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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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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...

New York DOC NYC 2020 Wrap

The New York City Documentary film festival (DOC NYC) was held from November 11 – December 9 including an Encore period and the new short list selection. For more than 19 days the, 11th edition of DOC NYC and its new online format served an audience throughout the United States and Puerto Rico which has grown significantly compared to last year’s theatrical edition. The program had 122 features and 102 shorts from 35 countries which wer...

New York DOC NYC 2020

The 11th edition of the DOC NYC, the largest North American documentary film festival was held online from November 11-19 with productions available throughout the United State. The festival included more than 200 films and events this year, featuring 23 world premieres, 12 productions opening for the first time in North America and 7 new to the US. For the US audience, the festival was extended by a 10-day Encore through November 29 featuring more than 70 production. Below please find a revie...

New York, Asian American International Film Festival, 2020

The 43rd Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) was held from October 1-11 entirely accessible online. In this new format the  43rd AAIFF celebrated Asian – American  and Pacific Islander producers and directors and the stories presented by their films.  AAIFF is the oldest and longest running  Asian American film festival in the United States and as distinct from other festivals offering similar productions, this festival is closely tied to the large &nbs...

DOC NYC 2020 First Thoughts

DOC NYC is holding its eleventh edition online this year from November 11-19. The festival remains the largest North American documentary film festival and offers viewers over 200 films and numerous events. The program includes 107 feature length documentaries, with 23  world premieres,  12  international or North American premieres, and 7  United States premiers, and many short films. A detailed review of the documentary festiva...

2020 New York Asian Film Festival

The widespread embrace of streaming, the growth of established platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, the establishment of new streamers such as Disney+ and HBO Max, and numerous smaller platforms set up by distributors and independent interest groups fundamentally shifted the film and television market. This shift has been accelerated by the rapidly rising sales of large smart television sets with superb image resolution and sound. The pandemic, now in its seventh month, has fastened our fa...

Heimat is a Space in Time, 2019, Germany

The German Austrian production Heimat is a Space in Time (Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit) directed and written by Thomas Heise was probably the most challenging selection in the  2019  New York film festival program. Screened in the Projections section it premiered in the United States and was discussed as outstanding by festival insiders though very few had seen it and the US distributor Icarus films had not announced release plans. Heise’s difficult production do...

Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2020

Organized by the Human Rights Watch, the annual film festival is one of the most important international issue-oriented film festivals providing up to date, mostly empirically based, documentation on current human rights issues throughout the world. The Human Rights Watch was organized in 1978 with European and Central Asia Divisions which are complemented now by Africa, Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa, and United States sections. The topics covered, with research and regular reports, ...

WeAreOne: A Global International Film Festival

As with other public institutions ranging from the arts to education, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the film festival industry to reorient the delivery of its services. Large established festivals have been forced to cancel or postpone their programs, or search for hybrid solutions, combining restricted public screenings, following local pandemic rules, with digital screenings, frequently aimed at selecting target audiences of distributors and buyers. Some of the smaller n...

Farewell to Movie Theaters?

The impact of streaming has been discussed in most professional meetings long before the onset of the covid-19 pandemic and has been an essential topic.  At the 2020 Berlin Film Festival and Market debates on distribution and funding were a key issue. However, the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the viewing habits of the audience is still rarely reviewed. The confluence of several factors has created a significant and growing rupture in traditional film consumption. Rapid expansion...

The Painted Bird, Vaclav Marhoul, Czechoslovakia, 2019

  Opening with a brief sequence of a  boy trying to protect small animal being chased through the forest by two boys that steal and kill the animal, this extraordinary feature shot in black and white on 35-mm depicts a nameless Jewish boy’s years long passage through somewhere in eastern Europe towards the end of World War II. Marhoul’s film is based on Jerzy Kosinski’s novel. THE PAINTED BIRD is stripped down to its essential elements and shows the ...

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