Written 28-02-2011 20:35:41 by Tue Steen Müller
The EU MEDIA programme supported training programme Archidoc, organised by the French film school la fémis had its third and final session February 22-25. At this session the 9 participants, who had been tutored by a team led by Israeli director and editor Erez Laufer, pitched their archive based, creative documentaries to a panel of 16 commissioning editors, distributors and international producers. Contrary to other training programmes, Archidoc takes a focus on the directorial development of projects to be ready to meet the demands of a market.
Archidoc has since 2004 been involved in several strong documentaries that have made their way to festivals and a broader audience in the television landscape. Let me mention the recent huge success of Mila Tutajlic, ”Cinema Komunisto” (photo), which is superbly using archive material from Yugoslav feature films, Latvian Peteris Krilovs ”Gustav Klucis. A Deconstruction of an Artist”, which has been shown all over Europe, Catalan Edmond Roch’s entertaining docufiction ”Garbo, the Spy” and ”Metrobranding” by Romanian Ana Vlad and Adi Voicu.
Filmmakers with projects that need a creative development to reach an international audience should check out the programme that will advertise its 2011/2012 edition on the site of la fémis:
Written 28-02-2011 20:18:03 by Tue Steen Müller
Romain Gary (photo, long after Sofia), also known as Emila Ajar, a legendary French writer, right now subject of a photo exhibition in Paris, was in 1946 sent to Sofia in Bulgaria as a member of the French diplomacy delegation. He was there for two years with his wife Lesley Blanch, had several female relations like one with his Bulgarian secretary, who might have been a spy or just wanted to get help to get out of the country. ”The Bookseller” was the pseudonym given to Gary by the Bulgarian secret service which was following Gary’s life in the Bulgarian capital. The film, to be produced and directed by Assen Vladimirov, veteran in Bulgarian cinema, will be based on the files of the Service, on the memories of Gary, who as a writer was characterised as ”mediocre” by the Service! Vladimirov presented the project in a very entertaining way that fits to the ”funny yet serious” story about a meeting between West and East just after WW2.
Before the war another well known writer and philosopher, Walter Benjamin, was forced into exile in 1933 because of the start of the Nazi hunt on Jews. Benjamin goes to Ibiza, where he stays for one year. While hard times pass in Berlin, Benjamin thinks back on his childhood in the metropol, and starts writing about it. His life on Ibiza and his retro-thinking will be the basis of a film by Andreas Strasser, German director, who has been living in Spain, and who seeks to make the film on the basis of Benjamin’s prose, archive material from the island and from Berlin, as well as archive material made by the director to make Benjamin come alive.
Latvian director Kristine Zelve, however, intends to make a film about a totally unknown Finnish director, Teuvo Tulio, who was born in Latvia and had the nickname Fedya, that will also be the name of the film. Tulio’s name is on a stone monument in his native village, where the inhabitants do not know who he was. A master of melodramatic films, Tulio made his last film in 1972, ”Sensuela”, which was censored as being too erotic, for which reason Tulio withdrew from public life, never made any more films or interviews. In these years he is being taken back to have the recognition he, in the view of many film people, deserves.
Here is only space to mention 3 of the nine projects that were pitched in Paris at the final session of Archidoc. A catalogue can be acquired through:
Written 23-02-2011 14:50:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen
I FOF-Randers' filmklub skal vi i aften se de fire korte film af Jean-Luc Godard og Anne-Marie Miéville, som ECM Records for nogen tid siden udsendte på dvd indlagt i en smuk lille bog. I vores præsentation af filmene tager jeg udgangspunkt i sidste billede i sidste film, en sidevendt skikkelse med ansigtet skjult af et langt hår og bøjet tæt mod et spejl (måske?):
Slutbilledet i den sidste film i serien, den hedder Je vous salue, Sarajevo, er gådefuldt. Hvad er det for en skikkelse, hvad ser denne skikkelse? Fortælleren eller rettere essayisten siger: ”Når det er tid at lukke bogen, vil jeg ikke have flere klager. Jeg har set så mange mennesker leve så ondt, og så mange dø så godt.” Før det billede, før den scene har filmen omhyggeligt undersøgt et enkelt fotografi fra krigen, fra kampen om Sarajevo. To stående soldater (det er vist serbere, men det er lige meget her) mishandler tre liggende personer. De dækker deres hoveder med armene. Omhyggeligt undersøges fotografiet detalje for detalje. En soldat har en cigaret mellem fingrene, mens han samtidigt hæver sin fod for at sparke, sparke kvinden på jorden. Essayisten (Godards stemme) siger: ” I en vis forstand er angsten Guds datter, forløst Langfredag nat. Hun er ikke smuk, hun er spottet, forbandet og fornægtet af alle. Men få ikke galt fat på det. Hun overvåger al dødelig lidelse, hun går i forbøn for menneskeheden. For der er en regel og en undtagelse. Kulturen er reglen, kunsten er undtagelsen. Alle taler reglen: cigaret, computer, t-shirt, tv, turisme, krig. Ingen taler undtagelsen. Den er ikke talt, den er skrevet: Flaubert, Dostojevskij. Den er komponeret: Gershwin, Mozart. Den er malet: Cézanne, Vermeer. Den er filmet: Antonioni, Vigo. Eller den er levet, og så er den livets kunst: Srebrenica, Mostar, Sarajevo. Reglen er at ønske undtagelsen død. Så reglen for Kultureuropa er at organisere døden for den livets kunst, som stadig blomstrer.”
Langt inde i The Old Place, den anden film i kvartetten, kommer et høstbillede med bønder som led i den uafbrydelige strøm af lån og påmindelser fra museets sale og samlinger, som Godard og Miéville kommenterer i deres fortsatte samtale. ”JLG: Når Jean-Francois Millet maler to bønder som beder på en mark og kalder det ’Angelus’ svarer titlen til realiteten. AMM: Når Francis Picabia tegner en bolt og kalder det ’Portræt af en amerikansk pige i nøgenheden’ svarer titlen ikke længere til realiteten. JLG: ’Det er lige meget for mig’, siger Picabia. Efter Duchamp og før Warhol, fuldstændig som caféejeren, når han rækker dig dessertmenuen. Og det var den afgørende vending i malerkunsten. Den anden. Den første var da malerne besluttede at male jordiske kvinder. Det skete næsten fra begyndelsen, men det gjorde ikke Jomfru Maria noget…” Men senere blev det værre og værre og Godard fortsætter sin bekymrede replik med en overvejelse over kunstens kommercialisering. Som slet ikke er en uskyldig sag. Og filmen er en bestilling fra Museum of Modern Art i New York, som ikke får nogen éntydig analyse endsige en hyldest. Men en tankevækkende, foruroligende og måske sorgfuld omvisning i salene.
Jean-Luc Godard og Anne-Marie Miéville lever og arbejder sammen. Laver den ene film efter den anden. Dybe, personlige, radikale, internationale og særegne. Disse fire små film blev altså i 2006 yderst forbavsende gjort alment tilgængelige af Manfred Eichers ECM Records. Sidste år fulgte på Wild Side Video det store værk Film Socialisme, som Godard signerede alene. Miéville laver selvfølgelig også sine egne ting.
Jean-Luc Godard og Anne-Marie Miéville: De l'origine du XXIe siècle, The Old Place, Liberté et patrie og Je vous salue, Sarajevo, Frankrig / Schweiz 1993-2002. 16+46+21+2 min. Bog med dvd, ECM Records 2006.
Written 22-02-2011 12:26:59 by Tue Steen Müller
Readers will know that I teach at Zelig Documentary Film School in Bolzano. 3 of the new students, who are in their first year of study, have recently written reviews of films on this blog and I am happy to update you on the success of several of the graduation films of students who were at the school 2007-2010 and now are out in ”real life”.
Benoit Felici’s ”Unfinished Italy” go to Rome Independent Film Festival in March, to the International Short Film Festival in Barcelona in April and to Indie Lisboa in May.
"Laas-Revuca (Jahrein-Jahraus)" has been nominated for the "Women DoP Award" of Dortmund-Köln's International Women Film Festival (Germany, 12-17 april). Martin Fliri's documentary has been shot by Nina Högg on Kodak 16mm stock. Here is a short annotation of the film: "The South Tyrolean apple business is highly developed and dependent on foreign workers. Mostly male, middle-aged and from one of the new European Union countries, they work several periods throughout the year in local orchards. A documentary film about guest workers and hosts. About homesickness and wanderlust.” The film is 42 mins. long.
Finally, Georg Boch can see his ”Facebook’s ”Adorno Changed My Life”” (photo) advertised on the site of the strong American distributor Icarus Films – together with other new titles like Nicholas Geyerhalter’s ”Elsewhere”, Patricio Guzman’s ”Nostalgia for the Light”, not to forget the classic masterpiece of Marcelæ Ophüls: ”Hotel Terminus”! Not bad for a beginner!
Written 21-02-2011 16:54:57 by Tue Steen Müller
On this blog you have often met the sentence ”East Beats West” referring to this blogger´s enthusiasm for original documentaries from Eastern Europe. The central point for spreading knowledge about the situation, and for stimulating the sector through festivals, workshops, training sessions and brilliant website is the IDF (Institute of Documentary Film) in Prague. IDF has released this press release about ”Czech Documentary Film in 2010. It includes an overview of viewer numbers for Czech Television, cinema attendance, festival awards, funding suppport from the State Fund for the Support and Development of Czech Cinematography, and Czech TV. But also some well argumented worries for the future. I think documentarians in many other countries will nod affirmingly when you read the pro’s and con’s:
Czech documentary film in 2010:
Prague, February 9, 2011 – Czech documentary film did fairly well in 2010. As in the previous year, sixteen documentaries were released in cinemas, yet according to the Association of Film Distributors, documentary films attracted over 160,000 filmgoers, i.e., nearly three times as many compared to 2009.
Read more / Læs mere
Written 20-02-2011 17:50:52 by Tue Steen Müller
It is not new that the NY Museum of Modern Art has a very active film department and a very high quality in selection. Neither is it new that the Museum shows a lot of documentaries. But it is maybe new for many that the programming is as interesting as the one included in the ”Documentary Fortnight 2011: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media”, that runs until February 28. Here is the intro from the site:
Established in 2001, MoMA’s annual two-week showcase of recent nonfiction film and media takes place each February. This international selection of films presents a wide range of creative categories that extend the idea of the documentary form, examines the relationship between contemporary art and nonfiction practices, and reflects on new areas of nonfiction practice. This year’s program includes an international selection of 20 feature films; independent films from China; a look at the legacy of New Day Films, one of the first do-it-yourself film cooperatives; and two documentary performance programs.
The International Film Selection includes films from 14 countries. The opening and closing films are both debut features by British artists—Gillian Wearing’s Self Made and Clio Barnard’s The Arbor. These exciting new works incorporate acting and drama into examinations of reality. Also featured is renowned Chilean director (photo) Patricio Guzman's Nostalgia for the Light, a hauntingly beautiful philosophical rumination on the secrets of the heavens
Read more / Læs mere
Written 19-02-2011 11:51:27 by Tue Steen Müller
The Czech Embassy to Denmark has asked us to recommend the documentary film series written, researched and directed by Lukáš Přibyl. One part was shown in Copenhagen in January, with such a success that the remaining three now are to be presented. The series is unique - take a look at our review of the series from 2009. Here is what the Embassy’s press release says:
When the Holocaust is mentioned, people recall images of tattooed numbers on forearms, children in striped uniforms in Auschwitz or Hitler’s speeches. Forgotten Transports have none of that. “You won’t see Hitler in my films,” says Lukáš Přibyl. “What I’m interested in is when you take a person from a relatively normal life and suddenly throw them into completely apocalyptic conditions – how does that person react?”
Each of the four films focuses on one unique “mode of survival” in the extreme conditions of the camps in Latvia, Belarus, Estonia and Poland. The films employ no present-day footage, only authentic, meticulously researched time-and-place precise materials and the words of witnesses. Out of tens of thousands of Czech Jews deported to the forgotten places in the east, fewer than 300 survived. Lukáš Přibyl managed to find over 70 of them and most of them told their stories for the first time… Based on 400 hours of interviews recorded in 20 countries and 10 years of work, the series offers a surprising picture of survival “as we don't know it”.
Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 19:00: Forgotten Transports to Belarus: Men Who Fought
Tuesday 1 March 2011 at 19:00: Forgotten Transports to Latvia: Family Strength
Tuesday 8 March 2011 at 19:00: Forgotten Transports to Poland: The Human Spirit
… in Husets Biograf, Copenhagen
Written 19-02-2011 11:28:41 by Tue Steen Müller
For our non-Danish readers: The two postings below in Danish language deal with a current scandal in Danish film administration. At least this is what it has been called. In brief: Danish film magazine EKKO publishes an article by journalist René Fredensborg. In this article Fredensborg refers, among other things, to his new carreer as applicant for support for a documentary at DFI (The Danish Film Institute). In gonzo journalistic style he describes his meeting with film consultant Jesper Jack at a project development seminar. After dinner the film consultant offers the applicant cocain which they enjoy together the whole night through. Ten months later the applicant goes public with that information, after he has received 200.000 Dkr (around €27000) for the development of the project. The film consultant is sacked and hell breaks loose over the insinuations in the article that film support is only given to and by people who have gone to the Danish Film School and are close pals.
Front page of the cultural section of the most important Danish newspaper, lots of discussion in the tabloid – and on filmkommentaren.dk below an article by former independent producer and production responsible at DFI, Mikael Opstrup, who, having been on both sides of the desk, rejects having experienced any kind of cronyism and nepotism. Plus a small PS by this blogger on the editorial line of a magazine, EKKO.
Written 18-02-2011 15:45:40 by Tue Steen Müller
Et lille PS til Opstrups mail: Den tarvelige smudskastende artikel i EKKO af René Fredensborg, forsmået ansøger hos Det danske Filminstitut, fik den konsekvens at en filmkonsulent blev fyret. Og Peter Ålbæk kunne så more sig i Berlin med sange, der refererede til den fyrede konsulents navn og stofbrug. Hit the Road Jack... morsomt eller bare gængs dansk morsom ondskabsfuldhed?
Et nærmere kig på bladet, hvori artiklen er bragt, kan kun få hovedet til at ryste og munden til at sige: Jamen, kære redaktion, det hænger jo slet ikke sammen? Er det et filmblad I vil lave? Eller er det sådan lidt-af-hvert, stort og småt, som man kan tillade sig på en con-amore gratis tilgængelig blog som denne, men ikke med en fire-farve-smukt-layout'et trykt ambitiøs publikation, som udkommer med kraftig støtte fra det offentlige. EKKO har fulgt sagen om "Defamation", som udgives på dvd til gang for læserne. Fint. EKKO har interviews med Jesper Christensen og Anthony Dod Mantle. De er gode. Og der er mange andre læsværdige artikler og anmeldelser, men så kommer nogle totalt ligegyldige sider om Oscar'en, nærmest sådan lidt gossip i stil med Fredensborgs udfald. Hvor er linien, hvor er det redaktionelle fokus? Tag jer dog tid til diskussion efter den gigantiske redaktionelle fejldisposition med Fredensborgs artikel. Drop det lette stof, læg det eventuelt ud på jeres nyhedsbrev, det kan man jo bare lade være at få tilsendt. Og drop
Written 17-02-2011 18:48:10 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Mikael Opstrup har overladt os denne mail til EKKOs redaktør Claus Christensen. Opstrup venter stadigvæk på svar. I mellemtiden har vi på Filmkommentaren valgt at bringe den som en slags åben mail:
Kære Claus. Da jeg i dag (11. februar) hørte om afskedigelsessagen mod Jesper Jack blev jeg ked af det, det er dumt og deprimerende hvis en filmkonsulent blander sit private brug af stoffer sammen med sit møde med ansøgere. Det er utilgiveligt og til stor skade for hele støttesystemet.
Så nu var det tid at få læst EKKO, som havde ligget ulæst i op til et døgn hjemme i stuen.
Så blev jeg endnu mere deprimeret.
Jo det er velskrevet og hvis det ikke var for den alvorlige baggrund, også morsomt.
Men hvor var det dog indsnævret og reaktionært. Det hviler på 2 helt afgørende præmisser:
- ’System A’ er et godt projekt, manden har talent
- Filmkonsulenter, redaktører, producere m.m. er en indspist masse, der er fuldstændig ligeglade med film og kvalitet.
Når man ser bort fra underholdningsværdien, kan artiklen ikke ses som andet end den underkendte uden-for-eliten’s møde med en indforstået elites arrogante nedladenhed. Folkets møde med parnasset. Vi sidder på magten og hvor er vi dog ligeglade med dem, der skaber kunsten. Det var som at læse Fremskridtspartiets partiprogram omsat til dagsaktuel reportage.
Det kan man jo heller ikke udelukke kan finde sted. Men nu kender jeg tilfældigvis de fleste af dem, som Fredensborg omtaler i artiklen. Og jeg kan ikke få det til at stemme. Er det niveauet, er det sådan beslutningerne tages? Har jeg helt misforstået de seneste par årtier?
Jeg kender begge positioner. Jeg har i mange år, som du ved, været producer og dermed ansøger på filminstituttet. Og jeg har været ansat på DFI i 4 år. Jeg kender begge sider af skrivebordet og det har været meget lærerigt. De sidste 2 år har jeg været hverken-eller. Jeg har med andre ord ikke noget i klemme.
En diskussion om støttesystemer og konsulenter er altafgørende vigtig, men denne artikel er vel det mest indsnævrede udgangspunkt, man kan forestille sig. For ét er den konkrete ageren af Jesper Jack, noget andet er artiklens indforståede kontekst, som er det der står tilbage, nu hvor der er indledt afskedigelsessag mod manden. Det synes jeg ikke skal stå uimodsagt. Jeg stiller gerne op. Kærlig hilsen Mikael.
Jeg har i dag 18. juni 2011 modtaget denne mail fra Claus Christensen med anmodning om, at den bliver bragt her på siden:
"Årsagen til, at jeg aldrig har besvaret Mikael Opstrups henvendelse, er den banale, at Ekkos server var nede i det døgn, hvor mailen blev sendt. Jeg har derfor aldrig modtaget mailen, men kan forsikre jer om, at Opstrups udmærkede indlæg ville være blevet bragt sammen med de mange andre kritiske indlæg, som Ekko fik tilsendt om konsulentsagen og straks bragte på hjemmesiden www.ekkofilm.dk. I Ekko er debatten fri, og der er højt til loftet, også når det er magasinet, som bliver kritiseret. Hvad Opstrups spørgsmål angår, vil jeg henvise til lederen i Ekko #53, hvor vi kommenterer debatten, takker for de mange indlæg og for vores del afrunder sagen.
Mikael Opstrup skrev med det samme i dag, da Claus Christensen sendte ham og mig besked om, at han aldrig havde fået hans mail, sådan:
Tak for din mail. Da du jo udelukkende forholder dig til den redaktionelle indledning og ikke substansen i mit indlæg, har jeg sådan set ikke mere at tilføje. Andet end, at mailen ligger i min ’Sendt’ boks, afsendt d. 11.2.2011 kl. 20:02 til Claus Christensen. Bare til din information.
Og det er altså hvad Christensen svarer på og forklarer. Jamen, så er sagen jo opklaret. Jeg (ABN) kan kun konkludere, at nu kan Claus Christensen jo bringe Opstrups indlæg i Ekko og måske kommentere det. Men hvis han forståeligt vurderer, diskussionen om støttesystemer og konsulenter nu er forældet i Ekko, kan han af hensyn til Historien kommentere den her, og måske revitalisere den, så den kan flyttes til forsiden, hvad det principielle indhold i Opstrups tekst kunne indbyde til.
Jeg skrev dengang, at Filmkommentaren i ventetiden bragte Opstrups indlæg. Jeg tænkte ikke på, at Ekko ville droppe det, glemme det eller noget. Blot, at de nok havde meget travlt der på bladet. Nu ved jeg så, at de også havde maskinskade. Det hele er opklaret, og alt er i orden.
Written 17-02-2011 11:13:30 by Tue Steen Müller
First year student at Zelig Documentary film school, Anke Riester, watched this neo-classic for the first time. Here is the review:
For 40 years, Mr. Vig, a 82-year old bachelor from Denmark had a dream: to transform his run-down castle in the heart of the Danish countryside into a Orthodox Russian monastery. Finally his dream seems to come true as the Moscow Patriarchate sends 3 nuns, headed by Sister Ambrosija, to Denmark to get the castle into shape for the final goal. After a lot of renovation works they move in and the castle is approved by the Patriarchate. From now on the nuns share the life of the old man who used to live alone for decades.
The filmmaker follows Mr. Vig in a very intimate way through all the ups and downs that are caused by these new arrangements. The well-educated elderly man is a character every filmmaker is after. He carries the whole film so intensely that as soon as he leaves the frame it becomes hard for the viewer to stay focused. These pauses are filled with images of landscapes which are all mostly similar and too long for “taking a breath”.
The close relationship between Mr. Vig and the filmmaker makes the viewer feel as if he lives next door and this makes it easy to sympathize with this very special old man and his century-old dream. Mr. Vig often forgets the camera and just sees and talks to the person behind it. This gives the movie a very authentic and natural feel as well as a deep insight into the world of his protagonist.
The editing style is very obvious. The cuts are clearly visible, jumping bravely from one situation to another within the interviews with Mr. Vig, combining different parts of his sentences. This technique gives the viewer a feeling of honesty instead of interrupting the flow of the film.
The only problem is that the theme of realising a dream didn´t seem to be enough for the director. She is very determined to try to create a forced love story between Mr. Vig and Sister Ambrosija. This would not would have been necessary because the main story works well enough.The film is even ending with Vig´s death and a citation of a letter that Sister Ambrosija wrote to him after his passing away. In my opinion it would have been a perfect ending to see which dimension Vig´s dream of monastery had finally reached. The end leaves the viewer alone with this unfulfilled expectation. Still it´s a unique story and definitely worth watching.
Denmark, 2006, 84 mins.
PS. “The Monastery” has been reviewed and reported upon several times on this blog.
Written 16-02-2011 10:19:56 by Tue Steen Müller
Livia Romano, first year student at the Zelig Documentary Film School in Bolzano has written this review:
"One, two, three .... MARCH FORWARD!"
Three stories, three different ages, three growth processes take us into the world of an adolescence which is in some ways already too grown-up: a seven-year-old boy who talks about the impending separation of his parents, a boy who speaks about the economical crisis during his lunch break, another one who asks a marshal if he has never been afraid to shoot or even a child who should note down everything his comrades do. However, fantasy and game will not succumb under the weight of arms: the mini-cars, piano, first loves, bike rides, games on the bank of a river, yet possible to dream of a childhood devoid of color. The main storyline of the boys is intercut with images of the city, characterized by shades of grey and desaturated colours, underlining well the anxiety and fear of growing up.
Private thoughts and diary entries blend into the tune of an ethereal soundtrack that seems from one hand to give a breath to the dreams of the cadets, on the other to accentuate the coldness and rigidity of the school where everything must be perfectly in order. This intimate approach is emphasized by delicate camerawork that seems to lightly slide from one story to another as the last tracking shot from one face to another shows.
This is a portrait with special stories that could lead each of us back into our own childhood to the dreams buried there.
Poland, 2010, 34 mins.
Written 15-02-2011 09:19:29 by Tue Steen Müller
Lucia Alessi, first year student at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano, Italy writes this review:
In the extreme north of Russian Federation, along the twelve thousand kilometres who divide the country from the Arctic Sea, there are twelve military bases, which were set up in the fifties to defend the borders of the Soviet Union. There, in “The edge of Russia”, Aleksey, a 19 year old new rookie, has to learn how to face such a hostile nature, gain the respect of his superiors,and be prepared for a foreign attack, which actually will never arrive. The Polish director Michal Marczak carefully moves between the opposites of life, the extremes which make people face themselves.
In a place where going abroad just takes one step, a breath, maybe the same breath that Aleksey learns to hold when his body is freezing, all that is left is just some small black completely isolated spots in the white of the north, uniforms which lost their souls in vodka fumes and the melancholy of old songs, which have nothing but their own past, their previous lives, that can never be shared in that senseless, dehumanizing base. Where a man doesn't manage to trust his own wife, but is ready to keep his hand under the axe of his mate. Where the only connection to the real world is a Putin portrait on a wall and the celebrations of the Victory day.
An amazing camera brings us into the deep of their daily life, the small details which build up the days, where nothing happens and everything repeats, in a suspended waiting-for-nothing atmosphere, worthy of the most famous of Beckett's plays.
Alone in front of themselves, these men are all “boiling in the same pot”, in a symbiothic relation, which will develop their psychical and physical strength. Forced to live a complete faked life, they will learn day by day how to face the unreality to live in a place where no blade of grass grows, to be prepared for an attack that, up to now, has never been, keeping on with a paranoia of the most scary power of the twentieth century, which does not exist any longer.
Poland, 2009, 72 mins.
Written 13-02-2011 23:35:21 by Tue Steen Müller
This is how Danish veteran Leth is characterised on the site of the coming ZagrebDox (February 27 – March 6) in a quite interesting intro text, that also has a greeting to what is called Danish puritans:
“Can ‘eroticism’ be measured? Can it be limited or defined? In his latest film, one of the most significant documentary filmmakers of today, 73-year-old Jørgen Leth (‘The Perfect Human’, ‘The Five Obstructions’) travelled from North Africa to Rio in order to register the form and sense of eroticism, refusing to accept it as a part of the dominant currents of new Puritanism and/or commercialised video-style eroticism of ‘fake breasts and backsides’.
Quite predictably, Leth’s sensual, poetic and unbiased exploration of human eroticism, created during the course of ten years, was harshly criticised by reviewers (The Variety describes Leth’s accomplishment as shameful) and Danish puritans, calling the author ‘controversial’. Another unfavourable element was the fact that Leth, as an honorary ambassador to Haiti, was involved in an intimate relationship with his cook’s under-age daughter, describing the episode in his memoirs ‘Imperfect Man’ and causing great controversy in Denmark.”
For the festival programme in total, festival leader Nenad Puhovski has again made a choice of high quality, check the site below.
Written 13-02-2011 22:10:37 by Tue Steen Müller
The excellent vod (video on demand) portal DocAlliance, a collaboration between the five documentary film festivals in Copenhagen, Leipzig, Jihlava, Warsaw and Nyon, introduces a Valentine’s Day gift from tomorrow. Here is the text from the site:
“As part of the online film display about various (per)versions of love, the portal will present 10 films for free stream. One of the most successful Danish films from the past years, Mechanical Love (Photo), deals with the strong emotional bond between people and robots. Blind Loves by Juraj Lehotský is a fragile parable about most intimate emotions and feelings of blind people; the film was awarded at the Cannes film festival. By means of amateur family films, the powerful story of Josef and Marie is told on the backdrop of turbulent historical events in Czechoslovakia in the film With Kisses from Your Love, a part of the successful cycle Private Century by Jan Šikl. Perverted forms of love between people and their pets are captured in the provocative and brutal stage-managed documentary Animal Love by Ulrich Seidl.”
And if you profit from this generosity, why not make a pay-back by ordering (for a pretty low price) some of the brilliant films that DocAlliance has online. For instance several films by masters like Sergey Loznica and Marcel Lozinski.
Written 10-02-2011 11:00:19 by Tue Steen Müller
The Italian director Andrea Deaglio and his Turin Based production company Babydoc pass on the information that their film ”Il futuro del mondo passa da qui”, with the subtitle ”City Veins”, has been selected for the festival Cinema du Réel, March 24- April 5.
The film has been highly praised on this site, here are some words from the review of a film that was not taken for the Leipzig and Amsterdam festivals but now will take a strong step internationally, very well deserved:
”an honest, truthful and distant view, and this is why you stay linked to the screen where you also get many interesting and surprising camera angles. In other words – welcome to a non-mainstream documentary film talent.”
Take a look at the website - it has clips, photos, a book has been published. Serious quality work.
Written 10-02-2011 10:41:00 by Tue Steen Müller
"Guanape Sur" by Jànos Richter has been selected for the Premiers Pas section of "Visions du reel", that runs in Nyon Switzerland from 7-13.April 2011. The director graduated from the Zelig Documentary Film School in Bolzano last year. His film, with brilliant camera work by Jakob Stark, has been quite a festival succes: IDFA Students competition, Amsterdam 2010.
Here is a very accurate and intriguing description of the film: A barren rock island off the coast of Peru. No soil, no water, but hundreds of thousands of birds. For a period of ten years, only two guards may live on Guañape Sur. In the eleventh year though, hundreds of workers arrive for the harvest of the birds' excrement.
A long line of men stand on a Peruvian beach. Life vests are handed out. A small boat bobs in the breakers, waiting to take them to a ship further out. A voice from onboard calls out, "Lima is calling! Why this delay?" And then the ship takes the men to Guañape Sur, a guano island 15 miles off the coast of Peru. Once every 11 years, a group of around 200 men spend eight months on this barren cliff - barely deserving of the epithet "island" - collecting the excrement that the hundreds of thousands of seabirds deposit on the land here. Rare meteorological conditions mean that rain does not wash away the excrement. Instead, it hardens to form a layer rich in phosphor and ammonia, which means that it is an excellent fertilizer. But first it must be chipped off, and that is dangerous work: bacteria in the excrement can cause illness or even death. Slow shots show the men as they climb on and off the cliff, shrouded in clouds of powdered excrement, heavy sacks on their backs. A record of a bizarre phenomenon.
Director: Jànos Richter. Camera: Jakob Stark. 24 mins., 2010
http://www.zeligfilm.it/ (trailer for the film)
Written 09-02-2011 09:12:19 by Tue Steen Müller
Mila Turajlic’s Cinema Komunisto closed the Magnificent/ Festival in Belgrade a bit more than a week ago. The reception was overwhelmingly positive and the film is now up for a theatrical release.
The organisers of the festival Svetlana and Zoran Popovic proudly write: The film is quite a hit and it goes to cinemas in two days. That is great and even the producer was surprised with that possibility. It will be in four cinemas in Belgrade and also in the only cinema in Novi Sad. That would be fantastic even for a fiction film. For documentary, this is far beyond anyones expectation.
Photo (taken by documentary colleague Boris Mitic): The domestic premiere of “Cinema Komunisto” was the closing film of the Magnificent 7 Festival, screening in the large auditorium of the Sava Center before a packed audience. The public showed a great interest for the first Serbian documentary ever programmed in the history of the festival. Following the screening the members of the crew were introduced on stage, along with two of the film’s principal characters – production designer Veljko Despotovic and film star Velimir Bata Živojinović.
Written 09-02-2011 08:52:24 by Tue Steen Müller
Almost 3 years ago we brought a review of a film signed by Geert Wilders, Fitna – the Movie, an anti-islam 16 mins. long visual pamphlet that stirred a lot of debate – it is to be watched online, if you wish.
Last year Dutch directors van der Valk and Mags Gavan set off to make a film about Wilders, who has now positioned himself and his right-wing, racist party as a supporter of the sitting government in the Netherlands. The ambition of the filmmakers were to get close to Wilders to get an interview. They do not succeed. Thus the film is more about them not succeeding going from place to place where Wilders goes, or comes from, small-talking to people who agree or disagree with him. Mixed with a lot of archive from speeches by Wilders in parliament or in London or... whatever, whereever... it stays superficial, there is nothing we did not know in beforehand in this film about a frustrated filmmaker in his sofa or at his computer trying to get access. If he is not out doing some vox-pop. Creative documentary, no. Good Journalism, no.
Seen on Dokumania, DR2, February 8 2011.
Netherlands, 2010, 79 mins.
Written 08-02-2011 16:18:43 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Carsten Olsen fra filminstitutet meddeler at Nils Vests Et raadhus… nu kan ses på Filmstriben. Han skriver om filmen: ”Arkitekten Martin Nyrop var den kreative kraft bag tegningen og opførelen af Københavns Rådhus. Filmen er en rejse ind i Nyrops tanker og den samtid og politiske virkelighed Nyrop levede i. Rådhuset stod færdigt i 1905. Men det skete ikke uden kampe med diverse politikere, der havde deres egne dagsordner. Resultatet blev efter mere end femten års arbejde et arkitektonisk hovedværk.
Ifølge filmens instruktør Nils Vest taler arkitekturen sit helt eget sprog – et sprog, han lader komme til orde i sin film. "Rådhuset har med sin fantastiske detaljerigdom mange kvaliteter, som er blevet glemt af modernisterne. Det står stort set uden ombygninger, og det gør det kun, fordi det er et så velfungerende hus," fortæller Nils Vest, der mener at bygningen har meget at fortælle os i dag. "Min film kan ses som en nøgle, der gør det nemmere for seeren selv at gå på opdagelse med øjet i rådhuset, der på unik vis kombinerer det nordiske med det italienske."
Nils Vest blev i 2010 tildelt den ærefulde Europa Nostra bevaringspris for sit arbejde med arkitekturhistoriske film og for sin utrættelige kamp for at bevare gamle bymiljøer. Europa Nostra er den europæiske paraplyorganisation for 250 frivillige og aktive bevaringsorganisationer fra hele Europa.”
Written 08-02-2011 15:40:21 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Claus Christensen, redaktør på EKKO skriver i en mailmeddelelse i dag: ”Den kritiske film om fænomenet ”antisemitisme”, som DR2 har tøvet med at vise i snart to år, følger gratis med det nye nummer af Ekko.
Written 07-02-2011 11:05:36 by Tue Steen Müller
It was a proud Joan Gonzalez, director of DocsBarcelona, who texted me this morning. In the newspaper Vanguardia, page 2, Gonzalez was given a ”GreenLight”, a tribute that is given to people, who has done something special for their profession – as Gonzalez has done in Catalunya through the building up of a documentary culture in his country: training of young people, distribution through the Documentary of the Month, a pitching forum that has been running for 14 years, a 5 year old documentary film festival, and many other things.
Below – yes below – the photo of Gonzalez there was a photo of a man, who is world wide famous for his coaching, of a football team, the local one, the best team in the world at this moment: Guardiola.
That Gonzalez is also a great coach who can create team spirit is so very much visible when you are at DocsBarcelona and sense the ambiance that surrounds the event. Staff members and volunteers do all they can to make the best possible service for the audience and the guests. And they do it in a professional way!
I have known Joan for 15 years, he can be proud of what he has achieved for the documentary community in Barcelona and elsewhere – including the Latin America that he loves so much. Step by Step as he has said from the very beginning. A pleasure to work with and for you, Senor!
Written 07-02-2011 08:12:33 by Tue Steen Müller
It was the first time that DocsBarcelona included awards. At the fifth edition of the festival statuettes and cash prizes were distributed. €6000 was given to the film “Foreign Parts” (photo) by Verena Paravel and J.P. Sniadecki. The description of the film follows here:
“A hidden enclave in the shadow of the New York Mets' new stadium, the neighbourhood of Willets Point is an industrial zone fated for demolition. Filled with scrapyards and auto salvage shops, lacking sidewalks or sewage lines, the area seems ripe for urban development. But Foreign Parts discovers a strange community where wrecks, refuse and recycling form a thriving commerce. Cars are stripped, sorted and catalogued by brand and part, then resold to an endless parade of drive-thru customers. Joe, the last original resident, furious, tries to contest his imminent eviction. Two lovers, Sara and Luis, struggle for food and safety through the winter while living in an abandoned van. Julia, the homeless queen of the junkyard, exalts in her beatific visions of daily life among the forgotten. The film observes and captures the struggle of a contested -eminent domain-neighbourhood before its disappearance under the capitalization of New York's urban ecology.”
The TV3 Award for Human Rights with a cash prize of €4500 was given to the well known big work “Enemies of the People” by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, that includes the ambition of the latter to uncover the truth behind the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge.
Four other awards were given – “Teen & Docs Award”, “Kids & Docs Award”, “TV3 New Filmmaker’s Award” and “Audience Award”.
Foreign Parts, 2010, USA, 80mins.
Enemies of the People, 2010, UK & Cambodia, 86 mins.
Written 06-02-2011 13:27:32 by Tue Steen Müller
... hopefully, because there were many talented directors with interesting and intriguing project proposals at the 14th edition of the Pitching Forum in Barcelona, see below. This posting does not allow to mention all the 23 projects which were presented, you will get 3 of them, which I both hope and think will be completed within the next couple of years:
Local director Albert Solé (known for the Goya Prize awarded ”Bucharest, Memory Lost”) presented a film project to be directed by Sebastian Alfie. ”Gabor” is the name of the film, referring to the blind photographer and d.o.p, of Hungarian origin, who lives in Spain and runs a renting company for equipment. The film is about him and the young director, their friendship and their ambition to make a film together. High quality material, a charismatic main protagonist and a chance also to look back to his Hungarian past.
Young producer Dagne Vildziunaite from Lithuania was very convincing in her presentation of a film about ”The Father”, a seventy year old former criminal (in Soviet times), who in his late years has settled down in the countryside to lead a true and honest family life. The production company (”Just a Moment” has shot the film and the producer was in Barcelona to seek interest and look for fresh eyes, an editor who can complete the film. In the audience several editors queued up to help to get the film to a rough cut stage – enabling several of the broadcasters to make a pre-buy.
Greek director Marianna Economou launched her ”Flying Food” (previously presented and written about on this site) – a film about Greek mothers who make sure that their sons get good and healthy food wherever they live outside Greece. To be taken by plane to foreign destinations. The interest was big and the panel at DocsBarcelona was discussing whether the sons, who get the food should be in the film as well, and what about the girl friends of the sons, and the daughters of the mothers...
Written 06-02-2011 12:37:58 by Tue Steen Müller
... edition number 14 it was on February 3 and 4. For those readers who are not familiar with the terminology – pitching in the film world is about filmmakers throwing film ideas and proposals to broadcasters, film funds, sales agents and distributors. There were 23 of the makers at the DocsBarcelona and 29 of the film proposal receivers at the table. All was professionally organised at this public pitch where a lot of people had signed up to observe. I had the pleasure – together with Mikael Opstrup from EDN (European Documentary Network) – to moderate the two day session.
The Forum is a very good moment to check the status of the market, when it comes to television and the so-called creative documentary. Although the panelists (15 out of the 29 mentioned) were extremely supportive, and encouraging in their constructive criticism, it was obvious that they were no longer able to take risks on an international level. They have to play safe and ask for more material to watch, in many cases at a rough cut stage and in others, the comment was ”this will be a possibility for acquisition” when it has been done. For that reason DocsBarcelona could be considered the promotional step for many talents to have their proposal given a first check by competent people. Like Jenny Westergaard from YLE, who told the audience that the Finnish broadcaster is undergoing a restructuring process with a new management where things will be changed at the most internationally orientated broadcaster in Europe. Like Ali Delici, first time at the DocsBarcelona, commissioning editor from Arte France, dealing with arts and culture, a man with a good sense for the young filmmakers, as has Reinhart Lohmann from ZDF/arte who is working with thematical evenings for the European cultural channel. On the Spanish side Andrés Luque from the public broadcaster TVE was there for the first time to give us all the impression of a classical broadcaster that goes for strong content, whereas veteran Jordi Ambros from the local TV3 has a slot for more artistic documentaries that he coproduces when there is a Catalan producer involved, and buys from all over the world. Roberto Blatt, however, runs Chello Multicanal that includes a lot of thematic channels, and also he is a committed and enthusiastic film lover, who often said that he would help the filmmakers to have their works financed.
The distributors around the table were Peter Jäger from Autlook in Austria and Gitte Hansen from First Hand Films in Switzerland. They both have strong titles in their catalogue and I am sure they will pick up projects from this DocsBarcelona when they are further developed. Market-wise, these two companies think of both broadcasters, festivals and cinema releases, the audience is to be found not only in television but also at other – to use a modern term – platforms.
Written 05-02-2011 20:13:32 by Tue Steen Müller
Greenaway needs no big introduction and no need to stress his importance for European cinema as a master constantly searching for new possibilities for expression. I was not able to attend (with 300 others) his masterclass, that he – taken from the website of the festival – introduced in the following way:
“We are all aware that great changes are happening in the world of cinema and film - the old verities are no longer with us. The superstructures, infrastructures, audience participations, distribution patterns, audience
This lecture-talk of NEW POSSIBILITIES is full of examples - multiple-screening, environmental screening, “immersion” screening, combinations of genre-manipulation, VJ-ing, presenting non-narrative-multi-image-cinema ventures, cinema deconstructions, cinema reconstructed deconstructions – all indicating a toe in the ocean of new possibilities that are rising up over all the horizons”.
For newcomers in the world of Peter Greenaway, take a look at his website. Impressive filmography, indeed.
Written 05-02-2011 17:29:33 by Tue Steen Müller
... indeed they are, as it was proved at the 14th edition of the DOCSBarcelona pitching forum section. With the help of Ibermedia, a financial support mechanism that links the Iberian countries Spain and Portugal with countries in Latin America, a Latin Forum for the presentation of projects were launched. 6 projects had been selected – the Brasilian Elisa Capai’s visually energetic, powerful ”African Women”, Agustina Macri’s ”Carnacalypse”, a fake documentary that treats the subject ”what if there was no more meat in Argentina” in a global food production frame, Sergio Lopez visually exciting proposal about miners, ”Con la noche dentro”, Lorena Torréns exciting and well developed homo-sexual docucomedy ”Timoteo´s Fabulous Ragged Circus”, Colombian Jorge Caballero’s Wiseman-inspired ”Birth” and finally the charming and sensual clip presentation of ”Reynecita” by Paula Schargorodsky, who presented her personal love failure in comparison with that of her grandmother.
There was so much energy and creativity in the 6 presenting persons as well as in ”Avant” by the team from Uruguay, Julio Alvarez and Virginia Bogliolo. The film will deal with the action taken by world class ballet dancer Julio Bocca (photo), who moves to Uruguay to make his Sodre National Ballet internationally relevant.
... will come to a festival, and maybe a television channel, near you.
Written 03-02-2011 08:39:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Filmen skal handle om lovens bud du må ikke vidne falsk mod din næste, sagde Iikka Vehkalahti, da han bad Honkasalo lave den, og hun brugte i sin synopsis den endnu tydeligere engelske formulering Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, det er den konkrete nabo, det handler om, der i ørkenen, der i bjergene, og hun kom med sit vældige filmværk til at fundere over fjendebilledets opståen. ”Det er en skønhedsmættet meditation over mennesket fanget i voldelig konflikt uden ende og uden nåde. Et rekviem over de levende og de døde” skrev Stephen Holden i New York Times efter premieren i Film Forum i South Village.
Rekviets tre satser skildrer som tre led, Longing, Breathing og Remembering i denne dødsmesse først livet blandt 9 til 14 årige drenge på det russiske militærakademi på Kronstadt, dernæst i illegale optagelser fra det sønderskudte Grosnij, en kvindes uselviske arbejde med på helt eget initiativ at redde så mange børn som muligt ud af husenes og familiernes ruiner og endelig blandt hende og børnene i asyl i en af Ingusjiens flygtningelejre, hvor Kronstadt-elevernes kommende fjender dannes i deres anderledes kultur med modsatrettede billeder af fjenden. Der fældes ingen domme i dette filmværk, hændelserne betragtes med opmærksomhed, undren og vemod.
Vi så filmen i aftes på Den Skandinaviske Designskole, og vi indså, at da filmen jo er optaget i 2002-2003, vil de medvirkende bløde og klarøjede russiske og tjetjenske drenge, vi har lært at kende i filmen, i dag måske være i hård og blind krig med hinanden. Som i Dubrovka teateret i Moskva dengang, i den internationale lufthavn forleden, i Grosnij snart igen. Måske, sandsynligvis.. Falske vidnesbyrd, gengældelse, hævn.
Vi lyttede til Pirja Honkasalos egensindigt langsomme, insisterende og uafrystelige filmværk, som bestemt er et rekviem. Det hørte vi måske tydeligst i komponistens (Sanna Salmenkallios) og den kongeniale kontratenors fortolkning af en lille række digte, som en af Kronstadt-kadetterne har skrevet. Ja, sådan forstod vi det. Og vi blev i den kirkelige kunsts store figurer, vi talte om, at billederne, scenerne, forløbene med sikre hænder (Niels Pagh Andersens og Honkasalos) er anbragt som tre messeled, i de tre rum, titlen taler om, og de fremtræder i én ubrudt fremadskriden i en trefløjet altertavles, i et triptykons form. Originaltitlen er jo netop The 3 Rooms of Melancholia, og filmrummene, svarende til de middelalderlige altertavlers malede og billedskårne felter eller fløje, dukker op ved siden af hinanden som tre samtidige fremstillinger med overskrifterne Kronstadt (Longing), Grozny (Breathing) og Ingushetia (Remembering). Tre vigtige steder og tre store følelser.
Pirjo Honkasalo: The 3 Rooms of Melancholia, Finland 2004. Manuskript og kamera: Pirjo Honkasalo. Klip: Niels Pagh Andersen og Pirjo Honkasalo. Lyd: Mart Otsa m. fl. Lyddesign: Martti Turunen. Musik: Sanna Salmenkallio. Produktion: Millennium Film, Kristiina Pervilä. Honkasalos filmografi (danske udgivelser): Mysterion, 1991. Tanjuska og de 7 djævle, 1993, kan lånes på biblioteket. Atman, 1996, kan lånes på biblioteket. Melancholia, 2004. Kan lånes på biblioteket eller ses på www.filmstriben.dk
Written 01-02-2011 11:06:54 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Det kan som nævnt i Ekko og her på siden være vanskeligt at komme til at se Shamirs vigtige film. I dag er det muligt. 22:00 sendes den på svensk tv. SVT1 i aften klokken ti.
Senere (2. februar): Nå, jeg blev jo fanget af TV2 News lange aften om det ægyptiske drama og regnede med at se Defamation på SVT's hjemmeside her til morgen. Men nej! Jeg bor ikke i Sverige, og de har kun købt de svenske rettigheder, ser det ud til. Streamingen blev blokeret. Men jeg håber at finde en løsning. Nu VIL jeg se den film..
Igen lidt senere: .. nå, hvor svært kan det være.. her kan den åbenbart ses.. på netavisen P77.
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