IDFA previews 2021 festival edition with programming on Hito Steyerl, Artavazd Pelechian, Johan van der Keuken

    • News
    • August 17, 2021
    • By the staff

    The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam announced the first details of its 2021 edition today, which will bring acclaimed filmmakers Hito Steyerl and Artavazd Pelechian to Amsterdam alongside presenting programs that celebrate their work. The festival also announced a first glimpse of an upcoming Focus Program in homage to renowned filmmaker Johan van der Keuken, marking the 25th anniversary of Amsterdam Global Village. IDFA will take place from November 17 to 28, 2021 in Amsterdam.

    Guest of Honor Hito Steyerl

    Renowned filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl will attend IDFA 2021 as the festival's Guest of Honor. The distinction will see Steyerl curate a Top 10 program of films that have influenced her and give a public Filmmaker Talk in Amsterdam’s Pathé Tuschinski cinema.

    The prolific filmmaker and writer, whose work spans documentary film, video installation, performative lectures, and academic essays, is known for her darkly ironic cultural critiques of contemporary reality. Having exhibited at leading art institutions such as the Venice Biennale, documenta 12, ICA, and MoMA, the Berlin-based artist is best known for her pivotal video works How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File, In Free Fall, Liquidity Inc., and Factory of the Sun, among many others.

    Throughout her work, Steyerl’s politically engaged art practice critically explores the fantastical nature of our capitalist reality today. Through her singular works, Steyerl invites viewers to enter digitally mediated worlds that are entirely real—in the process reflecting on our own complex world and our position in it.

    An innovator of the essay documentary, Steyerl now returns to IDFA no less than 23 years after screening her incisive graduation film Die leere Mitte at the festival, which was then met with embarrassed silence.

    Details of Steyerl’s Top 10 program will be announced on September 21.

    Artavazd Pelechian program and Lifetime Achievement Award

    The 34th edition of the festival will also present a special program on the great Armenian filmmaker Artavazd Pelechian, honoring him with a rarely bestowed Lifetime Achievement Award.

    With a momentous body of work that cuts to the very heart of cinema, the films of Artavazd Pelechian are at once revelatory and revolutionary, lyrically weaving together sound, light, motion, and texture to create experiential masterpieces on celluloid. A prodigal figure in the heyday of Soviet filmmaking, Pelechian’s work first graced Western screens in the 1980s, garnering praise from luminaries such as Jean-Luc Godard and Patti Smith, yet his films remain rarely shown to this day.

    The ten-film oeuvre stretches from the early 1960s through to today, touching on the terrific beauty of our natural and constructed worlds through his characteristic distance montage editing technique. Throughout Pelechian’s life work, which spanned films of various lengths, his art transcended boundaries of documentary and fiction to create a truly cinematic form akin to visual poetry or music. Now, after 27 years away from the public eye, the visionary returns with a prayer to nature in his new film La Nature, set to have its European premiere at IDFA with Pelechian in attendance.

    25th anniversary of Amsterdam Global Village

    In recognition of the late documentary icon Johan van der Keuken, IDFA will present a curated program inspired by Amsterdam Global Village, one of the most influential films of the Dutch documentary tradition.

    A quarter of a century after its release, Van der Keuken’s lyrical four-hour masterpiece remains more relevant than ever for filmmakers and film lovers alike, offering a poignant yet timeless lens to explore today’s urban landscape. Hailed for its empathetic, refreshing, and urgent approach in telling the personal stories of Amsterdammers of all cultural backgrounds, Amsterdam Global Village serves as the starting point for a curated Focus Program at IDFA 2021. Festivalgoers can anticipate a cinematic exploration of the colonial past and its continued relevance; how our cities are shaped by that history; and a deep dive into a world built on many injustices and our challenges in facing it.

    IDFA 2021: November 17–28

    The 34th edition of the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam will be an in-person event that celebrates the art of documentary film with over 250 selected titles. Poised to return to cinemas across Amsterdam, the festival will continue to prioritize the health and safety of all in attendance, working with filmmakers, partners, and city officials to ensure a festival experience that is both exciting and responsible.

    Accreditation for industry professionals is now open. Details of the festival selection, locations, and tickets will follow throughout the fall.

    IDFA's audience program is made possible by Vriendenloterij, VPRO, Fonds 21, de Volkskrant, WePresent, Ammodo, Insinger Gilissen, VSBfonds, and Oxfam Novib.

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