Louis Hothothot’s feature debut “Four Journeys” will open the 34th edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), which also revealed the lineup of the International Competition program, as well as other sections.
“Four Journeys” is a personal film about the destructive influence on a Chinese family of the one-child policy. Hothothot was born as an “illegal” second child, and the authorities punished his parents harshly. The director forces his parents to confront their traumatic past in the film.
A total of 264 titles from more than 80 countries play in the festival, which runs from Nov. 17-28. Artistic director Orwa Nyrabia said the films show us “how artistic freedom, courage and engagement with the world come in many different languages, styles, and viewpoints.” He added: “The documentary field is being confirmed as a future-proof art form that is unapologetically open, diverse and continuously developing.”
The International Competition lineup includes the latest works of several filmmakers who have earned acclaim for their previous films.
Sergei Loznitsa, whose “Babi Yar. Context” played in Cannes this year as a Special Screening, and won the directing prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section for “Donbass” in 2018, brings “Mr. Landsbergis,” a film about Lithuania from 1989 to 1991 as it broke away from the Soviet Union.
Saeed Taji Farouky, who won the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlinale in 2015 with “Tell Spring Not to Come This Year,” now delivers “A Thousand Fires.” The film was shot in Myanmar, and looks at people who have swapped crop cultivation for selling the oil they pump from the ground by hand.
Kamar Ahmad Simon, who won the Cinéma du Réel Award for 2012’s “Shunte Ki Pao!,” competes at IDFA with “Day After…”, which focuses on the passengers and crew of a century-old paddle steamer that sails from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.
Susana de Sousa Dias, who won at Cinéma du Réel and Jihlava in 2010 with “48,” teams with Ansgar Schaefer on “Journey to the Sun.” The film looks at the 5,000 children who were sent from Austria to stay with host families in Portugal after World War II, so they could recover from the violence of war.
Eduardo Crespo, who competed for the Golden Seashell at San Sebastian in 2020 with fiction feature “We Will Never Die,” screens “The Delights.” The film centers on children attending an agricultural college in the Argentine countryside.
“Vedette,” directed by Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard, centers on a cow who’s the “queen” of her valley in the Swiss Alps. Bories won the Cinéma du Réel Award for “Juliette du côté des hommes” in 1981, alongside Chagnard, who won for “Quelque chose de l’arbre, du fleuve et du cri du peuple.” They previously worked together on “The Arrivals” in 2009, “Rules of the Game” in 2014 and “Nous, le peuple” in 2019.
Aliona van der Horst, who won at IDFA with “Boris Ryzhy” in 2008, returns with “Turn Your Body to the Sun.” The film tells the story of a Soviet soldier of Tatar descent who was captured by the Nazis during World War II.
Films in competition from debut feature directors include Ketevan Kapanadze’s “How the Room Felt,” set in the Georgian city of Kutaisi. The film follows a women’s soccer team that constitutes the heart of a group of female and non-binary queer people.
Another feature debut is “Children of the Mist” by Vietnam’s Diem Ha Le. This centers on Di, a 12-year-old girl from the mist-shrouded mountains of northern Vietnam. She belongs to the Hmong, an ethnic minority in which girls get married at a very young age.
“Taamaden,” by Mali-born filmmaker Seydou Cissé, follows a number of West African immigrants who are making a living in Spain, and Bakary in Mali, who is preparing for a new attempt to reach Europe.
Ruslan Fedotow, another first-time feature filmmaker, brings “Where Are We Headed,” which looks at the people who inhabit the corridors of the Moscow metro.
Other films in the lineup include Giovanni Buccomino’s “After a Revolution,” about two siblings on opposing side of the 2011 revolution in Libya; Ivan Mora Manzano’s “The Beach of Enchaquirados,” about a trans woman in a fishing village in Ecuador; and Qinyuan Lei’s “The One Who Runs Away Is the Ghost,” about two young sisters who while away their days at an electronics market in Shenzhen.
IDFA also announced the films for the Envision Competition and cross-section awards. It also presented the immersive and interactive artworks selected for the IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction, and the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling.