Written 30-01-2012 18:50:16 by Tue Steen Müller
The festival is over. The closing film sunday night January 29 was Whores' Glory by Michael Glawogger, one of the most important documentarians of our time. There was almost a full house in the Sava Centre Cinema Hall, which means around 1500 people, who gave the director a warm applause for his, in own words, reflective representation of ”la condition humaine” as he put it in the 90 minutes Q&A after the film.
Glawogger can be strongly recommended to any kind of workshop or masterclass. He is not only a fine filmmaker in a classical way, he is also very articulated in his way of expressing, what he does. I am a filmmaker, not someone who is supposed to tell you whether I think prostitution is good or not, he said in Belgrade, stressing his non-moralistic approach. What I am offering you is a work of art, a unique insight to a world that few of us knows about. He brought up the topic that has been discussed in connection with other of his films – yes, I pay the people for what they are doing, and of course it is even more obvious to do so, when you deal with prostitutes for whom an interview should be paid for just as you pay for a blowjob.
How do you collaborate with your cameraman? We look for a story. The place we shoot must have a story in itself. We must give the room a clear definition and then develop a visual line.
I start filming when I sense that nothing is exotic any longer. But common. Not before.
Just a few examples of interesting pieces of food for thought from one of the directors who visited Magnificent7 in Belgrade 2012. When I left this morning the festival directors told me that the audience attendance had gone up again, as it has every year! Magnificent!
Written 30-01-2012 18:42:45 by Tue Steen Müller
Fernand Melgar, director and Elise Schuss, assistant director and executive producer, represented ”Vol Spécial”, and hosted an extremely interesting session about how their strong social documentary came to life. And after-life: 1 year of editing, 160 hours of material, more than 400 articles about the film and its issue in Swiss newspapers, succesful cinema release, after some fight with authorities screenings for students in schools, in a couple of months synchronised broadcast of the film on arte and Swiss tv channels followed by debate, the set-up of a webdocumentary version, also for arte, with interviews and texts AND the couple is right now following several of those characters, who were put on a direct flight back to their homeland because of the swiss law of them being illegal workers. That is to be a sequel to ”Vol Spécial”. Respect for that work and that commitment!
”I am a witness”, said Melgar, who also called himself ”a silent collaborator”. The film crew established a strong connection of trust to both the staff and the inmates at the detention centre. They actually got the keys to what is a prison so they could go in and out as they wanted. They had to stay neutral, of course, with their observational style, which for instance meant that they knew the day before who would be taken for the special flight. An information they were not able to pass on to those who had to leave. But they knew who was to be filmed. Every day, after the shooting, the crew sent the recorded material back to the editor, who watched it and gave feedback.
Does a film like this change something? Of course a difficult question to answer but ”Vol Spécial” has raised debate and in one case, where you see a man in the film being released, the filmmakers were sure that this was because of the filming of an interview performed by a policeman. The released man is now going with the filmmakers to screenings to put even more focus on this not-only-Swiss-situation where people, who have committed no crime, but work illegally,sometimes for years, are locked up in a detention centre (the filmmakers mentioned there were 350 camps in Europe, with 40.000 detainees).
Now it’s time for some sports, says the nice sympathetic guard whenever there are emotional outbursts among the detainees...
Written 30-01-2012 18:32:55 by Tue Steen Müller
The festival in Belgrade with 7 feature documentaries from Europe makes the invited directors work! All of them are obliged to lead a workshop, that has its 7 sessions of two hours. The session takes place the day after their respective films have been shown. The workshoppers are primarily young filmmakers, some from film schools, others with one or two completed works. But also people connected to other art forms or journalism take part. The workshop language is English.
Two other obligations are to be fulfilled. The directors meet with audience for Q & A sessions that can run from half an hour to one and a half hour.
Furthermore no director leaves Belgrade without having made a 1-3 minute visual statement (not necessarily a talking face, a lot of originality has been put into these small films) that answers the question: What is a documentary for me? Including the ones that have been shot during the last days, the collection of doc statements will rise to more than 50. Quite an achievement!
Written 30-01-2012 18:18:53 by Tue Steen Müller
Your batteries get charged at these workshops. You get to know how the filmmakers perform their craft. It is as simple as that. Some filmmakers have pedagogical skills, others need help, and indeed they receive that through Zoran Popovic, who is together with his wife director of the festival and teachers at their own film school Kvadrat in Belgrade. Popovic is a master in interviewing the filmmakers about their work and – when needed – he is a perfect interpreter who brings the English language into Serbian word-by-word.
It is the choice of the directors to find the focus for their workshop session. Gary Tarn, ”The Prophet”, had brought his camera and talked about how he looks like a tourist, walking around with his plastic bag with a camera looking to catch moments that he could use in ”the Prophet” or in his previous work ”Black Sun”, shown at the festival in 2006. Tarn, who composes the music for his films himself, explained how he found the right rythm for the voice of Thandie Newton, who reads the Khalil Gibran text. ”Her voice is scored”.
Audrius Stonys, Lithuanian film poet, took the workshoppers on a filmographic journey of his own work. He showed clips from ”Antigravitation”, ”Flying over Blue Fields” and ”Alone” as a prologue to a talk about ”Ramin” (photo), a talk that had an interesting production story added by the producer of the film, Latvian Uldis Cekulis.
Gereon Wetzel, director of ”El Bulli” brought along film openings for discussion, among them he made a comparison between the opening of the film version (108 mins) and of the tv version (90 mins.). Wetzel mentioned that he and his crew used to be ”hanging around creativity”, waiting for the right moments and filming according to the American ”direct cinema” rules: never ask anyone to do anything.
Written 26-01-2012 12:51:25 by Tue Steen Müller
Edition 8 of the Belgrade based feature length European documentary festival. The opening was last night and the audience was there again, hundreds, maybe almost 1000 spectators for each of the two films that were screened in the big hall of the Sava Centre. Zoran Popovic, who is the mastermind behind the festival together with his wife Svetlana, the two people with whom I since the beginning of the festival have been working on the selection of the 7, and it is only 7, magnificent films, made a beautiful speech including the mention of the sad news about the tragic death of Greek and European director Theo Angelopoulos, a source of inspiration for all filmmakers and art film lovers.
British director Gary Tarn was back in Belgrade with his ”The Prophet” that includes material that he shot when he was in Belgrade in 2007 to show ”Black Sun”. Again he puts you as a spectator in a wonderful meditative mood with his flow of images that you can dive into and that juxtaposes with the text, that he has chosen from cult author Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), whose classic ”The Prophet” he wrote in 1923.
The second film at the opening evening was Portuguese director Miguel Mendes ”José and Pilar” (photo), featuring nobel prize winner José Saramago and his wife, journalist Pilar del Rio. The film has many layers. It is a love story. It is a story about an old man, an extremely charming old man and his fight against Time. It is a story about a journalist who dedicates all her time to her husband, managing his legacy in a very efficient and caring manner. It is a light film, with a lot of humour, and it works so well because of the details Mendes has caught during the four years that he was following the couple. They ”adopted” me, said the director in the Q&A after the film.
Today, thursday, there is one film on the agenda: ”Ramin” by Audrius Stonys from Lithuania. Stonys is here as is his Latvian producer Uldis Cekulis.
From a Belgrade full of snow, and handball fans and supporters. Why are sport journalists so fat, said my wife this morning at Hotel Continental, at the breakfast the morning after Denmark qualified for the semifinals against all odds after the first matches.
Written 23-01-2012 23:27:48 by Tue Steen Müller
Den svenske instruktør Magnus Gerttens mesterstykke "Håbets Havn", som er anmeldt på engelsk på filmkommentaren, bliver vist på DR2 på onsdag den 25 kl. 20.30 i en én-times udgave. Og på SVT2 dagen efter, den 26, kl.20 med flere genudsendelser.
Her er et klip fra den begejstrede anmeldelse af en film, som er ganske enestående: It is brilliant. With a classical approach and with a fine balance between conveying information and creating emotions, the film lets three holocaust survivors tell their story, starting from the time point where they arrive with the Red Cross buses from the camps to Malmö – going, in a fine montage, back in time to what happened before and afterwards.
Written 22-01-2012 12:08:05 by Tue Steen Müller
The first tv-documentary episode of the arte (German-French) crossmedia event, presented on this site a couple of weeks ago, is online for a free preview, also for viewers outside France and Germany. The 52 mins. documentary, to be broadcast on arte this coming tuesday, directed by Andrei Nekrasov, covers the period 1975-1979 in the series that in its 6 parts goes up to 1991.
It is too early to make a review of the tv series – I will wait until the whole series is out on dvd – announced to be on February 8 – also to be able to watch a version without dubbed voices as here in French or in German. Nevertheless, having watched the German version expectations are met by the work of Nekrasov, who instead of a tv-normal-boring third person commentary has chosen what is called a father-daughter dialogue. The young woman in the film is the daughter of Nekrasov, Tatjana, in the film carrying the name Gagarina! In the introduction at the site of arte it is said:
“Ein Dialog zwischen Vater und Tochter bildet den roten Faden der Serie: Der Vater, geboren in den 50er Jahren, wurde nach sowjetischen Ideal erzogen, während die Tochter, eine moderne junge Europäerin auf der Suche nach ihren Wurzeln, in den 80er Jahren im Westen aufwuchs…”
In other words, the father has lived it, the daughter wants to understand what went wrong with socialism and is the one who gives the viewer the background verbally accompanied by archive material from documentary and fiction films as well as interviews with people like the interpreter of Ceaucescu, the close advisor to Brezhnev, the man who blew the statue of Czekoslovak communist leader Klement Gottwald into pieces.
Written 20-01-2012 16:58:38 by Tue Steen Müller
An introduction taken from the synopsis of the film that had its world premiere at idfa 2011: Sociology professor Nicolae Dumitru believes strongly in true love. So strongly in fact that he has devoted his entire life to expounding his theory, which he calls Noosfera. His own scientific research, which he has chalked beautifully onto large sheets of paper, forms the foundation for his conviction that now, after four billion years, the spiritual era is about to dawn. From now on, society will develop solely in line with human need - and love will prevail. The fact that he has been largely unsuccessful in putting his theory into practice in his own life leaves him unfazed...
Indeed it does, and indeed the film circles around Nico, as he is called by the two of his wives, who live – literally – next door in the house, where he reigns behind a wall (the Berlin Wall one of the ex-wives calls it!) that he has had built to separate himself and his new wife to the old one! There is one more wife, who is only for a glimpse in the film, but the son is there, a skilled piano player with no contact to the patriarchal father, who pushed him to develop his creative talent.
Nico at the university where he teaches. Nico with Carmen, the new wife, much younger than him, will that work out?, Nico exercising on the balcony of the house in the small part where he lives. ”You can’t be a dreamer if you are not free”, says Nico, who also takes some weeks off to be alone in the mountains with his thoughts and with almost no food. When he comes back, having lost 10 kilos, he talks briefly to Melania, ”the transition wife”, as she says about herself. She is the one who best characterises the professor, showing photos of the two and love letters from him. Warm and aware of the excentricity of Nico, she is, as are the two directors, a couple, who again show s talent for catching everyday life situations and originality with respect, warmth and humour. Ileana Stanculescu made ”Village of Socks” and ”The Bridge”, Artchil Khetagouri ”Akhmeteli Street no. 4” from his home country, Georgia.
Written 20-01-2012 12:59:40 by Tue Steen Müller
In Danish language as this is about primarily Danish documentaries that are sold through the online shop of the daily newspaper Information.
Vi hører det tit på redaktionen: Åh, men hvor kan man få fat i alle de film, som I skriver om. Svaret er enkelt, søg på nettet, gå til amazon, gå til de mange fremragende vod (video on demand) udbydere, som der er, bestil hos de internationale distributører eller gå ned i videobutikken og bestil, der er flere og flere dokumentarfilm på hykderne. Jo, man skal gøre noget selv for at fat på kvalitet.
Det er ikke svært, hvis I vil have fat i danske dokumentarer, ihvertfald af nyere dato. Mange produktionsselskaber sælger selv deres film, Cinematekets boghandel i København har en fin hjemmeside, hvorfra der kan bestilles, og så er der jo filmstriben, der samarbejder med lokale biblioteker.
Men for at gøre en lang historie kort: Nu har dagbladet Information endelig oppet sig og fået udvidet sit sortiment. 40 gode dokumentarfilm er nu til at bestille, de fleste danske med Anne Wivels smukke Svend som flagskibet, men også med Ada Søbys visuelle essay Naked of Saint Petersburg, Max Kestners roste Drømme i København (foto), Janus Metz dobbelte Fra Thailand til Thy/Fra Thy til Thailand, Vibe Mogensens gribende Min Fars Sind, som blev klippet af Nanna Frank Møller, hvis egen Someone Like You også kan købes.
”Læg i kurven”, hedder det på internet’sk, og så kunne man jo også lige tage Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man med, 49 kroner!
Written 19-01-2012 15:55:18 by Tue Steen Müller
It’s been a while ago since a text has been posted about the Arab Spring and specifically the Syrian Revolution. Not that nothing happens, on the contrary, the brutality and killings continue in Syria. I do, as many others I am sure, follow what happens primarily through Facebook that has links to YouTube with daily small reports about shootings and demonstrations in the streets. I told a Syrian friend about the frustration I get not to be able to read or understand Arabic. He answered that I should be happy about that because it would just mean me going from frustration to pure worrying.
But moments like this stimulates the creativity and the young woman on the photo makes her point with a text that I have had translated:
Grow your Brain, not your Beard.
Written 19-01-2012 01:18:55 by Tue Steen Müller
The programme of the upcoming documentary festival in Barcelona, January 31-February 5, has been published. The selection is rich in quality and variety, and as usual the festival has its categories and for the second year the festival is competitive.
Apart from the Official Selection, there is a section with current affairs documentaries entitled DocsAffairs, a talent category with the name Doc! Doc! Doc!, films for school children, master classes (including one with Russian director Viktor Kossakovsky, whose ”Vivan las Antipodas!” will be screened in the official selection) and a section called Finisterrae with ”films that explore innovative ways to portray reality, distancing themselves from the canonical models and using new formal resources. As its name indicates, Finisterrae will bring us documentaries that are positioned at the fringes or outer limits of the production; works that have opted for a pioneering language. Indeed, all of these films involve an implicit research and formal risk.” Sounds exciting!
Many films come from other international festivals, often with awards, like Polish Pawel Kloc’s exciting and controversial ”Phnom Penh Lullaby” or Ruthie Shatz & Adi Barash’ ”The Collaborator and His Family” (photo), shot in Tel Aviv where the Palestinian, who spied for Israel fights to survive and gain respect from the Israeli authorities. ”Rouge Parole” by Tunisian Elyes Baccar is a fresh documentation and interpretation of the revolution in the country and ”Give Up Tomorrow” by Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco is the touching story about Paco, a Philippine man who has been in jail for years for a murder that he could not have committed. In a master class the two behind the film will give an inside to how they through the film were able to change the situation of Paco.
The pitching forum of DOCSBarcelona celebrates its 15th edition with the presentation of 24 projects to around 30 international broadcasters, distributors and representatives from funds and markets. On top of that a special mini Latin Forum is arranged with 6 specially selected projects from that region. Barcelona is not only professional top football, it is also a unique place for the best of the best of the creative documentary genre.
Written 18-01-2012 17:18:00 by Tue Steen Müller
The following (edited) text about good times for documentaries in cinemas is taken from the Realscreen site:
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is reintroducing an award category for best documentary, “in recognition of the number of high-quality theatrical documentaries” being made. The new category will be simply called “Documentary”.
A theatrical documentary award was presented by BAFTA between 1948 and 1990, but dropped thereafter, with docs recognised in the major film categories only. In a statement, the organization said: “BAFTA’s Film Committee has chosen to re-introduce this category now in recognition of the number of high-quality theatrical documentaries released in cinemas in the UK each year.”
“Films from all countries will be eligible as long as they have a theatrical release in the UK. The award will only usually be presented if 15 or more films are entered. A specialist Documentary Chapter of BAFTA Film Voting Members will vote for a longlist of five films during the round one vote and then will vote again in round two to decide the three nominations. The winner will be selected by all Film Voters during round three voting.”
Asif Kapadia’s Senna (photo), James Marsh’s Project Nim and Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison, Living in the Material World have been selected as the three documentary prize nominees for the 2012 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Film Awards.
Notably, Senna also lands a nomination in the Outstanding British Film category – the first time a documentary has been nominated in the category since Marsh’s Man On Wire, which won the prize in 2009. Prior to that, Kevin Macdonald’s Touching The Void also picked up the award, in 2004.
Senna, Nim and Material World were culled from a five-strong doc longlist that also included Pina and Macdonald’s Life in a Day. The 2012 BAFTA Film Awards’ winners will be announced on February 12 at the Royal Opera House in London, England.
Written 17-01-2012 12:14:57 by Tue Steen Müller
DOCAlliance, the vod of six quality documentary film festivals (FID Marseilles has just joined cph:dox, Visions du Réel Nyon, DOK Leipzig, Planete Doc Review Warsaw and Jihlava IDFF) is very appealing for documentary lovers. Their selection is excellent, their texts about the films are as well, and to get more people to watch, DOCAlliance launches some offers you can’t refuse.
Like now with five films of world class Israeli director Avi Mograbi, very well known by readers of filmkommentaren.dk. The films of Mograbi which are now available, and can be streamed for free TODAY, and after that be watched for very low prices, are:
How I Learned to Overcome my Fear (1997), Happy Birthday, Mr Mograbi (1999), August (photo) (2002), Avenge, but One of my Two Eyes (2005) and Z32 (2008).
Written 16-01-2012 14:07:36 by Tue Steen Müller
The world’s best film? No doubt for me, Marcel Carné’s ”Les Enfants du Paradis” from 1945, shot during the German occupation, script by Jacques Prévert with the best of best of French actors like Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoit and Jean-Louis Barrault AND the star over all stars, Arletty.
Pure pleasure it could only be to watch this tv-documentary that takes us behind the scenes with archive interviews to meet Prévert, Arletty and Carné, a story guided by, among others, director Bertrand Tavernier, photos from the shooting, a lot of anecdotes, and the sad story about Arletty, who had a love affair with a German office, went to prison, and thus could not be there for the premiere of the film in 1945 because of her ”collaboration”. A film that at the same time became a symbol of the French liberation!
Garance and Baptiste, Arletty and Barrault. Carné and Prévert, touching it is to see the latter, in an interview from 1969, say that all films are actually documentaries, Arletty is performing in a film that is about herself. Prévert wrote the role to her as well as the lines.
Lucky you, who have not yet seen ”Les Enfants du Paradis”, and lucky us who can see it gain and again.... and thanks to the digital channel of DR/K, who showed the documentary about the masterpiece on a grey monday morning.
2009, 50 mins., made for France 5
Written 15-01-2012 14:57:07 by Allan Berg Nielsen
".. on free speech in documentary film", hedder underteksten, er på farefuld vej ud i distribution. For Dole Food Company kan bestemt ikke lide forgængeren Bananas!*, og nu forsøger dette verdens største frugtfirma at forhindre lanceringen af fortsættelsen i USA, som med titlen Big Boys Gone Bananas!* netop handler om Doles forsøg på således at undertrykke ytringsfrihed i en film.
Fredrik Gertten samler nu penge ind til advokatbistand især, så han kan få sin mere og mere vigtige film vist i USA. Se trailer og hjemmeside om sagen her.
Written 14-01-2012 17:33:09 by Tue Steen Müller
Danish producer Lise Lense-Møller passed on this great news asking if it could be interesting for our readers. Absolutely! Below quotes from emails from yesterday from Joshua to the producer, her team and the director Anders Østergaard:
“Dear All, I am writing this to share one of the most wonderful news for us. Myanmar government released 651 political prisoners and "all our VJs have been included in this amnesty." Everybody who took part in making of Burma VJ are freed now and in good health and spirit. I believe you deserve to share our joy.
I am now seriously thinking whether it is a good time to go back and start making more documentaries about Burma. I will write more later about it. This mail is just to thank you for all your efforts in making of Burma VJ, which played a significant role in changing the situation in Burma.”
… and further on in another mail:
“I called to four of the VJs today and they say thanks to you all. They said they heard a lot about the success of Burma VJ since they were in prison. One of them is called "Oscar" by his jailmates because of nomination news (for an Academy Award, ed.). Ko Maung joked that "One thing that upsets him is that we didn't hire a handsome guy such as Brat Pitt to play his role." We had Big LOL. :). But he said he was so pleased to know that someone could use the footage he has sacrificed for in a very effective way. This time, he is serious and no joking. :)
He will support Aung San Suu Kyi's works whenever he can. Someone is going to share Burma VJ DVDs to all of them and they will have chance to see a documentary about them in a few days time. They all are really happy now.”
Written 13-01-2012 13:18:42 by Tue Steen Müller
Countdown for the 8th edition of the European Feature Documentary Film Festival, always an adventurous experience for this documentary consultant and co-selector of the 7 films together with Svetlana and Zoran Popovic.
It takes place in Belgrade January 25-29, in the Sava Centre, the audience will be huge, and representatives (6 directors and 1 director of photography) from the films selected will be there to meet the audience and share their film view and practice in a workshop that takes place the day after the screening of their film. So join the party, come to Belgrade if you want to meet Gary Tarn, Miguel Goncalves Mendes, Audrius Stonys, Fernand Melgar, Gereon Wetzel, Xavier Arpino and Michael Glawogger.
Check the site. Here follows my welcome words:
January 25th 2012 at 7pm the opening of the 8th Magnificent7 film festival. I write film to stress that this is a festival for films that are made to be screened on a big screen to an audience that appreciates this mix of a social, entertaining and artistic experience in times where films (also) are meant for small computers, ipads, well even mobile phones. An audience who appreciates to sit with hundreds of other people and take in what comes from the screen to the heart and to the brain. I am sure that you will agree that whether you like the films or not, you will never leave the cinema untouched by what you saw.
I am one of those, who never leaves the cinema untouched and who comes to
Read more / Læs mere
Written 12-01-2012 20:13:29 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Vi forbinder bestemte historiske begivenheder med bestemte personer, de er vores hovedpersoner før, filmene gør dem til det. Dobbelt betydningsbærende. De tre stills i Filmkommentarens hoved kunne være de to bloggeres personlige bud på tre sådanne scener med tre særlige medvirkende i tre uomgængelige film. / The three stills above are from films strongly appreciated by the two bloggers, in important scenes and with main characters in the films as well as in specific periods of our history.
1) Vietnamkrigen erindret af Robert McNamara under sindrigt pres i Errol Morris: The Fog of War (2003). ”Det er måske Morris’ berømte spejlarrangement ved interviews, som gør det. McNamaras blik, fortælling og tolkning plus hans intensitet former uafrysteligt min opfattelse af verdenshistorien den sidste halvdel af 1900-tallet.” (Allan Berg Nielsen i filmkommentaren.dk) / The Vietnam War as it was recalled by Robert McNamara, pushed by Errol Morris in "The Fog of War" (2003). "Maybe it is the famous mirror arrangement at the interviews that does it. The glance of McNamara, his storytelling, his interpretation plus his intensity shakes completely my look at world history during the last half of the 20th century.”
2) Militærkuppets fly mod præsidentpaladset iagttaget af Salvador Allende omgivet af livvagter i Patricio Guzman: The Battle of Chile (1975-1979). / The attack on La Moneda watched by Salvador Allende surrounded by his guards in Patricio Guzman's "The Battle of Chile" (1975-79). "How could a team of five - some with no previous film experience - working with one Éclair camera, one Nagra sound recorder, two vehicles and a package of black-and-white film stock sent to them by the French documentarian Chris Marker produce a work of this magnitude?” (Pauline Kael in The New Yorker).
3) Den nye tjekkiske politiske kultur levet af Vaclav Havel i blot en af utallige værtshusdiskussioner i Pavel Koutecký og Miroslav Janek: Citizen Havel (2008). ”I 12 år fulgte Pavel Koutecký og hans hold Havel, i det offentlige og i det private rum og ud af det er kommet en helt vidunderlig, morsom og gribende fortælling om en helt vidunderlig mand, der hele vejen igennem beholder sin integritet og viser at den ærlige og kærlige mand naturligvis ikke kan undgå at løbe ind i problemer, når han skal have med politik at gøre.” (Tue Steen Müller i filmkommentaren.dk) / The new Czech political culture as it was lived by Vaclav Havel in one of many café discussions in Pavel Koutecky and Miroslav Janek's Citizen Havel (2008). "For 12 years Pavel Koutecky and his crew followed Havel, in public and privately, and from that material a wonderful film has been made, funny and touching it is about a fine man, who keeps his integrity and shows that an honest and loveable man of course must run into problems when he enters politics."
Written 12-01-2012 14:42:31 by Tue Steen Müller
Of course it is a scoop to get close to the inner circles of Putin’s youth movement Nashi through Masha Drokova. And to come out with this film now, when things are moving in Russia. It deserves to be seen all over, for sure. And it is a scoop to include journalist Oleg Kashin, who was almost beaten to death after critical comments towards Putin and the movement. As well as the opposition politican Ilya Yashin.
BUT the most interesting and dangerous man in the story, the founder of Nashi, the good looking demagogue, Vasily Yakemenko, who rethorically seduces the youngsters to fight for ”a clean Russia” and who is now kind of minister of Youth, he is not really a character in the film, even if he is so much in the picture, literally. His rude behaviour towards Masha, who at a moment seems to be in love with him, is once revealed, and his approval with an evil smile of the disgusting action with the trampling on photos of opposition politicians and critical journalists is caught by the camera. Yakemenko is his master’s voice, a man of power, a manipulator. Was it not possible to get him and his ideology more into the film?
I am asking this because I have doubts about the strenght in the story as it unfolds now. The film obviously has structural, storytelling problems. It does not establish the story up front where you in surveillance camera b/w images see someone beeing beaten up without linking this to Oleg Kashin, who through a voice-off tells: This is a film about a young woman, who goes into a political movement, becomes one of their spokespersons, gets a tv show as a journalist but starts to doubt the brutality of the Nashi and begins to meet some of the opposition people.
AND makes her decision when Oleg Kashin is being attacked. We know later that he is the victim when the b/w sequence is repeated. The growing friendship between the two of them and her decision to quit Nashi comes thus as a kind of surprise. It is a pity that the film lacks flow because both young Masha and the damaged Oleg are interesting to follow. For me it seems like a problem that the film wants to be both a character driven story and a journalistic report on Nisha and the opposition.
Premiere in Danish cinemas January 19. Oleh Kashin and Ilya Yashin will attend. The film goes to Sundance and open in American cinemas after the festival.
Denmark, 82 mins
Written 12-01-2012 14:29:45 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Wim Wenders 3D-dansedokumentar om koreografen Pina Bausch har dansk premiere i dag. Filmen har modtaget importstøtte fra Det Danske Filminstitut, som videremeddeler, at Politiken og Berlingske giver topkarakterer.
Det gjorde i sin tid Tue Steen Müller også her på siden, han gav imponeret og begejstret seks spidse penne til Wenders film. Vi genanbringer dem lige og linker til anmeldelsen.
Written 11-01-2012 11:34:10 by Tue Steen Müller
Twenty years ago. The fall of the empire, USSR and the communist regimes in the East bloc. Time to look back. And time to use different media to approach the huge overall theme from many angles and with many eye-witnesses involved. Produced by the companies, German Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduktion and French Artline Productions, what was launched yesterday is ”a multimedia event” with a tv-series of 6 x 52 mins., a webformat (also called webdoc) and a book. The book has been out since September 2011, the tv-series will be broadcast January 24, 31 and February 7 (2 parts each evening) on arte and be published on dvd by February 8, by arte that is the main financial locomotive of this big production.
The site is there now and I have used some hours this morning to enjoy it. The build-up is very simple: 30 postcards lead to 30 people born in the USSR or in former East Bloc countries like GDR, Poland, Romania, Czekoslovakia and Hungary. For each person there is a small 3-5 minutes long film based on interviews and archive material with reference to topics that can be studied with more text and sometimes with more archive material. 22 topics are covered like sports, youth, resistance, dictatorship, love, youth etc. There are photos of the 30 protagonists who cover a wide range of backgrounds, not only geographically but also socially. There are an Olympic champion, a zoo keeper, an engineer, a school teacher, a couple of journalists, a counter-intelligence officer, a choir member etc. You can choose language when you surf on the site: English, French, German, Hungarian and Norwegian! The short films are subtitled, no dubbing, thanks for that. It is quite a pleasant, interactive is the word for it, experience to visit this site, take it in bites, and use it in schools for the new generations. It is, as said in the promotion material ”stories from throughout the countries of the former Soviet Union about friendship, passion, rebellion and beliefs, offering unique insight into day-to-day life beyond the Iron Curtain and the dynamic behind the collapse.” Well-done and well conveyed information, anecdotes and personal it is, sometimes fun, sometimes tough to hear and see.
The book: ”was published by C.H. Beck in September 2011.The famous historian and writer György Dalos covers in six chapters the major events of the communist system in Europe between 1975 and 1991 and gives inside view into the everyday-life behind the Iron Curtain.”
The TV-series: that is linked to the book mentioned, has been directed by well-known Russian director Andrei Nekrasov, who has made films on
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Written 11-01-2012 08:35:45 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Anmeldelsen af Fergusons film førte en diskussion med sig. Først en kommentar her på filmkommentaren.dk af Mikkel Stolt, hvorefter diskussionen sidste weekend fortsatte på Katrine Kiilgaards Facebookside.
Mikkel Stolt: Den film har vi diskuteret meget her på kontoret, og jeg hælder til at være lidt uenig med dig. Personligt finder jeg den mere intellektuelt imponerende end engagerende. Jeg tror ikke, at endeløse billeder af ansigter, grafer og bygninger parret med manglende tid til refleksion og følelsesmæssig involvering er den rette metode til at fortælle den her frygtelige og vigtige historie på film. Filmen har sine øjeblikke (især mod slutningen) men som film eller værk betragtet stiller jeg mig skeptisk. Det svarer næsten til at sige, at en finansrapport er god litteratur. Desuden er den på kanten af at være selvretfærdig og postulerende (og det her siges af en ræverød anti-kapitalist, som meget gerne ville forstå), og jeg ville selv foretrække en vinkel, der gjorde begivenhederne mere menneskeligt begribelige eller vendte ting om eller stillede ting på hovedet. Jeg ved ikke hvordan præcis, men jeg tænkte bl.a. følgende undervejs: Hvorfor fik bestyrelsesmedlemmerne så store bonusser, når nu de var så dårlige til deres job? Fordi de var GODE til deres job – de skaffede sig selv og deres venner kæmpe afkast. Og er vi selv ikke alle forblændet af udsigten til at tjene kassen uden at løfte en finger? En film skal efter min mening bringe sig selv eller sit publikum i spil, når det handler om noget så vigtigt for os alle. Men jeg kan se på Mette Hoffmanns Facebook-væg, at DR er tilfreds med seertal og debat, så måske er det bare mig.
Katrine Kiilgaard: Jeg forstår dine indvendinger, Mikkel. Det er en meget intellektuel film, og den udnytter måske således ikke de oplagte filmiske virkemidler, men det er at gå for langt at ligne den med en økonomisk rapport. Således er jeg enig med Allan i, at den fuldstændigt uforlignelige, tørre interviewteknik og denne række af ansigters reaktion herpå jo giver os noget, vi ikke kunne have læst i en rapport.
Mikkel Stolt: Måske gik jeg for langt i min utilfredshed, for jeg nød også flere aspekter af filmen. Ikke desto mindre ser jeg nogle skismaer, som netop er udtryk for dokumentarfilmens svøbe: Er emnet altid vigtigere end formen? Var frugtskålen vigtigere end penselstrøgene for van Gogh? Vi skal huske, at vi taler toppen af poppen af dokumentarfilm her; en fuckin' Oscar-vinder! Så for mig er det her en helt essentiel diskussion vedr. dokumentarfilmen som kunstart: Er denne film information eller kunst?
Foto: Charles Ferguson under optagelserne af "Inside Job".
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Written 10-01-2012 19:56:03 by Tue Steen Müller
It is going well for Danish documentaries, and it is not only we Danes who say so in the general halleluja-how-good-we-are atmosphere that often reign here. The Swedish say so (9 documentaries to be shown at the upcoming Gothenburg International Film Festival) as well as the Americans, according to the number of docs to be shown at the coming Sundance festival, 3 out of 4 Danish titles. Idfa, the biggest festival for the genre in the world, had ”The Ambassador” as the opening film and so on so forth.
And back home the documentary is now being acknowledged. The national Bodil Awards, which constitute the major Danish film awards given by Denmark's National Association of Film Critics, to be distributed in March, include now a nomination of five documentaries, for the first time in the history of the awards. The nominees are: The Will (Testamentet), Christian Sønderby. The Ambassador (Ambassadøren), Mads Brügger. Svend, Anne Regitze Wivel. ½ Revolution, Karim El Hakim og Omar Shargawi. The President (Præsidenten), Christoffer Guldbrandsen. On a personal note: This is really good news, I still remember the lobbying for this to happen that we were many who performed occasionally during the 20 years I worked at the National Film Board of Denmark (Statens Filmcentral). Without result. Were the documentaries worse back in the 70’es, 80’es, 90’es? No. Was the visibility for documentaries in the general opinion worse? Absolutely! Has the documentary genre developed along with the technical development going from film to video? For sure!
Which is also evident when you look at a press release that reached us today from the DoxBio: Proudly it is announced that the number of tickets sold for documentaries through DoxBio theatrical distribution to the Danish cinemas in 2011 had grown from around 20.000 to 77.078. The bestseller is Svend (photo) about the late socialdemocratic politician Svend Auken which reached 40.542 with The Ambassador as number 2 with 18.326 and Eva Mulvad’s The Good Life with 10.879. 42 cinemas take part in DoxBio. Still, these numbers do not at all compete with the 135.000 tickets sold for Janus Metz Armadillo a couple of years ago.
Written 08-01-2012 14:00:27 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Jeg glædede mig vildt til at se den film, og jeg må skrive lige med det samme: Det gik ikke så godt. Måske godt nok, faktisk fint i begyndelsen, men så blev jeg efterhånden tøvende til det afvisende, selv om der er fine steder i filmen, også senere, ja, hele vejen igennem.
Jeg ser ikke filmen som de anmeldere jeg har læst. Rettere, jeg så ikke filmen sådan. Jeg bliver nødt til at se den igen. I hvert fald. For Saramagos skyld, han svigter ikke. For Pilar del Rios, hun er meget til stede, autentisk på sin helt modsatte måde. Saramago underspiller. Klart. Jeg skriver ikke, at hun overspiller. Jeg må især se den for Mendes’ skyld. Hvad er det han gør galt? (Hvis da noget er galt..) Jeg må for min egen skyld finde ud af, om det bare er noget med mig. (Det kan det sagtens være..) Og Tue Steen Müller for eksempel synes filmen er vidunderlig.
Saramago siger et vigtigt sted: ”Jeg har ideer til romaner og Pilar har ideer til liv.” Mendes kan have haft til hensigt at bygge sin film på denne dobbelthed. Imidlertid er en tofløjet tavle en vanskelig konstruktion. Der er det med balancen, element for element over midtaksen. Og vi kommer ikke meget ind i forfatterværkstedet, vi kommer meget ud på rejser, deltager i endeløse receptioner, står i lange køer for at få signaturen, lytter på forelæsninger af den slags, at selv vedkommende tilhørere som Gabriel Garcia Marquez og José Saramago må kæmpe med søvnigheden.
Er livet mere levende end en roman? Fernando Pessoa ville svare: ”Hvis nogen skulle komme og fortælle mig, at det er absurd at tale sådan om en, der aldrig har eksisteret, vil jeg svare, at jeg heller ikke har beviser for at Lissabon nogensinde har eksisteret, eller at jeg som skriver har, eller for den sags skyld noget som helst andet.” Han talte vist om sit heteronym Ricardo Reis, som var opfundet så levende, at Saramago senere måtte lade ham dø inde i en romans virkelighed.
Jeg vil se den film igen. Ikke som et litterært, filosofisk værk, heller ikke som en journalistisk reportage. Nej, som den kærlighedshistorie, den vist først og sidst vil være, som det still, jeg har valgt, viser.
Written 04-01-2012 10:21:09 by Allan Berg Nielsen
Jeg melder lige ud med det samme: den film kan jeg godt lide. Den er betydeligt mere overbevisende, end de danske anmeldelser efter premieren sidste år lod mig tro, den er et fuldt forståeligt vredt angreb på Wall Street spillerne, økonomerne og direktørerne. Den berømte gades verden set som et banalt casino, klædt af til skindet, medvirkende efter medvirkende, i en imponerende klippet række krydsforhør, som Ferguson gennemfører uden at lade sig forstyrre det mindste af alle mulige forsøg på intimidering, som den medvirkende på dette still fra filmen (han hedder R. GlennHubbard og var George W. Bush`s nærmeste økonomiske rådgiver og stod bag dereguleringerne), som ser sur ud, fordi han flere gang har sagt, at han kun vil tre mintter mere, og Ferguson fortsætter uanfægtet og fotografen selvfølgelig bare følger trop. Fergusons vrede er disciplineret i en yderst velforberedt saglig tørhed som var det Orienterings vidunderlige Jesper Tynell på vej fra avisernes Cavling til filmenes Academy Award. Ferguson og han har fortjent hver sin pris på beslægtet journalistisk metodik.
Written 03-01-2012 15:34:05 by Tue Steen Müller
Once you get the bit heavy narrative rythm under your skin, this film opens beautifully its theme, finds its calmness and develops the characteristics of its protagonists. It is a family film with a son, who by the way just became a father himself, the film is dedicated to his daughter, and also therefore wants to know about the past of his parents, in the film at least about that dramatic period where they, with him as a baby, got away from Malaysia.
The family Nguyen comes from Vietnam and like many others they fled their country in the late 70’es – in 1979, the statistics say that 400.000 did so! They came to the Malaysian island Pulau Bidong, their son was born and it was from here they were lucky to get to Austria where they live a good but also hard life as well integrated immigrants. The father, wonderful to hear him talk German with a local accent, is a farmer in the countryside, the mother works in Vienna and comes home during the weekends. Their story in Austria is in itself interesting to watch but works also as a kind of prologue to where the real story unfolds: the filmmaker son and the parents take off to the island in Malaysia to find the man, Ali is his name, who helped them create a new life.
The travel itself brings freshness to the film. Where especially the father seesm to be sad and introvert when the talk comes to the past, in the dialogues with his son, he – and the film – gets energy from the meetings with two dedicated Malaysians with a past in Pulau Bidong. They suit the film and will do anything to make father Qang happy as the travel around brings fine situations, humour and a bit of suspense... will they find Ali? There are many memorable scenes like the one where the Vietnamese are gathered around a table talking or almost singing unstoppably.
It is a joy to watch this film for its warmth and respectful, fine balance between sadness and getting sentimental. There is a small interview with the director on the IDF website, click below.
Austria, 78 mins.
Written 02-01-2012 15:08:07 by Tue Steen Müller
For the English readers: The Danish documentary strand Dokumania, that broadcasts on DR2, starts the new year with high quality films: Oscar-winner ”Inside Job” by Charles Ferguson, continued the week after by ”The Interrupters” by Steve James (to be remembered for his masterpiece ”Hoop Dreams”, staying in the US to celebrate Mohammed Ali’s 70th year birthday on January 17th, ending with Palestinian/Danish Omar Shargawi’s Cairo documentary ”1/2 Revolution”.
For the Danish readers: Der er grund til at holde øje med Dokumania i januar måned. Det starter godt med den oskar-belønnede ”Wall Street Indefra” (”The Inside Job”) af Charles Ferguson, fortsætter med ”Chicagos Gadeengle” ( The Interrupters”), som jeg personligt glæder mig til at se efter spaltevis af rosende omtale af Steve James’ film – det var ham med basketballfilmen ”Hoop Dreams” – så fejres Mohammed Ali’s 70 år på dagen, den 17. Januar, med canadiske ”Mohammad Ali – den største”, og som sidste film i januar vises ”1/2 Revolution” (foto) af Omar Shargawi, som der bl.a. blev skrevet følgende om på dette site:
The quality of this film lies with the fact that the Palestinian/Danish director succeeds to personalize the story. He and his friends lived in the centre of Cairo, close to the Tahir Square. From their windows they could follow the violent clashes between police and demonstrators, from hour to hour, in a flat where there was also a baby stumbling around among grown-ups like the director himself, who have family outside he country and who of course worry about what could happen to their dear ones. It does indeed gives the situation another perspective, and the film a tension different from the youtube uploaded clip documentations from the fights in the streets…
På dansk igen: Dokumania’s hjemmeside er generelt udmærket, denne gang er der dog sjusket – “The Interrupters” er krediteret med Nanna Frank Møller som instruktør (!) og I forbindelse med trailer-henvisninger er der gået kuk I linkningen fra filmen om Mohammad Ali med henvisninger til to andre film. Når det er sagt, læg så også mærke til at (nogle af de) gamle udsendelser kan ses tredive dage efter – bla. Göran Olssons fremragende Black Panther-arkiv film.
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