• set 26 items

    Masters includes the latest films by auteurs whose work IDFA closely follows, and who have an unmistakable cinematographic signature. The section celebrates the great documentary filmmakers of our time with titles that span international, European, and Dutch premieres.

    Items in this selection

    The Apollo

    • Roger Ross Williams
    • 2019

    Take a trip back into the turbulent and politically charged history of New York’s legendary Apollo Theater, birthplace and home to so many great African-American performers. With countless interviews and previously unseen footage.

    Blow It to Bits

    • Lech Kowalski
    • 2019

    An engaged account of the events surrounding the planned closure of the GM&S car part factory in La Souterraine, France. The employees will go to extreme lengths to keep their jobs.

    Citizen K

    • Alex Gibney
    • 2019

    Told against the background of post-Soviet Russia, this is the story of former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Once one of the richest people in Russia, he also spent 10 years in a Siberian prison. 

    Desert One

    • Barbara Kopple
    • 2019

    A meticulous reconstruction of the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, when Iranian revolutionaries held 52 American citizens hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The crisis culminated in Carter’s landslide loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980.


    • Nikolaus Geyrhalter
    • 2019

    A beautifully shot film about people whose job is to dig the earth, exploit it and make money from it, with virtually no regard for the consequences—all so we can maintain our demanding lifestyle. But who’s actually responsible in the end?

    Forman vs. Forman

    • Helena Třeštíková, Jakub Hejna
    • 2019

    Oscar-winning director Miloš Forman (1932-2018) gives his own account of his eventful career and private life in this collage of interviews, excerpts from film classics, visits to film sets, and home videos shot by Forman himself.

    Heimat Is a Space in Time

    • Thomas Heise
    • 2019

    A chronicle of Germany through the prism of the director’s own family history. In voice-over, Thomas Heise reads documents from his family’s archive, accompanied by powerful black-and-white images of the “guilty” landscape of his homeland.

    I Never Climbed the Provincia

    • Ignacio Agüero
    • 2019

    The construction of a huge new apartment block in his neighborhood prompts filmmaker Ignacio Agüero to ponder major and minor changes in his environment and his own life: everything changes, but it also remains essentially the same.

    Inna de Yard: The Soul of Jamaica

    • Peter Webber
    • 2018

    A delightful and lively documentary in which the now gray-haired icons of reggae gather in the garden of a magnificent stately home to re-record their old hits—this time as acoustic versions made in collaboration with a new generation.

    Letter to the Editor

    • Alan Berliner
    • 2019

    A love letter to the newspaper as news medium, made up of photos that filmmaker Alan Berliner cut out of the New York Times day after day over the course of 40 years and archived according to an ingenious system.

    Living and Knowing You’re Alive

    • Alain Cavalier
    • 2019

    Filmmaker Alain Cavalier and writer Emmanuèle Bernheim are working on a film based on her autobiographical book about her father’s self-chosen death. But then she falls ill. A delicate ode to life, both tender and frank.

    Love Child

    • Eva Mulvad
    • 2019

    A warmhearted portrait of an Iranian couple and their son who flee the country, filmed over a six-year period. As they struggle to build a new life, both their hardest and happiest moments are brought movingly close.


    • Yolande Zauberman
    • 2018

    Menahem was raped by his teachers for years. After 20 years he returns to Bnei Brak, the “capital” of the ultra-Orthodox Jews. Conversations with other survivors reveal the tacit acceptance of child abuse in this community.

    Mafia Is Not What It Used to Be

    • Franco Maresco
    • 2019

    A critical and entertaining look at the dubious Sicilian organizer of third-rate music shows, who seizes the commemoration of the Mafia murder of two judges as an opportunity to hold a totally inappropriate event.

    Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love

    • Nick Broomfield
    • 2019

    A chronicle of the tragic love between writer and musician Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen. They lived together for many years on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra, but everything changed when Cohen became an international star.


    • Suzanne Raes
    • 2019

    Currently incurable, multiple sclerosis is viewed from the perspective of a writer and patient and that of a neuroscientist. Their candid conversation is the backbone of this film.

    My Rembrandt

    • Oeke Hoogendijk
    • 2019

    What makes Rembrandt’s paintings technically so extraordinary, and why are different people so deeply affected by his oeuvre, or a specific work? Centuries after his death, his paintings are still a source of drama and gripping plot twists.

    Once the Dust Settles

    • John Appel
    • 2019

    Life was good in Amatrice (central Italy), Aleppo and Chernobyl until disaster struck. The survivors have resumed their lives, and now give sightseers guided tours of the devastation.

    Private Fiction

    • Andrés Di Tella
    • 2019

    A hybrid narrative in which two actors read aloud letters that the now deceased parents of filmmaker Andrés Di Tella wrote to one another over a period of decades, bringing their turbulent 20th-century love story back to life.


    • Fredrik Gertten
    • 2019

    Housing in major cities has become unaffordable for many. Push explores the world of slumlords, property speculators and venture capitalists, and features Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing.

    Shooting the Mafia

    • Kim Longinotto
    • 2019

    A portrait of the Italian photographer Letizia Battaglia, famous for her compelling photos of Mafia victims. This revealing retrospective of both her career and private life dispels romantic notions of organized crime.

    Sing Me a Song

    • Thomas Balmès
    • 2019

    TV and the internet are relatively new to the inhabitants of Bhutan. Peyangki is a 17-year-old monk living in a remote mountain village, and he’s utterly spellbound by his cell phone. Modern life is a labyrinth.

    State Funeral

    • Sergei Loznitsa
    • 2019

    A montage of previously unreleased material immerses us in the Soviet Union, in the four-day period of mourning following the death of Joseph Stalin on March 5, 1953. This is the grotesque culmination of the personality cult surrounding the dictator.

    Varda by Agnès

    • Agnès Varda
    • 2019

    For the very last time, photographer, film director and installation artist Agnès Varda (1928-2019) looks back on her life and career, using scenes from her own rich body of work to shed light on her artistic vision and ideas.

    Waiting for the Carnival

    • Marcelo Gomes
    • 2019

    This portrait of an enterprising Brazilian town where almost everyone manufactures jeans is also the travelogue of filmmaker Marcelo Gomes. He knows the town from a distant past, and alternates nostalgia with a sense of realism.

    Winter Journey

    • Anders Ostergaard
    • 2019

    A Jewish musician couple was just in time when they fled Nazi Germany to the United States. Their son brings their story to life in archive footage and dramatized scenes, with a sublime Bruno Ganz in his final role.