Written 31-07-2009 00:29:34 by Tue Steen Müller
It takes some maturity and courage to publish your own archive Material that was meant to stay on the shelf. Thomas Heise – what an understatement! – is indeed a mature and experienced filmmaker, who meiner Meinung nach is one of the leading documentarians of our time. I dare say so having seen ”Stau-Jetz geht’s los”, ”Barluschke”, ”Vaterland” and ”Kinder.Wie die Zeit vergeht” – and those titles constitute only a part of the filmography of the German director, who now offers the audience to watch the 164 minutes of his social, political and cinematographic interpretation of our time. And his time as a citizen of the GDR and now the united Germany.
Most of the Material is documents shot by the director himself. Dokumentation, as they would say in German. Heise observed the rallies in Berlin in November 1989, when ordinary Genosse were allowed to take the floor and express their opinions about the leadership of the state. And he was in the prison, when staff members one after the other aired their plea for respect from the increasing crowd of protesters outside – followed by inmates who wished for amnesty in order to take part in the changing world on the other side of the bars.
These sequences, and many more from the archive Material of Heise, show something seldom seen before: the ordinary GDR citizens at the microphone leading up to the fall of the wall. The fall we never see, because we know about it, on the contrary, Heise wants the film to have an actuality and succeeds perfectly to fulfill that ambition through his aestetical elegant 360degree camera movements in empty depressing spaces, through images from the prison of today, and through an amazing self-ironical, multilayered sequence from a screening of a (Heise-directed, I suppose) film in a cinema: The film is running while the audience starts to fight in front of the screen, the leftist against the rightists, or maybe fights in other constellations. Godard could not have done this better! And was this what the unified Germany was aiming at – totally absurd it is that a social film is running on the screen while social riots unfold in front of the camera. Passive people argue to the cameraman that things like this should not be filmed! Heise did. Thanks for that and for a very intelligent work that I can’t wait to see one more time.
Written 29-07-2009 16:57:29 by Tue Steen Müller
In a very professional set-up the site ”Short Film News” offers you – with a daily update – news from the film world in Asia, and the rest of the world with a strong focus on North America. Being based in Iran the site covers Iranian cinema under the caption ”Iranian News” and there is also a section called ”Documentary”.
Here is a text clip from ”about us” by the editor, Marjan Riahi:
Short Film News, as the first news network on short films and documentaries in Iran & Asia, was established in 2004 by Riahi sisters as a non-governmental independent institution. Considering the activities of thousands of filmmakers on short films and documentaries and producing 3 thousand short films and documentaries each year by Iranian filmmakers, it was necessary to have a professional network media to cover the related news to this field. Since, in the last decades, the most success of Iran cinema in the international events belongs to Iranian short films and documentaries, and on the other hand, the audiences of short films are increasing all over the world due to new medias (internet, mobile phone, etc.), we decided to activate the English page of our website in 2005 as well. Our main goal is to make an international network for independent filmmakers all over the world where they can find the related news to festivals, short films and documentaries events in different parts of the world. We publish all news relating to short film and documentary in any part of the world and filmmakers and festival directors can contact us for publishing their news in our website. Introducing Iranian shorts and documentaries to the festivals and other showing programs is another service we can arrange. We can provide a collection of the best Iranian shorts and documentaries for the events and festivals interested in screening Iranian films.
Written 29-07-2009 09:10:16 by Tue Steen Müller
This film has a powerful rythm that you seldom meet. It is not the MTV-style that is so much present in modern documentaries, it is more carried by an expressive associative editing that could be compared to a Russian tradition that again could be said to go back to the principles of Eisenstein. Or to – in some sequences - Armenian director Pelichian and his masterpiece ”Seasons”. Contrary to that one, young Kravchenko, her second documentary it is, uses interviews with characters, who are filmed in ultra close-ups, intercut with images of landscapes, of old women, of wedding rituals, from the country side, and with archive material from war and destruction, and building-up again. Accompanied by a sound design that stresses the tension and vulnerability in the treated theme.
It is Chechnya and it is young people, who got tragically hurt during the Chechen wars, 1994/95-1996 & 1999/2000. They lost – most of the ones in the film – a leg as kids, and they are now part of a one-legged football team that in the film is going back to Grozny after a tournament in Moscow (my guess, it is not being said). Adam, Muslim, Ibrahim, Aslanbek, Isa and others survived ”a childhood in war”.
Red Cross has supported the film and the fact that the youngsters are together and do something, is in itself uplifting. You want to believe that they still have the chance to get a decent life. With her unconventional interpretation of their situation and her energy in filmmaking, through the excellent scenes from the football matches and the beautiful way the young men express themselves... she gives hope. Even if a tragicomic scene in the film reveals that the word ”happiness” does not exist in Chechnyan!
Russia, Ostrov Studio, 2009, 39 mins. Producer: Sergey Miroschnicenko.
Written 28-07-2009 11:42:37 by Allan Berg Nielsen
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
Anholt, stedet, rejsen, 1988 Om stedets betydning og om at rejse dertil og om at være der. Om tilstedeværelse, altså. Og så om et anderledes integreret liv i naturen, i kulturen, i historien. Og om Guds bestemmelse med menneskene. Igen en stilvekslen som i forrige film.
Hvem slukker lyset, 1989 Filmen er et frikvarter, en opgave fra aftenskolerne. Og der var kun én chance for at løse opgaven, det skulle være grundlæggende morsomt. Så filmen studerer den morsomste mand, den kunne forestille sig, Finn Nørbygård, katalogiserer hans bedste (og morsomste greb) og beder ham på det repertoire gennemspille tre små episoder og alle fire roller i hver af dem.
Traveller's Tale, 1994 Her udvides rejsemotivet fra Anholtfilmen. Den rejsende slår sig ikke ned, men når til gengæld sted efter sted. Menneskene, han møder, fascinerer også hurtigere skiftende, og på dette bagtæppe af europæiske billeder dukker erotikken op sammen med denne nye energi. Nærværet er konstant, også i ganske korte scener. Blikket bliver introduceret. Den lyriske reportage er enerådende i stilen, visse afsnit griber tilbage i en stor og international dokumentarisk tradition.
Mellem lys og skygge, 1996 Og filmen om den københavnske arkitektur bliver en fortsættelse derved, at dette æstetiske emne skildres som bagtæppe, mens undersøgelsen af kvinden i mandens blik er i forgrunden under selve handlingen gennem en eftermiddag, en aften og en nat i den sommervarme by. Konstruktionen udvides med en på forhånd fastlagt og skrevet dialog.
Højholt, 1997 Og blikket vendes indad i en spejling, skønt opgaven er at skildre en digters eneboerliv, som ikke flytter sig ud af dets fysiske sted, men til gengæld lever den rigeste indre eksistens. I teksten. I rytmen. I gentagelsen. Og filmen hviler tryg i en gedigen reportage, som til gengæld udsættes for tankespring og -udfordringer, i dialogen for det første og i klipningen for det andet.
Simona, 1998 Det erotiske motiv, som dukkede op i Traveller's Tale, isoleres nu, og blikket bliver det afgørende greb. Dette er så Lars Johanssons første samlede kvindeskildring, en arbejdsopgave, som fortsætter frem til senest romanen Signe fra 2006. Et stykke af vejen er det mandens forelskede blik, som skildrer. I romanen skifter denne synsvinkel afgørende.
Blod og håb, 2001 Filmen om det militære opgør bliver (som den begivenhed altid er) en afbrydelse. Ved ekstra grundig research og mange reportagerejser og journalistiske greb skildres den europæiske borgerkrig som en fortsættelse af undersøgelsen, bekymringen og vemodet, som var bagtæppe for møderne med kvinderne i rejsefilmen fra 94.
Den tyske hemmelighed, 2004 Her knyttes trådene. Rejsen sydpå i verdensdelen, alvorlige og ærbødige møder med de andre i klassisk sikre reportagescener i deres rum. Mandens blik er nu på hans kvinde, hustruen. Og hans film skildrer hendes projekt. Og selve researchen bliver filmens materiale. Æstetikken fornys afgørende med det detektiviske greb. Filmen bliver spændende. Historien er nu omsider i Lars Johanssons arbejde det, hvorom alt drejer sig. Så en roman måtte blive det næste, kan der efterrationaliseres videre..
Written 26-07-2009 22:26:53 by Tue Steen Müller
First in Danish: DR2 Dokumania, tirsdag den 28.7 kl. 20.30 leveres en gave til danske dokumentarelskere: Gonzalo Arijon's "Stranded. I've come from a Plane that Crashed in th Mountains". DR2 introducerer således: Den 13. oktober 1972 fløj et rugbyhold fra Uruguay til Santiago i Chile for at spille kamp. Undervejs blev flyet ramt af turbulens. Piloten kom ud af kurs, og flyet styrtede ned i Andesbjergene. De fleste af de 45 passagerer døde øjeblikkeligt, flere døde af deres kvæstelser i dagene efter, og otte omkom senere i en lavine. Efter ti dage opgav det chilenske luftvåben eftersøgningen, men det opdagede de overlevende først på et senere tidspunkt.
And then in English:Here is a clip from the review that I wrote on this site:A well constructed dramatic story with a wonderful panel of survivors from the air crash in the Andes in 1972. Good tellers they are and... what I wanted to draw your attention to, first of all, is the way the film reconstructs. In a non-bombastic sketchy manner, where the right balance is found and the facial similarities to the found archive photos of survivors are quite obvious.
The second potential inspiration for filmmaking colleagues could be the talking faces that certainly have been and still is subject to general discussions about to use or not to use. Look at the middle aged men and hear them talk naturally and not only in one sentence lines. There are many characters but we get to know them because we are invited to watch their interesting facial expressions.
The film is a bit too long but the story is fantastic and the craft skills of the Uruguayan and Argentinian film makers are admirable.
France, 2007, 127 mins.
www.idfa.nl (about the film at IDFA 2007)
http://www.arteboutique.com/detailProduct.action?attributeId=1&vlhId=437946&moveValue=6&product.id=274469 (dvd version with English subtitles can be bought via this site, around 20€)
Written 26-07-2009 01:37:14 by Tue Steen Müller
”Watch hundreds of films, anytime, anywhere, for free. Documentaries, animations and alternative dramas on the web, on your personalized home page, or on your iPhone. Also, watch trailers, upcoming online releases and playlists.”
This generous offer comes from the National Film Board of Canada, this wonderful documentary publicly funded goldmine in the world. If you are not already knowledgeable about the Canadian contribution to world documentary history, click on the many available films by Donald Brittain, Colin Low, Roman Kroitor and Wolf Koenig. Pearls like ”City of Gold”, ”Lonely Boy” (about Paul Anka, photo) and ”Stravinsky” can be watched for free, and you can see clips from the recently published film ”Capturing Reality” with strong statements from, among others, Werner Herzog, Molly Dineen, Errol Morris as well as a beautiful thank you from Patricio Guzman to Chris Marker, who helped the director while he was working in Chile during the Allende tragedy.
Written 24-07-2009 10:33:05 by Tue Steen Müller
The 12th International 1001 Documentary Film Festival takes place in Istanbul December 4-11. But if you have a film to offer, you better hurry up with your application as the deadline is close. Your screeners and connected material should be with the organisers in a week. You can read more about that on the site below. The reason that we exceptionally make promotion for one out of hundreds of festivals, is the very simple that Allan Berg and I have wonderful memories from our visit years ago to this warm and generous non-competitive festival and film conference. So, even if you are not a filmmaker, if you have plans to visit the beautiful Istanbul, why not go when the festival is on. Festival president this year, Bahriye Kabadayi, a filmmaker herself, writes this:
”The 12th International 1001 Documentary Film Festival defines documentary film as one of the main instruments of the world citizens to express and to face up to themselves and understand each other. Documentary filmmaking is aesthetics of searching verity, and a creative way for designing the future. International 1001 Documentary Film Festival focuses on the human as a respectful being to the other beings in the world, and supports the human rights struggle for a better world, with its civic and independent identity.We're waiting for your documentaries that make contribution to common history and cultural heritage of the world, to motivate the awareness of each other and sharing our stories...”
Passion and commitment!
Written 24-07-2009 09:50:20 by Tue Steen Müller
The publicly funded film site Cineuropa - published in English, French, Spanish and Italian – for free – brings every day news about films in Europe. But not only news, also longer interviews, festival reports and you can watch trailers from new films. The focus is on the fiction films but a week ago the site brought in the documentary with good and useful information, see link below. This info has been collected with the help of the training programmes Documentary Campus and Eurodoc. This is a text clip from the intention behind the Cineuropa initiative:
The European Cinema Portal is a site dedicated to European cinema, films, actors, filmmakers, professionals, producers, distributors, sales agents, scriptwriters, film finance and the film industry as a whole… Cineuropa provides up-to-date information and other services essential to know one another better to cinephiles from all over the world interested in knowing more about European films, as well as to film and television professionals.
Written 23-07-2009 12:24:43 by Tue Steen Müller
Could it be everywhere? Yes, the film has many layers and thus a universal appeal. Is it very Finnish? Yes, it has this special feel of Finnish humour and treats its theme with both tough directness and tenderness. Is it good? Yes, more than that, it is excellent. Why? Because the director has something on his mind and has thought of form and thus avoided to make just another poverty story about poor people with poor lives and too much alcohol.
People and their stories. A classical documentary theme. Ordinary people of different age, from different places in Finland. They are in their living rooms the whole film through (apart from the very ending, not to be revealed), they sit, they lie, they talk about their life, their parents, their children, or to each other, or fight with each other or cry together, of joy or out of sadness.
This minimalistic approach is underligned by the way the camera is placed without any movement recording what happens within the frame. Or one could say on the stage of Life. It gives a distance, it gives you respect for the people you are watching, and, the more you get into the film, also compassion for their destinies. The main character is the young man, who becomes a father – you never see the mother – and knows that a new life must begin, without alcohol. Towards the end of the film you hear him say that he can only see his child once a week. He is indeed a tragic character, as is the big man who moves from one apartment to another, a smaller one, where he gets his arm chair placed at the point for watching television. The filmmakers must have been with the characters for a very long time. It all seems so truthful what we are invited to watch, most of the time with a sad feeling but as in a play of Samuel Beckett or a film of Roy Andersson, the interpretation of meaningless goes well with humour. And bravo for an editing that elegantly takes us from one situation and character to the next and the next... and back again.
Finland, 2009, 79 mins.
Written 22-07-2009 16:11:12 by Allan Berg Nielsen
DVD-sættet består af en god film, en modig film og en fremragende film. Den sidste et mesterværk og absolut klassiker i dansk filmhistorie. Morten Korch - solskin kan man altid finde fra 1999 er simpelthen en god film, som sætter mandens forfatterskab på plads. Hvor mindets blomster gror fra 1991 er en solid biografisk film, på mange måder i slægt med den fremragende Karen Blixen film og en minimalistisk elegi over den tabte kultur modigt konstrueret af bare to lydelementer, Kraftwerks musik og fortællerstemmens drama samt to billedelementer, en bilrejses monotoni og en række familiebilleders almindelighed, dristigt insisterende på at komme mig ved, hvilket naturligvis i den grad lykkes. Og så Herfra min verden går fra 1976, som er hovedværket, igen en elegi, denne gang i det på alle måder store format. En sådan film var ikke set før dengang, en sådan film er ikke set siden. Den er oprørende og uforglemmelig.
Det afgørende vigtige ved disse film er i dag, tror jeg, det, som Braad Thomsen skriver i dvd-udgivelsens ledsagetekst om sproget. Ja, som med Jørgen Vestergaards på de fleste andre måder fuldstændig anderledes film har det først og sidst noget med sproget at gøre. Det bliver jeg nødt til lige at tænke videre over... men jeg er dog klar over, at Braad Thomsen ikke havde kunnet lave dem på københavnsk eller engelsk (det har han gjort med andre), for de integrerer et særligt sind, som alene findes på den egn, på disse egne... Filmene lever i det jyske sprog, ja, også den om Morten Korch, for hans historie foregår i biografen i Skanderborg og iagttages fra den kant. Som fynsk og eksotisk.
Braad Thomsen ser i sin tekst de tre film som personlige sejre, jeg ser dem som kulturelle monumenter over det land. De film har jo ikke en skid med kopis i den thomsenske stald at gøre, i hvert fald ikke længere. De har med mit Jylland at gøre. Al tid.
Christian Braad Thomsen: Hjemstavsfilm, 50 + 50 + 80 min., 2009. Another World Entertainment.
Written 22-07-2009 10:32:18 by Tue Steen Müller
Another (see below for Sundance Institute) very important supporter of the non-mainstream, non-anglosaxon documentary production and distribution is the idfa-associated Jan Vrijman Fund. Bravo for a new initiative from JVF:
”Starting the end of July, ten JVF films will tour through Latin America. Besides the screening of beautiful documentaries from the continent itself, the fund subtitled films from Iran, South Africa, India, Bulgaria and Russia into Spanish for the Latin American audience. Moving stories varying from the unfulfilled election promises to Indian women in Six Yards to Democracy, a strikingly visualized portrait of three blind singing sisters from Brazil in Born to be Blind and not to forget Victor Kossakovsky's Tishe! in which he filmed the repairs on a St. Petersburg street for one year from his apartment window. So far the tour is going to the Festidoc in Paraguay, the International Documentary Encounters in Colombia, Ícaro in Guatemala and to DocuPeru. Photo: Viktor Kossakovsky.
Written 22-07-2009 10:18:36 by Tue Steen Müller
OSI stands for Open Society Institute, that was founded by George Soros and has – among many other things – been very important for the documentary sector all over the world. In the mid 90’es and up till 2002 a lot of documentaries from the Eastern part of Europe received a support that enabled the producers to make their films in the hard transition period after the fall of the empire USSR. In 2002 American Diane Weyermann who was the clever administrator of the funding for the documentaries succeeded in getting the fund (accompanied by 4.6mio.$ from Soros) transferred to the Sundance Institute, and now the good news is that OSI has granted $5 million grant for its Documentary Film Program to continue its mission and to help raise awareness on human rights through support for documentaries.
Written 21-07-2009 07:39:32 by Tue Steen Müller
I owe Pavel Stingl an apology. I never believed that it would be possible to combine his moving story about the Czech Jews who were deported to the Lodz ghetto with the story about the people who live there today in, yes, you could also call it a ghetto with another, of course completely different, meaning of the word.
But he has succeeded to do so with the help of cameraman/director Miroslav Janek and the careful and never-going-for-the-easy-solution editing work of Tonicka Jankova. Out comes a big and important film, a historical as well as an actual interpretation of lives lived, and lives lost.
The part about the Czech Jews Stingl is narrated through close-up interviews with the survivors, who convey their horror stories about how their dear ones were sent off to Auschwitz or died right in front of them, of starvation or illness. These stories are carried by the photos from the Baluity Ghetto taken by Henryk Ross, who could move freely around and documented the ghetto life with more than thousand photos. In the part about the Poles today - who live where the Jews used to live - the camera catches interiors of incredible poverty and situations with people, who for some are old enough to remember that the Jews lived there, and situations with young people who perform antisemitic graffitti on the walls. Misery and aggression. Lack of education and knowledge about the past.
Czech Republic/Poland, 2008, 83 mins.
Written 20-07-2009 10:06:25 by Tue Steen Müller
Yes, this is the way to make a different film for the celebration of the 20 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Playing masterly with the film language, wanting to surprise us. To tell us the same story but in a completely new way. With music that associates a fairy tale with rabbits in the leading roles. But also as an informative commentary-born popular science film about the city lives of a threatened species. With interviews of course. Tongue-in-cheek, sometimes visually from the point of view of the rabbits, sometimes from the anonymous spectator perspective with a look at what happens and happened to the rabbits of Berlin. It is balanced, has its own satirical tone – and beauty – and brutality when you cut together an innocent rabbit and a human body being carried away by a person in uniform. It plays perfectly with the rules of the documentary subgenres: history doc, nature doc, information doc, fairy tale doc... if that did not exist, it has been invented now!
Classical montage principles have been used. Cut from a rabbit to the people putting up the Wall. With an understated suprised commentary: they behave strange these people, as was this the thought of the rabbit. But it was to protect them, the inhabitants, that the Wall was put up. And the rabbits understood this and obeyed and were not shot at as long as they did not try to run away to the other side... Rabbitland, as the film commentary (brilliant by the way, what a fine text, a great example of subtlety) calls it, however, gets more and more into the mood of passivity and apathy. Until the day when everything changed and everyone, including the rabbits, got their freedom, were no longer locked behind walls and discovered that there were people without uniforms. But freedom? Two older people standing at the broken wall staring into a new world... is this for us, do we dare enter?
Poland, Germany, 40 & 50 mins.
Written 18-07-2009 16:20:27 by Tue Steen Müller
Is it possible to make 11 short documentaries in two weeks? By film crew members from several European countries, from Spain and Bulgaria in the South to Latvia and Lithuania in the North. Young people who had never seen each other before?
It was possible as proved through the Summer Media Studio 2009 in Vilnius, Lithuania, a so-called European Film Student Workshop coordinated by the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and with support from partner institutions and the EU MEDIA Programme. From this side a very good investment in the future, indeed.
Conditions: the film should be about Vilnius, European Capital of Europe 2009. 10 minutes long, maximum.
Result: 11 films of different temperament and style and professional quality, of course. The right to fail is a privilige for film students, actually I think they must, but there is also the obligation to do your best, try something new and be committed. And have fun and learn from working in teams.
See the films: Go to this site http://www.summermediastudio.com/ and take a look and read my small review-like comments in the text below.
Written 18-07-2009 16:16:22 by Tue Steen Müller
I advocated for fun and the upcoming European filmmakers in Vilnius had fun as you can see in the film about the workshop, ”2 Weeks in 10 Minutes”, that is full of ideas and playfulness in storytelling.
Time was limited and it would be wrong not to say that several of the films would have profited from some more time in the editing. Nevertheless, I will not hesitate to give the link below to anyone who wants to visit the beautiful city of Vilnius. The 10 films about the capital of Vilnius bring you around and give you a feeling of buildings, atmosphere and people. And a bit of social and historical background. A very welcomed supplement to many official, promotional tourist guides.
People, yes, how easy it is to see when a person is good for the camera and can act as a strong character: ”The Wizard” (photo) is about a charismatic English teacher and tourist guide (and his dog), whose long monologue is accompanied/interpreted by well chosen images that gives the film portrait a second layer. ”Upside Down” is a wonderful observational camera tour-de-force with a girl, who plays in a modern universe but comes from the old. What energy this uncontrollable girl communicates, ”everything is all right”, she says to comfort the cameraman in the finishing merry-go-around scene. A gift to a film is also the foreign minister of the independent republic of Uzupis when he shows around in this special part of Vilnius in ”Le Bonheur est sur le Guidon”, as is the fine old nobleman, the sculptor ”Konstantinas”, who in his film shows how he works and gives a warm verbal tribute to Vilnius.
The film about the female trolley-driver, ”Through the Windshield”, could have stayed more focused on her - for my taste there were too many distractions, as in the film about the crisis, ”Empty Rooms”, that have many fine sequences and ambitions but needs another round of cutting. On the contrary, a salute to the film ”Lenino Pr.40” for being so conscious about the form in the story about the building that was the prison for (political) troublemakers in Soviet times. ”Three Garages Man” had great camerawork but the story about the young artist-to-be wanted too much for 10 minutes. I had expected much more from ”Saint Vilnius”, which has a fine female character but disappointing images, whereas ”Deported” about the old people’s home had brilliant moments and faces but failed to make an element of received and written letters work in a harmonious way.
But, wow, 11 films in two weeks, lots of talent, keep on, please!
Written 18-07-2009 14:06:12 by Tue Steen Müller
In the best Lithuanian slow-pace, spiritual documentary tradition this is a film that puts total trust to the image. And to the fact that an old man and his horse living in the countryside is a story that includes sufficient drama. It certainly does for a creative director like Mickevicius. There is enough of both story and drama, and of time for reflection if you believe in a film to be made when it meets its spectator. Taking that the film is a chain of sequences of carefully framed nature tableaux, one of life’s many stages, the narrative takes place within these, following the seasons: the old man dragging the horse to a place where he bolts it, the horse easily unbolting to be free again, yet never leaving the man, the horse being attacked by flies and bees, the old man preparing a spray to be put on the horse for protection... it is a hell of a tough job for the old farmer but he continues his daily fight against the weather, scolding the horse at the same time as he gives it care. Where the wind is blowing, the devil goes, he says in a film that suddenly includes another small drama with a frog as the main character almost being wiped out by mud from the shovel of the man. It is a film full of moments, sometimes hard and rational (what a life he has), sometimes almost biblical scenes that communicates much more than you actually see.
Nevertheless, film festivals all over, pay attention: This is a film for the big screen. Something very special. Beauty.
Lithuania, 2008, 52 mins.
Written 17-07-2009 18:56:36 by Tue Steen Müller
I read about completion funding from Gucci Tribeca. For documentaries that ”promote social change and illuminate issues in need of deeper coverage currently missing from mainstream media”. 350 submissions from 41 countries – and 7 projects received funding.
Written 16-07-2009 23:15:02 by Tue Steen Müller
Some festivals make a selection very early. YIDFF - that stands for Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival – does so. The festival that has a strong reputation for high quality selection, and that operates only every second year, yet including several screenings and seminars during the year, ”outside” of the festival, has already made the selection of the 15 feature-length works that were sought from around the world. From the 1,141 entries from 110 countries and areas ”emerges a stringent selection of 15 cinematic gems, richly varied and representing the vanguard of world filmmaking.”
Voila! Among the selected works are ”The Mother” by Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostamarov, ”Oblivion” by Heddy Honigmann and ”Z32” (photo) by Avi Mograbi, all mentioned and highlighted on this site.
The festival takes place October 8-15 and has many other sections, not yet finalised in terms of selection and programming.
Written 15-07-2009 09:14:33 by Tue Steen Müller
A short piece of info for our Danish and Swedish language readers about the Swedish cultural tv channel Axess. In Danish:
Den svenske kulturkanal Axess - som i øvrigt også er et kultur- og samfundstidsskrift og som byder på en web-tv-kanal – giver i øjeblikket mulighed for et gensyn med en af den moderne films største præstationer, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog (foto), en dramatisk fortolkning af De ti Bud, den filmserie, som Stanley Kubrick omtalte som det eneste vigtige stykke filmkunst “in my lifetime”. De enkelte afsnit af Dekalog vises flere gange på Axess.
Axess har også et fortrinligt udbud af interessante kulturprogrammer. I øjeblikket præsenteres f.eks. et dobbeltprogram om Samuel Beckett, en dokumentar om Mao, et program om Jean Sibelius med meget mere.
Jeg skal ikke kunne sige, hvor tilgængelig Axess er for danske seere, jeg er bare heldig at kunne fange den fra en kolonihave på Christianshavn I København. Men web-tv’et må kunne fanges af alle. Prøv!
Written 13-07-2009 08:31:27 by Tue Steen Müller
Beautiful name for a festival... this one in Armenia that started yesterday and goes on until July the 19th with an interesting documentary competition programme.
Several films have been written about on filmkommentaren.dk, like ”Cash and Marry” by Atanas Georgiev, ”Good-bye, How are You” by Boris Mitic, ”Letters to the President” by Petr Lom, ”One Man Village” by Simon el-Habre and ”Burma VJ” by Anders Østergaard. 17 films are in competition in Yerevan in the documentary category of a festival that presents itself like this in a quote from the website:
The Golden Apricot festival is different in the sense that it is relatively smaller-scale and much cozier, but it continues to garner genuinely international attention and respect. The films are presented in two international competition sections: features and documentaries. The films are presented in two international competition sections: features and documentaries. One Grand Prize Golden Apricot and one Special Mention are awarded in each category. One Grand Prize Golden Apricot and one Special Mention are awarded in each category. The festival has a special pan-Armenian competitive section - Armenian Panorama - for short, feature, documentary, and animation films produced by filmmakers of Armenian descent. The festival has a special pan-Armenian competitive section - Armenian Panorama - for short, feature, documentary, and animation films produced by filmmakers of Armenian descent. The opening of the festival is always marked with a traditional blessing of apricots, for which Armenia is famous. The opening of the festival is always marked with a traditional blessing of apricots (photo), for which Armenia is famous.
Written 12-07-2009 18:48:58 by Tue Steen Müller
This is a brief hommage to Jørgen Leth, the Danish documentary filmmaker, who this year has made a comeback to be the TV2 Tour de France commentator. In Danish:
Så sad jeg der igen det meste af søndag eftermiddag foran skærmen og ventede på, at noget skulle ske på den Tourmalet bjergetape, som normalt rummer de mest dramatiske udbrud og indbyrdes kampe. Intet skete, det var kedeligt bortset fra spurten, som var klassisk – to mand tilbage, den ene lægger sig i baghjul, den anden går frem, og så går den ene frem igen og vinder. Voila, men der var skuffende lidt aktivitet, som Jørgen Leth sagde flere gange. Og det er på grund af ham, at lidt cykelløb havner på filmkommentaren.dk. For hvilken fornøjelse det er at have Jørgen Leth tilbage ved mikrofonen. En mand der mestrer sproget, kommentaren til billederne, nogle gange nøgtern, nogle gange lyrisk og altid præcis, og hvilken fryd det er, når han lader sig rive med: det er altså et flot billede, det der – siger han ligefremt, og han og reporteren tier stille, mens de glidende helikopterbilleder fra Pyrenæerne rammer øjnene. Eller når en anden cadeau tildeles motorcykelfotograferne, af en filmmand, en kender, der taler værdigt om ”den uudgrundelige Lance Armstrong”, og græmmes over den ”sjofle” behandling, som den franske presse giver amerikaneren, der som Leth er vendt tilbage. Tak!
Written 12-07-2009 12:51:23 by Tue Steen Müller
Selection has been done for the Nordisk Panorama documentary competition that takes place in Reykjavik September 25-30. 21 documentaries compete and several can be read about on this site: Ada Bligaard Søby’s Black Heart (photo), Anders Østergaard’s Burma VJ, Nanna Frank Møller’s Let’s Be Together and Christian Sønderby Jepsen’s ”Side by Side”.
From Finland there is new film by the master Pirjo Honkasalo, Ito-A Diary of a City Priest. From Norway Polish director Andrzej Fidyk comes with Yodok Stories and fron Sweden there is a new film from the hands of Erik Gandini: Videocracy.
The festival also includes a competition for short films (40 films) and a special section for New Nordic Voices, a competition for new talents (11 films).
And there is as usual a Nordisk Forum that this year includes – among many others – projects from directors like Danish Pernille Rose Grønkjær, Swedish Suzanne Khardalian and Norwegian Magreth Olin.
Written 12-07-2009 12:20:04 by Tue Steen Müller
On this site, not long ago, you could find a review of ”Cooking History” by Slovak director Peter Kerekes. During the last year you have had the chance to read several enthusiastic words about Slovak director Juraj Lehotsky’s ”Blind Loves”. And if you go back to the start of the site - soon to be two years old - you will be able to find the name of Marko Skop connected to his fine work ”Other Worlds”, Now same director, who was the producer of ”Blind Loves”, has won the first prize for his new film ”Osadne” at the Karlovy Vary film festival. Yesterday night. Slovak documentaries prove that Eastern European documentaries work with humour, original structure in storytelling and important subjects – as this one about being a citizen of Europe. Here is the description of the film that I hope to watch very soon:
Written 10-07-2009 13:53:55 by Tue Steen Müller
Just some useful information for those of you who could be interested in following a course on the creative use of archive material in documentaries. The French film school, la femis (http://www.lafemis.fr), runs Archidoc that is an English language three-session development workshop that for 2009/2010 takes place in Prague and Jihlava in Czech Republic, in Paris and in Biarritz in connection with Fipa. In the two first sessions great film directors and editors Stan Neumann and Erez Laufer take care of the development of the project and of the creation of a fine taster, in the last session the projects are being pitched to producers and commissioning editors. Sibylle Kurz and I take care of the pitch training. Héléna Fantl from la fémis is the one running Archidoc and she does so excellently. Many filmmakers and films have profited from the workshop, let me just mention one, the Latvian art and political doc "Gustav Klucis. Deconstruction of an Artist" (photo), directed by Peteris Krilovs and produced by Uldis Cekulis from Vide Film Studio. Thought you should know about this. Deadline for applications: September 10.
Written 09-07-2009 10:23:56 by Tue Steen Müller
Serbian filmmaker Zeljko Mirkovic made this interview with me for a Serbian film magazine. He was so kind to have it translated into English and has offered it to sites like docuinter.net, reelisor.com, miradox.ru. Here it is for the readers of filmkommentaren.dk. Thank you, Zeljko!
Read more / Læs mere
Written 09-07-2009 10:07:29 by Tue Steen Müller
Chania, Greece, the old town, very hot, should be forbidden to work in that weather, but this is what the 2009 Documentary Campus Masterchool participants have done for a week under the usual professional and warm guidance of Peter Symes, Head of Studies, and his team.
Next stop is Leipzig, pitching time, in October, so rewriting of project presentations and production of tasters are waiting for the producers and directors of the 16 projects. Some of them have experience, others are to do their first pitch in Leipzig, the mixture is one of the many advantages of the Documentary Campus Masterschool. Below is the site address where you can find short info on the projects in question. Here follows a quote from the same site, spelling out the philosophy of the programme:
As good old TV turns more and more into a diverse interactive media playground, the non-fiction genre is doing likewise. It is sometimes hard to keep track of all the shapes and sizes that stories from the real world can come in today. A vibrant factual broadcasting market has emerged beyond the traditional alliance between factual filmmakers and public broadcasters. In order to satisfy the ever-greater demand for content, young internationally operating companies often have to seek partnerships with broadcasters from all over the world as well as with traditional regional stations. The variety of expectations that audiences can have when they watch non-fiction is only topped by the variety of projects which commissioning editors have in mind when they speak of factual television. Despite being able to build on strong traditions in storytelling, a wealth of excellent filmmakers and the cultural variety of Europe, producers, authors, directors and commissioning editors from outside the USA or the UK still find it difficult to be successful in the international market. It is the aim of Documentary Campus to change that.
Photo from Chania. Could have been taken from the hotel Porto Veneziano Hotel, wonderful place to stay, peaceful and with kind professional service.
Written 08-07-2009 14:25:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Tue Steen Müller har tidligere her på siden skrevet om Vestergaards Kirsten Kjær-film og om instruktørens øvrige kunstnerfilfilm samt om hans Hanstholm- og fiskerfilm (søg også på Jørgen Vestergaard).
Jeg har nu omsider lånt dvd-udgivelsen på biblioteket og lavet min egen lille Jørgen Vestergaard-sommer bio reprise. Og får lyst til at knytte en række kommentarer til i fortsættelse af Tue Steen Müllers opmærksomme tidlige orientering. Og jeg opholder mig begejstret ved den medvirkende Harald Fuglsangs fortælling af Kirsten Kjærs biografi i ét smukt klippet, indsigtsfuldt og så sprogligt musikalsk forløb, at det fastholder og bliver til selve dette liv i dets egen dialekt. Ægte fortællekunst så ansvarsfuldt og beskedent fastholdt på film af Jørgen Vestergaard og hans faste fotograf Orla Nielsen.
Det er godt at blive mindet om, at Jørgen Vestergård har lavet disse vigtige film, og her på dvd-en har han så med dem sammenfattet skildringen af et særegent stykke jysk kulturhistorie. Han har fastholdt Jens Søndergaards bål på Bovbjerg og stille og roligt placeret Bjerre og Lergaard i den sammenhæng. Han har bevaret Broby-Johansens suveræne fortælling om Anton Laier og omgivelsernes uforstand og brutalitet, så det skærer i hjertet. Formidlet Johannes Nielsens omhyggelige notater af Overtacis udtalelelser i de besynderligt præcise sætninger og endelig altså Fuglsangs mundtlige Kirsten Kjær biografi, som var en myte blandt museets kendere. Nu er den et tilgængeligt og autentisk værk.
Omkring disse dokumenter på det jyske sprog i det jyske sind har Vestergaard komponeret sine fire film om at være sig selv, blive sig selv. Med beskedenhed og loyalt, loyalt... Det skal han bare have tak for.
Jørgen Vestergaard: Kirsten Kjær og hendes museum, 2008, 33 min. I DVD-udgivelse sammen med Vestrgaards tidligere kunstnerfilm, Cementkrucifikset, 1968, 17 min., Jens Søndergaard, 1995, 33 min. og Ovartaci, 1998, 24 min. Forlaget Knakken, Thisted, 2008 email@example.com
Foto: Kirsten Kjær: Portræt af Asta Nielsen
Written 06-07-2009 18:57:26 by Tue Steen Müller
I am in Crete for a session of the Documentary (formerly Discovery) Campus. I run into Vardan Hovhannisyan with whom I have spent many fine moments around the films that he was/is producing or directing for his company in Jerevan, Armenia. With a good deal of charm and charisma, this Armenian filmmaker has established himself as a known, respected and colourful person in the documentary scene. His film “A Story about People in War and peace” went all over, won prizes – and the director travelled with the film to meet the audience and to understand the documentary market structure. I met him at Discovery Campus and again at Ex Oriente in 2007 where he with his director and colleague Inna Sahakyan presented and developed “The Last Tightrope Dancers in Europe” that is now in post-production. This film project was pitched at the East European Forum 2007 and later at the idfa Forum, but the real strong funding came not until this year from the ITVS and NHK. At a point when 80% of the film was shot! Here is the description of the film, that is also supported by YLE, SVT, TVP, ETV (Estonia), among others, and which is targeted for a premiere this coming autumn:
Zhora (76) and Knyaz (77) were once the most celebrated masters of tightrope dancing in Armenia. Today, they are the only surviving performers who can keep this ancient art alive against the current of contemporary society. Having been bitter rivals throughout their lives, a common objective has finally brought them together: to train the only student of tightrope dancing left in the country. Hovsep, a sixteen year old orphan boy, has to decide whether or not to accept the role of the last tightrope dancer in Armenia, in a society that has abandoned both him and the art of tightrope dancing.
Written 06-07-2009 09:41:26 by Tue Steen Müller
It has been done before: The filming of people in a park put together in a mosaic structure as a warm hug to people, to us all, with our joys and worries, dreams and sorrows. Polish Marcel Lozinski did it with his ”Anything can Happen”, and now Greek Apostolos Karakasis does it with his wonderful film from the National Garden in Athens. Where Lozinski was hiding with his camera and sent his son to be the matchmaker, Karakasis is the friend of the people he meets. We hear his voice once in a while from behind the camera, that he operates himself in an excellent way full of movement and an eye for the moment.
Written 05-07-2009 08:32:48 by Tue Steen Müller
Gode nyheder til danske dokumentar-seere:
Written 04-07-2009 10:26:02 by Tue Steen Müller
For the 13th time the small mountain town Bardonecchia in Piemonte hosts the Documentary in Europe, 4 days of market talks, case studies, film screenings, pitching, a matchmaking seminar for directors and debates around documentary matters. Dates: July 8-11.
There is for instance a meeting with two succesful producers from the Eastern part of Europe, Uldis Cekulis from Latvia and Martichka Bozhilova from Bulgaria. They are to talk about ”humour in documentaries” and indeed they are qualified to do so. Cekulis production, directed by Laila Pakalnina, ”Three Men and a Fish Pond”, is one of these tongue-in-cheek observations of silent men and their way of being together. And Bozhilova and her company Agitprop launches two of the most recognized films from the last years – both of them are surprising, non-formatted creative documentaries that show new ways for the documentary genre: Andrey Paounov’s ”The Mosquito Problem and other Stories” and Boris Despodov’s ”Corridor #8”.
Other films to be shown are beautiful ”On the Way to School” (photo) by Turkish Orhan Eskiköy and Özgür Dogan and the masterpiece ”Rabbit à la Berlin” by Bartek Konopka. I met the director in Vilnius this week and he gave me the 40 minutes version of a film that has had a long journey to completion, and I would say to high quality surprise and originality. I will review the film asap on this site where you can find more about many of the films from Bardonecchia. For one who has been to this fine summer event 10 times it is a pleasure to see that it still is very much alive with a big and interesting programme. Enjoy!
Written 01-07-2009 15:51:08 by Tue Steen Müller
Finnish filmmaker and teacher at the film school Helsinki Polytechnic, Heikki Ahola, brought some student films and a couple of his own films to the summer camp. They were, as Ahola, very Finnish if I may put it like that. Not many words, original approach, and high quality. ”Rhytm” from 2003 was presented as a new version of ”Night Mail”, ”Telakka” from 2002 was a time-lapse film shot over a year from a sluice, both of them short and with excellent and precise editing. His own works were both with stylistical references to early film history. One was about a train arriving to the station, the other ”The Case of an Unemployed”, a short fiction on a documentary background: A man goes to park and while other feed the ducks, he catches one to bring it back for dinner!
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Paul Pauwels: I hope I'm too pessimistic - and I will find out soon - but I've learned that it's not all gold that glitters... we'll see and in the mean time I'll k...
John Burgan: Sounds like a great initiative - just the sort of exchange that both schools can really benefit from....
Benoit F: J'ai déjà acheté mes places de concert......
matala: Wow, my exact feelings and thoughts could not be articulated this perfectly about Kievan film fest audience; what I saw in Molodist three yrs ago was ...
Tue Steen Müller: The films mentioned in the text of Sevare Pan are available on arteeast.org...