Written 27-04-2011 16:18:54 by Tue Steen Müller
Zanda Dudina from the National Film Centre in Latvia read my text about the film on Rudolf Ming, see below. She tells me that Rudolf – 13 at the time of the film, 16 today – now have a real camera and continues to make films. He also has a website where works of him can be watched. From publicity material for the HotDocs screenings, here is an edited text by filmmaking talent Rudolf himself:
Parallel to my regular studies I also attend music and art school, a folk dancing group and choir rehearsals, and train for the biathlon.
It all started when I went to see a movie “by myself” for the first time. By myself. I guess it was the right film at the right moment – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. This film really spoke to me, and after I watched it I firmly decided that I too will be part of the film world.
The first challenge I needed to solve was how to shape my ideas into a form that others would be able to watch. Because (small problem) – I didn’t have one bit of technology that I could use to make a real film. After thinking about it for a long time I came up with the idea to make paper films – drawing my film plots on strips of paper that I then put into an old projector that my Mother had used to show us Russian folk stories. I was around 11 years-old at the time. The pseudonym Rūdolf Ming came from the paper film period when I
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Written 27-04-2011 11:12:59 by Tue Steen Müller
It seems to be in the middle of nowhere, and isolated it is, what was meant to be (25 years ago) a place to live, in noble decency, planned to house the Romas by the socialist government. Today block 20 is a pigpen with no water and often no electricity, with garbage all over, people throwing their swill from the balconies, and doing shit anywhere, rats all over. Disgusting living conditions.
The director has chosen a complicated, yet interesting structure. Upfront and towards the last part of the film, she goes with hardcore social documentation: Inside and outside the appartments, talking faces, stories about the unbelievable poverty and why they choose to stay here (what could the alternative be?). In some cases she goes close, in others she stays with a distance. There is a dynamic pace in the narrative, no sentimentalism, this is how it is, carried by a strong musical score. In between there are some staged sequences, for instance with an albino, whose enigmatic silent role in the film I never really understood.
... and then documentation is taken over by Fellini! A marriage is going to be, and colourful and entertaining it becomes with the young couple’s appartment being painted, everyone getting dressed up, music, dance, food, happiness, and a sign saying ”Paradise Hotel”. The director makes a point, dreams of a better world with her protagonists for whom you can only have empathy.
The market is full of films about romas and the living conditions, this is one of the better ones.
Bulgaria, 2010, 54 mins., HBO Central Europe & Agitprop
Written 27-04-2011 10:21:23 by Tue Steen Müller
Good news it is that this Latvian documentary, produced by the studio that carries the name of documentary legend Juris Podnieks, has made it to the Hot Docs festival (see below) and will have three screenings in Toronto in the coming week. It is one of those stories that at first glance seems simple, but actually is multi-layered and leaves you a bit puzzled. There is much more than you see in the straight forward narration about Rudolf Ming and his obsessive talent for making films, or rather drawing films on parchment paper and let it pass through a projector. There is more in Rudolf, anger maybe, a dark side, unwillingness to adapt to normality, even if he seems to be surrounded by a nice family, he is an outsider and the drawing and the piano playing is his escape to the phantasy world. Why is there so much blood in your (horror) film, is the comment of the kind priest, who has discovered Rudolf’s talent and asks him to make a (religious motive) film to be screened in the church. The conversations between priest and Rudolf are the red thread of the film. At one point Rudolf says, I hate films about love... one day that will be a theme for him, of course it will, if he continues to make films. Now he is presented in Canada, a country with a tradition for drawn films, Norman McLaren in memoriam. Not bad, not bad at all!
Latvia, 60 mins., 2010
Festival contacts: National Film Centre of Latvia,: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written 25-04-2011 12:14:13 by Tue Steen Müller
Want to share this beautiful photo from Belgrade, from Svetlana and Zoran Popovic, Magnificent7, European feature documentary festival, next edition January 2012.
Written 24-04-2011 11:06:23 by Tue Steen Müller
Good news for the documentary interested audience in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Monthly Documentary in May at the Film House is Leonard Retel Helmrich’ masterpiece “Position Among the Stars” that runs every day from Thursday May 5 till Wednesday May 11. First a clip from the intro of the Film House, in Danish, and then quotes from what we wrote after the film won the first prize at idfa 2010. Go and watch the film:
“Leonard Retel Helmichs hjertevarme og sorthumoristiske portræt af en indonesisk familie i et slumkvarter i Jakarta vandt hovedprisen på verdens største dokumentarfilmfestival (IDFA) og på Sundance-festivalen. Via portrættet af Shamsuddin-familien demonstrerer Retel Helmrich, hvordan globaliseringsbølgens krusninger brydes med lokale sociale omvæltninger i det moderne Indonesien, herunder begyndende demokrati, generationskonflikter, voksende indkomstforskelle og opblomstringen af militant islamisme.”
”Position among the Stars” is third part of a trilogy about a family in Indonesia. 6 years after his second film about the family Sjamsuddin, three generations, the director Helmrich presents one more big humanistic epic that can be compared to Satayit Ray’s Apu-trilogy. Helmrich goes or rather flies from situation to situation, his camera is constant moving, there is an outstanding flow in the narrative, and he is met with open arms and minds by his characters. You sense that they like him, like he likes them, but empathy is of course not enough to make an exceptional film like this – the director knows his stoytelling dramaturgy, he knows to play with contrasts: countryside/big city, young/old, old world/modern life, and he does it through scenes with the warm and loving grandmother, her sometimes desperate son, who is a representative for the local community, split as he is between his mother’s generation and his niece, the teenage girl, the hope of the family, who is the one who must have an education, the first one in the family. There is a development of the characters in the film. There is laughter and tears.
Hemrich is using the Single Shot Cinema technique, a style he developed and perfected himself. He chooses to actively engage with his subject rather than remaining a neutral outsider - a position that typifies Direct Cinema. He aims to record events from the inside, not observe from a distance. To achieve this, he created the Steadywing, a construction that allows the filmmaker to move the camera continually in an exceptionally fluid and intuitive way - as he did among the family members featured in his trilogy. Helmrich's invention has proved to be an inspiration for an entire generation of young filmmakers.
Written 23-04-2011 12:14:45 by Tue Steen Müller
Conversations with documentary filmmakers from Italy is always full of head shaking over the situation in Italian television, which is basically run by the main character in Italian documentary of today: Silvio Berlusconi. There are public funding mechanisms, and they do what they can for very limited budgets, and there are production companies, who know the international market possibilities, out of necessity! But still documentary filmmaking, in terms of financing, in Italy, compared to other Mediterranean countries, is more a nightmare than a profession!
Nevertheless, it is very positive to see that there is talent around that deserves attention – as you can see at the ”Made in Italy” section at the Hot Docs festival that are about to start in Toronto. There are films by established names like Gianfranco Rosi (”El Sicario”, photo) and Sabina Guzzanti (”Draquila – Italy Trembles”), but also two Zelig film school graduation films, ”Guanape Sur” by Janos Richter, and ”Heart-Quake” by Mark Olexa.
Written 22-04-2011 23:39:44 by Tue Steen Müller
If idfa in Amsterdam is the biggest in Europe, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is North America's largest documentary festival, conference and market. It returns for its 18th annual edition from April 28 to May 8, 2011. Showcasing the best Canadian and international documentaries, Hot Docs is set to welcome delegates, filmmakers and audiences to Toronto for this 11-day event. This year, Hot Docs will screen over 199 documentaries from 43 countries on 16 different screens across Toronto. More from the press release:
"This year is something of a game-changer for Hot Docs," says executive director Chris McDonald. "We are expanding the number of film presentations by one third, we are screening in new neighbourhoods across the city, and we will be providing more direct financial support to filmmakers. The doc-making marketplace has changed dramatically, and so has our role within it. We are not just screening great work, we are helping to finance and distribute films in a meaningful way. Stay tuned for the announcement of a major new international initiative in the coming weeks. Until then, we look forward to sharing a staggering array of quality docs with our unbeatable Toronto audiences at this year's Festival."
The 2011 Festival will feature 199 official selections and retrospective titles in ten programs, as well as eight films by young filmmakers aged 14 to 18 screening in this year's Doc It! showcase, and films selected as finalists in the International Documentary Challenge. In addition to screenings, international buyers and industry professionals will attend the Festival to participate in a full slate of conference and market events. These events include the world-renowned Hot Docs Forum and a vast number of other market and networking opportunities.
"Every year we start with the goal of showing everything documentary can do," says director of programming Sean Farnel. "Yet, more so than ever, what documentary is doing is re-inventing itself, expanding our notions of its capacity to communicate contemporary stories and ideas. So let's call 2011 the year that docs broke wide open."
Photo: Dennis Danfung: Helle and Back Again, UK/USA, 88 mins. – to be shown in one of the many categories, International Spectrum.
Written 22-04-2011 22:30:50 by Tue Steen Müller
Well, it is first and foremost for us Northeners, who can read Swedish... but I write this text in English anyway to praise the documentary profile, quality and volume of the SVT, Swedish public broadcaster, that publishes a very good newsletter on the documentaries that is broadcasted on the different slots on SVT1 and 2. You can subscribe on the newsletter for free through the address below.
Coming up in the coming week is Frederick Wiseman’s ”La Danse” (photo) (tuesday 10pm) from the Parisian ballet and a film on Jörgen Persson, great cameraman for Bo Widerberg, Roy Andersson and Bille August (monday 09.50 am). During Easter many other Swedish subject and international documentaries have been on the schedule.
Written 20-04-2011 15:52:28 by Tue Steen Müller
The excellent vod (video on demand) portal DocAlliance, set up by five European film festivals, makes a generous offer: to watch five films by Polish documentary master Marcel Lozinzki. The five films, including the masterpiece ”Anything can Happen”. Here is the text for the free streaming of the first three documentaries:
”From April 18 to 25, three of Łoziński’s films made in the 1990s will be introduced. These will include the short film 89 mm od Europy (89 mm from Europe, 1993), which received an Academy Award nomination and a number of other prestigious awards. Situated on the border between Poland and Belorussia, at a train station in Brest where the European narrow-gauged railway ends, the black-and-white impression muses on where Europe and the world of Western Christianity end. Two years later, Łoziński boosted his international renown by his film Wszystko się może przytrafić (Anything Can Happen, 1995). The film protagonist is the director’s son Tomek who has already had an essential role in 89 mm from Europe. This time, the six-year-old boy meets retired people in a park in Warsaw, asking them rather “mature” questions about life. The confrontation of his notion of the future and the vision of people who don’t have much time left results in a gentle reflection on life and death. The last of the presented films made in the 1990s is Żeby nie bolało (So It Does Not Hurt, 1998). A follow-up to the film Wyzita as seen from the distance of twenty four years, the film follows the encounter of farmer Urszula Flis, a press photographer and a journalist from the “Gazeta Wyborcza” daily, dealing with loneliness, life’s victories and losses, as well as with the borders of Urszula’s privacy, which have already been overstepped by the media in the past and which are again challenged by the film crew in the present.”
Again – go to DocAlliance, watch these films and pay for many others. It is cheap and high quality!
Written 20-04-2011 15:28:34 by Tue Steen Müller
Nothing happens. Or a lot happens. Up to you as audience. It depends on how you define ”a story”. In mainstream definition terms one would say that there is no story, and yet here is an outline of the short documentary shot in the countryside near the delta of Ebro:
An old man in an electric wheelchair is the ruler of an old farm with dogs and sheep. From his chair he orders the others around, including the sound man from the film team, when some puppies just born are about to be killed unintentionally by the dog ”bitch”, who protects her litter.
His wife (or sister?) walks into the picture, and another character, an old man who seems to be a bit retarded, is the one that the ruler commands to get rid of most of the puppies leaving only two to live. At the end of the film the camera goes with the ruler on his way into the marshes to follow his sheep. It is almost like a still life, brutal in tone, he is not really likeable, you start wondering about the kind of life he has had, he just sits there without a smile on his stone-face.
A story or a tableau, both I would say. Because of the stubborness/patience/eye of the film director/cameraman who waits to seize the moments. And gets some. Classical documentary observation, and multi-layered like a creative documentary should be.
Spain, 2009, 22 mins.
Written 19-04-2011 12:01:17 by Tue Steen Müller
It is not unusual that we do proper promotion for events that we are involved in ourselves. This is no exception! Loyal readers have read my texts from Israel and Palestine - where a workshop was held that ended up with the selection of 4 Palestinian film projects for the Storydoc 2011. Now we need good projects from other countries. Deadline April 26. Read all about it and join what will be valuable and fun! :
2011: Call for Filmmakers with Mediterranean Projects.
Storydoc is a training programme with the focus on the development of documentary projects – www.storydoc.gr.
The Projects wanted should have a strong Mediterranean connection. The call is open to filmmakers from the Region, other filmmakers with a project that deals with the area.
20 projects will be selected, plus 5 from Greece and STORYDOC will offer 5 scholarships to the selected projects.
The selected creative documentary projects will be developed through two sessions tutored by experienced documentary directors, commissioning editors, producers, editors and generalists. See below. At the second session extra 10-15 commissioning editors and distributors will be invited.
The work will be performed in groups and on an individual basis. There will be work on treatments, scripts as well as on visuals (trailers, demos, teasers). Inspirational lectures will be held on several documentary relevant subjects. Main focus is the creative process of developing film projects to secure quality and originality.
The Participants will be documentary professionals and filmmakers (including authors, directors, producers, screenwriters, and consultants) with experience in their local environment, aiming at working on an international level. A strong impact will be put on networking between the participating filmmakers and producers as well as broadcasters. Collaboration will be encouraged between Mediterranean producers from the South and the North.
Between the two sessions the participants will be offered online consultancy from selected tutors.
Deadline for submission of projects is April 26.
Photo: Isra’ Odeh, ChewingGum Gang, Palestine.
Written 14-04-2011 18:01:32 by Tue Steen Müller
It was a scoop that DFI (Danish Film Institute) had invited James Roberts, assistant director general from National Film Board of Canada (NFB), to come to the Danish DOK-dag (Documentary Day, see more below) to talk about the online film distribution policy of the 72 year old public film institution, set up by visionary politicians and the one and only Scotsman John Grierson, who saw before anyone else what role film could play in education and information in a democratic society.
A scoop, because Roberts very clearly and enormously inspiring could explain, how the NFB had implemented a strategy paper from 2008 into a very generous offer – more than 2000 films for free for individuals, online, and not only for Canadians, see below what to do, and a subscription system for the schools and institutions, still – in the spirit of Grierson – the major client of the NFB. ”Start Watching” was the headline of the plan and 10 million views have been done so far. 400 people are employed at the NFB that has offices all over Canada and is very up-beat when it comes to the use of new media. 15% of the production of the NFB is channelled into interactive documentaries. (I will write about one of the award-winners later, titled ”Highrise”).
The website of the NFB is exemplary for how to make it easy to navigate for the users – to find the necessary film historical titles and watch a trailer or a full film. Or to see where films are screened in Canadian cities, or how to
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Written 14-04-2011 17:07:04 by Tue Steen Müller
I have been surfing around on the site of NFB for an hour now. I have seen some trailers, I have seen clips from some of the films that I remember from a long festival life, and from the imports that was done when I was employed at the National Film Board of Denmark (Statens Filmcentral). Yes, down memory lane, but also down film history lane when you think about the excellent films that has come from the Canadian sister organisation: animation films by Caroline Leaf and the master himself Norman McLaren (photo), documentary films by Colin Low and direct cinema pioneers Roman Kroitor, Wolf Koenig and Michel Brault. At least a hundred NFB films were offered the Danish audience on 16mm, and if with dialogue and commentary, with Danish subtitles or in a Danish version. And from today “RIP” and “Up the Yangtze”, just to mention a couple that is available online by a click from your home computer in Denmark. Much easier than your home access to the Danish documentary history! Go Canadian, DFI, Danish Film Institute, and learn from them how to advertise. At the NFB site, for all titles, both those you can watch online and for those where only a trailer is watchable – there is information about where to buy a dvd or where to download with prices etc. Pure pleasure for one, who was educated librarian maaany decades ago. But start here:
Create your NFB profile today.Enjoy documentaries, animations, alternative dramas and interactive productions on the web, on your personalized home page, or on your iPhone. Don't forget to check out our trailers, playlists and upcoming online releases. Free for personal use and on a subscription basis for schools and institutions.
Written 14-04-2011 13:51:36 by Tue Steen Müller
Twice per year the Danish Film Institute (DFI) invites the national documentary filmmakers, distributors, promoters and bureaucrats, including television people, to meet for information and inspiration. The first meeting took place on monday this week, a so-called ”DOK-dag” (Documentary Day) was arranged, the second meeting will take place at the European Film College a weekend late August.
It was an optimistic Head of Production, former producer Claus Ladegaard, who gave us some headlines: ”Armadillo” by Janus Metz had sold 135.000 cinema tickets, ”Burma vj” by Anders Østergaard had received its 50th international award, there were more than 1 million tv viewers for ”Armadillo”, ”Tommy” (Danish pop star) by Sami Saif and ”The Home Front” by Phie Ambo, the special documentary distribution initiative DoxBio had done pretty well in its attempt to get documentaries shown around Denmark – and funding-wise it was strong that the new 4 year film agreement with the Ministry of Culture included more money for the creative documentary through the consultant system. In 2011 each of the two documentary consultants will have 15 million DKK, which is a bit more than 2 mio.€, to support production of documentaries. The consultant for children docs and shorts will have a bit less.
For this money 30-35 documentaries are to be made every year. To talk about access a representative from the Distribution department of the DFI told that 240.000 online screenings had been organised, of the 1000 films that are available – primarily in the educational circuit. Schools have subscriptions for the films available through ”Filmstriben”, for libraries goes the same but the individual public library can put a limit on how many films a user can have per month – the more screenings through the libraries, the more expensive it gets. The DFI considers to introduce another system to reach the homes.
Written 14-04-2011 13:48:54 by Tue Steen Müller
From the DOK Dag (see above): Could have listened to and watched much more of the work of multi artist Kaspar Schröder, an original talent, who also makes films and has got a lot of well deserved praise for his ”The Invention of Dr. Nakamats” and ”The Playground”. I write also, as Schröder, visit his excellent site, is a painter, a photographer, a furniture designer, a graphic artist... he prefers to make all by himself when he films and he is able to get a distinct graphic expression into his work. He told us about how he worked with the showman Dr. Nakamats, who wanted to be in control and always addressed the camera. ”When I discovered that, I made the decision to use it as a stylistical element” , said Schröder who also said that he immediately starts to frame when he enters a room, and that he often has a composer, and music, connected to a film when he starts filming.
Schröder, definitely a refreshing new talent in Danish documentary, is working on a new film, also from Japan. This is what is to be found on the site of DFI:
"No one understands me", says Mr. Ryuichi, father, husband and keeper of secrets. Mr. Ryuichi, the protagonist of Kaspar Astrup Schröder's I Want to Cheer Up Ltd., is head of a clandestine business of professional stand-ins. With his portrait of the iconic Dr. Nakamats last year, Kaspar Astrup Schröder moves to the other end of the scale in his choice of a protagonist in his new film I Want to Cheer Up Ltd. Here we have a man who conducts his second life after hours, unobserved by even his immediate family.
Mr. Ryuichi and his 32 employees are professional stand-ins, part of a growing service sector catering for clients who are in need of a companion – a spouse, relative, friend, colleague, boy or girlfriend – to accompany them to social functions such as weddings and funerals. The film explores how Mr. Ryuichi juggles with so many secrets and why his clients cannot bear public scrutiny of their personal lives. Not able to be the ubiquitous dad or face up to his own shortcomings, Mr. Ryuichi finds satisfaction in being a stand-in for other families. But, is this giving him a better life? – Mette Heide, +plus pictures, produces the films of Kaspar Schröder.
Written 13-04-2011 16:12:52 by Tue Steen Müller
Below is a text about a new Danish television documentary, ”The President”, which describes the absurd process that lead to the nomination of totally unknown haiku-poet and politician, Belgian Herman van Rompuy, as President of the EU – according to Romani Prodi and Joshka Fischer an evidence of the fall of the European project.
It is quite entertaining, well made, but maybe it does not bring anything clever or new to the table, it stays on the surface, reviewer Allan Berg thinks.
An EU sceptic, Czech President Vaclav Klaus (Photo from March this year, Klaus and Sarkozy), however, brings something new to the table: a not very well hidden cleptomania performed during a press meeting in Chile. Oooops, was I on camera? Take a look on your own on:
Written 12-04-2011 18:16:40 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Det er så ikke, som man ellers efter pressebilledet kunne tro, Romano Prodi, der fortæller historien. Det er Guldbrandsen selv, som er fortælleren, i hvert fald af den journalistiske, handlingsbaserede historie, som er bundet i hans speak. Det er nok de fire klippere, som står for musikken, for rytmen og selve spændingen. Og spændende er det, det er bestemt en god film, en flot film, en underholdende film. Men jeg er ikke sikker på, det er en klog film. Jeg er ikke overbevist om, at Guldbrandsens historiefortælling når dybere end skolebogens oversigt, teksten har ligesom ikke litterær værkhøjde, og kun enkelte steder får klippet lov at fortælle selv, så filmisk når den heller ikke vingefang. Og så savnede jeg sådan tid til Prodis analyse, til Fischers. Nok deres især. Men, hvor er det dog netop spændende og flot med alle disse super-egoer i præcise klip fra alle de mange kampe. Imidlertid, den store film med den samlende skildring af hele kampen og selve kampen om det politiske projekt, Europas forfatning og Europas præsident, er det ikke.
Christoffer Guldbrandsen: Præsidenten, Danmark 2011, 52 min. DR2 Dokumania 12. april 21:00. Guldbrandsens filmografi: Fogh bag facaden (2003), Rødvinsgenerationen (2004), Lykketoft finale (2005), Den hemmelige krig (2006), Dagbog fra midten (2009).
Written 10-04-2011 21:19:18 by Tue Steen Müller
I met Pawel Lozinski at DocsBarcelona, I have known him for many years, appreciating the films he has made (in Barcelona was shown "Sisters" and "Chemo"). He told me about the film project he and his father, Marcel, is working on. Do I need to write that Marcel Lozinski is one of the masters of documentary cinema, with - for me at least and many others, I am sure - "Anything Can Happen" as the crown jewel in his production. Among many other works. The Polish Film Institute has published dvd boxes of the works of father and son - with English subtitles. But back to the film project, maybe to be edited and finished this year. Here is a description, written by Pawel:
My father and I get into an old camper and head for Paris where, 23 years ago, he dispersed his mother’s ashes in the Luxembourg Garden. Our trip will take two weeks. We’re both documentary filmmakers so we’ve decided to make a film recording the journey. We stop at camper parks or gas stations for the night. We each have a camera to keep the conditions fair and so we’re both the directors and protagonists at the same time. My father is 70, I am 44. We discuss various things - family history, difficult past, my father’s divorces. Any question is allowed. The journey is a pretext to get to know each other a little better. A cinematic-psychological experiment about the father-son relationship. Once in the editing room, will we be able to create a single version that would be acceptable to both?
http://www.pisf.pl/en/about/structure (ask here about where to get the dvd-boxes)
Written 09-04-2011 20:59:41 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Jeg synes, det er uheldigt, at DR2 og Carsten Foldbæk leverer os dokumentarisk sjusk og blot i slutteksterne indrømmer, at billederne ikke passer til det, som fortælles. Det er så synd at billeddække Helge Hansens fornemme fortælling med et arkivmateriale så genbrugt og genbrugt eller misvisende eller direkte utroværdigt, så den forvirrende aflæsning af det næsten overskygger hans reelle og autentiske tilstedeværelse i billedet, en medvirkende-præstation, som fortjener at stå alene uden forstyrrelse, med mindre arkivmaterialet er udsøgt sjældent og hundrede procent dækkende. Man var altså blevet klar over svagheden, der var et skilt, som undskyldende fortalte at dækbillederne ikke nødvendigvis havde med de begivenheder at gøre, som Helge Hansen fortalte om. Jeg vil opfordre DR2 til at få den dokumentar rettet eller klippet om og sendt igen i den historisk og topografisk korrekte ramme og billeddækning, den fortjener.
Helge Hansen er tidligere modstandsmand og overlevede tortur, dødsdom og Neuengamme-ophold. Han er en præcis og klar og usentimental fortæller, og han er selvfølgelig den egentlige autor til det trods alvorlige fejl, han ikke er skyld i, gribende og seværdige fortælling.
Carsten Foldbæk: Med døden som makker, Danmark, 54 min. DR2 dokumentar, kan ses på
Written 09-04-2011 15:36:49 by Tue Steen Müller
20 years after the change - in Romania after the end of the Ceaucescu regime. How would he, Ceaucescu, look upon/see his country today, if he came down from the skies? Solomon, experienced Romanian director, lets the dictator come back through the use of some archive material, come back to meet the new leaders of the country, businessmen and politicians, who made it from – for several of them – positions in the Securitate to the top. Very often with battles with Justice, accusations of money laundring, general corruption – in surroundings where commercials cover the houses of the streets in Bucharest and the People’s Palace is open for market economy events and the parliament.
Solomon’s film is an intelligent interpretative presentation of a reality that could go for many former Eastern European countries who got their freedom but is still pretty poor. It includes a fine piece of journalistic research – amazing that Solomon could get all these semi-criminals to take part, they must have known that he was there to promote them!? – combined with ”childish” animation sequences and funny camera placements and effects. Much more than a reportage or a investigative documentary, entertaining as well, playful.
Today you can’t be succesful unless you steal, as says one of the filthy rich Romanians in the film.
Romania, 76 mins., 2010
Written 07-04-2011 17:58:31 by Tue Steen Müller
The director of this film used to be a strong and passionate commissioning editor at RTBF, the French language Belgian public broadcaster. He left when the channel decided to be less active in the commitment to the creative documentary. Le Paige wrote articles and a book about the overall decline of the public broadcasters involvement - as a colleague said to me some days ago: he predicted the crisis as it unfolds right now. For this blogger, in the early days of the EDN (European Documentary Network), it was always a pleasure to have le Paige in a pitching panel with his commitment and critical constructive encouragement to the filmmakers to fight on for quality against mainstream sensationalistic tabloid.
As this film shows, le Paige masters the personal reflection, in this case, on the relation between those who film and those who are being filmed. Who is in power, who is in control, and how is the power performed. le Paige goes back to the material he shot with Francois Mitterrand towards the end of his presidency. The President had given him carte blanche to film during meetings, when he was working at his desk, on visits to his childhood home or to the potential voters in the countryside. We observe the superb controller charmingly conveying what he wants to convey, at the first glance innocent and spontaneous, but you discover his fine way of manipulation, he knows exactly what kind of questions he wants to be put, he is very much conscious about his ”image”. What is seen is a very charismatic man who is in total control with the media.
le Paige wonders what he could say to ”find the truth” and still be free. You might say that the director is a bit naive in retrospect... but great it is to watch the charismatic Mitterrand explode in front of the camera and at the same time, as written, be in total, charming control.
Belgium, 2011, 52 mins.
Written 06-04-2011 15:00:41 by Tue Steen Müller
It is not the first time a film about a village with unmarried singles is being made these years. Seems to be a trend! And as the Greek one (”Sugartown”) and the Serbian one (”Village Without Women”) this one from Czech Republic, taking place in Slovakia, is warm and sweet to experience. At the same time as it is describing a provincial community, where daughters often stay with their mums and sons with their mothers as well. The older generation claims that they would love to see their children married, at the same time as they want the grown-up kids to stay at home, simply for their own sake, to avoid loneliness. The mayor, a former general, does what he can, but is not very succesful neither with his attempt to matchmake through a party planned for months, nor with his speeches that reaches the population via loudspeakers on every street corner.
The director’s voice is heard, when she goes around to make first hand research. She asks questions on our behalf, she enjoys the confidence of the characters and gets good material to bring home. Something happens to the characters during the film, we get closer to them, but real close, no, there are still a natural lot of shyness when it comes to Love. And there should be, this blogger thinks. Zemplinske Hamre is the name of the village, probably the one and only time you hear about it!
80 mins., Czech Republic & Slovak Republic.
Written 06-04-2011 13:40:17 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Ja, selv om jeg var ved at segne af træthed hang jeg på. Jeg havde jo regnet ud, hvordan det ville udvikle sig mellem de to kvinder... (jeg kunne have læst det på Dokumanias hjemmeside ser jeg nu bagefter), men det var på en eller anden måde helt ok med den forudsigelighed. På en eller anden måde...
Det er en god film, den vokser og vokser, begge karakterer vokser og vokser, bliver mere og mere interessante, og vel at mærke i en konstant balance. De fylder lige meget, både i billedet og i historien, som viser sig ikke at være to, men én fortælling, elegant og nænsomt vævet sammen af Farah Pahlavis og Nahid Sarvestanis biografier, deres synspunkter og refleksioner.
Farah Pahlavi har senere bemærket, at det ville have været bedre for filmen, hvis hun også som Sarvestani havde indre monologer off-screen. Skarpt! Hun har fuldstændig ret. Balancen i værket er så vigtig, og dette er en ubalance...
Filmen kan nu og formodentlig nogle dage ses på Dokumanias hjemmeside.
Written 05-04-2011 18:45:43 by Tue Steen Müller
His name was originally Stephen Apostolof, but having fled communist Bulgaria, entering the American Film Dream factory, Hollywood, he changed to an artist name, A.C. Stephen, which is not and will not become a big name in film history, apart from being a part of the sexploitation period, the softcore one before the hard core ”Deep Throat”, a short period that also included Ed Wood, the man who always gets the credit for having made the world’s worst movie... maybe that nomination should have gone to A.C. Stephen for his ”Orgy of the Dead”, where half naked women were dancing on the graves of the dead, swinging their breasts around while also trying to make original ballet steps! Quite something!
The story about A.C. is told by critics and professionals who worked with him, and first and foremost his children and last (out of 3) wives, with numerous clips from the kitsch films, quite entertainingly made and fun to watch because of its quick editing and the many anecdotes connected to the one and only A.C. Stephen, whose career suffered a lot in his last years when there was no more space for the soft pornography.
The filmmaker makes the youngest kid of A.C. take the ashes of his father - kept in a cigar humidor (!), a very appropiate reference to film producing and film producers in Hollywood with big cigars in mouth – into a car to drive him to be buried at a proper place for a man, who made the American dream come through and then fell from the heights.
Bulgaria, 2011, 58 mins.
Written 05-04-2011 08:46:00 by Tue Steen Müller
On this site we have been writing about this film a couple of times. It came out of the European training programme called DocuRegio, where I met it, and I was surprised that the festivals in Leipzig and Amsterdam did not pick the film. French Cinema du Réel did and Saturday night the film got its first recognition, the Joris Ivens Prize for Best First film. Very deserved. Here is a repeat of the review that I wrote in August last year:
... the subtitle being ”city veins”. I wrote about it in June and promised to come back with a review when the film was finished. Which is now.
Angelo, Roky, Frida, Reno, Darius, Gerardo, Jasmina... names of people, who have that in common that they are characters in a film that as location has the outskirts of Torino, where they all live outside normal urban society trying to survive. For a limited time as the area will be turned into a golf and similar kind of recreation centre, as well as it will be object to making transport out of the city easier through new roads etc.
From this description you might expect a political correct activist film like many others – it is not. On the contrary, the focus is the human. Deaglio and his cameramen follow the individuals in their daily activities: Roky gets up, goes to the lake to get washed, goes to get some drinking water... Frida goes to the drug meeting point... Reno cooks and finishes his van Gogh painting. Washing of hair. Repairing a bicycle. Doing nothing.
The images are stunning. Making the area look beautiful. They come as tableaux, chaptering the characters stories which in words are told by themselves through audio on black images. As I don’t understand Italian, for me the words appear subtitled on black with no ”disturbing” images. Which makes the effect very strong – precise small stories of situations they have experienced, facts accompnied by emotions. The director has no intention to sentimentalise or romanticize - I sense 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.
Written 03-04-2011 11:08:50 by Allan Berg Nielsen
TDC har forsynet mig med en sort boks, som kan gemme filmene fra gamle dage, som DR K denne tid sender i gedigne serier. Det betyder gensyn efter årtier og derefter gensyn på gensyn af værker, som ellers kun havde plads i bøgerne og så i erindringen fra den ene gang i biografen dengang. Gensyn som nu i DR K's vigtige Truffaut kavalkade Kvinden overfor fra 1981. Det er altså en stor kærlighedsfilm. Og den handler slet ikke om Bernard Coudray og Mathilde Bauchard, den handler om Gérard Depardieu og Fanny Ardant. Og den handler ikke om Gérard Depardieu og Fanny Ardant, for det handler da om Francois Truffaut og netop Fanny Ardant, men da jeg så den dengang, handlede det selvfølgelig om hende ved siden af. Og når hun ser filmen nu, handler den om? Naturligvis om Bernard Coudray og Mathilde Bauchard, for hun ved siden af elsker historier. Men hvad sker mon under fortællingen? Det er jo så vidunderligt med film, som aldrig er dengang, for det jo er umuligt, og som sjældent er historier kun, for de er jo for levende virkelighed lige nu og her. Hvad er under disse omstændigheder den virkelige historie? Jeg genlæser i eftersøgningen af et svar et smukt essay om Truffaut og finder der en konklusion: Kærlighed er ikke koldere end døden. Kærlighed er varmere end livet.
DR K genudsender Kvinden overfor i aften 23:25 og 8. april 16:45
Written 02-04-2011 21:27:10 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Jeg sad i aftes foran tv-apparatet og så en dvd med Greenaways The Baby of Mâcon, og filmen tumler omkring i mig endnu, vil ikke slippe. Så klog til det lærde, så voldsom til det vilde, så smuk til det åndeløse, så grusom til det forfærdende. Og netop der distancen: det er skuespillere som fremstiller deres frygteligste side. Plus fremstiller deres åndeløst smukke og deres vildt voldsomme side. Plus fremsiger den mest kloge lærdom, vist nok af og til i shakespeareske blankvers. Og så nu her i aften indser jeg sidst af alle filmens tilskuere gennem 18 år, at Greenaway dengang i 1993 ved brechtske greb lavede en dokumentarfilm om et hold skuespillere og hundreder statister i gang med på deres teater at holde generalprøve (er det måske) på et stykke skrevet som en alternativ julenatsmesse med frygtindgydende følger i en stor kirke i 1700-tallets Mâcon. Så er det på plads. Men nu tænker jeg så kun på, hvad der egentlig er (var) karismatiske Julie Ormonds projekt, dette eksistensens ultimative? Og hvad var Greenaways bag glæden ved barokkens udfoldelser i arkitektur, maleri og musik? Plus altså Shakespeare, som var så forud? Der er samlingerne til ham og os andre. Jeg har rent praktisk blot benyttet mig af mit biblioteks og bibliotek.dk’s generøse tilbud om at låne mig mig dvd-kopier af mange, mange af Peter Greenaways film. Så jeg kan indhente lidt af alt det, jeg ikke nåede at opfatte dengang tiden var deres. Nu må jeg finde ud af: hvad var det egentlig hun ville? Og hvor omfattende er Greenaways værk? Rækker det langt ind i det, vi omgærder og kalder dokumentarisme?
Link til søgningen på bibliotek.dk
Written 01-04-2011 09:15:42 by Tue Steen Müller
It is almost as minimalistic as it can be, this 9 minutes long documentary by Polish Pawel Lozinski, who goes directly in medias res to convey faces and hands, that lift a stone in a forest to start cleaning it so the inscription can be read. Which contains a poem and a name, a tombstone it is, and as a text the information is given that ”the Registers of the Jewish Cemetary in Warsaw was burned during WW II and that 200.000 names have not as yet been recovered”. That’s all, think for yourself when you have finished this very short, as always with Lozinski, aesthetically perfect journey into a moment of tension.
Poland, 9 mins., 2010.
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