Last stop: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is all about documentaries at the moment.

Amsterdam is all about documentaries at the moment.

The last film festival we visit before it’s time for our own is the world’s largest documentary film festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), which gathers more than 250 current documentaries and a large, large audience.

Don’t know if it’s my own focus that has changed, but this year it feels like there are a lot of movies that depict conditions in Africa in different ways. For example, films depicting the last election in Ghana (An African Election), soccer in Tanzania (Albino United), disabled musicians in Zimbabwe (IiThemba) and the Masai people of East Africa (Masai on the Move). There is also Swedish Staffan Julén’s My Heart of Darkness, which depicts the return of veterans from the civil war in Angola.

A large number of films I found in the programme address various aspects of the giant country of Congo. The films about Congo are all made with the country’s past conflicts as a backdrop. American Pushing the Elephant depicts Rose Mapendo, a Congolese who ended up in a death camp with her family in the 90s, where her husband was murdered and she was separated from one of her daughters. Danish competition film Blood In The Mobile tells about the dirty handling of minerals for cell phones. The minerals are extracted from the country’s over-exploited mines. Most of the films with stories from Africa are, unfortunately, made by filmmakers from the U.S. and Europe. An exception is Congo in Four Acts, an episode film by three Congolese directors, which is the result of a workshop for first-time filmmakers, which has been financed by, among others, the IDFA’s own film fund – the Jan Vrijmans Fund. The films are naked depictions of living conditions in today’s Congo, and give rise to thoughts about how our world has become so unfair.

Last Wednesday films were nominated for each competition class, and we can proudly announce that one of the nominees in the debut category was the Philippine film Kano: An American and His Harem by Monster Jimenez. The film has received post-production support from the GIFF Fund and had its world premiere here at IDFA. It will be screened at our festival this winter. We wish them luck in the contest!

Amsterdam, 25 November

Ulf Sigvardson

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Unpacking in Gothenburg

Cannes 2010 has ended for me. Seven days, 21 films and lots of fun, drinks, late nights and good parties  is exactly enough. The best party was of course our own on Monday night at Long Beach Restaurant on the Croisette. It started off really well, and just got more and more intense as the hours and DJs, in our DJ marathon, went right into the dark Cannes night. After a few DJs the drumming team from Swedish Critic Week’s competing doubled the  intensity with their beat driven performance. Starting off with electronic and excerpts from the film, it ended in great style with several drummers on the beach and loads of maraccases that were thrown out in the crowd. That sound then went on for hours as the maraccases were kept by the dancing crowd that got bigger and bigger.

As for myself, and my musical taste in punk and post punk, the DJ sets from Sarajevo and Rotterdam festivals were the peak of the night. Not on every dance floor these days, you get to hear Public Image Ltd, Buzzcocks, New Order, The Cure, Joy Division, Ramones almost in a row – nothing less than fantastic!!!

On Tuesday night it was perfect to conclude the Monday beats with the screening of the really good première of Sound of Noise at Miramar in Critic’s Week. Loads of people from the crew crowded the small stage, and on it went with this witty, funny, exciting and well composed feature, Well composed and challenging was also the four musical parts with the drumming group – one can really understand that there has been some thorough research done to find the most interesting percussive sounds. Everything from bill notes, coins and a beer belly to pneumatric drills and elkectric wires makes the musical experience marvellous. Already waiting to see it again when it gets it theatrical release. As a Swede it was an extra dimenison to see some quite well-known Swedish film and TV actors in smaller roles besides the fine performance by main actor bengt Nilsson and the percussion team lead by Sanna Persson.

I summed up my film list today, and out of the 21 films I’ve seen, there are eight that really would be nice to have in our next festival, this coming winter. I cross my thumbs!

My luggage has been unpacked, and now I’m emptying my iPhone camera. Not always the best quality from that camera (especially at night time) but here is a bunch:

A party is being prepaired.A sunny bar table some hours before the crowds arrived.Ballons and flags with the GIFF logo are important.An untouched table.GIFF "house DJ" Nina Natri.

Swedish Noise on the way.

It's the Sound of Noise.Nina and Finnish (Hollywood) country fellow man Renny Harlin.GIFF PR Manager Camilla Larsson presenting a certain Finnish-Hollywood director as DJ.The crowd get bigger at the bar beach.The DJ team from Sarajevo Film Festival.A certain GIFF CEO enjoying the dance floor.The DJ team from Rotterdam Film Festival.Time for GIFF officials to leave the party with all the balloons.Sound of Noise team (part 1) at Miramar première.Sound of Noise team (part 2) at Miramar première.

/Ulf Sigvardson

Some days just disappear

Yesterday, the schedule said that it was my time to blog. But I’m very sorry, the blog was silent all Saturday, just couldn’t find the time – running between films, quick coffees, lunch and so on …

One of the most fascinating things with watching 4-5 films per day is the mix of experiences you get through the screen. The last couple of days some of mine include;

– coming of age in Singapore
– violence on a remote island in South Korea
– the mysteries of time, space, the devastating experinces from Pinochet’s Chilean dictatorship and where we all come from
– the strange wasteland landscapes created by renown artist Anselm Kiefer
– a divorced man killing four people in Bucarest
– the corruption behind the economic crisis in 2008

… and …

– a mass murderer in the shape of a car tyre

As a programmer my main focus this week is to see as much as possible in Semaine de la Critique (Critic’s Week). The main theatre of that section is Espace Miramar, and since queing is an essential part of Cannes Film Festival, I almost everyday get to see this view:

Since I just emptied my camera for the first time in some week, I’m adding some more:

Former Festival director of GIFF, Gunnar Bergdahl (the man in the hat) and Festival producer Håkan Westesson at the Scandinavian Terrace, Friday night.

And I also found this one, from our award ceremony for our Gyllene Draken (Golden Dragon) Award Ceremony on May 6 in Gothenburg, which reminded me of of a big puppet doll boy walking the Croisette in Cannes, some festivals ago. Filmmaker Johannes Nyholm received Gyllene Draken this year, among other things it’s soft and cuddly!

See you!
/Ulf Sigvardson

Fund is fun!

Been working a lot with GIFFF (one more “F” than usual) – Göteborg International Film Festival Fund lately. Registering applications for our post production support round, which had its deadline March 1 and with our annual report to SIDA – The Swedish International Development Agency – which finance our fund.

Then I learnt yesterday about a net publishing tool, ISSUU, and thought I’d try to make our latest edition of our Fund Catalogue, readable on their homepage. Please visit and read here.

Happy Easter! (from still grey and wet Gothenburg 🙂

/Ulf Sigvardson

Still thinking about music …

The wishes for  the sun sun to keep on shining didn’t last long :((((

Back to grey today.

My mind is still occupied by music, after Music Doc, and last night I happened to stumble upon an article on the net from British weekly New Statesman. A few days ago they ranked the 20 most important political songs. Interesting reading here!

One of them is American folk legend Pete Seeger’s classic “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”. That made a marvellous music film I saw at IDFA, the doc festival in Amsterdam, two years ago come to my mind again. The Power of Song by Jim Brown – the only authorized biography about the now 9o year-old, still singing, legend and activist. sadly we never managed to get it to GIFF. Searched the net to see if it’s been released in Sweden, but can’t find anything. Now released on DVD in the US and Britain though. Highly recommended and inspiring about keeping your political, social and personal beliefs strong and consquent throughout your entire life.

Links:

IMDb

Director’s homepage

/Ulf Sigvardson

Another festival is over

This morning was a positive experience. A bit chilly, but the SUN shining really bright. Quite the opposite from this weekend when a grey, wet and terribly depressing skies lowered over Gothenburg. A perfect climate though to get inside and experience one of the city’s new film festivals – Music Doc! The second edition of their Gothenburg variant (the festival was started in Malmö and is also held within the frame of Tempo in Stockholm) was held Thursday-Sunday.

But unfortunately the grey skies seemed to affect people to not even get out of their houses and apartments on Saturday and Sunday. But thankfully a lot of people did, and had the opportunity to see films on different kind of musical expressions, ranging from from gipsy music to industrial.

And from a personal level it was an amazing experience to meet a member from one of my all time favourite bands; Alexander Hacke from Berlin industrial legends Einstürzende Neubauten, who was involved in two films in the programme. His explorations of Istanbul’s music life in Fatih Akin’s Crossing the Bridge and Neubauten as catalysts for East Germans in their hometown Berlin, in Uli M. Schuppel’s Off Ways. A documentary about some people who was inj the crowd of their first concert in East Berlin in December 89 – just after the fall of the Berlin wall. Two full houses at Hagabion and interesting Q & As with hacke himself. The Friday night was closed at Truckstop Alaska club at Lindholmen, where Music Doc held an Eddie Meduza party. Opposites clashing!


Alexander Hacke (left) at Truckstop Alaska.

On Saturday “GIFF’s own” Camilla Larsson held an interesting seminar about music and myths at Space with music journalist Bella Stenberg, film director Fredrik Egerstrand and music science professor Lars Lillliestam.


Music Doc will be back next spring and I hope they keep on fighting! We need such happenings to get through grey times. Let the sun keep on shining!

/Ulf Sigvardson

And it’s all over …

Except for six monday afternoon screenings the 33rd festival has come to an end. Now it’s time for all the wonderful, hardworking staff to have their well deserved share of party. As of tradition all staff gather for dinner in the tent in late sunday evening, and after that there are trams to Röda Sten where the real party with lots of dancing now is on its way! See you in 2011!
/Ulf Sigvardson