Yesterday’s Noise, Music Of Today

in 47th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film

by Svetla Ivanova

Before 1990, the Documentary and Animation Film Festival in Leipzig was a big propaganda undertaking for the promotion of Socialist ideas worldwide through the medium of film. It wouldn’t be fair to forget the great number of good films, shown in the shadow of the orthodox favorites, but they didn’t receive the prizes which were reserved for those who followed the party line. At that time the Festival in Leipzig was big, well-off and grey.

After the fall of the Berlin wall, the Festival lost its old function. It was difficult to change quickly, to find the right criteria for selection of the films and to bring them to Leipzig without the previous financial comfort. But in the last 15 years the Festival has managed to find the right direction, to become step by step a window for real human problems and for art. The permanent lack of money however hampered its dynamic development in the new economic situation. A good Film Festival is not only a nice place for seeing new films, but also a meeting point of art and market.

The 47th International Film Festival in Leipzig seems to be a turning point: the festival team with the new festival director, Mr Claas Danielsen, managed in six months only to organize a large network of sponsorships, to double the prize fund and to show about 350 films from 64 countries. The next big step has to be the film market.

In the International Competition of Documentary Films, there were about 6 films far ahead of the others. Despite the different quality of the films, they were all pieces of art and not a single TV-report was included in the program, unlike at other festivals, where some TV-reports claim to be documentary art, but they are not.

Television is the main financial source for documentary films all over the world. But everyone knows how easy it is to get money from television for a TV-report and how difficult for a real ambitious documentary film project. Sometimes the TV broadcasting managers have difficulties in understanding that events without human dimensions, without people, struggling for work, truth, love and dignity could not replace the need for reflection and pleasure, which the art of the documentary film can provide the audience. Festivals like Leipzig could show them how the human presence in the good documentary films could attract and not repulse the large public.

The most convincing examples for “Menschenkenntnis” were German filmmakers in the international and in the national competition.

Touch the Sound by Thomas Riedelsheimer is a portrait of the famous musician Evelyn Glennie, a master of percussion, who managed to reach an amazing harmony between her heart and the frequencies of everyday life around. As if she swims in a sea of sounds. The most strange thing in her story is not so much the way she makes music, but the way she imagines the world as a source of celestial sound messages. Our planet would be a good place to live on if we were not deaf and blind to the beauty around. The message of this film hits us more strongly, because of the fact, that Evelyn lost her hearing when she was a child…

Thomas Riedelsheimer’s film reveals the extraordinary sensibility of a filmmaker, able to show us our world today in a way we have never seen before. His painting with the camera, with the rhythmic improvisations of Evelyn Glennie and her partners gives us convincing proof that contemporary art develops its own language not only as a sophisticated exercise or as technical attraction, but also to express meanings and feelings.

Do not believe anyone who tells you that the film is a little too long. Follow its rhythm, try to synchronize it with the beating of your heart and enjoy it.

Svetla Ivanova