IDFA 2020 Overview, Part One

Festival:
The 33rd IDFA

Dates:
November 18-December 6

About:
Approximately 150 new and recent documentary features, plus a wide range of shorts and interactive projects, make up the online lineup of the world’s largest nonfiction event. Today’s post covers a selection of films within the competition sections, while tomorrow’s will spotlight non-competitive strands.

Among the offerings:

​IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary:

MORNING STAR
Director: Nantenaina Lova
Fishermen in Madagascar are alarmed when an Australian company threatens to turn their sacred beach into a harbor.

NEMESIS
Director: Thomas Imbach
Zurich’s old railway station is making way for a giant prison, soon to be filled with rejected refugees.

NOTHING BUT THE SUN
Director: Arami Ullón
For years, Mateo Sobode Chiqueno has been visiting Ayoreo communities in Paraguay with an antique cassette recorder to register conversations, stories, and songs of his people.

RADIOGRAPH OF A FAMILY
Director: Firouzeh Khosrovani
The filmmaker’s secular father and devout Muslim mother co-exist under one roof in Tehran.

LE TEMPS PERDU
Director: Maria Alvarez
At a cafe in Buenos Aires, a group of aging Marcel Proust fans have been getting together for years to read IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, the author’s seven-part classic novel.

ODORIKO
Director: Yoichiro Okutani
An intimate observation of the dancers of the dying Japanese striptease theater.

IDFA Competition for First Appearance:

THIS RAIN WILL NEVER STOP
Director: Alina Gorlova
While navigating the human toll of armed conflict, war refugee and Red Cross volunteer Andriy tries to secure a sustainable future.

NAN
Director: Peng Zuqiang
An intimate portrait of the filmmaker’s uncle Nan and his elderly parents during the last years that the three live together.

THE LAST HILLBILLY
Director: Diane Sara Bouzgarrou, Thomas Jenkoe
All the preconceptions about his community are true, born-and-bred hillbilly Brian Ritchie admits, but there is much more to the life of the American mountain people.

THE FIRST WOMAN
Director: Miguel Eek
After six years in a psychiatric institution, Eva will soon move on to assisted living, the next step to a “normal” life – and then she hopes to reunite with the son she hasn’t been in contact with for ten years.

EVERYTHING WILL NOT BE FINE
Director: Adrian Pirvu, Helena Maksyom
The Chernobyl disaster caused Adrian’s near blindness in one eye. To give his life meaning, he makes a film about other people affected by this event, but falling in love with one of them changes everything.

THE POSTCARD
Director: Asmae El Moudir
Finding an old picture postcard of a mountain village marks the start of an existential journey for the director, as she sets off to explore life in Zawia, Morocco, where her mother was born.

​IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary:

ANNY
Director: Helena Třeštíková
For sixteen years Czech film auteur Helena Třeštíková followed Anny, who at the age of 46 took up sex work alongside her job as a restroom attendant.

BEFORE THE DYING OF THE LIGHT
Director: Ali Essafi
This glittering collage of posters, magazine covers, archive footage, jazz music, and cartoons takes you back to the art scene of 1970s Morocco.

DIVING HORSES
Director: Camille Grosperrin
A wistful portrait of a small American amusement park long past its heyday.

HOLY BREAD
Director: Rahim Zabihi
A stark account of the highly dangerous work carried out by Kurdish kulbars: men who become human beasts of burden and carry extremely heavy loads across the Iranian border to support their families.

SILENT VOICE
Director: Reka Valerik
Khavaj, a young Chechen martial arts fighter hiding in Belgium because of his sexual orientation, has lost his voice due to the trauma he has suffered.

ULTIMINA
Director: Jacopo Quadri
More than 80 years after her birth in Tuscany farming country, rebellious Ultimina looks back on a tough life in which men have always been the boss. 

IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary:

100UP
Director: Heddy Honigmann
Despite declining health, the loss of loved ones, and concerns about the future of the world, the centenarians in this documentary portrait are eager for each new day.

IN HIS IMAGE
Director: Tami Ravid
Three Israeli mothers mourning their sons who died during military service use semen collected shortly after their sons’ deaths, to have them live on in a posthumous grandchild.

WHITE CUBE
Director: Renzo Martens
Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent: they successfully co-opt the concept of the “white cube” gallery space as a means to stop the commercial exploitation of their land by multinationals such as Unilever.

SHELTERED
Director: Saskia Gubbels
Tough and tender observations of the ups and downs at an animal shelter, where humans and animals alike find unconditional love.

​IDFA Competition for Student Documentary:

TÁBOR
Director: Stanislav Danylyshyn
A calmly observed black-and-white impression of daily life in one of Ukraine’s largest Roma communities.

UGOKU TOKAI: MOVING CITY
Director: Lars Ostmann
A young man’s essayistic exploration of Tokyo’s varied rhythms.

THE SNOW CALLS
Director: Marjan Khosravi
After bearing three daughters, Mina has one more chance: her next child has to be a boy, or her husband will marry another woman.

IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs:

SKIES ABOVE HEBRON
Director: Esther Hertog, Paul King
This coming-of-age story follows the lives of three Palestinian boys from Hebron over five years as they try to cope in an environment where their freedom is constantly being curtailed by Israeli settlers and soldiers.

OUR ROAD
Director: Pierfrancesco Li Donni
A coming-of-age portrait about the final school year of young people in a poor neighborhood of Palermo.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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