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Living documentary history marks first IDFA 2019 selections

Announcing three focus programs, Guzmán Retrospective and Top 10, and Pennebaker & Hegedus tribute.


The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam is delighted to announce the first film selections for IDFA 2019, taking place November 20th to December 1st. The curated program sections include 56 titles from the new focus programs It Still Hurts, Re-releasing History, and The Villain, the Retrospective and Top 10 of Guest of Honor Patricio Guzmán, and a special tribute section to D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. The slate includes world premieres from Ehab Tarabieh and others, and many classics from documentary history.

Focus: It Still Hurts

Pre-empting the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, IDFA presents a focus program that explores our world as a post-war world. It Still Hurts is the largest focus program of IDFA 2019, with 15 titles that raise questions on the many ways contemporary life is still defined by WWII—from case studies about the cold war and postcolonialism to cinematic meditations on victims and perpetrators.

Among the Dutch premieres: Thomas Heise’s Heimat Is a Space in Time asks what traces remain of lost lives in the passage of time; The Europhoria of Being by Réka Szabó explores what creative life looks like after survival; Wrong Elements by writer-turned-filmmaker Jonathan Littel documents the adult journey of revisiting a stolen childhood. World premieres include Of Land and Bread by Ehab Tarabieh, which questions how victims become perpetrators through rare B’Tselem footage of military-occupied Palestine.

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Guest of Honor Patricio Guzmán: Retrospective & Top 10

Following IDFA’s announcement of Patricio Guzmán as the festival’s Guest of Honor this year, the Chilean auteur presents a selection of 10 films that defined him as a filmmaker. Encompassing both the personal and political, Guzmán’s selection includes postcolonial Dutch masterpiece Mother Dao, the Turtlelike (dir. Vincent Monnikendam, 1995), La jetée (1962) by long-time friend Chris Marker, and The Sugar Curtain (2006) by daughter Camila Guzmán Urzúa. On the occasion of Guzmán’s first visit to IDFA, the festival also pays tribute to the documentary icon with a retrospective of seven films from his oeuvre. The program will present the seminal trilogy The Battle of Chile (1975-1979), the pioneering Chile, Obstinate Memory (1997), and Guzmán’s latest trilogy which culminates in The Cordillera of Dreams (2019).

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See the Top 10

Focus: Re-releasing History

The focus program includes 10 films comprised entirely of pre-existing footage such as archival material, home movies, and found footage. The European premiere of David Shields’ Marshawn Lynch: A History and the Dutch premiere of Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral compliment canonical films by documentary masters Andreď Ujica, Peter Forgacs, Maciej Drygas, and Alina Marazzi. Marking the next installment in IDFA’s long-running series about the craft of documentary filmmaking, Re-releasing History looks to the filmmakers’ emotional, political act of re-interpreting history with a new gaze. Editing comes to the fore in this focus program which, in cinematically reclaiming historical events, invites audiences to seek new meaning in the present. Re-releasing History is supported by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.

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Focus: The Villain

Taking our cultural fascination with criminal infamy as a starting point, the focus program presents 10 films which look evil straight in the eye. The Dutch premiere of The Brink by Alison Klayman will be presented alongside modern classics El Sicario Room 164 (dir. Gianfranco Rosi, 2010), The Look of Silence (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014), General Idi Amin: A Self Portrait (dir. Barbet Schroeder, 1974), and A Moment of Innocence (dir. Mohsen Makhbalhaf, 1996). All films in The Villain capture an intimate, sometimes terrifying confrontation between filmmaker and protagonist, showcasing a wide array of personifications and various strategies for getting behind the scenes of the criminal persona. In doing so, the program explores the overlap between fascination and identification, and the subjective bias that drives both humanization and disgust.

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A Tribute to Pennebaker and Hegedus

This honorary program section pays tribute to filmmaking legends D.A. Pennebaker (1925–2019) and Chris Hegedus, whose partnership helped define documentary film as we know it today. Comprised of four titles, the program showcases touchstones of documentary cinema.

Daybreak Express (1953), Pennebaker’s first film, can be seen as a precursor to the music video, with stunning shots of the New York commute rhythmically edited to the music of Duke Ellington. Dont Look Back (1967), an early masterpiece of the music documentary genre, launched Pennebaker’s career as a filmmaker, holding a special place in today’s public memory. Hidden gem Town Bloody Hall (1979), a clear example of Pennebaker and Hegedus’ true collaboration, offers an early form of feminist filmmaking from the perspective of 1970s New York. Finally, The War Room (1993) stands as a masterpiece of looking behind the scenes of American political life, centering on the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton. As part of the program, IDFA will welcome and celebrate Chris Hegedus in person in Amsterdam.

Every week in October, IDFA presents new festival selections. The competition titles will be announced on Wednesday, October 23rd, during the IDFA 2019 press conference—available to stream online at

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