Written 29-05-2011 23:57:52 by Tue Steen Müller
The festival ended this evening with the prize ceremony in the huge Kijew Kino. The jury, of which I was the chairman, judging 20 international documentaries, made the following decision – quoting the short motivations, reviews of three main prize winners follow below:
Golden Horn: The Argentinian Lesson by Wojciech Staron. The film maintains its form and story from beginning to end, a story not only about different cultures but much more about the beauty of a young boy and a young girl getting closer to each other, a growing friendship. The jury finds the film a true piece of art.
Silver Horn (Medium-length documentary): Phnom Penh Lullaby by Pawel Kloc. The film uses a strong cinematic language to depict a very unconventional struggle for love and acceptance in a devastating family environment under hard existential conditions. A very strong character development kept the jury on the edge of our seats. Silver Horn (Feature-length documentary): Regretters by Markus Lindén. The film has found a perfect solution to self-analysis performed by two human beings, who have undergone sex changes in search of their identity and the gender of their personality. The dialogue carries the touching story in a perfect arc.
Honorary Mention: Agnus Dei. The Lamb of God by Alejandra Sanchez.The film follows the bravery of the main character’s decision to challenge the institution of the church. Honorary Mention: Doctors by Tomasz Wolski (photo). The film is taking its audience to an important public institution and tells the story through amazing imagery and sparse and sometimes humoristic dialogue in serious moments of life and death.
For awards in the many other categories, take a look at site of the festival. A pleasure to see that the film of Marcel Lozinski got the first prize in the national competion, see review below.
Written 29-05-2011 23:49:10 by Tue Steen Müller
It has a story, a point of view, a humanistic approach and a director, who is also the cameraman and who has the skills to catch magical moments as they happen in life. A decade ago the director made ”Siberian Lesson” and now he goes to Argentina with (his family) the same teacher and her two kids. She teaches Polish to Argentinians who have Polish origins, and we see how this is practised, while the son, Janek, takes a soft step into the world of meeting the opposite sex. Into adulthood, one could maybe also say. He meets and plays with Marcia, who is a bit older than him, it seems, they are always together, he helps her earning a bit of money, there is time for games but there is also time to discover the harsh reality of Marcia’s family. They travel by train to meet her father, who lives separated from the mother, who has mental problems.
This is a film with a social content, but also a love story with many levels where much emotion is to be read in the faces of the characters. Dialogue is sparse, images give the information needed, step by step there is a development and an interpretation being made with painting-kind-of-tableaux, from the location, from the small village where it all takes place, to chapter a narrative with many sensitive and metaphoric images.
Poland, 56 mins. 2011
Written 29-05-2011 23:41:01 by Tue Steen Müller
I want to be seen, says one them. I want to be conventional, says the other. Both of them took a very unconventional decision, to change from being a man to being a woman. The title says that they have regretted that decision. The film tell their stories, with all the pain they have suffered, but also with warmth and humour. They are very different and that gives the film an extra dimension. You listen attentively every single minute, carried as the narrative is by dialogue. And that is where the decision of the filmmaker comes in with a strike of genius:
They walk into a studio, the two of them, they sit down, and they talk to each other, or to the camera, with small private and public archive material presented to show, how they looked in their childhood, in school, in their marriage (Isadora alias Orlando), all the way through accompanied by their own commentaries. Orlando has gone back to being a man again (got a penis and breast operation), Mikael (alias Mikaela) is waiting for the same operation.
Their stories have been told as a theatre play but when Mikael after hesitation agreed to take part, it was luckily made into this documentary that profits succesfully from the preciseness in the dialogue. Why do you want to have that penis operation back, says Orlando, can’t you just be you, you are a man. Orlando was married for 11 years, her husband knew nothing about her male past, it ended dramatically, now he is on his own, an extravagant feminine exhibitionist with clever remarks to Mikael, who also cleverly insists on being an orderly, ordinary citizen.
Talking faces are boring in documentary films... no they are not, look at these two brave human beings with all their experiences and wisdom. They walk out of the studio, a theatre of life has been performed.
Sweden, 58 mins. 2010
Written 29-05-2011 23:34:17 by Tue Steen Müller
From a filmic point of view it has everything, it is so well done: strong characters, who are developed, as a similar strong story is being unfolded, with conflicts, dramas, emotions, intimacy, closeness. The style is aggressive, the camera goes everywhere and is excellently performed, the voice-off text is sometimes a bit heavy but the dialogue in many scenes is amazingly good...
Yes, I have double feelings with this film that is so rich in his hybrid form between fiction and documentary. Is it exploiting its characters, I thought while watching, no, they know they are in a film, and they (re)act maybe stronger for that reason, was the next impression... they, Ilan, the Israeli who ended up in the capital of Cambodia, a tragic character, who fights for some kind of decency for the child he has with a young alchoholic cambodian woman, who have several other children placed here and there. They work in the street, Ilan as a fortune-teller, in the nights of Phnom Penh, among drug distribution and prostitution, in deep shit. What is the future for the children we see?
There are some editing problems in the film, especially when there are cuts from the small family being in a bus, then in a boat, then in the street, the structure is a bit confusing and the music far too bombastic for my taste, but having said so, this film stays in your mind for a long time, also because of its evident absurd humour. Boom-boom, they say in Phnom Penh, the same as bunga-bunga in Berlusconi’s Italy.
Poland, 2011, 86 mins.
Written 29-05-2011 23:22:20 by Tue Steen Müller
It is so natural that Krakow has been a Cultural Capital of Europe. It has history, beautiful buildings, an active outside life with loads of cafés – yes, we are many visitors in this city and the Main Market Square should be visited early morning or late night when we are not so many – and there are cinemas, that have a high quality repertory, Lars von Trier’s Melancholy opened on the same day as in Copenhagen – and it is a university city with students sitting on benches in the many green areas in the good weather preparing for exams.
And a city with a sad background as so excellently conveyed in the Historical Museum that has been installed at the former enamel factory of Oskar Schindler on the other side of the river, at Lipowa 4. About the daily life of the Jews in the ghetto, about Schindler and his saving of a thousand Jews in his factory, the story we know from Steven Spielberg’s film, shot in Krakow, about the German occupation and the occupiers upperclass life. About the Plaszow concentration camp nearby. Interviews with survivors, Polish and Jews, all is subtitled in English for the foreign visitor, documents, including letters written by the 8 year old Roman Polanski, year by year, visual and oral, an exemplary museum. High quality documentation.
Written 27-05-2011 09:23:00 by Tue Steen Müller
Vera and Marcel, brother and sister. Marcel, film director. They sit together around a table. They do so to recollect and remember Tonia, the mother of the siblings, a woman who was in jail and a woman who was filmed by Marcel when he was at film school. The mother was arrested in 1949 for spying against the communist regime, performing bourgeois behaviour, with relations to the notorious American spy Noel Field. She was in jail for more than 5 years, leaving her children to be in children homes.
The set-up by Marcel Lozinski gives the viewer a very emotional journey through the childhood of Vera and Marcel. Their story is told through them reading letters from their mother, texts from investigation papers, accompanied by photos from the family and clips from the footage of Lozinski.
It is all held in a very controlled style with close-ups of the three, with the faces expressing emotions to what is being read and talked about. Was she guilty, Tonia, is not the main issue, she felt guilty and did not want to be released from the jail where she went through terrible torture, described in details in writing. She came out and the son and the daughter remember differently, how they met her. It is a painful journey in memories for the two, who also have had a complicated relationship as grown-ups.
Marcel Lozinski, it is revealed, has in many ways a similar story as the two, he mirrors himself in the story, it seems, in a film that is masterly done, tense and precise, letting emotions come out but never trying to add effects to enlarge the drama.
Poland, 2011, 58 mins. (in National Competition in Krakow Film Festival 2011)
Written 25-05-2011 18:15:39 by Tue Steen Müller
In the old festival hotel Cracovia, next door to the Kijow Cinema, where the main programme of the festival is running, there is a so-called Industry Zone, where festival people meet and talk to filmmakers in an informal atmosphere about what they are looking for, and where there are 30 video booths available for buyers and others, who look for films. It is all very well organised here in Krakow, and while praising the professionalism what a pleasure to see technically perfect screenings in the cinemas.
Small talk – I talked to two festival programmers, who entertained me with info on how they do their selection screenings (you have to remember that some festivals get thousands of entries for selectors to watch...) anyway, it shocked and amused me to hear that one was ironing at the same time as watching the screen, another was knitting, a third one watched in trains or when the kid was doing ice-skating. Yes, there are many films in the world and there are many ways of watching, sitting, lying, in bed, on a couch, in a summer house in good weather with a good computer screen.
Just that you know if you happen to be a filmmaker!
Written 25-05-2011 09:16:23 by Tue Steen Müller
The Polish Film Institute runs an honorable dvd publlishing policy. Previously I have reported on very good director boxes with films by Kieslowski, Karabasz, Marcel Lozinski, Pawel Lozinski – and now, here in Krakow, at the hall of the Kino Kijow, I supplemented the collection by buying boxes with films by Wladimir Slesicki, Marek Piwowski and Maciej Drygas. His ”Hear my Cry” (photo) is on the box, a masterpiece from 1991, the title referring to the spectacular manifestation of a man, who set fire to himself in 1968 as a demonstration against the Warsaw countries invading Czekoslovakia.
All films in the boxes are with subtitles in English, French, Russian and German.
Written 24-05-2011 23:56:22 by Tue Steen Müller
Richard Raskin, Aarhus University, is the short film expert and editor of “Short Film Studies”. Raskin calls for papers for volume 2 number 2. Click below, to know more about the editor and to have the presentation of the film to be written about:
We invite all students of the short film – including researchers, teachers and film-makers – to contribute to Short Film Studies Vol. 2, Number 2. Each article should focus on any one of the three works mentioned above and may not exceed 1,500 words. Any aspect of the selected work may be chosen for study, including interpretive issues, dramaturgy, camera work, editing style, sound, closure, etc. Potential contributors should begin by sending a max. 50- word abstract to the editor, Richard Raskin at firstname.lastname@example.org. A prompt response will follow, regarding the suitability of the proposed contribution. The deadline for submitting completed articles for peer-review is 1 November 2011.
Written 24-05-2011 09:51:07 by Tue Steen Müller
First an introduction taken from YouTube, where the Krakow Film Foundation has posted videos and some trailers from films taking part in the 51st (!) edition of Krakow Film Festival, 23rd - 29th May 2011: KFF is one of the oldest film events dedicated to documentary, animated and short fiction films in Europe. During 7 festival days viewers have an opportunity to watch about 250 films from Poland and abroad. Films are presented in competitions and in special sections like retrospectives, thematic cycles, archive screenings. Festival is accompanied by exhibitions, concerts, open air screenings and meetings with the filmmakers. Every year KFF hosts about 750 Polish and international guests: directors, producers, film festival programmers and a numerous audience from Krakow. (Krakow Film Foundation is the main producer of the Krakow Film Festival, the Krakow Film Market and co-organizer of the Dragon Forum. Foundation also promotes Polish documentary, animated and short films abroad.)
The fine old cinema Kino Kijow, next to the communist style Hotel Cracovia, previously the festival hotel, now to be closed, was full last night at the opening ceremony. Festival director Krzysztof Gierat welcomed us all and a 3D short film produced by Ridley Scott was shown, pure technique, no content, did not get the title. After that the opening film, also produced by Ridley Scott, but directed by Kevin Macdonald, Life in a Day, was screened. The film is in the competition for international documentaries, where I am in the jury with Slovak director Dusan Hudec (whose newest film The Entire World Is a Narrow Bridge is shown at the festival), local director and cameraman Marcin Koszalka (whose The Existence I remember as a masterpiece), Kaleo la Belle (winner of main Prize at the festival 2010 with the fine film Beyond the Place) and Italian Annamaria Percavassi (director of Trieste Film Festival). 20 films are to be watched, reviews of some of the films will follow after the festival. There are also juries for short films and a national jury.
Written 24-05-2011 07:55:57 by Tue Steen Müller
The Copenhagen documentary audience gets spoilt. First the professionals were invited to watch it at the yearly Maraton Dok, organised by EDN (European Documentary Network) and now Cinemateket at the Danish Film Insttute has chosen the film as the ”documentary of the Month” in June. The film referred to is the idfa (International Film Festival Amsterdam) Special Jury Prize winner ”You don’t like the Truth – 4 Days inside Guantanamo”.
The film made by Luc Côté and Patricio Henríquez, has gone all over the world, and this coming September to be theatrically released in New York, ”has its actuality and relevance as a film that goes behind the many news bits and discussions about the camp in Cuba. To give an evidence to how one (and many more?) prisoners have gone through the most outrageous interrogation beyond any human decency... It is intense in its split-screen use of the security camera footage that catches the interrogation of a 16-year old boy. You shake your head in despair watching this investigative (many interviews with cell mates and lawyers and a psychiatrist) Canadian film about the mental torture of a Canadian citizen. For more about the content and background, click on the title in the text below or go the site of the film.” Quote from earlier posting on this site.
Written 22-05-2011 08:56:02 by Tue Steen Müller
For many of us it never goes beyond the words, when it comes to put into reality all the good intentions about the promotion of the documentaries. Few have had the strength and courage to link all the elements of the chain from production to the meeting with the audience. Joan Gonzalez has and what he has done for the genre during the 15 years of existence of his company Parallel 40, based in Barcelona, deserves respect and admiration. In Catalunya, of course, and in Europe and – read below – in South America.
Training, production, distribution, film commission administration, festivals, tv management – it is all happening or has happened under the umbrella of Parallel 40, and with a clear goal statement, here taken from the site of the company: ”Parallel 40's mission is to contribute to society's cultural enrichment through the audiovisual medium.”
Joan Gonzalez is a visionary, some will say a dreamer, I will add that many of his dreams have and will come through. Step by Step as his slogan is. When I met him in Granada 15 years ago for the first EDN documentary workshop in Spain, he was one of the participants and made his first documentary pitch, not very convincing. But he was thrilled about the format, and he took it all to Barcelona, and became the organiser of what is now a very well established event, DocsBarcelona (read more below). At that time he was managing a local tv station and doing a lot of training, which is still very much on his agenda. He is definitely a talent scout, his office is full of talented carefully picked young people, who get the injection of documentary enthusiasm from their director. On top of that the company has for years delivered half hour documentary programmes directed by new filmmakers to TV3 Catalunya.
A man with high ethical standards, who is not afraid to use the word ”trust”, when he describes, what he wants people to associate with his company. He has lost some battles with this attitude but he has always come back full of optimism and with new ideas. On a personal level: Joan is a dear friend, I have always enjoyed his company, I love to work with him, to watch and listen to the creative, sometimes hard but passionate discussions between him and production manager Elena Subira, to share with him our common passion FCBarcelona, to sing Jacques Brel with him in his car, and to meet his lovely family: Montse, Berta and Marti.
Written 22-05-2011 08:49:54 by Tue Steen Müller
Documentary of the Month is a unique distribution initiative, run by Parallel 40 in more than 40 cities, not only in Catalunya and Spain, but now also in Latin America – in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. It was born out of the EU supported Cinema Net Europe but has since 2007 been an independent activity, where the documentaries are shown in its original version subtitled in Catalan (for the audience of Catalunya, Comunitat Valenciana, and Illes Balears) and subtitled in Spanish for the rest of Spain, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Documentaries selection is decided by Parallel 40, the promotion as well – posters for each film etc. Highly professional everything is. Goal – very simple – to get documentaries closer to the people.
A high quality in the selection, for sure. Look at the titles from this year, there are no compromises: This month of May it is Sandrine Bonnaire’s beautiful film about her ill sister “Elle s’appelle Sabine”, otherwise on the programme are Michael Madsen’s “Into Eternity”, Jan Terhaven’s “Autumn Gold”, Pawel Lozinski’s “Chemo” (photo), Miki Ronkainen’s “The Screaming Men” and PeÅ Holmquist’s “Young Freud in Gaza”. In some cases the filmmaker is present to meet the audience, in others debates are arranged around the theme of the film.
Do not get surprised if the Documentary of the Month is spreading its activities to other countries, maybe first of all through the Parallel 40 Sur office in Chile, a country close to the heart of Joan Gonzalez, where young Alexandra Galvis promotes the activities of the company, primarily the distribution but also training and solid networking.
Written 22-05-2011 08:44:07 by Tue Steen Müller
The way to the audience can go through the showing of documentaries on a regular basis as Parallel 40 has initiated with the ”Documentary of the Month”, see above. Or it can be through festivals, the more and more popular film cultural event approach to documentaries in a time where especially young people have given up on television and prefer to go social, to the cinema, for information and experience.
After many years of the DocsBarcelona as a meeting point for professionals, who bring their projects and present them to potential buyers from television and funds from all over the world, Joan Gonzalez realised what had always been a dream for him: to make a festival. The DocsBarcelona was enlarged and the festival is now after five editions up and running on its way to establish a loyal audience in a metropole like Barcelona. The selection structure, as it is now, includes sections like ”Le Dernier Repas” (a well known filmmaker makes a selection of films that has meant something for him or her, in 2011 Peter Greenaway did so), ”History”, ”Panorama”, ”Finisterrae” (more experimental films), South American films, catalan films, current affairs and films for children and youngsters. In 2011, the festival was for the first time, competitive.
The Parallel 40 professionalism in ”making” festivals is now also being profited by Memorimage, a festival for archive based documentaries based on memories. I have been present for two years, as readers of this blog will know, and wow there have been some masterpieces to watch for people in and around Reus, the hosting town one hour south of Barcelona: Terence Davies ”Of Time and City” (Liverpool), ”A film Unfinished” by Yael Hersonski and ”Cooking History” by Peter Kerekes.
DocsBarcelona is in February, Mémorimage in November.
Written 21-05-2011 14:10:46 by Tue Steen Müller
Moderna Museet in Malmö, Sweden hosts an exhibition of 14 works by Marcel Duchamp. This one everybody knows, signed by Duchamp under the name of R. Mutt, from 1917. He chocked the world with this work, later to be nominated as the most important and influential of the 20th century.
This urinal is not necessarily a comment to Lars von Trier’s stupidity at the Cannes Film Festival.
The exhibition is open until September 11.
Written 21-05-2011 13:29:40 by Tue Steen Müller
It is good and bad at the same time. Bad because it reflects that international cooperation for the production of non-mainstream documentaries no longer happens between the national film funds and/or the national broadcasters, good because it reflects that festivals cooperate and are able to get something going that makes sense and stimulates the development of the documentary or – as they call it themselves – factual film genre. With the financial help of the EU MEDIA Mundus programme, not to forget. The MEDIA programme as such is indispensable for film in Europe, and now also important worldwide through Mundus.
Clip from press release of Danish festival cph:dox: DOX:LAB was started in 2009 with an aim to create a space where unauthorized cinematic forms can be explored and developed. By handpicking a group of filmmakers with very different backgrounds, narrative traditions and different access to production, CPH:DOX strives to stimulate creative international dialog.
With the cooperation of its international partners CPH:DOX hopes it can provide ideal conditions for factual filmmaking through this exclusive programme and establish solid professional relations for participants. Internationally CPH:DOX is linked with BAFICI and Buenos Aires Lab (BAL) in South America; Hong Kong Asian Financing Forum (HAF) at the Hong Kong International Film Festival in Asia and two partners in the Middle East region, Screen Institute Beirut and the Dubai Film Connection (DFC), part of the Dubai International Film Festival.
For 2011 not all directors have been selected, but the first list includes well known Slovak Peter Kerekes, Danish Andreas Koefoed (big success with ”Albert’s Winter”) and Argentinian, Brazilian, Indonesian and Hong Kong directors. The latter, 10 of them, are to be ” paired with ten European filmmakers over one year to make ten films. This year’s intake of film projects will be showcased in 2012 at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen.”
CPH:DOX director Tine Fischer: "DoxLab is truly a global meeting pot of creative ideas and visions."
Photo: Son of God, DoxLab film by Kvahn de la Crzu and Michael Noer.
More info: email@example.com
Written 18-05-2011 23:29:11 by Tue Steen Müller
The French based (in Marseilles) promotion and distribution mechanism Aflam, which has its focus on Arab cinema, pays a tribute to the late Syrian documentary film director, Omar Amiralay, who died in February this year. Amiralay was a persona non grata by the regime in Damascus and many of his films were not allowed to be screened. He was even forbidden to talk in public sessions as we witnessed at the first session of the Dox Box festival in 2008.
The tribute is one element of the fourth edition of ”Ecrans des Nouveaux Cinémas Arabes” in Marseilles May 23-31, followed by its ”Caravane en region” from July 6-12. Here is – in French – a clip from the introduction by the organisers:
“Pour la 4è édition des « Ecrans des Nouveaux Cinémas Arabes », Aflam propose un choix de films, pour l’essentiel inédits en France, qui, de la Syrie au Maroc, couvre tout l’arc des pays arabes, avec la présence de pays dont on voit peu de films : la Libye, l’Irak.
Les cinéastes arabes sont à l’écoute : un court-métrage sur la « révolution tunisienne », Dégage de Mohamed Zran, sera projeté et présenté par son auteur lors de la soirée d’ouverture.
Les cinéastes arabes ont toujours été combatifs : en point d’orgue de ce programme, nous rendons hommage au grand documentariste syrien Omar Amiralay, récemment disparu, qui eut bien des démêlées avec le régime. Preuve que le genre vit, deux documentaristes d’aujourd’hui, Mohamed Zran (Vivre ici) et Hakim Belabbès (Fragments), viendront présenter leurs films.
A l’heure où un vent de liberté souffle sur les pays arabes, cette sélection de films des années 2009 et 2010 témoigne de la force d’intervention du cinéma : nombre de ces films traitent directement des sujets politiques, et plusieurs mettent l’histoire en perspective. Le voyage à Alger, La longue nuit, Encore une fois en proposent, chacun à leur manière, une relecture qui, dans le climat de ces derniers mois, prend une dimension nouvelle.”
Written 18-05-2011 14:03:10 by Tue Steen Müller
Quite a different text has to be written under this headline – compared to the one below from Egypt. From the atrocities in Syria, let us call it as it is, a massacre by the government on its own people, there are no edited images, no sequences, at least to my knowledge, no documentaries but a lot of documentation that includes amateur video footage shot on cell phones in most cases. Shot by courageous people who put their life at risk quite as the protesters they film.
”Peaceful Syrian citizens are being killed today for their demands of basic rights and liberties”, this was the first sentence in the Call from Syrian filmmakers to colleagues all over the world. They got a huge response to their petition, around 1000 names, a petition that was closed due to security reasons. There are many Syrian names on the list, filmmakers who are in the country and are doing their job, I am sure, trying to make sense out of a senseless situation. I have with Western colleagues been in Damascus for four years in a row, getting to know filmmakers, from whom I hear almost nothing in these days. They have to be careful and work underground so to say. For obvious reasons. ”Viva Syria”, one wrote to me some days ago, a filmmaker who is no longer in Syria, ”because they are asking about me”. Viva Syria, yes, but which Syria?
This morning I took a surf tour on the internet to see what I could find of clips, which – as the tv channels say – are not verified, are not signed by anyone, just posted anonymously to give the world glimpses of what is going on. Shaky, sometimes blood-filled images, people shouting, tanks approaching, whatever. I have given some addresses below, they might be good, they might be bad, we do not know, journalists from abroad are not allowed to enter the country, it is up to the Syrians themselves to record and convey the images – and to us to try to combine it with newspaper reports and more or less clever commentators and experts in politics in the region. A big frustration when you do not know how to help!
Written 17-05-2011 11:02:50 by Tue Steen Müller
I was watching the Danish news magazine Horisont (modelled after the BBC Panorama strand) last night, prime time on DR, our public service channel. They had 25 minutes on Egypt. I sat down with some expectation that was competely let down. It was as it used to be: a journalist with a microphone in hand walking on Tahrir Square with some interviewees, a little trip to the countryside to hear what a pro-Mubarak peasant have to say, and then back to the studio for further comments. Boringly put together, giving no real sense of what had happened, just a little pro et contra, information, no emotion. Pedestrian.
Earlier that same day I had seen some videos on vimeo (excellent platform for transmitting films and videos). Videos made by young people, who was there when the uprising happened, who took part and who have had the talent to put some short visuals together in a structured way, with a sense for building a story and for giving the atmosphere of being where a total change was taking place. Here is a text that is an intro to the videos you may want to watch. There are more to find, signed by one of the activist filmmakers. Jasminah Metwaly:
Intifadat Intifadat, a collective of filmmakers, won the Streaming the Revolution Award (at a festival in Cairo, ed.) for three videos they submitted. According to the jury, these videos showed an incredible sensitivity with the camera. More than merely scenes of protest, the videos convey a sense of raw emotion. The carnivalesque aesthetics show sophistication with both content and form. These videos demonstrate acute skills in depth of field, composition of shots, and creative editing.
Written 15-05-2011 12:50:33 by Tue Steen Müller
Tommy Seebach, popstjerne, vinder af det danske melodi grand prix adskillige gange, blev 53 år gammel. Han var, som det vist hedder, hård ved sig selv, knoklede for at få anerkendelse for sit talent, nåede toppen, faldt dybt, druknede sig i alkohol, holdt op igen, men var slidt ned og døde pludselig af et hjertestop.
En klassisk historie, et motiv fra showbizz-verdenen gennemspillet igen og igen i fiktionens ramme, og i utallige dokumentarer. Og i sidstnævnte ramme som regel på akkurat den tv-dokumentar-måde, som Sami Saif anvender sig af: arkiv med hovedpersonen, interviews med famile og arbejdskammerater, og masser af klip og materiale fra familiens privatarkiv. Når så Sami Saifs dokumentar er så meget bedre end gennemsnittet, er det fordi han har Tommy Seebachs enke og tre børn som hovedfortællere OG det helt unikke hjemmevideostof at trække på. Familien er totalt åbne i deres udsagn om den stadig mere alkoholiserede far og mand, der sprængte familien. Enhver der har haft alkohol i familien som barn ved hvad det betyder. Men de taler også smukt om en mand, som så gerne ville være med dem hele tiden, men ikke kunne.
Det kræver sin instruktør at kunne komme så tæt på, men Saif har opnået den tillid, som er forudsætningen for at han kan fortælle sin historie i et flot komponeret flow, i en undertiden virtuos montage der udelukker brugen af en kommentar. Det er simpelthen godt håndværk.
Tommy blev udsendt af DR1 i prime time på en lørdag aften. Jeg ved godt, at det var lige før Melodi Grand Prix finalen, så der var en tematisk sammenhæng – men tør man håbe at DR med sit aktuelt offentliggjorte fokus på ”tilbage til klassisk public service”, OGSÅ generelt genetablerer noget af den kvalitet, som den nedlagte dokumentargruppe besad? Det er helt vanvittigt, at Det Danske Filminstituts midler til kunstneriske dokumentarer skal bruges til en tv-dokumentar som denne, hvor god den så end er.
2010, 80 mins./55 mins. (jeg så den sidstnævnte), producent Peter Bech
Written 14-05-2011 18:19:03 by Tue Steen Müller
Danish documentary master Jørgen Leth was challenged by his admirer von Trier in the very succesful film The Five Obstructions, that gave Leth a very well deserved international breakthrough outside the world documentary circles. Retrospectives of his work were arranged and von Trier also helped the promotion of Leth’s latest work, Erotic Man.
Martin Scorcese does not need the help of von Trier but it is quite fun that the playful Danish director seems to have convinced the playful American director to take part in another game of obstructions, which should take its start in Taxi Driver. According to the source below.
Written 12-05-2011 16:07:21 by Tue Steen Müller
Wonder how many documentaries will be screened in Cannes this year? The stars are there, the most fascinating is Faye Dunaway on the gorgeous poster of this year.
Written 11-05-2011 16:39:53 by Tue Steen Müller
AFAC is the name, it is based in Beirut and “The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) is an independent Arab initiative established by local cultural lobbyists and a group of international donors in 2007. AFAC funds individuals and organizations in the fields of cinema, performing arts, literature, music and visual arts, while facilitating cultural exchange and cooperation across the Arab world and globally.”
It is active in the documentary field, and gives grants for documentarians. Deadline for applications has just been extended to May 30. Here is a text from the site of AFAC:
“Responding to the vast number of excellent cinema proposals received duringthe general open call, AFAC decided to establish an additional program for filmmaking. Documentaries are a very popular and accessible medium in the Arab world, allowing filmmakers to broach current issues as well as investigate the recent past. Partnering with a prestigious and experienced institution like the Sundance Documentary Institute provides both the expertise as well as an avenue to connect filmmakers with experienced producers and distributors.
In 2009, AFAC and the Sundance Documentary Institute designed a specific program that provides funding and consultation, networking and training opportunities for documentary filmmakers. Over 145 applicants from the region responded to the first call for proposals. A jury made up of leading regional and international figures selected the top fifteen applicants—both well-known and up-and-coming filmmakers from across the region—for their pertinent and original proposals.
During the next cycle, AFAC is hoping to see the program expand to become a launching pad for filmmakers, providing them with the financial and professional resources to create influential work that is globally recognized.”
Written 11-05-2011 16:36:49 by Tue Steen Müller
I have written about and praised the DOX magazine a couple of times as the magazine for the creative (artistic, authored, call it what you want) documentary. But if you want to follow what happens in the more commercial sector of the documentary, call it non-fiction, you should take a subscription to the FREE daily email newsletter of the magazine realscreen. It gives a lot of good information, it contains very often small interviews with documentarians, it is quickly read. You could also take a (to be paid for) subscription for a print version of the magazine.
To give you an impression of what has been written about the last days: American documentary icon Ken Burns premieres a new tv series, Prohibition (photo), about the American attempt to ban alcohol in the 1920’es. Report from the HotDocs festival, including the forum for documentary projects. Tim Hetherington, killed in Libya, receives a tribute at HotDocs and Restrepo is being shown. Albert Maysles to be honoured at the Sheffield DocFest. New film from James Marsh (Man on Wire), Project Nim, the perfect case study for the nature versus nurture debate, with the story of a chimpanzee at the center of a 1970s experiment. A lot about what Discovery and National Geographic channels are up to, including quickly produced programmes on Bin Laden… check it out and subscribe if you find it useful.
Written 08-05-2011 15:17:03 by Tue Steen Müller
He lives in Bulgaria in Svishtov a town by the Danube. He is a building worker. And a fan. Of Manchester United. He orders a visit card that says “fan” as occupation and he wants to change his name to Manchester United Zdravkov Levidzho. The authorities do not agree with him, he takes it to court, he loses, but he keeps his identity as a fan, who friends and colleagues call Manchester. His friend and the friend’s wife remember the glorious evening in 1999 where Manchester United went from 0-1 in the last minutes against Bayern München in an unbelievable finish in the final of Champion’s League (I also remember where I was… in a German airport waiting for a connecting flight) – the two were hugging each other on the floor, crying of joy, the wife thought they were having a fight!
Manchester is an emotional man and his big wish is to shake the hand of the number 9 of the current Manchester United team, the Bulgarian striker Berbatov, topscorer in the English Premier League. He succeeds in a much bigger scale that he had hoped for, and he wears the sweaty shirt of Berbatov for three weeks before it is being washed and added to the collection and the photos on the wall!
No Marin alias Manchester Zdravkov Levidzho is not a stupid man. The film proves the opposite. He carries his obsession in a way that needs to be respected, and he has good observations on life in Bulgaria today. In that way the film also offers something to the non-football fanatics like the one, who writes these lines, and who went from the screening for a dinner in a restaurant where the television screen was showing Manchester United in their second match against Schalke 04, easily won by the Reds (4-1), who will meet Barcelona in the final May 28. I know what Manchester and I will be doing that evening. Thanks for a fine, both entertaining and thoughtful football documentary! (See also the text about “Football is God”).
Bulgaria, 2011, 57 mins.
Written 07-05-2011 11:13:26 by Tue Steen Müller
For the second year the Balkan Documentary Center organises a workshop for 7 creative documentary projects from the region. During one week the participants met tutors like Aleksandar Manic (”The Shutka Book of Records”), Boris Mitic (”Goodbye, How are You”), DOKLeipzig festival director Claas Danielsen, ETMA director and former producer Paul Pauwels, web-documentary director Stefano Strocchi and myself, who gave an introduction to European documentary scene and commented on the projects participating. It is organised by Agitprop, the production company behind several internationally acknowledged productions like ”Georgi and the Butterflies” and ”Mosquito Problems and other Stories” (photo). Two more sessions follow, in Istanbul and in Kosovo. Here are some text clips from the site of BDC, one more fine training initiative supported by the EU MEDIA Programme:
“The Balkan Documentary Center (BDC) is an initiative of the team behind AGITPROP production company. On the one hand, it is a virtual network and framework for support, our very own 0700-BALKANDOCU helpline. On the other, it is a brick-and-mortar actual house in downtown Sofia to be equipped with everything necessary to make this support technically possible, from research lab to production equipment and post facilities.
Our focus is catalyzing the creation and distribution of critical minded documentaries and social campaigns in the Balkans. We want to bring together the creative potential of filmmakers, journalists and media professionals with the resources of civil society institutions and businesses that are up for supporting documentaries. In the end, what we want is to bring the documentary scene of our region to international standards, still keeping the fresh ideas, originality and Balkan drive.
For this we have come up with three intertwined lines of activities: 1) Educational and institutional support, 2) Promoting debate and increasing the level of awareness, and 3) Foster networking and international collaboration.”
Yes, “agitprop” this is, an idea and practice!
Written 07-05-2011 10:39:27 by Tue Steen Müller
I felt priviliged to attend the so-called demo screenings of the first 3 films under “the informal label “buldoc”. Arranged in connection with the first session of the Balkan Documentary Center, and created by Martichka Bozhilova from the documentary production company in Bulgaria, Agitprop, the programme was very well attended. The three films, all of fine quality, were “The Rules of Single Life”, a Finnish-Bulgarian coproduction by Tonislav Hristov, “My Mate Manchester United” by Stefan Valdobrev, and “Dad Made Dirty Movies” by Jordan Todorov. The following text is taken from the site of the brilliant promotion initiative, Buldoc, “a non-fiction kitchen!”:
“It is an unofficial truth that the contemporary documentary film has a leading position in determining the cinematographic aesthetics and cinema tendencies. The organic relation of documentary cinema with television and Internet is another proof of its adaptability. Its potential in the new media world is yet to be determined and developed. The “non-fiction” platform is the last island of the free, experimental and independent film expression. From the ashes of the “supermarket culture” rises the spirit of Flaherty and Dziga Vertov and making films turns into a moving adventure.
In times of crisis and post-communist transition the documentary cinema in Bulgaria is no longer crying for help. Beyond state institutions and regardless of the lack of dedicated state support, Bulgarian documentaries produced over the last decade are a proof of the new wave in Bulgarian non-fiction cinema. We are a bunch of filmmakers active in making films, professing solely the
Read more / Læs mere
Written 06-05-2011 18:09:49 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Det er et vildt projekt, et meget modigt foretagende. At åbne en film med i en omhyggeligt arrangeret troskyldighed at begynde en selvbiografi og så gøre den muntrere og muntrere, flere gange dobbeltbundet farligere og farligere og anbringe hele konstruktionen i en stor litterær sammenhæng og fuldende den i et kærlighedsindsigtens drama, som er alt andet end troskyldig og langt mere end en personlig eller blot privat erindring.
Alt andet og langt mere. Men hvad så? Nu bliver det svært. Et sted i Morten Henriksens spindelvæv af en film, klæbende og irriterende og overdådig smuk, inde i laget af samtale mellem søn og far, mellem filminstruktør og litterat spørger Morten Henriksen: "Betingelsen for samtalerne var, at jeg troede på det?" Og Aage Henriksen svarer: "Ja, at du gav det en mulighed... uden at reagere negativt og kritisk." Kun i hengivelsen kan fortællingen blive til.
Filmen rammer og rummer dette usigelige, som vi skal give en mulighed. Hvad er det så? Vil man naturligvis spørge. Og der må svares, at det jo netop ikke kan siges, ikke kan skrives. Men i filmen findes det fanget ind og pakket i spindelvæv. Se selv efter! Og læs så bogen, for i den er vigtige dele af dialogen fastholdt til læsning om og om og dernæst videre i flere af litteratens og digterens bøger.
Personerne er altså filmens instruktør, Morten Henriksen og hans far, litteraten Aage Henriksen. Og selvfølgelig Aage Henriksen og Karen Blixen, litteraten og digteren, fremstillet dels af dem selv og dels af Ole Lemmeke og Birthe Neumann. Det danner en række fortællinger om afgørende relationer: sønnen og faderen, litteraten og digteren, Aage Henriksen og Karen Blixen og sammenvævede specielle og generelle temaer, familiehistorie, kunstvidenskab og kunsthistorie plus vigtige bidrag til skildringen af Blixen og især et stort og dybt fascinerende portræt af Aage Henriksen, fortsat skabende i feltet mellem videnskab og essay.
Still: Lemmeke og Neumann som litteraten og digteren i et øjeblik af den 10 år lange samtale, som filmen undersøger på det underfundigste. Klogt og besindigt.
Morten Henriksen: Bag Blixens maske, Danmark 2011, 54 min. Filmen kan ses i fire biografer, i Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense og København.
Litt.: Morten Henriksen: Bag Blixens Maske, samtale med Aage Henriksen (2010), Aage Henriksen: Budbringersken, samlede essays om Karen Blixen (2008)
Written 03-05-2011 10:25:13 by Tue Steen Müller
Syrian human rights activists disappear… The statement below was originally issued as an online petition, but for safety reasons, this petition has now been closed down. Around 1000 film people from all over have signed. However, you can still show your support and solidarity by posting your message to the Syrian filmmakers on Facebook
‘To: Filmmakers Everywhere
Peaceful Syrian citizens are being killed today for their demands of basic rights and liberties.
Written 03-05-2011 10:22:55 by Tue Steen Müller
What do you do when you sit in an airplane, don’t want to read any more newspapers or have done enough mails for today? Well, I was lucky to have received the new DOX magazine, summer 2011, the 90th edition of the ”European Documentary Film Magazine”. It kept my attention for the a bit more than two hours it takes to go from Frankfurt to Sofia. I was informed and entertained – and simply happy to read about all the good documentaries which are being made.
I have previously saluted the editor, Truls Lie, for his own texts, and will do so again. I liked his worried editorial about ”aestheticizing” a theme like refugees, making them objects ”at the risk of somehow reducing their significant humanity” and he delivers a fine report from the Cinema for Peace ”circus” in Berlin with Sean Penn in the leading role. ”Sustaining Credibility” is the title of an informative and thoughtful article from German Bettina Rehmann, who refers to the many examples of branding within the modern documentary. Some, like the people around the Britdoc Foundation in the UK, live well with and support this development, others are worried that the independence of the documentary will go away.
DOX puts its emphasis on documentaries that are creative and relate to the world we live in. A good choice it is to have an article about ”Into Eternity” after Fukushima, and of course a report from a seminar in Berlin about docs on war has its tragic relevance. But for an old cat like me it is also nice to read an article on art films, where the name Luciano Emmer pops up, the master in this genre. There is also a historical element in the exemplary festival article on the festival Punto de Vista, where the memory of the masterpiece ”Les Statues meurent aussi” (1953) by Alain Resnais is brought back. Exemplary, I write, contrary to many articles in the magazine, because again the editor faces the problem on how to write festivals articles in a different way than by name-dropping of titles. Like Sverre V. Sand does so well. I know it is not easy... but also the critiques could be more precise in analysis, and less content descriptive. Yask Desai reviews Mark Isaacs ”Men of the City” first of all from a formal perspective. Well written and bringing new views.
I have still more to read in this important, high quality film magazine.
DOX, 58 pages, 10€, subscription: 28€, or membership of EDN. Photo from All that Glitters, reviewed in this issue, directed by Tomas Kudrna.
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Bartosz Paduch: Full support from Poland!!! Filmmakers all over the world - fight for your right to show your work!!! ...
Paul Pauwels: I hope I'm too pessimistic - and I will find out soon - but I've learned that it's not all gold that glitters... we'll see and in the mean time I'll k...
John Burgan: Sounds like a great initiative - just the sort of exchange that both schools can really benefit from....
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