Written 31-08-2009 22:30:44 by Tue Steen Müller
This clip from an article in Realscreen makes you think... is he right or wrong:
“Filmmaker John Greyson is taking his boycott of Israel to the Toronto International Film Festival. Greyson, who withdrew his film Fig Trees (photo) from the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival in April, has written to Toronto festival organizers to take his short documentary Covered out of the September event's Short Cuts Canada sidebar. Greyson, who is also a film professor at Toronto's York University, said the action was done in protest over TIFF's inaugural City to City program because it spotlights Tel Aviv, not over the Israeli directors showing their work in Toronto.
In his letter Greyson complained the Tel Aviv sidebar does not include Palestinian artists or filmmakers…” Of course the organisers of the festival thinks Greyson does wrong and should have kept his film in the programme and taken initiative to debate. Should he – I am not convinced.
Written 31-08-2009 09:21:17 by Tue Steen Müller
It is one of those films where you wonder if this is going to be private OR personal = something that would have been better to keep in the family circle OR a film with a universal appeal. The latter is absolutely the case and the reason is obvious – Irish director Niall McKay is a skilled storyteller and the character he brings to us, the bass player, his father, appears to be charming and charismatic in a very relaxed and reflective way.
The narrative is quite simple. Niall, the director and son, goes to Zürich to help his father pack his things for a return to Ireland after the death of the woman with whom he lived. Jim, the father, tells wonderfully how he met her, and in general these conversations on the journey, between father and son, are quite light hearted and warm. It is very often a son who asks his father to give him some tricks on Life. The father says, he can’t, but he does so anyway to a son, who is just about to get married, and who makes his proposing to his dear Marissa, on camera. The same goes for the wedding. The two also go back in time to talk about the mother, who took her own life. Yes, there are dramatic events in this family story but they are always presented in a decent manner that makes you able to reflect and make parallels to your own life. And in this way the film becomes moving through a tone that is never aggressive but always full of respect.
Irish can be difficult to understand, and I was happy that the director provided me with a subtitled version.
Ireland, 62 mins., 2008/9, taster and director-interview on sites below
Written 30-08-2009 10:59:04 by Tue Steen Müller
The award, named after the documentary film pioneer Jørgen Roos, was established in 1995 for the purpose of rewarding outstanding efforts in Danish documentary filmmaking – went this year to director Anders Østergaard and producer Lise Lense-Møller, the duo behind 'Burma VJ — Reporting from a Closed Country'”. The award ceremony took place yesterday at the European Film College in Ebeltoft, Denmark.
The motivation went as follows: They have created a moving film that evokes sympathetic insight, even though the audience does not see the leading person who remains anonymous for security reasons. They have created a film with visual strength, an authentic historical document from thousands of small clips — out of focus, incoherent, and shot by different individuals under chaotic conditions. They have persisted in sticking to their ambition of making 'a documentary film that mattered', even though it would have been easier and less expensive to produce an efficient news version of the film, which there was a demand for. They have taken chances; the film had to be made, even before an unsigned contract and even though necessary finances were yet to be met. And they have persisted long after the completion of the film — followed it around the world —with their engagement in those who took part in the film and with their interest in the themes dwelt on in the film.
May I add a big bravo that Lise Lense-Møller in this way is being praised for her fine work in Danish documentary for decades. For those who don’t know her: She is a fim producer and CEO and founder of Magic Hour Films. She has produced films, co-written scripts and been a consultant on the development and production of feature films, short fiction, documentaries, and TV-series. She is also one of the experts at EU's EAVE (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs).
Written 29-08-2009 13:40:40 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Karin Westerlund: Gud, lugt og hende, Danmark, 2008. 93 min. Grand biografen, København. EKSTRAFORESTILLING I GRAND SØNDAG DEN 30. AUGUST KL. 10.00 (OM FORMIDDAGEN). INSTRUKTØREN KARIN WESTERLUND ER TIL STEDE. Billetter bestilles på 33151611 eller www.grandteatret.dk
Foto: Gennemgående medvirkende Gunilla Röör og instruktøren på sidste optagedag. Ægypten, ved sfinxen.
Written 27-08-2009 12:58:58 by Tue Steen Müller
Dear Sergey. Around 10 years ago you were in Copenhagen to present your film school diploma work, ”Paradise”. You declared yourself as a dedicated documentarian, and you proved to be one of the best with the films that followed: ”Bread Day”, ”Highway” and ”In the Dark”. You have been awarded for your work, you have deserved it as the brilliant filmmaker you are, who can catch the magic moments, the ones you have been waiting for to appear after long research, as you did with ”Paradise” from the steppes of the Kazakhstan with the people you love so much. Now you have returned to the same theme with your ”Tulpan”, a film that is touring the world with success. When we met last December in Copenhagen, you told me that you were happy to have switched to fiction – you have reached a bigger audience and you don’t have the ethical problem that you were told to have created for the people in ”Paradise”, who had been critizised heavily for taking part in a film that represents kazakh reality as poor and miserable. I saw ”Tulpan” yesterday and I love it – for being a continuation of your documentary work with scenes that I will never forget. The birth of a lamb, you keep the scene for a wonderful long time. The little boy running on the steppes as in ”Paradise”. The nature images. The sheep being kept as a flock... and so on. You got some of the magical documentary moments that you can not put into a script. But you also have a story and it is full of humour and warmth. It is close to the reality you know, but they act, you can see that they perform, some of them over-act. I like it but you lose something in terms of the truthfulness you have in your previous work. I can not help compare the mother in ”Paradise” with the mother in ”Tulpan”. There is a world of difference. The first is the mother, the other acts a mother, and she does that well. In the first film you wait for things to happen, in ”Tulpan” you say ”action”. Hope you understand this small reflection on documentary and fiction - there is a small fine drama in ”Tulpan” surrounded by magic images and situations that has that documentary presence that is your quality stamp! Best wishes from your true admirer Tue. Photo from "Paradise".
Written 27-08-2009 11:39:13 by Tue Steen Müller
2nd message to the lucky Copenhageners about a film offer – presented in Danish:
Så kom der endelig en lejlighed til at glæde læserne med et foto af Juliette Binoche, den fremragende franske skuespiller, hvis evner kan nydes i 11 film, som Cinemateket præsenterer i september måned. ”Skjult” (Haneke), ”Blå” (Kieslowski) og ”De elskende fra Pont-Neuf” (Carax) for blot at nævne tre mesterlige film og præstationer af Binoche. Og så er der ellers Cassavetes, Capra and masser af andre godter på programmet.
Written 27-08-2009 11:36:23 by Tue Steen Müller
1st message to the lucky Copenhageners about a film offer – presented in Danish:
Så er det sæson for MandagsDokumentar. Utrættelige Ebbe Preisler inviterer som sædvanlig og han insisterer vanen tro på at det er en god idé at filmskaberne møder sit publikum. Så check hjemmesiden og se hvilken herlig blanding af film og folk, der vil indfinde sig i PH Caféen på Halmtorvet 9A. Og det er ikke blot filmfolk, men også filmformidlere der optræder, således kan publikum glæde sig til den 2. November hvor Danmarks bedste i den genre, højskolelærer og filmskolelærer Niels Jensen er aftenens midtpunkt. Flere af filmene er anmeldt eller omtalt på dette sted: Den bevægede jord (Lars Becker Larsen), Cikaderne findes (Jytte Rex), Kirsten Kjær (Jørgen Vestergaard), De fem benspænd (Let og Trier), Tulpan (Sergey Dvortsevoy) og Long Bien Bridge (Steen Møller Rasmussen, foto)
Written 26-08-2009 12:41:55 by Tue Steen Müller
My colleague, Allan Berg, has posted two texts in Danish about the new film by Karin Westerlund, Swedish visual artist and filmmaker, based in Denmark and Cairo, Egypt. I saw the film yesterday, it is as Allan Berg writes, quite extraordinary, a bombardment of images from all over, a film about love, about what you don't see but sense, about culture, religion, a philosophical statement. As it has been said, the film can be categorized as poetic-political if that adds anything, probably not, as this film is hard to describe due to its richness. I watched it yesterday in a completely sold out art cinema in Copenhagen (extra screening sunday at 10am in Grand Teatret Copenhagen), and write this to make film festival people and tv buyers aware of a film that does not look like anything else, an experiment someone will say, if so let's have more of that. Go to the website of the unique filmmaker Karin Westerlund and enjoy clips from the work, she has done, including this new one. A dvd edition for public purchase is on its way. (photo from the book of KW: It started in Cairo)
Written 26-08-2009 09:07:46 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Den syriske digter Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said Asbar), (still fra filmen) er en af seværdighederne, som Gunilla Röör opsøger i filmens rejseforløb. Et monument som de store og små bygningsværker, hun også besøger. Jeg tror hans tekster er vigtige dele i filmens konstruktion. Måske en arkitektur som trappen i Varanasi ned til Ganges. Jeg ved det ikke, mærker det kun. Hvordan skal jeg dog få tag i dette geniale monstrum af en film?
"Jeg mærker de gode vibrationer", siger hun til den vise mand, som har vist hende om i moskeen. "Det er et billede, som du henter fra fysikken", replicerer han. "Jeg tror, det er nærvær, du mærker".
"The truth is a house / without people / without neighbours / without visitors..." skriver Adonis. Et sted kommer Röor - i en drøm måske, i hvert fald i en virkelighed - til en række tomme, smukt okkerkalkede rum i en bygning, hvor jeg gerne slog mig ned. Men hun er fortvivlet. Bevæger sig omkring i angstfyldte ryk, kan intet genkende. Det er ikke, som det skulle være. Er ikke, som det måske var. Engang. Til slut ser hun fra balkonen ud over landskabet. Som ikke er der mere.
Filmens juxtapositioner (som de snakker om under seminaret i Århus) kaster mig fra side til side, frem og tilbage. Jeg må se den igen..
Karin Westerlund: Gud, lugt og hende, Danmark, 2008. 93 min. Grand biografen, København. EKSTRAFORESTILLING I GRAND SØNDAG DEN 30. AUGUST KL. 10.00 (OM FORMIDDAGEN). INSTRUKTØREN KARIN WESTERLUND ER TIL STEDE. Billetter bestilles på 33151611 eller www.grandteatret.dk
Written 25-08-2009 15:21:37 by Tue Steen Müller
What an achievement! I don’t recall, when was the last time that I witnessed so captivating a historical documentary, here told by Czech Jewish survivors of the holocaust. They were interviewed between 2000-2006 by Lukas Pribyl, the researcher, writer and director behind the four 90 minutes long films that share the same title, ”Forgotten Transports”, with the adding of where the transports went: ”to Latvia”, ”to Estonia”, ”to Belarus”, ”to Poland”. (The photo represents the "Estonian "Czech Girls"" in "to Estonia").
Put together in a clearly edited non-sensationalistic chronological structure each of the four films takes the viewer on a journey from Czekoslovakia to the ghettos in the countries mentioned and from there to camps – concentration camps, extermination camps. Or to be more precise: the survivors take the viewer with their personal stories, told with shocking and moving details, but also with humour. Watching the film you wonder how it was possible for these people to continue living after they (most of them) lost their families and were so close to the most horrifying brutality and death in circumstances beyond description.
But the film director does so in a way that deserves all respect. All archive material – moving or still images, much of it I guess shown for the first time – are connected to the places, events and time that the storytellers refer to. Discreetly a text is placed in the frame giving the information of name of person talking, or the place we are taken to. With the addition of private photos of the survivors as young people, as well as the killed relatives or friends, or the German SS people and camp superiors. This is not a film about the 2nd WW, there is not a single word from Hitler, there is not a single reconstruction, it is totally based on what human beings remember from their childhood and youth. Put together in four films that are different as their fates were different, some timesvery hard to watch and listen to, some times you smile. It is about Czech Jews but the stories have an universal appeal.
The musical score also deserves a mention for its high quality. Peter Ostrouchov avoids all film music klichés and pushes for sentimentality, for me his music places the viewer in a state of reflection.
Written 25-08-2009 15:12:51 by Tue Steen Müller
I had an email contact with the director of ”Forgotten Transports”, Lukas Pribyl. Here follows some quotes from his side – and please do also go to the very good site of the film:
How did you make the people talk so fine and precise?” The people talk so precisely because most of them were interviewed for the very first time and did not have anyone to share their recollections with, therefore they only told me what really remembered – no second hand information. Then, the films were edited from 270 hours of interview footage, so I had a lot to choose from. I developed my own interviewing technique, which allows for some repetition and is therefore well suited for editing work.”
You refrain totally from the use of nowadays trend for reconstruction in historial documentaries?” What can be more real than reality? Why reenact and reconstruct something that can be shown through authentic photographs and footage and why speak for people who are perfectly capable of telling their story themselves? (It is their story after all…) The photos used in the film are really of the people themselves, in the places they talk about. So when the women in the film about Estonia speak about a diver in the port of Tallinn, I go to the archives, find the names of all the German divers working in the Baltics between 1941 and 1944, trace them or their families, until I find Mr. Ruehmann’s family and get the picture of the Czech Jewish women helping him onto a boat. That’s why the series took ten years to make. I don’t use any look-alike footage or photos, only time and place precise material. I have had extremely good experience with audiences – they don’t find the stories too complicated or incomprehensible and actually find them “dramatic”enough.”
And a line from the site of the film: The series of four feature length documentary films on the topic of virtually unknown concentration camps and ghettos and little known modes of survival is Pribyl's directorial debut.
Written 24-08-2009 22:37:30 by Tue Steen Müller
It is a high quality film programme that the organisers of the coming Baltic Sea Forum offers its local Riga audience and the visiting filmmakers and tv editors.
Under the title ”Revolution starts at Home” (and from September 2-6) you are not surprised to find ”Recipes for Disaster” by Finnish John Webster, who will visit Riga to discuss his effort to introduce an oil celibacy in his family’s daily life. Other award winning films, highly praised on this site are ”Z 32” by Avi Mograbi, ”The English Surgeon” by Geoffrey Smith, ”Cash and Marry” by Atanas Georgiev and ”Burma VJ” (photo) by Anders Østergaard, who will also be in Latvia's capital to meet his audience. ”The Yes Men are fixing the World” by Mike Bonnano and Andy Bichlbaum is on the programme and there is a visit from neighbouring Estonia by Jaak Kilmi and Kiur Armaa, who present their new original work ”Disco and Atomic War”. A quote from the description of the film: Finnish TV was the window to a dreamland for Estonia that the Communist party leaders never managed to close. Even though Western frequencies were blocked, many homes found a way to access the forbidden fruit. This a singular view of recent history where spy-film elements co-mingle with human tragic-comedy.
Written 24-08-2009 06:37:37 by Allan Berg Nielsen
At placere to genstande ved siden af hinanden i museumssalen, at skrive to stykker efter hinanden i teksten på bordet, at montere to scener i forlængelse i klipperummet, og du er i montagens klassiske situation, i historiefortællingens basis, i den kulturelle repræsentations problemstilling og mulighed. Juxtapositionens organisation af stoffet er forudsætningen for fremstillingen af meningsbærende konstruktioner i museumsvæsen, litteratur og film.
Og netop filmens grundlæggende æstetik er det gennemgående tema i den konference om Transcultural Montage, som begynder i dag på Moesgård Museum i Århus. Med foredrag fra morgen til aften 24.-27. august.
Se programmet her:
Og det ses med det samme, at det, som lyder så enkelt, at sætte elementer ved siden af hinanden, er en stor og rigt facetteret problemstilling. Man kan forventningsfuld sætte sig i en af stolene i museets foredragssal og lade det ene omhyggeligt forberedte foredrag efter det andet passere gennem sin forståelse. Eller man kan vælge blandt dem ved at orientere sig i programmets fornemme samling af abstracts.
De skriver: "Med konferencen ønsker vi at undersøge, hvordan forskellige montageformer kan bruges til at udfordre og åbne nye muligheder for menneskelig erfaring og antropologisk viden. Det handler om, hvordan man kan bruge montageeffekter til at sabotere etablerede måder at opfatte verden, og om, hvordan montager af ord, billeder og lyd kan give rum til de usynlige dele af menneskelivet."
Written 23-08-2009 14:28:48 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Blandt de mange, mange originale filmmanuskripter i filminstituttets samling er det mærkværdigste, tror jeg, Karin Westerlunds første manuskript til "Gud, lugt og hende". Det er meget, meget smukt. Det er både en tekst og en arkitekturskitse og en række dialoglister og en samling notater og overvejelser. Måske er det også en æstetisk-filosofisk opsats. Og det er mange år gammelt. Filmen har været længe undervejs. Nu har den været færdig mange måneder og har været i biografen i Stockholm, med succes, forstår jeg. I morgen har den omsider premiere i Grand i København. Og kommer forhåbentlig snart på dvd, for jeg glæder mig rigtig meget til at se den film. Er den som manuskriptet, hvad jeg håber og tror, er den det mærkværdigste, man kan se i biografen for tiden. Den er smuk, klog og tankevækkende.
Still: Gud, lugt og hende er optaget i Irland, Indien, Spanien, Egypten og altså Island, hvor den hvidklædte skikkelse så er en prik i det vældige landskab.
Written 22-08-2009 16:11:04 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Det nye flotte nummer af Ekko er lige kommet ind ad døren. Jeg bladrer i første omgang forbi Paprika Steen, Quentin Tarantino, Headhunter, Grodals von Trier analyse, Nimbus storhed og fald, Johnnny Depp,Pedro Almodóvar og alle psykopaterne frem til anmeldelserne og finder omhyggelige og pålidelige Lars Movin, som i sin anmeldelse giver Joris Ivens samlede værk seks stjerner.
Det vigtigste er, at det kan lade sig gøre! At se alle de mange Ivens film nu. Samlet. Og den vigtigste sætning i Movis tekst er: "En boks , som enhver, der interesserer sig blot en smule for filmmediets og især dokumentarismens historie, roligt kan begynde at spare sammen til..." Jeg er begyndt. Prisen for tyve Ivens film, alle til seks stjerner, er 53 euro. I denne webshop:
Filmene er i hollandsk, fransk og engelsk version. De er alle søgt restaureret til instruktørens oprindelige version.
Still: Joris Ivens blandt terrakottakrigerne i A Tale of The Wind, 1988.
Written 22-08-2009 10:58:23 by Tue Steen Müller
The national Danish film festival in Odense is over. Under the competent leadership of Cecilia Lidin a big competitive international programme of short fiction films supplemented the competition of new Danish short films and documentaries. The Grand Prix for the best Danish film 2008-2009 went to Christian Sønderby Jepsen for his charming and surprising "Side om Side". Here is a repeat of the review that was brought on this site:
Around 20 minutes into this staged documentary I started to get impatient. Come on, make the story move, we got the message, the neighbours dont like each others, they dont talk, it is a silent war, where they will not fight or terrorise each other as in subjectwise similar films like the classic of Norman Maclaren. But then it takes a turn. The filmmaker asks his father, one of the neighbours, what was the biggest moment in his life. Difficult question to answer for a man, who has difficulties to express emotions, but he gives the answer. And the filmmaker goes to the neighbour to give us a positive impression of him.
We will never sit down and have coffee and pastries, says the father of the filmmaker about the conflict. More than a decade ago something happened that created a total split up between the two families. The result was that a fence grew up, a kind of no-mans land, a Berlin wall, in otherwise peaceful Western Jutland of Denmark in a town called Tarm. Where they speak a strong dialect and express a certain kind of stubbornness. Because nobody really recalls what happened, nobody knows who owes an apology.
Denmark, 2008, 47 mins.
Written 21-08-2009 17:04:42 by Tue Steen Müller
What a pleasant surprise and a well deserved prize from the Sarajevo Film Festival audience – to nominate ”Sevdah” by Marina Andree as the best film of the festival. I have previously introduced the film, that had its premiere in Sarajevo and that now will hopefully travel the world. Here is what the film is about:
”An intimate journey through Bosnian "blues" dedicated to the prematurely deceased Farah, a passionate fan of sevdah. Trying to confront their own loss and grief, the autors create a film about sevdah as an emotional, musical, lyrical and visual journey through the soul of Bosnia.”
The winner – another prize for this great film – of the documentary section was ”Caviar Connection” by Dragan and Jovana Nikolic, a film that has travelled the world as is ”Cash and Marry” by Atanas Georgiev, who went third in the Audience competition. Both manyfold mentioned on this site.
These three films document again the quality of documentaries from the Balkan: Originality, vision, relevance in subject, feeling and humour. I am so happy for the filmmakers and a bit proud to have been able to follow them from ZagrebDox pitching through Ex Oriente training workshop, and now they meet an audience who appreciates the work!
Written 20-08-2009 23:41:44 by Tue Steen Müller
Here is a follow-up to the text about joiningthedocs, quite interesting and if I get it right, you don't have to travel to Sheffield (which by the way could be quite nice!) to watch a selection of the films in the coming festival. Read what is coming up:
"Sheffield Doc/Fest brings the international documentary family together to celebrate the art and business of documentary making for five intense days in November. As part of the 2009 festival, Doc/Fest is partnering with online documentary specialists joiningthedocs.tv to offer a selection of the festival’s films online, in an effort to broaden the impact of the festival’s films by bringing them to a larger audience.
joiningthedocs.tv is building a dedicated microsite for Doc/Fest’s online festival coverage, using a powerful new video platform. Each film will have a page dedicated to it, similar to the style of Doc/Fest’s current Videotheque. Visitors will be able to watch a trailer, purchase the film for a high-quality streaming experience, leave comments, and if they are a professional industry member, contact the film’s producer directly."
www.sheffdocfest.com (photo: Nick Broomfield, retro-serie at the festival in 2008)
Written 20-08-2009 22:54:11 by Tue Steen Müller
142 Iranian filmmakers have issued a boycott of the 2009 edition of the (Iranian) Cinema Vérité International Documentary Film Festival, that is scheduled for October 2009. The Iranian filmmakers express that in the current situation of the country, there are so many films that could have been made, but "we are not allowed to make them". Read the unedited version of the statement of the Iranian filmmakers on
Written 20-08-2009 12:30:57 by Tue Steen Müller
A worldwide community of documentary professionals it is, the D-word that announces that by September 3 it has existed for 10 years. As a place for documentary people from all over the world to talk to each other, as colleagues sharing experience and knowledge. Warm congratulations from a member who visits The D-Word and profits… and would love to have participated much more than has been the case. Let me give the floor to the founder Doug Block who together with Ben Kempas are the ones with whom I have only fine memories from the time when I was in the EDN. And to readers – sign up, you wont regret it:
It's hard to believe that on September 3rd we'll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the very first posting on The D-Word. And that this total lark of an idea I had back in 1999 would grow to become the foremost virtual community for documentary filmmakers, with thousands of members from 80 countries.
For a while now we've been thinking about having some kind of ambitious global event for The D-Word's 10th birthday (I know I just said anniversary but it feels much more like a birthday). However, that's not really our style. What we'd like to encourage, instead, is for members everywhere to organize gatherings in their local cities on September 3rd. It need not be anything big. The point is to use the date as an excuse to meet fellow doc makers in your area in person. And, like we do everyday online, together celebrate the art and craft and joy and angst of documentary filmmaking.
Written 19-08-2009 17:10:13 by Tue Steen Müller
The Beetz Brothers ... sounds like a film title but is the name of a very active independent production company in Germany, which I would like to draw your attention to as an example of a production company that not only makes a lot of interesting films for tv and cinema, but also puts a lot of energy into the promotion of the films. I am the interested receiver of their regular newsletter and reader of a very well constructed website. Check it:
Later I will review a couple of films from the company, one of them being Marc Eberle’s film from Laos, a quote from the annotation of the film:
The Vietnam War was the most intensely televised war ever. However, next door in neighboring Laos, the longest and largest air war in human history was underway, which eventually made Laos the most bombed country on earth. The Secret War was the largest operation ever conducted by the CIA, yet to this day, hardly anyone knows anything about it. Critics call it the biggest war crime of the Vietnam War era and point to striking similarities to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; similarities that were tested and set in motion back in Laos in the 1960s.
Written 17-08-2009 22:31:38 by Tue Steen Müller
Time for a commercial – to illustrate through just one example that many of the creative documentary films reviewed on filmkommentaren.dk are available to be watched whenever you want and for little money:
"joiningthedocs.tv is a new documentary channel offering the very best director-led films on demand, via streaming.The films are made by a passionate, international group of socially committed people who have a mission to try and make sense of the world. They illuminate our times and help to support a fully-functioning society. But they are hard to see. Although some are shown by public service and public-minded tv broadcasters, they tend to be on specialist channels, in the corners of schedules and rarely repeated.
Many films play at international festivals, and on occasion are theatrically released. But how often have you read a great review of a film and then not had the chance to watch it? We know that audiences expect to find what they want, when they want, at a time and price that suits them. That’s where joiningthedocs.tv comes in.a new documentary channel offering the very best director-led films on demand, via streaming."
End of commercial: The reason choosing specifically this one is the advertising they do for a new title, the masterpiece of Austrian director Michael Glawogger (photo), “Workingman’s Death”. As convincing as his “Megacities” by one of the real auteurs in modern documentary. Take a look at the trailer.
Written 16-08-2009 22:54:45 by Tue Steen Müller
He is now the head of The European Television & Media Management Academy in Strasbourg. Before he was a documentary film producer, one of the best in Europe, and for a short while a commissioning editor at the VRT in Belgium, the country he comes from. I know him from his pioneer work for years for EDN (European Documentary Network), as a chairman of the Executive Committee and I won’t hesitate to say as the best tutor and promoter of international cooperation, I met when a director of EDN. One of the filmmakers Paul Pauwels met on his many travels for EDN was Serbian Zelkjo Mirkovic, who made this interview that can be read in full length on www.docuinter.net Here is a brief clip:
Željko Mirkovic: How do you see the future of documentary film? Paul Pauwels: Reality is always stronger than fiction, certainly when filmed and edited by professionals. Documentary will never disappear. There will come good times, there will come bad times, but it will always survive. I suppose that you’re question really means: how do you see the future of creative documentaries? Well, there I’m also optimistic about the fact that they will always be there and will warm many hearts, but I’m less optimistic about their production circumstances. I fear that the percentage of creative documentaries on traditional tv-screens will quickly diminish and certainly they will be banned from prime-time. But… another big but… thanks to the new platforms (VOD, IP-TV …) there will be other forms of financing, production and distribution available. There is a niche audience for them that can be served through alternative channels and believe me, the commercial world (who often has to come up with the money to produce them) will be very interested in this audience. Apologies if this sounds too much business-like, but that’s the reality that will keep people like you in the business. On the other hand it is the responsibility of commissioning editors to keep fighting to keep documentaries on the traditional main channels too. So I see a lot of fighting and hardship, but I’m certainly not pessimistic: there are so many creative and talented people around that they will always find ways to surprise and seduce audiences, and they are the blood and the force of documentaries. Photo: Mirkovic left, Pauwels right.
Written 15-08-2009 22:33:19 by Tue Steen Müller
According to the newspaper The Guardian (August 13) a new documentary about football referees has been premiered at the Locarno Film Festival. Director is Yves Hinant and the film runs time-wise a bit less than a football match: 77 mins. This is how the intro to the article by Simon Hart runs:
"Nobody knows them, nobody likes them. So it is very interesting to make a movie against the common perception." Belgian film-maker Yves Hinant is not talking about paedophiles or serial killers, but football referees. The ref may be a popular figure of contempt for frustrated managers, players and fans but Hinant's film could cause you to think twice before badmouthing the next hapless official. Les Arbitres (The Referees), which had its premiere at the Locarno film festival in Switzerland on Monday, is a revealing fly-on-the-wall documentary about the men in the middle at the Euro 08 finals last year – among them the leading English match official, Howard Webb (photo). Remarkably for the image-obsessed world of modern sport, Hinant gained unfettered access to a handful of these referees, whom we see not just on the pitch but off it, too: in dressing rooms, at debriefs, even at home with their families...”
Can’t wait to watch it!
Written 15-08-2009 22:27:47 by Tue Steen Müller
The city of Kazan in Tatarstan in Russia, around 800 km East of Moscow, hosts the 4th International festival of Muslim Cinema, ”Golden Minbar”, taking place September 30 to October 4. 14 films have been selected for the documentary competition, 3 of them have been reviewed on this site: Hungarian Ferenc Moldovanyi’s beautiful ”Another Planet”, Czech/Canadian Petr Lom’s actual Iran-film ”Letters to the President” and Polish Beata Dzianowicz film from Afghanistan, ”Kites” (photo). The programme looks interesting from a festival that I regret to say that I had never heard about before. Films from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Italy, Lebanon – quite a wide range of countries are represented.
Written 14-08-2009 13:24:43 by Tue Steen Müller
... and as a follow-up this mail from Ilze Gailite Holmberg, managing director of the National Film Centre of Latvia, to the big amount of European colleagues and film funds/centres/associations/institutes:
Dear Colleagues, This is to thank you for all your support to the independence of the National Film Centre of Latvia. Currently we have had the first victory – Mr. Ints Dalderis, the Minister of Culture has announced his decision to support NFC’ s independent status at the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia. Thus, the final decision will be taken by the government. I am very convinced that the positive move of the Minister towards us has happened thanks to the great support we have received from you, widely from the local media, from Latvian filmmakers and a number of international institutions.
During the decisive meeting between Film Council and Minister of Culture Latvian filmmakers were united in a demonstration – filmmaking of a short film The Dream of Eisenstein, based on the boyhood dream of Latvia- born Eisenstein to make a film in Riga, in order to remind the Ministry on the significance of continuation of film culture. You can see some pictures from the set at this link: http://www.pozitivaszinas.lv/posts/view/par-kino
I truly hope the government will follow the decision of the Minister of Culture.
Written 14-08-2009 13:16:58 by Tue Steen Müller
I received this mail from Latvian Lelda Ozola last night, and got her permission to publish it like this:
Dearest Tue, this is a deja vu situation of some 5 years ago ... I start thinking why me, why again, why now. What is happening here is close to a nightmare. Every day the feeling strenghtens that this country is meant for destruction. The earth will very soon be unable to bear what is happening.
And in the middle of that we have to get ready for Baltic Sea Forum... (24 Eastern European projects to be pitched to more than 15 international commissioning editors, ed.) You will not recognise us when you come! However, yesterday we got 200% positive emotions, seeing the support from the industry. It was so touching that everybody could hardly suppress tears. Can you imagine 200 people - almost all the industry + actors, being there around the ministry, having brought rails, cameras, sound equipment and even lighting bus from Lithuania has arrived. We felt the solidarity. It was unbelievable. and the main thing - it is not vain, there will be another Laila Pakalnina short film (shot on 35 mm invested by the cinematographer !!!) as a result of all this (hopefully, award winning with fantastic PR from the very start).It is already agreed that we will try to get the film ready to open the National Film Festival at the end of September. All this and the papers and (film centre director, ed.) Ilze Gailite Holmberg's efforts together with the NGOs have resulted that they allow us to try to preserve independence but cutting staff and functions... This still has to be defended in the cabinet of ministers and the ministry is not very enthusiastic about defending it! But Baltic Sea Forum in two weeks will definitely take place. The catalogue goes to print tomorrow!
Lelda Ozola. National Film Centre of Latvia & Media Desk Latvia
Written 12-08-2009 15:55:19 by Tue Steen Müller
”National Film Centre of Latvia is under the threat of reorganization” was the headline of this morning’s daily news from ”Film New Europe”, continued by these lines: ” The financial crisis in Latvia has triggered a chain of reorganization of cultural institutions that threatens the existence of the National Film Centre of Latvia (NFC) as an independent establishment.” So not only has the budget for support for films in 2009 been cut 44% compared to 2008, but an eventual cut-away of the Film Centre to be reduced to an office in the Ministry of Culture is of course a severe perspective of catastrophy.
As one who has followed the Latvian film since the independence, I can only admire the work done by committed and clever people in and around the Film Centre. A well functioning, independent film institutional structure has been established, that serves the many fine film directors and producers from a country that especially in the documentary sector has long and proud traditions.
Anyone can understand that cuts are needed in times of financial crisis, but to destroy an independent structure that represents a country with such competence is political narrow-minded thinking. And if this reorganisation becomes a reality, the consequence will be that the EU-supported Baltic Sea Forum, that takes place in Riga for the 13th time in 3 weeks will cease to exist. At this forum Latvian producers, among others, come to find funding for their film projects. Protests have arrived from neighbouring countries, from Austria, from Slovenia, and more will come, I am sure. The Latvian filmmakers protest outside the Ministry of Culture. Allow me to send many warm thoughts to Latvian film friends. A fight for independence is going on.
Written 11-08-2009 16:19:29 by Tue Steen Müller
Just this short note to accompany the posted still photo that everybody knows... it is 80 years ago that Bunuel made this 16 minutes long masterpiece with help from Salvador Dali. Lucky you who has not seen the film yet, and lucky us who can watch it again. Available it is in all dvd shops, and online, and maybe you have a cinematheque near you, that celebrates film history like this.
Written 11-08-2009 09:16:02 by Tue Steen Müller
Joint Appeal from DOK Leipzig and DOK.FEST Munich: The Iranian documentary filmmaker Maziar Bahari is currently enduring a show trial in Tehran. In the morning of July 21, Iranian militia arrested Maziar Bahari at his mother‚s house. He has been detained ever since. No formal charge has been made against Bahari and he has not been allowed to see either a lawyer or a member of his family.
DOK Leipzig festival director Claas Danielsen: Maziar Bahari is an important voice in Iranian documentary film making. DOK Leipzig stands for films which defend freedom and human dignity. We call upon the authorities in Iran to enter into a constructive dialogue with all the democratic forces in Iranian society and to immediately release Maziar Bahari and all peaceful demonstrators!
Maziar Bahari has achieved widespread international acclaim through films such as „Along Came a Spider„. He is an active member of the „Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association„ and an important role model for many young Iranian filmmakers."
Written 09-08-2009 19:10:28 by Tue Steen Müller
... is a genre in itself and perfect for film, as trains are movements from one place to another, a change in time or destiny, an escape from something or a journey to a better life, or a trip to the one and only. Or trains are there to bring letters to the rich and letters to the poor... as it sounds from Auden’s poem in the classic of all train doc classics, ”Night Mail” by Basil Wright and Harry Watt, 1936.
The British Transport Commission – together with the British Film Institute – has published a unique collection of its films over a period of 30 years from 1950 and ”provides a unique insight into the changing social history of Britain”. 125 films, 18 dvd’s, 38 hours. In the promotion it is said that this is a ”must for transport and (British) film-making enthusiasts alike”.
Thematically organised, one of the dvd’s carries the title, ”The Art of Travel” – isn’t it what documentaries can make us do – travel in time and human life conditions?
Written 09-08-2009 16:27:01 by Tue Steen Müller
The Danish Cinematheque, situated at the Film House in Copenhagen, launches from this month a new and very welcomed initiative: ”film of the month”, where a film – contrary to the normal 2-3 screenings – gets a Danish premiere and several screenings. For films that did not get into the usual cinema distribution, I suppose, but still deserves a helping hand from... the state, in this case through the Danish Film Institute and its Cinematheque. Active cultural policy, thank you!
The Cinematheque starts brilliantly with the new film by Sergey Dvortsevoy, ”Tulpan”, that took him 4 years to make, and which has already won quite a lot of prizes at festivals.
Readers of this site will know the name Sergey Dvortsevoy, who has often been praised for his excellent documentaries: ”Paradise”, ”Bread Day”, ”Highway”, ”In the Dark”.
www.dfi.dk (for Danish readers)
(about the films of S.D.)
Written 07-08-2009 13:59:13 by Tue Steen Müller
The beautiful city of Sarajevo hosts its festival August 12-20. Selected by competent film director, tutor and consultant Rada Sesic there is a strong competition programme for documentaries from (and about) the region. Among them a wonderful film, Sevdah (photo) by Marina Andree, that I have seen in a rough cut version, and which is presented like this:
An intimate journey through Bosnian "blues" dedicated to the prematurely deceased Farah, a passionate fan of sevdah. Trying to confront their own loss and grief, the autors create a film about sevdah as an emotional, musical, lyrical and visual journey through the soul of Bosnia.
Also in the programme are these films that have all been reviewed on filmkommentaren.dk: ”Cash and Marry” (Atanas Georgiev), ”The Caviar Connection” (Dragan Nikolic), ”Cooking History” (Peter Kerekes), ”On the Way to School” (Eskiköy and Dogan). Another tribute to the festival is that the programmes includes short films – that have always been a strong genre in the region... and of course the festival is full of fiction films and retrospectives, take a look at the site below.
Written 06-08-2009 10:10:19 by Tue Steen Müller
The Russians respect film history. At least, this is what the organisers of the international documentary film festival Flahertiana do. October 15-21 they organise the 9th edition with the reference to Robert Flaherty (1884-1951) and with prizes that are named after his (the first creative documentary ever?) ”Nanook of the North”.
Written 05-08-2009 11:33:09 by Tue Steen Müller
Supported by the MEDIA Programme of the EU ”Film New Europe” brings daily news from the range of primarily Eastern European countries that joined the Union in 2004, plus Croatia and Turkey. The language is English but if you prefer Polish or Hungarian, these languages are also available. The actuality seems to be very much dependent on the correspondents in the different countries (Bulgaria, Romanis and the hosting country Poland are the most active) but there is relevant info to catch on film politics and new films, mostly in fiction, less in the documentary field. And then, if you are hungry for gossip, you can click on ”who’s partying at...” and see pictures from cocktail parties. Why? Anyway, there is also a valuable selection on links for more info from the new EU countries. The Polish Film Institute is one of the supporters.
Written 04-08-2009 11:08:02 by Tue Steen Müller
There are loads of films and programmes about and with Dalai Lama. Here is one more by Russian star director Manski. He had 24 hours with his protagonist and made a film in two parts, the first one (a televison hour) being a visual approach to the charismatic leader of the Tibetan people and his enormous entourage shot in his exile in India, the second one (22 mins) a reflection on the issues raised by Dalai Lama on the future of our planet. About rich and poor, about birth control, about basically an unequal world.
Written 03-08-2009 13:41:52 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Én linje om dagen må være nok, siger digteren, maleren, komponisten og musikeren Tóroddur Poulsen, Torshavn og Vesterbro, men på den sikre baggrund, at langsomheden er blevet til en bog om året plus en række udstillinger plus cd-udgivelser plus optrædender med digte og musik. Filmen kalder sig portræt. Det er så i orden. Det er altså en personlig spejling i et andet menneske, en model. Og lidt mere end det, jeg mener lidt mere end modellens udseende, modellens krop. Det viser titlen. Spejlingen er en fascination, en længsel efter langsomheden. Man kunne med titlen i hånden sige, det er en film om langsomhedens mulighed for at etablere kunstnerisk.. jeg finder kun det gamle ord: livsfylde. (Jeg synes i hvert fald det er bedre end ordet ”livskunst”) Det er en god film, en klog film, en alvorlig film og naturligvis en meget morsom film.
For modellen er morsom. Temmelig morsom. Og Ottarsdóttir er bare kold – og rolig. Han vil ikke nogen samtale. Hun vælger / klipper sig til kortfattede, kølige spørgsmål fra sin meget tilstedeværende og opmærksomme position bag kameraet. Og manipulerer ham ud i lange redegørelser, som hun så smukt har ordnet i en monolog, modellens monolog. Først er det underligt, han vil jo ikke. Så bliver det meget, meget morsomt som nævnt. Det slutter så absolut i det tankevækkende og originale. Det er en rigtig god film.
Jeg lånte den ret nye dvd på biblioteket. Nu bestiller jeg hvad, jeg kan få fat i af Poulsens bøger og af Óttarsdóttirs film. Over for en som mig har hun med sin film i hvert fald løst den opgave at formidle en digter og hans værk.
Katrin Ottarsdóttir: Ein regla um dagin má vera nokk! Færøerne, 2008. Med Tóroddur Poulsen. Produceret af Hugin Eide for Blue Bird Film www.bluebirdfilm.dk
Written 03-08-2009 10:11:42 by Tue Steen Müller
After many journalistic documentary investigations into politics and suppression in North Korea, it is refreshing to watch this work from the hands of Czech director Linda Jablonska, who joined a group on its totally controlled tour to Pyongyang. As no communication was possible to local people - followed 24h by official guides as the Czech group was - the film gets its quality from showing the reactions of the travellers to what they see. And dont see. At the same time as you as a viewer gets the tourist tour as well.
Written 02-08-2009 07:46:03 by Tue Steen Müller
Czech film director Jana Boková lives in Buenos Aires, in a chosen exile as many of the friends she visits in this film about what exile means and about whether you can return and find your roots and yourself at the place that you come from. As a theme it is very interesting, unfortunately you can not say the same about the film, which has a feel of repetition. Not that the characters are not interesting, they are, at least some of them, but the director is not able to convey an interesting atmosphere or an intensity that could have made the film a strong document. For that, the film would have needed a less sketchy and loose structure, less unimportant café talks, a drastic cut out of loads of touristic images from Paris and much more. Plus the stressing of some points like the fine one with the man, who was in Paris in 1968, saw and took part in the riots but hurried around to tell the French revolutionaries that they should definitely NOT think, as many did, that things were better in the communist countries.
Czech Republic, 1h 50 mins., 2008
Written 01-08-2009 09:37:04 by Tue Steen Müller
Three persons in one room. Plus a film crew. Not a lot of space but the great Czech director and cameraman Mira Janek manages to move around to observe and catch the intense atmosphere of quite a unique family: blind mother, blind daughter and seeing man. The mother is the central character and the one that communicates with the camera, the one that performs wonderfully for the viewers and the one whose story we get told without any sentimentality but with energy and humour. Very much present is also the hyperactive daughter, who dances in circles when the mother sings – and the husband, always in the background doing something in the kitchen, or taking a nap on his chair or smoking a cigarette on the balcony. Only once Kataryna forces him to the forefront to tell the story about how the two of them met. Wonderful!
Czech Republic, 2009, 53 mins., for Czech Television
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