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Award Winners of 2019 International Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
Award Winners of 2019 International Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)

Directors Heidi Hassan and Patricia Pérez Fernández are the winners of the 2019 International Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary with In a Whisper. The film centers on two emigrated Cuban filmmakers whose passion for film, friendship, and freedom reunites them after years apart.

“A refreshing expression of womanhood; an ode to loss; a celebration of friendship, will, and vulnerability; a reclaiming of hope and passion; and a piercingly honest cinematic dialogue are all embodied in this magical, original, and risk-taking cinematic endeavor,” the jury reported.

This year, for the first time at IDFA, three new awards were presented in the Competition for Feature-Length Documentary. The IDFA Award for Best Directing (€ 5.000) went to Mehrdad Oskouei for his film Sunless Shadows (Iran).

The IDFA Award for Best Editing (€ 2.500) went to Sander Vos for Punks, directed by Maasja Ooms, and the IDFA Award for Best Cinematography (€ 2.500) went to Maasja Ooms for Punks (the Netherlands), directed by Ooms.

Lucy Parker won the IDFA Award for Best First Appearance (€ 10.000) for Solidarity (United Kingdom).

“A rigorous, complex, and clever yet accessible look at a strongly contemporary issue, which transcends its subject and transforms it into a disquieting universal warning,” the jury reported. 

The jury decided to give two special mentions in this competition. The first special mention went to Froth (Russia, Qatar), directed by Ilya Povolotsky, and the second to I Owe You a Letter About Brazil (Brazil) by Carol Benjamin.

The FIPRESCI Award (€ 5.000) was given to Alyx Ayn Arumpac for Aswang (Philippines, France, Norway, Qatar, Germany).

The IDFA Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary (€ 7.500) was awarded to Jalal Vafaei for Anticlockwise (Iran). Mother-Child (Argentina) by Andrea Testa received a special mention in the Competition for Mid-Length Documentary. 

Victoria Mapplebeck won the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling (€ 5.000) with The Waiting Room VR (United Kingdom).

The Special Jury Award for Creative Technology (€ 2.000) went to In Event of Moon Disaster (United States) by Francesca Panetta and Halsey Burgund; and the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling goes to The Waiting Room VR by Victoria Mapplebeck.

Vincent Morisset won the IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction (€ 5.000) for Vast Body 22 (Canada). The Special Jury Award for Creative Technology (€ 2.000) went to Duncan Speakman for Only Expansion (United Kingdom).

The 2Doc IDFA Award for Best Dutch Documentary (€ 7.500) went to Reber Dosky for Sidik and the Panther (the Netherlands). A special mention was awarded to Punks (the Netherlands) by Maasja Ooms.

Up at Night (Congo, Belgium) by Nelson Makengo won the IDFA Award for Best Short Documentary (€ 5.000). Additionally, a special mention was awarded to Mizuko (United States, Japan), a co-directed by Katelyn Rebelo and Kira Dane.

Denize Galiao won the IDFA Award for Best Student Documentary (€ 2.500) for Saudade (Germany). The jury awarded a special mention to Moritz Schulz for Summerwar (Germany).

The IDFA Award for Best Children’s Documentary (€ 5.000) went to Jafar Najafi for Asho (Iran).

A special mention in the IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs went to Foreplay (the Netherlands) by Anne van Campenhout.

The inaugural Beeld en Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award (€ 5.000) for best creative use of archive was awarded to Alan Berliner for Letter to the Editor (United States).  The jury also awarded a special mention in this category to Marshawn Lynch: A History (United States) directed by David Shields.

During the award ceremony, IDFA’s artistic director Orwa Nyrabia presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Danish documentary filmmaker Jørgen Leth.

From his influential short film The Perfect Human (1967) to latest I Walk (2019), shown at IDFA this year in the Feature-Length competition program, Leth remains an inspiration to filmmakers all over the world. This award is meant to acknowledge his extraordinary contribution to filmmaking.

“People do often ask me what motivates me to continue making films and I always answer that it’s all very simple. I just cannot stop! Receiving this Lifetime Achievement Award convinces me in what I have been doing all my life. My almost 50 films during the last 57 years were made on behalf of my lust and my curiosity to explore the art of filmmaking. My work can be seen as a whole and as a continuous exploration of how to make films. This is why I’m so pleased to be receiving a Life Achievement Award at IDFA. I’m very honored and flattered. Thanks to IDFA for their gratitude towards me. This award will keep me walking and exploring life and filmmaking,” said Jørgen Leth, recipient of IDFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019. 

At the beginning of the evening, last year’s stipend recipient Sophie Dros presented the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Documentary Stipend (€ 50.000) to filmmaker Marina Meijer.

This grant of €50.000 allows the recipient to make a documentary about a subject of their choosing. The award is intended for a documentary filmmaker with a proven track record who has already earned modest recognition in the documentary field. The International Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) continues until Sunday, December 1st. The winner of the VPRO IDFA Audience Award will be announced on Friday, November 29th.

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