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Claus Mueller


Claus Mueller is filmfestivals.com  Senior New York Correspondent

He is based in New York where he covers the festival scene, professor at Hunter University, accredited member of the Foreign Press Center,  U.S. Department of State NY.


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White on White, Theo Court, Chile, 2019

WHITE ON WHITE 2019 (Blanco en Blanco) is the second feature by the Cuban trained director Théo Court who grew up in Chile and Spain. White on White has a superb cast, exquisite photography by Jose Alayon, and a factually based screenplay, stripped down to essentials by Théo Court and Samuel Delgado. Set more than 100 years ago in the desolate Tierra del Fuego region of southern Argentine,  the narrative focuses on a dozen European descendants and a few barely visible indige...

New York DOC NYC 2021

Despite this year’s pandemic interruptions, the declining number of Oscar submitted documentaries, and the need to adjust to new hybrid festival formats, the 2021 edition of the largest  American  documentary festival DOC NYC (DOC 21), held from November  10 – 18  with an online extension  through November 28 had a successful run. Compared to 2020, with an online audience of 38,000 there was a decline in 2021 to 31,000, a dip due to more limited online acce...

New York: Other Israel Film Festival 2021

The 15th annual Other Israel Film Festival (OIFF) was held in a hybrid format with online and in-person participation from November 4-11 at the Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Manhattan. The Israel Film Center was established there by Carole Zabar. For years, The Israel Film Center has successfully expanded its audience using streaming platforms to facilitate access to its productions and film festivals both in person at its theater and from home. The pivoting ...

New York: The Art Show 2021

Founded by the Arts Dealers Association of America, ADAA, the annual Art Show at New York’s Armory has developed into a respected and long running art fair that continued its 33 year partnership with  New York’s Henry Street Settlement, having raised at the fair’s benefit preview opening $1 million in 2020 and more than $1.2 million in 2021. Participation in the 2021 benefit on November 3 grew by 20 percent and over the last 33 years more than $30 million was raised for ...

New York: Surrealism Beyond Borders

Surrealism has been practiced for more than 100 years on a global scale, outlasting numerous art trends embraced by art markets and critics. There are trends that had  staying power over decades past but faded, though immured in museum collections for the public benefit and in galleries as well as auction houses for investments. If antecedents of surrealism are considered, the time span for expressions in that art form is much longer. According to Amy Dempsey, the Museum of Modern Art inc...

New York Film Festival 2021

The 59th edition of the New York Film Festival (NYFF) presented by Film at Lincoln  Center was held from September 24 – October 10 at Lincoln Center venues. NYFF 2020 was presented in a hybrid format with both streaming and in person formats, still adopted by most major film festivals. NYFF 2021 was restricted to theatrical exposure and some outdoor screenings at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park.  Last year’s drive-in screenings were not scheduled again. To expan...

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc), Romania, Radu Jude, 2021

Directed by Radu Jude who also wrote the screenplay, his 2021 feature BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONEY PORN is an extraordinary satirical exploration of the socio-political problems of post-modern society using Romania as a case study. Produced this year, it received the Golden Bear at the 2021 Berlinale as the best film. From most perspectives, BAD LUCK is superior to many features at other major festivals which also selected Jude’s film. Radu Jude has a compelling and uncompromising story, m...

Toronto International Film Festival 2021

The 46th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was held from September 9 – 18. The program consisted of close to 200 exceptional Canadian and international films in its official selections alongside renowned industry conferences. TIFF adopted a hybrid format this year, combining online screenings of the productions and in- person theatrical exposure in numerous Ontario venues. Through TIFF Bell Lightbox and Bell Digital Talks platforms, individuals throughout Canada w...

New York AAIFF 2021

More than forty years ago Asian CineVision set up the Asian American  International film festival in 1978, the first and longest running US festival focusing on Asian American film as an instrument of social change. Embracing the online and live events hybrid format, AAIFF’s 44th edition this year from August 11 – 25 showcased international films including 13 world premieres, special presentation of five features, nine narrative features, five documentaries and a short film pr...

NYAFF 2021 New York Asian Film Festival 2021

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the New York Asian Film Foundation in cooperation with Film at Lincoln Center and the SVA theater held the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) 2021 from August 6th to the 22nd. NYAFF screened over 60 films to New York and nationwide audiences, with in-person and virtual formats. NYAFF is the most important festival for popular Asian cinema. It has been described as New York’s best film festival (Village Voice) and one of the city’s most valuable e...

New York: Tribeca Festival 2021

  The Tribeca Festival 2021, lasting from June 9 – 20 with a full program, has been the first North American in-person film festival this year. This 20th edition dropped “film” from its title reflecting the festival’s continued expansion into all fields of media production. Over 12 days, the Tribeca Festival consisted of online presentations, in-person screenings in all boroughs including outdoor venues with massive LED screens, covered more than 250 events with s...

New York: Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2021

  As I noted in my introduction to the 2020 HRWFF, this annual film festival is organized by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and continues to be one of the most important international issue-oriented festivals providing up to date, mostly empirically based, documentation on current human rights issues throughout the world. Starting in 1978, HRW has been expanding and now has sections in Europe, North America, Africa, Central Asia, Middle East, and North Africa. The topics are mostly based i...

Hot Docs 2021, Toronto, Context and Productions

Hot Docs (HD) is the largest documentary festival in North America and responded to the pandemic like other prominent international film festivals such as Berlinale and Sundance which set the stage for an effective transition to an online virtual festival. HD screened in 2020 more than 135 films, drawing more viewers  from Ontario, participants to its professional market, and a growing subscription audience. The  expectations for 2021 by the organizers were met. In its 28th edition, ...

A.RTIFICAL I.MMORTALITY , Canada, Ann Shin, 2021, Hot Docs

As science advances more rapidly the expectations of what it can do for humanity is expanding as well. Yet at the same time, control over the consequences of this development seems to elude mankind. There is a steadily growing gap between the current state of knowledge and the need for knowledge necessary to master what we now know. Put differently, the more we know the less we know or the greater the knowledge gap. Over the last decade, scientists have been able to join and grow living  ...

New York: New Directors New Films 2021

  Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the annual New Directors New Films festival (ND/NF) was held in New York from April 28 - May 8 with extended in-person screenings until May 1st at the Film at Lincoln Center (FLC) location.  The 2021 festival offered 27 features, 11 shorts, and 11 films in its retrospective line-up. The international feature program showcased productions from, Iran, South Korea, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, Greece, Georgia, France, In...

About Endlessness, Roy Andersson, Sweden 2019

ABOUT ENDLESSNESS is a startling departure from Roy Andersson’s previous films with long sequences  documenting gruesome events presented in a social context. In Andersson’s 1991 short, WORLD OF GLORY, there are carefully composed images of nude women and children forced into the large hold of a diesel truck to be killed by a hose attached to the truck’s exhaust. There is no commentary. But the images include a group of well-dressed official-looking men and women closely...

New York: DOC Fortnight 2021

Continuing 19 years of unabated success, the film department of New York’s MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) celebrated 2021 its showcase of the most innovative nonfiction films from around the globe by known and new filmmakers from March 18 – April 5.  The program included 18 documentaries, four shorts, and special projects with most being North America premiers alongside two world premieres. The festival was presented online as virtual cinema, covering a broad spectrum of themes w...

Austin: From SXSW 2021: two outstanding features

With the objective of “helping creative people achieve their goals” the South by Southwest Conference and Festival (SXSW) was established in 1987 in Austin, Texas with an emphasis on the merger of  interactive productions, the film ,and music industries. Like other festivals, SXSW embraced digital platforms for its conferences, music showcases  exhibitions, networking opportunities and film screenings in 2021. SXSW Online 2021 took place from March 16-20, though conferenc...

Berlinale 2021: European Film Market

The 2021 Berlinale is being held in two parts, the European Film Market (EFM), restricted to  the industry and the press, from March 1-5, and the public film festival, the Summer Special, scheduled for June 9-20 in Berlin cinemas and open air venues with jury members and award winners. The second component, if staged, will continue Berlinale’s tradition as the world’s biggest public film festival.  To date, the EFM has been very successful, with achievement similar to tha...

Sundance Film Festival 2021 Film Highlights

As I noted in my earlier Context and Data report about Sundance 2021, the festival delivered an effective hybrid adaptation to the rapidly changing film universe by providing national and international online streaming, in-person screenings in Utah and independent art cinemas, as well as using drive-ins in numerous locations throughout the U.S. Sundance generated the largest audience it has ever experienced, reaching a total audience of 600,000 viewers, with event participants close to triplin...

Sundance Film Festival 2021 : Context and Data

by Claus Mueller, filmexchange@gmail.com  New York The Sundance 2021 festival is covered in  two parts. In this first part the new context for Sundance 2021 is discussed; its customized festival model, the audience Sundance reached this year, and a listing of productions purchased to date, as well as the sponsors supporting this year’s edition. In the second part, which will be posted next week, I will review several features and documentaries. The radical film and telev...

About Executing Eichmann, Florence Jammot, USA, 2015, documentary [Icarus Films, New York/ovid.tv platform]

For David Ben Gurion the Eichmann trial had a crucial importance educating a generation of young Israelis and immigrants from the Middle East who fifteen years after the Holocaust had no direct exposure  or experience  with the Nazi crimes.   Given a voice to the victims of the holocaust  would establish a firm relation to the Jewish past and suffering and create a new Jewish man, an Israeli  who would never again submit to  oppression. Shaping a  collec...

New York: New Directors New Films 2020 at MoMA

  In its  2020  hybrid format, New York Film Festival reached a national online audience  of 70,000  in addition to local  drive in viewers and retained its status as a show case for the most important contemporary films. The 49th edition of 3the New Directors / New Films (ND/NF) festival staged from   December 9-20  by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center (FLC) presented the perspective of how filmmakers from all over th...

Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, Anabel Rodriguez Rios, Venezuela, 2019

Submitted as the Venezuela official feature entry for the next Oscar, this outstanding documentary filmed over  seven years portrays the slow death of a small village of Congo Mirado situated in the Maracaibo lake, next to the largest oil producing region of Venezuela.  Anabel Rios’ production focuses on the destruction of an impoverished island community by forces beyond its control. Such a presentation could be filmed about the fate of poor communities in many other  cou...

New York: The Other Israel Film Festival 2020

The Carole Zabar Center for Film at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan Center on the City’s upper west side has been instrumental in establishing the Israel Film Center (IFC) streaming platform.  Several annual issue oriented film festivals at the JCC Center are now programmed online and IFC  has used an innovative and unique approach to promoting Israeli culture in the United States.  IFC provides a significant contribution to better understanding of the contemporary prob...

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