From intimate journeys to the search for identity across borders, wars, and disappearing memories, the First Appearance Competition has paved the way to new world directors, mostly young, mostly searching for belonging. The need for a connection to a past rather than a future, but with glimpses of a better tomorrow, has profoundly moved the jury.
The documentaries from Brazil, Iraq, Morocco, Romania, Ukraine, China, Spain, Pakistan, Belgium, Italy, France, and Chile have one common voice: reconnections. We, members of the First Appearance jury deeply thank the work of these budding directors and their ability to share with the audience deep and intimate fears, emotions, and hopes. Our world, barely grasping the past, has—with the new normal of 2020—once again weakened the weakest. The new voices across the continent are beyond essential. IDFA has fulfilled its role, once again, of voice amplifier. And for that, we are all grateful.
The jury awards a special mention to The Last Hillbilly directed by Diane Sara Bouzgarrou and Thomas Jenkoe. The intriguing voice of Brian Ritchie, enhanced by the tiny frame, sucks you into the film like the life that is sucked out of the deer in the river. The voice is taking us to the final resting place, the hills of Kentucky. The Last Hillbilly is sincere and exceptionally painful. The silence that engulfs the narrators and the spectator ceases to relieve this tension. This film thrills to the core in the brief moment that you are permitted into the life and legacy of Brian Ritchie.
A striking, beautifully shot and edited film that embarks on the disaster of war through a personal journey and rocks the spectator between furtive moments of joy and pain. This moving film encompasses traditions, modernity, death, and the power of moving forward. This Rain Will Never Stop directed by Alina Gorlova is a powerful story that does not allow us to escape from the destruction and heart-wrenching losses of wars.