CineDoc in Athens

Written 31-10-2011 19:40:56 by Tue Steen Mller

CineDoc in Athens

When noone else does anything to bring good documentaries to Athens, you have to do it yourselves! This is what three film people, all women, decided to do and if you have a look at their programme, you can only be very impressed by the actuality and phantasy that is put into the organisation. This is what they write – to give you the background of the programme that started in 2009 – as a preface to the catalogue:

CineDoc is an innovative public media initiative which screens European and international award-winning documentaries across the year. Hosted at Institut Francaus in Athens, it also travels to cinema clubs, schools and cultural organisations across Greece and Cyprus. Screenings are accompanied by special events, used to inspire community action and bring together documentary professionals. Signed Rea Apostolides, Avra Georgiou, Dimitra Kouzi.

Themes like ”7 Ways to cope with the Crisis”, ”Remembering Japan” and ”Steps and Tunes” include films like Valentin Thum’s ”Taste the Waste”, Robert Cibis and Lillian Franck’s ”Pianomania” (photo), ”El Bulli” (Gereon Wetzel), ”Kinshasa Symphony (Wischmann & Baer), ”Into Eternity” (Michael Madsen) and new Greek films – Karakepelis ”Raw Material”, Abazoglou’s ”Oriental Sweetness” and Dayandas ”Sayome”.

20 films in the season 2011-2012. Very well done, indeed.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Danfung Dennis: Hell and Back Again

Written 31-10-2011 14:25:41 by Tue Steen Mller

Danfung Dennis: Hell and Back Again

Dokumania, DR's flagskib for dokumentarfilm, hver tirsdag på DR2, i morgen kl. 21, viser den prisbelønnede amerikanske dokumentarfilm "Helvede tur-retur", som har vundet flere første-priser og er med i køen til at blive Oscar-nomineret. Helt fortjent. Jeg var i juryen i Moskva i sommer på Moscow International Film Festival, hvor vi (de andre medlemmer var engelske Michael Apted (sevenUp-serien) og russeren Aleksander Gutman) gav filmen første-prisen. Her er en gentagelse af anmeldelsen, der fulgte:

”I love my pistol”, says Sergeant Nathan Harris, the protagonist of the film about an American soldier, who gets seriously wounded in combat in Afghanistan, is taken back to the US and to his wife Ashley, who helps him recover; at least she helps him getting through the day, the trauma he has from his time in Afghanistan, he does not seem to be able to fight on his own as the film tells the audience.

Many films have come out and is coming out from and about the war in Afghanistan and its consequences on heart and mind, especially on those going there as soldiers to secure changes in the country. This one is one of the best so far in its superb camera work from the battlefield, in its description, with a lot of dignity, of the Afghans who are victims of the constant search for Talibans by the Americans. They are told to leave their houses, their houses are searched, they are searched and controlled. The desperation comes from the Afghans, who don’t want to be ruled by the Talibans, but you soldiers do not really make the situation easier!

The emotional side of the film, however, lies where Nathan Harris is back home, suffering enormously from his pain, constantly taking strong medicin and – this is how the film is built – thinks back on Afghanistan where he definitely wants to be again as a killer, the word used by the doctor who examines him. As a spectator you look, with empathy, thanks to the approach of the director, at a man brought up in a society of violence, a young man sitting in a sofa at the end of the film playing with his guns... ”I love my pistol”.

US/UK, 2011, 88 mins.

Winner of 1st Documentary Competition at Moscow International Film festival 2011.


Categories: TV, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Awards at Jihlava 2011

Written 30-10-2011 18:17:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Awards at Jihlava 2011

... at the International Documentary Film Festival was given out last night. Twelve awards. The best World Documentary, Opus Bonum, given by a one person jury, James T. Hong, was ”Lost Land” by Belgian director Pierre.Yves Vandeweerd, whereas ”Bakhmaro” by Georgian Salome Jashi was the winner of the category ”Between the Seas”, the best Central and East European Documentary.

The jury motivation for ”Bakhmaro” goes like this: “With an attentive and personal approach the filmmaker transforms an ordinary microcosm into a unique narrative and playful visual experience. Through an effective and assured cinematic language this film reveals the mood and the spirit of a society struggling with its internal hopes and contradictions. For its respect, artistry and quest for surprise the award for the Best film of “The Between the Seas” Competition goes to Bakhmaro by Salome Jashi.”

Respect for characters, artistry and quest for surprise – I can only eccho that characterization of what will be Salome Jashi’s international breakthrough documentary.|1029-awarded-films

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

East Silver Awards 2011

Written 30-10-2011 17:54:28 by Tue Steen Mller

East Silver Awards 2011

Alina Rudnitskaya is a very talented filmmaker from Saint Petersburg. Her newest 25 minutes long documentary from this year, ”I will forget this Day” (photo) has already been awarded at several festivals for its stylistically strong vision of women and their emotions when waiting to have an abortion. Rudnitskaya thinks, in the best Russian tradition, in images and it is no surprise that she now can add one more prize to her collection:

”The annual Silver Eye Award for the best documentary film of the market, which was awarded for its third time. The winners of Silver Eye Award 2011 are: Category Short documentary: I Will Forget This Day, Alina Rudnitskaya, Russia, 2011; Category Mid-length documentary: Crulic – The Path to Beyond, Anca Damian, Rumunsko, 2011; Category Feature documentary: Solar Eclipse, Martin Mareček, Česká republika, 2011.”

Which gives me the opportunity, again, to praise the work done by East Silver in the framework of the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in Prague. Here is some more text from their site: The aim of the prize is to support creative and exceptional documentary films from the region of the Central and Eastern Europe. The awarded films were selected by the international jury from the three main categories (short, mid-length, and feature documentary film). Not only that the films received the traditional trophy and prize money of 1 500 EUR, but will also profit from the one-year round festival service of East Silver Caravan, which will support their international distribution on film festivals and markets. For the first time this year, the winning films will be included in the online database of the unique industry VoD portal Festival Scope, which is designed directly for the festival selectors only, in order to increase their potential for the international distribution.

Categories: TV, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Shatz & Barash: The Collaborator and his Family

Written 29-10-2011 14:45:16 by Tue Steen Mller

Shatz & Barash: The Collaborator and his Family

It is quite an achievement by the filmmakers to establish and keep a tension the whole way through a feature length film, where actually nothing happens in a classical action sense. And yet a lot happens, small banal events and problems with the law in a family cursed by the fact that the father was an informer for the Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territory, and had to flee to Israel, to the country he had helped, a country that couldn’t care less now that he is in Tel Aviv with his wife, his children, with a strong focus on the 3 sons, Mahmoud (12), Suffian (16) and Muhammad (17).

The reason that this film is so strong, is that the filmmakers - by staying with the family for a very long time – have obtained the confidence of the characters and are able to make them come out as human beings like you and me, but trapped in the hopeless, apparently unsolvable Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

They live without permit in a shabby area of Tel Aviv. Ibrahim, the father, gets arrested for violence against his wife, who has been home to Hebron endangering herself and her daughter, as they are part of a traitor’s family. He gets 8 months of house arrest, lives in a kind of tent on a roof top, sees his family occasionally, at the same time as he is a kind of caretaker, who sends his sons to collect money from the renters. The sons are in conflict with the law, they are sent to reformatory schools, they suffer from the situation of their father, their attitude towards the Israelis is clear - one talks about getting a swastika tattooed on his arm! At the same time as the Israelis try to hire them as collaborators.

It sounds very dark, and indeed it is, but the film has also a lot of fine human situations from a family life full of compassion and love. The music score, the montage and the care for details of the everyday life... this reviewer has no objections to a small drama of obvious universality.

Israel, France, USA, 84 mins., 2011


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Magnus Gertten: Harbour of Hope

Written 29-10-2011 14:40:01 by Tue Steen Mller

Magnus Gertten: Harbour of Hope

One thing is that the launch of this Swedish film has been more than noticeable with constant updates on screenings and screening events, links to history, funding campaigns and much more – look at the Facebook link below –  but the film as a film how is it?

It is brilliant. With a classical approach and with a fine balance between conveying information and creating emotions, the film lets three holocaust survivors tell their story, starting from the time point where they arrive with the Red Cross buses from the camps to Malmö – going, in a fine montage, back in time to what happened before and afterwards. The three are the ones followed in the story, but overall info is given that some stayed in Sweden, got married, had children, and others left for far away countries or went back to their country of origin. 

Ewa, Irene and Joe – vivid and strong storytellers, or made-to-be excellent storytellers by the filmmakers, who have had amazing archive material as the basis for their building the drama. Beautiful black and white images from the arrival in 1945 (sometimes I thought that some of the material were Spielbergian ”made archive”!) mixed with private (colour) footage from the life after the arrival to Malmö, and (gently put, thanks for that) images from the concentration camps. And of course conversations and images of the three of today. And radio archive comes in to add to the ”flavour” of time. All stories are intriguing to listen to, and the film is simply nice to watch. (Photo: Ewa was born in the camp, here she arrives to Malmö)

We often call for something new, when writing and talking about documentaries. There is basically, on a universal level, nothing new here, but the film is so well mastered and captures your interest from start till end, a story, that must have an appeal to all grown-up history interested people. A small critical PS, yet, why a pop tune to accompany the end titles. Wrong sentimental decision, absolutely not needed!


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

RIDM Edition 14

Written 28-10-2011 19:50:28 by Tue Steen Mller

RIDM Edition 14

RIDM... stands for Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montreal... its 14th edition takes off November 9 and runs until November 20. A small festival compared to the ones in Europe right now (Leipzig, idfa, cph:dox) and to HotDocs in Toronto, ”only” around 100 films, sectioned into a competition (long, short, Canadian), a Panorama, ”green” films, and special presentations, as they call films that have been around to loads of festivals like ”El Sicario” by Gianfranco Rosi, Helmrich’s masterpiece ”Position among the Stars”, the Portuguese wonderful ”José and Pilar” by Goncalves Mendes (José with the surname Saramago, the writer) and films by acknowledged names like Ruth Beckermann and Thomas Heise.

The overall impression is that of a festival with a classical repertory with a high quality artistic documentary programme with retrospectives of Frederick Wiseman (whose new ”Crazy Horse” (photo) opens the festival), Helena Trestikova and Jørgen Leth. And with a tribute to Richard Leacock – an interview made by Peter Wintonick in 1999.

In competiton you find films like Polish Michal Marczak’s ”At the Edge of Russia”, ”Special Flight” by Fernand Melgar, the DOK Leipzig winner from Mexico, ”The Tiniest Place” by Tatiana Huezo and ”Ramin" by Lithuanian Audrius Stonys.

Another professional festival for the audience in Canada, a country with a strong tradition for producing and showing this film genre to its citizens... National Film Board of Canada was founded in 1939!

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH


Written 26-10-2011 23:23:19 by Tue Steen Mller


stands for The Independent Television Service’s (ITVS). It supports documentary projects for broadcast in the US – subject-wise from all over the world. 8 films have been supported out of ITVS  International Call for 2011, where 476 submissions were received from 118 countries representing 72 languages. All of the eight projects are slated for eventual broadcast, including slots on PBS series such as Independent Lens and P.O.V., and the international series Global Voices.

“We are elated to have this new crop of projects join our growing catalog of ground-breaking documentaries, each connecting Americans to the world, and the world to Americans,” said Claire Aguilar, vice president of programming for ITVS.

8 out of 476 – tough competition, so much more there is reason to salute several very good projects that I have met in workshops and pitching fora.

Like “Avant” (photo) from Uruguay by Juan Andres Alvarez and about Julio Bocca, world dancer who takes on the job to build up a national ballet in an unfinished theatre in Montevideo… Like the Israeli “Before the Revolution” by Dan Shadur, whose family was in Tehran during the Shah period… Like films by Lixin Fan (Last Train Home) and Brian Hill (The Not Dead)…Not to forget two Danish producers, Mette Heide and Henrik Veileborg, who have received funding for their stories from Japan and Zimbabwe. The one from Japan is to be directed by talented Kaspar Astrup Schröder. “I Want to Cheer Up” is the working title of a totally crazy story that goes like this: The complexity of happiness is at the center of this story about Ryuichi, the owner of a professional stand-in company that rents out fake family members and friends. At work he can finally be the perfect husband and father that he doesn’t know how to be at home…

Read more:

Categories: TV, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Phil Cox: The Bengali Detective

Written 26-10-2011 17:53:56 by Tue Steen Mller

Phil Cox: The Bengali Detective

This documentary of Phil Cox, that has done and is still doing the international festival circuit, is the Documentary of the Month at Cinemateket, The Danish Film House in the centre of Copenhagen. The film will have six screenings, the two first with the presence of the director (November 10 at 7.15pm and November 11 at 4.45pm). Change to Danish languag

På dansk har Cinemateket givet filmen titlen ”Dansende Detektiv” og det er da også én af de mange fortælle-tråde, som Phil Cox trækker i sin underholdende film fra Calcutta: Hovedpersonen Rajesh og hans detektiver træner til en audition til en konkurrence, det er Bollywood-dans, som vi kender det, og det giver et kosteligt syn i en film, der er bedst, når vi kommer tæt på hovedpersonen i hans private tilværelse, som er præget af at hans kone er meget syg. Rajesh er en stærk karakter, han fylder godt i historien (også i bogstavelig forstand!) og selvom mange scener er sat i scene, er der en sandfærdighed i historien, som man aldrig betvivler.

Phil Cox har lavet en film til et stort publikum, der er masser af stemning fra metropolen Calcutta, de tre sager som detektivbureauet skal opklare, er appelerende lige fra Operation Tiger om falsk shampoo i omløb, til en kvinde hvis mand er hende utro, og til forsøget på at opklare et brutalt mord på tre unge på et jernbaneområde. Detektiverne arbejder, hvor politiet skulle have været men ikke er. ”We clean up the mess in society”, siger Rajesh. Musikken skubber handlingen frem, filmen er bygget op som en krimi og den sociale baggrundsbeskrivelse giver den autenticitet.

UK, 91 mins.


Categories: Cinema, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Prix arte European Film Awards

Written 26-10-2011 17:34:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Prix arte  European Film Awards

The European Film Academy has announced the nominations in the category European Film Awards Documentary 2011 - Prix arte. A committee consisting of Nik Powell, director of the NFTS and deputy chairman of the EFA Board, EFA Board Member Despina Mouzaki (Greece), EFA Member Francine Brücher (Switzerland), the documentary experts Claas Danielsen (International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, Germany), Ally Derks (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Netherlands), and Jacques Laurent (producer, Belgium), and ARTE-observer Martin Pieper has chosen the following three films for a nomination:

Pina, Wim Wenders, Germany

Position Among the Stars, Leonard Retel Helmrich, the Netherlands

¡Vivan Las Antipodas!, Victor Kossakovsky, Germany / the Netherlands / Argentina / Chile (photo)

The nominated documentary films will now be made available to all 2,500 members of the European Film Academy who will vote for the winner. In association with the European culture channel ARTE, the winner will be presented at the 24th European Film Awards on 3 December in Berlin.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

British Film Director in Syria

Written 26-10-2011 09:34:00 by Tue Steen Mller

British Film Director in Syria

Journalist witnesses Syrian authorities torturing activists – this is headline of an article of today brought by Channel 4 News, accompanied by an interview with the internationally renowned film-maker Sean McAllister, who describes what he saw and heard while detained in a Syrian cell by the authorities… His account reveals an insight into how dissent is handled amid the ongoing rebellion, and he speaks of his fears for those Syrians who had assisted him - they are now targets for the regime. Sean McAllister was arrested while working undercover for the tv channel.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

The Syrian Revolution/ 8

Written 25-10-2011 10:22:03 by Tue Steen Mller

The Syrian Revolution/ 8

Unfortunately and tragically, we have to return to Syria again. Orwa Nyrabia, filmmaker and co-director of the Damascus-based Dox Box Festival, that has reported from the very beginning of its existence, reports daily on facebook, several times, from his country, in Arabic and English. This was posted by him 18 hours ago:

Homs is under military attack... in Baba Amro, Homs, the army is NOW threatening the people by tanks to 'hand over' army deserters, the people deny deserters exist in the neghborhood, but, in a historical development: children were kidnapped and tied to the tanks to make sure the people do not attack them. CHILDREN KIDNAPPED AND TIED TO THE TANKS.

At the same time as BBC has this story, quote from the beginning of the article: Patients in government-run hospitals in Syria are being tortured in an attempt to suppress dissent, an Amnesty International report alleges. The 39-page report claims patients in at least four state hospitals have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including by medical staff. Many injured civilians consider it safer not going to hospital, it says…

Horrifying documentation clips and update can be followed on the site below.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

Written 25-10-2011 00:30:10 by Tue Steen Mller

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

I don’t want talking faces, you often hear documentary filmmakers say. To be understood: it is boring television stuff. In this case, and in many other, of course, the talking faces, at least most of them, are interesting to look at and are the ones that drive the story, here about George Harrison, told in an efficient way by Martin Scorcese and based on anecdotes and personal memories about an extraordinary character, who for many, but not for this Beatles-fan, stood in the shadow of John and Paul. The film, in two parts and made for television, by HBO in the US, is informative and entertaining and emotional – and for one who has grown up with the music, a great visual and musical walk down memory lane. They are all there, lots of archive with Harrison himself, and archive shot by Harrison himself, Ringo Starr, McCartney, Clapton, Ravi Shankar, Phil Spector, George Martin – and his wife Olivia Harrison, who gets the last word in a film that for Scorcese is  about a man, who was constantly searching for meaning on his spiritual journey through life. A man with humour, charming, generous and with a lot of songs that will stay like the still weeping guitar...

Saw the film on the big screen in the Copenhagen Cinema Imperial, more than 1000 seats. Excellent atmosphere.  

Martin Scorcese, USA, 3 hours and 20 mins., 2011


Categories: TV, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Young Filmmakers Festival in Palestine

Written 24-10-2011 16:45:23 by Tue Steen Mller

Young Filmmakers Festival in Palestine

At a moment where European documentary film festivals are gathering documentarians and a local audience in big crowds to present huge numbers of film (DOK Leipzig, cph:dox, Jihlava, DocLisboa, idfa etc.) it is wonderful to see that other smaller, but not less important initiatives are taken from other perspectives. The organisation Young Palestinian Filmmakers starts its first festival the 26th of October to be held in Ramallah, Gaza, Jerusalem Bethlehem, Nablus, Hebron and in universities like Birzeit and Al Najah. Led by filmmaker Anis Barghouti the festival shows (mostly short fiction and documentary) films from many countries like France, Turkey, Netherlands, Lebanon, Egypt, UK and of course Palestine. The website indicates that the filmmakers are from 13 (!) to 30 years of age.

The goal is like this: ”We aspire to invest collective efforts to provide youth with video tools and facilities to enable them to develop their skills to better participate in fostering a democratic healthy society”. And about the festival:

”The international Young Filmmakers Festival is the first of its kind in Palestine and it aspires to be one of the country’s premiere cultural events. It will be dedicated to supporting young filmmakers in their attempts to express themselves through the medium of film, providing them with their independent forum to present their work, discuss it, and see the works of other young people from around the world. This festival will be of special importance to Palestinian youth who are cut off from the outside world”.

Photo: Isra’ Odeh, ChewingGum Gang, Palestine – one of the films to be shown.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2011 Awards

Written 22-10-2011 22:02:22 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig 2011  Awards

Tonight the awards of the 54th DOK Leipzig festival were announced. A new record total of 74,500 euros (!) in prize money was granted to a total of 17 awards. The total prize list follows below. The three international competition films that I highlighted in posts below were not given one single prize… well, of course all respect for a jury, also when it makes wrong decisions!

Positive it is that Wojciech Staron gets the Silver Dove for “The Argentinian Lesson” (photo). I was heading the jury in Cracow this year in June where the beautiful film got the first prize after no discussion at all. Also to be saluted is the decision of the Talent Competition Jury that had three fine films on their list, “Life in Stills” by Israeli Tamar Tal, “Phnom Penh Lullaby” by Polish Pawel Kloc and “Bakhmaro” by Georgian Salome Jashi – although the order could have been different, in my opinion. And bravo to the MDR, the local broadcaster for awarding “The Day I will forget” by Russian Alina Rudnickaja. Will they also broadcast it? Here is the list, received this evening:

The International Jury for Documentary Film awards for Documentary Films and Videos / Long Metrage (longer than 45 min) a Golden Dove along with € 10 000 granted by TELEPOOL GmbH to Tatiana Huezo (Mexico) for the film El lugar más pequeno (The Tiniest Place) and a Silver Dove along with € 3 000 to Wojciech Staroń (Poland) for the film Argentyńska lekcja (Argentinean Lesson). The International Jury for Documentary Film awards an Honorary

Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKLeipzig 2011 Atmosphere and Profile

Written 22-10-2011 12:02:17 by Tue Steen Mller

DOKLeipzig  2011  Atmosphere and Profile

In the train for Copenhagen after 5 days at the 54th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film. I had my currywurst mit scharfe sauce a while ago and am ready for the train ride home via Hamburg. Gives me time to evaluate and write som texts about the films that I have seen at the very well organised digital Market in the basement of the Art Museum, a beautiful building close to the Market Square with a lot of light coming into the big hall that hosts the festival centre and the café catered by Michaelis, the hotel where I was staying, strongly to be recommended for its good rooms, calm and superb gourmet restaurant.

Yes, the Leipzig atmosphere is nice as is the festival. Easy to find out what  happens where, and a good venue is the festival centre hall to sit and chat about the films. Enjoyable, simple.

Programme-wise the festival offered a lot – coproduction meetings, masterclasses, rough cut screenings, debates etc. in the so-called industry section, and films in competition and outside competition, retrospectives, focus on the Arab countries and Chile and so on so forth.

I was there to find films for Magnificent 7 festival in Belgrade and DOCSBarcelona – and I think I found good material for each of the festivals. Below you will find my impressions of several films, I will not call it reviews - of

Read more / Ls mere

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOKLeipzig 2011 DOK Fund Wanted

Written 22-10-2011 11:53:11 by Tue Steen Mller

DOKLeipzig 2011  DOK Fund Wanted

Festival directors must have visions and points of view. DOK Leipzig festival director Claas Danielsen has. The following is taken from the press release of the festival after the opening of the festival:

Claas Danielsen held a very personal speech, in which he addressed the need to overcome fears and the turmoil that they bring with them – in both the political world and in the documentary film industry. Politically he was referring to the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. As part of the Focus on the Arab World in DOK Leipzig’s International Programme films from both countries can be seen that have just been completed. Danielsen compared the Arab Spring of 2011 with the fall of 1989 in East Germany, and commented that in the films he felt “the same energy as in Leipzig in 1989.”

Danielsen connected the theme of freedom in North Africa with Iran, where several oppositional filmmakers were recently arrested. The festival director phrased his demand directly: “In the name of DOK Leipzig I demand that the Iranian government release all filmmakers and critics of the regime.”

As far as the situation with documentary film in Germany, the festival director took a firm stance: “We need more support for all those films that don’t fit in to the standard funding profile, that are radical, uncomfortable, innovative, unconventional and unpredictable, that take on subjects that are no longer addressed in rate-dominated television.” Claas Danielsen called for the creation of a DOK Fond, which would promote innovative documentary and animated film projects. “With its diverse international partnerships DOK Leipzig is an ideal location for a DOK Fond to operate,” the festival director said.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2011 - Vivan Las Antipodas!

Written 22-10-2011 11:48:00 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig 2011 -  Vivan Las Antipodas!

Please surprise me, give me time for reflections, to smile, laugh, cry, tell me something I did not know in beforehand – or show me something that I have not seen before, or make some unpredictable montage of location connections with places, with sound and image. Surprises, please.

Viktor Kossakovsky delivers. Against all mainstream format tendencies he has made a film that has sequences that are magic, simply. Sans comparaison, this is the most impressive FILM of the international competition programme. The music score is constantly being brought to you upside-down as the tilted images are, according to the film’s concept, the antipodes of our round planet. From Argentina (or was it Bolivia?) to Shanghai, from Russia to Botswana or... I do not remember and it is not important because it all goes together without any preaching of ”halleluja, we are all the same boat”. On the contrary this is an extravagant invitation to watch our planet with all its beauty, man or nature, does not matter, the flow is there, suddenly the director allows himself, and us, to follow an eagle flying in the air for a long time, or a lion staring at you, it is a symphony of image and sound, with small human situations, scarce dialogue, mainly between the Pérez brothers talking about animal sounds and women! The camera moves against all rules, sometimes you wonder what is up and what is down.

Like we do in our life. What an adventurous and playful hymn to man and nature. And to what Film can be if you take your time and watch! Want to see it again on a big screen! And I will as it will be shown all over. Of course it will!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2011 Special Flight

Written 22-10-2011 11:45:23 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig 2011  Special Flight

This is where our civilisation has brought us! Is my first thought after this heartbreaking documentation from a rich country in the middle of Europe, Switzerland. A documentary that without doubt will get award(s) at the DOK Leipzig. Deservedly. It could have been made in other countries including the one I come from, Denmark. Location: A centre for people who have been refused to stay in the country. Story: ”They” wait to be sent out of the country back home. That is to say ”home”, as expresses the man from Kosovo in the beginning of the film. He has been in Switzerland for 20 years, his wife and child are hidden in the country, somewhere, illegally. Home, where is that?

The film is one of those intimate institutional stories where the camera has unique access to the characters and those who work there – the staff that very often gets pretty close to the residents, as they are called – ”inmates” is not a nice word, even if this is what it is, a prison where doors are carefully locked and police handcuffs people when they are transported to the Special Flight that are to take them away. ”We are objects for them”, says one of those who wait, and more precisely it can not be said. Even if the staff is kind and understanding with hugs and verbal encouragement.

There are moving situations, where families come to visit – a little boy has not eaten for days because he does not know why his father is not at home. Another father writes a letter to his children, he does not want them to know where he is and that he is to be sent away. And there sequences where anger comes to you, like in the end where an incident is disclosed. A man died because of the brutal police treatment he got when he was brought to the airplane.

Shocking visualisation of how we treat ”the other”, so well made, balanced in rythm, giving information and opening for the creation of an emotional contact.

Fernand Melgar, Switzerland, 2011, 99 mins.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Dok Leipzig 2011 At Night, they Dance

Written 22-10-2011 11:41:30 by Tue Steen Mller

Dok Leipzig 2011  At Night, they Dance

Subtitle: ”Reda and her 3 daughters”, a very well told human story from the crowded Cairo, about women who earn their money as belly dancers in more or less obscure locations for entertainment, dominated by and set up for men. Reda has 7 children and is most of the film sitting on the floor, smoking cigarettes, taking care of her children, Bussy, Amira and Hind, who have different ages and different problems, with men, with drugs, with a male society, that wants them to dress up and perform, at the same time as they should stay decent (virgins) to be married in an early age. Reda with her mobile phone sitting on the floor, is the situation you will remember from the film.

There is drama in the film, there is presence created in the scenes, you sense that you are there, as Leacock would have said it and you get close because the filmmakers let scenes develop. Taking a break once in a while, time for reflection like when you watch a kite blowing in the wind or a pair of hands moving in the air.

The most intriguing, however, is the constant change of the faces of the women. A change made to please – and earn a living. If you are old enough. Hind is 16, she lives away from Reda, who calls her a whore, because she is in love with a married man. She stays with the father, who seems to be kind but does not have courage (or money?) enough to pay the money asked for to get Hind out of the arrest she has fallen into during one night on her way back from work. She gets out because a man has paid what was needed. A man who wants to marry her. You can easily guess what that will lead to.

Isabelle Lavigne & Stephane Thibault, Canada, 2011, 90 mins.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2011 Other Films

Written 22-10-2011 11:35:51 by Tue Steen Mller

 DOK Leipzig 2011  Other Films

Above I write about films that impressed me mostly, but there were others that deserve mention for the good or for the bad. So here comes some name dropping. Finnish Anu Kuivalainen’s ”Aranda” about people and research on board the reserach ship with that name is beautifully mastered in camera and music, and lives up to the kliché about Finnish people not saying a lot, but when they talk... German ”Bad Weather” by Giovanni Giommi is strong in subject and visuals but the story about the brothel island in Bangla Desh goes in too many direction and loses intensity.... the anonymous ”Fragments of a Revolution, produced by Gilles Padvani from France, is interesting in its compilation of images and archive from the Iranian riots around the election in 2009... ”Italy: Love it or Leave it” by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi, is an attempt to make a docu-comedy, they fail totally... ”Life in Stills” by Tamar Tal from Israel, on the contrary, is a very funny and warm film with a 96 year old grandmother and her grandson, who keep a photo shop alive in Tel Aviv. The scoop photos are from the declaration of independence of the state of Israel... Extremely beautiful is the French film ”La vie à loin” (photo) by Marc Weymuller, from the North of Portugal, from an area where time has stopped and memories are present... ”War Matador” from the borderline of Israel and Gaza is a superb observation (by Israeli directors Avner Faingulent and Macabit Abramson) of people who live near the border and people who come to enjoy the bombardments of Gaza. Unfortunately the directors have decided to include a metaphor (the raving bull in an arena and the matador that smells blood and wants to kill), that is for me far too much an unnecessary construction... and finally a film that I stopped after 20 minutes, ”Water Children” by Dutch/Russain Aliona van der Horst. It should be about being a woman, many women at the festival praised it, I did not, for me it was ”unmusikalisch” (the voice of the director” and ”arty” in its approach. You should have stayed, it becomes much better, said the festival director to me. Maybe!

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2011 Arabien

Written 22-10-2011 11:26:36 by Tue Steen Mller

 DOK Leipzig 2011  Arabien

Obvious to make a series of films from the Arab countries – Arabien as the organisers called it, and it sounds much nicer in German. I saw a couple of them, ”Tahrir 2011”, ”I am in the Square” and ”No more Fear”, made quickly in the aftermath of the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia, both pretty disappointing from a filmic point of view. Which is not a surprise as they were/had to be built on news and youtube clips, combined with people telling us, the audience, where they were and what happened when and where.

Documentaries need time to be made, other angles have to be found, to be put into a narrative that brings us deeper into the content and closer to understanding.

”Forbidden”, made by Amal Ramsis, was shot before the revolution and proved to be an amusing – and yet serious – investigation into all that is not allowed in the Egyptian society, and is done anyway. Including a lot interesting material about Egyptian films put on the shelf by the state censorship.

Forbidden, Amal Ramsis, Egypt, 2011, 67 mins.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig 2011 Helena Trestikova

Written 22-10-2011 11:21:36 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig 2011  Helena Trestikova

The industry part of DOK Leipzig introduced a session with three works in progress. I was asked to be one of the commentators of the first film to be presented, which was with Czech Helena Trestikova as the director, well-known for her ”René” (photo) and ”Katka” both written about on this blog. The new film of Trestikova, titled ”Private Universe”, is 90% finished as she put it, and as I saw it, 90 minutes long and in Leipzig more a fine cut than a rough cut. What I and colleague, American distributor Louise Rosen could say to Trestikova about the film was very simple: You have made another strong and important film, it has for sure a universal appeal at the same time as it, as a background, writes the history of Czekoslovakia from 1967 until today. We see 1968 images of the Soviet invasion, we see Gustav Husak talking to the nation, we see pathetic tv images of hosts wishing the nation a happy new year, we see images of the change in 1989. And all through the film the pop singer Karel Gott comes back once in a while to sing for us. His version of ”Give Peace a Chance” is unforgettably original! ”Private Universe” is the title, and also that is framed with archive footage of astronauts, the walking on the moon etc.

Since 1967 Trestikova has been filming the life of an ordinary Czech family with mum (Jana) and dad (Petr) and three children, one boy, Honza, and two girls, Eva and Anna. Honza is born in 1974 and he is the leading character in the film, the one that rebels when he grows up and the one, who leaves the country to live with a Basque women who has a child, rebellous as well. The film is told, chronologically year by year, and the drive of the film is a text, the diary of the father, Petr, so well formulated and with pictures taken by him and carefully put in the notebook. Petr reads the text himself, Trestikova has put him in a studio in front of a microphone, a very fine solution to accompany the images taken by Trestikova and sometimes also Petr himself, and later by Trestikova’s son.

An audience attended the session. They were presented with a 15 minutes cut chosen by the director. It was apparently enough (or was it?) to see that here is a new masterly done film coming from the hands of Helena Trestikova, and this time not with a focus on people with alcohol or drug problems.

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jacob Jrgensen og Henrik Lund: Min dal

Written 18-10-2011 11:31:37 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Jacob Jrgensen og Henrik Lund: Min dal

Så er det en fryd at se tv. Skonnerten som fartøj passer perfekt til Kirsten Klein og Hans Edvard Nørregård-Nielsen, og de to passer perfekt til den i hastighed, blidhed, stilfærdighed og gedigen faglighed. Det er en uafbrudt tilfredsstillelse at følge de tos kloge, indsigtsfulde, originale og på hver sin måde, i det danske sprog og i det danske fotografi, virtuose skildring af Limfjordens topografi, historie og poesi. Jacob Jørgensen og Henrik Lundø følger det opmærksomt lyttende til alle nuancerne og supplerer op, så det bliver til et fornemt, fornemt tv eller film, man kan kalde det, hvad man vil, vidunderligt er det.

Genudsendes på DR K: 20.10. 02:20 og 19:05, 24. oktober 14:55.

Kan ses nårsomhelst på


Categories: TV, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Web

CPH:DOX November 3-13

Written 16-10-2011 19:47:02 by Tue Steen Mller

CPH:DOX November 3-13

It is impossible – with a short text – to introduce the programme of the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. It is overwhelming to sit with the newspaper catalogue in your hands, putting small X’es for what you want to see, knowing already now that this is not possible. Not realistic. I have found some clips from the website text made by the festival people themselves to help you understand what this - in many ways original and innovative - festival (also) is about. If it appeals to you, make your own surfing on the site:

”CPH:DOX, Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, is the largest documentary film festival in Scandinavia. Each year the festival fills the Copenhagen cinemas with a selection of more than 200 documentary films from around the world. CPH:DOX is devoted to supporting independent and innovative film and presents the latest tendencies in non-fiction, art cinema and experimental film. CPH:DOX also presents art exhibitions, concerts, five whole days of professional seminars, a screening market and an international financing and co-production event CPH:FORUM.”

”Featured across the international competition programmes are new work by artists and auteurs such as Rirkrit Tiravanija, Michael Palm, Jesper Just, Petra Bauer, and Philippe Grandrieux (Artist in Focus at CPH:DOX 2009), as well as the World Premieres of Esperando el Tsunami by Vincent Moon (also Artist in Focus at CPH:DOX 2009) and Gary Tarn's The Prophet, the European Premiere of Gary Hustwit's Urbanized - and many more.

Guest Curators are Nan Goldin and Ben Rivers & Ben Russell
Last year we invited special guest curators Harmony Korine and Animal Collective feat. Danny Perez to present selected films. This year we are pleased to the present I'll Be Your Mirror curated by Nan Goldin, and A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness curated by Ben Rivers and Ben Russell.

Artists in Focus: Charles Atlas and Raphaël Siboni & Fabien Giraud
Charles Atlas is premiering the work-in-progress of his and Antony's Turning at CPH:DOX. We celebrate by screening a selection of his earlier work in a special Artist in Focus programme.”

And then of course Kossakovski, Herzog, Wenders, Glawogger... and Scorcese with his new film on George Harrison (photo).

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Jan Banning: Bureaucratics

Written 16-10-2011 18:56:51 by Tue Steen Mller

Jan Banning: Bureaucratics

It is such a good idea: To travel to many different countries and take photos of bureaucrats. Dutch photographer Jan Banning did so together with colleague writer Will Tinnemans. Together they made a book – you can browse through it on the site of Banning, address below – and an exhibition, which for the moment is in Copenhagen.

Civil servants behind a desk, lots of details to study behind them, in some cases loads of paper on the desk, family photos behind them or a pin-up girl or two, great cultural studies the colorful photos are, with serious people with a big responsibility and a small salary, if any, in many cases the following text informs the viewer that salary has not been paid for months. Where were they? – In China, in the US, in Russia, Yemen, France or in Bolivia where the police officer runs an office with no phone, no typewriter and no car. Excellent documentation, entertaining and thought provoking for a spoilt Dane.

Made me think of myself and my 20 year life behind the desk in the Danish Film Board, loads of paper and for some years pretty good funding to distribute to filmmakers on the other side of the desk... No, I don’t have a photo for this text!

The book: Publisher: Nazraeli Press (November 7, 2008). Third run limited availability.
ISBN-10: 1590052323 / ISBN-13: 978-1590052327

For the Danes: ’Bureaucratics’ i Nikolaj Kunsthal, Nikolaj Plads, København til den 30. Oktober

Photo from India, taken by Jan Banning.


Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Frederik Gertten: Bananas

Written 13-10-2011 14:31:58 by Allan Berg Nielsen

Frederik Gertten: Bananas

De kommer langsomt, lidt efter lidt, den ene efter den anden, men de kommer, alle de vidunderlige film, Tue Steen Müller ser rundt om i verden og skriver om her på bloggen. Alle vi frustrerede, som ikke kommer på festivaler, som bor langt fra de snedige biografer i de store byer, vi har heldigvis DR2 Dokumania og vi har,,  og så er der jo webdistributionen i øvrigt, dog et for mig at se uoverskueligt landskab indtil videre.

Men nu har jeg altså omsider set Bananas! Den film har jeg længe læst om både her på siden, hvor Müller har skrevet grundigt om filmen og begivenhederne omkring dens fremkomst, og på FaceBook. Og jeg må skrive, at den film er værd at vente på. Den bliver ikke uaktuel, for den handler om meget mere end Dole Food Companys og Dow Chemicals forbrydelser mod plantagearbejderne i Nicaragua. Den handler om de rige magthaveres brutalitet og så om, hvad der er at gøre ved det. Det er en evig historie, den er tit blevet fortalt uforglemmeligt. Og det bliver den så her en gang mere i verdenslitteraturen. Filmen viser, hvad der er at gøre ved det. Forbilledligt.

Jeg hæftede mig med det samme ved klippearbejdet, ved Osmunds og Bugge Couttés elegante, uafbrudt fascinerende håndværk, som svinger historien umærkeligt mellem voice over og indre monolog og så smukt holder sagsfremstillingen fokuseret og på plads i et fyldt og let opfatteligt forløb. Aldrig en brøkdel af et sekund for meget, aldrig bare lidt for lidt for at kunne følge med. Og om jeg fulgte med! Ivrigt optaget fulgte jeg de to medvirkende advokater, mine helte, som med det samme fik mig på deres side og deres sags, og det blev til en beredskabsfilm om civil courage. Filmen indgyder nemlig mod og energi og længsel efter selv at gøre noget på sin plads her i verden. Jeg deler den cubanske advokats (se billedet), forargelse og vrede, ønsker mig hans energi. Jeg beundrer kollegaen, amerikanerens rolige, besindige, modstanderudslettende procedure i retssalen. Et effektivt par som en Hoffman og Redford, dengang det var præsidentens mænd, som var fjenden. Tænk sig at være del af et sådant heltepar, tænker jeg henført, mens jeg ser filmen, ser den som film, simpelthen begejstret.

Bananas kan nogle dage endnu ses i fuld længde på Dokumanias hjemmeside:

Frederik Gertten: Bananas, Sverige, 2009. Klip: Jesper Osmund og Olivier Bugge Coutté.

Categories: TV, Artikler/anmeldelser DANSK, Web

Doc Discussion Translated into Russian

Written 12-10-2011 23:51:53 by Tue Steen Mller

Doc Discussion Translated into Russian

Ludmila Nazaruk, who runs the Russian documentary website informs filmkommentaren that text entries from our Doc Discussion have been translated into Russian. She writes:

Nice and initiative filmmakers from Moscow - here is their blog in the live journal  translated the discussion from filmkommentaren into Russian.

If you go to the website, you will be welcomed by the following text: Film studio Albatross is a group of young documentary-makers. We want to bring together people who like documentary films. Our goal is to show our work to everyone who is interested, be it in a cinema, on TV, or over the Internet. 
We thank Vimeo for the possibility to present our films online!
 New friends, ideas and opinions are always welcome!
Watch and enjoy Russian documentary films!

The creator of the website is Irina Shatalova. A text from her about her view on the Russian documentary situation will be brought later.

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH, Polemics

Yamagata Int. Documentary Film Festival/ 3

Written 12-10-2011 14:43:11 by Tue Steen Mller

Yamagata Int. Documentary Film Festival/ 3

A couple of months ago filmkommentaren posted three texts about the prestigious Japanese film festival (link 1, link 2, link 3). One text started like this:

”Facing reality, what is to be done?” is the headline of the introductory text of the site of the bi-annual, reputed documentary film festival in Yamagata, Japan. In March this year the earth quake in Japan followed by the Fukushima nuclear power accident became top stories all over the world as well as its tragic consequences. Yamagata is a couple of hundred kilometers away from the epicenter of the earth quake. Respect!”

The festival stops tomorrow but the award recipients have already been announced. The Grand Prize given by a jury headed by Canadian director Atom Egoyan – the so-called Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize - was given to Israeli director couple Ruthie Shatz and Adi Barash for their ”The Collaborator and His Family” (will be reviewed on filmkommentaren in some days). The Mayor’s Prize went to Patricio Guzman for his masterpiece ”Nostalgia for the Light”. The film by Vadim Jendreyko, ”The Woman with the 5 Elephants” had two prizes, one being a Citizen Prize, which was also given to ”Iranian Cookbook” by Mohammad Shirvani.

In the Asian category ”Yuguo and His Mother” by Chinese Gu Tao received the main prize. Several other Asian films were awarded – regret to say that I do not know them, but read about them on the site below.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

DOK Leipzig Intro

Written 11-10-2011 18:31:05 by Tue Steen Mller

DOK Leipzig Intro

It’s European doc festival time and documentarians like Koen Suidgeest (see below) will go to Leipzig in Germany, Jihlava in Czech Republic, DocLisboa in Portugal and idfa in Amsterdam – maybe asking themselves “what am I doing here” OR “great to be here to meet the audience”.

A textual extensive press release has been received from the DOK Leipzig festival that takes off October 17 and runs until October 23. The following text bites are cited from that release: “DOK Leipzig is the oldest documentary film festival in the world and the second largest in Europe. At the 54th edition of one of the most important meeting points for the documentary film industry 341 documentary and animated films from 47 countries will be screened. The festival will also be offering 59 different events related to DOK Industry.”

“The outlook for the future of the documentary film industry isn't so rosy either. Financial support from public television stations is in a state of free fall, programming spots are being eliminated and sponsors haven't begun reacting to the new situation. At events like Wild at Heart, German Day or New Alliances DOK Leipzig will be discussing ways out of the crisis.

This year Cross Media is a major focus at DOK Leipzig. Multimedia work is currently a great challenge for filmmakers – participants will learn how to successfully combine film, internet, games and mobile content based on three international case studies. At the panel discussions new financing and sales opportunities as well as beneficial alliances will be examined.

The festival is not only presenting new films, in and out of competition, and the strong industry emphasis does not prevent retrospectives and thematic series on Arab and Indian films: “Three great names from the world of East German documentary film, three important birthdays, three homages: DOK Leipzig will be paying its respects to Gitta Nickel (75), Jürgen Böttcher (80) and Kurt Weiler (90) with select special programmes. Nickel and Böttcher will be personally attending the festival.

Photo: Bakhmaro by Salome Jashi, Georgia, in talent competition in Leipzig

Categories: Festival, Film History, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

What do Directors Get out of Festivals?

Written 09-10-2011 21:02:54 by Tue Steen Mller

What do Directors Get out of Festivals?

… a good question, put by Koen Suidgeest, who has been extremely busy in the promotion of his important humanistic documentary, “Karla’s Arrival”, that right now also is launched through a kickstarter campaign to collect money to get the film to classrooms. Suidgeest sent us this text, he and and filmkommentaren invite others to join a discussion on the question put above. Here is his text

Karla's Arrival is a documentary which, for the first time in my career, has allowed me to really experience the international festival circuit first hand. Since its world premiere in March of this year at OneWorld (Prague), the film has been selected in some 30 international fests, big and small. It has been a humbling experience which has involved a huge learning curve and many airmiles. At the same time, it has also made me think of why I am so eager to attend some of these festivals in the first place. What do directors get out of festivals? In light of my already very busy schedule, including two new projects, should I really be going?

Wanting to attend the fests upon finishing the film has been an automatism. Given the opportunity, I was certain I'd try to go to as many as possible. I very much looked at it as a trophy for years of hard work. But this view has now changed and more and more, I am starting to question the invested time, money, loss of productivity and endless days away from my children. What added value is there really? Let's run through a few possibilities.

One benefit of the festivals is being in direct contact with your audience. I always say: if you want to make money, you have to sell to broadcasters. But if you want personal satisfaction, you should go to festivals. Downside is that Q&A's rarely last longer than 15-20 minutes and audiences are often small. For two or three screenings, we travel long hours, stick around for 3-4 days and, whether the fest pays all or part of it, there are always additional expenses. Can I live without this ego-boost? And is the viewing experience of the audience less valuable without the director being present?

Another benefit of going is making new contacts in the industry. Yet at many fests there is very little industry. Docudays in Kiev for instance is a wonderful festival, but in terms of meeting people who could mean something for your career, it’s very meager. Of course there are the occasional surprises, when you are in the right place at the right time to meet that one person you’ve always wanted to have a beer and relaxing chat with. But the price of these types of coincidences is high. You can’t count on them.

A third benefit of visiting festivals is being able to do press. Yet in reality, I haven’t had that much. Often there are so many films programmed that only a handful receive media attention and we’re not always part of that selection.

And fourth, on a personal level, I sometimes take an invitation to a festival when it’s in a place I have good friends I haven’t seen for a while. The Montreal World Film Festival was like that for me, this past August. But it does feel like cheating.

In reality, since the festival arena is quite anarchistic, it's sometimes hard to gauge what one will be like. Of course we all know what professional opportunities IDFA holds within its complex and unabridged dynamic. But for example, what about the AFI Latin American Film Festival in Silver Spring (yep, very same location as Silverdocs)? I went and it didn’t turn out to be a traditional festival but rather a film series which only runs in evenings. Surprise.

So I sometimes sit at festivals and wonder why I am there. And then I think of the underlying core question: can our films, like grown children, vouch for themselves in this world? Or do we need to take them by the hand?

Koen Suidgeest is a Dutch filmmaker based in Madrid. Karla’s Arrival ( is his first feature-length documentary.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Cattin & Kostomarov: The Mother

Written 09-10-2011 20:35:04 by Tue Steen Mller

Cattin & Kostomarov: The Mother

This international renowned film by Swiss Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov reaches Danish Television (DR/TV) on tuesday October 11 as part of the strand Dokumania and under the Danish title, ”Den russiske mor”. The film was at the Magnificent7 European Feature Documentary Film Festival 2009. Here are the words from the catalogue:

This is the story that resembles novels by Dostoevsky. The main character is called Lyubov that means Love in Russian. When she was a girl, her mother sold her for a bottle of vodka. At the moment, many years later, she is raising on her own her own children, nine of them and she wants to adopt the tenth one. Over the three-year period filmmakers have been recording the life of Lyuba and her children, presented in the spirit of cinéma vérité. They have made unusually strong, raw yet also poetic portrait of a woman who, despite her ill fortune, manages to express her love for her children and live a dignified existence. It's a story about an ordinary woman with strength of a super hero. This remarkable record of the dramatic and intimate moments in Lyubas life at the same time offers a highly authentic look at the bleak reality of todays Russia. The film has given new perspectives even to the Russian audience. Equally successful in the West and in the East, the film has gained big and important awards all over Europe and it has been winning at all leading festivals in Russia. (Svetlana and Zoran Popovic)

Liouba escaped from her violent husband with all her 9 children... One more sad Russian story, you think and then you watch a universal story about Love, simply, it is tough, life is tough for her but nevertheless the film leaves you with optimism on behalf of humanity: If she can make ends meet, then there is hope. Respect and love and cinematographic skills make this a unique experience from start till end. What a character! (Tue Steen Müller).

So IN DANISH: SE DEN FILM! And for others - the film is available on the Docalliance vod.

Switzerland, Russia, 2007, 80 mins.


Categories: TV, Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mads Brgger: The Ambassador/ idfa

Written 06-10-2011 23:06:23 by Tue Steen Mller

Mads Brgger: The Ambassador/ idfa

From the press release of IDFA today: The 24th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) will open on November 16 in Pathé Tuschinski with The Ambassador by Danish filmmaker and journalist Mads Brügger Cortzen. In this documentary, Brügger Cortzen exposes the trade in diplomatic passports in Africa – a trade in which Westerners play a major role. The film also competes in the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary.

Mads Brügger Cortzen (1972) previously made films such as The Red Chapel, with which he won a Jury Award at the Sundance film festival in 2010. He is also known in Denmark as a presenter of various television programmes.

The Ambassador, shot largely using a hidden camera, reveals another side of Africa: an underworld that cannot be recorded in any other way. Dressed in a neo-colonist style, director Mads Brügger Cortzen goes to the Central African Republic to become an ambassador for Liberia. Once there, he sets up a match factory, run by Pygmies, as a cover for his ambitions in the diamond trade. What Brügger is actually trying to do, however, is reveal the relations of power – and commerce – in that country.

The Ambassador is competing for the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary. On Friday, 25 November, the winners of the various IDFA competition programmes will be announced at the closing ceremony in Tuschinski 1. IDFA will take place from 16 to 27 November on and around Amsterdam’s Rembrandtplein square.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mads Brgger: The Ambassador

Written 05-10-2011 22:43:59 by Tue Steen Mller

 Mads Brgger: The Ambassador

Filmkommentaren was invited to look at the new feature length documentary by Danish Mads Brügger (selected for the upcoming idfa festival competition in Amsterdam) and watched the film together with students at the documentary film school Zelig in Bolzano, Italy. Here follows a collective review based on the spontaneous reactions from the 10 directing students, in their own language:

Una follia totale – Tiziana Poli

Völlig unglaublich (fast unmöglich) – Juri Mazumbar

Too horrible to be true – Alexandra Kaufmann

скандальный (shocking)
потрясающий (incredible)
очень смешной (hilarious) – Vasili Vikhliaev

La musica rende il film ancora piu ironico, brillante, intelligente – Irene Ammaturo

Von lächerlich bis sehr tiefgreifend – Lisa Wimmer

Osé (Daring) – Victoria Chan

Et rått og tankevekkende møte med business og diplomati i CAR – Ane Helga Lykka

Nehmt die Sonnebrillen runter und öffnet die Augen für die versteckten Machenschafter von Botschaftern! – Stefan Pircher

Ist sowas überhaupt legal? – Benjamin Thum

A voir absolument – Julie Fawel (guest)

Cocktail af fin journalistik, komedie og dårlig smag - Tue Steen Müller (teacher)

The film opens today in 50 cinemas in Denmark. About the film, read below.

Denmark, 2011, 93 mins.ügger-takes-his-Ambassador-to-IDFA.aspx

Categories: Cinema, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Syrian Filmmaker Arrested

Written 04-10-2011 18:46:43 by Tue Steen Mller

Syrian Filmmaker Arrested

This is unfortunately another text from the never ending news story to be brought from Syria. This time about a dear colleague from the team of the Dox Box festival. The text below is copy-pasted from the facebook, where his friends are constantly reporting on what happens in the country. And further below a link to the site of Ali Sheikh Khoder to be visited and supported:

Syrian filmmaker Ali Sheikh Khoder has been arrested by an unknown security division in Douma, Damascus, September 30 2011. Ali's whereabouts are still unknown. Freedom to Ali and all prisoners of opinion. Born in Damascus 1987. Started working in film in 2006, as videographer & as editor in local films, with independent filmmakers. City of Emptiness was Ali’s first film (DOX BOX 2010), followed by two short fiction films (Meal) and (Room number 0), both of which received the best film award in “cultural month” festival in Damascus.‬

PS. German/french broadcaster arte presents a theme evening on Syria October 11. Two documentaries are brought to the audience, one of them like this: Mit ihrer Handkamera begleitet Sofia Anara die Untergrundkämpfer der syrischen Revolution...الحرية-للمخرج-علي-الشيخ-خضر-Freedom-for-Syrian-Filmmaker-Ali-Sheikh-Khoder/169470929803317

Categories: Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Vilnius Documentary Film Festival Awards

Written 02-10-2011 22:27:10 by Tue Steen Mller

Vilnius Documentary Film Festival  Awards

The small film festival with the fine programme of international documentaries ends today sunday October 2. The awards for the Baltic Documentary Competition were given out last night. 12 films were in the programme, three received awards – diplomas and money.

Latvian films took the second and third prize. Second was ”How are you doing, Rudolf Ming”, shown at many festivals internationally, directed by Roberts Rubins, who received the recognition for his fine portrait of a Latvian boy, who is crazy about making films. Especially films in the horror genre. He hates love stories and draws his stories on paper to be shown on a slide projector with his own voice providing the sound. The intelligent and sensitive boy develops a fine relation with the local priest, who asks him to make a film for the service. Which he does, with big success! The director told the audience at the prize ceremony that Rudolf Ming now has a real camera... an upcoming filmmaker!

”Family Instinct”, third prize, by Andris Gauja is travelling the world right now, to festivals first of all, winning awards for its intimate description of a totally devastated family of a mother of two, the father – the brother of the mother – being in jail for the incest. It is a shocking film to watch, there are constant violent conflicts combined with a constant alcohol consumption. We are visiting a Dostojevskian hell. Nevertheless, the director succeeds strongly in conveying empathy for the characters and their living conditions. The film has raised big debate in its home country, for its content of course, is this (also) Latvia of today, and among film people also ethical questions are raised, which are relevant. The main point, however, for this blogger, member of the jury together with Georgian Nino Kirtadze and Bosnian Irena Taskovski, was that the film comes out as an honest piece of observational documentary.

Outstanding was the winner, Barzakh (photo), by Lithuanian Mantas Kvedaravicius, a courageous film from Chechnya, superbly shot and edited, a touching visit to families, who have had members missing for years, searching for the answer – what happened, where are they, are they alive? The narrative also included the story of a man who has had his ear cut off. A longer text is to be found on this blog about this beautiful documentary made by a man over a period of three years, a man who is a researcher and is finishing a book on pain – the subject of the film.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

Mindaugas Survila: The Field of Magic

Written 02-10-2011 22:24:14 by Tue Steen Mller

Mindaugas Survila: The Field of Magic

After the award ceremony of the 8th Vilnius Documentary Film Festival , a new Lithuanian documentary had its premiere in Vilnius. ”The Field of Magic” has been on its way for years and premieres in a version that is full of magnificent images and love for the characters in the film. The production company Monoklis, their director and the two producers Jurga  Gluskiniené and Giedrè Beinoriuté, call the film a docu-poem, it could also be labelled as a docu-adventure. It starts and closes with images of moose who live in the forest, where also the characters have settled outside the normal society close to the dump ground where they pick metal to be sold. To have sufficient income to survive the way they want, and do, with dignity.

I can not call this a review, I am biased, I have followed the film during the development process at the Ex Oriente training workshop, organised by IDF (Institute of Documentary Film), I have even been visiting the wonderful people in the film, taken there with Audrius Stonys and the director Mindaugas Survila. I have watched material and given advice.

Not a review, but I can say that the honesty and respect and warm generosity, shown by Mindaugas Survila during the whole process, his loyality to the characters and their trust in him – all that is in a stylistically balanced film that is universal in its theme and humanity. It would be natural that it travels around the world to festivals and – maybe – to tv stations that still dares to challenge its audience with something for the thought and heart.

Categories: Festival, Articles/Reviews ENGLISH

web: infoserv   cms: aviva cms