What Do You Believe In?(November 2002)
A Question for Our Times
Headlines IDFA 2002
- The IDFA (International Documentary FilmFestival of Amsterdam) returns to
the Dutch capital with its fifteenth edition from November 21st till December
1st. Giving it an extra special kick-off on November 14th, a "light-line"
will be erected on the Museumplein consisting of Two Hundred and Seventy Five
light-boxes, each one consisting of 4 movie stills, which, in combination with
each other, will create a impressive film roll of one-thousand and one-hundred
images. Quite flashy, wouldn't you say? Then again, who would expect anything
less from Amsterdam's Saatchi & Saatchi public relations bureau. The
"light-line" will remain on location three weeks long for the enjoyment of the
But back to basics. Last year's IDFA took place not long after the tragic
events of 911 occurred in New York and a conscious decision was made by the
organizers at the time, for numerous reasons, not to schedule films related
to that event within the parameters of IDFA 2001. Instead, a choice was made
to further analyze the position of the contemporary documentary filmmaker
during panel discussions by centering upon the relevant question of "How to
Deal with the Present?" The film material of 911 made available during the
first weeks following the attack upon the Twin Towers was limited to the kind
of reportage that was endlessly being viewed on TV screens during the turbulent
aftermath of these tragic circumstances and did not, at that particular moment,
seem exceedingly appropriate for inclusion in the festival; everyone can easily
recall that television was broadcasting such images in abundance.
The IDFA prides itself on maintaining its established and specific standard of
excellence by concentrating as frequently as possible on the creative
documentary, a genre that usually demands ample time for reflection on the part
of a filmmaker. This aspect, above all, motivated the organizers to make their
final decision. (Let it be noted that, although there was nothing directly
reflecting the situation of 911 in New York, there were items present in the
2001 festival that bore an indirect relevance in various ways. *)
*One only has to think of American-Afghan director Jon Osman's
fascinating "Justifiable Homicide", a film centering around the death of
Antonio Rosario, which leaves the viewer unnerved by capturing a divided
portrait of Mayor Giuliani, where truth and PR are at odds. The confrontation
of questions by mother Rosario, still mourning her murdered son as she fights
for another kind of justice, is as riveting as the terrifying revelation that
some of the City's questionable policies, as well as their implementation,
need revision. This film was unfortunately pulled shortly before it was to be
distributed in the United States as a result of the events of 911. It was,
however, on being screened at the IDFA. (See also:
With the passing of another year and sufficient time for further reflection,
the fifteenth edition of the festival will present us in 2002 with a variety
of cinematic creations that deal with the theme of faith in the broadest sense
of the word, under the title of "What Do You Believe In?" This program at the
IDFA 2002 is divided into two distinct segments: 1) various portraits of people
or groups of people who represent and reveal extremist convictions,
philosophies, and beliefs which can often border on the obsessive and are not
always of a religious nature and 2) faith in the truth as it is presented
to us through the media.
The variety of films being screened this year range from "On Hitler's Highway"
to "Love and Diane" and from "My Terrorist" to "The Trials of Henry Kissinger."
Check the IDFA website for a full listing.
Not only will a number of splinter-new works that have received widespread
acclaim be screened, such as the opening film "Bowling for Columbine", but a
rare opportunity is also offered to see a number of memorable films that may
not enjoy as wide a distribution in the cinemas. So, take advantage of the
moment! Yeah, baby, Carpe Diem!
A Michael Moore retrospective will also offer a chance for all to catch up
with the previous works of the man who, often against powerful adversaries,
keeps fighting the battle that tries to maintain America as a country for the
people and of the people. Thanks, Michael, and keep up the good work! No
doubt about it, you're a better weapon than anything in Chuck's arsenal.
The IDFA has grown in popularity during the past decade and a half and become
internationally renowned in the competent hands of festival director Ally
Derks, assisted by Maike Statema and Reinke Chavannes. It is definitely worth
mentioning that the IDFA has now officially been chosen by AMPAS® Academy
Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences) to nominate a candidate for the annual
Oscars® in the category of Short Documentary. That means that the film
which wins the "Zilveren Wolf" ("Silver Wolf" Competition) will automatically
qualify as a nominee for the upcoming Oscar®.
Workshops, master classes, seminars, and talk shows, as well as numerous other
events, are included within the planning of this year's IDFA. All of these
will be taking place in the Balie Theatre, Pathé City Cinema, Bellevue
Cinerama/Calypso, and Stadsschouwburg (all centrally located around the main
square, Leidseplein) as well as at the Cosmic Theatre on the Nes. And the pop
temple Paradiso will be housing "Paradiso in Space", an event which will be
screening three days of documentaries about outer space. Take off!
Keep your eyes peeled for TGH reviews of various films included in this year's
festival as they appear online. In the meantime, take the opportunity while
in Amsterdam of visiting this year's IDFA and choosing from the endless
exciting, involving, and informative screenings on offer. And don't be
surprised that you might come away with new impressions.
Attempting to understand what the meaning of truth is to different peoples, as
amply represented at the festival, could yield results that might lead us back
through concentric circles to seek exactly what the essence of truth is.
Further information available on the festival films, times, and locations can
be found at www.idfa.nl.
- Continuing onward with festivals (and yet remaining in the domain of
documentaries) the Shadow Festival 2002, which concentrates on the
experimental documentary, will be taking place from November 21st to 27th at
the Melkweg Cinema and Cinerama in Amsterdam as well as at the
Lantaren/Venster in Rotterdam. There may also be a weekend in Groningen (at
Vera en Images) if scheduling permits, so keep your eyes open if you happen
to be up north in The Netherlands. As in previous editions, the festival will
offer a broad spectrum of creative documentaries wherein the originality of
the filmmaker remains central.
Work from countries as diverse as the United States, Armenia, Lebanon, and
Poland will be screened, usually offering an opportunity afterwards to share
in open discussions with the directors. Several lectures and workshops have
also been organized especially for the occasion. Among the numerous titles
being screened this year are: "Black Moon" (Armen Khachtryan, Armenia),
"Such is My Karma" (Grzegorz Pacek, Poland), "Wie Ich ein Hhlenmahler wurde"
(Jan Peters, Germany), "Ailleurs, D'ailleurs" (Hugues Poulain, France),
"August, a moment before the eruption" (Avi Mograbi, Israel), "Hull's Angel"
(Sean McAllister, Great Britain), "Casting" (Emmanuel Finkiel, France),
"Noble Sacrifice" (Vatche Boulghourjian, Lebanon), "Ima" (Catherina
Klusemann, Italie / Germany), and "Great Balls of Fire" (Leon Grodski, USA).
Composer and filmmaker Stefan Majakowski, founding father of the Shadow
Festival will be presiding over the week's events. In 1999, he and a number
of other filmmakers felt there was a need to organize an event that could run
alongside the IDFA and present another dimension of the documentary. Thanks
to the enthusiasm of those who have had a chance to experience the festival
in the past, it has been possible this year, for the first time, to organize
the first extended-version as a result of financial support from various
subsidies and organizations. Further information is available regarding
screenings and events at:
- A series of French films under the title of Cine-Premieres will be
enjoying screenings in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, The Hague, Groningen)
under the auspices of the Maison Descartes between November 6th and 21st.
Further information regarding titles, dates, and locations available at
- Dot.nu presents live cinema, bringing together various forms of live
projection and live music. Performances this time around by: Joshua Kit
Clayton and Susan Costabile (USA) under the title of "Interruption"
(attempting to analyze the relationship between everyday reality and the
fantasies we project upon it.) Two city event: Saturday 2 November 2002,
V2_, Eendrachtstraat 10, Rotterdam. Doors open at 20.00 hours, starts at
20.30 hours. Sunday 3 November 2002, Paradiso, Weteringschans 6-8,
Amsterdam doors open at 15.00 hours, starts at 15.30 hours. Tickets available
at AUB, main post offices, Boudisque, Pico and Phantasio. More info can be
- The EFA (European Film Academy) Conference will be taking place in Rome
during the same day that the winners of the European Film Awards are announced
(see below). Focus this year is on "Film Education" and the Conference will
aim to encourage the European Ministers of Culture and of Education to develop
an agenda regarding a pan-European curriculum for film education with the same
status that is granted to arts and literature. The borders between the real
and the virtual world appear to be dissolving more rapidly and the image of
the real world often seems to be met with greater acceptance and popularity
than reality itself. Although there is an awareness that new generations
need to be equipped with the tools and the knowledge that enable them to
become conscious and self-determined members of a modern global society,
there is still a lot to be done practically. While some countries in Europe,
especially France, Sweden and the UK have developed advanced training programs
on film and media for both teachers and students; others are only just
starting to teach film and media at school. The high profile line-up of
participants and speakers who will discuss these matters includes Jeanne
Moreau, Stephen Frears, Francesco Rosi, and Wim Wenders. This Conference will
take place in the Auditorium - Parco della Musica in Rome on Saturday,
December 7th from 10 AM until 1 PM.
Jean Douchet (French film journalist, writer, director), Horst Walther
(Institut für Kino und Kultur, Germany), Vera Gyürey (Hungarian Film Instite,
Hungary), Alberto Barbera (Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino, Italy), Ase
Kleveland (Svenska Filminstitutet, Sweden), Spanish director Rosa Vergés ad
Ian Wall (Film Education, UK) will present their existing national film
education programmes. Christina Weiss (German State Minister for Culture and
the Media), Pilar del Castillo (Spanish Minister for Culture), and Viviane
Reding (EU Commissioner for Culture and Education) will explain their views
of cultural responsibility and political action with regard to film education.
- Hot off the Waves: >>> The European Film Academy has recently
announced the top nominations for the European Film Awards, which are to be
handed, out during the star-studded gala ceremony in the Teatro dell Opera di
Roma on Saturday, December 7th and simultaneously broadcast live across the
world. The greatest number of nominations have gone to Aki Kaurismki's
"The Man Without a Past" and Pedro Almodvar's "Hable Con Ella." Some of the
further nominees up this year are:
Nominations for Best European Film 2002 are:
"8 Femmes" (France), "Bend It Like Beckham" (UK), "Bloody Sunday, (UK/Ireland),
"Hable Con Ella" (Spain), "Lilya 4-ever" (Sweden), "Mies Vailla Menneisyytt"
("The Man Without a Past"), Finland/Germany/France, "The Magdalene Sisters"
(UK), and "The Pianist" (France/Poland/Germany/UK).
Nominations for Best European Director 2002 are:
Pedro Almodovar for "Hable Con Ella" ("Talk to Her"), Marco Bellocchio for
"L'Ora di Religione" ("My Mothers Smile"), Andreas Dresen for "Halbe Treppe"
("Grill Point"), Aki Kaurismki for "Mies Vailla Menneisyytt" ("The Man Without
a Past"), Mike Leigh for "All or Nothing", Ken Loach for "Sweet Sixteen",
Roman Polanski for "The Pianist", and Alexander Sokurov for "Russkij Kovcheg"
Nominations for Best European Actor 2002:
Javier Bardem in "Los Lunes al Sol" ("Mondays in the Sun"), Javier Cmara in
"Hable con Ella" ("Talk to Her"), Sergio Castellitto in "Bella Martha"
("Mostly Martha") & "L'Ora di Religione" ("My Mothers Smile"), Martin Compston
in "Sweet Sixteen", Olivier Gourmet in "Le Fils/The Son", Markku Peltola in
"Mies Vailla Menneisyytt" ("The Man Without a Past") and Timothy Spall in
"All or Nothing".
Nominations for Best European Actress 2002:
Oksana Akinshina in "Lilja 4-ever" ("Lilya 4-ever"), Emmanuelle Devos in "Sur
mes L&eaigu;vres" ("Read my Lips"), Martina Gedeck in "Bella Martha" ("Mostly
Martha"), Laura Morante in "Un Viaggio Chiamato Amore" ("A Journey Called
Love"), Samantha Morton in "Morvern Callar", Kati Outinen in "Mies Vailla
Menneisyytt" ("The Man Without a Past") as well as the ensemble cast of
"8 Femmes" <<< which means (who could ever forget this combination?)
>>> Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Bart, Fanny
Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Danielle Darrieux, Ludivine Sagnier, and Firmine
Nominations for Best European Director 2002:
Pedro Almodovar for "Hable Con Ella" ("Talk to Her"), Tonino Benacquista &
Jacques Audiard for "Sur mes L&eaigu;vres" ("Read my Lips"), Paul Greengrass
for "Bloody Sunday", Aki Kaurismki for "Mies Vailla Menneisyytt" ("The Man
Without a Past"), Krzysztof Kieslowski & Krzysztof Piesiewicz for "Heaven",
and Paul Laverty for "Sweet Sixteen", Franois Ozon for "8 Femmes".
Nominations for Best European Cinematographer 2002:
Javier Aguirresarobe for "Hable con Ella" ("Talk to Her"), Tilman Bttner for
"Russkij Kovcheg" ("Russian Ark"), Pawel Edelman for "The Pianist", Frank
Griebe for "Heaven", Alwin Kchler for "Morvern Callar", Timo Salminen for
"Mies Vailla Menneisyytt" ("The Man Without a Past") and Ivan Strasburg for
Nominations for the Screen International Award 2002 - for a non-European Film are:
Curtis Hanson's "8 Mile" (US), Fernando Meirelles' "Cicade De Deus" ("City of
God") (Brazil), Todd Haynes' "Far From Heaven" (US), Elia Suleiman's ("Divine
Intervention") (Palestine), Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report"(US), Joel
Zwick's "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (US), Hayao Miyazaki's "Sen To Chihiro No
Kamikakushi" ("Spirited Away") (Japan), and David Cronenberg's "Spider"
The Awards will be broadcast in the UK by FilmFour/Channel Four, across most
of Europe (sorry, not in The Netherlands) and in the USA (yeah, folks, on the
Sundance Channel), Canada, Latin America, Australia and South Africa. In Rome,
Zone Attive are the executive producers. Further information available at:
- For those who didn't make it to Belgium last month, Finnish director Aki
Kaurismki's "The Man Without A Past" was acclaimed winner of the 29th
Filmfestival of Ghent.
- The London Film Festival, which is enjoying its 46th year, takes place
from November 6-21. Check it out at:
(While visiting the United Kingdom, keep your eyes open for any straying
servants from the palace.)
- The Johan Cruyff Welfare Foundation (JCWF), founded in 1997 to support
sports projects for physically challenged children, will be receiving a
percentage of the proceeds from the Romantic film comedy "Bend It Like
Beckham." In case anyone can't recall, Johan Cruyff was the first star
soccer player of international level from the Netherlands whose strategy on
the playing field has been immortalized in the film "Number 14."
- Looks like Steve Martin is scheduled to host next year's Oscar®
telecast. Billy Crystal, King of the Academy Quip, was approached first, but
needed more time to give it his consideration (which is no great surprise,
considering the amount of physical and mental energy little Billy puts into
it each time around). Even Oscar®, however, has a deadline and the
producers, who were more than enthusiastic about Mr. Martin's presentation
last year, finally approached the white-haired funnyman. (NB- It really is
due time that some studio suit in Europe do something about arranging the
live-broadcast of the Oscars® on Public Television. Let the European
public know what it is to enjoy the live-event, even if it takes place here
in the middle of the night!)
- Anyone who had doubts beforehand about how blockbuster-director Brett
Ratner ("Rush Hour") would manage with a more serious and delicately-balanced
(delicately-unbalanced?) film as the Hannibal prequel were, undoubtedly,
pleasantly relieved to see the work delivered on "Red Dragon". Next in line?
Seems like "Superman" will have his next incarnation in Bret's hands.
- Brad Pitt is presently negotiating with Warner Brothers to play the lead
role of Achilles in the film "Troy". If all goes well, this could turn into
a film that will not only bring the Iliad to the silver screen, but also give
us a newly clad Brad in a trendy toga. Just imagine it: all those Trojans!
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