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New IDFA selections reflect the shape of the world, the shape of documentary film

IDFA announces 70 selected titles from the program sections Frontlight, Masters, Paradocs, Paradocs: Amsterdam Art Weekend at IDFA, and Best of Fests, plus a Lifetime Achievement Award for Jřrgen Leth.


From acclaimed auteurs to emerging directors to visual artists that push the limits of documentary film, the new selections include world premieres from Oeke Hoogendijk, Louise Detlefsen, Louise Kjeldsen, and Basir Mahmoud.


The non-competitive premiere program section returns with 9 out of 18 hard-hitting films that urge us to stand in solidarity with the world’s vulnerable populations. From street protests in Ougadoudou to body politics in Scandanavia, Frontlight showcases incredible filmmakers and protagonists standing up for their rights.

Eagerly anticipated selections include: the international premiere of Marcus Vetter’s The Forum, with unprecedented access to world leaders at the Davos convention; the international premiere of Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, an engaging portrait of the late visionary writer; and the world premiere of Louise Detlefsen and Louise Kjeldsen’s Fat Front, on the four women who started the body positive revolution in Scandinavia.

Films by up-and-comers include Maxima (dir. Claudia Sparrow), with a Peruvian farmer who defends her land against the gold mining industry; The Two Lives of Li Ermao (dir. Jia Yuchuan), which tells the story of a trans migrant worker in China; and Radio Silence (dir. Juliana Fanjul), on a female journalist’s fight against censorship in Mexico.

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Lifetime Achievement Award: Jřrgen Leth

From his influential short film The Perfect Human (1967) through to today, Jřrgen Leth inspired generations of filmmakers with his strong auteur voice and fearless perspective on reality. Based in Denmark and Haiti, Leth was never hampered by concerns of veracity and fact. In celebration of his extraordinary filmmaking, IDFA is delighted to award the 83-year-old director with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the festival.


With 17 titles, Masters celebrates the great documentary filmmakers of our time. World premieres include My Rembrandt, the much-anticipated new film from Oeke Hoogendijk. Among the European premieres, Eva Mulvad delivers Love Child.

Within the section, many filmmakers use a personal angle to tell a wider story. Andrés Di Tella’s Private Fiction puzzles over family memory through letters from the director’s own parents. Alain Cavalier’s Living and Knowing You’re Alive goes behind the scenes of the filmmaking process as Cavalier creates an autobiographical film with writer Emmanučle Bernheim. Helena Třeštíková and Jakub Hejna’s Forman vs. Forman tells the story of Czech director Miloš Forman, a formative figure in Třeštíková’s own relationship with film.

Masters also includes filmmakers who take a broad view on recent history-shaping stories. Alex Gibney’s Citizen K documents the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky as he rockets to prosperity, serves a decade behind bars, and becomes an unlikely martyr for the anti-Putin movement. In The Apollo, Roger Ross Williams recounts the history of the venue that launched the careers of countless African American artists, while in Inna De Yard: The Soul of Jamaica, Peter Webber introduces us to Jamaican reggae legends in their homes. Finally, Varda by Agnčs makes history itself, as the final film from the late French auteur.

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IDFA’s experimental section returns with 12 works that push the limits of the documentary form. A selection of short, mid-length, and feature films showcase both established names and newcomers.

Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream marks the feature debut of acclaimed shorts filmmaker Frank Beauvais in the form of a video-diary collage. Renowned artist Yuri Ancarani returns to IDFA with new film San Vittore, a poetic investigation of children visiting their imprisoned fathers at a historic Milan penitentiary. Yaser Kassab is back with new film I Have Seen Nothing, I Have Seen All, a gamily story about the transfer of graves from public parks in Aleppo.

The debut film from Alexis Delgado Búrdalo, This Film Is About Me, Captures the cinematic interplay between filmmaker and a protagonist accused of murder; the world premiere of The Ride by emerging filmmaker duo Esther Polak and Ivar Van Bekkum takes audiences from installation to screen with a personal video work full of emotion and atmosphere.

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Paradocs: Amsterdam Art Weekend at IDFA

In collaboration with EYE Film Museum, IDFA presents Paradocs during Amsterdam Art Weekend, with seven titles that fuse documentary and video art. Among the highlights are: the new two-channel work from Paulien Oltheten, To those that will, ways are not wanting; the world premiere of Basir Mahmoud’s docufiction work Good Ended Happily, which recreates the American Special Forces operation that took down Osama Bin Laden; and renowned Dutch artist Dick Verdult’s Viva Matanzas, a fantastical re-enactment of a 1628 Dutch-Spanish naval battle.

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Best of Fests

IDFA’s take on the year’s most outstanding documentary films, Best of Fests offers 25 titles from the international festival circuit. Consisting of award winners from around the world, the program includes Cannes hit For Sama (dir. Waad Al Kataeb, Edward Watts), Berlinale hit Talking About Trees (dir. Suhaib Gasmelbari), Venice hit Collective (dir. Alexander Nanau), Sundance hits Midnight Traveler (dir. Hassan Fazili), Midnight Family (dir. Luke Lorentzen), and One Child Nation (dir. Nanfu Wang, Lynn Zhang), and TIFF hit The Cave (dir. Feras Fayyad). The program also promises to mesmerize with dance films such as Lil’ Buck: Real Swan (dir. Louis Wallecan). Alongside the award winners, the program offers IDFA’s tips for must-see films from the past year, such as Michel K. Zongo’s No Gold for Kalsaka, following its premiere at FESPACO.

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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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