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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: New Directors / New Films 2022

The 51st edition of  New Directors/New films (ND/NF) was held at Film at Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art venues from April 20 – May 1.  ND/NF presented innovative productions by first time Avant Guard directors and guiding reflections by established filmmakers.  As the program has consistently demonstrated over the past fifty years,  the art form of cinema broadens our perception of  society and our understanding of persistent socioeconomic problems i...

The Invisible Pilot, HBO Max

The common view that actual events are more compelling than fictional stories is rarely translated into documentary programs. The HBO documentary series THE INVISIBLE PILOT produced by Emmy award honoree filmmakers Phil Lon and Ari Mark delivers this message. Central to the three- part program is the life story of 81-year old Gary Betzner. The program covers his professional accomplishments, financial success in many areas, his numerous marriages with large families, and his tim...

Their Algeria / Leur Algerie; France, Algeria, Switzerland, Qatar; Lina Soualem, 2020

It took a long time before the Western powers and Japan engaged in a critical examination of their colonial pasts and the crimes they committed in the occupied regions. France, which colonized Algeria from 1830 to 1962, is a case in point. The best known documentation is the 1966 feature Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo which illustrates the escalating violence and atrocities committed by French armed forces against civilians and the response by the liberation movement FLN. Several years ...

New York Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2022

As distinct from other European countries, French Cinema has a strong presence in the United States, as evidenced by many French films and, to a lesser extent, French series, found in major and minor streaming services. The French presence is also maintained by the close to fifty French film festivals in North America with the extensive  support from French governmental institutions that consider French cinema as a crucial part of French culture. Compared to France, the German global film...

The Territory, Alex Pritz, Documentary, 2022

Alex Pritz’s case study of an indigenous Brazilian Amazon rain forest tribe focuses on the perspectives of the tribe, defending their existence and their forest. The documentary reflects the current systemic problems faced by many others in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia; the disappearance of rain forests, destruction and disregard of indigenous cultures, absence of medical services for tribal and other minority groups, and the domination of policy making by powerful economic int...

Sundance Film Festival 2022

Organized by the  non-profit Sundance Institute, the annual Sundance Film Festival (SFF) has been held for  close to forty years, serving independent film makers and supporting their creative projects. SFF 2022 took place from January 20 -30 and was a fully remote festival as opposed to the 2021 hybrid approach with its mix of in-person viewing exposure and streaming options. SFF 2022 provided viewing options for its audience with the on-line platform and satellite casting  cura...

New York Jewish Film Festival 2022

The 31st annual edition of the NY Jewish Film Festival (NYJFF) was held from January 12th  to the 25th at Lincoln Center and the New York Jewish Museum. NYJFF is one of the oldest and most important of the more than fifty Jewish film festivals held in the United States each year.  Including several press screenings, in person, and online presentations, the program carried productions from  numerous countries which focused on the past and present Jewish experience.  The fest...

The Olive Trees of Justice, 1962, France, James Blue, French 4K Restoration 2020

Filmed in Algeria by the US born American documentary film maker James Blue under the cover of making a production about the wine industry, and finished in 1962, the year Algeria became independent, this narrative feature is the only French production shot there during the Algerian War. The Olive Trees of Justice received the first Critics Prize  Cannes award for a US film maker. The Olive Trees of Justice (OTJ) is the only feature James Blue made and is an unusually compelling film as ...

TEYYAM of Gods, Heroes and Ancestors, Patrick Morell, USA/India, 2021; 51’

Patrick Morell presents a superbly photographed documentation of the Teyyam rituals. These rituals have been performed for thousands of years, in hundreds of  locations, in India’s Northern Kerala.  Through Teyyam rituals, devotees’ bond with their gods, goddesses, heroes, and ancestors. Teyyam rituals have re-established a direct personalized relationship between the believers and their gods, a connection disrupted by Western organized religion. As the philosopher Martin...

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...

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