The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam announced the first film selections for IDFA 2019, taking place November 20th to December 1st. The curated program sections include 54 titles from the new focus programs It Still Hurts, Re-releasing History, and The Villain, the Retrospective and Top 10 of Guest of Honor Patricio Guzmán, and a special tribute section to D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
IDFA First 2019 Documentary Selections
Focus: It Still Hurts
Pre-empting the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, IDFA presents a focus program that explores our world as a post-war world. It Still Hurts is the largest focus program of IDFA 2019, with 13 titles that raise questions on the many ways contemporary life is still defined by WWII—from case studies about the cold war and postcolonialism to cinematic meditations on victims and perpetrators. Among the Dutch premieres: Thomas Heise’s Heimat Is a Space in Time asks what traces remain of lost lives in the passage of time; The Euphoria of Being by Réka Szabó explores what creative life looks like after survival; Wrong Elements by writer-turned-filmmaker Jonathan Littel documents the adult journey of revisiting a stolen childhood. World premieres include Of Land and Bread by Ehab Tarabieh, which questions how victims become perpetrators through rare B’Tselem footage of military-occupied Palestine.
2 Minutes Silence, Please
Heddy Honigmann 1998
Every year on May 4 at exactly 8 p.m., traffic stops all over the Netherlands. People gather or sit alone for two minutes of silence to honor those who died during World War II. What is the significance of this annual ritual today?
Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise
Mark Cousins 2015
Archive footage of protest marches, Cold War clanging of arms and nuclear disasters contrast with the sublime beauty of the atomic world and achievements in nuclear medicine. The atomic age is a nightmare, but it has also made dreams come true.
Black Box BRD
Andres Veiel 2001
Through the life stories of two German men, Black Box Germany draws a picture of West Germany in the 1980s: a society riven by the legacy of World War II, which it had never fully processed.
Born in Evin
Maryam Zaree 2019
The German actress Maryam Zaree fled the Iranian regime as a small child with her mother. She knows she was born in prison, but nobody ever talks about it. Now she wants to know why.
The Euphoria of Being
Réka Szabó 2019
During the making of a dance theater piece, a special friendship develops between director Réka Szabó and her two leads: the young dancer Emese Cuhorka and the elderly writer and activist Éva Fahidi.
Heimat Is a Space in Time
Thomas Heise 2019
A chronicle of Germany through the prism of the director’s own family history. In voice-over, Thomas Heise reads documents from his family’s archive, accompanied by powerful black-and-white images of the “guilty” landscape of his homeland.
In Mansourah, You Separated Us
Dorothée Myriam Kellou 2019
For the first time since the Algerian War of Independence, witnesses talk about the rural resettlement camps, shedding light on an appalling and neglected episode in history. Why have people kept silent for all these years?
Liberators Take Liberties
Helke Sander 1992
This monumental study takes on the widespread rape of women at the end of World War II, mostly at the hands of Russian liberators. After a long silence, the affected women and their children tell their stories.
Ma’loul Celebrates Its Destruction
Michel Khleifi 1985
Each year on Independence Day, the former inhabitants of the Palestinian village of Ma’alul take their grandchildren to their ancestral ground. Together with many other villages, Ma’alul was erased from the map in the 1947-1949 Palestine War.
Of Land and Bread
Ehab Tarabieh 2019
With the support of human rights organization B’Tselem, Palestinians made dozens of short films about the bullying and humiliation they encounter every day. From these, filmmaker Ehab Tarabieh edited this angry montage of provocations.
Johan Grimonprez 2016
In addition to being an indictment of the arms trade, this revelatory film is an emphatic rallying cry for humanity, truth and love, and the courage to act against the prevailing morality.
Romuald Karmakar 1992
War is a drug, like a hot tub you can’t get out of, says a British
mercenary. In extensive interviews with two soldiers of fortune,
director Romuald Karmakar investigates the culture and ethics of
Jonathan Littell 2016
Three former child soldiers who fought with the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony try to rebuild their lives and come to terms with their pasts.
Guest of Honor Patricio Guzmán: Retrospective & Top 10
The Chilean auteur Patricio Guzmán as the festival’s Guest of Honor this year presents a selection of 10 films that defined him as a filmmaker. Encompassing both the personal and political, Guzmán’s selection includes postcolonial Dutch masterpiece Mother Dao, the Turtlelike (dir. Vincent Monnikendam, 1995), La jetée (1962) by long-time friend Chris Marker, and The Sugar Curtain (2006) by daughter Camila Guzmán Urzúa. On the occasion of Guzmán’s first visit to IDFA, the festival also pays tribute to the documentary icon with a retrospective of seven films from his oeuvre. The program will present the seminal trilogy The Battle of Chile (1975-1979), the pioneering Chile, Obstinate Memory (1997), and Guzmán’s latest trilogy which culminates in The Cordillera of Dreams (2019).
Patricio Guzmán Retrospective
The Battle of Chile: The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie
Patricio Guzmán 1975
In the spring of 1973, just before the parliamentary elections in Chile, Patricio Guzmán and his crew began to film the political and social events unfolding in the country. Part one of a trilogy on the Chilean coup.
The Battle of Chile: The Coup d’État
Patricio Guzmán 1976
A meticulous account of the run-up to the military coup in Chile, after which filmmaker Patricio Guzmán fled the country. Part two of Guzmán’s trilogy on the Chilean coup of September 11, 1973.
The Battle of Chile: Popular Power
Patricio Guzmán 1979
In part three of his trilogy on the 1973 military coup in Chile, director Patricio Guzmán looks back over the final year of the democratically elected president Salvador Allende’s left-wing government.
Chile, Obstinate Memory
Patricio Guzmán 1997
An investigation into the role of memory in Chile. Director Patricio Guzmán returns there after 23 years in exile, and for the first time ever in his country he screens The Battle of Chile, his trilogy about the 1973 coup.
Nostalgia for the Light
Patricio Guzmán 2010
A gorgeous portrait of the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile, where astronomers and archeologists conduct scientific research while women search for the remains of loved ones who disappeared during the Pinochet era.
The Pearl Button
Patricio Guzmán 2015
A lyrical meditation on Chile’s complex relationship with the sea. Measuring thousands of miles, the coastline was once home to nomadic peoples. Centuries later, dictator Augusto Pinochet used the Pacific Ocean as a mass grave.
The Cordillera of Dreams
Patricio Guzmán 2019
In Chile, the peaks of the Andes are never far away—the mountain chain (cordillera) is the country’s rocky spine. The impassive, timeless landscape forms a moving contrast to the nation’s turbulent political history.
Patricio Guzmán’s Top 10
Cristobal Vicente Cruz 2006
A documentary about the lives of inmates at the notorious prison in Valparaiso, Chile, in the year before it closed down. Meditative black-and-white scenes reveal a hidden, secret, timeless world.
Arvo Pärt: 24 Preludes for a Fugue
Dorian Supin 2002
Arvo Pärt rose to fame with his signature minimalist composition style tintinnabuli. In 24 short chapters, this film outlines the inner musical world of one of the most performed living composers.
Velu Viswanadhan 2002
A visual voyage through India, with the camera exploring different aspects of life to find the invisible essence of our material world. This is the last in a five-part series about the elements of Indian cosmology.
Alain Cavalier 1990
An enchanting mini-portrait of Antoinette, an 86½-year-old magician. With no more than a napkin, tissue paper or plastic flowers, the elegant Parisienne conjures up a hopeful universe. Part of a series on French women with unusual professions.
Chris Marker 1962
A short post-apocalyptic film considered by many to be the masterpiece of film essayist Chris Marker. A series of still, black-and-white images tell the story of a time traveler who has been sent from the post-World War III future to save the present.
Living in Tazmamart
Davy Zylberfajn 2005
Witness reports from Moroccan men who spent 18 years in Tazmamart, a hellish secret prison, speak of the appalling conditions of their inhumane detention, but also of tender humanity and the strength of their resistance.
Mother Dao, the Turtlelike
Vincent Monnikendam 1995
A compilation of clips from silent documentaries and propaganda films shot by Dutch cameramen in Indonesia between 1912 and 1932. The film contrasts the lives of colonial rulers with the hopeless situation of the native population.
The Sugar Curtain
Camila Guzmán Urzúa 2006
Growing up in the 1980s in Cuba, filmmaker Camila Guzmán Urzúa and her classmates grew up in the sugar-coated world of Fidel Castro’s Revolution. Now, they look back on a childhood paradise that came to an abrupt end.
Travel in G Major
Georgi Lazarevski 2006
Director Georgi Lazarevski films his grandfather on a trip through Morocco, a journey that this elderly man could only dare to dream of for many years. The change of surroundings gives rise to melancholy thoughts and surprising discoveries.
Y in Vyborg
Pia Andell 2005
A creative documentary consisting of 8mm films shot by a Finnish couple, both of them architects, between 1938 and 1949. The war with Soviet Russia tore the family apart and left the city they were building in ruins.
Focus: Re-releasing History
The focus program includes 10 films comprised entirely of pre-existing footage such as archival material, home movies, and found footage. The European premiere of David Shields’ Marshawn Lynch: A History and the Dutch premiere of Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral compliment canonical films by documentary masters Andrei Ujica, Peter Forgacs, Maciej Drygas, and Alina Marazzi. Marking the next installment in IDFA’s long-running series about the craft of documentary filmmaking, Re-releasing History looks to the filmmakers’ emotional, political act of re-interpreting history with a new gaze. Editing comes to the fore in this focus program which, in cinematically reclaiming historical events, invites audiences to seek new meaning in the present.
Lucas Gallo 2019
Excerpts from the TV program 60 minutos and other archive material, primarily originating from the Argentine military dictatorship, document the 74-day Falklands War of 1982.
The Danube Exodus
Péter Forgács 1998
Combining material from a diverse range of archives, the prominent Hungarian found-footage filmmaker Pèter Forgács brings to life a footnote from 20th-century history: an exodus in two opposite directions, driven by political forces.
For One More Hour with You
Alina Marazzi 2002
Director Alina Marazzi uses home videos and diary excerpts to reconstruct the life of her mother, who committed suicide when Alina was seven years old. Hazy memories form a testimony to the great absence in her life.
Marshawn Lynch: A History
David Shields 2019
This unconventional portrait of the popular and rebellious American football player Marshawn Lynch consists of over 700 image fragments. What’s the deeper meaning behind his refusal to talk with the media?
One Day in People’s Poland
Maciej Drygas 2005
Based on detailed dossiers and reports found in the archives of the security agencies, filmmaker Maciej Drygas constructed a chronological account of an ordinary day in communist Poland in 1962.
Out of the Present
Andreï Ujica 1995
In May 1991, cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev left for the Mir space station from the Soviet Union. When he returned 10 months later, he landed in Russia. What does history look like from space?
Gábor Bódy, Péter Timár 1978
“A free selection from a few old amateur films” is the subtitle of Private History. Found footage is edited into chronological order to subtly tell the history of Hungary between 1920 and 1950.
Sergei Loznitsa 2019
A montage of previously unreleased material immerses us in the Soviet Union, in the four-day period of mourning following the death of Joseph Stalin on March 5, 1953. This is the grotesque culmination of the personality cult surrounding the dictator.
Susana de Sousa Dias 2005
Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of 1974 brought an end to the longest dictatorship of 20th-century Europe. A collage of news images, propaganda films and police photos sketch a picture of this almost forgotten and barely processed era.
The Stuart Hall Project
John Akomfrah 2013
A kaleidoscopic journey through both the history of the 20th century and the personal life and ideas of the influential left-wing cultural theorist Stuart Hall. With footage from Hall’s personal archive and tracks by his hero Miles Davis.
Focus: The Villain
Taking our cultural fascination with criminal infamy as a starting point, the focus program presents 10 films which look evil straight in the eye. The Dutch premiere of The Brink by Alison Klayman will be presented alongside modern classics El Sicario Room 164 (dir. Gianfranco Rosi, 2010), The Look of Silence (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014), General Idi Amin: A Self Portrait (dir. Barbet Schroeder, 1974), and A Moment of Innocence (dir. Mohsen Makhbalhaf, 1996). All films in The Villain capture an intimate, sometimes terrifying confrontation between filmmaker and protagonist, showcasing a wide array of personifications and various strategies for getting behind the scenes of the criminal persona. In doing so, the program explores the overlap between fascination and identification, and the subjective bias that drives both humanization and disgust.
Lisette Orozco 2017
The young filmmaker Lisette Orozco wanted to make a portrait of her aunt, but disturbing facts soon start to emerge. Can she trust her own family? A painful search for the truth.
Alison Klayman 2019
Trump’s ex-strategist Steve Bannon is mobilizing leading European politicians for his populist movement. This subtle portrait dissects the method behind his mission, which he fearlessly pursues despite loss and vilification.
El Sicario, Room 164
Gianfranco Rosi 2010
In the motel room where he once tortured and murdered, a Mexican hit man gives a detailed account of his work for a drug cartel, a black veil over his face to disguise his identity. Using a pad of paper and a marker, he describes the mechanisms of organized crime.He paints…
The Fog of War
Errol Morris 2003
A revealing interview with former U.S. Secretary of Defense McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam War. Interspersed with archive footage, this Academy Award-winning documentary offers an engrossing perspective on 1960s American politics.
General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait
Barbet Schroeder 1974
A portrait of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who comes across as a dangerous, paranoid and ambiguous man—notwithstanding the fact that he was given full control over the events that were being filmed.
Lauren Greenfield 2019
There’s great poverty in the Philippines, but the Marcos family is awash with money. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos proudly talks about her patriotism, but the main thing that strikes us is the deep-rooted, inexhaustible corruption.
The Look of Silence
Joshua Oppenheimer 2014
This companion piece to The Act of Killing features a survivor of the Indonesian anti-communist genocide. The optometrist Adi Rukun hopes to bring history into sharper focus for the perpetrators, but is confronted with unrepentant murderers.
The Man with the Golden Soles
Omar Amiralay 2000
The Syrian citizen activist and documentary filmmaker Omar Amiralay makes a portrait of the controversial Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. When Hariri proves to be an unwilling protagonist, a subtle power struggle breaks out between them.
A Moment of Innocence
Mohsen Makhmalbaf 1996
An exquisite combination of personal history, documentary and fiction, in which the director and a police officer reconstruct a crucial incident that fatefully brought their lives together 20 years earlier.
This Film Is about Me
Alexis Delgado Búrdalo 2019
This portrait of a woman who is imprisoned for a brutal murder isn’t about her crime or punishment, but about herself. With both the director and the protagonist having a passionate desire to make this film, an intriguing interplay unfolds.
A Tribute to Pennebaker and Hegedus
This honorary program section pays tribute to filmmaking legends D.A. Pennebaker (1925–2019) and Chris Hegedus, whose partnership helped define documentary film as we know it today. Comprised of four titles, the program showcases touchstones of documentary cinema. Daybreak Express (1953), Pennebaker’s first film, can be seen as a precursor to the music video, with stunning shots of the New York commute rhythmically edited to the music of Duke Ellington. Don’t Look Back (1967), an early masterpiece of the music documentary genre, launched Pennebaker’s career as a filmmaker, holding a special place in today’s public memory. Hidden gem Town Bloody Hall (1979), a clear example of Pennebaker and Hegedus’ true collaboration, offers an early form of feminist filmmaking from the perspective of 1970s New York. Finally, The War Room (1993) stands as a masterpiece of looking behind the scenes of American political life, centering on the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton. As part of the program, IDFA will welcome and celebrate Chris Hegedus in person in Amsterdam.
D.A. Pennebaker 1953
The morning subway races in the direction of New York, set to Duke Ellington’s music. Owing to the combination of jazz rhythms and shots of sun-drenched skyscrapers this short film could be considered a precursor of the video clip.
Dont Look Back
D.A. Pennebaker 1967
A few years after the birth of direct cinema, Pennebaker created the genre’s first undeniable masterpiece with this documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1965 British tour. Using his fly-on-the-wall style, he set the bar for all subsequent documentaries on pop music.
Town Bloody Hall
Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker 1979
During an infamous debate in 1971 with the writer Norman Mailer, renowned feminists like Germaine Greer and Jacqueline Ceballos show no mercy. How much has changed in the last half-century?
The War Room
Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker 1993
Bill Clinton isn’t the focus of this classic cinema verité about the exciting 1992 presidential election. Here, the camera zooms in on the duo running his campaign from the chaotic headquarters in Little Rock dubbed “The War Room.”