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Every(?) writer's self-portrait

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CPH:DOX 2014 Closing Award Ceremony will not be reviewed…

… because this year I wasn’t invited. I really should stop bashing their opening venue, and if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all… and all that... you know… (I hear the ceremony was tasteful, though).
I did go to the after-party upon receiving a mail in the afternoon from the organizers about some wrongly announced times, so at that point I knew when NOT to go for drinks at the French embassy and the awards show at Hotel d’Angleterre.
But why do I care? I care because I want CPH:DOX to also be my festival. I care about the genre which I work with practically everyday year round and I want the festival to be something that I look forward to, even though I don’t have a film shown or a project being pitched.
Yes, I do already look forward to it and I do watch a great deal of films (and review a couple at www.filmkommentaren.dk), but I kind of miss that the festival embraces the local professional community a bit more. Not because we are professionals, but because we lov…

CPH:DOX 2014 Opening will not be reviewed...

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... because it was once again held at DR Koncerthuset which is quite unsuited for film screenings for a large part of the audience. The sound was horrendous and cut into the small fragile bones of my ears and other body parts; at least heard from my section of the concert hall.



And even though the discussion afterwards was on an interesting topic (that of the film), there was not one word (maybe one) about the film itself. The curse of documentary filmmaking: The subject matter often overshadows the film as art form (hence point 2 here).

But maybe a documentary film festival should not be doing that on their opening night? Well, what the hell, they have a lot to think about and a lot of ideas to consider, so schwam darüber.

And since I am still trying to get a ticket for the international guest's dinner party in Tivoli on Wednesday, I better shut up.

See you at the festival venues.

Previous years:
CPH:DOX 2012 Opening Complaints
CPH:DOX 2013 Opening

Moore and Berlinger

Michael Moore's 5th rule of documentary film making says: "The Left is boring [... ],  we've lost our sense of humor and we need to be less boring. We used to be funny. The Left was funny in the 60s, and then we got really too damn serious. I don't think it did us any good."

As you can see it's hardly a rule - more a statement - but that's ok.

Another renowned documentary film maker, Joe Berlinger, replies (in one phrasing): "Not every filmmaker can or wants to be funny, and not every subject lends itself to humor".

Who is right? If you've been here before you know my stand; that it is probably better to fight adversary to humor than making a non-humorus film - even on a very important topic.

But how can you treat a serious problem with un-seriousness? Well, it's up to every film maker, of course, but I think it's really the other way around: Taking a humorous, satrical look at ANYTHING only shows the utmost respect for the people (even…

Are melodies and stories related?

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Thoughts during the opening concert with Aaron Parks at Copenhagen Jazz Festival, July 2014.
Over the years I have been frustrated with and curious about myself regarding many things, but I’ve wondered why it is that I more and more tend to favour music with a strong melodic approach and at the same time have become less and less interested in films (and literature) with a strong emphasis on plot and story. Does that make me an inconsistent person or – more likely - a complex and highly interesting individual?

Or is rather because melody and plot are not that related at all? More second cousins than brother and sister? On the surface you would think that the arrangement of notes and/or words in a logically progressing way would be sort of in the same family, but if you think deeper, maybe not. A melody can be entertaining and have surprises built in, but it doesn’t have to end a specific place. Well, it sort of does, but not in the way a plot needs to be structured. Maybe it’s because m…

Four reasons as to why making documentaries is such a pain in the ass.

1. You need to do research For some reason, people seem to expect that documentaries need to be journalistically researched. No harm in that – more knowledge will not hurt you – but there IS a risk of reality ruling over fantasy and no real film needs that. (Besides, it sounds like a lot of work).
2. You need to convince other people about the importance of your project. That goes for every film, of course, but in the documentary world the topic itself must be of interest to the commissioning editors. Well, no harm in that, but like a fiction film is not the same as its script, so is a documentary film so much more (or should be) than its topic.
3. You cannot make a living of making documentaries. That’s okay; my wife has a real job. So no real harm in that for me - as long as no one files for divorce.
4. You cannot make fun of anything. Use of humor equals insincerity and shallowness and is neither artistically nor journalistically viable. That’s just the way it is and always has been with …

Humor in Docs 4

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So I did it again: while writing an application for a grant from The Danish Arts Foundation (Statens Kunstfond) where I had to explain what I intend to use the grant for, I failed to be honest to myself. The grants from the foundation are not for specific projects, but they can support your artistic work and ideas in general. I have applied for a grant – and failed - for the last ten years, so that's rather embarrassing. But I don't mind being just that.
This year, I decided to emphasize my efforts on making films where humor and the film's representation of reality are interwoven according to my ideas of DOComedy. But after submitting, I realized that I had send a boring and maybe even self-righteous application. As I wrote in a previous blog, one tends to approach authorities with a frown all over one’s face in order to appear as a serious contender.
Why is that? Well, when you bring up comedy people have a tendency to either think of something stupid - like one of Three S…

My Avatar and Me-me-ME!

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Yeah, I know. It both shows poor form and absence of  new ideas, but nevertheless - this is what I have for you today:

"My Avatar and Me" is now available for rent and you can also still buy it and own it for good if you are that kind of person. The years that were deducted from my life while making the film will of course make the accumulated costs of my life a bit smaller, but still we support the idea of actually - once in a while - paying for content on the internet. Alas, it's a struggle and rightfully so a topic for debate.

So while debating, slip us a dime, won't you?


Swordfishtrombones

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I mentioned Tom Waits in a previous blog and that was no coincidence. I have become more and more convinced that music in general and Tom Waits in particular has meant a lot to me as a filmmaker and a (re)viewer.
I was first introduced to Waits by a mate in 1983 when the album “Swordfishtrombones” was released. I pricked up my ears when the first instrumental track on side 2 started. It was short, strange and beautiful and when the Hammond organ introduced the next song and Tom started singing, I was sold. I fell in love with the mix of unusual instruments, askew rhythms, his voice, the lyrics, the quite beautiful melodies… and not least the humor which I at that point more sensed that actually understood.

I never thought much about it in those days but years later I found out that my views on films and filmmaking was tightly connected to my views on music. I’ve tried to study it further and to theorize on it and I even tried to work out a musical film lecture to highlight the similari…

Storm P.

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Whilst working on an updated definition and a new set of rules for true DOComedy-films, I came by this old favorite of mine by Danish artist, writer, humorist etc., Robert Storm Petersen (1882-1949).

The caption is: "I hope that my lecture here has shed some light on the concept of humor".

2014

Billede
You - yes, YOU - may very well be my reader no. 5.000 (including Ukrainian hackers) and therefore I should give you a special treat. And since you are here at all I gather you either:
1) have a keen interest in documentaries 2) are said Ukrainian hacker, or 3) are my mother.
So what kind of treat do I have in mind? Is it a link to my feature article in a Danish newspaper during Christmas? No, and neither is it a list of my personal favorites on this blog ("Just pitch the damn thing" is really funny, and so are all three texts on "Docs and Humor", and there is also the piece I wrote on... (shortened by editor).
The treat is – ta-dah - a glimpse into the future, and I will divide it into the three said categories of possible readers.
1) In 2014 the documentary scene will still straddle in the huge field between documentary films with an artistic approach and TV-documentaries with a journalistic viewpoint. The directors of the first kind will have to lean towards the langua…