The Death of Antonio Sanchez Lomas
The Death of Antonio Sanchez Lomas

72 documentary films have been added to the lineup for International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2019 including the Dutch, Short, Student, and Kids & Docs competitions, alongside non-competitive sections Luminous, IDFA on Stage, Spotlight: Venezuela, and Spotlight: Sudan.

IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary

The Dutch competition includes 11 world premieres from the country’s leading documentary filmmakers. Maasja Ooms’ Punks observes three at-risk youngsters struggling to cope with the system that failed them. The Death of Antonio Sànchez Lomas marks the return of filmmakers Ramón and Salvador Gieling with an exploration of trauma in post-Franco Spain. Titles by emerging filmmakers include Marina Meijer’s Carrousel, a rawly minimalist film that gets up close and personal with a group of marginalized young men in Rotterdam, and Sophie Dros’ King of the Cruise, a humorous portrait of a Scottish aristocrat at sea, among other section highlights.

All Against All
Luuk Bouwman – 2019

A rich historical documentary about the rise of fascism in the Netherlands. Initially fragmented, the struggle for power between fascist movements was eventually won by the radical, populist and anti-Semitic NSB, the Dutch Nazi party.

Angels on Diamond Street
Petr Lom – 2019

With a sympathetic eye, filmmaker Petr Lom follows life at the soup kitchen of the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. He records what happens when an undocumented Mexican family asks for sanctuary at the church.

Behind the Blood
Loretta van der Horst – 2019

In San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a priest, a journalist and a hitman live with daily gang and police violence. A compelling portrait of three men in one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Marina Meijer – 2019

A center in Rotterdam helps young men from problematic backgrounds to build a future. Hardened by the past, they struggle to find their way. Intense dialogues in close-up.

The Death of Antonio Sànchez Lomas
Ramón Gieling, Salvador Gieling – 2019

In the southern Spanish village of Frigiliana, time has not healed wounds from the era of Franco. Even now, the brutal murder of a villager in 1952 still deeply divides the community.

King of the Cruise
Sophie Dros – 2019

During his vacation on a luxury cruise ship, the wealthy Scottish-American baron Ronald Reisinger is a striking and popular guest. Behind his sophisticated stories and decadent riches, however, hides a lonely man who is yearning for love.

Lost in Memories
Ruud Lenssen – 2019

A moving and tender portrait of the parents of filmmaker Ruud Lenssen. His father Jac has vascular dementia, and his mother Ria is struggling in her role as caregiver. As the disease progresses, an inevitable decision draws ever closer.

Maasja Ooms – 2019

An intimate and sincere portrait of problem teenagers who are placed under temporary supervision. The challenging conversations with a counselor are meant to lead to a better life, but their past won’t leave them alone.

Prison for Profit
Ilse van Velzen, Femke van Velzen – 2019

Whistleblowers, former prisoners and an investigative journalist paint a shocking picture of South Africa’s first privatized prison. Profit maximization is the priority, with underpaid guards and violence against prisoners the inevitable outcome.

Sidik and the Panther
Reber Dosky – 2019

If Sidik manages to spot a Persian leopard in his beloved mountains of Kurdish northern Iraq, the area can be declared a protected nature reserve. Will that finally bring peace? An ode to perseverance and peaceful patriotism.

They Call Me Babu
Sandra Beerends – 2019

Alima worked as a nanny in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia. Her story plays out against the backdrop of World War II and the struggle for independence, and is complemented by unique footage from various archives.

Competition for Short Documentary

Now a premiere-only section, IDFA’s shorts competition offers 12 titles with a wide variety of styles and experimentations. Selfie (dir. Nayra Sanz Fuentes), from the co-writer of Victor Moreno’s The Hidden City (IDFA 2018), stretches the temporality of the short film form with prolonged takes of a distorted Chicago cityscape. Animation-meets-archive film Mizuko (dir. Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane), winner of the If/Then Global Pitch at DOC NYC, looks to Japanese grieving rituals after an abortion. Fast-paced portrait film Steve Is Undocumented (dir. Michael Barth, Kauai Moliterno), from the team behind VPRO IDFA Audience Award-winner Don’t Be a Dick About It, plummets into the paradoxical life of a xenophobic club bouncer.


The non-competitive premiere section Luminous presents 18 timeless cinematic films that redeem the beauty of human relationships, expression, and empathy. Andrey A. Tarkovsky makes new meaning in the legacy of his famous father in Andrey Tarkovsky. A Cinema Prayer, as does Mira Burt-Wintonick in Wintopia, on the late IDFA team member Peter Wintonick. Renowned artists star in Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power (dir. Nancy Lang, Peter Raymont), on the acclaimed author’s little-seen private life; Max Richter’s Sleep (dir. Natalie Johns), plunging into the artistic process of the lauded German composer; and A Comedian in a Syrian Tragedy (dir. Rami Farah), an intimate portrait of dissident Syrian actor Fares Helou.

IDFA Competition for Student Documentary

With 12 titles, ;all world or international premieres, the student competition reveals a committed generation of filmmakers shaping the future of documentary film. Youth participation in politics takes center stage in Objector (dir. Molly Stuart), in which a young Israeli woman rejects the army with radical politics of resistance, and Summerwar (dir. Moritz Schulz), with a Ukrainian summer camp that trains the nationalist soldiers of tomorrow. Themes of family and home also come to bear: No Crying at the Dinner Table (dir. Carol Nguyen) breaks the emotional barriers of one Vietnamese-Canadian family; No Man’s Land (dir. Charlotte Müller) shares the political plight of women who choose to have a child on their own in France; while Silent Storm (dir. Anaïs Moog) haptically explores the texture of mourning through oceanic celluloid vistas.

IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs

IDFA’s competition for youth documentaries presents 12 titles, each with a strong focus on young heroes in the making. After winning Best First Appearance in 2017, Simon Lereng Wilmont is back with the world premiere of Bird Boy, a poetic portrayal of an adolescent bird keeper in Azerbaijan. Feature-length Anbessa (dir. Mo Scarpelli), a film for all ages, gives a window into the social realities of Ethiopia through an imaginative young protagonist. The international premiere of Dear Darkness introduces newcomer Samuel N. Schwarz with a sensorial short film on the experience of a twelve-year-old girl who is blind. Finally, the world premiere of high-drama film Foreplay (dir. Anne van Campenhout) takes another courageous step for Dutch youth documentaries, exploring sex education in a local high school.

IDFA on Stage

The non-competitive program section includes a series of live events that span films with live music, new media performances, and multidisciplinary shows. Among them, Andreï Ujica’s 1995 documentary Out of the Present makes its return to IDFA with the Dutch premiere of the live cinema version, complete with live soundtrack by British Sea Power. Co-presented with Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond, Belgian production True Copy (by theater company BERLIN) gives the floor to master art forger Geert Jan Jansen, drawing the audience into a documentary play on the art of deception. More titles to be announced.

Spotlight: Venezuela & Spotlight: Sudan

Diving into the urgent developments unfolding in Venezuela and Sudan, the non-competitive sections include five films and talks with the directors. With the Spotlights, IDFA aims to increase awareness, promote solidarity, and send a signal to the filmmakers: IDFA is standing by their side.

Spotlight: Venezuela

From Venezuela, IDFA presents the world premiere of The Cause (dir. Andrés Figueredo), with undercover cameras rolling for over half a decade in Venezuela’s corrupt prison system, alongside award-winning film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (dir. Kim Bartley, Donnacha O’Briain, 2003).

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Donnacha O’Briain, Kim Bartley – 2003

This breathtaking account captures a tumultuous chapter in the history of Latin America, as filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain witness the attempted coup against anti-capitalist Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in April 2002.

The Cause
Andres Figueredo – 2019

One of the most dangerous prisons in Venezuela is run by the inmates themselves. Current and former prisoners give a staggering account of life in this parallel society, and about the search for liberation within it.

Spotlight: Sudan

From Sudan, IDFA presents the Dutch premieres of Khartoum Offside (dir. Marwa Zein), with women soccer players who dream of playing for Sudan in the Women’s World Cup, and Talking About Trees (dir. Suhaib Gasmelbari), the Berlinale award-winner with four filmmakers who fight tooth and nail to revive an old Sudanese cinema. Finally, Beats of the Antonov (dir. Hajooj Kuka, 2014) scrutinizes Sudan’s national identity by celebrating traditional music-making.

Beats of the Antonov
Hajooj Kuka – 2014

The musical tradition in South Sudan gains new meaning through the Bashir government’s bombings: it keeps the people alive, both in body and in spirit. A musical exploration shedding new light on the Sudanese conflict.

Khartoum Offside
Marwa Zein – 2019

A portrait of female soccer players in Khartoum, as they struggle for a place both on the field and in Sudan’s conservative society—with humor, perseverance and irrepressible optimism.

Talking About Trees
Suhaib Gasmelbari – 2019

In Sudan, cinema is a thing of the past, but four directors and lifelong friends refuse to accept it. Although film is clearly out of favor with the current regime, the four men remain determined, hopeful and touchingly funny.

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