I have forgotten why IDFA has decided to announce winners on a wednesday for a festival that goes on until sunday included? But good for those of us, in Amsterdam or online from home, who are still trying to catch up with the many films in competition to get a picture of what the festival selectors found important – yes, yes, I know there are numerous important films outside competition, which could have been there as well but do not qualify for eligibility reasons, previously awarded elsewhere for instance. And it gives of course time to check whether the jury(ies) have made mistakes… Have to admit that I like that game knowing that is not always that easy to be a juror. The two awards in the full-length category went to (Best film) ”Nowhere to Hide” by Zaradasht Ahmed, and (Special Prize) ”Still Tomorrow” by Fan Jian.
The jury, consisting of Yuri Ancarani (Italy), Jordana Berg (Brazil), Tom Paul (U.S.), Ingrid van Tol (The Netherlands), Debra Zimmerman (U.S.) did well, no objections to their choices. Here is their introduction:
”As a jury we were honored to have the opportunity to watch films from many countries but the ones which stood out and moved us the most were the films from the parts of the world we hear from the least. We want to encourage the inclusion of more films like these in future competitions. We are so pleased that filmmakers in those countries are being given resources and support to create films that reflect their own countries’ concerns. But we are concerned about the increased globalization of documentary filmmaking. We would hope that the next step is to be open to other styles of documentary filmmaking that are different from the Western, European format. We also feel that this year’s selection is not just a set of 15 individual films but as a whole reflects the times we are living in. We fear the political trends which threaten to silence dissent and difference. We need more illumination, not less. If there is a common thread in the films, it is the need for and and the power of empathy is that needed in these disturbing times.”
Disturbing times indeed and it is no surprise that the jury writes a statement that is political as is ”Nowhere to Hide”, that left me in a feeling of sadness at the same time as this film (as Abbas Fahrel’s masterpiece ”Homeland” that I saw in Kosovo earlier this year) documents in details, how hopeless a situation the Iraqis experience right now. And filmed over several years by one of those, who are there with wife and family every day. I am happy I got to know Nori, a true hero. With a documentary eye, there are so many magical moments in the film, that gives hope, in contrast to the many corpses in bags and the many injured people, whose lives have been spoilt.
And the jury motivation for ”Nowhere to Hide”: There are those films which are wonderful to see and there are films that the world needs to see. The film we choose is both of these things. The experience was immersive and left us deeply touched. The Director respected the unique perspective that the only the subject could have and in doing so gave us an unprecedented window into the real life lasting consequences of war.
”Stiil Tomorrow” by Chinese Fan Jian is a family drama, a very direct and frank invitation to meet the poet, disabled Xiuhua Yu, whose life changes drastically when she becomes famous for her poetry.
And the jury motivation for ”Still Tomorrow”: From the start, this film explores the complexity of the human experience in a poetic, intimate and powerful way. The strength of the protagonist is matched by the craft of the filmmaking. It is not easy to make a film about poetry without resorting to cliches. But this film does in a sensitive and revealing portrait of an extraordinary woman.