Filmkommentaren

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /9

Written 13-10-2016 07:47:02 by Allan Berg Nielsen

“…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.”

NINE REFLECTIONS CONCERNING 1/125th

By Sune Jonsson (1978)

9

Quantity should be a part of the documentary method, a part of the documentary language of form. The 1/125th is a fraction of the historic flow. A great many 1/125ths are needed merely to illuminate one isolated situation. In the 8 years during which the FSA documentation took place, ending in 1943, over 270,000 pictures were taken. Perhaps, all together, those pictures provided a overview of the extent of the disaster and could form a basis for the nation's self-scrutiny. August Sander privately collected his panorama of the Weimar Republic's physiognomies, roles, and uniforms in 20 bulging folders. The definitive publication of this collection in book form, Menschen ohne Maske (1971) is consequently characterized by an extraordinary abundance of pictures, which we perceive as concordant with the documentary conception.



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /8

Written 11-10-2016 07:49:32 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… they had plenty of time - the ultimate documentary resource - they themselves became something of experts in geography and agriculture. They were also sensitive and capable of the profound empathy with the subject matter that transforms certain photographers into depictors of reality in a truly documentary sense. Knowledge also affords artistic freedom. Experienced and versed, the author can move within his subject matter. His depiction of reality then becomes "macro realistic" - that is, a concrete expression of an inner reality.

NINE REFLECTIONS CONCERNING 1/125th

By Sune Jonsson (1978)

8

The reportage confrontation is a fragile method of documentary work. But even so unfavorable an assignment situation can be transformed: if the photographer is given sufficient time, if he is given time to gain a knowledge of the environment that will enable his pictures to function as documentary statements, if he has the personal qualifications to deepen his empathy, his social commitment, and his responsibility as a fellow human being. This obviously turned out to be the case with Gunnar Lundh and Sven Järlås. And young photographers like Yngve Baum and Jean Hermanson have also come far along the same road of personal deepening.



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /7

Written 05-10-2016 08:15:53 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… Knowledge also affords artistic freedom. Experienced and versed, the author can move within his subject matter. His depiction of reality then becomes "macro realistic" - that is, a concrete expression of an inner reality.

NINE REFLECTIONS CONCERNING 1/125th

By Sune Jonsson (1978)

7

Ivar Lo-Johansson has asserted the authenticity of the self-experienced as a literary life-form and method. It is not enough for the author to have subjects: the subjects must also be part of his own self. Perhaps in this distinction we can also discern the essential difference between the author and the poet.

Knowledge also affords artistic freedom. Experienced and versed, the author can move within his subject matter. His depiction of reality then becomes "macro realistic" - that is, a concrete expression of an inner reality. The opposite method is observation from without - a "microrealism" without a deeper personal sounding board.



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /6

Written 03-10-2016 07:57:04 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… The ideal situation, of course, is that in which the photographer is his own client. Then the assignment is a vital function of the photographer himself; then his depiction of reality will occur at that point where he himself stands as a human being.

NINE REFLECTIONS CONCERNING 1/125th

By Sune Jonsson (1978)

6

The assignment situation, upon which the photographer's personal relationship to the subject matter is ultimately dependent, is a vital part of the documentary methodology. If it is alleged that knowledge and insight should be the bases of all depiction of reality, then the assignment situation must be crucial to the genuineness of the documentation. By the way in which the assignment situation is regarded, one can also tell what status – in artistic-professional terms - the client is prepared to accord the photographer.

The ideal situation, of course, is that in which the photographer is his own client. Then the assignment is a vital function of the photographer himself; then his depiction of reality will occur at that point where he himself stands as a human being. From every viewpoint, it must be an optimal advantage to be able to seek out the subject matter that is made up of one's own internal and external landscapes. Assignment and need for expression then become synonymous. The subject matter itself then becomes the client.



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /5

Written 23-09-2016 14:19:30 by Allan Berg Nielsen

... The verbal accompaniment must create new relationships and angles of approach to the pictorial material (even laconic): … Småbrukaren och kyrkogårdsarbetaren Hjalmar Nyberg, Nyåker, gräver grav för avlidne banmästaren Henrik Carlsson (Sune Jonsson)

 

NINE REFLECTIONS CONCERNING 1/125th

By Sune Jonsson (1978)

5

The consummate photo-documentation requires verbal accompaniment. This must have a clear documentary conception and ideally possess formal competence as well. There are, for example, plenty of photographs documenting log driving. The most meritorious is Stig T. Karlsson's 1957 depiction from The Little Lule River. Lacking, however,is documentary material that, from the standpoint of primary worker experience, verbalizes the content of log driving. For that reason, it is regrettable, when Stig T. Karlsson's pictures are published in book form, that documentary consistency is sacrificed, and instead, Stig Sjödin is asked to write an accompanying text that flaunts a poetic empathy with the work depicted, that is surely more literary hypothesis than adequate expression of the log driver's own experience of his toil.



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /4

Written 22-09-2016 08:36:24 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… Their documentation is a distillate of reality itself. Their pictures are freed of all ephemeral, fashionable, and sentimental trappings. They nakedly describe universal situations that are allowed to speak right into the camera. (Sune Jonsson)

 

NINE REFLECTIONS CONCERNING 1/125th

By Sune Jonsson (1978)

4

One should disdain rules but must discuss principles.

I remember the 50s, when Henri Cartier-Bresson’s books began to come out and started photographers dreaming of the pure photographic image, the prettily arranged and seized 1/125th that was sufficient unto itself. Hasse Enström, Managing Editor of Tidningen Vi, went against that tide at the time, doggedly challenging the theory and requiring text commentaries of photographers offering him picture essays for sale.



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine reflections /3

Written 20-09-2016 09:16:00 by Allan Berg Nielsen

… One thereby denies that photographs can represent a pictorial manifestation of experiences and personal views, that photographs can be personal messages having aesthetic qualities of communication. (Sune Jonsson)

NINE REFLECTIONS CONCERNING 1/125th

By Sune Jonsson (1978)

3

In the 40s and early 50s, when Walt Disney was at the peak of his documentary-film activity, he is said to have remarked that it was better to give training in cinematography to the scientists working in the subject areas of those documentaries than vice versa. He wanted thereby to emphasize how vital expertise is in all depictions of reality. Such an attitude implies, however, that the photographer is exclusively regarded as a triggerer of the camera shutter’s 1/125th, as no better than the lens’ own capability. One thereby denies that photographs can represent a pictorial manifestation of experiences and personal views, that photographs can be personal messages having esthetic qualities of communication.



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Poetics, Essays

Sune Jonsson: Nine Reflections /1

Written 16-09-2016 15:50:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen

“The reportage confrontation is a fragile method of documentary work. But even so unfavorable an assigment situation can be transformed: if the photographer is given sufficient time, if he is given time to gain a knowledge of the environment that will enable his pictures to function as documentary statements, if he has the personal qualifications to deepen his empathy, his social commitment, and his responsibility as a fellow human being…” (Sune Jonsson, from reflection 8. Photo by Sune Jonsson: Prague, August 1968.)

 

NINE REFLECTIONS CONCERNING 1/125th

By Sune Jonsson (1978)

1

It is something of a romantic characterization to describe photography as the art of the instant. It is said, for example, that the art of the camera is to see quickly and straight ahead. And for nearly half a century now, photographers have indeed been intoxicating themselves with the very ability of the 35mm camera to capture on film the most ephemeral and most unguarded of instants. This has naturally been an asset that has both enriched and characterized photography.



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Categories: Poetics, Essays

Til lykke med fødselsdagen JØRGEN LETH

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

... 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

Lars Movin versus Jørgen Leth

Written 19-05-2016 14:11:20 by Allan Berg Nielsen

MOVIN MØDER LETH, Lars Movin meddeler det på sin Facebookside, og jeg skynder mig at meddele videre, især at det er NU! NU I AFTEN I ÅRHUS!

Movin skriver: ”Så er det i aften, at jeg har den ære at være med til at åbne festivalen Vild med ORD i Dokk1 i Aarhus sammen med den unge mand på billedet her. Okay, jeg ved da godt, at publikum kommer for at se Jørgen Leth – som efter vores samtale vil levere flere Spoken Words akkompagneret af de to musikere i Vi Sidder Bare Her – men ikke desto mindre skal det blive en fornøjelse at lægge endnu et kapitel til den dialog, som vi har ført gennem knap tyve interviews siden 1989. En dialog, som ikke mindst har udmøntet sig i tre bøger: “En dag forsvandt Duke Jordan i Harlem – tekster om jazz” (Bebop, 2008), “Kunsten at gå på gaden – tekster fra tresserne” (Gyldendal, 2012) og “Alt er i billedet – om Jørgen Leths film” (Gyldendal, 2013).Dagen efter (fredag) vil der være flere ord fra undertegnede, nærmere bestemt ved et arrangement klokken 14:30 (ligeledes i Dokk1), hvor jeg med udgangspunkt i bogen “Amerikansk avantgardefilm” (2016) vil fortælle om (og vise) to beat-relaterede avantgardefilm, nemlig “Pull My Daisy” (1959) af Robert Frank & Alfred Leslie og “Towers Open Fire” (1963) af William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Ian Sommerville & Antony Balch. Vild med ord, ja – men også vild med billeder, film, musik …”

Foto: lm / 2015


Categories: Festival, Film History, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Poetics, Essays

Tue Steen Müller: Lithuanian Docs

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

LITHUANIAN DOCS

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

 

Lituania 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 in Vilnius to watch new films to be recommended to Leipzig Film Festival to which I offer scouting services. If any reader of this would like to have contact with the Lithuanian filmmakers, you can google Stonys and Matelis, who both have their own websites and will direct you to where to get hold of dvd's. (Blogpost 12-08-2007)



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

Ugis Olte : Double Aliens

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

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

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

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



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Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Essays

News from Paris: René Vautier 1928-2015

Written 07-01-2015 18:31:47 by Sara Thelle

Grand old man and enfant terrible of French militant cinema René Vautier died Sunday January 4th in his home in Cancale, Brittany, at the age of 86. Originally from Brittany, René Vautier fought the Germans as a very young member of the French Resistance during the Second World War, at 16 he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre and honoured by de Gaulle. After the war he wanted to pursue the combat but not with arms and his friends then encourage him to take up a new weapon: the camera. His battle was to last a life long.

Vautier graduated in 1948 from the film school IDHEC in Paris. In 1949 he gets a command to make a film for the Ligue de l’enseignement about the benefits of the French educational mission in the West African colonies. The result, Afrique 50, became, on the contrary, a violent critique of the French colonial system. Vautier’s first film was also the first anticolonial film ever to be made in France and the reaction was violent in return: Vautier was faced with 13 charges and sentenced to one year of prison!

The film has an incredible story. To escape the limitations of the 1934 decree of the Minister of the Colonies Pierre Laval (forbidding any filming in the colonies without the presence of a an administration official) Vautier went on to film in secret. He almost got his film rolls confiscated for destruction in Africa but managed to get his work back to France where he finally had to illegally retrieve the reels kept under seizure by the board of censors (he got 17 of 50 reels). The film was finished in secret and stayed censured in France for over 40 years though it was awarded as one of the best documentaries of the year at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Warsaw in 1955 (with Joris Ivens as president of the jury). In 1996, a copy of the film was finally handed over to Vautier by the Foreign Ministry during the first official screening in France and only in 2003 the film was broadcasted on French television. The Cinémathèque française has recently made new copies of the film as part of their effort to safeguard the entire oeuvre of René Vautier initiated in 2007.

Afrique 50 is a short powerful outburst, a rhythmic pamphlet, swiftly edited with an attacking voice-over. Playing with the genre of educational state propaganda documentary but turning it against the government, the film pinpoints, with humour and great seriousness, the link between capitalism and racism. Film historian Nicole Brenez, specialist of avant-garde cinema at la Cinémathèque française, has called it the greatest film in the history of cinema. Go see it, it’s on YouTube!



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

Kosmorama: Body Language in the Moving Image

Written 02-12-2014 11:29:52 by Tue Steen Müller

Denmark’s oldest film journal Kosmorama (first issue in 1954) presents a slate of articles (online and in English as well) that could interest the true film buffs among our readers. The articles are written by film historians and academics. The titles are ”Body Language and Media Context” (Lennard Højbjerg), ”Figures in Landscapes” (Casper Tybjerg), ”Expression Suppression” (Henry Bacon), ”Making Love Detumescently” (Mariah Larsson) and ”Movie Stars in the Flesh” (Helle Kannik Haastrup). The information about this December issue of Kosmorama I received this morning, so no time yet to read, only to browse. It is all very appealing, with good illustrations and clips from films.

The link below also refers to other articles at Kosmorama, in Danish or English.

And the photo, well you know the man in the middle: ”Occupations” by von Trier – to be found on the internet.

http://www.kosmorama.org/ServiceMenu/05-English/Articles.aspx


Categories: Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Essays

Does a Festival Critique Exist?

Written 04-10-2014 21:15:56 by Tue Steen Müller

As a follow-up to the post below... here is a personal essay that I wrote for an academic book on festivals. It did not fit in, so here it is for you, a reflection on what is written on documentary festivals from outside and inside – promotion, reports but real critique on the festivals, does that exist? Hope it is interesting for you. (Photo from this year's ZagrebDox).

But first some film-biographical stuff: You need to know a bit about my background as a festival visitor, organiser and reporter/critic. Yes, I have a close relationship to the world of documentary film festivals. I have been privileged to cooperate with colleagues in Denmark to set up and conduct several national and international festivals in my own country. One of them changed my film life, the Balticum Film & TV Festival on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. It came to life as a consequence of the fall of Soviet Union and ran from 1990-2000, when the Danish support to the independence of the Baltic countries around 1990 made it possible to start the festival with financing from our government,. Voilá, we started a festival for the countries around the Baltic Sea. Many of



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Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Essays

Nordisk Panorama 25!

Written 30-09-2014 11:58:32 by Tue Steen Müller

Nordisk Panorama 25! - a documentary tour down memory lane. Yes, the first one was in Grimstad, this idyllic and romantic spot on the South coast of Norway. I was there and so was she, with whom I have shared my life since then. Grimstad 1990, unforgettable, a place in my heart... I was there on behalf of Statens Filmcentral (National Film Board of Denmark) and as part of the group that was to set up Filmkontakt Nord the year after. Therefore, a thank you for asking me to write about what has happened to Nordic documentaries in the quarter of a century that has passed. I have chosen to primarily go back to focus on directors and films, which I remember and which have made an impact on the Nordic and/or the international scene. You will probably miss some, especially ”newer” ones, I can’t cover it all. You will agree that nothing is so boring as extensive name- and title-dropping. I will try to control myself. And of course it is a personal choice that I have made.

SOCIAL AND OBSERVATIONAL

There was a pretty strong line-up of documentaries in 1990. When I look at the list of films and directors in competition (there were no films from Iceland and only one from Finland!), in my view, three stand out and have indeed put their mark on Nordic documentaries.

Sigve Endresen was there with ”For your Life” (”For harde livet”), 98 minutes of strong social documentary on drug addicts, a film that reached a huge audience in the cinemas of Norway and opened the door for the director to make another critical statement on how the society treats its outsiders – ”Big Boys Don’t Cry” (”Store gutter gråter ikke”) on young prisoners taking part in a rehabilitation project. It was at Nordisk Panorama (NP) 1995, followed by ”Living Among Lions”(”Leve blandt løver”) at NP 1998, on three young people who suffer from cancer. In 2002 he took part in NP with the portrait of singerKari Iveland, named ”Weightless” (”Vektløs”). The style of his films is direct, mostly with no sentimentality.

I remember that we Danes were jealous on the Norwegians, who could get documentary films reach the cinema. And also have them used in educational contexts - here we touch upon a typical Nordic issue that I have always highlighted at workshops abroad: the non-theatrical use of films for public education and debate. 

As Jørgen Roos (also in my school time) took me to Greenland with his many films, giving me an insight to their culture and people, Ulla Boje Rasmussen is the documentarian, who has taken me and audiences around the world to her beloved Faroe Islands (Færøerne). ”1700 Metres from the Future” (”1700 meter fra fremtiden”) includes gorgeous nature sequences and fine portraits of the 16 (!) inhabitants, who get a tunnel connecting them to the rest of the world. The film is a classic in Danish documentary history with superb cinematography by Andreas Fischer-Hansen, also the producer. The two stood behind Nordfilm (right name!) that also made the follow-up ”The Light on Mykines Island” (”Tre blink mod vest”) (NP 1992), equally from the islands towards the North... I will send you to another island, said a filmconsultant years later, he happened to be me, to the director, let’s find an island in the South for a new film. Ulla chose Sardinia and out came ”Coro di Bosa” (NP 1998), which as the Faroe films had a fine international career. Boje Rasmussen has later on returned to the North making films in Greenland and Iceland, and one about the independence movement in Faroe Islands. The latter was at NP 2003, entitled ”Rugged Road to Independence” (”Færøerne.dk”).

1700 Metres from the Future



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

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