Renowned documentary filmmaker and artist Wang Bing will be honored at IDFA this November with Retrospective and Top 10 programs, with the selections that shape the programs revealed today. Next to receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, acclaimed filmmaker Peter Greenaway will be celebrated with a curated Retrospective program. Two curated focus programs, Fabrications and 16 Worlds on 16, were also announced, in addition to a new series of screenings and conversations, Corresponding Cinemas. The 36th edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam takes place from November 8 to 19, 2023.
Guest of Honor Wang Bing: Top 10 and Retrospective
Documentary filmmaker and artist Wang Bing is an uncompromising voice of present-day Chinese filmmaking. His work fearlessly chronicles socioeconomic transformations and challenging labor conditions in China. These themes are extended to his Top 10 program, in which Wang Bing invites us on a contemplative journey into contemporary Chinese cinema, with ten titles dating 1999 and later. The films and their politics are subtle in their film language, representing a wave of filmmaking rarely shown internationally. The selection includes the IDFA Bertha Fund-supported Last Train Home by Lixin Fan; documenting the millions of migrant factory workers that travel home for Spring Festival each year, the film received IBF support in 2008.
In the Retrospective program, IDFA presents six films that highlight Wang Bing’s innovative prowess from 2002 to today. Alongside his masterpiece Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks which heralded a new era for Chinese documentary film, the program includes Man in Black and Youth (Spring), two films that premiered earlier this year in Cannes. The selection demonstrates how Wang Bing’s frame underlines the human in dehumanizing systems. Other films screening will be Alone, ’Til Madness Do Us Part, and Mrs. Fang. An extended conversation with IDFA’s Guest of Honor Wang Bing will be the centerpiece Talk of this edition.
Peter Greenaway: Lifetime Achievement Award and Retrospective
Celebrating the acclaimed and rebellious filmmaker and artist, IDFA announces a selection of five Peter Greenaway films to be screened at the festival. The selection from Greenaway’s expansive filmography focuses principally on how his approach transcends genres and refuses to adhere to the standard rules of fiction or documentary film. Representing his nonconformist and visually outspoken style, the selection includes cannibalism satire The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and Rembrandt’s J’Accuse, a fictionalized biopic revolving around the controversies of the art history masterpiece, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. In a unique event, Peter Greenaway will invite the audience of IDFA into his creative process, with a surprise screening and an extensive conversation with IDFA’s artistic director Orwa Nyrabia.
Focus program: Fabrications
Exploring the unique relationship of trust between documentary film and audiences, Fabrications presents ten films that test the limits of the format’s promise of truth. Rather than providing an answer, the program explores the documentary form as realism, as opposed to reality, and encourages audiences to think more deeply about how all realities are fabricated on screen. The curated selection questions to what extent our realities inform our fictions, and vice versa, and includes the late Safi Faye’s docufiction about the village she was born, Letter from my Village and Massoud Bakhshi’s kaleidoscopic city portrait Tehran Has No More Pomegranates!. The first four titles in the program have been announced; the remainder will be made public in October.
Focus program: 16 Worlds on 16
Looking back on 100 years since Kodak introduced 16mm, 16 Worlds on 16 explores how the film format influenced the history of documentary film. The less expensive and lighter alternative to 35mm cameras enabled experiment and independent filmmaking to flourish—also making it more accessible for lesser represented communities, such as Sara Gómez’s On the Other Island that addressed Cuba’s intersectional inequalities. The selection also includes cinema verité classics, such as Agnès Varda’s Daguerréotypes, and examples of metaphorical critique of authority to bypass censorship, such as Abbas Kiarostami’s exploration into revolutionary mindsets in First Case, Second Case. The sixteen titles that make up the program have been announced.
Placing connectivity and creative influence in the spotlight, Corresponding Cinemas will examine the ways through which the work of each filmmaker has inspired the work of the other, offering a glimpse into cinema’s endless relay of creative connections. Starting with Sky Hopinka, this program invites us to explore the work of and connections between Basma al-Sharif, Jumana Manna, Ibrahim Shaddad, and Abderrahmane Sissako. Accompanied by introductions and conversations, the program will show nine titles by the filmmakers.