Zaradasht Ahmed’s ‘Nowhere to Hide’ Takes Top Prize at IDFA

An insider’s account of the hellish aftermath of the Iraq war charts the path to today’s unsettled world

AMSTERDAM – Although the documentary world had plenty of recent upsets to concern itself with – not least the rise of nationalism across Europe and America – the fallout from the Iraq war was not forgotten at this year’s IDFA. The award for Best Feature-Length Documentary went to “Nowhere to Hide,” a Norway-Sweden co-production directed by Zaradasht Ahmed that tells of the experiences of a male nurse named Nori Sharif who worked in a hospital in Jawala, part of the “triangle of death” in central Iraq, from the time the U.S. army left in 2011 until he was forced to leave the area by the arrival of ISIS in 2014.

Said the jury: “There are those films which are wonderful to see and there are films that the world needs to see. The film we [chose] is both of these things. The experience was immersive and left us deeply touched. The director respected the unique perspective that only the subject could have and in doing so he gave us an unprecedented window into the real-life lasting consequences of war.”
In the same category, the Special Jury Award went to “Still Tomorrow” (pictured) by Jian Fan, an intimate portrait of a Chinese woman named Xiuhua Yu, who, unexpectedly, became an internet sensation via her poetry. From a poor rural background, and disabled with cerebral palsy, Yu finds her newfound success a means to escape from her situation, but with bittersweet results.

Other awards:

BEST DUTCH DOCUMENTARY

“Radio Kobanî,” Reber Dosky, Netherlands

SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR DUTCH DOCUMENTARY

“Stranger in Paradise,” Guido Hendrikx, Netherlands

MID-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY

“Death in the Terminal,” Tali Shemesh, Asaf Sudry, Israel

SPECIAL JURY AWARD, MID-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY:

“Come Back Free,” Ksenia Okhapkina, Estonia

FIRST APPEARANCE AWARD

“Who We Were,” Sine Skibsholt, Denmark

SPECIAL JURY AWARD, FIRST APPEARANCE (DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF PETER WINTONICK)

“Plastic China,” Jiu-liang Wang, China

IDFA DOCLAB AWARD, DIGITAL STORYTELLING

“Deprogrammed,” Mia Donovan, Canada

SCENIC IDFA DOCLAB IMMERSIVE NON-FICTION AWARD

“DeathTolls Experience,” Ali Eslami, Iran

BEELD EN GELUID IDFA AWARD FOR DUTCH DOCUMENTARY

“Radio Kobanî,” Reber Dosky, Netherlands

ARRI IDFA AWARD, BEST STUDENT DOCUMENTARY

“When Will This Wind Stop,” Aniela Astrid Gabryel, Poland

IDFA SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR STUDENT DOCUMENTARY

“Close Ties,” Zofia Kowalewska, Poland

IDFA AWARD FOR BEST CHILDREN’S DOCUMENTARY:

“Rocknrollers,” Daan Bol, Netherlands

IDFA SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S DOCUMENTARY

“Naomi’s Secret,” Saskia Gubbels, Netherlands

PRINS BERNHARD CULTUURFONDS DOCUMENTARY AWARD

Ester Gould.

The festival runs until Sunday 27 November, when the winner of the VPRO IDFA Audience Award will be announced.

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