Written 30-09-2010 04:14:37 by Tue Steen Müller
... means ”Documentary of the Month” and is a strong film-cultural initiative for the distribution of creative documentaries for the audiences in around 40 cities of Catalunya, Comunitat Valenciana, Illes Balears and other Spanish cities. Since May 2009, The Documentary of the Month crossed the Catalan and Spanish borders and started its incursion in Latin America. Thanks to MEDIA’s European Union project support, 3 theatres in Santiago de Chile opened. This is the beginning of a healthy relationship between Europe and Latin America. And this is history as I can witness here from Santiago de Chile
… where I meet the organiser of screenings that now take place in 14 theatres – 4 in Chile, 7 in Argentina and 3 in Uruguay. Her name is Alexandra Galvis and she proudly told me about the success of the screening of the poignant film by Nicolas Entel, “Sins of My Father” (Photo), that features Sebastian Marroquin, son of the gangster Pablo Escobar, in a reconciliation process with the sons of the fathers that were killed by his father. The film sold 2356 tickets in Montevideo in 4 weeks, a huge number for a documentary in the capital of Uruguay. The biggest hit in Chile so far is the film by Peter Greenaway, “Rembrandt’s j’accuse”, that still runs, also in Buenos Aires where more than 2000 has watched the British master’s work.
Documentaries selection is decided by Parallel40 in Barcelona. I work for the company that is also responsible for DOCSBarcelona.
http://www.pecadosdemipadre.tv/english/publish/preloader.html (excellent site with clips)
Written 30-09-2010 03:42:40 by Tue Steen Müller
The festival has a fine offer for – taken from the presse release – ”all those who are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. They can now (re)discover outstanding, award-winning filme even before the festival is underway! From 12 to 17 October the winners of the Golden Dove for the best full-length documentary film of the last five years are available for viewing free of charge on our vod-platform”. Address below. A generosity that comes from the high-quality cooperation DocAlliance.
Last year’s winner: ”The Arrivals” by Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard, France. PHOTO
Written 30-09-2010 03:18:28 by Tue Steen Müller
Breathless is the word that characterises the feeling you get when you browse through the site of the upcoming DOK Leipzig programme that was published a couple of days ago. 12 cinemas, more than 300 films to choose from, lots of so-called industry events (debates, masterclasses (one with Sergey Dvortsevoy!), pitching of projects, a digitalised videotheque), and awards that represent 71.000€!
What can be done on this site is to mention those films that filmkommentaren.dk have already written about and/or reviewed. On the top of quality comes ”48” (PHOTO) by Portuguese Susana de Sousa Dias, that we saw at Cinema du Réel this year (Grand Prix), ”Steam of Life” by Finnish Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen, ”12 Angry Lebanese” by Zeina Daccache from Lebanon (seen at DoxBox in Damascus), Latvian ”Sounds under the Sun” by Davis Simanis and Gints Grube, ”Into Eternity” by Danish Michael Madsen (Best Nordic documentary at Nordisk Panorama a couple of days ago and several other prizes), ”All that Glitters” by Tomas Kudrna, ”Armadillo” by Janus Metz, ”Dream in Copenhagen” by Max Kestner (both Danish), ”Freetime Machos” by Finnish Mika Ronkainen, ”Something about Georgia” by Nino Kirtadze, ”The Player” by Dutch John Appel, ”Themerson & Themerson” by Polish Viktoria Szymanska and ”My Life with Carlos” by German Berger.
So... those of you who visit the festival could start reading what we wrote about these films... The festival runs from October 18-24.
Written 30-09-2010 02:32:57 by Tue Steen Müller
The great art documentary film about avantgarde pioneer photomontagist and Stalinist propagandagist Gustavs Klucis, mentioned and presented on this site several times during the last couple of years, has received the first prize of the 40 year old International Film Festival of Fine Arts in Tisza, Hungary in the documentary category. The film about the Latvian artist who lived and died in the USSR, is produced by Uldis Cekulis, Vides Film Studio.
Written 28-09-2010 07:08:33 by Tue Steen Müller
Want to see, for free, one of the most charming and creative documentaries from the first decade of 2000? You can do so by very simply making a click on the website of idfa.tv. Here is the description of the film of Eva Stefani, a totally independent filmmaker from Greece:
While unearthing an icon of the Holy Madonna in her small apartment, an elderly Greek woman sighs that she is in the inevitable winter of her life. She studies a textbook of the French language, which she used to have a thorough command of, but unfortunately let slide. She hardly reads anymore, either, which she thinks rather stupid of herself. Her window on the world is her television, which she briskly comments on. The bleach-blond anchor woman is very sharp, but her favourite is newsreader Niko. She addresses him as if he were her roommate and cannot keep her hands off the screen. He excites her even more than the fighter jets, volcanic eruptions, protesters, politicians, friendly Turks and black athletes that are the items of Niko's newscast. THE BOX is a reflection in miniature format about old age and one-way communication in our media-dominated society.
Greece, 2004, 11 mins.
Written 27-09-2010 11:09:15 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Den fælde vores gamle helte, de røde lejesvende falder i, er ikke opstillet af Rosenkrands, men er mere noget i deres person, der i situationen aktiveres, skriver her til morgen en jeg kender i en sms. Vi så jo del 2 i aftes. Og ja, sådan er det nok, tænker jeg. Det er jo det dokumentarfilmen kan. Fordi den interesserer sig for mere i scenen end den medvirkendes udsagn i sætninger. Tv-journalisten plejer ellers at klippe, når sætningen er færdig uanset, hvad der sker i billedet. Filminstruktøren i sin tradition stoler derimod på sit billede og lader det stå til lige før, det mister intensitet og dør af sig selv. Rosenkrands går filmisk til det og de stærkeste momenter i aftes var to sådanne steder.
Bjørn Erichsen har engang i gamle, gamle dage undervist i historie på en højskole i Østtyskland. Danske unge politisk engagerede var elever på sommerkursus i en skole, deres organisation, DKU vistnok, havde lånt. Det var og er formodentlig helt lovligt. Men havde nogen i DDR (en statslig eller poiitisk organisation) betalt Erichsens rejse, ophold og lommepenge? Rosenkrands’ spørgsmål falder nysgerrigt, præcist og venligt. Og Erichsen forbløffes over den lille detalje: "..lommepenge, lommepenge.. jeg kan ærlig talt ikke huske det." Og det er også lige meget. Det kan han jo ikke dømmes på. Men det dermed længe fastholdte billede skildrer ham som et menneske i denne lille tvivl. Smukt, smukt. Og lader mig ane, at sådan er dette menneske også i større tvivlsspørgsmål. Forvirret først, så undrende, prøvende i et forsøg på at være ærlig.
Tvivlen er mere klædelig end skråsikkerheden. Smilet, latteren, overbærenheden med sig selv dengang mere sund end den rigide fastholden. Ja, personligheden folder sig ud for mig under den lange filmscene, jeg ser den som levende eller som forkrampet. Og det er den eksistentelle erfaring, som hurtigt sætter det med lommepengene i skygge. Det er scenen jeg husker her, ikke oplysningen. Det er billedet som afslører: sådan ser en rød lejesvend ud, når han falder i sin personligheds fælde: ret menneskelig ser han ud. Det er godt nok et spændende teater, Rosenkrands her har iscenesat. Og så var der jo en scene mere i aftes! Den sidste. Kjeld Koplev var i stolen..
Jakob Rosenkrands: Jagten på de røde lejesvende, DR2, 2010.
Written 26-09-2010 16:55:11 by Tue Steen Müller
There were 24 film projects to be pitched to the panel of tv representatives, see below. And on top of that the organisers had reserved two mornings, where another 40 projects and their producers/directors could have one-to-one meetings with tv commissioners and buyers as well as sales agents. They made it work, quite a mathematic puzzle, Rodrigo Vila and his staff. Quite impressive – and they want to make DOC Meeting the biggest and most important market meeting place for documentarians in Latin America. I can’t see why they should not succeed with their competence and energy.
Back to the projects (sorry can only mention a handful of them, check the website) which were indeed quite as diverse as the many kind of subjects for documentaries which exist. It was joyful to hear about and watch a clip with ”Violeiros du Grotoes” by Brasilian couple Mario de Aratanha and Jeanne Duarte about the 10-string guitar and its arrival to Brasil with the Portuguese, a film that first of all will be about the legends and stories linked to the instrument. Also about music, but from a social angle is the Argentinian ”The Other Colon Theatre Art and Social Transformation” by Adolfo Cabanchik, who has shot 90% of his film that gives you emotional strong portraits of children from poor areas, who got an identity and a better life because of music. The best pitch award, however, a nice bottle of champagne, was deservedly given to Eliza Capai from Brasil. For six months she had been travelling Africa, on her own, bringing back stunning moving images to make into two versions (54 and 70 mins.) for the film ”African Women”.
Original in approach is the film proposal of Agustina Macri, ”Carnacalypse”, in which she wants to investigate, in a fake-documentary style, what could happen if there was no more meat in Argentina! The director goes for a feature length documentary to be produced by Fly Films in Buenos Aires. One of the most praised proposals was the ballet film by Juan Alvarez, presented by himself and the producer Virginia Bogliolo, both from Montevideo in Uruguay. The film is about Julio Bocca, world famous dancer, who has retired and dedicates his working life to the renaissance of ”an old forgotten National Ballet theatre”. The clip that was shown demonstrated an unusual director talent. Finally time to mention the presence of Finnish Kimmo Koskela about the artist Kimmo Pohjonen and his ”Ice Bellows”. Contrary to what many thought, including this blogger, the cinematic quality and the origiality of the artist convinced several panelists that they had to get involved even if the project is as far away from main stream television as it can be.
Written 26-09-2010 00:55:48 by Tue Steen Müller
”The first step for your doc” was the slogan for the very succesful pitching forum and conference held in Buenos Aires during the last three days. And for many of the film projects that was presented it was a very fine first step according to the reactions from a panel of tv representatives, which for me – an experienced forum participant – was refreshingly new. The Argentinian television Encuentro was there, two Brasilian channels (GNT-Globo and TV Cultura) took part, Colombian (RTVC), Venezuelan (Telesur) and Mexican (Canal22) made their voices hear as well as Turner LatAm and NatGeo LatAm. Of course it was obvious to have these channels for a meeting of filmmakers from Latin America, more surprising and impressive was it to see Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, Press TV from Iran, a sales agent from Magus Entertainment in India and from China, LIC. Of the ”usual suspects” in professional meetings like this the two American PBS representatives Tom Koch from WGBH and Simon Kilmurry from P.O.V. contributed as well as Lorenzo Hendel from RAI in Italy.
The pitching session included 24 film projects and both days had a full house of filmmakers (more than a hundred), who wanted to experience the dialogue between those who have the creative ideas and those who look for docs for their tv slots. The general reactions from the panelists were positive and sentences like ”let me see a rough cut” and ”we will buy it when it is finished” were often heard, but from what I heard from the individual business meetings on the third day, a handful of coproductions were also planned to happen.
I had the privilige to moderate the pitching session together with colleague Mikael Opstrup. Photo fom the PBS/POV supported documentary "Presumed Guilty" (Hernandez, Negrete and Smith) that was shown at DOC Meeting.
Written 24-09-2010 14:05:49 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Vi skal diskutere Armadillo i min FOF filmklub på onsdag. Og vi vil se på de mulige filmiske forbilleder, fotografens og instruktørens, som så forbavsende udtrykkeligt er offentliggjort, 2 x 3 titler på film, hvoraf fem tidligere har været på filmklubbens program, og de har da også været anmeldt her på Filmkommentaren. Så jeg vil kalde det interessante oplysninger. Lars Skree røbede sine i Politiken 3. juli, og det skrev jeg om dengang. De tre film han nævnte var Tarkovskijs Stalker (vi har i filmklubben i stedet set Spejlet), Pirjo Honkasalos The three Rooms of Melancholia og Ari Folmans Waltz of Bashir. Og nu har Janus Metz i dagbladet 24Timer den 16. september givet tre bud på en god dokumentarfilm (som jeg tillader mig at opfatte som hans forbilleder sideordnet Skrees tre). Han peger i et lille interview på Man on Wire af James Marsh, Grizzly Man af Werner Herzog og Nede på jorden af Max Kestner. Han karakteriserer de tre film sådan:
”Forrige års oscar-vinder er en enestående og super spændende film om Philippe Petit, der kupper de to Twin Towers for at gå på line mellem dem. Filmen indeholder på mange måder essensen af kunst, da den tilbyder sublime øjeblikke af uforklarlig skønhed, en nærhed til døden og måske endda vanviddet. Og så er man skidegodt underholdt.”
”Filmen er et portræt af en mand, der vil være bjørn, og om grænsen mellem kultur og natur. Herzog er en af de få med en god fortællerstemme, der vækker undren frem for at påtvinge tilskueren en konklusion. Han udvider billederne og tilbyder en ny læsning af det, der umiddelbart foregår.”
”Denne her film fik mig til at ville lave dokumentarfilm. Den handler om en redningsbådsfabrik i Esbjerg, som skal flytte dele af produktionen til Thailand. Filmen indeholder en art poetisk socialrealisme, hvor magiske fiktive greb blander sig med virkeligheden. Det er en enorm smuk og virkelig sjov film, hvor man møder fabriksarbejderne i øjenhøjde.”
Disse tre valg kaster i lighed med Skrees tidligere naturligvis lys over den filmiske baggrund for Armadillo, Metz peger på ”skønhed, dødsnærhed og vanvid” (Man on Wire), ”undren uden konklusion” (Grizzly Man) og ”en art poetisk socialrealisme” (Nede på jorden). Det uddyber, det han mente, da han i Cannes vist nok kaldte filmen et filosofisk værk. Alvorlig meditation og ansvarlig journalistik.
Written 22-09-2010 11:35:13 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Jeg går selvfølgelig til en film, som den kloge Nick Fraser har medproduceret til sit BBC Storyville, som det virkeligt vigtige DR2 Dokumania sender, som blev nomineret til Academy Award tidligere i år, som, så vidt jeg kan google mig frem til, er vel modtaget af en erfaren kritik, en biografisk film om den legendarisk sympatiske FN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello (tidligere blandt meget, meget andet højkommisær for menneskerettigheder og senest, i 2003, generalsekretærens særlige repræsentant i Irak) - jeg går til den film med temmelig store forventninger.
Og ok, jeg var limet til skærmen alle filmens hundrede minutter. Det er en spændende film, helt elementært, medrivende, overlegent gennemført efter den vestlige (britisk-nordamerikanske) fortællemodel med interviewede vidners erindringer og bedømmelser illustreret med et stort, stort arvivmateriale. Her tillige forsynet med en omfattende rekonstruktion, som dominerer fremstillingen totalt. Og det er i mine øjne netop filmens problem.
Read more / Læs mere
Written 21-09-2010 23:30:47 by Tue Steen Müller
The first spring day in Buenos Aires, Argentina: Cool it is, was much warmer yesterday, and rain will come, says the receptionist of the hotel. I am here with Danish colleague Mikael Opstrup to tutor at a workshop for 24 filmmakers, who are to pitch their project in a couple of days. Always great to meet new people and new ways of documentary storytelling, some of them breaking the tyranny of narration, but also many who confirms that there is an international structure for telling stories.
The DOC Meeting was founded in 2007 by Guillermo Rossi, who is leading it together with Rodrigo Vila, producer and director of documentaries. The content of the Meeting can be checked at the website, it is actually impressive what they have been able to build in a few years – this year also including screening of films, among them a good selection of Finnish documentaries. Photo: Steam of Life.
The following is taken from the site of DOC Meeting Argentina: ... a space devoted to documentaries meant to encourage the construction of networks among cinematography and television industry professionals, at the national,
Read more / Læs mere
Written 20-09-2010 14:45:19 by Tue Steen Müller
What a show! Film producer and organiser of the DocMeeting Argentina, Rodrigo Vila, has invited me to go and see a match at the home ground of the football club with most caps in the world, Boca Juniors. The name is Bombonera and for the visitor it is a view of constant action. When we arrived the reserve team was playing, before the match the world champion female hockey players took a round on the pitch to be celebrated by the fans. A man who decades ago was playing for Boca got an applause and a silver plate for his contribution. And – the most spectacular and hearable – the 12th player behind one of the goals were singing and jumping up and down – they did so for the 90 minutes of the match.
The match itself was a one man show. Far from the style of Messi, who has often been written about on this site, Martin Palermo, number 9, is a typical centreforward. They don’t make them like that any longer... 37 years young, Palermo, THE darling of the Bombonera from the moment he entered the pitch saluting his audience, a real star, made all three goals that led to the victory of Boca against Colon. As the captain of the team, Palermo constantly encouraged his team mates, and was the first one to run to thank the man who gave him the assists to score the goals. Palermo even contributed to the entertainment by missing a penalty. A personality, a gentleman and a visit to a stadium and an experience that no tv transmission can beat. Palermo was brought to Boca Juniors by Diego Maradona, who else.
If I should argument for this text to be on a (documentary) film blog, I want to quote my host Vila, who said that the life of Palermo is like a film. From the good to the bad to the good... From scoring the most impossible goals, and then in the next moment breaking his leg or knee, and to him publicly demonstrating his private life by kissing a tattoo on his arm, when he scores, three times yesterday, a tattoo made to never forget his son who died at birth. Paleeeeeermo!
Written 20-09-2010 14:14:54 by Tue Steen Müller
Sunday in Buenos Aires. As hundreds of other we decide to pay a visit to the St. Telmo market. At the main street of the market I see a stand with videos, and many of the covers are familiar to me. There are films by Glauber Rocha, Alea, Solanas and many others, all of them dealing with political resistance, and some of them classics in the history of documentary cinema. I try to get into a dialogue with the man at the stand (my Spanish is pretty limited) and understand that he represents an activist film group called Alavio. I buy some films and go home and find their website. That has an English language page from where the small quote below comes. It seems, however, that the website is not updated any longer. The other one, Agore Tv, is in Spanish and includes news, clips and a reference to available films.
Grupo Alavio is the name, they state that they have been participating in working class struggles for over 10 years. ”As activists struggling for social revolution, the debate of whether the reach of the camera is enough is an inevitable discussion”.
Photo from Glauber Rocha's "Terra em transe".
Written 20-09-2010 13:48:20 by Tue Steen Müller
Brassaï, original name Gyula Halász, is on exhibition in Buenos Aires. The photographer was one of many famous artists, who lived and worked in Paris, more specifically in Montparnasse (he lived from1899-1984). The National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, of many called the Paris of South America, has set up a small fine exhibition that lasts till the end of this week. The Brassaï photos include sections called ”Paris at Night”, ”Paris Nightlife” (see the photo of Madame Bijou!), ”Surrealism” and ”Picasso”, a close friend who loved to have his picture taken.
If you agree to a simplification and divide the documentary genre into ”the observational” and ”the staged”, Brassaï is definitely one who belongs to the latter, where his later compatriot, Cartier-Bresson, always talked about ”catching the moment”. It is pure delight to see the dreamerish and playful compository night photos of Brassaï, always seeking the balance between light and dark, as well as the portraits of the heroes of the nightlife, like the Madame!
There is an excellent directory to his work on
Written 20-09-2010 08:19:21 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Erhard Jakobsen fik udtrykket indflettet i det danske sprog. Vi ved godt, hvad der er tale om, ved hvem de er, disse DR medarbejdere dengang. Men, men hvad ligger der i udtrykket? Hvori består forbrydelsen? Egentlige lejesvende var de måske ikke. Måske var de ikke betalt for, beordret til eller anmodet om at lave noget bestemt, på bestemte måder, med bestemt indhold og bestemte synspunkter. Måske stod DKP ikke bag. Måske havde de blot en personlig mening om tingene og gav tydelig udtryk for den i det, de lavede på tv.
Jakob Rosenkrands har læst grundigt på lektien, sat sig ned ved sit bord med bogstabler og citater og andre belæg klar, filmklippene linet op i computeren og nu inviterer han så lejesvendene fra dengang ind til forhør. De bliver placeret overfor ham, helt sikkert uforberedte. Det er spillets regel. Og så går han venligt og roligt i gang. Og det er rigtig godt at overvære.
Dokumentaren, som er kommet ud af dette set up, er delt i tre. Jeg så første del i aftes. Og jeg skal nok hænge på. Det er sandelig tankevækkende tv (som de siger i DR). Først og fremmest er der denne mærkelige Rosenkrands, som aldeles underspillet er sin egen hovedperson. Det er jo sært, han er ikke nysgerrig, han vil i og for sig ikke have mere at vide af dem, han forhører. Han lytter høfligt, men vil blot have bekræftet, hvad han ved i forvejen. Han spørger venligt, men skarpt. Jeg mærker en eller anden anklage, som ligger under.
Og det gør de anklagede også, men for sent. Rosenkrands har ved sin metode, en omhyggelig og omhyggelig valgt attitude fået deres parader ned, fået en ærlighed frem, en befriende ærlighed. Han er bare god der på den anden side af bordet. Og dokumentarens medvirkende, den 70-er tids hovedpersoner, Per Schultz først og fremmest, men også Jens Nauntofte bliver så nøgne og bløde og forståelige. Så erindringer og forklaringer og indrømmelser smelter ind i tidsbilledets gribende arkivstof.
Det er altså ikke forhør, men det er anklager. En generations anklager mod den forgående. Men hvori bestod nærmere forbrydelsen? Var der egentlig tale om forbrydelse? Forhøret forsætter, det er spændende.
Jakob Rosenkrands: Jagten på de røde lejesvende, DR2, 2010.
Written 16-09-2010 01:22:49 by Tue Steen Müller
As always perfectly organised by the team at the National Film Centre of Latvia, and supported by the EU MEDIA Programme, the Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries was held in Riga September 7-12. There was a festival programme of new films (previously mentioned here), very well attended and with the presence of filmmakers to meet the audience. And there was the presentation of 21 projects to a panel of commissioning editors from tv stations in Europe: ETV (Estonian TV), ZDF/ARTE, DR (Denmark), SVT Sweden, YLE Finland, LTV Lithuania, Arte France, LTV Latvia, Lichtpunt Belgium –and the American based film funds ITV and Sundance, the Jan Vrijman Fund attached to the festival in Amsterdam idfa, and a representative from the sales company Autlook in Austria. Finally the documentary expert Grigory Libergal from Russia contributed positively giving advise on festivals and channels. Libergal was happy to announce that the prestigious Moscow International Film festival next year will include a competitive documentary section and that the channel Kultura will go for the acquisition of creative documentaries.
The panel responded to the projects presented, asked questions, agreed in general on a high quality... and reflected on a whole, covering different parts of the European broadcasting landscape, that there is a crisis for (creative documentary) financing. A decade ago the tv representatives would take risks and enter into pre-buys on occasions like this (”I like it, I take it”), this does not happen any longer. The talent is there, the good projects as well – but the message is clear: it will take time before we are able to commit. The producers need to develop more, have more material to show, pitch in other places, make coproductions that can open the national film funds. That is why the Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries is such an important place to go and meet the market reality, have colleagues to comment on your project and get ready for a long journey. The EU MEDIA programme, through its financing, plays a central role for making projects and films cross borders. Photo: Rada Sesic, filmmaker, expert in Indian films, tutor at the Baltic Sea Forum for many years as well as representative for the Jan Vrijman Fund that has been a very important supporter of documentaries from the Eastern part of Europe.
Written 16-09-2010 01:17:53 by Tue Steen Müller
The Baltic Sea Forum 2010 was very much a place for new talent to present their ideas at the same time as it was refreshing to see an old master like Ivars Seleckis, in this mid seventies, come forward with his proposal for a sequel to the two previous documentaries from Skersiela, the Crossroad Street in Riga. See below.
Davis Simanis brings something new to Latvian documentary. His film about the setting up of Wagner’s Valkyrie proved already the playfulness of the director, who is also an editor. Together with Gints Grube, who for many years worked in television but now comes out as a very skilled documentarian, Simanis has made a film, ”Sounds under the Sun”, that has its international premiere at the upcoming DOKLeipzig. And finally, the Forum saw Simanis launch his new project, ”Born in Riga”, which is a story about two geniuses who went each their own way: Isaiah Berlin and Sergey Eisenstein. They met in Albert Street in 1914 and in St. Petersburg in 1945. Simanis wants to tell their stories in a kind of film noir style where he creates/reenacts the non-existing archives!
From Lithuania two female directors with the same first name, Giedre, brought forward their proposals with a strong proof that in Lithuania they spell film with a capital F. Giedre Beinoriute (photo from her previous film Vulkanovka) had a wonderful clip with children talking about existential questions: She had – contrary to many documentary directors today – a clear idea of narrative style wanting to film the kids on an empty background with two cameras building the story as an essay. Giedre Zickyte presented a powerful clip on the late Lithuanian photographer Luckus, who killed a man and himself in 1987, being more or less banned from his own country. His widow, lifving in the US, has opened the archive for the director to tell the touching story of their life and giving evidence of the bohemian artist scene in Moscow in the USSR in the 60’es and 70’es.
Written 16-09-2010 01:08:02 by Tue Steen Müller
Alina Rudnitskaya has previously been praised on this site – for her fine films ”Civil Status” and ”Bitch Academy” that have travelled the world festival circuit with success making her name mentioned as a big talent. Last year she pitched a project about people at both ends of the blood donation business in the St. Petersburg region; it is now being developed with German producer Heino Deckert. This year the director was represented by producer Anastasia Lobanova and script writer Mila Kudryashova who told the panelists that they wanted to make a follow-up of the ”Bitch Academy” to see how life is for the girls 3 years after they were trained to seduce. They pitched with humour and stressed that the film will not point fingers at the girls but treat them with respect.
Another couple was convincing in their presentation – the Ukranian Ramon Bondarchuk and Dar’ya Averchenko. Their subject was the rock singer Igor, who is making a career in Moscow fighting not to lose his roots in the Ukranian town of Kerson. The Ukranian filmmakers were supported by experienced Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis, who met them during the preparation of the project ”15 Young by Young” (mentioned on this site), where they are to make a film about chldren playing Dixie music.
Estonian Jaak Kilmi is at the Forum every year. This is where he presented ”Disco and the Atomic War” (mentioned on this site) that selles well internationally. This year he had just come back from research in Siberia on a film named ”Jesus of Siberia” on the notorious guru, Vissarion. Observational, he says that the film will be, but it would be a surprise me if the humourous touch of Kilmi will not be visible and hearable!
Humour there was in a film project from Georgia, that does not deal with war or Sakashvili! ”Auto-Tour” is the title of the project that – presented by producer Tinatin Kajrishvili - follows the life of a couple of Georgian men who travel to Germany to find, buy and take back cars to their country – to try to sell them. It is a life style for them, they don’t get a lot out of it, financially speaking!
Written 16-09-2010 00:58:34 by Tue Steen Müller
The Latvians write history with their films. Below a description of the ambition of Ivars Seleckis to make the third part of the epic about the Crossroad Street in Riga. A work that will cover more than 20 years of life in the street when it is finished.
Antra Cilinska has already done it through the sequels to the masterpiece of Juris Podnieks (photo) from 1986, ”is it easy to be Young?” from 1986. 10 years after she made ”is it easy to be?” and now title simply is asking whether it is easy...
... to live when you are around 40 and live in a country that is going through hard times? It is not, the protagonists, most of them, have lost illusions, several of them have divorced, some have career, some are in balance, some suffer from having taken part in the Afghan war on the Soviet side, in their youth, captured very well in the second film.
It is not easy to make a film with so many characters over a span of 25 years. You can not avoid the ”and the next one, and then the next one” but Cilinska manages to make it into a collective portrait of a generation that revolted against the Soviet system – with tough consequences for some of them – and they got the freedom but could they profit, were the dreams fulfilled. There is power and energy in the film that combines the shootings of today with short clips of the characters as they were 10 and 25 years ago. Igors, Raimonds (where are you?), Aivars, Sonita, Janis, Andris... and Juris and Juris G... And Juris Podnieks who died in 1992 and who Antra Cilinska starts and ends her film with, touching clips with him behind the camera, film history, moving for someone who had the privilige to meet him. A name in political documentary filmmaking, a master, don’t forget him!
Latvia, 2010, 80 mins.
Written 15-09-2010 09:26:37 by Tue Steen Müller
There is a street in Riga. A quite extraordinary street inhabited by ordinary people like you and me. I know them very well. Through films, of course. Actually I have known them for more than 20 years. Skersiela is the Latvian name for the street. Crossroad Street it is called in English. Grand old man in Latvian documentary film, Ivars Seleckis, and his script writer Talivaldis Margevics, who lives in the street, have made it and its inhabitants world famous. In 1988 they made the first film, in the late 90’es they made number two, titled ”New Times at Crossroad Street” and now they seek funding to make ”Capitalism at Crossroad Street”. Seleckis and Margevics pitched the project at the Baltic Sea Forum in Riga with a wonderful teaser that demonstrated that the old master had not lost his human and humourous observational touch for magical moments. The clip introduced one of the characters, Oris, who ten years ago lived with his mother, who died but lies at the cemetery where ”there is also a place waiting for me”. A little group of Forum guests went to the street, took a walk around, saw the house of the gypsy on the corner and the unifinished tower house of Alvis, who wants to build high so he can see the centre of Riga. Never mind that he through that will shadow for the house of Daiga, one of the darlings of the first films! The generous sightseeing ended at Margevics place with vodka and salted cucumbers and small snacks on the wonderful black bread of Latvia.
Seleckis and his wife Maya, editor of most of her husband’s films, as well as editor for Juris Podnieks and Herz Frank, published last year a book, ”100 Yeras of Film” – referring to their being in the film business, each of them, for 50 years. I cant read the Latvian language book but the illustrations of loads of masterpieces confirm to me that Latvia was the documentary capital in the USSR... and with a lot lower volume due to crisis, still has a strong role to play today in this genre. The first of the films can be watched online - see below.
Written 13-09-2010 19:24:43 by Tue Steen Müller
Today the audiovisual trade magazine Realscreen brings an article that informs about a new documentary coming out about Danish environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg, a controversial character in Denmark – though one of former prime minister Anders Fogh’s experts – but a man, who seems to be taken seriously outside his own country. The film, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, is directed by Ondi Timoner (photo), who in the article constantly refers to “An inconvenient Truth” with and by Al Gore.
Lomborg: This is not about the idea of the world being doomed; we can actually fix global warming," says Lomborg. "Global warming is a real problem but we can fix it and that's the main difference, if you will, between the Gore version of global warming and what we're trying to present with Cool It.
Timoner: Initially, Lomborg was hesitant to open up, but eventually trusted the director's instincts. Cool It begins with a short bio, delving into the media controversy surrounding his first book The Skeptical Environmentalist, his trial before a Danish panel on scientific dishonesty and his eventual exoneration, as well as a few personal tidbits, such as his relationship with his mother who suffers for Alzheimers.
"I have very poor taste," says Lomborg. "I can see if I like stuff but I'm not able to put on clothes and see if they look well or buy a sofa and see whether it'll fit into my apartment. I happily leave that to other people - people that I trust. So in that sense, I [thought], 'Yeah, OK, if Ondi and everybody else is saying we need to hear about [me], we need to hear about me."
…Timoner admits she probably would've used a similar approach if she had helmed An Inconvenient Truth, but says that now it's time for the public attention to move on from that film and on to more realistic solutions. "We're like the follow-up more than the anti-Inconvenient Truth," she says. "It's time for the next step."
Written 09-09-2010 07:46:02 by Tue Steen Müller
... with the subtitle: Tim Rushton’s Enigma... is a making-of-film, a fascinating observation of the process of setting up of a contemporary dance performance conceived and conducted by Tim Rushton.
When the producer of the film – Ole John – passed the dvd to me, his comment was, ”well, ballet is not your strong side”. Right he is but taking the viewer into a new world and environment is precisely what a good documentary can do. You learn something and you actually discover the similarities between a documentary director and a choreographer like Rushton, who works without any script constantly ”editing” the performance, trying something new, rehearsing with the dancers, finding the right rythm and balance adding light and music to get the right sensual expression.
Torben Glarbo has followed the process for seven months and conveys brilliantly the different moods of doubt, the collaboration and the experimentation. Movements in a rehearsal room are as born for the camera of Glarbo.
Some background info on the film which can be bought through the site below: Enigma’s choreography is inspired by Bach, with his six unaccompanied cello suites as its musical base. Jakob Kullberg plays the cello, and the accompanying electronic soundscape is composed by Mathias Friis-Hansen... Tim Rushton is originally from Birmingham, England and educated at the The Royal Ballet School in London. He has spent the past 15 years in Denmark as a dancer and choreographer, among others at the Royal Danish Ballet. Rushton has been nominated for the Reumert Prize 10 times and received it 5 times: in 1999, 2005, 2006 and 2008 and in 2010 for Danish Dance Theatre.
Denmark, 2010, 58 mins.
Written 08-09-2010 17:00:45 by Tue Steen Müller
Idfa - International Documentary Film festival Amsterdam - asks every year a prominent director to choose her/his 10 Best Film list, whihc are then screened at the festival. This year the director is Finnish Pirjo Honkasalo and her list goes like this:
The Earth, Aleksandr Dovzhenko (Russia, 1930)
Bravo is my warm greeting to the director (who will have a retrospective of her own list of masterpieces like "Tanjuska and 7 Devils" and "Three Rooms of Melancholia" (photo)), who has no English language film on the list contrary to what most critics and filmmakers, because of ignorance, normally include. I am looking forward to re-visit Luchino Visconti and Congo-Müller, the protagonist of "The Smiling Man", not to mention the fabulous film of Victor Erice. The festival takes place November 17-28.
Written 06-09-2010 12:55:50 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Helle Lyster skildrede i 2008 for DR Dokumentar tre hjemvendte militærfolk udsendt til krige i Bosnien, Kosovo og Afghanistan, De hjemvendte, del 1, del 2 og del 3. Jeg hæftede mig dengang ved min optagethed af de tre medvirkende soldater og den enes kæreste, men var også klar over, at Lysters tackling af det sentimentale aspekt slet ikke bragte dette element under kontrol, og at hendes overvejelse ikke rummede selve tvivlen om det hele. Alt havde tilsyneladende i de tre små dokumentarer en forklaring og kun én forklaring.
Helt sådan er det ikke i Poul-Erik Heilbuths film, som blev sendt i aftes. Heilbuth er tilsyneladende med dette tv-arbejde helt bevidst på vej ind i en ny folkelighed, hvor det sentimentales tårevædede og talemådeprægede udtryk fastholdes monumentalt som dækkende udtryk. I Lysters film er det en selvfølgelighed, tror jeg, i Heilbuths en bearbejdet villethed. Så der klippes ikke udenom det for mig pinlige. Han opfordrer til at læse førhen intime breve højt, til at åbne hidtil hemmelige æsker. Han overskrider i den grad min grænse mellem det personlige og det private.
Og forsigtigt, men efter min mening for forsigtigt, lukker han tvivlen ind i sin fremstilling i noget, som minder om en villet rytme og altså et bevidst element. Det begynder med Mads’ kæreste, som i sit interview som det første af de medvirkende pårørende tydeligt fortæller, at hun var og er imod, imod at han skulle af sted, måske imod i det hele taget, og til en af mødrene, som hen mod filmens slutning i en følelsesudladning, som er hendes egen personlige, vender sig mod krigen som sådan, vi lukker bare hold efter hold af unge mænd ud til løverne, det nytter ikke noget og det stopper aldrig.
Hun indser, at der i hele forløbet er én eneste ubønhørlig logik. Måske er det den, Heilbuth med sit arbejde skildrer, men i så fald nok for underdrevet. I hvert fald i forhold til, hvad jeg har brug for. Og i forhold til, hvad et land i krig har brug for.
Danmark, 2010, 58 min. Tilrettelæggelse: Poul-Erik Heilbuth, produktion: DR Dokumentar, producer: Steen Jensen. Genudsendes 12.september 14:45 og 16. sep. 09:00
Written 03-09-2010 10:57:03 by Tue Steen Müller
We have written about it since the start of filmkommentaren.dk and we will continue to do so as this excellent initiative is exportable: You find a documentary and short film addict - and connaisseur - with a wide network and a talent for programming, and you let him or her invite films AND filmmakers to meet the audienceonce a week in a nice and cosy meeting place. Films are shown and films and subjects are being discussed. This is what Danish Ebbe Preisler has done for years. He has now opened his autumn season for Copenhageners to som and enjoy every monday. I switch to Danish to introduce a bit of the huge film offer:
Der kan bruges mange rosende gloser om det arbejde Ebbe Preisler har gjort for formidlingen af kort- og dokumentarfilm med sin MandagsDokumentar. Han er opdateret og viser ”Armadillo” med instruktøren Janus Metz og fotografen Lars Skree til stede, han har ”Bifrost” af Freddy Tornberg på programmet (begge film anmeldt her) og han har bedt Miki Mistrati komme for at vise sin tv-gyser om børnearbejde, ”Chokoladens mørke bagside”. Men for denne blogger er det ligeså herligt at se at Preisler vil gøre sit publikum opmærksom på den guldgrube af film, der ligger i Det danske Filminstituts arkiv. En meget fortjent hyldest gives således til produktionsselskabet Filmforsyningen, hvis leder Svend Johansen (foto) viser sin børneklassiker ”Aborresøen” (1978) ligesom der vil være lejlighed til at se mesterværket ”Eventyret om den vidunderlige musik” (1991) af Anders Sørensen og Liller Møllers vidunderlige tegnefilm ”Mellem to stole” (1993). Nogle uger senere har Preisler sammensat et program, han kalder ”Fattig og Rig”, hvor to af vore største dokumentarister er til stede. Lars Engels viser ”Orkanens Øje” (1991) og Jon Bang Carlsen ”En Rig Mand” (1979). Det hele foregår i PH cafeen på Halmtorvet i København.
Written 03-09-2010 10:54:10 by Tue Steen Müller
Richard Leacock, 90 years old in 2011, a master of cinema vérité, always energetic and inspirational... finally gets a filmic homage. It happens now at the Telluride Film Festival and it takes place in association with the first public screening of Monica Flaherty’s 1980 sound version of the 1925 film, Moana by Robert Flaherty (Leacock worked with Flaherty in 1946 on Louisiana Story). Wow, film history!
Jane Weiner is the director of the film ”On Being There” on Leacock. Here is an edited clip from the press release that came in this morning:
In the summer of 1972, Jane Weiner started filming with a prototype camera of the experimental Super 8 Sync-Sound-System that Leacock was then developing with Jon Rosenfeld and Al Mecklenberg at M.I.T. Shooting over 4 decades on a variety of ever-changing film and video technologies, Weiner doesn’t hide the image artifacts, film flutter and glitches, which were part and parcel of experimenting in small-format. She follows Leacock to his boyhood home in the Canary Islands – the location of his first oeuvre, Canary Island Bananas; she recounts his relationship with his mentor, Flaherty, and details his involvement and passion for a particular documentary aesthetic developed by Leacock, Pennebaker, and Robert Drew in the early 60’es. The title refers to the ”feel of the place” that Leacock tries to capture in the non-interventional, observational shooting style of cinema vérité... However, in On Being There with Richard Leacock, Weiner often breaks her mentor’s own rule of ”never asking questions”. Constructed as conversation that covers 70 years of his involvement in filmmaking history, the documentary lets Leacock tell his own story in his own words with few comments and/or commentary from his former protégée.
The feature-length film that is being screened in Telluride to honor Leacock, a work-in-progress it is, will be out in 2011 for theatrical and dvd release – and there will be retrospectives and other festival tributes to the master. Can’t wait to see the film! Photo: Leacock, 2009.
Written 03-09-2010 10:51:09 by Tue Steen Müller
Deadline on Monday, September 6, for applications for the unique European training programme Archidoc for filmmakers with archive based documentaries. I have been working with this training programme for many years and have with great pleasure seen fine films come out of it. The organisers, the French film school la fémis, tell me that they are short of sufficient applications, so this is why I want to give this small pep talk to filmmaking readers of this blog:
The workshop, in three sessions and in English language, offers you to develop your archive based documentary creatively under the supervision of the experienced international filmmaker, director and editor, Erez Laufer, and his team. You will get all the necessary market information and you will pitch the project to tv commissioning editors, but the most important is that you will get input to the creative part of the development. It is done in Paris at the film school at the second session (first session is in Leipzig during the DOKLeipzig in October) with the help of excellent editors, who help you shape your story so it passes far beyond the boring history tv documentary that we know so well. Let me mention three fine films that have profited from Archidoc:
Wiktoria Szymanska’s great tribute to the avantgarde artists ”The Themersons” (photo), Peteris Krilovs wonderful ”Klucis. The Deconstruction of an Artist” (several times written on this site) and Edmond Roch’s ”Garbo – the Man who Saved the World”, a true spy story.
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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...
PP: Wise words....