This year the jury of the Feature-Length Competition watched the nominated submissions from their homes, and we met over the internet to discuss and deliberate on the films. Although we felt it went well, we knew watching the films in Amsterdam in the cinema and being able to converse passionately about what we saw during lunch, dinner, or drinks would have enhanced the experience. This year’s nominees seem to meditate on the feeling of loss, maybe not so surprising in a year which COVID-19 has made us acutely aware of the vulnerabilities of our lives and of cinema. What has been lost seems to be the core of humanity with its ability to find solace in telling what is remembered.
With the four selected films our jury chose, we celebrate world cinema that explores the layers of time and space to uncover hidden truths by understanding our humanity in all its vulnerability with exceptional cinematic talent.
In 2019, a democratic protest movement raises the youth of Hong Kong. Responding to this legitimate demand for freedom, the political regime uses force.
A collective of anonymous directors filmed the headquarters of the Polytechnic University for a month. A camera always at the right distance and tight editing puts us at the heart of the tension of these dark days. Through the quality of its writing and editing, this film becomes a universal story about the bravery of the small in the face of the strength of the powerful.
The IDFA Award for Best Editing in the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary, worth €2,500, goes to the film Inside the Red Brick Wall by a collective of Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers.
Rarely does the eye of the camera become so intrinsic to the story you’re telling. The observations of the filmmaker through his camera, becomes our story in a visually lyrical and poetic essay that exposes and elucidates the social and political context of a Zurich train station that’s being torn down for a police and prison complex. Through the filmmaker’s window over seven years, we see his view of the train station being transformed... once connecting trains to Zurich from the outside world, but now becoming a prison that will close off the world with the unseen disembodied voices of future refugees.
The IDFA Award for Best Cinematography worth €2,500 goes to cinematographer and director Thomas Imbach for his film Nemesis.
This intimate portrait of a great man in decline is distinguished by an outstanding directorial hand, whether that is evidenced by the artistic decisions surrounding the portrayal and framing of the USSR’s last leader alone and vulnerable in his diminished surroundings, or in the interrogation of the witness as to his recollection of the events that define him and the world. All these choices lead to a vivid picture of a man who changed the world, which at times is tender, at others even humorous.
The IDFA Award for Best Directing, worth € 5,000, in the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary goes to Vitaly Mansky for his film Gorbachev. Heaven.
Radiography of a family is literally an x-ray of a family. As discontent grows with politics, many people experience their families divided on ideological lines. Through masterful storytelling, Firouzeh shows how history and revolution brought about the political and personal divorce of her parents, a secular father and increasingly conservative mother. The family space changes over time due to forces of the outside world. It’s the great accomplishment of the filmmaker that she so subtly and poetically shows how divided politics can divide a room and change it forever. The fractured body of family life is told through images, photos, and enactments in such a way that the viewer, too, feels the loss.
The IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary, worth € 20,000 in prize money, in the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary goes to Radiograph of a Family by Firouzeh Khosrovani.