Tag Archives: Documentary

What more can a documentary be?

As the future fast approaches, Dimitra Kouzi, raises questions about how evolving technologies are impacting the way we produce and present information
published in Modern Times Review (the European Documentary Magazine) autumn issue 2018.


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

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.

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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)

Syria faces of War, an interview

Prix Europa 2014
"Our film was shoot from 2012 to August 2013. The situation is now much worse." Syria - Faces of War was chosen for its "serious, crucial and honest" view of real war. The film is based on the photographs of Finnish photographer Niklas Meltio, and is directed by Yle's Vesa Toijonen and Ari Lehikoinen (left).

This is the second year running that a Prix Europa award has gone to a Finnish production - last year the documentary The Punk Syndrome scooped the best TV documentary prize for its colorful portrayal of a rock band suffering from learning disabilities.

This year it was a Finnish documentary who has won the Prix Europa award for Best European TV current affairs programme in Berlin!

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Prix Europa 2014, at the Haus des Rundfunks

Syria - Faces of War was chosen for its "serious, crucial and honest" view of real war. The film is based on the photographs of Finnish photographer Niklas Meltio, and is directed by Yle's Vesa Toijonen and Ari Lehikoinen. Accepting his award, director Ari Lehikoinen dedicated the win to all the journalists killed during the Syrian conflict. And here is the interview with both the directors Vesa Toijonen and Ari Lehikoinen.

How would you describe the world that we live today to someone who does not know anything about it? 

The world is a mess. There are an awful lot of things going on that need understanding and explanation. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.

What was your personal experience in Syria?
VESA:
It was not as bad as I expected - after following the media coverage. I compared the situation with my experience in Sarajevo during the war. In Aleppo there was electricity and running water even in the front line. We had tea and there was a possibility to use toilet before filming the fighters. In Sarajevo this was out of question!
There seemed to be food and medicine available - unlike, again. in Sarajevo. And of course Aleppo was not besieged like Sarajevo - nobody stopped us from driving into the city. No way in Sarajevo.
The city of Aleppo was destroyed but less than one could expect according to news reports. Buildings in the front lines, yes, but a couple of blocks behind the lines the life continued quite normally. But the life was not normal, that is sure.

ARI: Wars have to be portrayed authentically, although many seem to think it doesn’t really go with your morning coffee. Wars are often sugar-coated in the media. We try to avoid that. Our film was shoot from 2012 to August 2013. The situation is now much worse.

What were the difficulties that you have to overcome while shooting and editing the film? In Aleppo and in Syria we faced the normal difficulties: snipers, risk of shelling and air-bombing. We took a lot of time to avoid the troops that had started kidnapping visiting foreigners. Yet, we managed to have lunch in a same restaurant with al-Nusra fighters.
In the desert between Iraq and Syria the most difficult was to balance between the desperate refugees and your own feelings to help them. And yet you can not - we are there to film their escape, not to distribute water or food. Some people understand, not everyone.
When we start cut the film the editor said; “What a hell, so much stills, don’t you know that  we should make a movie!”

Did you try to make an objective film?
VESA:
We always do, but personally I learned a very important lesson in Sarajevo when I tried to explain the concept of objectivism in Western journalism. "So you mean that we should all be treated equally, also the sniper who is trying to kill me when I carry water buckets and can not escape", my landlady asked me one cold morning. We waited a "safe" moment to fill the water tanks in her apartment. Since that discussion I think that there is a difference between a sniper and a victim and objectivity is not always the main purpose.

ARI: There is such fine line between the objective documentary and biased one. It’s quite hard to find a documentary which I would consider to be truly objective, but I do think that it’s possible to objectively capture reality in some documentaries.
The only way to give face to this war, was to be on the ground with the men, women and children who are central to it.

Please describe your film in 2-3 lines.

It is a true story.
War is ugly. True faces of the war; raw, grotesque and full of tears and pain.

What can't we see in the film?
The most horrified pictures .

We were also very careful choosing images of patients in a psychiatric hospital in Aleppo. People were left alone in a makeshift hospital, without medication. We wanted to respect these people and left out most of the pictures.

What is your next film about?
ARI: My film is “Skeleton in the closet”. It’s totally different film than “Faces of war”. It’s one man’s story. We all have secrets: the ones we keep, and the ones that are kept from us.
VESA: One carries working title "Frozen war". It is about the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. the war has stopped - but only for a moment and there are speculations that Russian politicians would like to freeze the situation as it is now - to control it better.
People living in war torn villages do not care about speculations. They would like to get their houses warm before winter comes. Refugees would like to go back but they can not. They suffer between war and peace. We also show how a real "frozen war" looks like. Refugees in Nagorno-Karabakh have waited 20 years that one way or another the confict could be solved and they could return to their houses. But the houses do not exist any more. Only ruins are left. - so is this also the future for Ukraine?

It seams to me that a lot of people in Europe have forgotten or care less about what is still happening in Syria. Why?
We have a nice word for this: we "war-fatigue". We grow tired when there is no progress. Actually we all grow tired, not only journalists and our audiences, but politicians who try to find solutions, aid workers, even fighters become apathetic or desperate. And local people, both those who decided to stay and refugees in camps all over Middle East.

See the trailer here

Is this Greece’s next prime minister?

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Hope on the line (Greece, 2013, 73 min.), directed by Alexandros Papanikolaou & Emily Giannoukou, follows the leader of the Greek radical-left party Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, during the course of a year, from the campaign for the close-call June 2012 elections to the sudden shutdown of the Greek public broadcasting corporation (ERT) in June 2013. Shedding light on Tsipras' personality, political views and ambitions, the film includes insider's footage from the party, the views of militants and high-ranked members, and witnesses decision-making processes both in Greece and abroad. From the frontline man, Alexis Tsipras, up to the party's Political Bureau, strategy is being built, political lines evolve, another future for the nation is timidly being imagined. Within the political turmoil, Greek citizens seek answers to their fundamental and dramatic questioning. The very status of the country is at stake: its place in Europe, its future and destiny.

What is so fascinating about this story?


The economic crisis in Greece, as well as elsewhere in Southern Europe led public opinion to take an introverted turn and installed a sense of distrust toward traditional politicians. Thus, the center parties, as in most European countries, are struggling to stay in power, while extreme groupings and radical parties are rising in the polls. In Greece, where the crisis worsened dramatically in a very short period of time, and where democracy is expressed directly as a result of the country's electoral system, the fact that Syriza might take power becomes all the more significant. Syriza rose from 4.5% to 27% in less than three months, and became the second-largest party in Greece and the leading opposition party.



Alexis Tsipras has an intriguing personality. An ambiguous and lesser-known figure until recently, he now stands a great chance of becoming the next prime minister of Greece. He is fairly experienced despite his young age. Thus, he was able to change the political scene in the country and win the support of voters who have grown disenchanted with the old parties.



This film shows the transformation of Syriza during the month that preceded the election, also seeking to reveal the actual goings-on within the party in order to provide a better understanding of the way decisions are taken. During the last campaign, we saw the young and charismatic Alexis Tsipras emerge as a true threat to his opponents, even if he was narrowly defeated in the end because of the debate over the euro. He managed to change the way his party is perceived by centre-ground voters and got a spectacular number of votes.



Through this documentary, we focus on Alexis Tsipras' personality during a crucial historical moment. We also try to provide insight into the political views that emerge from discussions behind closed doors, inside the party, how these views evolve and how Tsipras presents these ideas to the public, as well as how he shapes public opinion and becomes a symbol of opposition to the memorandum. Our aim was to sketch the image of a political persona during this difficult political juncture in Greece at which society is trying to regain its bearings.

Read the complete interview with Alexandros Papanikolaou & Emily Giannoukou.

Watch the official trailer.

Kismet Production Details

Writer | Director: Nina Maria Paschalidou

Cinematography: Michalis Aristomenopoulos, ADDITIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY: Christophoros Loupas, George Karvelas. CAMERA: Dimitris Michalakis, Snorre Wik, Ozgur Baykal, Gabriel Psaltakis, Umut Kebabci.
Research: Hilal Bakkaloglu (Turkey), Mohamed El Tohami (Egypt), Danae Leivada (Greece), PRODUCTION MANAGER: Eleni Christodoulou
Editing: Thodoris Armaos
Music: Spyros and Michalis Moshoutis
kismet3

Producers: Rea Apostolides, Yuri Averof & Nina Maria Paschalidou. Produced with Forest Troop. Co-produced with Agitprop, Nukleus Film and Veritas Films in association with AL JAZEERA, ARTE, SVT, YLE, RTS, CYBC, KNOWLEDGE CHANNEL, CHANNEL 8, MRT and BTV., Supported bu MEDIA, the CROATIAN AUDIOVISUAL CENTRE, the BULGARIAN NATIONAL FILM CENTRE and the GREEK FILM CENTRE..

World distribution: FILMS TRANSIT International JAN ROFEKAMP 252 Gouin Boulevard East Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3L 1A8 Phone (514) 844 3358 Fax (514) 844 7298 www.filmstransit.com e-mail: janrofekamp@filmstransit.com

Who is Michael Haneke ?

In 25 years, Michael Haneke established himself as one of the most important directors in cinema history. From his early work to AMOUR, he created a unique universe, revealing like no other the dregs of our society, or existential fears and emotional outbursts. Through the vision of his actors and previously unseen footage, MICHAEL H. depicts the work of a rare artist. images

Yves Montmayeur talked to Dimitra Kouzi about his new documentary Michael H. Profession: Director when visiting Athens for the screening at CineDoc on October 9, 2013.Yves MONTMAYEUR

Listen to the interview he gave me (in English).

Watch the official trailer.

Amnesia Diaries, by Stella Theodorakis

Stella Theodorakis takes a page out of her own diary, made up of fragments of the past and the present, a deeply personal work that slowly molds into something that concerns each and every one of us, just as intimately as it does her.

Video diaries have always been a rather “marginal” genre, a combination of words and images, walking the fine line between film and visual confessional, mostly assigned to the depths of experimental cinema - which doesn’t necessarily do its narrative powers justice.

And “Amnesia Diaries”- the cusp of Theodorakis’ rather idiosyncratic career – is living proof. Its experimental format is simply a means to an end, a way to document her journey from past to present, a deeply personal work that slowly molds into something that concerns each and every one of us, just as intimately as it does her.

How else do you explain the fact that her memories, her thoughts and her search for meaning could very well be your own? That her protagonists could very well be your parents, your friends and your lovers? That every incident, from the most riveting to the most trivial, could very well be a story out of your own journal? That there are times when you identify with this fanciful alternation of past and present so completely, that you feel like scribbling your own notes in the margins, adding your own images, your own memories and your own thoughts to the process?

And it’s all down to Stella Theodorakis’ mastery of the medium: the woman has composition and deconstruction down to an art!

Pulling images out of her past (mostly super 8 films, shot between 1985-1986) and combining them with footage from contemporary Athens (shot between 2010 and 2012), the filmmaker acts as a historian of her own life, as well as an entire era: the one that’s already been swallowed by history and the one that’s slipping though her fingers, between protests, violence and the growing vacancies of modern-day Athens. Each and every one of her past/present compositions is a direct contrast between the romantic past and the noisy, chaotic present.

Reminiscing and at the same time criticizing the past, Theodorakis is both the star and the innocent bystander, the girl she once was and the woman she now is. In turns pompous and playful, she tells the story of a woman who rediscovers her forgotten past while her present is falling to pieces. Both timelines are dominated by people: her long lost friends from the retro and rather innocent-looking 80s and her life-long companions that make life worth living in the clunky, ear-shattering 00s. The spaces in-between are filled with life, cinema, her mom always giving her dad en earful about his driving, sex, the lack of sex, a New Year’s cake recipe, tarot cards, astrological predictions, a cop across the street, a move, a French chanson and the random image of a woman bending over in the middle of the street to pick up something she dropped…

Seemingly haphazard images and sounds come together to populate the life of an angry, sad woman who’s trying to find the strength to carry on. And she does. It’s there in her old films and her new footage from the streets of the city. In everything her long lost friends have left behind and everything her life-long companions still bring to the table. It’s there in an image from Melbourne in the 80s, a trip to Tasmania, a New Year’s house party, the burned down movie theaters in downtown Athens in the February 2012 riots and a family vacation in Crete…

Although the effortless charm of the vintage segments always defeats the cheap social criticism of the present, this fascinating collage of images and emotions confirms that political cinema is not about making allegations, it’s about trying to make sense of it all.

by Manolis Kranakis/Flix

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsJyvA546AA