Payal Kapadia's A Night of Knowing Nothing and Zhao Liang's I Am So Sorry have just world-premiered at Cannes, and they are just two among the films supported by the IDFA Bertha Fund or which took part in IDFA Forum and IDFAcademy that are currently making waves at festivals world-wide.
Indian director Payal Kapadia's A Night of Knowing Nothing, which has world-premiered in Cannes' Directors Fortnight and won the Golden Eye Award for best documentary, was supported through the IBF Classic scheme in 2020. The film, which merges reality with fiction, dreams, memories, fantasies and anxieties in the story of a student longing for her estranged lover, is next going to screen at FID Marseille. It is a co-production between India's Another Birth and France's Petit Chaos.
I Am So Sorry by the Chinese filmmaker Zhao Liang has also bowed at Cannes, as one of seven titles in the newly established Cinema for the Climate section. Conceived as an essay-poem and filmed in locations tied to nuclear power production or accidents in Ukraine, Belarus, Japan, Kazakhstan, German and Finland, it questions the choice of nuclear energy. The project was pitched at IDFA Forum under the title Pandora's Box, and supported by the IBF Classic and the NFF+IBF minority co-productions scheme. It was co-produced by Chinese companies Zhao's Image Production Ltd. and CNEX Foundation, the Netherland’s MUYI, and Montpellier-based Les Films d'Ici.
Last month, two IBF-supported films won top prizes at the most important documentary festival in Africa, the Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival in Capetown. Malian director Ousmane Samassekou's The Last Shelter, which world-premiered at CPH:DOX and won the main, Dox:Award, was crowned Best African Film, and is next going to be screened at Sydney Film Festival and Dokufest Prizren.
Nigerois filmmaker Aïcha Macky's Visions du Réel competition entry Zinder received the Adiaha Award for Best Documentary Film by an African Woman, after screening at CPH:DOX and DOK.fest Munich. The film about young, radicalized men in Niger who form gangs due to lack of prospects, also had its local premiere in the country's only cinema in the capital city of Niamey in front of 2,000 people, including government officials and ambassadors, creating a huge buzz in the society. Later this year, the producers will use the IBF Europe Distribution grant to tour the country through the “Ciné-Nomade” impact project aiming to use the film as an educational and awareness-raising tool, in addition to releasing it in other territories including Switzerland and France.
Earlier this spring, Rami Farah’s Our Memory Belongs to Us, in which three Syrian activists provide a unique window into the complexity of the situation in their country, won an honorable mention in CPH:DOX's main competition.
The same festival hosted the world premiere of the IDFA Project Space entry The Other Side of the River by the German director Antonia Kilian, about a female Arab police officer authorized to protect vulnerable women in a Kurdish city in Syria. The film is next going to Five Lakes Film Festival in Upper Bavaria and Millennium Docs Against Gravity in Warsaw.
The Berlinale saw the world premieres of Venice Atienza's Last Days at Sea and Samaher Alqadi's As I Want. The former, following a Filipino boy who leaves his village to study in the big city, went on to screen at Visions du Réel and Hot Docs, and will have its Italian premiere at Apiriti Cinema! in Florence. The latter, which tells the story of women's uprising after the explosion of sexual assaults in Cairo in 2013, went on to screen at CPH:DOX and DOCS Barcelona and win the FIPRESCI Award at Flying Broom Women´s Film Festival in Turkey. It is slated to have its African premiere at Durban, in addition to showings at Dokufest Prizren and SANFIC in Chile.
Back in January at Sundance Film Festival, Writing with Fire by Indian directors Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas won both the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change, and the Audience Award. It went on to garner prizes at Washington DC's Justice Matters Awards, Krakow Film Festival and Hot Docs. It is next going to Sydney and Dokufest, and will be released in the UK in autumn through Picture House.
Finally, Georgian filmmaker Salome Jashi's Taming the Garden was one of the best-reviewed films at Sundance and had its European premiere in Berlinale's Forum section. It went on to screen at virtually every relevant festival in the world, winning awards at Docudays UA and Cinéma du réel, and is still going strong with showings at Locarno and Melbourne coming up.
Featured still: Zinder by Aïcha Macky.