Written 26-12-2011 19:54:58 by Tue Steen Müller
William Klein (born 1928), American filmmaker and photographer, who has great reputation for his many photo books, especially those dealing with cities like New York, Paris and Rome, and who has made films on Muhammad Ali and who has been active in artistic protests against American policy, is exhibiting a selection of his photos in Paris, they are from Rome, taken 1956-1960, when the young Klein went to Rome to become an assistant of Fellini, who, however, had enough assistants, wherefore Klein went to the streets to take photos with his newly acquired camera.
It is a joyful exhibition (runs until January 8) at the great Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, a must-see-place for fans of photography and documentary or should I say, and documentation as many exhibitions also aims at documenting a country or period or a special period of our times.
Klein went to the street, caught the moments and the atmosphere, went (also) for celebrities like Sophia Loren, arranged some situations, and found Rossellini and Fellini in conversation woith each other at Cinecitta.
For copyright reasons I dare not publish any of the photos, but go to the site of the museum or google Klein and you will find his unique talent demonstrated.
Rome is a movie and Klein did it, said Federico Fellini. Klein's book with photos from Rome can still be bought on Amazon,
Written 23-12-2011 11:25:48 by Tue Steen Müller
A couple of days after the death of Vaclav Havel, you sit down and watch a documentary on the French president Nicolas Sarkozy - what a quality step down - set up through a mix of archive material and comments from foreign correspondents, who have followed the president from his entrance to power in May 2007. Commentators from leading English and German newspapers and magazines, as well as tv people from a handful of countries. Quite a good spread with more or less analytical remarks, practically speaking all of them pretty negative. Well in the beginning everyone was expecting a new, much more energetic period after dead years with Chirac, but quickly it was clear that Sarkozy was not ready for the job, to say the least. He comes out as a total fool in this documentary, ”in the beginning he was like a ten year old boy”, one says in the film that is chronologically structured and involves a lot of anecdotes about the performance of the president. And not much more, as he has never really invited the foreign press to have longer interviews with him – visions for France, he does not have.
But he has the ability to control the media in his country, he has the power to push himself into the spotlight leaving his ministers as tools for the promotion of himself. Of course the private life is commented. His dependency on the advice of his Cecilia (”sans Cecilia il était totalement perdu”), who left him – and his quick change to Carla, and now the baby, cleverly used in public relations purpose. OK, he gets praise for his role in the Russian-Georgian conflict, for his role in dealing with the European financial crisis, but otherwise the film is full of the correspondents talking about his coming late to the Vatican, using his cell phone during the meeting with the Pope, the catastrophical insults to Africa, the idea of sending help to Ben Ali when the revolution in Tunisia had started, his disastrous and cynical move towards the romas, his relationship to Angela Merkel (remember the photo of the two on the beach and the comment ”how deep is their love”), his jealousy towards Barack Obama etc. At the end of the film the correspondents revela that Sarkozy, through his campaigners, now is trying to build up a new image as a more calm and intellectual statesman, who watch Robert Bresson and Carl Th. Dreyer in the evenings!
In the documentary genre of films about state leaders the film of Karel can not compete with the films we have available on Kennedy, Clinton and Havel. It is a tv product, formatted, fun to watch and of course you ask yourself – did we get close to the man, no, not at all, and what is it that the French like about him? Will there be a film about that? This is more of a comedy, but his flirt with the voters of Front National is not fun at all, will there be a film about that?
France, 2011, 77 mins.
The film is available on dvd, in France you can buy it in one of the fnac shops or you can order it via Amazon. This review is based on the broadcast on arte, wednesday december 21, 2011.
Written 21-12-2011 10:26:44 by Tue Steen Müller
The Afghanistan documentary by Danfung Dennis, awarded at many festivals opens today in Paris. The daily Libération has an interview with Dennis, link below. Here is a re-post of the review of the important documentary:
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.
Written 19-12-2011 08:25:52 by Tue Steen Müller
It seems strange that on the day of the death of Vaclav Havel, I posted several texts on the high quality of the IDF (Institute of Film) website (see below) and now I do it again to make you know the text published there to remember Vaclav Havel, and the many films he took part in. Read here:
Former Czech President, dissident, prolific playwright, essayist, and film director Václav Havel (October 5, 1936 - December 18, 2011) appeared in countless documentary films that closely traced both his political moves and moments from his personal life. Here are just some of them...
In 2003, David Remnick of the The New Yorker described Václav Havel's last day in office as follows: "On Sunday night, February 2nd, Czech radio and television broadcast Havel's farewell address. He took pains to thank his wife and his supporters. To all those who felt disappointed "or have simply found me hateful, I sincerely apologize and trust that you will forgive me." Havel flashed his country the peace sign and his work was done." [David Remnick, "Exit Havel", The New Yorker, 10 February 2003].
Havel's work and role were incredibly difficult, crucial and irreplaceable, as any of these documentary films attest. Although he was never too comfortable in front of the camera - probably much happier when staging his own scenes in Leaving - many of the films give a good idea of his warm and charismatic personality, doing away with the myth of a shy, awkward president and revealing instead his calm yet strong-willed determination.
Screened at Visions du réel, Crossing Europe, Hot Docs, DOK Leipzig, Berlinale's Forum and other festivals, Citizen Havel (2008) may be the best-known film on Havel. Shot over the span of 13 years, it was originally helmed by Pavel Koutecký who made a number of other Havel-themed docs. After Koutecký's death in 2006, the project was taken up by director and cinematographer Míra Janek.
Please watch them if you get a chance, Václav Havel, Prague - Castle can be streamed in East Silver's video library; many of them are available on the VOD portal Doc Alliance Films.
Written 18-12-2011 19:40:31 by Tue Steen Müller
... and what a loss it is! Luckily – in terms of films, we have a lot of material that documents who he was and how he performed as a writer, a politician and, simply, a human being. I go back to early times of filmkommentaren to re-publish, what was written after I saw a rough cut of what was going to be the masterpiece ”Citizen Havel”:
Yesterday in Prague, I attended a sneak preview of a still unfinished documentary on Vaclav Havel. The version (for cinemas and festivals) I saw was 150 minutes, for me it could easily have been longer, simply because the company of Havel is such a joy!
I was told that a 6 hour long (6 x 1 hour) TV version has been made as well to be screened on the private channel NOVA, and not on public Czech tv, that did not want to take part which of course is no less than a scandal.
The film is wonderful being the result of 12 years of shooting by Pavel Koutecky who died last year in a tragic accident. The film has been completed by Mira Janek, and covers sequences from the life of Havel when president until the moment, he steps down and leaves the castle in Prague. Private life and official life. Havel in a lot of situations with his advisors, Havel constantly versus the other Vaclav (Klaus) and Havel with his first wife Olga, who dies in 1996. And Havel with Dagmar, Dasa, who is his life's companion now. A film full of humour about a gentle man, who - as he says himself - is unwilling to conform to the stereotypes. A man who listens and thinks before he talks. A man who appears to have some drops of vanity when it comes to shirts and ties, and who is absolutely unpractical and who could not live without a woman at his side.
Apart from the joyful meeting with a man of great modest charisma, the film gives you an inside to important moments in Czech politics when EU is to be the reality for the former communist country.
This is not a review, just a first advertising: Watch out for "Citizen Havel" that will be a success all over the world when it comes out next year.
Written 18-12-2011 11:20:27 by Tue Steen Müller
Tomorrow – and the rest of the week – French/German channel arte invites documentary lovers on what seems to be a wonderful lighthearted journey with Agnès Varda, entitled ”Agnès de ci, de là Varda”. On the site of arte, see address below, there are clips from the series, which according to ”le monde” (18-19. December) is ”subjective, fantaisiste, érudite et émouvante... un très beau cadeau”. In the same article Varda says that she has filmed almost as if she was thinking with no other intention than ”to show my curiosity”. Sounds like ”caméra comme stylo”, as the French new wave was saying they were aiming for.
She meets colleagues on her way, like the 103 year old Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira and Chris Marker, a close friend, who does not want to be seen in the film, but ”he looks like Bruce Willis”, Varda says!
If you have the chance, go and peep into the windows of Agnès Varda, who has her shop in rue Daguerre (she made a film a bout the street in 1976, Daguerreotypies) or enter the shop and buy one of her many great films.
For French viewers – remember that you can watch programmes of arte seven days after they have been broadcast.
Link to arte.tv
Written 18-12-2011 10:44:02 by Tue Steen Müller
One day when she was travelling in Belarus, Lithuanian film director Lina Luzyte woke up in her train, that had stopped at a station in the town of Zhlobin. She looked out the window and saw a lot of people lined up to sell plush toys to the passengers...
It became a film, that will premiere in 2012 – and will have a strong festival presence. I can say so as I have seen rough cuts of the film, which is more than promising, and is the first feature documentary of Lina Luzyte, whose producer is Dagne Vildziunaite, company: Just a Moment.
Look out for the film (working title: Belarussian Toys) when it comes near you. Here is a quote from the IDF website (see below) interview by Hana Rezkova. Luzyte says:
… When I was passing the town, what caught my sight was an image - a face of a man holding a crocodile next to his head. Both faces next to each other. The man's face was really sad and the crocodile was very beautiful. At that moment I understood that the toys will be the key element, not only visually but also on the level of meaning. The process was actually the opposite. While I was there I stopped distinguishing them from the rest of the reality. They were not standing out anymore. And in the editing room I realized that they have very sad eyes. One of my protagonists told me that there are Polish eyes, German eyes, Russian eyes, and Belarusian eyes. All the eyes have eyelashes leaning towards both left and right. Only the Belarusian eyes have eyelashes directed to one side only.
Written 18-12-2011 10:21:01 by Tue Steen Müller
Among the many websites of documentary organisations (EDN, Documentary Campus, Eurodoc etc.) the one provided by the Prague based Institute of Documentary Film (IDF) stands out, when it comes to deal withfilmmaking.
Apart from the information that the active organisation gives on its activities like the East European Forum, Ex Oriente, East Silver market as well as a guide to funding possibilities, a survey over professionals, the DOKWeb publishes articles about and interviews with important filmmakers from the region it deals with: Eastern Europe.
To mention a few: Katerina Surmanová writes about Lithuanian master director Audrius Stonys, who has been making his lyrical documentaries for over 20 years (Photo: Ramin by Audrius Stonys). The same writer takes the reader into the world of Polish director and cameraman, Cracow based Marcin Koszalka. Hana Rezkova, for years a key person at IDF, talks with Russian Vitaly Mansky about his new Cuba film and with Lithuanian director Lina Luzyte about her Belarussian Toys, which will be released in 2012, see above.
Read for yourself, the articles are all high class introductions to important filmmakers. And the website is the place to get knowledge about East European documentaries.
Written 18-12-2011 10:17:36 by Tue Steen Müller
A total of 44 Czech films have been released in cinemas this year, including 19 documentaries. The number of theatrical releases has been steadily rising in recent years. This positive trend is both due to the technical and financial availability of digital technologies that make cinema release viable even for low-budget films, as well as various projects, such as Czech Joy in Czech Cinemas that helped release 5 documentary films in a joint campaign.
Seventeen of this year's documentary releases will compete for the Czech Lion Awards organized by the Czech Film and Television Academy (CFTA), that will be announced in March 2012. In sheer number of films, the documentary category comes close to the feature category (24 films). In mid-January, Czech film critics will also announce best films of the past year. Their competition features all films distributed in cinemas, short films as well as films making use of alternative distribution channels. On top of the CFTA eligible films, the Czech Film Critics Awards include, for instance, Andrea Slováková's documentary In Sight released on VoD.
Photo: Matej Minac’s film “Nickys Family”, the third film about Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 699 children from nazi deportation to concentration camps.
Written 13-12-2011 21:16:42 by Tue Steen Müller
Playing the-best-of list game, here is what I consider as the best documentaries of 2011. This time I have not mentioned the countries of origin as the documentary film language is not bound to borders. Nevertheless, contrary to the American and English 2011 lists, I hope you will appreciate to find films with a multitude of different languages and cultural links. Alphabetical order:
Asif Kapadia: Senna, 106 mins.
Danfung Dennis: Hell and Back Again, 88 mins.
Fernand Melgar: Vol Special, 99 mins.
Pietro Marcello: The Silence of Pelesjan, 52 mins.
Mantas Kvedaravicius: Barzakh, 57 mins. (Photo)
Michael Glawogger: Whore´s Glory, 110 mins.
Patricio Guzman: Nostalgia for the Light, 90 mins.
Shatz & Barash: The Collaborator and his Family, 84 mins.
Viktor Kossakovsky: Vivan las Antipodas, 104 mins.
Wim Wenders: Pina, 100 mins.
Written 11-12-2011 22:54:08 by Tue Steen Müller
Whatever talk there is about financial crisis and difficulties in getting funding for creative, non-formatted documentaries, new talents enter the scene with their stories, visions and original and/or personal way of expressing themselves. Many others could have been mentioned, the 10 are films and people I have met in 2011. Except for one they are all from Europe but after having been in South America a couple of times, I have high expectations in films from that part of the world in 2012.
I will also draw your attention to the big international festival success of the diploma films 2010 from the documentary film school Zelig in Bolzano, that has sent out talented people, who now try to raise funding for the next work.
But here we go in alphabetical order, great films all of them:
Alina Rudnitskaya: This Day I will Forget, Russia, 25 mins.
Andrea Deaglio: Il Futuro del Mondo Passa da Qui, Italy, 63 mins.
Bram van Paesschen: Empire of Dust, Belgium, 77 mins.
Lou McLoughlan: Caring for Calum, Scotland, 24 mins.
Maria Fernanda Restrepo: With My Heart in Yambo. Ecuador, 135 mins.
Mila Turajlic: Cinema Komunisto, Serbia, 101 mins.
Mindaugas Survila: Field of Magic, Lithuania, 62 mins.
Pawel Kloc: Phnom Penh Lullaby, Poland, 98 mins.
Salome Jashi: Bahkmaro, Georgia, 58 mins. (photo)
Thierry Paladino: La Machina, France/Poland, 52/100 mins.
Written 09-12-2011 21:01:36 by Tue Steen Müller
It goes on and on, when will it stop or be stopped, the brutality in Syria? Today is friday, the day where many will be killed, as we know it from many weeks and months. And people opposed to the regime are arrested. It is the menu of the day and of course you notice it even more when it is someone you know
Like this time Guevara Namer, photographer and part of the staff behind the Dox Box festival in Damascus. We met her again in Amsterdam this year at the idfa festival – her first travel abroad after the regime had given her and others of Kurdish origin an identity card and a passport. At an age of 27! On her way to the next festival, the one that goes on in Dubai, she was then, at the airport, taken away from her colleagues.
As before when others have been arrested, friends have immediately put up a site for her, address below. The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom and Expression writes the following, edited version:
The immigration authorities at Damascus International Airport at four oclock this afternoon 8/12/2011 arrested the photographer and film producer Guevara Namer while she was traveling to the United Arab Emirates to attend the Film Festival of Dubai where she was among a group of Syrian artists and journalists who have been invited to attend the festival...
Guevara was born in 1984, she is a graduate of the Institute of Photography in Damascus and a fourth-year student at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Art Studies Department. She was one of the Syrian Kurdish citizens deprived of their citizenship and has her passport only for a short time.
The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression expresses its strong condemnation of the arrest of photographer and film producer Guevara and demands her release and strongly condemns the way and the place where they arrested her - as if it were an ambush focus of the Syrian citizen when she goes to the border ports.
Written 08-12-2011 21:47:57 by Tue Steen Müller
The film critic of The Guardian has made his contribution to the yearly stupid, popular and funny tradition of making your favourite list of films from the year that goes towards its end. Here it is, tomorrow I will make my list and I promise it will be less anglosaxon. To excuse Bradshaw I guess I have seen more documentaries than he has:
Senna (dir. Asif Kapadia)
George Harrison: Living in the Material World (dir. Martin Scorsese)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (dir. Werner Herzog)
Pina (dir. Wim Wenders)
Inside Job (dir. Charles Ferguson)
Dreams of a Life (dir. Carol Morley)
Bobby Fischer Against the World (dir. Liz Garbus)
Waste Land (dir. Lucy Walker) (Photo)
TT3D: Closer to the Edge (dir. Richard de Araques)
Project Nim (dir. James Marsh)
- where you will also find his lists of fiction films.
Written 08-12-2011 21:33:07 by Tue Steen Müller
That Paris is the best cinema city in Europe is known by every film buff. Not only do all important new films arrive to the screen, but there are also ”reprises” and ”festivals”, so you can always enjoy Fritz Lang, Vincente Minelli and early works by Polanski, at the same time as you see new films from the Middle East or from Poland.
If you buy your weekly Pariscope, you may want to count how many documentaries that run at the Parisian cinemas in the coming week: 30: From obvious titles like Frederick Wiseman’s Crazy Horse to the strong German film by Cyril Tuschi about Khodorkovski (photo). From the German music film ”Kinshasa Symphony” to ”Pina” by Wim Wenders. To Swedish Göran Olsson’s masterly archive documentary ”The Black Power Mixtape” to the French ”Territoire Perdy” by Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd. Many of the documentaries have only one screening per day or per week but they are available due to the good system that art cinemas like the MK2 chain run, where films are kept for a long time on the screens.
PS. Not a documentary, not at all, but if you get near a cinema in Paris or elsewhere and like British acting when it is best, go and see ”Shame” by Steve McQueen with Michael Fassbender in the main role. It premiered here in Paris today.
Written 02-12-2011 16:23:13 by Tue Steen Müller
The second seminar of the Athens based documentary project development Storydoc took place during the last three days of November 2011. After a prologue in Ramallah, which was a training session for around 20 Palestinian filmmakers, the first session with four selected Palestinian projects plus another 20 projects coming from Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Spain, Croatia, Scotland and the UK, was organised in Corfu, Greece in July
4 months later most of the project holders met again having done progress in terms of writing and visualisation through trailers on the basis of research and putting (some) financing together. As in the first session the programme is a mix of inspirational lectures, project work, lots of screenings of full films and clips, meetings with distributors and broadcasters, presentations.
The idea is very simple – Storydoc invites Mediterranean documentary projects and -makers and filmmakers from other countries with stories from the region. Networking, project development, eventual (but gosh how big the crisis is everywhere (also) for documentary financing) financing.
A seminar in Greece, in November 2011, after a lot of turbulence around the Greek economy, a new government, the EU leaders meeting constantly to find a way! In Greece where – I met a daughter of one of them - politicians do not walk out alone in the evenings and where most of them have bodyguards around them. It is not easy and there is much frustration, hate, aggression, anger and little hope and optimism. The situation for the Greek film people? Well the Greek Film Centre, I understood, has been out of operation for a long time, and the representative from Greek television ERT told her colleagues that she could not tell anything as everything, slots for documentaries, funding, whatever, was up for discussion and change. That Storydoc continues is only due to the commitment and fundraising skills of its founder, Kostas Spiropoulos, and his Mama Storydoc, Chara Lampidou, who never give up and try to stimulate the sector wherever possible. Storydoc has a ”subtitle”: The Educational Institute for Documentaries. Indeed it is.
Written 02-12-2011 16:16:36 by Tue Steen Müller
Below you will find texts about some of the presentations at the Storydoc in Athens. But there was much more to take from the seminar
It was only natural to have Syrian Diana el Jeiroudi make a follow-up of her presentation of the Syrian situation as she delivered it at the first session in Corfu four months earlier. What she focused on was the fact that people want to see themselves, contrary to before, when they were hiding. The documentarians in her country are moving towards a tradition that has been very long present in Palestine – the collectiveness of filmmaking. She had found a similar situation reflected in the television situation in Tunisia, where al Jazeera before the revolution had had the lead, now taken over by the Tunisian public broadcaster that brings local stories and aims for freedom of expression. What concerns the continuation of the DoxBox festival in Damascus, she and her team have ideas to substitute a festival and a campus that right now seem to be impossible to take place in Damascus.
A veteran in Storydoc Athens is Danish editor Niels Pagh Andersen, who again took the audience by the heart with his inspirational lecture on how to tell stories. He showed the film of Iranian/Swedish director Nahid Persson, ”Prostitution Behind the Veil”, and deconstructed the film’s dramaturgy. Andersen had meetings with all filmmakers looking at material, asking questions and giving feedback.
His words were many times echoed by ardent Madeleine Avramoussis from arte, a regular visitot to Greece, the contact to Greek filmmakers when it comes to coproductions (like ”Sayomé” by Anemon Productions, see below, will be broadcasted December 27 in a theme evening that also includes ”Lost in Translation”) and a strong advocate for the character driven documentary where you sense ”the progression of a character”. As is Wim van Rompaey from Lichtpunt, who (as the only one?) was optimistic and found that the decreasing budgets in public television could help the much more cheap documentary to become stronger on the schedule. Van Rompaey gave a precise picture of the situation in Belgium for documentaries and showed clips from his channel, classic intelligent television.
PS. A very sad piece of information opened the seminar: The Egyptian filmmaker Jasmina Metwaly had cancelled her participation as her friend, a filmmaker as well, had been shot at on Tahrir Square and was hospitalised as a patient in coma.
Written 02-12-2011 16:11:25 by Tue Steen Müller
How to interpret and convey the Greek crisis in a documentary? How to go from the reportage and the news clip to an understanding of how the population sees and feels the dramatic development in the country where stood the craddle of civilisation...?
Dimitris Athiridis had followed the kharismatic, 68 year old Yiannis Boutrasis (photo) during his campaign to become mayor of Thessaloniki. The man is fantastic and the film captures him in his private sphere, an alcoholic who stopped drinking decades ago, a man with controversial plans like naming a street in his city ”Kemal Atatyrk”, a man who is another kind of politician than all the others, who are not trusted by the population. There is potential for a strong film that can travel, no doubt about that.
Another Demetri, with the last name Sofianopoulos, had chosen to have a dog as storyteller in a project that also has potential internationally. Sofianopoulos and ”Thanassis alias Bruno”, the dog, and the working title of the film, goes from a safe home in the rich area, where the good life was there for man and dog, to the suburbs where food is to be found among garbage and to central Athens where riots are unfolded. To take a look a look on the crisis through a DogUmentary is very cleverly thought.
Thirdly a project that was not specifically meant to be a description of the crisis was presented by Nina Maria Paschalidou and Nikos Katsaounis. Titled The Prism GR2011 this no-funding completed multimedia initiative also indirectly deals with the crisis. The two filmmakers took part in the idfa doclab this year. This is the intro text from that site:
The Prism Greece 2011 is an online platform containing 27 multimedial films which gauge the mood in Greece in the midst of a financial and social meltdown during the winter of 2010-2011.
Starting from stormy Athens, 14 journalists went around the country, from the border with Turkey to the highest mountain in central Greece to the inhospitable mountains of southern Crete. The result is a colorful mosaic of mini-documentaries that can be clicked on by theme, filmmaker or geographic location on the simple, accessible site. The somewhat inconsistent quality of the films can be explained by the fact that the initiators and financiers, Nikos Katsaounis and Nina Paschalidou, chose to retrain photojournalists as “multimedial storytellers”. Experienced or not, their films reveal everything traditional media ignore. For instance, Riders on the Storm follows a group that ventures around Athens on a sophisticated bicycle and offers an alternative for the future in the process. And Radical Youth documents the rise of radical left-wing youngsters who take the law into their own hands with Molotov cocktails. Strikingly enough, this last film wasn’t made by a Greek, but rather a young Spaniard who joined in on the project shortly after his arrival.
Written 02-12-2011 16:05:25 by Tue Steen Müller
With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union and the European Commission the documentary production company that is most active internationally in Greece, Anemon, led by Rea Apostolides and Yuri Averof, presented at Storydoc what they are working on: two exciting cross-media projects, which for me combine perfectly what is the original core of the documentary genre, Information, with the use of many media AND distribution and activities.
The company has just finished a fine single documentary, Sayome (financed by ERT, arte and GFC (Greek Film Centre)) directed by Nikos Dayndas, describes on their site the two projects like this:
Twice a Stranger: A cross-media project about the most significant population exchanges of the 20th century and the experience of being "twice a stranger". Comprising of a multi-media exhibition, documentary screenings and educational programmes, it will is hosted in Athens, Nicosia and Istanbul in 2012.
A Balkan Tale: A cross-media project about the cultural legacy of the Ottoman era in the Balkans. Comprising of a photography exhibition, documentary screenings & educational programmes, it will be hosted in Athens, Belgrade, Pristina, Tirana and Skopje in 2012.
Written 02-12-2011 16:00:53 by Tue Steen Müller
Truls Lie, editor of DOX and filmmaker, made a fine inspirational introduction to what is the film essay. He stressed the characteristics of the genre and showed great classic clips from masters like Jean-Luc Godard (photo) (”L´Histoire du Cinema”, Chris Marker (”Sans Soleil”), Alain Resnais (”Night and Fog”) as well as Pier Paolo Pasolini and Haron Farocki. For Lie the essayistic documentary is ”a meeting ground for documentary, avant-garde and art impulses”. It can be a critical reflection (Marker’s many films on the American dominance of world politics) and/or an authorial ”voice” – great to watch Godard, cigar in mouth writing on his classical typewriter. The genre gives more freedom, it is elusive and inclusive, and it has an open structure. Lie also showed clips from his new film on Jørgen Leth, Danish filmmaker
The first half of Lie’s lecture was decicated to this historical perspective on great names of Cinema, whereas his second half included a trailer for his own film project from the Middle East, where he wants to focus on the situation of the women in Egypt and in other places in the region. His approach provoked a lot of comments from the participating film people, the strongest from Khaled Jarrar, Palestinian filmmaker, who argued that Lie with his images was just reinforcing the stereotypes that are always conveyed when Westerners want to make film. A couple of people in the auditorium said that Westerners should not make any films outside their own country!
Lie thought that the essay film was on its way back, I think he is right as it is one of the many ways being unfolded to fight against the mainstream documentary that lives under the tyranny of the (television) formats.
Written 02-12-2011 15:57:16 by Tue Steen Müller
This is what was written after I attended the Storydoc session in Ramallah, Palestine in March 2011: Nahed Awwad (PHOTO) showed us unique material from her 28 minutes long, scene divided disc. She presented what is to be an observational film entitled ”The Mail” that gives us both knowledge and emotion. Knowledge when it comes to the documentation of the transport of ID application papers in a cardboard box from the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank to Israeli authorities, that has its office in a settlement! Emotion, to mention just one scene, when a mother and her daughters watch a clip with the son/brother, who lives in Gaza and can not get a travel permit to see the family unless strong illness in the family is proved! Division, humiliation, what else would you call it – but here shown in a non-aggressive manner with big effect. She dares the pauses in her filming, what a relief in a stressed film environment where the idea seems to be to get as much as possible out to the audience as quick as possible.
Now – 8 months later – in Athens at the Storydoc session, the director generously invited her colleagues, the invited tutors and the broadcasters to watch her 110 minutes long rough cut of the film, that now carries the title “Gaza Calling”. The approach is the same, the characters are now developed – Samer who returns to Gaza from Ramallah on the West Bank, to his parents and to see his small sister for the first time and Hekhmat, the mother who with her daughters skype with her son in Gaza, walking along the beloved Sea. They can not meet.
The film is not finished, it will be cut down in the coming months, to be finished spring 2012. The impression is the same as when I first saw material in Ramallah in March – a strong film is on its way, told in a low tone it is a heartbreaking story about the Israeli apartheid policy that divides families from meeting each other. Civilisation 2011!
Written 01-12-2011 23:21:03 by Tue Steen Müller
The American (LA) based member organisation IDA, International Documentary Association, holds its annual ”IDA Documentary Awards 11” December 2nd with a big show – the American way with sponsors, of course. The IDA has definitely an international perspective, as it can be seen by a look at the nomination list of films below. Experience how the IDA writes about its event on its site, click on the list of nominations and you will see great films like Patricio Guzman’s Nostalgia for the Light (photo), Strauss & Anastasion’s The Redemption of General Butt Naked, as well as a nomination of the quality documentary strand POV run by Simon Kilmurry. Personally, as a teacher at the Zelig – School for Documentary in Bolzano – it is wonderful to see two of the five Student Documentary Awards coming from there: Janos Richter and Jakob Stark’s ”Guanape Sur” and Mark Olexa’s ”Heart-Quake”:
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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....