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Intl. docu fest starts up

More than 65,000 visitors to take part

“Startup.com,” the documentary on the rocket-like rise and fall of Govworks.com — and by extension, the dot.com industry — kicks off the 22nd edition of the Intl. Documentary Film Festival, which opens in Amsterdam tomorrow.

The event, the largest in the world in terms of visitors and numbers of films being screened, last year drew more than 65,000 visitors, but pre-sales of tickets just prior to this year’s opening indicated that number could be kicked up by as much as 10,000 by the time the fest closes Dec. 2.

Some 200 projects for cinema and TV are being screened during the event. In addition, at least 300 docus are on sale at the fest’s sidebar event Docs for Sale. Among guests attending the fest are British filmer Kim Longinotto, who will present her top-10 list of favorite docus, and BBC Storyville commissioning editor Nick Fraser, who will moderate a daily debate on current world developments and docmakers.

Close to 300 U.S. industry professionals were expected to attend, said Ali Dercks, festival director, who suggested that, as a result of recent events Stateside, there would be heightened interest in films that focus on “the big picture.”

“There was a period in which documentaries were very introspective, almost narcissistic, but the documentary that tells the big picture — that tries to look at what is really going on — is now back,” Derck said.

Among films falling into this category are “Justifiable Homicide,” U.S. filmer Jonathan Stack’s controversial look at the New York City Police Department, and Australian director Chris Hilton’s “Shadow Play — Indonesia’s Years of Living Dangerously.” Both are in competition for the fest’s Joris Ivens award for best feature-length documentary film.

Prizes being handed out collectively amount to $135,000. Other highlights to the fest include a co-production workshop, which over the years, has earned the reputation of funding as much as 70% of all projects put before it, and a retrospective on the works of U.S. Cinema Verite directors Albert and David Maysles.

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