21-year-old Canadian-Vietnamese director Carol Nguyen at opening night of 32nd International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
21-year-old Canadian-Vietnamese director Carol Nguyen at opening night of 32nd International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) – PHOTO AND COPYRIGHT ROGER CREMERS

The youngest filmmaker of the 32nd International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) – the 21-year-old Canadian-Vietnamese director Carol Nguyen – opened the 2019 festival with a call for diverse representation in the film industry.

If you ask me, today is the best day to be a woman in film. Within the last few years alone, we have seen a rise of diverse representation in mainstream media. Society and our audiences are more conscious than ever about the lack of gender and racial parity in film. Film festivals have even set gender parity goals for themselves. We are all demanding it. Because of this, I am optimistic,” stated Nguyen, adding that there is still a lot of work to be done, but we must do it together.

In his speech, IDFA Artistic Director Orwa Nyrabia emphasized the important role of documentary films in today’s turbulent times.

“In such times, when standing against racism, exclusion, injustice, oppression or global warming might be called “elitist,” when state subsidies for arts and culture are being cut down in various parts of the world, allowing populist approaches and discourses to take over—it feels like we don’t have much choice. We can choose to escape reality by watching a fun romantic comedy in order to forget. We can choose to lose sleep, fall into the trap of continuous draining panic, and watch a sensationalist commercial documentary. But, in fact, we do have a third way: we can protect our sanity, our balance, and our integrity while we face such a reality. This is where good cinema comes in” said Nyrabia.

During the next 11 days, until December 1st, in many locations across Amsterdam, IDFA will present 329 films and new media projects from 85 countries. The festival will welcome over 3000 professional guests from more than 90 countries, 17 national delegations, and 147 world and international premieres.

The 32nd festival also marks the highest percentage of female filmmakers in IDFA’s history.

Selected for IDFA’s Feature-Length competition, Sunless Shadows, directed by Iranian Mehrdad Oskouei, takes us into a personal world of five young Iranian women, all accomplices in the murder of a male family member. Filmed in a small detention center, Sunless Shadows deals with the reality of young women who chose the ultimate act of violence to save themselves and their loved ones from ongoing abuse. Realized with the support of the IDFA Bera Fund, Mehrdad Oskouei’s film tells a timeless story of violence against women; how some women respond; and the subsequent consequences inflicted by society.

The 32nd edition of IDFA will last to Sunday, December 1st. The IDFA Award Ceremony will take place on the evening of Wednesday, November 27th, in Eye Arena, where the winners in the various competition categories will be announced.

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