The Things that Pass

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    The end of a life can be a reflection on the passing of times and the loss of relationships. Referencing the famous Dutch novel Old People and the Things that Pass by Louis Couperus, IDFA presents its universal themes in a wide selection of films about old age and the end of an era. These detailed accounts of looking back at life in different corners of our world are both personal and historical, often filled with a sense of melancholia and nostalgia. All films in this pathway were part of the IDFA 2020 selection.

    Titles in this Pathway

    100UP

    • Heddy Honigmann
    • 2020

      Can you still be full of lust for life when you’re over 100? Absolutely! Despite declining health, the loss of loved ones, and concerns about the future of the world, the centenarians in this documentary portrait are eager for each new day.

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      The Book of Distance

      • Randall Okita
      • 2020

        Director Randall Okita’s grandfather emigrated from Hiroshima to Canada in 1935. During the Second World War he was sent to an internment camp. This interactive reconstruction of the life of a taciturn man fills in the gaps in history.

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        Bosco

        • Alicia Cano Menoni
        • 2020

          Over 13 years, Alicia Cano filmed both her elderly grandfather in Uruguay and his distant relatives in the tiny Italian village of Bosco. A compassionate observation about dealing with impermanence and loss.

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          Burnt. Land of Fire

          • Ben Donateo
          • 2020

            All the senses are engaged in this meticulously composed landscape film about the depopulation of the southern Italian countryside. The deafening chirping of crickets fills the otherwise deserted, barren fields. The emptiness is almost palpable.

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            El Father Plays Himself

            • Mo Scarpelli
            • 2020

              A making-of documentary about a movie with an uncontrollable protagonist in the remote jungle. Sharp and moving observations reveal the dynamics of a son directing his father who’s playing his totally-off-the-rails self.

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              Gorbachev. Heaven

              • Vitaly Mansky
              • 2020

                A fascinating interview with former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the most influential figures of the last century, whose rule heralded the end of the Soviet Union. In an intimate setting, he gives his view of Russia then and now.

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                Le temps perdu

                • Maria Alvarez
                • 2020

                  At a cafe in Buenos Aires, a group of aging Marcel Proust fans have been getting together for years to read In Search of Lost Time, the author’s seven-part classic novel. This black-and-white film celebrates writing, reading, and bygone times.

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                  Lost on Arrival

                  • Esther Polak, Ivar van Bekkum
                  • 2020

                    After retiring, a man wants to return to the Caribbean island where he lived during his working life. However, advancing dementia ruins his idyllic plans. He moves there but never really arrives.

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                    The Magnitude of All Things

                    • Jennifer Abbott
                    • 2020

                      In a deeply personal film journey, director Jennifer Abbott (The Corporation) draws parallels between grief for the loss of a loved one and grief for what we are losing due to the climate crisis, and explores the relationship between sorrow and hope.

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                      Mundo

                      • Ana Edwards
                      • 2020

                        Matilde is an elderly alpaca herder surrounded by the awe-inspiring natural scenery that was once sacred to the Aymara, the indigenous Chilean community to which she belongs. But today all that counts for Mathilde is the Word of God: the Bible.

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                        Notes from the Underworld

                        • Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel
                        • 2020

                          What starts as a portrait of the popular Austrian singer Kurt Girk develops into a unique and powerful document of an era: the Austrian underworld in the 1960s. Packed with tall tales, bad cops and bittersweet songs.

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                          Nothing but the Sun

                          • Arami Ullón
                          • 2020

                            For years, Mateo Sobode Chiqueno has been visiting Ayoreo communities in Paraguay with an antique cassette recorder to register conversations, stories, and songs of his people. This heritage contains the poignant testimonies of a disappearing culture.

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                            One Day

                            • Jiang Jin
                            • 2020

                              We follow an elderly man walking along a misty mountain path in China. Filmed in a refreshingly understated style, his journey opens up a space for philosophical reflection about what we do with our time.

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                              Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue

                              • Jia Zhang-Ke
                              • 2020

                                Famous Chinese authors such as Yu Hua and Jia Pingwa talk about the role of the countryside in their lives and work. A look at 70 years of Chinese history, portrayed by the chronicler of rapidly changing provincial life, Jia Zhangke.

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                                A Way Home

                                • Karima Saïdi
                                • 2020

                                  Filmmaker Karima Saïdi’s mother has Alzheimer’s. Now, they turn their thoughts back in time together, for one last time. A poetic portrait of a complex mother-daughter relationship, renewed acquaintance, and a loving farewell.

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                                  Ultimina

                                  • Jacopo Quadri
                                  • 2020

                                    More than 80 years after her birth in Tuscany farming country, Ultimina looks back on a tough life in which men have always been the boss. But that hasn’t quelled her energy and rebellious nature one bit.

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