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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.



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 110 feature lengths documentaries and over 90 shorts as well as numerous events. DOC NYC 2022 showcased 29 Word and 27 US premieres. The main slate US and International Competition section featured 23 premieres. Held for the second time, Kaleidoscope Competition focused on innovative poetic and narrative productions from around the globe and the perennial Metropolitan Competition carried New York stories and personalities. The non-competition sections remain very popular and included again “Fight the Power” on activism, “Short List” with 15 Oscar nominees and awardees, and “Winners Circle” highlighting films with significant awards from international festivals. 

Compared to prior years, more sponsors appeared to support DOC NYC 2022.  This may be the result of the growing popularity of documentary productions, ready access to these films through streaming services and at home viewing, and the relative decline of traditional film consumption. The major 2022 sponsors included A&E, HBO, NBC, Netflix, Discovery, National Geographic, Showtime, Amazon Studios, Hulu, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Screened as the closing night film, the extraordinary innovative 2022 documentary THE CONSPIRACY world premiered at the festival. This feature by Russian American Maxim Pozdorovkin included startling animated segments and archival footage. Superbly researched, the director covers more than 250 years of antisemitic conspiracies targeting Jewish groups and their frequently deadly impact on the victims. One of the outstanding features of THE CONSPIRACY is that it shares the origins of antisemitic thoughts with the audience and provides detailed information and data that elucidates an issue which has which is still topical today, the widespread propagation of false narratives. THE CONSPIRACY clarifies that these devastating beliefs have been an essential part of Western European and American convictions for a long time. They gained their power mostly after being adopted and spread by policymakers, religious figures, and interest groups to serve their needs. Antisemitic conspiratorial ideologies also provided readymade answers to the conflicts generated by the turmoil of industrialization and modernization, the rise of the capitalist class structure and its wealth disparities, and open armed conflicts. These ideologies gave a false face to the enemy and a narrative that the ruling powers were not at fault but instead it was well-connected secret Jewish groups using their wealth for exploitation. The French revolution and the opening of civil society for Jews in France and other countries becomes part of the conspiracy. The film shows the role of the Jesuit Augustin Barruel tying the French Revolution to Jews and the widespread use of the Elders of Zion Protocol to blame Jewish people for problems in society. The documentary examines how ruling figures like Czar Nicholas used conspiratorial thought to oppress Jews and like other prominent figures disputed the concept of civil rights for Jews. Others, like Henry Ford, an admirer of Adolf Hitler, funded widespread publications of antisemitic thought in the United States. The director, Pozdorovkin, devotes enlightening long passages to three well known Jewish families and their victimization by the antisemitic structures of their countries The French officer Alfred Dreyfus, the German Banker Max Warburg, and the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky who was born into the Jewish Bronstein family. The sensitive portrayal of these individuals and their families by outstanding actors was impressive and made THE CONSPIRACY an even more powerful and influential exploration of this dark history.

THE WINDS BLOWS THE BORDER, a Brazilian documentary which received the International Feature Documentary Special Jury Price at Hot Docs 2022 was directed by Laura Faerman and Marina Weis and produced by Julio Matos.  It presented both sides of the long lasting struggle between the Guarani-Kaiowá people and the expanding agribusiness in a region bordering Paraguay that encompasses 10,00 hectares (24,700 acres). Produced in late 2022, before the defeat of former president Jair Bolsonaro and the election of Lula da Silva, the documentary captures the positions of the indigenous people defending their land and of the ‘ruralistas’, the wealthy land owners agribusiness operators. What is at stake for the native people is the destruction of their land and communal life forcing resistance to the white groups claiming ownership of the land. On the other side are families claiming ownership of land they are occupying and expanding. From a legal perspective, the ownership issue has not been clarified. The native people invoke their sovereignty and constitutional rights. The landowners claim 123 privately held farms have already invaded. The landowners are represented by attorney Luana Ruiz who is allied with Bolsonaro and heiress to family land. Ruiz suggests that federal intervention is urgently required to restore order. Ruiz argues that the impunity of indigenous actions undermines the landowners, though landowners and the allied agribusiness dominate the judicial system in that region. If the new president Lula can change the situation remains to be seen.  His victory was by a slim margin and the wealthy landowners do not support him, nor the legislative assemblies which are dominated by supporters of the former president Bolsonaro. Interspersed sections in the film show wealthy landowners’ lifestyles and views, rituals of the native people and their demonstrations in cities faced with armed responses. The images and statements of a young girl recalling her grandfather’s observations and those who were killed in the struggle against settlers add emotional appeal to the documentary.


Claus Mueller

New York




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