IDFA 2016 Overview, Part One

idfaWhile DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, continues this week, IDFA, the biggest nonfiction event in the world, kicks off on Wednesday, November 16. The Dutch festival will once again present approximately 170 new and recent documentary features, in addition to shorts, interactive, and retrospective work, before it comes to a close on Sunday, November 27. Today’s first of two posts takes a closer look at IDFA’s competitions, while tomorrow’s presents highlights from the non-competitive sections.

GOGITAThe festival’s principal competition, Feature-Length Documentary, presents 15 titles, including: Fanny Tondre’s WHAT WE HAVE MADE, a portrait of a construction site and its workers; Tonislav Hristov’s THE GOOD POSTMAN, about a neophyte Bulgarian politician’s campaign; Max Kestner’s AMATEURS IN SPACE, on two friends realizing their astronaut dreams; Neasa Ní Chianáin’s IN LOCO PARENTIS, an observational portrait of boarding school teachers; Levan Koguashvili’s GOGITA’S NEW LIFE (pictured), following an ex-con’s search for a bride; Rahul Jain’s MACHINES, a look at an Indian textile factory; Maite Alberdi’s THE GROWN-UPS, a portrait of Chileans with Down syndrome; and Coco Schrijber’s HOW TO MEET A MERMAID, a meditation on the sea and on the filmmaker’s lost brother.

plasticEmerging filmmakers vie for two awards in the First Appearance competition. Among the 15 titles here are: David Borenstein’s DREAM EMPIRE, a unique look at China’s floundering real estate market; Guido Hendrikx’s STRANGER IN PARADISE, on the harsh reality of European asylum for migrants; Alice Schmid’s THE GIRL DOWN LOCH ÄNZI, about a lonely Swiss preteen; Clare Weiskopf’s AMAZONA, in which the filmmaker confronts her reclusive mother; Jiu-liang Wang’s PLASTIC CHINA (pictured), about a migrant family subsisting on recycling plant work; Areum Parkkang’s AREUM, a self-focused critique of society’s view of feminine beauty; Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s THE ROAD MOVIE, a dashboard camera view of modern Russia; and Andrei Dascalescu’s PLANETA PETRILA, a portrait of a Romanian miner turned artist.

long live benjaminFifteen television-length projects vie in the Mid-Length Documentary competition, among them: DOC NYC world premiere LONG LIVE BENJAMIN (pictured), Jimm Lasser and Biff Butler’s poignant tale of a man and his Capuchin monkey; Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada’s SITE OF SITES, contrasting a Caribbean resort with the harsher reality outside its boundaries; Audrius Stonys’ WOMAN AND THE GLACIER, about a scientist who’s spent the past three decades alone studying climate change; Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry’s DEATH IN THE TERMINAL, a multiperspectival revisitation of a terrorist attack; Olga Kravets’ IT’S GETTING DARK, profiles of Russian families of political prisoners; Maria Rumanova’s HOTEL SUNRISE, a portrait of a Slovakian town in the post-Soviet era; and Wojciech Kasperski’s ICON, an inside look at a Siberian psychiatric hospital.

quiet placeNational cinema is in the spotlight in the Dutch Documentary competition, which features: Ingeborg Jansen’s A GREEK WINTER, following a small fuel supply business as they contend with the economic crisis; Marco de Stefanis’ WAITING FOR GIRAFFES, about the only zoo in the occupied territory of the West Bank; Ditteke Mensink’s THE CLAIM: THE SEARCH FOR STOLEN ART FROM WWII, about the Dutch committee responsible for investigating claims of art stolen by the Nazis; Reber Dosky’s RADIO KOBANÎ, about a young Kurdish woman who starts a radio station; and Sjoerd Oostrik’s A QUIET PLACE (pictured), a portrait of three boys in juvenile detention.

wind stopFive features are part of the Student Documentary competition, including: Asli Özarslan’s DIL LEYLA, on the young Kurdish mayor of a Turkish town; Shuchang Xie’s PER SONG, about five Chinese frenemies; and Aniela Astrid Gabryel’s WHEN WILL THIS WIND STOP (pictured), on the impact of the Russian occupation of the Crimea on a family. Finally, the festival features a competition for digital interactive storytelling, as well as Kids & Docs, for children-appropriate programming, such as Anna Koch’s WIN BY FALL, about four female teenage wrestlers.

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