First-time helmer Fan wins IDFA's top award
Canuck-China coproduction “Last Train Home,” about a Chinese migrant worker family, topped the 22nd Intl. Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam on Friday, winning the prize for best feature-length documentary.“Train” is the helming bow of Lixin Fan, a former journalist for Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. “Train” has secured Canadian distribution via Kinosmith, with world sales handled by Cat&Docs. The feature jury gave its special award to Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith for “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” about Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971. Fest’s first appearance prize went to co-helmer Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn for “Colony,” their Ireland-U.S. co-production about the collapse of bee colonies in the U.S. South Korean helmer Bong-Nam Park nabbed best mid-length doc for “Iron Crows,” about workers who risk their lives working at the world’s largest ship demolition yard in Bangladesh. Feature nominee “The Player,” about gambling addiction, won helmer John Appel the inaugural Dioraphte award for Dutch documentary, while Sabrina Wulff picked up the student doc prize for “Redemption,” about American army deserters. Louie Psihoyos’ chilling activist doc, “The Cove,” about the slaughter of dolphins in Japanese waters, added the audience award to prizes at Sundance, Hot Docs and the Silver Docs fests. Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno’s activist comedy “The Yes Men Fix the World” won the Doc U! prize chosen by a jury of young people. Fest organizers report their international guest list, including participants in the three-day pitch Forum and other activities, remained on par with 2008 at around 2,295. Fest auds are projected to hit 165,000 (up 8,000 from 2008). IDFA wraps Sunday, Nov. 29.