Written 30-03-2012 14:42:38 by Allan Berg Nielsen
An academic film team would normally make me, a documentary addict, shiver with fear for the outcome of 48, in this case no, for that simple reason that I had seen the team’s previous film that perfectly combined the background of aesthetics, philosophy, history and music with a creative intention… (Tue Steen Müller)
Susana de Sousa Dias at Cinéma du réel 2012
48 THE REVIEW 2010
by Tue Steen Müller
This is gonna be a bit longer blog text than usual. Simply because this is an extraordinary film that calls for more than an ordinary review. My co-blogger Allan Berg wrote – in Danish and after having seen 30 minutes of the film – that this would probably be the film experience of his festival viewing. It was definitely what it became for me. My hope is that the following will inspire festivals to introduce a totally different approach to writing history. To deal with memories. To seek a new minimalistic film language. And work with music and sound in a new way.
First an introduction to the team behind the film; the info is taken from their website: The director Susana de Sousa Dias - completed a thesis in Aesthetics and Art Philosophy and holds University degrees both in Painting (Lisbon University) and Cinema (National School of Theatre and Cinema). She studied music at the National Conservatory of Music and is currently preparing a PhD in Aesthetics, Art Science and Technology (University Paris 8). The producer Ansgar Schaefer - graduated in German Language and Literature and Political Science. Works as a historian and university professor. The sound designer António de Sousa Dias - composer, Ph.D. in Musicology (Paris VIII) sponsored by the Portuguese Scientific Foundation FCT. Is currently developing a research work on CAC - Université Paris VIII / MSH Paris Nord in the field of music creation and virtual environments.
An academic film team would normally make me, a documentary addict, shiver with fear for the outcome of 48, in this case no, for that simple reason that I had seen the team’s previous film that perfectly combined the background of aesthetics, philosophy, history and music with a creative intention.
And with a sense for image and sound, and the putting the two together. To convey with Still Life. Faces of a Dictatorship (2005) the traumatic past of Portugal under Salazar. The film is 77 mins. long without any narration, built on archive from the 48 years between 1926 and till 1974, when the carnation revolution happened. The archive includes news, war footage from the colonies, propaganda films and photos of political prisoners. The musical score for this film, by António de Sousa Dias, is exceptional, first you wonder why but then you see what it does to the images, making a reflective distance and opens for a new both intellectual and emotional interpretation.
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Written 28-03-2012 11:40:38 by Sara Thelle
This years Cinéma du réel (March 22nd till April 3rd) is already more than half way through, however here is a quick overview of what the festival has to offer this year. Along with the films in competition (four categories: International, First Films, Short Films and French Films) the festival is rich, as usual, with an accompanying programme of retrospectives and tributes, news from, themes, special screenings, workshops, debates and meetings among professionals.
This involves the program Exploring documentary, curated by Nicole Brenez (specialized in avant-garde cinema and in charge of the programing, of experimental film at la Cinémathèque française) showing the works of filmmakers participating in the fighting on liberation fronts in different parts of the world over the past 50 years; A look into Italian political documentaries in the 1970ies through the program À nous la vie!; Tributes to Susana de Sousa Dias, John Gianvito, Dick Fontaine, Mario Ruspoli and Raúl Ruiz; The film historian Adriano Aprà is presenting a rare film; Workshops on sound in documentary films and much more…
The festival also launches a new special program: Arrested cinema, dedicated to news from filmmakers, experienced or not, who has filmed the political upheavals in their countries in risk of getting arrested, confined to residence, imprisoned or killed. This year the focus will be on Syria in presence of the Syrian filmmakers Hala Alabdalla and Oussama Mohammed (Saturday March 31, 21h).
The keyword this year is resistance, also in a broader sense, the focus is on committed cinema, le cinema engagé.
Written 27-03-2012 15:40:51 by Allan Berg Nielsen
De fire film set under ét udgør en samlet journalistisk og dokumentarisk erfaring om international ret lagt ned i ét vældigt værk, som filmet på location disse tidlige år vil bevare sin enestående status som skildring af denne ambition om et samlet retssystem...
LAW OF THE JUNGLE
af Allan Berg Nielsen
Den flotte unge indianerhøvding José Fachin Ruiz er den seneste i rækken af Christoffersens helte, alle jurister på arbejde for et internationalt retssystem. Han her er i en central scene i filmen på vej fra en demonstration langt inde i Perus jungle, værdig, stolt og rank, men, opdager vi, lige nu arresteret og på vej til bank og måneders fængsel og flere mishandlinger, inidlertid også på vej til en erkendelse af, at undertrykkelsen og volden og torturen, forsvindingerne og henrettelserne må bekæmpes i seje og tålmodige juridiske argumentationer i internationalt overvågede retssager på et stadigt udbygget og sikret grundlag af international ret, i hans tilfælde internationale rettigheder for oprindelige folk. Han er jæger og familiefar og leder af en gruppe unge indianere, som har sat sig op mod olieselskabet Pluspetrols metodiske ødelæggelse af deres land. Han hedder José Facin Ruiz, og han læser i dag jura på universitetet i Lima. Den kendsgerning er den lykkelige udgang på Michael Christoffersens film om de forfærdelige forbrydelser i Perus Amazonland under Pluspetrols regime.
Som jeg prøvede at forklare, da jeg i sin tid skrev om Christoffersens Saving Saddam, har jeg det sådan med hans film, at dengang the crime of crimes og det historisk set nye internationale retssystem om disse sager og nu et spirende internationalt juridisk system omkring oprindelige folks krav på ret til jord og søer og vandløb og naturressourcer i de nu fire film er og bliver selve emnet og kernen. I hver film vokser fortællingen og en karismatisk hovedperson sammen med forståelsen af denne jura, denne etik, som altså effektivt kropsliggøres i en smuk bue fra den blide og tænksomme Aspegren i Genocide, over den
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Written 26-03-2012 18:02:41 by Tue Steen Müller
For our non-Danish readers. This is an announcement of a screening with debate being set up by Danish Cinemateket to introduce the new book of Ib Bondebjerg, Danish documentary academic, about the modern Danish documentary. Bondebjerg talks to Jytte Rex and Anders Østergaard about their portraits of Danish writer Inger Christensen and Swedish jazz composer and pianist Jan Johansson. At Cinemateket on thursday the 29th. The films will be screened. This is the intro text, in Danish, from Jesper Andersen from Cinemateket: I anledning af udgivelsen af Ib Bondebjergs bog 'Virkelighedsbilleder. Den moderne danske dokumentarfilm', inviterer Cinemateket til samtaler mellem Ib Bondebjerg og seks centrale danske dokumentarfilmsinstruktører om dokumentarismen som genre og om instruktørernes kunstneriske strategier, og vi viser seks klassiske portrætfilm.
Written 25-03-2012 15:05:56 by Tue Steen Müller
He had just arrived from Paris, from his first solo-show in a gallery in the French gallery. He had exhibited the Palestinian Free State motive stamps from different countries that he had let produce, another piece of art happening from the side of the Palestinian artist, who is making himself a name outside his country in art circles. Talking about Paris, he also renamed Place de la République to Place de Hana Shalabi, to make us aware of the case of the Palestinian woman, who has hungerstriked for 38 days against the occupying country that has denied a courtcase to her and other Palestinians who were released as an exchange (!) for the Israeli soldier, Gilat Shalit, who was in Hamas custody for five years. The actions of visual artist activist Jarrar can be googled and there are lots og YouTube clips to find.
We met at the office of Idiomfilms in Ramallah to see a first draft of Jarrar’s first documentary, previously written about here. We watched a 75 mins. cut of a film that with its non-aggressive approach gives the viewer a unique account of the climbers, big and small, old and young, who go to Jerusalem illegally. To work first of all. It uses a non-linear structure, it has many angles and stylistical elements that wonderfully surprise you as a viewer, who is used to strong films in all genres, aggressive against the Israeli occupation. You have sometimes a clear laugh when you see the different ways of climbing, sometimes you laugh because of the absurdity, and sometimes you are moved and feel angry: this can not be true, this is not civilisation 2012! But it is.
The film is in post-production, money lacks for that part, applications have been sent to Sundance Documentary Fund and Tribeca... Festival people who read this, watch out for a fine film, well a more than a fine film is coming up this year by an amazing artist. Refreshing with that inspiration.
Khaled Jarrar: The Infiltrators (working title). Palestine, 2012. In post-production.
Written 25-03-2012 14:45:36 by Tue Steen Müller
Below, in the previous posting, you get text and links to discover what is CoPro, Ramallah.doc and Storydoc. This posting is more a kind of mix of info and gonzo/gossip. First about the CoPro training in Tel Aviv, where a tutor slot was 40 minutes. To get an impression of the Israeli filmmakers who you meet and with whom you discuss their written exposés and eventual visual material, which can be a trailer/teaser or edited scenes or rough footage. Of course it is limited how deep you can go with that time, but as there were three tutors doing the job, the filmmakers hopefully got a lot of input to take home for the next phase, which is the preparation for the real pitch at the CoPro at the end of May.
Editor and director Erez Laufer, who also runs the Archidoc in Paris as main tutor, Iikka Vehkalahti, visiting professor at Tampere University for almost a year (he goes back to YLE in August) and I were the ones to comment on the projects. Vehkalahti was next door to me at the Goethe Institute in Tel Aviv, and told me that – true or not, it is a good story – he started his session by asking the filmmakers, which animal they were, and which animal they would like to be!!! My response when they came to my session was often, ”ah, you have already been to the Zoo”. The days in Tel Aviv were organised perfectly by CoPro founder and manager, Orna Yarmut, assisted by Mia Webb
The same Vehkalahti came up with a great idea in the workshop in Ramallah: Why not make a festival of films shot in Ramallah, starting from 60’es? The population living here has not yet seen these films, and they should of course! The idea is now in development through Storydoc President Kostas Spiropoulos in collaboration with local filmmakers.
Thursday afternoon in the streets of Ramallah. A man who looks totally like Arafat stops EDN’s Mikael Opstrup: Hello, you look like Jimmy Carter. For documentation a photo is taken by filmmaker and professor Emma Davie from Scotland, with whom I had the pleasure to tutor group sessions in Ramallah. The programme in Ramallah lasted three days, including most of the time group work on the film projects presented and on presentation. The opening day including a lecture by Mikael Jimmy Carter Opstrup on Pitching, a presentation of arte by Elisabeth Hultén from arte France, and an intervention by Vehkalahti on what it means to be a commissioning editor. All held together by Palestinian filmmaker George Khleifi.
Photo will come documenting the moment of Jimmy Carter and Arafat meeting each other in a street in Ramallah.
Written 24-03-2012 17:04:46 by Tue Steen Müller
Israeli and Palestinian film projects in development. I am in the airport in Tel Aviv waiting to go home after a week in Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Last year I was full of anger when I arrived to the airport because of checkpoint stops and constant humiliating questioning from the Israeli soldiers and security people at the checkpoints and in the airport. This year no problems at all, no stops, no questions. It depends on their mood and how you greet them, said the smiling driver, who took us from Ramallah to Ben Gurion airport. Through green areas (for the Israelis) and occupied rocky dry landscapes (for the Palestinians)!
In terms of the film projects they are basically of the same nature – with different approaches of course – from both sides. Character driven stories, television duration, most of them, dealing with conflicts and injustice, intolerance and racism. Creative documentaries in different stages of development, research, production and one or two in post-production. Needless to say that the financial conditions for the Israeli filmmakers are so much better than for the Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank or Gaza.
The around 20 projects from Israel will be presented to potential buyers and commissioning editors late May during the Israeli Documentary Screen Market May 29-June 3.
The 12-14 Palestinian projects will be pitched to buyers and editors, who go from the CoPro in Tel Aviv to Ramallah.doc, the day after the event in Tel Aviv. Out of the collection of Palestinian projects 4 projects were picked to participate in the Storydoc 2012, that consists of two sessions, first one in Athens, second in Leipzig, with an extra to be held with more Mediterranean projects in Egypt beginning of July.
In Tel Aviv as well as in Ramallah, the filmmakers were tutored by filmmakers, tv editors for documentaries and film consultants. Photo from Sho'qostak (What's Your Story?), shown at Jerusalem Film Festival, by Pauline Carbonnier and Jamal Khalaile, one of the Storydoc selected projects in Ramallah. The two want to make a philosophical sequel to this film in a conceptual manner. The link below gives a description of the first film.
Written 24-03-2012 16:44:00 by Allan Berg Nielsen
I can not think of any European documentarist who has this sense of making beauty out of everyday life as it is being lived by us ordinary people... (Tue Steen Müller)
LA VILLE DE LOUVRE (1989)
by Tue Steen Müller
Produced 20 years ago, this masterpiece of Nicolas Philibert is as fresh as on the day of release. It is a fascinating look at what happens behind the scene at the magnificent museum in Paris. At the end of the film Philibert summarises what was his intention, by showing a long sequence of faces of some of the people, the viewer meets in the film. Yes, he is after people and what people do in an adventurous and sometimes mysterious place like Louvre where he (also) takes us underground to all the art works that wait to be exhibited or never reaches the exhibition area. It is transport, cleaning, restoring and conserving, and guarding, and playing boule on Rue de Rivoli next to the museum, measuring, planning the placement of the paintings in a room before the opening. And so on and so forth, several magical moments, lots of humour, all born by a fascination from the side of the film team. And you sense the director’s écriture right away, as you know it from La Moindre des Choses, Le pays des sourds, Etre et Avoir...
LA MOINDRE DES CHOSES (1995)
by Tue Steen Müller
Nicholas Philibert is here. Three films have been shown, Le Pays des Sourds, Retour en Normandie and La moindre des choses. Last year the Syrian audience could enjoy Être et Avoir. Philibert did a master class, denied to be called a master, talked for two hours with a lot of charm and commitment, especially about "La moindre des choses", which is for sure a Master's Piece. Shot in 1995, the director went to the psychiatric clinic called la Borde, filmed the people in the institution, staff and patients, and followed the rehearsals and staging of a theatre piece by Polish Witold Gombrowicz. What comes out of it is a beautiful hymn to life
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Written 22-03-2012 07:08:36 by Tue Steen Müller
On this site you will find lots of texts that introduce, review and report on documentaries from Lithuania. Another one comes here to tell our Danish readers that Janina Lapinskaite will show some of her films at the Danish Cinemateket tonight thursday 22nd of March and on sunday 24th of March.
I write this having a lot of sweet memories in mind. Lapinskaite was one of the filmmakers who most often visited the Balticum Film & TV Festival on the island of Bornholm, in the middle of the Baltic Sea. The festival that took place 1990-2000 and took back some prizes. ”From the Life of the Elves” (1996) (photo with director) is a fairy tale documentary presenting three grown up dwarfs living in the countryside in their own little world guarded by an old lady. The film that later was bought for distribution at the National Film Board of Denmark (at that time Statens Filmcentral, now the Danish Film Institute) and for Danish DR/TV introduces the special style of Lapinskaite, who later made films like ”Venus with a Cat” (1997) that reconstructs the painting of Manet, ”The Luncheon on the Grass” and ” The Life of Venecijus and the Death of Caesar” (2002) about a man and his pig, not to forget the 2009 work ”The Train stops for Five Minutes”.
Lapinskaite, who is principal of the Lithuanian film school, The Academy of Music, and has acted in fiction films of her husband, Aligimantas Puipa, is as her colleagues Audrius Stonys and Arunas Matelis, a true representative of what has been called the Lithuanian school of poetic documentary, with a focus on outsiders, artists of life you could say, in her country.
Written 17-03-2012 19:01:14 by Tue Steen Müller
The Brasilian documentary film festival starts March 22 and runs until April 1. Amir Labaki, director of the festival, film critic and cigar connaisseur, has again put together a programme of high quality, with competition sections and retrospectives. Among the 16 films in the international competition, you find titles like Five Broken Cameras (Bornat and Davidi) and ½ Revolution (Shargawi and el Hakim), both with themes from the Middle East, the Polish master Marcel Lozinski’s Tonia and Her Children, the idfa winner Planet of Snails (Seung-Jung Yi) and Putin’s Kiss by Danish Lise Birk Pedersen.
Retrospectives are dedicated to Argentinian Andrés di Tella and Brazilian master Eduardo Coutinho, and out of competition the Brazilian audience in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo will be spoilt with films like Vivan las Antipodas (Kossakovsky) (Photo), Crazy Horse (Wiseman), Into the Abyss, A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life (Herzog) and Duch, The Ironmaster from Hell (Rithy Panh).
In a Latin American Showcase it is great to see El Huaso by Carlo Guillermo Proto, that had its European premiere at DocsBarcelona.
Written 17-03-2012 08:35:22 by Tue Steen Müller
Taken from the website of EDN: The EDN Award is presented to the DOX BOX initiators a day after the DOX BOX Global Day, an initiative made in response to the current political and human situation in Syria. Current conditions make it impossible to implement this year’s festival, which would have been the 5th edition. Instead the festival organizers set up DOX BOX Global Day, where Syrian documentaries were screened in 38 cities around the world on March 15; a date marking one year of Syrian uprising.
Upon presenting the EDN Award Hanne Skjødt, Director of EDN says:
Originally The EDN Award was initiated to honour outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture. However, there are times and circumstances where we have to look beyond our own borders and recognise people fighting harder than we could ever imagine doing within our own continent.
Therefore we have chosen to expand the geographical focus of our award. We want to honour a group of courageous people with a great vision and outstanding will-power. People who keep fighting despite conditions seeming close to impossible. A team, who at hard times does not give up but fight the cruel violence of a heartless dictator by being innovative and showing great spirit. Instead of having their festival stopped by the current situation, they came up with a solution to keep the spirit of their festival alive and create a worldwide recognition for their cause.
It is our great honour to present The EDN Award 2012 to Diana El Jeiroudi, Orwa Nyrabia and The DOX BOX Team.
Photo: Diana el Jeiroudi, Orwa Nyrabia and Hanne Skjødt at the ceremony at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, yesterday.
Written 16-03-2012 11:09:24 by Tue Steen Müller
Below a Danish text about the man, who is considered to be the father of Danish documentary, Theodor Cristensen (1914-1967) This coming sunday his film ”Ella” will be shown at Cinemateket in Copenhagen introduced by his son and people, who like Theodor loves Cuba and documentary films.
Theodor. Han blev aldrig kaldt andet, manden der optræder i enhver dansk filmhistorisk fremstilling som den danske filmiske dokumentarismes store teoretiker og som manden bag besættelsestidens mesterlige modstandsfilm ”Det gælder din frihed”. Men det var måske Cuba, der kom til at fylde mest i hans liv. Det var her han underviste, det er her han stadig omtales med stor respekt af ældre cubanske filmfolk, og det var Cuba, som blev ”hans kunstneriske og menneskelige redning”. Det er udgangspunktet for en to timer lang forestilling i Cinemateket på søndag den 18. Klokken 16.30, hvor Theodors søn fortæller om sin far, hvor filmforskeren Palle Bøgelund Petersen fortæller ”om de mindre kendte sider af Theodors liv og virke”, og hvor instruktør og fotograf Steen Dalin kommer ind på Theodors betydning for cubansk film med klip fra optagelser, som Dalin har foretaget i landet. Efterfulgt af filmen om cubanske kvinder, ”Ella”, fra 1964.
Hvis nye læsere vil vide mere om Theodor, så lån John Ernst: Theodor Christensen – om en handling i billeder, en herlig bog fra 1974, som sikkert også kan anskaffes antikvarisk.
I øvrigt forlyder det at Ole Roos arbejder på en stor film om Theodor Christensen, hvis kompagnon i de tidlige år var Ole's far Karl, hvis lillebror var Jørgen Roos, dansk dokumentarfilms vigtigste instruktør, som filmede Karl og Theodor på Københavns Hovedbanegård da de tog til England for at vise John Grierson et co. "Her er banerne" (1948). Men det er en helt anden historie fra den herlige danske dokumentarfilmiske barndom.
(Og er det en dansk eller en cubansk cigar, Theodor holder på billedet, forhåbentlig det sidste, måske en Montecristo eller en Partagas?)
Written 15-03-2012 08:15:07 by Tue Steen Müller
This is a list of all the venues where the films of DOX BOX Globay Day for SYRIA are screened. Please note that the list is arranged as per HOST CITY and aphabetically. You can also check the nearest DOX BOX Global Day venue to you through this map. We wish you a great screening.
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt / March 15th / at JESUIT CULTURAL CENTER
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands / March 15th / at DEBALIE CINEMA CLUB > Showing “Step by Step” & “Six Ordinary Stories”.
BEIRUT, Lebanon / March 15th / at MATROPOLIS CINEMA
BERKELEY, USA / March 15th / at the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
BERLIN, Germany / March 15th/ at BABYLON > Showing “Step by Step” & “Zabad”, “Black Stone”, and “Turnsoles”.
CAIRO, Egypt / March 15th / at CIMATHEQUE
CARTHAGE, Tunis / March 15th / at CINÉMADART > Showing “Full Program”
CHICAGO, USA / March 15th / at UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO > Showing “Full Program”
COPENHAGEN, Denmark / March 15th / at HOUSE OF CINEMA > Showing “The Daily Life in a Syrian Village”, “Six Ordinary Stories”, & “Turnsoles”
EDINBURGH, Scotland / March 15th / at FILM HOUSE CINEMA à Showing “Black Stone”
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Written 14-03-2012 21:43:37 by Tue Steen Müller
On their website the organisers of Dox Box festival address us in the following way, under the headline Syria Global Day:
The fifth edition of DOX BOX International Documentary Film festival in Syria this year was supposed to take place in March, and conclude on March 15th , 2012. However, the festival team has decided to refrain from holding this edition in protest against the killing and oppression of civilians in this country. Herewith our message to the world:
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Written 12-03-2012 19:10:06 by Tue Steen Müller
Syrian Documentary films will be screened around the world on March 14th, 15th and 16th, 2012: London, Berlin, Paris, NY, Prague, Tunis, Alexandria, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Marseilles, Cairo, Tangier, Marrakesh, Malmo, Copenhagen (see below, Danish readers), Montreal, Chicago, LA, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Kosovo, Thessaloniki, Beirut... and more...
Go to the facebook page below and get more information about the films. where and when. And see how widespread the support of the Dox Box festival is. It is all over and is a touchingly strong manifestation of a very important global sign of warm thoughts and solidarity with Dox Box. For what has been done with the festival and is being done by the festival staff to inform us about Syria today. New films will be shown and attraction is being drawn to what goes on in the country.
On the website of Dox Box letters are being posted from friends of the festival. This is what I wrote to Dox Box: "It goes without saying that there will be no DoxBox festival 2012. We will not go to the cinema in Damascus to watch films together in a crowded cinema hall. We will not meet during the day to talk about and develop new projects, or to find out about possibilities for collaboration, or simply to get closer to what makes a good documentary. A good film. I have in the first four editions of DoxBox been an enthusiastic participant and supporter of a film educational, film political, film emotional, film philosophical initiative that is unique not only in Syria but in the whole region. Because it has been organised with competence and strategy, heart and mind. DoxBox is alive and will continue. Noone can stop creativity".
Thank you Orwa, Diana, Guevara, Sasha, Dohan and other members of the staff!
Written 12-03-2012 19:04:23 by Tue Steen Müller
For our Danish readers: Gratis entré til syriske film + introduktion i solidaritet med DOX BOX torsdag den 15. marts kl. 17-19. I Husets Biograf præsenterer CPH:DOX en særvisning af to aktuelle, syriske dokumentarfilm med introduktion. En af filmene, den splinternye Tournesol, er en rapport fra den krigshærgede oprørsby Homs, skabt af en syrisk filmmager, der naturligvis er anonym. Det er en unik mulighed for faktisk at få et indblik i livet - og døden - i den by, der strømmer så mange modsatrettede nyheder fra.
Written 12-03-2012 12:44:09 by Tue Steen Müller
The British filmmaker Sean McAllister took part in the East European Platform event in Prague organised by IDF (Institute of Documentary Film). He ran a masterclass, where he showed clips from his many films shot in troubled areas (Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Yemen, where his last film ”The Reluctant Revolutionary” was shot, it had its premiere at the Berlinale 2012). For a night screening McAllister had chosen to show his 2008 work from Japan, ”Japan: A Story of Love and Hate”, a film shot in a non-war-non-conflict area, and a film that he appreciated a lot himself.
As did I, for good reasons, as the film is an excellent conveyed story from a Japan that we know so little about, a film that simply takes us to meet Japanese people, who are open-minded when it comes to their private life, and a film that shows McAllister’s unique talent for getting close to people, have their trust and treat them with respect. The director is involved, his voice is heard, he arranges and pushes the story, and he sets an atmosphere of serious fun. It is a film made with and not about.
It works thanks to Naoki, his 56 year old English speaking protagonist, divorced several times, once a businessman on top of the world and now a postman with a tiny salary. His luck is that Yoshie, 29, takes care of him, she has several jobs including a night one, where she leaves home to entertain men at bars. They live in a very small flat and this is where most of the film takes place. Where most of the conversations between McAllister and Naoki take place as well, and they are pretty intimate. Naoki has a kind of fatalistic approach to his situation, laughs at it and defines it to be all because of capitalism pointing at the director with a laugh – ”that you Westerners brought to us”.
I have never seen a film like that from Japan, about poverty and family trouble and love life crisis. You are never bored, on the contrary, you are in the film from start to end, and – gosh – I have never seen a filmmaker bring a viagra pill as a gift to a character, as does McAllister does on his second vsit to the father of Yoshie, who has the same age and problem as Naoki, who with this visit, after several years of being with his daughter, sees her father for the first time.
UK, Channel4, 2008, 70 mins.
Written 12-03-2012 12:41:31 by Tue Steen Müller
The style of British director Broomfield is well known from many of his films. He is in the picture, he is a character himself, the journalist looking for characters, and the truth, walking in and out of doors, very often as the upper class, well dressed British gentleman asking questions, very often without revealing his critical mission. It worked perfectly with ”The Leader, the Driver and the Driver's Wife” from apartheid South Africa and with other films, where he is trying to get an interview with politicians and celebreties.
This is also the case with his newest film, on Sarah Palin, but he fails to get the interview, he wants, and the film fails for the same reason, as he has to use archive (mostly tv) material from her career that brings nothing new to the screen. Well, he gets talks with Palin’s father and with all the people that she has been using and betraying, but as you all the way through the film waits for the clever Broomfield to get close to Palin, you end up being disappointed and bored seeing scene after scene with the director about to fall on his ass up there on the icy roads of Alaska.
I saw the film on Danish Dokumania, a rerun yesterday morning, in a version where the image pretty often had a text coming up saying ”only for preview”. Ooooops! Embarrassing for DR2, Danish public broadcaster not to have checked copy before transmission!
Written 07-03-2012 08:38:41 by Tue Steen Müller
In this sympathetic documentary, that can be watched by kids as well, Galaa, who is a twelve years old boy from Mongolia, is attracted to hip hop music, is not really fond of going to school, makes problems for his mother, sometimes small sometimes bigger. His father is dead, he tells about the dramatic circumstances, and the mother thinks he should go to a lama school: When you become a lama the grief and pain of poverty will disappear.
The film crew follows Galaa and his family closely, has caught many fine situations and moments, inluding those where the kid’s world is falling apart because the lama school can not accept his admission to the school before the next year. At that point Galaa has peeped into the class room where boys of same age as him are having the experience, and the fun, that he really had hoped for.
A fine non-exotic and fresh insight to the life of a poor family in a culture that we know so little about. That also makes you think how seldom it is to find good documentaries that will work for children as well as for grown-ups.
Lithuania, 2011, 51 mins., Prod.: Studio Nominum, Editor: Francesca Scalisi
Written 05-03-2012 10:23:03 by Tue Steen Müller
A Latvian film team makes a film about a group of Danish, who suffer from sclerosis in different stages. The group is followed while they are rehearsing for the set-up of ”End Game” by Samuel Beckett, accompanied by their thoughts and reflections on their life situation and why Beckett is the right author to play. They are all pretty well of in terms of help to get around with their handicap, they have jobs – well in this film the Danish welfare system shows itself from a postive side, writes this Danish blogger.
Back to the film, which is held in a non-sentimental tone. The filmmakers succeed to give the individual characters space to develop, they are all interesting, at the same time as you follow the play being developed. ”Beckett deals with human limitations – he sees it as a strength”, says one of the actors, and right he is, it is, as said as well, about life’s basic conditions, and with this film about physical handicapped people, ”End Game” is given an extra dimension.
The film, that has professional, fine camera work and a natural rythm in editing, has been to a couple of festivals, more will follow, and that Danish television is not in the film already, can be corrected very easily through a buy.
Latvia, 2011, 52 mins.
Link to dokweb.net
Written 04-03-2012 11:25:46 by Tue Steen Müller
The international jury as well as the jury for the regional competition both selected short documentaries, when the members awarded their favourites. Ignoring the long documentaries the Big Stamp for the best film in the international section went to the 7 minutes long Polish ”Returns” (photo) by Krzysztof Kadlubowski. The Regional recognition as best film was given to 17 minutes long ”A Day on the Drina” by Bosnian Ines Tanovic. The latter is what the Germans would call ”eine Dokumentation” on the sad compilation of remains of Bosniaks killed by the army of Republika Srpska in the period between 1992-95. The skeletons were discovered in 2010. The Polish film ”Returns” deals with the aftermath of the flight tragedy on the 10th of April of 2010, where 96 people, including the President and other officials, died on their way to commemorate the 70th year of the Katyn massacre performed by the Soviet army on Polish officers. In the airport soldiers train for the ceremony to be held when the corpses return. Accompanied by Chopin the soldiers exercise how to carry the coffins, how to stand, how to walk, how to salute, how to place the coffins. It is all very absurd and takes you by the heart.
Mentions were among others given to ”Family Meals”, see below, ”Ramin” by Audrius Stonys and two other Polish shorts, ”Decrescendo” by Marta Minorowicz and ”Paparazzi” by Piotr Bernas. Both are from Andrzej Wajda Master School in Warsaw, both have excellent cinematography, a trade mark for Polish documentary, but both also suffer a bit from a lack of ”breathing”. Especially ”Decrescendo” would have profited from having some of the beautiful scenes stand longer to develop, as the characters are so interesting.
A prize for best director under 35 minutes was given to ”The Will” by Danish Christian Sønderby Jepsen, and a ”Movies that Matter” award was handed to Tatiana Huezo for her ”The Tiniest Place”.
The award ceremony at this international festival was surprisingly led by Nenad Puhovski in Croatian language! That can be done much better, more professional and festive! Like the festival was during the whole week.
Written 03-03-2012 22:16:41 by Tue Steen Müller
Full cinema, festive atmosphere, premiere of the long awaited film by Dana Budisavljević, Croatian director and producer, and one of the founders of ZagrebDox at the time where she was working with Nenad Puhovski at Factum that stands behind the festival.
Yes, there was a family feeling to frame a film that totally lived up to the expectations that we were many who had. It was fun, it had wonderful characters, Dana’s mother, father and brother, and it had a structure where the film was growing in strength and perspective. From, in the beginning. conveying a sometimes a bit embarrassing conversation piece, where Dana is asking her parents why they reacted like they did many years ago, when she told them that she was gay. To a much broader picture of a family that was split up, with members who all had their secrets that they kept for themselves. Which were slowly being revealed, at least some of them as the film goes along. The character of the brother, shy, introvert and a bit enigmatic in the beginning, becomes more and more significant as you as spectator discovers the gap that has been, and probably still is, between him and the sister Dana. And for someone who is 60+ it is also a film about generations. He does not say so directly but I have no difficulties in understanding the father, who seems to not understand why everything has to be discussed, as the daughter communicates. All on the table, but why?
It is not a Bergmanian film, it comes from a different cultural background, it has humour and it stays at the dinner and lunch tables, and in the kitchen, offering its audience loads of identification points, making you leave the cinema with a smile and pretty hungry after all that food for thought!
Croatia, 2012, 50 mins.
Written 02-03-2012 17:58:14 by Tue Steen Müller
This came to Filmkommentaren and adresses all over the world, to us from Danish production company Magic Hour. A global online event. Respect!:
Saturday March 3rd at 7.32 am (CET) GREENPEACE marks the nuclear disaster by opening a free on-line streaming window, where the documentary INTO ETERNITY can be watched for 150 837 seconds - one second per individual who is - perhaps permanently - displaced from the Fukushima.
The multi-award winning Danish documentary INTO ETERNITY focuses on the long-term safety issues linked to nuclear energy. The film invites its audience down into what is to become the world’s first permanent storage for nuclear waste, ONKALO, which is being hewn out of solid rock in Finland. Here nuclear waste is destined to be stored for the next 100,000 years, which is the time span it remains hazardous, and consequently the time span the storage facility must function. The meltdown in Fukushima’s reactors has made it extremely difficult to remove all the nuclear fuel, and there is a risk, that Japan will end up with its own Onkalo on the surface, which will need security measures for millennia on end. These unfathomable timespans are perhaps one of the biggest problems of nuclear energy – yet hardly ever part of the debate. Our actions today have consequences far into a future, we cannot even imagine. Nuclear energy is often termed ‘the morally correct’ energy choice because it is CO₂ neutral, but the long-term ethical and existential issues are ignored. Are we in the present committing crimes against humanity in the future?
‘Fukushima was not a natural disaster, but a result of human error and mental meltdown!’ Michael Madsen says. ‘The disaster is a result of human error – or even worse - of conscious human negligence. Everybody knew, that there would be earthquakes and tsunamis in the area, and security measures had been taken – except not adequate measures.’
INTO ETERNITY has received numerous awards on festivals all over the world. In 2011 it was screened to UN ambassadors in New York leading up to the nuclear summit, and many experts have deemed the film a unique contribution to the debate about nuclear energy.
Photo: From Le Monde's article February 28 on the planned evacuation of Tokyo.
Written 02-03-2012 12:57:59 by Tue Steen Müller
A wise festival person once said that it takes 8 years to build a festival. A look at the 8th edition of ZagrebDox confirms this assumption. This international documentary film festival has found itself. It is professionally organised, communicates very well its programme profile online and in book print, there are posters and banners all over the city inviting people to watch documentaries, and the programme itself is well structured with competition programmes, retrospectives, ”happy dox”, ”controversial dox”, ”teen dox”, industry activities etc.
And as a visitor the growth of the festival is very visible. For three years the festival, moving from the university area, has had Centar Kaptol as its venue. It is a big shopping centre that includes a Movieplex with five cinemas that for this week all run documentaries, surrounded by cafés in- and outside, plus restaurants, and a ten minute walk down the pedestrian street to the main square of Zagreb. Of course it is ambitious to have five parallel screenings, and some films suffer audience-wise, where other halls are full, especially for the night screenings.
Atmosphere is fine and friendly, and festival director and founder Nenad Puhovski walks around greeting people in his own jovial manner. His luck is also, he will probably claim that he organised that as well, that spring slowly is coming to a city that a week ago was full of snow.
Written 02-03-2012 12:52:24 by Tue Steen Müller
Of course ZagrebDox also has an industry section including a training workshop for 12 projects and a connected, public pitching session with 9 panelists. It took place March 1 in one of the cinemas in the Movieplex and attracted a good number of observers in the audience. To make a pitching session in a cinema is good for the trailers that are shown on a big screen, but problematic for the audience and the participants, as the pitchers were standing in half darkness, the same goes for the panelists seated in front of the screen, they were easy to hear, difficult to see.
The panel consisted of representatives from RTV Slovenia, MDR Germany, Al Jazeera Balkan, FTV BiH (Bosnia), YLE Finland, HRT Croatia, Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Taskovski Films, NOVA TV Croatia.
The 12 projects that came up for discussion were from the region, 5 of them from the hosting country. Two of the projects had been pitched at ZagrebDox before – Macedonian ”I'm Looking for a Bride” by Marja Dzidzeva and ”Vitic Dances” by Boris Bakal, about a famous house in Zagreb (built by Vitic) and its inhabitants and their fight to keep the house in good shape, and their fight with each other. Having this second chance shows either that the films have huge problems in getting funding and/or that the filmmakers have developed their stories and are stubborn and passionate people, as documentarians should be.
Two projects stood out, the rest being a bit mainstream or still weak in development. ”Birthday” (photo), however, came out of necessity. The producer Mina Vidakovic, a journalist, who works in den Haag reporting on the war tribunals, is also one of the two characters in the film. In 1992 she was celebrating her birthday 300 kilometer away from the house, where a kid survived while the rest of his family was killed by a paramilitary group. In the clip that was shown you see her meet the man at the place of the massacre. The idea is to show him and his son, and her life today after 20 years. Estimated duration is 28 mins. ”A story that needs to be told, where the inspiration comes to you, and not the other way around”, said Namik Kabil from Bosnian television. Kabil was by far the most remarkable panelist with his constructive and intelligent comments to the filmmakers.
The local production company Fade in, celebrated through a retrospective at the festival, pitched ”Sick”, a 52 mins. extremely strong and complex story that has been filmed over a period of years – about Ana, who was placed at a mental institution to be treated for her homosexuality (!), and who is now obsessed by the wish for revenge. 75% of the film is shot, I sense an important film coming up in a region where homophobia is very much present.
Written 02-03-2012 12:45:56 by Tue Steen Müller
Modern Times! Two films to reflect upon, both shot with a cell phone: Bosnian director Nedzad Begovic has made ”A Cell Phone Movie” (photo), and ”People I Could have Been and Maybe am” by Dutch Boris Gerrets.
The latter has been awarded at several festivals worldwide and is a nervous, in style, journey that takes the director and his camera, or should I write cell phone, to meet different characters, who live on the edge of society. He gets close to them, falls in love with one, a Brazilian woman, leaves them, comes back, all in a chaptered narrative with texts that update the situations and the development for the persons involved. It is all very pretentious and egocentered and constructed.
Whereas Begovic, who also made ”Totally Personal”, presents a wonderful playful personal essay about himself, a man in his fifties who starts to get health problems and uses his cell phone to communicate with family and friends, well to the whole world, in this film that shows what you can shoot with your cell phone, and what not. The film surprises its audience, it has a lot of these small moments that life is full of, Begovic has filmed grafitti sentences on walls that he has met on his way – like ”go and fuck your mother’s slippers”!!! – there are sequences that perform as a kind of video art, it is in other words a fresh piece of entertainment, sometimes crazy, sometimes dealing with serious problems, humorous. It must have a long festival life!
Written 02-03-2012 12:41:16 by Tue Steen Müller
ZagrebDox is also a place to catch up on films that you missed at idfa and Nenad Puhovski, the festival director and programmer, does not hide the fact that he does a good part of the film selection for his festival at the Amsterdam festival. And why should he, it is a mission in itself to bring the best of the best to the Croatian audience.
I saw ”Planet of Snail” by South Korean Seung-Jun Yi, who got the first prize at idfa, and it is a beautiful film, a love story about a deaf and blind man, and his woman, who helps him to navigate in this world. The film lets their daily life be depicted, but the story grows and we are invited to experience the man’s skills as a poet in words and action.
I had the chance to revisit the short film masterpiece of Russian Alina Rudnitskaya, ”I will forget this Day”, about women in a hospital waiting in a corridor to get in and have an abortion made, coming out later in a horizontal position. The stylistical competence of the director makes a film with few words emotionally extraordinarily strong.
You have to be careful using the word masterpiece, but this is the only way I can characterise the animation documentary by Romanian Anca Damian, ”Crulic – The Path to Beyond” (photo), which is artistically brilliant in its heartbreaking and anger provoking story about the Romanian man, who comes to Poland, is accused of stealing, put in prison, tries to explain that he could not have done this as he was on his way to Italy, but nobody listens, the bureaucracy ignores him, as does his country’s representative in Poland, he goes on hungerstrike, is not getting medical help and dies. A scandal that, if I got it right, made the Romanian minister of foreign affairs resign. The film is rich and attractive in its many animation effects, its many drawing styles, your hooked from the beginning, where his death is declared by himslef in first person. Wow for a film!
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