Category Archives: People

Interview with Diego Mas Trelles, Programmer at DocumentaMadrid Film Festival

What is a festival programmer’s favourite festival? How are films selected? How can we train the audience? And what do they like in Madrid which he finds in the North? I met Diego Trelles at the DocumentaMadrid and we talked about programming and Spanish Docs.

_1020371
DocumentaMadrid HQ at the Matadero

Diego Mas Trelles likes character driven films, compelling films, not only one style, or ways of storytelling.

"Sometimes a film gets you hooked from the first minutes, but it is not necessary. I look at the film and I have to like it for myself.  It must awaken something in me.I first have to like the film and then I have to see if the audience in Madrid will also like it.

The subject is perhaps interesting, it can be what drives you, what gets you into the story, but it can also be the main character, a boy or a girl, or even the animation, or an interview, I am not against talking heads. I remember a film by Gianfranco Rosi, EL Sicario, it’s a 90-min.-long interview with a hitman for the drug cartels in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. His head is covered with a black cloth, and we can only see his body and the sketches he is making. He only speaks, and it’s incredible! You are hooked just by the narration."

Previous to his work as a programmer at Documentamadrid, he was programmer at the Sevilla European Film Festival, where he programmed European docs for five years. “I always try to be aware of what the audience likes. That is why I think we do not need international premieres in Madrid, or to follow other festivals' paths. Sometimes it counts if you know the film director or he has won in other festivals but this does not always work.” Some of the films - even those that have won in big festivals, we feel obliged to show them because otherwise nobody will show them, neither tv nor the cinemas, and we think that the Spanish audience should have the possibility to see those films.”

“I am not talking about the audience that is aware. But the audience can understand a good film. For example when they showed The act of killing, I remember that some people in the industry disliked the film - because they were troubled, they felt that it raised moral issues. I like this film, not only because of the subject; I remember when we showed Joshua [Oppenheimer’s] other film, The look of silence, it was late at night and the Q&A lasted another one and a half hour. Although the film was screened late at night and there was no more metro or bus, nobody left the theater – the audience was mesmerised by the director’s personality.”

Diego Mas Trelles travels to all the festivals and  he sees over 1400 films per year. Which are his favourite festivals? “A festival I like to attend is the Berlinale – it’s a big city, it’s not classified like Cannes. I also like <a href="http://nordiskpanorama.com/sv/publik/“>Nordisk Panorama – it’s a good showcase for watching Nordic films and to meet producers and directors from the region. Of course I like idfa.”

He does not think that there is a trend in documentary making. What happens is that the life of a doc is getting shorter. “The media climax is shorter, and the glow of a doc is shorter. I see more and more cinematic docs where even the credits are well crafted and conceived. There is a deeper interaction with fiction! Sometimes you may be annoyed because you do not know if you see a staged scene.” In this year's DocumentaMadrid, a lot of the films were made by women. And the winning film, Sonita, is a film about a girl rapper from Afghanistan and her path to find herself, made by a woman director, Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami (trailer).

3304
Sonita
507415932
The director of Sonita, Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami

Is women’s gaze a trend?  “I hope so, because it’s half of the humanity. We must follow the Nordic model, the way they promote, finance, show the films. I am a fan of the work they do, of the  Nordic style. For example, take the film Those who jump, produced by the Danish Producer Heidi Elise Christensen, who also produced (Final Cut for Real).

83321_1
The producer, Heidi Elise Christensen

One of the co-directors, Moritz Siebert, is from Chile but he lives in Denmark (the other two are Estephan Wagner & Abou Sidibé).

2234484_t1w600h392q90v27929_swp-8527298_16284100_01_2402_MENS_01filmer_4C_1014801367
The Directors Moritz Siebert, Abou Sidibé & Estephan Wagner (on the right)

The film is a very international story, and it has a very strong Spanish angle in talking about a very important topic: the refugee issue. (In northern Morocco lies the Spanish enclave of Melilla: Europe on African land. On the mountain above live over a thousand hopeful African migrants, watching the land border, a fence system separating Morocco and Spain.) Diego is asking a rhetoric question: “Why can’t Spanish people make this film?” According to him, we should “ask the Spanish government!”

“I have produced fiction films and directed docs. I worked for ARTE and then as a channel delegate. I also used to work for the Spanish television, presenting and directing a program with feature docs. It was on every Friday night and had good ratings. The programme was cut off in order to have an excuse so as not to do co-productions. By cutting it off the TV station could say, “We can’t co-produce because we do not have a slot for the films”!

Next edition of DocumentaMadrid in May 2017.

PREMIERE IN KRAKOW

His new film SEXO, MARACAS Y CHIHUAHUAS (SEX, MARACAS & CHIHUAHUAS) is a music documentary about Xavier Cugat, an artist and adventurer, the musician responsible for Latino rhythms conquering the US and the one who discovered Rita Hayworth. The film is in competition at Krakow, where it is screened on 31 May. Watch an interview in which he speaks about his film.

About “becoming” and failure, Interview Sara Broos, Part 3

Who do you want to be?
I’m often surprised when I find out things about myself I didn’t know. I don’t think we have one true self but many different faces. Rilke writes about that in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge: how we consist of so many different layers and faces. We walk around with them and put them on ­– sometimes one face gets worn out, or becomes thin like paper.

I have spent so many years of my life trying to be someone else and looking for something else, with a restlessness that in some ways is positive, because it’s about being curious, longing to explore, to move on. But there is also another side to it, when you’re always on the run, feeling independent and free, without anything keeping you. Loneliness can be brutal sometimes. I don’t have the same restlessness anymore. My mother talks about that in the film, that she no longer yearns for somewhere else, not in the same way as before, when she always carried a diffuse longing for elsewhere.

I appreciate to be in one place for a longer time; at the same time, I have a nomadic mind so I can get up and leave any minute. And I still love that feeling of being on the road, on my way, playing good music, watching the landscape changing, being in transit. Or just waiting for the plane at the airport, or arriving to a new place where I’ve never been before and don’t know what to expect.
I now spend more time in the countryside in Sweden, where I have an old house. I also live part-time in Berlin. These two places are very good for me because I feel so much at home and alive. There is no pretence. It just is what it is, natural, beautiful and raw. There’s a title of a book by Robert Frank: ‘Hold Still – Keep Going’. I very much believe in that. To not rush, but to be present. I think that’s the most important thing for a filmmaker or an artist. I work in a very intuitive way. I always have my camera with me.

Failure: How do you feel about it?
When I grew up, I felt like my whole life was a failure compared to others. My parents were artists, our home was chaotic and unconventional. We lived in the countryside in Sweden, our neighbours were farmers. My friends’ parents had normal jobs. I was ashamed and wanted to be like everybody else. In the film, there is a passage with a little girl with a cute dress, Sophia. We were best friends. I adored her. She was so pretty, their home picture-perfect. I felt like a failure compared to her. But underneath the surface things weren’t that perfect. And she dreamt of my life.

Now when I look back I am happy that it was not all perfect and that I have the experience of what it means not to fit in. I had to find my own way. Feeling that I was not in the right place made me curious to explore other worlds. I started travelling at an early age and went alone on trains in Eastern Europe for the first time when I was 15. I was very shy and had an old Hi 8 camera that I used to film everything I saw, people I met – a way to communicate and get in touch with people. I was so full of questions about love, the feeling of home, and I ended up filming very personal conversations with people I met on trains and in places in Bosnia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, all around Europe. I am now using that archive material for my new film, Notes On A Journey. Feeling different or feeling like a failure can also be a driving force for you to search for others who share your experience. I felt much more at home in Bosnia than I did in my own small village in the countryside.

There was a period in my teens when I revolted against the chaos that was around me, growing up in an artist family and a messy home, and with parents who were different. Everything had to be perfect. I loved writing, but suddenly it was related to prestige. I wrote chronicles for a daily newspaper, a full-page article every Saturday. I won many prestigious literary prizes. I was the youngest ever to receive a journalist prize at the age of 18. I was offered a book contract. I did everything right. I was successful from the outside. Yet, inside I was torn apart and very unhappy. It was all just a shell. The more successful I became the more distant from myself. Finally, I didn’t know what I wanted anymore, and all the passion was gone. When you are afraid of failure, you stick to the well-known, which I believe is the greatest threat to creativity.

I don’t care so much anymore about being loved by everyone; I am interested in the notion of failure, what that means. Also, the complementary idea: success, what that means. Of course, I want to always do the best I can, and I want people to like what I do. But who decides what is a failure? To write one great script, maybe you have to write ten bad ones before you get there. When I showed the first versions of my film to my mentor, Stefan Jarl, it was ‘a failure’ and I knew it, but it was part of the process. I believe that we need to defuse the fear of failure.

What do you want people to think and feel as they are leaving the theatre?
After a screening at Gothenburg Film Festival, a woman came up to me and hugged me, saying, ‘Thank you for making this film! The first thing I will do when I go home is call my daughter. We never really talk.’

The end (or just the beginning?)

Meet us in Krakow! In competition at Krakow Film Festival

1 June 19.30 Malopolski Ogród Sztuki  (MOS 1)

3 June 14.30 Malopolski Ogród Sztuki  (MOS 1)

Reflections

a feature-length documentary by Sara Broos

80 min./Documentary/Sweden/2016

Also available in the online library

Website & Trailer

broosfilm.com

Women’s Gaze: Director Sara Broos, on looking in the Mirror

What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Sometimes when I look at myself I almost get a surreal feeling, as if it’s somebody else, but still someone I recognize. Isn’t it strange that your eyes can see everything except themselves? I don’t judge myself as much anymore in the way I did when I was younger. I could be very hard on myself and never think that I was good enough, or see any beauty in myself. I think the eyes reveal so much, not only what they look like but also what they see and where they look. I remember when I was a child observing my mother before the mirror, how I could feel her judgement over herself.

Sara_Karin_Profile

How do you feel about getting older?
I feel OK with getting older, only there is still so much I want to do and the older I become the more aware I am that time is limited. It’s so easy to long for youth, yet I wouldn’t like to be 20 again. I think what’s most important is not to turn bitter, to grow old with dignity and to accept the changes. I read about a woman who was afraid of getting wrinkles so she decided never to smile. But the lines in your face reveal what kind of life you lived. There is nothing more beautiful than a face that is full of life, and I believe that the strive for perfectionism, or for being beautiful will only have the opposite effect.
My mother says in the film that she was afraid of aging, that she thought that after 40 life was over. She was, and still is, beautiful but when she was young her beauty was also something she could hide behind. She lived in a myth, took different names for each new man she met. When she met my father and they got married she had to reveal her real name. She had called herself Melinda, from a song by Bob Dylan. Some people become younger the older the get, in their minds. My Dutch grandmother, Bep, with her thick, curly white hair, was much more strict and conservative when she was young. When she was over 90, she made her debut as an actress in a Chekhov play. She was playful and curious, and became freer and freer in her mind the older she got. More and more beautiful, too, I believe. I feel in many ways all the more connected with the child within me the older I get. And then it’s easy to say that age is just a number. It is, yet it’s also a hard fact. I remember when I listened to Agnes Varda giving a lecture in Gothenburg, how fascinated I was just looking at her face and how it was shifting from a little girl to a young woman, and to an old woman.

Do you believe in love?
Love is probably the only thing I really believe in. Without love, without interaction with others, we are nobody. We reflect ourselves in the other, and when I see beauty in someone, hopefully that person will feel beautiful. There is a line in a song by Blonde Redhead: ‘If you start doubting me then I start to doubt myself’. We are so dependent on each other we come to live through each other. I think we affect each other very much, and small actions can have a profound influence. Just the way we see each other. The energy we spread around us. A smile from a stranger in the crowd. That is also love. Love exists in so many different forms. We all want to be loved for who we are. That is something we share. Probably that’s why love is a never-ending theme in so many films and songs.

In my film For You Naked two people fall in love without speaking each other’s language. They have to find other ways to get to know each other. I think it’s interesting because it’s easy to tell the same story about yourself. How do you present yourself to the other when you want to put yourself in a good light? Language can also be a protection where you just repeat the same story over and over again.

Freedom seems to play a key role in your life. When do you feel free?
My mother says in the film: ‘If freedom is not feeling ashamed of yourself, then I am far from being free.’ I really think that freedom and shame are related. If you feel ashamed of yourself, of your body, of who you are, then you are not really free.

I feel free when I am surrounded by good energy in people and places. Places where there is air to breathe and things are not totally defined or formed. I am very sensitive to atmospheres and sounds. Freedom doesn’t mean leaving everything behind and taking off, but being in tune with yourself and the choices you make. At the same time, there is so much that we can never control, and in that sense we are not really free. I recently watched a great documentary, A Hard Loving Woman, at Tribeca Film Festival, which screened in the same programme as my short film Homeland. It is about Juliette Lewis and how she left Hollywood and started a rock band. She talks about beauty and how she never could adapt to the beauty ideal. When she goes on stage, she wants to be without makeup and just full of raw energy. It’s very empowering to see a woman who just doesn’t care at all, who doesn’t need to please others. I think that is the opposite of feeling shame. A little child doesn’t feel shame. There is a scene in the film where my sister’s daughter, Alma, aged four, sits in front of the mirror and puts on lipstick. She is playing; it’s a game. But it is also scary, how a four-year-old girl already knows women’s ‘codes’, the way she paints her nails, the way she moves. She knows exactly how to do it, imitating what she’s seen.

read more ...

Interview with the director Sara Broos, Reflections

‘I am interested in the cracks, the things in between, the gap, or the abyss. I am always curious about the human mind. Something I believe all my work has in common is the personal approach. I have to be moved by something deeply.’

Sara Broos

Did you really get closer to your mother by making Reflections?

I think we can never really understand each other, or ourselves, fully, but all we can do is try. And I think it’s an act of love to say: ‘I want to spend time with you and get to know you better.’ And we are sometimes so busy with other things and postpone what is the most important: our loved ones. It’s easy to take each other for granted, or to see your parents as just your parents and forget that they are so much more. When my grandparents died I regretted that I didn’t spend more time with them, that I didn’t ask more questions.
My mentor and friend Stefan Jarl used to tell me: ‘Never eat the heart’. It sounds quite brutal, but with that he means that you should keep some things sacred. There are some rooms you should never enter, secrets that are not supposed to be revealed.
It takes a lot of effort to really get to know someone, because we are constantly changing and the mind is so complex and full of contradictions. As soon you think you have defined something, it has already transformed into something else. In the film there is a line: ‘I try to hold on to something, but everything is in constant change.’ I’m in the forest, looking up at a tree. The tree has been there for maybe 100 years, like a witness to everything around. I used to think that trees have eyes, that they see us.
People are different, some people talk a lot without really saying anything. Some people say a lot without using that many words. My grandfather never told my father that he loved him. Not because he didn’t love him, but he didn’t know how to say that simple sentence. When he was close to his death, he hugged my father and said to him: ‘You know, my son, I know you know.’ He had tears in his eyes. He was not a man of many words, but the love he felt was strong. My mother never really talked that much about herself, or about her sorrows and experiences. I also became like that; I kept things inside, focused more on others, and became a good listener. I am interested in this gap, how you can feel so close and have a symbiotic relationship, like I have with my mother, and at the same time feel a big distance. She knows me so well, and she can sense immediately when something is wrong, or when I feel sad, in a way that no-one else can. I think this has to do with the fact that we have very similar experiences from really dark times and self-destructive behaviour.

SB_Reflections_700x1000_Festival logos_Krakow-page-001 kopia

How did you approach such a personal family story and emotionally cope with exposing yourself so much?

It’s about having access to the emotions and then being able to step outside, to see yourself from a distance. When you make a self-portrait, or an autobiographical film, you are both the subject and the object at the same time. I can choose what I want to reveal, and the greatest challenge is to dare to be completely honest and truthful. That is painful because it is so much easier to just portray yourself in a positive way. But then you would only stay on the surface of things.

Fear is my driving force.

Fear means challenge and change. You know that you will be transformed. When I’m thinking of an idea and my heart beats hard I know I’m on the right track and should just follow that feeling. In making this film I wanted to find out what happens when you decide to take a relationship one level deeper, with someone that is already very close to you. There are no major conflicts between me and my mother. I don’t accuse her of anything. But we have such different ways of seeing things depending on our experience. We remember things differently.
Sometimes a scent or an incident can trigger a memory and completely change the mindset. We live with so many different layers and parallel worlds in our minds – reality, illusions, dreams, all existing at the same time. A friend of mine lost his brother on a sunny day in the month of May. When the sun shines in the spring he is longing for the rain.
My mother found a dead foul in the grass one morning, killed by the electric fence. She completely lost her mind. It reminded her of something that had happened 20 years earlier that she had never really talked about, when she lost a child that was strangled by the umbilical cord.

I believe everything you never deal with, or try to keep hidden deep inside, will come back to you.

Sara_Karin_Profile_Field

In what way(s) did you change after completing Reflections?
It is a very important film to me and probably the most personal film I will ever make. Making this film just makes me believe even more in the personal, that the more courage you have and the deeper you dare to go the greater chance that you will make something that others can relate to. Because we are so much the same deep inside; we share the same longing to be loved for who we are. Making this film has given me more courage to believe in my own vision and my ideas and to experiment more. To not make compromises, to listen to others, but also to trust in my intuition.

In competition at Krakow Film Festival

1 June 19.30 Malopolski Ogród Sztuki  (MOS 1)

3 June 14.30 Malopolski Ogród Sztuki  (MOS 1)

Also available in the online library

Official Website & Trailer: Broosfilm.com

Read more here… (soon)

Reflections by Sara Broos, in competition in Krakow

The director Sara Broos takes her mother, Karin Broos, a famous Swedish painter, on a seaside birthday trip, to Latvia, hoping to close the silent gap between them.  Out of this experience came an intimate and poetic film exploring the innermost recesses of the human mind and the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship.  A cinematic catharsis through evocations of daily life, dreams, archival material, diary notes, the mother’s paintings and captivating footage. A glimpse into the unconventional world of an artistic family in the countryside of Nordic Europe, set to a soundtrack that draws you into the story.
1st June 19.30  Małopolski Ogród Sztuki (MOS 1) and 3rd June 14.30  Małopolski Ogród Sztuki (MOS 1) in Krakow, at the Krakow Film Festival.

Watch the trailer.

Bugs for dinner?

 

13041201_10154894212563881_3050917757257959637_o

Hmm, I was thinking, “What to cook for dinner?" Then I received Salma Abdalla’s email: Bugs? Ben and Josh, the two young chefs from the Nordic Foodlab founded by NOMA's Rene Retzepi, investigate the eats and tastes of insects around the world – said to be the future of food. First, I will see the film, which premiered 16/4/1016 at Tribeca! Then I will taste and come back to you. In the meantime, I can tell you that the first reviews say that its the best food film since Food Inc!

Directed by Andreas Johnsen (Ai Wei Wei – The Fake Case), produced by Sigrid Jonsson Dyekjær (recently awarded Best Danish producer and the Producer´s Guild Award).

Have a bite! and watch the trailer:

 

Exotica Erotica Etc. wins two Hellenic Film Academy Awards 2016

Evangelia Kranioti's Exotica, Erotica Etc. won the Best Documentary Award and the Iris First-time Director Award (ex-aequo with Yorgos Zois for Interruption) at the Hellenic Film Academy Awards 2016.

Watch EXOTICA, EROTICA, ETC. on Sunday 3/4/2016 at 15.45 at Danaos Cinema.

Evangelia Kranioti will attend the screening and reply to questions.

The documentary is distributed in Greece by CineDoc.

For more EXOTICA, EROTICA, ETC. click here.

Talking about Audience Development

Zilina_09
Dimitra Kouzi (Kouzi Productions, CineDoc) on the right with Eva  Križková on the left (Filmtopia - KineDok Slovakia) and Lea Krišková (KineDok Slovakia) in the middle.

Audience development, communication strategies and a variety of ideas on alternative distribution of documentaries based on my 7-year experience with co-organising CineDoc –  that was the topic of my recent visit to Slovakia, invited by Filmtopia and KineDok. The last trip for work in 2015! Read all about it in Kinečko, the visually fantastic Slovak magazine about cinema while practising your Slovak or using Google Translate.

Why diversity?

After ‘Why democracy’ and ‘Why poverty’, I think that it would only be natural for a series titled ‘Why diversity?’ to be made by the EBU, examining diversity in Europe, especially in the Media. I talked about diversity programming with Erik Hogenboom, chief editor at the Diversity Department of the Dutch public broadcaster NTR, who coordinates weekly TV programmes with a focus on diversity. He is also the executive producer of the international coproduction City Folk by the EBU-Intercultural Diversity Group, featuring portraits of ordinary people of different ethnic backgrounds and as such reflecting the intercultural melting pots of the big cities around the world. He was also Coordinator of the Jury Group for the Prix Europa TV IRIS category.

PATIENCE 2
Patience, Patience You'll Go To Paradise! by Hadja Lahbib (Belgium, 2014, 85 min.)

‘How do European societies cope with growing ethnic and religious diversity?
How will Fortress Europe tackle the increasing flow of desperate refugees? How do we deal with a growing Muslim population in a basically profane society? As a consequence, there is an increasing responsibility of (public) broadcasters, filmmakers and reporters to deal with diversity issues in their stories.’
What are diversity programmes? What does a diversity chief editor do?
Diversity programmes are programmes that somehow tackle issues related to cultural diversity in European societies. Diversity is of course a rather broad definition: it concerns gender, dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. In TV IRIS we focus on the dimension of race and ethnicity. So, diversity programmes in this dimension are about all issues related to the fact that European societies are becoming more and more multicultural/diverse. Concrete issues are:  migration issues; refugees; illegality; fortress Europe; history of migration; position of minorities; ethnic conflicts; racism/anti-racism; position of Roma people; Islam in Europe; second and third generation of migrants; integration of minorities; regional minorities; coexistence and/or clashes of religions, etc. Programmes that mainly focus on such themes can be defined as ‘diversity programmes’.
A ‘diversity chief editor’ task is to commission these kind of programmes and bring them on TV (or radio and Internet of course). To find new, interesting and relevant subjects related to diversity and find programme-makers to make these programmes, judge them and finally schedule them on TV, or any other medium.

Another task can be to try to make the personnel of media institutions more diverse, by hiring and/or employing journalists, technical staff, producers, etc. of a different ethnic/cultural background.

Another task can be to organise special events to stimulate diversity (in programming and personnel) in the media (e.g. the Innoversity Show that we are currently organising for April 2016).

Why do we need diversity programmes in public broadcasters in 2015?
The increasing diversity in Europe creates frictions, tensions, conflicts (racism, discrimination, resistance against mosques, unemployment in young people of a different ethnic background). Diversity programmes can contribute to knowledge and insight about different values and cultures and may encourage tolerance and understanding. So, as long as diversity is not yet an accepted value, special diversity programmes are important to promote the benefits of diversity.

What are the opportunities for diversity programme funding? Are there special budgets for that? Which broadcasters commission diversity programmes?
At NTR we have had (for the past 20 years) a special budget for diversity (and time slots on day time in the weekend). After 1 January 2016, we lose this special budget and will have to fight for money for each new projects. Some broadcasters in Europe have special diversity departments and budgets, e.g. HRT-Croatia, WDR-Germany, the BBC.

Where should producers look for money?
Difficult question. It depends very much on the local/national situation. In the Netherlands, freelance producers can apply for money to special funds, e.g. to produce an expensive documentary or series. But these are mostly general media funds, not special ones for diversity.

How was the experience of this year’s Prix Europa? Can you tell us something about the winning film?
I think we had a great TV IRIS this year. A large Jury group and a mosaic of interesting diversity programmes. In general, it is quite amazing that TV IRIS has been running successfully for so many years, with constant input of entries from all over Europe.
The film “Patience Patience, you’ll go to Paradise” is a really great winner. The situation of older migrant women is an important diversity theme, and this film is great because of its humoristic tone. It shows that people can free themselves of restraints even when they are older. It also provides insight into the world and thoughts of elderly migrant women.

Veton Nurkollari, Artistic Director DokuFest Kosovo interviewed

On my way to Prizren to present a case study on Communication and Audience Engagement at the Balkan Documentary Centre workshop. Here is an interesting interview Veton Nurkollari, Artistic Director DokuFest, gave me in 2014.