It took the jury three days to complete viewing the 13 mid-length competition films, and the deliberation was tougher and longer than we expected. Obviously, each jury member has his or her own preference, and the prizes we have awarded are based on a comprehensive consideration of each film, its qualities, its artistic integrity, and its innovative aspects. We were happy to find that there were four debut films, and we hope that being selected here in IDFA will help bring their directors to the next step, hopefully a feature-length film. We were more than happy to find that most of the films were significantly cinematic. Although we would have liked to see more films from our own worlds, Germany and China for examples, a large proportion of the selection shared some common aspects no matter where they were made. They reveal and analyze the current state of the psychological world, whether in its connection with political and ecological turmoil, in its resonance with physical states such as illness, or in its relation to social and economic conditions. They show the tendency of IDFA, we assume, to try and advocate for a better world, and ever better cinema. These attempts, particularly when we see them all together, remind us that documentary is irreplaceable in terms of the spiritual care of this contemporary world.
In an unidentified Argentinian hospital, the director Andrea Testa creates a movie space in shades of grey by means of calm and figured out setting as well as very precise editing. Doctors and consultants, who are heard but not seen in the film, encourage young and partly under-aged women to openly and freely share their experiences, some of them life-threatening. These are stories about taking responsibility for the birth or the abortion of a child and the conception of one’s own body. The people co-responsible are neither heard nor seen in the film. Still they are part of the film through the stories told.
The special mention of the IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary jury goes to Mother-Child by Andrea Testa.
Shot on a cheap home video camera, this film playfully uses its apparent clumsiness and even naiveté to lay bare, with great acuteness, sophistication, and humor, the fracture lines of an ordinary family and through them, of the society that has grown out of a revolution and its failures. The first shot alone, of a man accompanying his brother back to jail after a furlough, would have made it worthy of this prize.
The winner of the IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary is Anticlockwise by Jalal Vafaei.