithuania, Georgia and Ukraine. After having watched Werner Herzog and André Singer’s “Meeting Gorbachev”. Nothing, absolutely nothing about the violent Soviet attacks that took place in Vilnius, in Riga, in Georgia… 

Did he ask these questions, Herzog? Did he answer, Gorbachev? Why were they not in the film?

Have to confess that I did not react immediately on this failure from the side of Herzog & Singer but was taken by the compassion and admiration that Herzog demonstrated towards the 87 year old former statesman.

Yesterday, the Lithuanian documentary by Giedre Zickyte, “How We Played the Revolution” was shown as part of the impressive documentary retrospective from the small Baltic country. In the fine film by Zickyte, based on archive, Gorbachev reacts in the Duma towards to the tanks entering Vilnius and the brutality performed by his people at the tv station. We want them to stop (= we will make them stop) the demonstrations and then we can talk. Words to that effect. People were killed in Vilnius as they were in Riga, where the – among others – two cameramen of Juris Podnieks were shot down by Soviet soldiers. It’s all documented, Gorbachev knew what happened, he was in charge as the president, he wanted to establish more democracy in the country, he did not understand that the Baltics and Georgians and the Ukrainians wanted freedom, independence.

The film by Herzog/Singer wants to give a historical background through archive and interviews. Essential questions were not raised or touched upon.



Skrevet den 30-10-2018 17:49:55 af Tue Steen Müller

Photo by film director Andrijana Stojkovic. Thanks.

10.30 in the morning, Kupferstrasse in Leipzig. There is a line outside the Kupferhalle, where Werner Herzog is to hold his masterclass or as the DOK Leipzig organisers called it, “a conversation” with Kristina Jaspers, who knows about the director and has written a book about him, (as has Danish Kristoffer Hegnsvad) (And let me lead those who are interested to this site´s “Collected Posts on Werner Herzog”:

Those in line waited to see if there were tickets to get. We had already been given tickets so in we (my wife and I) went with high expectations as we had heard that Herzog is a brilliant and inspiring speaker. And deep as had colleague Allan Berg experienced at the Danish Film School.

He was not deep this morning where everyone got in – festival director Leena Pasanen mentioned that we were around 500 to listen to the master. Not deep but entertaining he was from the very beginning, where he corrected Pasanen on how to set the audience microphones in the right positions! A director going in details.

Herzog followed up on yesterday’s film “Meeting Gorbachev” saying that on all three conversation occasions Gorbachev came from and was brought back to the hospital, where he is getting treatment. They had three times 11/2 hour of conversations. And how did you prepare for the conversations, the question came, “nobody can tell you how to conduct a conversation”, Herzog said. It’s a matter of whether you connect immediately or not. He repeated from yesterday that he thought the demonization of Russia should stop.


Apart from some provocations – there are 4500 festivals in the world but only 4 good films per year! – he gave good background to “Lessons of Darkness”, one of his masterpieces, where he worked with British Paul Berriff, according to Herzog an undaunted cameraman, who could go down in the desert to film near the burning oil. He also revealed that the quote in the beginning of the film credited Blaise Pascal, was actually written by Herzog himself, Pascal could not have done it better!

A question came from the audience about his voice; he always makes the commentary himself. “As I have written the text myself, I have to read it as well. As before on many occasions - said to a young filmmaker – “there’s no excuse any longer, you can shoot on small cameras or with your cell phone, I don’t believe in film schools as they are set up, I have set up my rogue film school and it works. You can make a feature film for 10.000$, a documentary for 1000$ but you need a vision and courage.”

“I feel a big responsibility, when I am making a feature film. I want to control the cash flow every day… I want to stay under budget”. “Not possible the producer said”. “I will stay under budget”, I said, “and I made a deal that I would get a bonus if it happened. It did!”

The entertainer is also an actor and a hilarious scene with Herzog as an actor was shown after a more serious insight to a scene from my favourite Herzog documentary, “Little Dieter Needs to Fly”. Dieter wanted to talk about death, Herzog said, I told him that I could do that much better in images, and we saw the scene, where Dieter stands in front of the jellyfish aquarium.

“Lo and Behold”, we did not see a clip from that film, but Herzog declared that he has made the only competent film on the internet.


DOK Leipzig 2018 OPENING

Skrevet den 30-10-2018 08:39:39 af Tue Steen Müller

... And Werner Herzog on stage introducing the film - co-director André Singer was not there but his son was Nick Singer, who made the music for the film. Before the film the organisers had found a funny clip with the young rebellious Herzog talking about filmmaking, a bit "peinlich" Herzog said, not at all, a fine reference back to a filmmaker, who if anyone has put his mark on German and world cinema.

The film has a kind and compassionate approach. Herzog, he says so in the interview, loves Gorbachev for his silent contribution to the reunification of his Germany, for his nuclear disarmament agreements with the Americans, for his positive attitude to the Western world.

To the interviews made by Herzog are added archive material and interviews, for instance with Lech Walesa, Hungarian Németh and George Schultz who was with Reagan at the famous meeting in Iceland concerning the reduction of nuclear weapons. There are some fine anecdotes in this historical part.

In that way it is obvious that the film wants to give the audience a historical background, fair enough as the film goes on television, for me who is old enough and knows the history, the most appealing is to watch and listen to the 87 year old man, sitting there, not in good health but open to say that it was wrong to give up the USSR, expressing worries for what is happening now in his country and elsewhere. Moving is the sequence were he talks about his wife Raisa - "when she died I felt that my life was taken away from me". A statesman yes, but also a human being suffering a loss.



Written 28-10-2018 10:18:58 by Tue Steen Müller


From I received a very informative interview with André Singer on his making of the documentary with Werner Herzog, written by Damon Wise. The film is to be shown at the Ji.hlava Festival and opens the DOK Leipzig tomorrow night. Singer talks about how he approached Gorbachev, how he included his long time partner on many films, Werner Herzog, how other interviews were conducted, how he had a structure in beforehand that was dropped after the interviews that Herzog conducted – “… The essential quality we wanted from the interview was of two intelligent and concerned men engaged in discussion – not a formal Q&A. Gorbachev never asked for questions in advance and was happy to enter into any area of questioning Werner wished to take…”.

André Singer, who explains the technical issues connected to the shooting of the three interviews, is going to Moscow beginning of November to show the film to Gorbachev, “this legendary giant of the 1980s and ’90s”.

To conclude the fine interview Singer says “…I feel strongly that the most important thing about the film is that it “humanizes” him. I found him a warm, genuine, generous man who has been neglected by history and in his current rather sad position isolated in Moscow deserves to be heard and remembered. If the film helps achieve that, I would be a happy man!”.

On the photo you see André Singer, Werner Herzog, Gorbachev and the interpreter Pavel Palazchenko.

More on André Singer, The True Documentary Gentleman, in Danish on



Skrevet den 24-07-2018 15:28:28 af Tue Steen Müller

It’s a scoop for the DOK Leipzig festival, edition 61 (!) to have “Meeting Gorbachev” as the opening film on the 29th of October.

And to have Werner Herzog present to talk about the film and attend screenings of 

other works, that carry his signature.

In the proud press release it is written about the film:

“With “Meeting Gorbachev”, Werner Herzog and André Singer have painted a human portrait of one of the most important politicians of the past century. Who is the man that brought the Cold War to an end? Through Mikhail Gorbachev, the world changed significantly and yet he remains a great enigma as a human being. From his humble beginnings as the son of a farmer, Gorbachev worked his way up to the post of President of the Soviet Union and shook the nation to its foundations in a time where there appeared to be no resolution to the conflict between East and West. In the film, Herzog and Gorbachev sit together in the former’s Moscow office, engaging in intense conversations about the past and the winding path of history. Time and again their attention returns to the reunification of Germany. The two men treat the difficulties and successes that the former President of the USSR was met with during his tenure. Gorbachev also speaks very openly about the mistakes that he made at the time, about decisions that he might approach differently from today’s perspective. However, the film also deals with the present and future as well, treating questions like: Why is the political situation in both the USA and Russia so difficult at the moment? “Meeting Gorbachev” aims to provide answers for the generations that witnessed and experienced Gorbachev’s policies and their effects first-hand, but also for young individuals who now find themselves living in another reality and are only familiar with the Cold War from history books and stories…”



Skrevet den 31-12-2017 14:20:26 af Allan Berg Nielsen


Den trænede læsers (filmlæsers / filmpublikums) læseproces (filmtilegnelse) bør se således ud: 1) at opleve teksten (filmen) umiddelbart og uhildet, 2) at nærme sig teksten (filmen) fra så mange sider som man kan overkomme og med så megen viden og indsigt som muligt – Erik Lunding: 'den eneste gyldige metode er den pluralistiske'  – dvs. at forstå og vurdere alle detaljer og deres sammenhænge og helheder: tekstens (filmens) udseende og lyd, dens ord, dens billeder og figurer, vers og sætninger (optagelser og scener), dens motiv og holdning og genre, dens helhed – og tekstens (filmens) placering midt i sine kontekster, trådene ud til psykologiske, sociale, historiske og litterære (cinematografiske) sammenhænge, alt det tidsbetingede i den tidløse enestående tekst (film). 3) Når dette er nok, da: at glemme det hele og opleve teksten (filmen) igen, i den anden uskyld som er både forståelse og oplevelse, som er kunstværkets mening og hensigt. (Poul Borum, 1966, frit modificeret ved parenteser af abn, idet Borum jo skrev om litterære tekster)


Kristoffer Hegnsvad tager i sin bog Werner Herzog - Ekstatisk sandhed og andre ubrugelige erobringer udgangspunkt i sit møde foråret 2016 med Werner Herzog på The Rogue Film School i München og bruger herefter sin viden om ham og sine læsninger af hans film som illustrationer, billedliggørelser og eksempler i en skildring af Herzogs filosofi om tilværelsen og æstetikken, virkeligheden og den kunstneriske bearbejdelse af den, skriver en Herzogs poetik så at sige ved siden af Aristoteles’ oldtidige essay.

Måske er det formidling mere end undersøgelse, altså mere akademisk undervisning og folkelig oplysning end det er nye læsninger af filmværkerne. Men hvis formidling og fortælling er bogens ambition – ja, så er den velskabt og lykkedes – og jeg tror bestemt det er fortællelysten som driver Hegnsvads tekst så lydefrit og letlæselig. Vil jeg nyere og mere komplicerede læsninger af filmene skal jeg jo blot købe en bog mere og lægge den ved siden af eller i forlængelse af Hegnsvads inden for sin ambition så fine tekst. (5. december)

Werner Herzog


Hegnsvads tekst forudsætter – opdager jeg nu – alligevel dejligt indforstået (jeg holder rigtig meget af indforståethed jeg ikke er berettiget til) at jeg har set alle Herzogs film, hvad jeg ikke har, og er fortrolig med dem, hvad jeg følgelig heller ikke er. Han anfører smukt originaltitlerne i kursiv. (Jeg har nu alle mine dvd-kopier af filmene – langt fra en komplet samling – fremme på bordet ved afspilleren plus mine udklip og Cronins Herzog on Herzog og jeg indser at det her kommer til at tage lang tid…)

Jeg noterer som et løfte til mig selv og mit blogindlæg, at jeg bør nævne og kommentere hans læsninger, som jeg er begyndt at standse ved, som jeg efterhånden på vej ind i bogen ser at der i det også er en systematik. Så jeg må engang opregne dem forfra fra først i bogen til sidst. Skelne mellem de søgende læsninger og de påståelige. (9. december)


Titlen – uden den for mig endnu kryptiske undertitel – er præcis. Bogen handler om instruktøren, ikke som biografisk person, men som tænkende og iagttagende og handlende menneske, som filosof, som antropolog, som kunstner. Bogen er ikke en række filmlæsninger som konkluderes, den er snarere en konklusion på et studium af Herzog som offentlig person, hvor filmværkerne hentes ind som belæg for fremstillingen, sammenfatningerne.

Hegnsvads undersøgelse gælder således ikke Herzogs film, men hans tænkning, Hegnsvads bog er ikke en filmbog (en undersøgelse af et samlet filmværk), den er en filosofisk monografi over en tænkers tankesystem (hedder det sådan?), en gennemført formidling af egne studier (samtaler, forelæsningsnotater, primær og sekundær litteratur) af dette system, som her eksemplificeres i denne tænkers enkeltværker, i hans film og tekster og andre formuleringer. (9. december)


Hegnsvads undersøgelse udvikler sig til at omfatte Herzogs professionelle moral, hans interviewteknik, hans metode for manuskript, for treatment. Jeg er kommet til side 152, et afsnit, som begynder her, hedder ”Formen under pres”, her er undertitlens begreber ”ekstatisk sandhed” og det ”ubrugelige” under behandling: ”Den gådefulde realisme i Werner Herzogs dokumentarfilm forsøger gennem sin form at identificere sig med det ikke-identiske og derved åbne for en mere rummelig ekstatisk sandhed end bogholdersandheden, der forsøger at identificere alting.” Senere i afsnittets fremstilling indkredses det andet begreb. Herzog opererer, skriver Hegnsvad ”med to forskellige karaktertyper. De er enten små ubrugelige som hittebarnet Kaspar Hauser i Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle og den psykiatriske patient Bruno S. i Stroszek eller store erobrere af det ubrugelige, som Klaus Kinski i hovedrollerne i Aguirre – der Zorn Gottes og Fitzcarraldo.” Jeg er ved at forstå undertitlen, sådan mere middelbart… (10. december)

Werner Herzog under optagelserne til Fitzcarraldo, 1982 


Det er en stor og imponerende bog. Jeg burde skrive en rigtig anmeldelse. Indledning, læsning, vendepunkt, konklusion. Det har jeg ikke kræfter til, ikke viden nok til. Her er i stedet for mine notater fra læsningen, lidt læsning ad gangen, nogle af disse decemberdage. Det må være tilladt i bloggenrens løsere format, tæt som den er på dagbogens. Dagene med bogen har været og er rige, hvad jeg har af Herzogs film konsulteres ind imellem, som Cronins store interview og så mine egne notater, især fra to seminarer med Herzog på filmskolen, er ved hånden. Jeg prøver og prøver at få det til at hjælpe til en forståelse af Hegnsvads arbejde i dets litterære sammenhæng. Gentagelser eller nybrud? (15. december)


Jeg vil læse Hegnsvads bog færdig. I dag og i morgen. Ikke lave andet. Så skrive om den læsning – ind imellem jeg skriver meget forsinkede julekort…

Først på eftermiddagen, i dag allerede, er jeg pludselig færdig med selve teksten. Jeg har læst hele fremstillingen, nu de sidste fascinerende sider i én uafbrudt optagethed som var det en plotbåret roman. Endnu står tilbage de stringent klare og fornemme afsnit med noter, filmografi, bibliografi, liste over andre Herzogværker, litteraturhenvisninger, billedliste. Det hele, både disse afsnit og den nu helt uomgængelige tekstdel, vil jeg i fremtiden vende tilbage til hver gang Herzog er på tale omkring mig, i mig. Kristoffer Hegnsvad har skrevet en fantastisk bog. (25. december)

Kristoffer Hegnsvad: Werner Herzog - Ekstatisk sandhed og andre ubrugelige erobringer, 2017, 285 sider. Forlaget Jensen & Dalgaard. Filmkommentarens vurdering: 6/6 

Kristoffer Hegnsvad



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

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

Two clips to stimulate your appetite to read it all:

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

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



Skrevet den 06-04-2017 08:16:07 af Allan Berg Nielsen

Bag alle Werner Herzogs spørgsmål ligger i grunden en skepsis, bag empatiens høflighed ligger i grunden en tøven, i fortællestemmens basgang af antropologisk essayistik et misantropisk syn på virkelighedens tilstand, bag den både den dybt alvorlige og den meget morsomme attitude lurer en ængstelse, en sorg, en fortvivlelse, og denne sidste kommer bestemte steder i hans arbejder til udtryk i vrede. Selv om han involverer sig i møderne som han kalder optagelserne af sine samtaler med vidner og andre medvirkende, holder han dem på afstand. Blidt og elegant distant.

Denne stiliserede scene er undtagelsen. Her deler Herzog familiens sorg, vrede og rædsel ved det modbydelige, den har været offer for, og distanceringen i set up og iscenesættelse som en teaterscene bliver i filmens sammenhæng af ganske anderledes udarbejdede scener til en udhævelse, sådan viser det antropologiske undersøgelsesresultat, som filmen udgør, som dette tableau er en vital del af, at mennesket er ondt, også mod mennesket, også mod det menneske, som trods det onde i sig er godt. Hele dette store tema Jesus af Nazaret talte om, efterviser Herzog i sin antropologiske femlæggelse, i værk efter værk, også i dette seneste, her i denne opstilling af en familie, hvor en datter mangler.

Werner Herzog møder på rejser fra scene til scene mennesker, alle monomane eksperter på hver deres felt, seriøse videnskabsmænd og excentriske amatører med alvorlig optagethed og venlig koncentration, som sikrer, at hver samtale lykkes ved hans tilstedeværelse, og jeg følger hans fascination, lytter til hans kloge fortællestemme, den stemme, som for mig er halvdelen af hans film, denne og en række af hans tidligere, som hans opmærksomme tilstedeværelse i alle situationer, hans diskrete indlevelse og i det færdige værk, hans distante skepsis, nogle gange hans rædsel.

Et foto fra ulykken af en ilde tilredt død kvinde, den fjerde, den fraværende søster i familien, har været delt på internettet i syg nysgerrighed, som Herzog udtrykker det, og han fortsætter: ”Vi viser ikke dette foto. Vi viser et værelse i hjemmet, musikværelset, hvor hun holdt af at opholde sig.” Og dette afsnit tre af de ti afsnit, som Lo and Behold – Reveries of the Connected World består af, som er et stort filmessay over internettets virkelighed, har overskriften The Dark Side og konkluderer: ”Internettet er det ondes væsen”, som moderen i familien siger, og Herzogs kapitel tre er i sin alvorlige tableauform en lille film i sig selv, som tidligt i værkets fremadskriden i møde efter møde, ofte med begejstrede vidner, skyder en en tidlig tøven ind.

USA 2016, 98 min. Filmkommentarens vurdering: 6/6 penne. Begynder med en visning i dag 17:00 som månedens dokumentar i Cinemateket i København.


Oscar®-nominated documentarian Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams) chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination he previously trained on earthly destinations. Herzog leads viewers on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works - from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships.



Written 10-03-2017 15:36:12 by Tue Steen Müller

Of course it was a scoop for the organisers, IDF (Institute of Documentary Film), to have an editor capacity like American Joe Bini as a tutor and to have him deliver a masterclass like he did yesterday at the Cervantes Institute for a full house. It was obvious that we liked what we heard and saw from the editor, who has been working with Werner Herzog on 27 films.

Bini started his class reading from a paper what he thought of film or rather – liked that – cinema language, because of the reading difficult to convey to you, and after he told us how much he dislikes American documentaries for their journalistic language, he became lovely concrete in his story about how he has been working with Herzog.

He showed clips from ”Little Dieter Needs to Fly” (1997), ”Into the Abyss” (2011) and ”Grizzly Man” (2005) as well as the opening of the film he edited ”Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” (2008) by Marina Zenovich.

Herzog is an instinctual filmmaker, Bini said. He shoots so little footage, it’s insane how little; he decides in advance that this is gonna be in the film. Most of the films with him have been edited in 3 months. With ”Grizzly Man” I found out that this was to be a film about ”the relationship between this German guy and the American bear lover, Timothy”, who had a totally different understanding of nature.

The famous narration of Herzog… With ”Grizzly Man” we made it during the editing. Herzog wrote a text, I often corrected his English, he had a microphone, the recording was done and we put it in immediately.

How do you decide to take on a film? I watch material and if I see that you speak the language of cinema…

Photo: Bini and Herzog at a screening - years ago.



Som en del af CPH.DOX's teknologiprogram på DemokratiScenen under FOLKEMØDET er der i dag 16. juni 18:30 Danmarkspremiere på Werner Herzogs film om internettet Lo And Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World.

CPH: DOX skriver i sin indbydelse: ”Vi er så afhængige af internettet, at vores afhængighed nærmest er blevet usynlig for os. Det er udgangspunktet i Werner Herzogs nye foruroligende, tankevækkende og dybt underholdende dokumentarfilm om internettet og den kunstigt intelligente fremtid. Er du på Folkemødet, så kom til Danmarkspremiere på torsdag klokken 18:30 på Demokrati Scenen. Vi følger filmen op med en debat om kunstig intelligens! ” (ABN 16-06-2016) (Trailer)



Mens jeg fortumlet tænker videre over alt det, som skete i mig ved at lytte til de to dages samtale mellem Joshua Oppenheimer og Werner Herzog på Den danske Filmskole for en uge siden, hjælper kollega Tue Steen Müller mig ved at hitte dette blogindlæg fra frem. Det kan for mig lige nu fungere som en slags huskeliste (for Herzog vendte ofte tilbage til et eller andet dictum, som han kalder disse sætninger) og dermed mulighed for videre overvejelse for en vigtig del af Herzogs bidrag disse dage. Resten står så tilbage som opgave. Og dertil kommer selvfølgelig især at få orden i tankerne om det, Joshua Oppenheimer sagde. Men altså indtil videre denne blogpost af Jason Kottke (14.januar 2015):

”Paul Cronin's book of conversations with filmmaker Werner Herzog called ”Werner Herzog - A Guide for the Perplexed”(2014). On the back cover of the book, Herzog offers a list of advice for filmmakers that doubles as general purpose life advice.

1. Always take the initiative.

2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.

3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.

4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.

5. Learn to live with your mistakes.

6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.

7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.

8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.

9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.

10. Thwart institutional cowardice.

11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

12. Take your fate into your own hands.

13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.

14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.

15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.

16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.

17. Don't be fearful of rejection.

18. Develop your own voice.

19. Day one is the point of no return.

20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.

21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.

22. Guerrilla tactics are best.

23. Take revenge if need be.

24. Get used to the bear behind you."

Bloggeren Jason Kottke tilføjer: "I bet this is some of the stuff you learn at Herzog's Rogue Film School: The Rogue Film School is not for the faint-hearted; it is for those who have travelled on foot, who have worked as bouncers in sex clubs or as wardens in a lunatic asylum, for those who are willing to learn about lockpicking or forging shooting permits in countries not favoring their projects. In short: for those who have a sense of poetry. For those who are pilgrims. For those who can tell a story to four year old children and hold their attention. For those who have a fire burning within. For those who have a dream.” 

Og jeg får lyst til at tilføje, at mine forældres og læreres formaninger og opdragelse ikke altid er moralisme; som regel er det hårdt tilkæmpede personlige erfaringer derude fra virkeligheden. Det er sådan jeg lytter til Herzog, helt ærligt. (ABN 18-01-2015)



Året begynder for mig med en begivenhed. På filmskolen skal jeg fredag og lørdag lytte til forelæsninger af Werner Herzog og Joshua Oppenheimer. Lidt om Herzog først, Oppenheimer senere:

Mit første møde med Herzogs film var sent. Det var på Tue Steen Müllers arbejdsværelse hjemme hos ham og Ellen Fonnesbech-Sandberg i Nørre Farimagsgade. Jeg var gæst, boede der (jeg kan finde på at blive længe), jeg var omgivet af hans kæmpesamling filmkopier, det var morgen, han skulle på arbejde på EDN, fruen skulle på DR, også arbejde, jeg havde fri, så han gav mig lektier for: du skal se den her og derefter er du forandret. Og det blev jo stort. Jeg har kun et notat i min lommebog bevaret:

”Rekviem for en ubeboelig planet” hedder filmen på dansk. Vi både ved og ved ikke, vi er i Kuwait, efter Golfkrigen -> rekviem, dødemesse, elegi, klagesang, smerte, sorg. Er det ikke tankerækken? Hvem var fjenden? Filmen angiver ingen politisk adresse. Værket interesserer sig alene for sorgen og så derefter handlingen (oliebrandene slukkes). Ikke moralsk som et samfundsmæssigt alternativ, men amoralsk som den kunstneriske modvægt til klagen. Altså KLAGE og HANDLING som et æstetisk balancesystem. Det er fravær af budskab og meddelelse, nærvær af konstruktion og værk. Det er messe i kirken. Det er statuarisk på torvet.

Siden har jeg ikke sluppet Herzog. Siden har jeg beundret ham i ét og alt. Min fascination af manden blev låst fast, da jeg på filmskolen i 2006 deltog i et seminar, en mesterklasse eller hvad det var (blot vidunderligt). Jeg skrev også de dage noget om den film ned i lommebogen, ikke noget jeg tænkte, denne gang noget, Herzog fortalte:

Det var i anekdotens form (Herzog fortæller i anekdotens form); han brugte anekdoten som en foredragsholder bruger powerpoint fotoet, men langt dybere end en sådan illustration. Herzogs anekdoter fæstner sig i forelæsningens løb som kapitler i hans film. Disse skrev jeg ned:

1) I ”Lessons of Darkness” findes ikke én scene, ikke én optagelse, ikke ét eneste billede af et stykke jord bevaret uskadet. Det indledende Pascal citat forklarer det, men Pascal har ikke skrevet den tekst, kunne ikke have skrevet den. Herzog har skrevet den selv, og han har, ja, det sagde han, gjort det for at nå en dybere sandhed. ”Pascal kunne ikke have skrevet det bedre”, siger han leende.

2) Cinéma vérité hører 60’erne til. ”Depict on Reality” kræver nu (i 2006) ganske andre greb. Herzog ved, han er oppe mod både dinosaurer og redskaber som photoshop og manipuleret reality, og han synes kendsgerninger (facts) er uinteressante, kedelige.

3) ”Lessons of Darkness”er ”highly stylized”, den er mytiske landskaber, iscenesatte landskaber. Kuwait nævnes ikke, Saddam Hussein nævnes ikke, tilbagetoget nævnes ikke og sådan videre. "Satan skaber en illusion for os, olien, som er flydt ud overalt, ligner vand." 

Det her er blot lidt fra mine notater. Lars Movin derimod skrev en omhyggelig artikel om Werner Herzogs æstetik, "Bogholdersandhed versus poetisk sandhed", hvor han blandt andet refererer Herzog seminaret i 2006. Det var i Kosmorama 242/2008; link nedenfor. (ABN 03-01-2015) 

"Lessons of Darkness" (Lektionen in Finsternis), Tyskland 1992, 52 min.



Steve Rose from The Guardian brings Saturday April 14 a very interesting article on and interview with Werner Herzog, whose ”Into the Abyss” is screened all over the world in these months. I have taken out this quote from the article that you should definitely read in its full version:

”Into The Abyss (photo) is not overtly about capital punishment. Herzog describes it more as "an American Gothic" – a survey of a Texan landscape of poverty, intoxication, incarceration and death. But he's explicit about his opposition to the death penalty: "I was born when Nazi Germany was still around, and simply because of all the atrocities and the genocide and euthanasia, I just can't be an advocate of capital punishment. There's something fundamentally wrong in my opinion, but I would be the last one to tell the American people how to handle criminal justice."

As well as the documentary, he made another four 50-minute documentaries interviewing other death row inmates. "Not interviewing," he corrects me. "I'm not a journalist; I'm a poet. I had a discourse, an encounter with these people but I never had a list of questions."” (TSM 17-04-2012)

Into The Abyss is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 30 April.










Anmeldelserne forlanger simpelthen, at man finder frem til en biograf, hvor filmen vises:


”Til at begynde med virker Herzogs anti-form næsten demonstrativt umoderne. Men efterhånden som flere talende ansigter afleverer deres vidnesbyrd, efterhånden som filmens tema bliver belyst, giver formen mening…”

”Werner Herzog har tydeligvis opbygget en form for tillid og forståelse med de mennesker, han taler med i 'Ned i afgrunden'. Måske fornemmer hans interviewofre en medmenneskelig nysgerrighed i stedet for en journalistisk professionalisme hos Herzog. I hvert fald sker der noget forbavsende, da præsten Richard Lopez lige har fortalt om det græs, de køer og de egern, der fylder hver af hans dage med glæde. 'Kan du fortælle om de egern?' spørger Herzog, og som tilskuer sidder man og tænker på hvad dælen det er for at bizart spørgsmål, men knap er præsten færdig med at beskrive de frejdige gnavere før han sammenligner dem med de mænd, han be'r den sidste bøn for - og så bryder han ud i tårer. Var det Herzogs sjette sans, der slog til?” (Per Juul Carlsen)


“Herzog er (ved siden af en fortsat, men svækket række spillefilm, red.)… blevet en myreflittig dokumentarist, der i essayistisk form undersøger alle mulige emner, som optager ham: renæssancemusik, alternativ luftfart, buddhistisk fordybelse, menneskers overlevelse på udsatte steder, idealisters store selvbedrag og lejlighedsvise sejre. Herzog anbringer sig selv i billedet, interviewer, kommenterer, reflekterer og strukturerer hver film som kammermusik.”

”Into the Abyss bærer undertitlen ’A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life’. Sagen er dødsstraf, og Herzog gør emnet konkret ved at analysere en amerikansk forbrydelse i alle faser af forløbet. Tonefaldet er langtfra lidenskabeligt. Filmen er en disciplineret øvelse i at anskueliggøre et problem, så tilskueren selv kan tage stilling, men må være gjort af forstokket stof for ikke at reagere på dét, som Herzog har vist ham.” (Bo Green Jensen)


”Med sin læspende tyske accent lyder Herzog som en parodi på Djævlens advokat, men faktisk er han en beundringsværdig interviewer, der stiller alle de rigtige, fordomsfri og svære spørgsmål til en række hårdt prøvede mennesker. Hans instinkt for at trykke på skjulte knapper i det mildeste toneleje er forbløffende. Det sker med spørgsmål, som kvalificerer undersøgelsen, snarere end de søger kontante svar. Herzog gør, hvad han altid gør: vælger et blødt punkt og graver sig ind i menneskelivets verden. Hvad han finder dernede i små og store afgrunde, er hvad han viser frem. Så må vi selv blive klogere. Hvis vi da synes, dét er en pointe.” (Kim Skotte)

Werner HerzogNed i afgrunden (Into the Abyss), USA, Storbritannien og Tyskland 2011. 106 min. Fotografi: Peter Zeitlinger. Dansk distribution DOXBIO Litt.: Per Juul Carlsen, Filmland 4.4.2012, Bo Green Jensen, Weekendavisen 4.4.2012, Kim Skotte, Politiken 4.4.2012. 

Filmen havde premiere i aftes ved en enkelt samtidig visning i 50 biografer. Og fra i dag kan den ses i Café-Biografen i Odense og i Grand i København. (ABN 05-04-2012) 



by Tue Steen Müller

Steve Rose from The Guardian brings Saturday April 14 a very interesting article on and interview with Werner Herzog, whose ”Into the Abyss” is screened all over the world in these months. I have taken out this quote from the article that you should definitely read in its full version:

”Into The Abyss (photo) is not overtly about capital punishment. Herzog describes it more as "an American Gothic" – a survey of a Texan landscape of poverty, intoxication, incarceration and death. But he's explicit about his opposition to the death penalty: "I was born when Nazi Germany was still around, and simply because of all the atrocities and the genocide and euthanasia, I just can't be an advocate of capital punishment. There's something fundamentally wrong in my opinion, but I would be the last one to tell the American people how to handle criminal justice."

As well as the documentary, he made another four 50-minute documentaries interviewing other death row inmates. "Not interviewing," he corrects me. "I'm not a journalist; I'm a poet. I had a discourse, an encounter with these people but I never had a list of questions."”

Into The Abyss is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 30 April.



by Mikkel Stolt

What does a cave being enclosed for thousands of years sound like? Or smell like? This film actually tries to tell us, but first of all it shows us what it looks like. Or to be more precise, it shows us what the 30.000 years old cave paintings look like. And let me tell you right away, that despite being a 3D sceptic I was really flabbergasted by the effect that this format gives you; a unique sense on how the ancient artists used the curves and hollows of the cave walls to create effects that are right down spectacular. Even from today’s perspective this is world class art!

The paintings do take up a lot of time in this film and you actually get the strange sensation that even Herzog himself was overwhelmed by the art in these caves and thus has made a slightly more conventional documentary. We do get a lot of his trademarks, though: The philosophical narration, the “leading” questions to interviewees and the oddball characters, for instance the “perfumerist” who is skilled in finding hidden caves using his nostrils. Also, a typical Herzog-moment comes when his voice narrates that the footprints of a wolf and an 8-year-old boy were found next to each other. Did the wolf stalk the boy, did they walk together as companions or were the footprints sat 10.000 years apart? “We will never know”. Herzog also wants to put art, music and the understanding of human evolvement into perspective and it really does work. But first and last are the paintings themselves of paramount interest to him. Even when we almost think the film is over, we get the best seven or eight minutes of them all: the camera dwelling on the walls with very simple lighting effects and some really beautiful music - an original score by Ernst Reijseger as far as I can detect.

However, a few “buts” arose in my mind. At an early point in the film, one of the scientists asks the crew to be silent so we can hear the sounds of the cave. Herzog can’t stand that silence more than 10 seconds but soon adds a heartbeat and then music, and shortly it gives you an uneasy feeling about the director’s choices. And apart from when we see the paintings themselves; the 3D format is interesting at best and somewhat annoying and distracting at worst.

But in the end the film is just wonderful and Herzog does the unthinkable: he lets us feel that he put the matter of the film in a predominant position because he didn’t have a choice. These paintings are essential to mankind, the film says, and I agree. 5 point nibs (Posting November 14 2011)

2 comments to Cave of Forgotten Dreams:

Leena Pasanen wrote 16-11-2011 22:49:18: Why can't we just face the fact that even the masters can be out of their comfort zone and not fully know what they are doing?! 5/6 is very generous in my opinion.

Mikkel Stolt wrote 21-11-2011 11:27:58: Hi, Leena. Good to hear from you. I usually don't have any problem critisizing the masters (or anybody else :) ). I didn't find Scorsese's Harrison-film especially good and Herzog's "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done" was an even bigger challenge to watch. However, in this film the problem was maybe that Herzog was too much in his comfort zone. But I must admit I was truly moved by it.



by Tue Steen Müller

Herzog is – mostly due to this blog’s Allan Berg, a true admirer of the work of the German director – one of the most noticed and praised names of this site. If you write his name in the ”search”, you get 33 hits. From being an arthouse feature film director known for extravagance and his work with legendary Klaus Kinski, he is now (also) a hit among documentary lovers, even if he would not accept to be a documentarian as his many joyful ”attacks” on the direct cinema people have shown. (Tue Steen Müller 17-04-2012) 



Steve Rose from The Guardian brings Saturday April 14 a very interesting article on and interview with Werner Herzog, whose ”Into the Abyss” is screened all over the world in these months. I have taken out this quote from the article that you should definitely read in its full version:

”Into The Abyss (photo) is not overtly about capital punishment. Herzog describes it more as "an American Gothic" – a survey of a Texan landscape of poverty, intoxication, incarceration and death. But he's explicit about his opposition to the death penalty: "I was born when Nazi Germany was still around, and simply because of all the atrocities and the genocide and euthanasia, I just can't be an advocate of capital punishment. There's something fundamentally wrong in my opinion, but I would be the last one to tell the American people how to handle criminal justice."

As well as the documentary, he made another four 50-minute documentaries interviewing other death row inmates. "Not interviewing," he corrects me. "I'm not a journalist; I'm a poet. I had a discourse, an encounter with these people but I never had a list of questions."”

Into The Abyss is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 30 April.

Anyhow, it is now not difficult to get hold of his films, dvd boxes have been published, download is possible and festivals are making retrospectives of his work. AND the director is still enormously productive. Recently the upcoming Toronto IFF announced the world premiere of a new Herzogian piece – ”Cave of forgotten Dreams”, the title of a film that offers an ”exclusive access to the Chauvet caves of southern France, capturing the oldest known pictorial creations of humankind in their astonishing natural setting. He (Herzog, ed.) puts 3-D technology to a profound use, taking us back in time over 30,000 years.”

Indiepixfilms is the one that now offers a Werner Herzog Collection for purchase. Mostly of his feature films but also including a neo-classic documentary as ”Little Dieter Needs to Fly”. (dvd - Region 1). (TSM Posting August 12 2010)    



af Allan Berg Nielsen

I aften skal vi i min filmklub se en vild film. I hvert fald vildt krævende film, flere år under praktisk forberedelse med konkret fysisk arbejde, forfulgt af uheld efter uheld under optagelserne, efterstræbt af medierne hele vejen undervejs med rygte efter rygte. Og så pludselig blev der stille om den. Selv de største film lever kort i offentligheden og i biograferne. Nu har denne film imidlertid nogle år været tilbage sammen med de andre, Herzog lavede med Klaus Kinski, i dvd-udgave i det smukke sæt HERZOGKINSKI, fem beslægtede historier plus historien om de fem historier, Mein liebster Feind, 1999, som i den grad er en beslægtet historie, skønt den formelt er en dokumentarfilm, de fem formelt spillefilm. Herzog sætter altid "dokumentarfilm" i anførselstegn. Og den ene gang, han ikke gør det, kalder han Fitzcarraldo "min bedste dokumentarfilm".

Bagsiden på filmens cover fotæller historien: "Peru. Iquitos er en by, som omkring århundredskiftet er isoleret midt i junglen. I udkanterne af byen står nogle få hytter og rådner i mudderet. I centrum findes de nyrige gummibaroners prægtige huse. Det er i disse omgivelser rige på groteske kontraster, at Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald - Fitzcarraldo - som de indfødte kalder ham, drømmer sin drøm om at bringe Enrico Caruso og Sarah Bernhardt sammen i en stor forestilling i en fejring af den store opera.

For at finansiere sin fantastiske drøm, beslutter Fitzcarraldo at udnytte et umådeligt areal med gummitræer bag de upassable Ucayala vandfald. For at omgå denne barriere, får han bogstavelig talt løftet sin store floddamper over et bjerg fra den ene gren af floden til den anden. Med støtte fra en indiansk stamme og fortryllet af alle tiders største sanger på grammofon kæmper Fitzcarraldo mod feber, moskitoer og kvælende hede for at præstere det umulige."

Werner Herzog: Fitzcarraldo, Tyskland, 1982, 157 min. Medvirkende Klaus Kinski og Claudia Cardinale. Foto: Thomas Mauch. Mein liebster Feind. Tyskland, 1999, 95 min. Medvirkende Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale m.fl. På dvd i bokssættet HERZOGKINSKI, Anchor Bay Entertainment, UK 2004 (Blogindlæg 28. januar 2009)



af Allan Berg Nielsen

Når man som jeg lever fjernt fra biografer, er man nødt til at tage sagen i egen hånd. Og jeg er både bestyrtet og lykkelig over, hvad dvd-udgivelsernes voksende mængde gør ved mine muligheder. Jeg må tænke mig om, begrænse mig, lægge en plan. Og den er lige nu: én instruktør om måneden. En af de store. Og Werner Herzog er så blevet denne måneds navn her hos mig.

Jeg begynder simpelt hen med hans biografi, som Paul Cronin i sin bogs forord skriver den så minimalt og elegant: "Det meste af, hvad man har hørt om Werner Herzog er usandt. Mere end om nogen anden instruktør, nulevende eller afdød, er antallet af falske rygter og lodrette løgne, som er spredt om denne mand og hans film forbløffende." Og efter research og lange interviews, hvor han prøver at finde huller i Herzogs argumentation og modsigelser i hans udtalelser konkluderer Cronin: "... at enten er han mesterløgner eller mere sandsynligt, han har hele tiden fortalt sandheden." Og han fortsætter:

"Heldigvis er der nogle basale kendsgerninger, som er indiskutable. Han blev født i München i Tyskland i 1942, og som barn levede han i Sachrang, en afsides bjerglandsby i nærheden af den østrigske grænse. Han begyndte at rejse til fods i fjorten års alderen og havde sin første telefonsamtale, da han var sytten. For at finansiere sine tidlige film arbejdede han, samtidig med han gik i skole, på et stålværk som svejser på natskiftet. Det resulterede i "Herakles" fra 1961. Han instruerede fem spillefilm med Klaus Kinski, og Francois Truffaut kaldte ham engang den vigtigste levende filminstruktør. Men nota bene, han instruerede ikke Kinski fra bag kameraet med en riffel i hånden. Han satte ikke nogens liv på spil under optagelserne til "Fitzcarraldo". Han er ikke sindssyg, heller ikke excentrisk..."

"Hans arbejde er ikke forankret i den tyske romantiks tradition. Og han lider ikke af storhedsvanvid. Snarere er han et yderst venligt, generøst og beskedent menneske, som blot er velsignet med en ekstraordinært visionær og intuitiv intelligens. Dertil en barsk humor, som kan efterlade tilhøreren på aldeles glat is..."

Anledningen til at beskæftige sig med Herzog lige nu er den flotte dvd-boks, som filmbutikkerne sælger, og som bare er lokkende, filmserien, den store retrospektive, i Paris, som gør mig misundelig, Lars Movins artikel i Kosmorama, som er respektindgydende og så min mandagshøjskole og filmklubaften denne måned i FOF-Randers.

Litt.: Paul Cronin, ed.: Werner Herzog: Herzog on Herzog, London 2002. Lars Movin: Bogholdersandhed versus poetisk sandhed i Eva Jørholt m.fl., red.: Kosmorama 242/2008. (Blogindlæg 10. januar 2009) HERZOGKINSKI, a Film Legacy. DVD-boks med de seks Kinski-film. Anchor Bay Entertainment UK, 2004. Tysk/engelske versioner af filmene. Kan købes i Filmhusets boghandel.



by Tue Steen Müller

Le Monde (11.12.08) includes an interview with Werner Herzog to announce the big retrospective of the German master and his around 50 films. The series run from December 10 to March 2 2009.

He says nothing specific new in this interview but can not refrain from a new provocative remark. Last time it was the documentary cinema vérité people who was hit by the Herzogían anger, this time it is his generation peers Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Schroeter, who are characterised as ”petits bourgeois” with no connection to Herzog himself. (Posting November 12 2008)



by Philipp Griess

Food for thought: This text is written by a student from the Zelig Film School for Documentary at the exam in June after one year of the three year long studies. Philipp Griess has chosen camera for his further studies:

I do not insist on a clear distinction between fiction and documentary. I do not believe in definitions of art. It helps maybe for analyzing, I don’t believe that it helps for doing films. For me Werner Herzog and his opinions in these discussions are a very important reference. I think the main point of (documentary) filmmaking is still to tell an interesting story, that someone else can identify with. So it is almost always about people, or the fate of someone. Films about people impress me, but in the end the story is bigger than just this one biography. It is what Herzog does in “Grizzly Man” or “White Diamond” and it is the story of the young Danish female pilot ("Smiling in a War Zone”) who flies to Kabul to teach a young girl flying. This is also the films of Michael Moore. And for sure “Darwin’s Nightmare”.

New documentary film is also the set up (dt: Inszenierung) of happenings (“Czech Dream” – great film), of situations (“MegaCities” – the beautiful sequence when the Mexican superman dictates a letter to the world, “The heritage of the world is the Abstruse”) and the creation of pictures like in “Black Sun”, “Working Mans Death”.

Film (like every art form) is very closely connected to the spirit of a time. So especially doc films should be open for graphics, drawings, sounds and music in every style, strange editing (“Ghosts of City Soleil”, “Mondovino”) and any other irritation – if it helps to tell what has to be told.

But the documentary film represents from my point of view still a way to tell things the public doesn’t know about – or does not want to know about. It has to be open for more journalistic/historical approaches (“Terrors Advocate” is a good example, or “The most secret place on earth” about the American hidden war in Cambodia). (Posted July 18 2008 by Tue Steen Müller)



Jeg var i festivalens program med tilbageskuende film omsider kommet til Encounters At The End Of The World: … og endelig flyttedes fokus for mig væk fra den tabte tid, og vemodet forvandledes til klaustrofobi med dykkerne under Antarktis’ havis og undren over naturforskningens galgenhumor, ja, der blev leet meget i salen, til simpel angst, at det efter dinosaurernes uddøen så pludseligt som art dengang i fortiden nu er vores tur, for det minder Herzogs alvor uden nåde og hans tydelige billeder af vore fremtidige ruiner mig om. Og dette møde bliver nok det uafrystelige fra denne festival. (Del af bloginlæg fra CPH:DOX 2008 17. november 2008, ABN)



De mest interessante film (og det uanset, om udgangspunktet er journalistisk eller kunstnerisk) er efter min mening dem, der tør starte forfra og se på, hvordan nu det her stof kan skæres - og ikke først og fremmest ser det som fortælling, og derefter finder de "rigtige" virkemidler, men hvor man kan mærke, at farverne, de flyvske tanker, lydene, følelserne og sågar de indbyggede idiosynkrasier har været vigtige i frembringelsen. Er det ikke Werner Herzog, der har sagt noget i retning af, at han påbegynder hver ny film, som om han aldrig har set en film før. Dét er en tiltalende tanke… (Del af blogindlæg 24. april 2008, Mikkel Stolt)



af Allan Berg Nielsen

Jeg må gøre Herzog-genfortællingen færdig. (Før jeg i morgen er på Cinéma du réel festivalen i Paris. I fjendens lejr.) Tue Steen Müller bragte det forleden frem til til Minnesota-erklæringens punkt 5, om de dybere lag i filmkunsten.

5. Herzog slår fast at de findes der i den filmiske konstruktion. I modsætning til den journalistiske reportage, hvor de ville forstyrre. Men det må ikke få os til at det samme gælder film, hvor der findes sådan noget som poetisk og henreven sandhed. Den er mystisk og flygtig og kan kun nås ved digtning, fantasi og stilisering.

6. Cinémá verité folk ligner turister som tager billeder midt iblandt kendsgerningers ældgamle ruiner, erklærer han bekymret. Jeg tror han tænker på om hans egne reportager slår til, om de mange fluen på væggen film nu virkelig tænkes færdige. Jo, ok, mestrenes gør, Dvortsevoys gør. Franks, men Wisemans? Altid? Bang Carlsens? Wivels? Aldrig turismens lethed? Jo, da, som vi andre. Dog, Leth digter, fantaserer og stiliserer hele tiden.

7. Men tordner den evigt kontinent-vandrende Herzog: turisme er synd, fodrejse er dyd!

8. Og så fortæller han en historie om de snesevis på snescootere som i det smeltende forår braser igennem isen på søerne i Minnesota. Presset på guvernøren er stort for at få ham til at lovgive om det. Men denne forhenværende bryder og bodyguard har svaret: man kan ikke lave love imod dumhed.

9. Så er handsken kastet, noterer Herzog. Dette er modstanderen. Og det bliver hovedtema i speaken til Grizzly Man, naiviteten over for naturens virkelighed set gennem mange erkendelseslag i et filmværk.

10. For månen er mat, moder natur kalder ikke, taler ikke til dig, lige meget hvor meget gletscheren giver lyd fra sig. Og lad være med at lytte til livets sang. Bedrøvede råd til Amie Huguenard og Timothy Threadwell, som forførte af et naivt natursyn leverede den ultimative reportage.

11. Så vi skal være taknemmelige for, at universet derude ikke kender noget smil.

12. Werner Herzog konkluderer sin erklæring og filmkunstneriske program: Livet i oceanerne må være et rent helvede. Et umådeligt, nådeløst helvede af permanent og direkte fare. Så meget helvede, at nogle arter, herunder mennesket, under evolutionen kravlede og flød op på nogle små stykker fastland, hvor mørkets lære fortsætter. (Blogindlæg 11. marts 2008)



af Allan Berg Nielsen

Tue, jeg tror altså ikke, at Herzog er oppe mod filmhistorien og dens anerkendte helte, han er oppe mod overfladiskhed, naivitet og dumhed i tænkningen med kameraet og i klipperummet. Oppe mod sig selv for så vidt. Så er man modløs, må man tage sig sammen.

En myte fortæller, at han tilfældigt mødte et kamerahold i lufthavnen i Wien. Det skulle til Kuwait, det var lige efter krigen. De var modløse, havde ikke rigtigt greb om opgaven. Derfor ikke lyst til reportagen, som ventedes af dem. Herzog foreslog, at han tog med og instruerede. Det ville være en ære, sagde de, ordnede det med deres tv-station og deres tv-reportage blev til "Lessons of Darkness".

Det afgørende ved den historie er jo ikke, om det faktisk er foregået, det der i Wien og så videre, men om den er sand i sin fortælling om fortælling. Og sådan er det for mig at se med Herzogs punkter. De er ikke politiske, de er poetiske. (Blogindlæg 10. marts 2008)



af Tue Steen Müller

Allan refers to the point 5 in the Minnesota Declaration of Werner Herzog: "5. There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization."

Noone will object to that this is what Herzog at his best has achieved, at least in his "Lessons of Darkness" - it is mysterious and elusive.

But I could mention several "mysterious and elusive" magical moments in films that have been made from the observational approach that Herzog's whole Declaration was made to oppose.

It reminds me about la nouvelle vague in France (Godard, Truffaut et co.), who rejected the qualities of Jean Renoir and Marcel Carne when they launched their programmme.. Or, in a much friendlier way, our own Danish Jon Bang Carlsen, who had to fight for his "staged documentary" style for many years before it was accepted by hard core documentarians. But that was 20 years ago, long time ago, now we can value both Albert Maysles and Werner Herzog and Jon Bang Carlsen and Joergen Leth and Anne Wivel. (Posted March 9 2008)



af Allan Berg Nielsen

Jamen Tue, han var da ikke, og er, i sine filmpoetikpunkter, da ikke ude efter disse fine folk, du nævner. Slet ikke personligt. Derfor undskyldningen, vil jeg tro. Fordi, han fornemmede eller fik at vide, at de følte sig personligt stødt. Og han har jo naturligvis heller ikke slettet denne pamflet fra sin hjemmeside. For den handler nemlig om noget inden i ham selv. Og tilbydes os andre som udfordring til vores tanke, som Perse siger om havet hver morgen. Hvordan er det med forholdet mellem sandhed og virkelighed på film?

Om lidt sidder vi på festivalen med det provokerende navn: Cinéma du réel.. vi må nu lige tilbage til Herzog, som i filmen om de to, der bliver spist af bjørnen, udreder, hvordan deres filmmateriale er enestående med hensyn til virkelighed, men naivt i analysen, falskt..

Vi må lige tage nogle flere punkter fra Minnesotaerklæringen.. Punkt 5 stiller virkelig krav til dokumentarfilmens selvopfattelse. Herzog finder der under den filmede reportage, samtale, interview i filmen er dybere lag med egenskaber som poetisk, ekstatisk sandhed. (Blogindlæg 9. marts 208)



af Tue Steen Müller

Allan Berg, my fellow blogger, is fascinated by Werner Herzog. And indeed, he is a great filmmaker, who has brought something new to the documentary genre. "Little Dieter Needs to Fly", as an example, is a pure masterpiece.

Allan advises you to go to the Werner Herzog site to read his Minnesota Declaration, which he made to comment on what he calls the cinéma vérité.Allan writes in Danish, the declaration is in English.

Fun to read it is and inspiring, but also nonsense from the side of Herzog to denounce - let´s call it that - the observational documentary cinema. Is there no truth in what Sergey Dvortsevoy does, or what about Herz Frank, Pennebaker, Leacock, Wiseman? Is it reasonable to reduce observational documentary to mere search of facts...

Of course not, and Herzog knows that, and that is why he publicly excused his provocative Minnesota statement at a meeting where all the old boys - Maysles included, he is probably the one that Herzog refers to when he says that he has heard a filmmaker say that he can find the truth by observation, by being there - were present.

But fun reading. The documentary genre is alive and kicking. The diversity is a sign of good health for the genre. (Posted March 7 2008)



af Allan Berg Nielsen

Blot at tage et kamera og så prøve at være ærlig er naivt og både rigtigt og forkert på en måde, som minder Herzog om nattevagten i Supreme Court, som fortørnes over mængden af skrevne love og tilladte procedurer. "Jeg synes, der bare skulle være en eneste lov: De slemme fyre skal puttes i fængsel." Uheldigvis har han på en måde ret, for de flestes vedkommende, det fleste gange, bemærker Herzog.

Cinéma Vérité forveksler kendsgerninger med sandhed og pløjer derfor kun sten. Og dog, kendsgerninger har somme tider en mærkelig, en sælsom kraft, som gør, at deres nedarvede sandhed forekommer vanskelig at tro på, hedder det i Minnesotaerklæringens tredje afsnit, Herzog fascineres ved visse kendsgerninger, men tordner alligevel i afsnit fire: Kendsgerninger skaber normer, sandhed skaber belysning og viden. Og netop i filmkunsten er der dybere lag af sandhed... (Blogindlæg 6. marts 2008)



af Allan Berg Nielsen

Den er fra 1999, denne erklæring om sandhed og kendsgerning i dokumentarfilm, som Herzog kalderLessons of Darkness. Den er underskrevet 30. april det år på Walker Art Center i Minneapolis, Minnesota. Det er snart ti år siden og Dogme 95 var dengang det filmiske æstetik regelsæt, man talte om. Herzog opfatter von Triers og Vinterbergs regler "som en madopskrift", fortalte han, da han oktober 2006 holdt master class på filmskolen.

Herzog stiller helt andre og inderligere krav til et kyskhedsløfte. Hans tilværelsessyn er ældre og har i sig en ganske anden grundstemning. Og følgelig en anden etik. Der er 12 punkter i hans Minnesotaerklæring, som kan læses på hans hjemmeside

(vælg "Minnesota Declaration" i indexet), og han begynder med at konstatere, at trods sin sin erklæring om det modsatte er den såkaldte cinéma vérité blottet for verité. Det bliver i dens ortodokse naivitet til en kunstig sandhed, til en bogholdernes sandhed. En fremtrædende repræsentant for kunstretningen erklærede engang offentligt, at sandheden let kan findes ved blot at gribe et kamera og prøve at være ærlig. (Blogindlæg 5. marts 2008)



af Allan Berg Nielsen

Vi var noget rystede efter filmen, selvfølgelig, vi på højskoleholdet i går. Men vi samlede os sammen til at tale om den anden mand også, manden, som har lavet filmen: Werner Herzog.

Imidlertid er det jo først historien om de to, som går i døden sammen. Amie Huguenard og Timothy Threadwell. To elskende? Herzog lader det stå hen i det uvisse, for er de på vej fra hinanden? Eller er de vendt tilbage sammen i en ny forståelse? Den bag sin så tydelige ophidselse nøgterne retsmediciner skildrer hvordan de sammen har kæmpet mod bjørnen. Han har skreget til hende, at hun skal flygte, hun er er blevet,har kastet sig ind i kampen. Disse lange minutter, som lydbåndet skildrer, som kun retsmedicineren og Herzog har hørt. Som alene i deres fortællinger er med i filmen.

Werner Herzog, dette barske og blide menneske giver båndet tilbage til indehaveren: destruer det.. og han dæmper sin film ned, gør den tænksom og tyst i en modbevægelse til Treadwells maniske højdepunkter. Han gør det i speaken, han selv læser, den smukkeste speak, jeg længe har hørt, en tekst som slutter sig til den myndige dramaturgi og gør filmen til psykoanalyse, til en filosofisk kritik af vort natursyn… Så klogt… (Blogindlæg 26. februar 2008)

Werner Herzog: Grizzly Man, 2005.

Photo: Robin Holland (

Categories: Cinema, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Susana de Sousa D, Collected Postings on her Works

Written 30-03-2012 14:42:38 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Susana de Sousa D, Collected Postings on her Works

An academic film team would normally make me, a documentary addict, shiver with fear for the outcome of 48, in this case no, for that simple reason that I had seen the team’s previous film that perfectly combined the background of aesthetics, philosophy, history and music with a creative intention… (Tue Steen Müller)

Susana de Sousa Dias at Cinéma du réel 2012 




48 THE REVIEW 2010

by Tue Steen Müller

This is gonna be a bit longer blog text than usual. Simply because this is an extraordinary film that calls for more than an ordinary review. My co-blogger Allan Berg wrote – in Danish and after having seen 30 minutes of the film – that this would probably be the film experience of his festival viewing. It was definitely what it became for me. My hope is that the following will inspire festivals to introduce a totally different approach to writing history. To deal with memories. To seek a new minimalistic film language. And work with music and sound in a new way.

First an introduction to the team behind the film; the info is taken from their website: The director Susana de Sousa Dias - completed a thesis in Aesthetics and Art Philosophy and holds University degrees both in Painting (Lisbon University) and Cinema (National School of Theatre and Cinema). She studied music at the National Conservatory of Music and is currently preparing a PhD in Aesthetics, Art Science and Technology (University Paris 8). The producer Ansgar Schaefer - graduated in German Language and Literature and Political Science. Works as a historian and university professor. The sound designer António de Sousa Dias - composer, Ph.D. in Musicology (Paris VIII) sponsored by the Portuguese Scientific Foundation FCT. Is currently developing a research work on CAC - Université Paris VIII / MSH Paris Nord in the field of music creation and virtual environments.

An academic film team would normally make me, a documentary addict, shiver with fear for the outcome of 48, in this case no, for that simple reason that I had seen the team’s previous film that perfectly combined the background of aesthetics, philosophy, history and music with a creative intention.

And with a sense for image and sound, and the putting the two together. To convey with Still Life. Faces of a Dictatorship (2005) the traumatic past of Portugal under Salazar. The film is 77 mins. long without any narration, built on archive from the 48 years between 1926 and till 1974, when the carnation revolution happened. The archive includes news, war footage from the colonies, propaganda films and photos of political prisoners. The musical score for this film, by António de Sousa Dias, is exceptional, first you wonder why but then you see what it does to the images, making a reflective distance and opens for a new both intellectual and emotional interpretation.

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Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

Michael Christoffersen, alle tekster om hans film

Written 27-03-2012 15:40:51 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Michael Christoffersen, alle tekster om hans film

De fire film set under ét udgør en samlet journalistisk og dokumentarisk erfaring om international ret lagt ned i ét vældigt værk, som filmet på location disse tidlige år vil bevare sin enestående status som skildring af denne ambition om et samlet retssystem...




af Allan Berg Nielsen

Den flotte unge indianerhøvding José Fachin Ruiz er den seneste i rækken af Christoffersens helte, alle jurister på arbejde for et internationalt retssystem. Han her er i en central scene i filmen på vej fra en demonstration langt inde i Perus jungle, værdig, stolt og rank, men, opdager vi, lige nu arresteret og på vej til bank og måneders fængsel og flere mishandlinger, inidlertid også på vej til en erkendelse af, at undertrykkelsen og volden og torturen, forsvindingerne og henrettelserne må bekæmpes i seje og tålmodige juridiske argumentationer i internationalt overvågede retssager på et stadigt udbygget og sikret grundlag af international ret, i hans tilfælde internationale rettigheder for oprindelige folk. Han er jæger og familiefar og leder af en gruppe unge indianere, som har sat sig op mod olieselskabet Pluspetrols metodiske ødelæggelse af deres land. Han hedder José Facin Ruiz, og han læser i dag jura på universitetet i Lima. Den kendsgerning er den lykkelige udgang på Michael Christoffersens film om de forfærdelige forbrydelser i Perus Amazonland under Pluspetrols regime.

Som jeg prøvede at forklare, da jeg i sin tid skrev om Christoffersens Saving Saddam, har jeg det sådan med hans film, at dengang the crime of crimes og det historisk set nye internationale retssystem om disse sager og nu et spirende internationalt juridisk system omkring oprindelige folks krav på ret til jord og søer og vandløb og naturressourcer i de nu fire film er og bliver selve emnet og kernen. I hver film vokser fortællingen og en karismatisk hovedperson sammen med forståelsen af denne jura, denne etik, som altså effektivt kropsliggøres i en smuk bue fra den blide og tænksomme Aspegren i Genocide, over den

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Categories: Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Directors

Nicolas Philibert, Collected Postings on his Works

Written 24-03-2012 16:44:00 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Nicolas Philibert, Collected Postings on his Works

I can not think of any European documentarist who has this sense of making beauty out of everyday life as it is being lived by us ordinary people... (Tue Steen Müller)





by Tue Steen Müller

Produced 20 years ago, this masterpiece of Nicolas Philibert is as fresh as on the day of release. It is a fascinating look at what happens behind the scene at the magnificent museum in Paris. At the end of the film Philibert summarises what was his intention, by showing a long sequence of faces of some of the people, the viewer meets in the film. Yes, he is after people and what people do in an adventurous and sometimes mysterious place like Louvre where he (also) takes us underground to all the art works that wait to be exhibited or never reaches the exhibition area. It is transport, cleaning, restoring and conserving, and guarding, and playing boule on Rue de Rivoli next to the museum, measuring, planning the placement of the paintings in a room before the opening. And so on and so forth, several magical moments, lots of humour, all born by a fascination from the side of the film team. And you sense the director’s écriture right away, as you know it from La Moindre des Choses, Le pays des sourds, Etre et Avoir...

Philibert wast originally only hired to film one of the complicated transports, but stayed in the museum for another 3 weeks filming without any permission before getting this, and a producer and financing... I wanted to avoid bureaucracy, Philibert says in the bonus interview on the dvd (Éditions Montparnasse). Nobody actually had problems with us hanging around, as they already knew us. The film is a beauty because of the constant thinking in images, and the total concentration, as he also says is needed, to be ready to catch important moments, and film small stories that in the final film is cut in the way that you leave a theme and some people to come back to them later.

The film will be shown saturday April 25 on ARTE in connection with the Theme Day dedicated to the 20 years of the Louvre pyramid. (Blogpost April 23 2009)



by Tue Steen Müller

Nicholas Philibert is here. Three films have been shown, Le Pays des Sourds, Retour en Normandie and La moindre des choses. Last year the Syrian audience could enjoy Être et Avoir. Philibert did a master class, denied to be called a master, talked for two hours with a lot of charm and commitment, especially about "La moindre des choses", which is for sure a Master's Piece. Shot in 1995, the director went to the psychiatric clinic called la Borde, filmed the people in the institution, staff and patients, and followed the rehearsals and staging of a theatre piece by Polish Witold Gombrowicz. What comes out of it is a beautiful hymn to life

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Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Directors

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