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Claus Mueller

Claus Mueller is  Senior New York Correspondent

New York City based Claus Mueller reviews film festivals and related issues and serves as a  senior editor for Society and Diplomatic Review.

As a professor emeritus he covered at Hunter College / CUNY social and media research and is an accredited member of the US State Department's Foreign Press Center.



New York New Directors / New Films, 2024

New Directors / New Films was presented from April 3 to April 14, 2024, at Film at Lincoln Center (FLC )and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Over more than a half century ND / NF introduced new filmmakers with striking innovative productions reflecting the future of cinema. This year the program included 25 features and 10 short films with 18 North American and US premiers and 16 first time New York screenings. As La Frances Hui, Curator of the MoMA film department and co-chair of the 2024 ND/...

Israelism, Documentary USA, 2023, Eric Axelman and Sam Eilertsen

  Work on the documentary ISRAELISM started in late 2015 and was completed at the end of 2022. The film was released in February 2023 and offers a challenging interpretation of the contemporary meaning of Jewish identity in the United States against the background of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Axelman and Eilertsen, first-time Jewish filmmakers, provide a cogent and objective analysis of the forces shaping the modern Jewish-American identity and the growing discrepancy between th...

MoMA Doc Fortnight 2024

Now in its 23rd year at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, MoMA’s Doc Fortnight ran from February 22 through March 7 and presented recent documentary features and short films from new and established artists. As in past editions, Doc Fortnight focused on innovative, experimental, and adventurous filmmaking approaches. The 2024 program included 13 features, six short films, three special seminars on Caribbean productions, landscape films, and a spotlight on Gelare Khoshgozaran, an int...

Censorship at Berlinale 2024 and the German Dilemma

Given its past, Germany has a dilemma defining, coping with, and translating antisemitism it into policies. In this most advanced European economy with a population of 84.7 million in 2023, including 5.5 million Muslims as well as a Jewish community of at least 225 thousand, there seems to be a political consensus about a special relationship with the state of Israel and the need to protect its interests. This has been engrained by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2008 declaration that Israel&...

Io Capitano (I, the Captain), 2023 Italy, Matteo Garrone, Director / Writer

In 2008 Matteo Garrone directed the award-winning docudrama Gommorah portraying the fate of two teens aspiring to criminal success in a slum dominated by a crime syndicate. Garrone’s approach in Io Capitano was similar and appropriately compelling. It conveys the experience of young migrants entering Europe rather than conveying an outsider’s point of view. Garrone has stressed that “Every moment on the set I had people besides me who had actually lived through the experienc...

Farewell, Mr. Haffmann (2021)

Farewell, Mr. Haffmann is a highly rated 2021 French feature film directed by Fred Cavaye based on the price winning stage play by Jean-Philippe Daguerre. The film opened North America in 2022 in and has been selected by more than 13 Jewish Film festivals thus far, distributed by the Santa Monica based Menemsha Films. Superbly photographed by Denis Rouden with a screenplay by Fred Cavaye and Sarah Kaminsky,  the Haffmann story takes place in German occupied Paris from 1941 to late 1942. T...

Inheritance (2024)

The outstanding documentary Inheritance had its world premiere in January at the 2024 edition of Slamdance Film Festival. Produced and directed by Matt Moyer and Ann Toensing Set, Inheritance set itself apart from many issue oriented documentaries on middle and upper middle-class problems with frequent academic elucidations.  Inheritance has no implicit appeals for funds to take on the problems depicted nor do producers call for political action. Inheritance takes a refreshingly different...

DOC NYC 2023

DOC NYC has remained the largest and most important North American documentary festival. Held in person this year from November 8th to the 16th alongside streaming selected productions from the 8th to the 26th, DOC NYC once again displays its well-earned reputation for excellent curatorial program choices reiterated by the significant number of featured documentaries that have nominated for and received Oscars. DOC NYC 2023 selected 114 feature length documentaries and 129 short films. The pro...

DOC NYC 2023

DOC NYC has remained the largest and most important North American documentary festival. Held in person this year from November 8th to the 16th alongside streaming selected productions from the 8th to the 26th, DOC NYC once again displays its well-earned reputation for excellent curatorial program choices reiterated by the significant number of featured documentaries that have nominated for and received Oscars. DOC NYC 2023 selected 114 feature length documentaries and 129 short films. The pro...

New York Film Festival 61 (2023)

Established in 1963, the annual New York Film Festival (NYFF) has become one of the most important North American festivals by identifying innovative trends in global film making, developing a program of rising influential new American film makers, and selecting the best recent features from international film festivals. NYFF does not offer awards or prizes, their selection of  films gives prestige to the filmmakers and producers, marking them as significant shapers of current and evolvin...

CONCRETE UTOPIA (2023) Um Tae-hwa. South Korea - Toronto International Film Festival

Um Tae-hwa’s CONCRETE UTOPIA, premiered in South Korea on August 9, 2023 and was unanimously nominated by a jury for the 2024 Oscars. Shown first in North America at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) at was produced for an estimated $18 million, but  CONCRETE UTOPIA earned close to $17 million during its first screening week in Korea. The film is based in part of the webtoon “Pleasant Bullying” transformed by Um Tae-hwa  and his team his t...

Toronto International Film Festival, 2023, Reviews

Defiant (2023) Karim Amer. Ukraine, USA, and UK. Among the outstanding documentaries in the 2023 program is Karim Kamer’s DEFIANT which offers a comprehensive inside view of the Ukrainian resistance and counteroffensive against the ongoing Russia invasion. DEFIANT investigates the conflict with in-depth interviews of leading government officials and provides essential background information with the assistance of archival footage. It follows and demystifies the systematic disinformati...

The Chinese Film Market in 2023

US film box office revenues in China are declining and only two films from the US were among the top ten hits in China last year. The lion's share of the Chinese audiences seems to have shifted their preference to domestic films. Before the pandemic, it was expected that in any given year at least five US films would be among the top 10 movies in China. The available data from 2014-2018 confirms this. However, in 2019 only two US films achieved the same success. The same held true in 2021 ...

New York Asian Film Festival, 2023

Considered as the leading comprehensive and best curated North American international film festival focusing on Asian production, the 22nd edition of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) was held for 17 days at Film at Lincoln Center (FLC) and the New Jersey Barrymore Film Center under the aegis of the New York Asian Film Foundation and FLC from July 14-30, 2023. Samuel Jamier, President of the Foundation and Executive Director of NYAFF noted after the conclusion of NYAFF that “2023 ...

Walter Kaufmann: What a Life, Germany, 2021

This superbly crafted biographical documentary by Karin Kaper and Dirk Szuszien premiered in North America in a May 2023 screening arranged in New York by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and the Leo Baeck Institute. The focus of the film, writer Walter Kaufmann, passed away at the age of 97 in 2021. Every stage of his life is chronicled and accompanied by his visual participation and recorded commentaries from his texts including childhood and youth; passage as a Jewish child refugee from Germany ...

New York: Tribeca Festival 2023

Tribeca Festival 2023 was held from June 7-18, with an extension to July 2 through the Tribeca at Home online platform.  The films presented included 109 feature films from 127 filmmakers and 36 countries, with 93 world premieres, 43 first time directors, and 53 documentaries depicting a broad spectrum of sociopolitical issues, including spotlights on the Ukraine and Iran. Short films were selected from a record number of 8,096 submissions and of them 76 selected shorts were presented in ...

Hot Docs 2023: Theatre of Violence

Each year there is a growth of issue-oriented documentaries, but in 2023 Hot Docs included THEATRE OF VIOLENCE (ToV) directed by Lukasz Konopa and Emile Langballe which outranked most of the other productions. This Danish-German 2023 documentary had a Special Presentation with its North American premiere and excelled in posing in a persuasive and impressive manner fundamental questions about the confrontation between the Western European based system of detached criminal justice, the Internati...

HotDocs 2023

With respect to the number of productions selected, the size of its audience, and global concerns, the Toronto based Canadian International Documentary Festival, better known as HotDocs, has retained its position as the largest documentary festival, conference, and market in North America. HotDocs celebrated its 30th anniversary this April 27 to May 9. A record number of 2,848 productions were submitted of which 214 were selected for the 13 HotDocs sections. They originated from 72 countries a...

New Directors / New Films 2023

The annual New Directors / New Films festival organized by the New York Museum of Modern Art and Film at Lincoln Center has maintained its leading position as the film festival for avant-garde global filmmaking.  It was held in the theatres of MoMA and FLC from March 28 to April 9, 2023. ND/NF provides a rare perspective unmatched by other film festivals, focusing on the innovative approaches new and future filmmakers are embracing. It has been providing this enlightening service for mor...

New York: Doc Fortnight 2023

Considered a mandatory festival event for innovative and provocative documentaries, the annual Doc Fortnight was presented again from February 22 to March 7 this year by the Museum of Modern Art.  The program included 15 feature and 8 short films. As in past editions, the festival included U.S. and international films reflecting current socio-political changes and ruptures, embracing new production approaches, and the visual analysis of themes not covered before. Many selections premiered i...

DOC NYC 2022

DOC NYC is the largest North American documentary festival and returned for the 13th edition in 2022, presenting an amazing success story for a relatively young festival. DOC NYC is produced and presented by the IFC Center, a division of AMC Networks. It was held in person from November 9-17 at IFC Center, SVA Theatre, Cinepolis Chelsea. DOC NYC continued online through November 27 with most of the festival’s films available for streaming through their own platform. The program included ...

Other Israel Film Festival 2022

The Other Israel Film Festival (OIFF) was established in 2007 in the Carole Zabar Center for Film at the Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center on Manhattan. Connected with several other film festivals located there, and the expanding Israel Film Center streaming site with more than 250 productions, the Manhattan JCC is probably the largest North American media center providing access to Israeli and Jewish media and culture. As distinct from other festivals with related themes, OIFF is excep...

New York Film Festival 2022 wrapped

  Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the New York Film Festival (NYFF) continues to rank as one of the most important film festivals in the United States. NYFF 2022 operates very differently from its early 60s origins and the expansive program reflects this. One of the co-founders of NYFF, Amos Vogel, quoted by Manohla  Dargis, emphasized in 1965 that the mission of the festival was to reflect the most interesting  trends and new works in global film making. For Vogel, the comme...

Toronto International Film Festival 2022

The growing audience of major and lesser-known film festivals certainly does not signal the end of the cinema. It mirrors the growing number of movies which are produced and the social and commercial attractions of film festivals. Though one should keep in mind that over a twenty-year period through 2018 only about four percent of independent films in the Unites States generated a profit and that just ten percent were ever shown in theaters.  The relative decline of independent films refl...

AAIFF 2022 - Asian American International Film Festival

Asian CineVision founded the Asian American International Film Festival in 1977 which turned into the nation’s longest running film festival for the best independent productions from the Asian diaspora and overseas. The festival is in New York City, the second largest Asian-American market in the USA. Running from August 3- 13, 2022, AAIFF its 45th year and embraced the hybrid format with in-person screenings at the Asia Society and online streaming nationally and globally. AAIFF has mai...


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