» ZagrebDox, part 5

Shouldn’t a man consider himself very lucky when, stepping into his hotel room after midnight, sitting down at his desk, thinking about the past 16 hours, he can honestly say:”it has been a good day”? Well, that is exactly the situation I’m in.

Starting the day with an excellent breakfast in good company, then sending a kind letter to the embassy of Uganda to let the ambassador in on my warm feelings (of disgust) about her president’s decision to vote the anti-homosexuality law, and after after that get some serious EDN work done… what more can a man ask for.

The official part of the day started with a photo session in the company of my predecessor as director of EDN. The reason for this light entertainment was to be found in an old picture that was sent to me. It was taken 13 years ago, also in Croatia, and we thought it might be a good idea to re-enact those good times, you could say we learned a lesson from the Act of Killing :-)
Judge for yourself whether time has been kind to us.

Today I had the pleasure to moderate a session about distribution, in the highly valued company of Catherine Le Clef, Peter Jäger and Alexandra Derewienko. We spent two informative hours discussing the ever more complicated job of a sales agent, and sometimes there were sparkles in the air, because the panel members did not always agree. I just love that.

By coincidence, the two films I watched today both dealt with men on the fringe of society and the kind of friendship that develops between men who know that Kris Kristofferson was right when he wrote that : Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose!

Finally I got to see The Last Black Sea Pirates (Svetoslav Stoyanov/Vanya Raynova), an endearing documentary about a treasure-seeking group of men who understood that if you want to live in paradise, you’ll have to create it inside your own head. They seem to have grasped that the real world we live in is just a shadow play, and that all what we so honestly try to achieve in life is an irrelevant pastime that might bring wealth but seldom happiness. They talk a lot about digging up an ancient pirate’s treasure but I think they’re happy to not find it: the real treasure is the common dream that allows them to continue to behave like the child each of these rough characters once was. I would have loved to sit with them in the end of the film, all together on the rowing-boat, pretending to be interested in catching fish, but actually very busy to enjoy life to the hilt. If tomorrow you don’t find this blog, you might have to come and look for me on the shores of the Black Sea.

Yesterday I wrote how some documentaries really hit me like a rock. Well, I think that tomorrow I’ll have a dark-blue bruise after having seen Ne Me Quitte Pas. (Sabine Lubbe Bakker / Niels Van Koevorden). I don’t know very well how to translate the German proverb “in der Beschränkung zeigt sich der Meister” (something like: through simplicity the real master is revealed?) but it certainly applies to this documentary. For about a year, we follow in the footsteps of two men who are on the downhill slope of life. This is the kind of documentary that makes you laugh, and feel bad about it, because you know that what you see is not a laughing matter. In the most simple film language, averse to any form of effect-hunting, we travel with Marcel and Bob towards their dark ending (and you can take that literally) . It is harrowing to see these two sympathetic characters lose the battle against fate. Hardly any information is given about their past or what hounds them, but exactly by withholding this information the viewer pieces it all together him/herself, and it is clear that alcohol plays an important role in this drama. If there’s one message to be found in this film, it’s that we should stop to trivialize the abuse of alcohol and not consider it a drug. After the warm applause died down, I stayed in my seat and remembered the words an Indian film maker used in his pitch in DocEdge, a couple of weeks ago: “documentary is not about what is happening, but about what happens afterwards.” And those are the thoughts that have been turning inside my head for the past hour: what’s going to happen to those characters we hardly saw (the estranged son, the divorced wife, the innocent kids)? About the destiny of Marcel and Bob there is little doubt. In the title role it is mentioned that one character has died since the completion of the film: Louis, the cat. I fear that soon the producers will have to re-edit the end credits and add some names.


Wow, what a dark blog this has become. Unless fate will make me join Louis the cat tonight, I’ll be back tomorrow and I promise I will be less morbid. Keep smiling and don’t forget: the real paradise is waiting for you inside your head. Get your ticket now!


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