Coming back again this year, from 15th to 26th November, the International Documentary FilmFestival Amsterdam is the most prominent and successful festival dedicated to documentary filmmaking. A unique event in its kind hosting the best in international documentaries and an exclusive platform for filmmakers, producers and distributors. IDFA offers a great opportunity to know the best documentaries of the year and explore the new trends of a genre becoming more popular and successful among non specialists.
COMPETITION FOR FEATURE-LENGHT DOCUMENTARY
ALL ABOUT AMAL by Mohamed Siam – Tahrir Square riots in the days of the Revolution, the failure of the Arab Spring, the unfolding events and the country transition depicted through the life of Amal, a 14 year-old girl beaten by police during the protests. A girl among men in Egypt, where the choices open for a young woman’s future are still limited.
THE DEMINER by Hogir Hirori and Shinwar Kamal – Fakhir clears thousands of roadside bombs, mines and car bombs in the chaotic Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein; he uses his own hands, a pocketknife and some wire cutters risking every time his life. In 2014, by this time having lost a leg, he starts working for the Kurdish Peshmerga, disarming boobytraps left behind by IS in and around Mosul.
THE LONG SEASON by Leonard Retel Helmrich – Nine million Syrians have left their homeland since the breakout of the war. Most of them have ended up in camps like Madjal Anjar in the Beqaa Valley, just over the border in Lebanon. Most of the come from Raqqa, living a state of limbo, frustrated and traumatized. THE LONG SEASON is a portrait of the human drama experienced by men and women behind the abstract number of nine million.
OF FATHERS AND SONS by Talal Derki – Talal Derki lived for more than two years with the family of Abu Osama, an Al-Nusra fighter in a small village in northern Syria. With his camera he focused mainly on the children trained as children to become soldiers of God, Jihadi fighters who must never cry.
THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING by Mila Turajlic – A Belgrade apartment divided in two tells the story of a family and serves as a symbol of a country in political turmoil. Srbijanka, a political activist playing a leading role in the revolution, still lives in one half of the original apartment. The door remained unopened all all the way through civil war and the breakup of Yugoslavia.
OVER THE LIMIT by Marta Prus – Rita, a young athlet represents Russia in rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympics in Brazil. The training is harsh, particularly in mental terms. The Russian sport system accused of “State sponsored doping”.
THE RED SOUL by Jessica Gorter – More than 50 years after the death of Joseph Stalin, Russia is still divided. Was Stalin a great leader who made Russia into a superpower? Or was he a ruthless dictator, responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people? No family has been left untouched by the consequences of Stalin’s regime. A father wanders through a desolate forest in search of the mass graves of Russian prisoners. Two sisters whose mother was taken away to a prison camp share their early memories. In present Russia Stalin’s popularity is growing, and there is a yearning for a sense of national unity and myths of the past.
IDFA COMPETITION FOR FIRST APPEARANCE
THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS by Simon Lereng Wilmont – A poignant and strong portrait of Oleg, a ten-year-old child livig in Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, where war has been fighting for four years. dove si combatte da quattro anni. Oleg lives with his grandmother the only warm bond he has. Oleg learns how to survive, become familiar with the sound of missile strikes, the echoes of anti-aircraft fire, mines and shelters. The Distant Barking of Dogs shows the effects of conflict on children.
THE NEXT GUARDIAN by Dorottya Zurbó – The portrait of a family in Bhutan: Gyembo and Tashi, brother and sister, live in a Himalayan village. Their father oversees a Buddhist temple, we would prefer his child leave is modern English-language school in favor of a monk school.
STRONGER THAN A BULLET by Maryam Ebrahim – The testimony of Saeid Sadeghi a photographer during the Iran–Iraq War. Government propaganda and Khomeinism ideology portraited in the Saeid Sadeghi’s pictures. Once a firm supporter of the Iranian Revolution, now Saeid Sadeghi is remorseful, haunted by regret, feeling responsibility for the deaths of countless soldiers.
IDFA MID-LENGHT DOCUMENTARY
BACK TO THE TAJ MAHAL HOTEL by Carina Molier – Dozens of people lost their lives in the 2008 terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. Years later, five witnesses return to the scene to share this traumatic experience.
BLACK STONES by Usama Ghanoum – 7000 residents trapped in the town of Homs under the siege of the Assad’s troops. For two years, two hospital workers documented people’s life beyond the rubble, the dust, the snipers.
KALES by Laurent Van Lancker – “The Jungle”, the refugees camp close to Calais. A tent city made of garbage and plastic tents become a symbol of migration crisis and European standstill. A place where people try to make it through the day organizing themselves as best they can. Music, cooking, trading, attempting everything to justify their existence.
BEST OF FESTS
THE POETESS by Stefanie Brockhaus – Saudi Arabian poetess Hissa Hilal on Abu Dhabi TV’s immensely popular Million’s Poet. With her daring poems she became the first female finalist of a show that attracts 70 million viewers. Using archive footage Hissa Hilal explains the history of her country, how the liberalization of the 1960s failed and reactionary wahbism took over after the 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque.
DEMONS IN PARADISE by Jude Ratnam – Sri Lanka 1983. A five year-old child flees the massacre of the Tiger Tamils instigated by the Sinhalese majority. That child is Jude Ratnam, filmmaker who takes the same train on the traces of a war that lasted over twenty years and the long-lasting consequences.
ANOTHER NEWS STORY by Orban Wallace – One year filming crossing 5000 kilometres and nine countries to look into refugees’ eyes and turn the camera on the journalists who tell their stories, capture their loss and make headlines.
DEAD DONKEYS FEAR NO HYENAS by Joakim Demmer – After six years of investigations Joakim Demmer brings into light what is going on in Ethiopia. The government is giving away lands and forests foreign investors expected to develop national economy. Stories of exploitation, land grabbing, violence and rape in the race to arable land.
COCAINE PRISON by Violeta Ayala – In Bolivia, the big drug barons go free while small-time criminals like Hernan and Mario can spend years awaiting trial in the overcrowded State prisons with no adequate sanitation more like to slums.
TASTE OF CEMENT by Ziad Kalthoum – Workers from Syria build new skyscrapers in a construction site of Beirut on the rubble of the Lebanese civil war. They are forbidden to leave the site as they are Syrian refugees. Their houses are heaps of rubble as well, caused by the war in Syria. Isolated and deprived of any contact with their relatives they try sneakily to capture news from their country on the television.
ALEPPO’S FALL by Nizam Najar – Why did Syrian rebels fail? Why did they fail in preventing Aleppo’s fall? Nizam Najjar, a rebel living as a refugee in Norway depicts how the divisions and the disputes among the rebel movement frustrated the fight against a leader supported by inexhaustible resources from outside the country.
MR GAY SYRIA by Ayse Toprak – Husein is 24 years old, he is a Syrian refugee in Istanbul married with a young daughter. He has a secret: he is homosexual. Fearlessly, he decides to compete in the Mr. Gay Syria pageant.
NAILA AND THE UPRISING by Julia Bacha – Naila Ayesh, Palestinian young woman joins a woman resistance network during the First Intifada in 1987, brought to world attention thanks to their non-violent protests against Israeli occupation.
THE JUDGE by Erika Cohn – Can a woman be a judge and apply the Sharia, the Islamic law? Despite the controversial debates former lawyer Kholoud Al-Faqih became the first female Sharia judge in the Middle East.
RECRUITING FOR JIHAD by Adel Khan Farooq and Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen – Powerful and thrilling Recruiting for Jihad features Ubaydullah Hussain, Norwegian Muslim extremist gathering young people for Jihad. Filmmaker’s camera follows him closely along three years filming his proselytising among Muslim Brothers. The film poses an unsettling questions about to which extent Muslim extremism can win media attention and potentially put press media at risk.
THIS IS CONGO by Daniel McCabe – More than five millions deaths over the last two decades in the world’s bloodiest and longest conflict since World War Two. An unveiled lool into a deadly intertwining of clashing local interests and ruinous meddlings of foreign powers. A whistleblower, a military commander, a mineral dealer and a tailor for a truly Congolese perspective.
WATANI MY HOMELAND by Marcel Mettelsiefen – A family from Aleppo. The father, a commander of the Free Syrian Army is turned over to the IS. The mother decides to flee. Together with her children, she travels from Istanbul to Germany.
RISK by Laura Poitras – An “intimate” and prolonged look at the king of hackers, the founder of WikiLeaks, the man who shook the world’s most powerful, the one who reinvented journalism 2.0. Who is Julian Assange indeed?
THE DEAD NATION di Radu Jude – In December 1937 in Romania an anti-Semitic nationalist is elected as prime minister. A Jewish doctor from Bucharest starts keeping a diary. Together with photos from a studio in the southeast of the country dating from the same period, this journal is the main source for The Dead Nation, the dreadful story of rising anti-Semitism, violence, pogroms and deportations in Romania of those years.
THE BATTLE OF ALGERI, A FILM WITHIN HISTORY di Malek Bensmaïl – To many Algerians The Battle of Algiers is an iconic feature film featuring their story of national independence from France and a a source of inspiration for revolutionaries worldwide. Malek Bensmaïl’s film is based on the experiences of National Liberation Front leader Yacef Saadi.
HUMAN FLOW by Ai Weiwei – Over one year filming, more than 23 countries, including Italy, Mexico, Afghanistan, Greece, Germany, Turkey. Hotspot in the greatest human displacement since World War Two.
HABANEROS by Julien Temple – Interviews, archive footage, movie excerpts depict the milestones of Cuba history, from the abolition of slavery at the end of the 19th century to the Spanish–American War, and from the dictatorship of General Batista to the revolution of Fidel Castro.