All Men Become Brothers
It´s not easy. The selection of 7 films. For a good and a bad reason. The good is that today so many good documentaries are available in Belgrade. It was not like that 19 years ago, when the first edition of Magnificent7 took off. Today there are several festivals that show documentaries in the city and television also programs creative documentaries. My colleagues, the festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic have mentioned that several documentaries from M7 have now been broadcasted. So there are many options for the Belgraders, also the platforms for home screenings. The bad reason, no, continue reading:
For we have made a fine selection also for this year. For what are M7 looking for… the same as always – films with a subject that is relevant for an audience that demands to to be treated with special care and attention, and with a focus on artistic quality. With a special look on us human beings and the way we behave and treat each other.
I am happy and proud on behalf of the festival that the opening film is “All Men Become Brothers” about Alexander Dubcek, the legendary Slovak politician, who presented his politically democratic ambition for “socialism with a human face”. In 1968, the Prague Spring it was named, that was crushed by military invention from the Warsaw countries led by USSR. It is a great film and I dare say an important message to send also today, the humanistic approach.
The same goes for the two Nordic documentaries in the program. “Vintersaga” by Carl Olsson, who was here before with “Patrimonium”, portraying Swedish people in situations that sometimes are conveyed full of irony, sometimes “just” a pure homage to how we are, good and bad. In “Mr. Graversen” the son Michael returns to his childhood home and reaches to – with warmth, love and understanding – help his parents to come back to the life they once had.
The same theme comes up in “Housewitz”, where Dutch Oeke Hoogendijk does what she can to make her old mother, a holocaust survivor, live a decent life, in a film full of light and dark tones. And Love.
You can also love food, as the one who writes these lines does, and if you are financially unable to visit a Michelin restaurant you can watch “She Chef” by Melanie Liebheit and Gereon Wetzel, who were here before with the film on El Buli, a culinaric uhmm pleasure on screen with Agnes as the chef, who grows in the hierarchy, could have stayed in the big établissements but preferred “the human face” in a small restaurant in the Faroese Islands.
Climate and the way we treat the nature with an “inhuman face” is indirectly, what is the theme of the most surprising film of the 2023 edition – “A Year in the Field” by British Christopher Morris, who in an interview in Guardian said “I’ve never strapped myself to a tree, never even been on a protest march. That’s not in my nature, that’s not me. But standing quietly in a field, a sort of one-man direct action seemed kind of appealing to me.” And to the audience, it’s actually a very political film!
And finally ”Meine Schweizer Armee” by Luka Popadić, a film that we have discussed with Luka in several meetings at M7, me first time saying “… oh you have an army in Switzerland!”, they have and Luka is there and have made with respect a film, where he also talks to his fellow soldiers about “what is your homeland”, not being born in Switzerland, looking for your identity in other words, with respect. Podapic arrives in (?) his homeland with three officers “with a human face”.
Can’t wait to be back in Belgrade!
Tue Steen Müller
August 22 2023