I have often been accused of being too enthusiastic, when talking or writing about documentary films, but when producer Atanas Georgiev approached me with ”Honeyland” saying ”Tue, I think we have made a masterpiece”, I was the one who was sceptical. ”Take it easy, good friend”, I said… The film was selected for the prestigous Sundance Festival in January in the US and won three out of five possible awards! ”Honeyland” is directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, with Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma as cinematographers, who were awarded for cinematography.
”Honeyland” is the opening film of Magnificent7 2019 and it is up to you, dear Belgrade audience, to evaluate if it is a masterpiece, if it is magnificent! Whatever you think, I am sure you will love to meet Atidze in the vast rocky valley, where she grows bees and takes care of her 85-year-old mother in a hut without electricity – which gives us viewers images like classic Dutch paintings.
On Wednesday April 10, ladies and gentlemen, Magnificent7 shows film number 100!!!! It makes me quite emotional and even more so, when Svetlana and Zoran Popovic have programmed ”Bridges of Time” by Kristīne Briede and Audrius Stonys to be shown on that day. Stonys is well known by the festival audience, he is a true film poet and together with Kristīne he tells us from where his inspiration comes and reminds us that films can be a declaration ”of inner freedom”. The quoted Baltic documentaries form ”the black and white world of poetic documentary films (was) full of colours. Sadness was full of joy. And joy was touched by deep existential sadness. It’s Cinema”.
The world of young Palestinian Walaa is full of joy and sadness. Director Christy Garland has followed her for 6 years in her struggle to find herself fulfilling her dream to become a policewoman, which is not easy in a male society with opposition from the family and other obstacles that ”What Walaa Wants”, a Canadian-Danish co-production, depicts so well, with warmth and humour. It’s a respectful focus on rebellion with a universal perpective. It could be anywhere.
Rebellion… what will happen, when Aatos and Amine grow up? The two protagonists in Reetta Huhtanen’s “Gods of Molenbeek”, who are around 6 years old, will charm every (grand)father and (grand)mother with their energy and curiosity. In a film that touches your heart and makes you smile, remembering that it takes place in a Brussels-suburb that is said to be the craddle for jihadism. „We are the strongest in the world“. Have you ever seen kids leading a theological discourse as the two boys and the girl Flo do in the film! Aatos wants a God like Amine, when he has been with him in the mosque! It’s a film that reminds me of Philibert’s „Etre et Avoir“ and Lozinski’s « Anything Can Happen“. Oh, childhood!
From Macedonian Honeyland, through Balticum, Palestine and Belgium to Italy, where Claudia Tosi, Grand Prix Golden Dove winner of DOKLeipzig, has made an impressive cinematic journey together with two brave women and their journey in Italian politics. The director is very much involved in the film. „I saw two passionate and combative women capable of inspiring trust and hope, a breath of fresh air in a world poisoned by the winds of anti-politics and the rise of populism...“; you'll love Manuela and Daniela, when you see the film and I am sure that Claudia Tosi and many other will be happy to read that in 6 of the films at Magnificent7 2019 there are female directors.
The two last films in the programme bear the signature of world acclaimed directors of documentaries: Nikolaus Geyrhalter and Heddy Honigmann. Geyrhalter has shown „Homo Sapiens“ at Magnificent7 2017 and Honigmann’s „Oblivion“ was in the program in 2009. We are proud to show their new works:
Geyrhalter with „Earth“ - premiered in February 2019 - that by a critic has been described as „one of the most important and poignant environmental documentaries in recent years“ – is - as you know from his previous films - made for the big screen. How are we changing the Earth, he asks, having visited sites in Europe and North America. In fantastic shots as only he can do it.
And finally Heddy Honigmann, who has been making films for four decades, is with „Buddy“ again demonstrating her extraordinary sensitivity and professional touch with a film where – with critic Neil Young’s words in Hollywood Reporter – „Man's best friend receives a cinematic pat on the head“.
Was I too enthusiastic? Hopefully! See you in the cinema for Magnificent7 festival.
Tue Steen Müller
Prague, March 13, 2019