What Do You Believe In?
A Question for Our Times
Headlines IDFA 2002

(November 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 general public.

    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: TGH review.)

    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: www.shadowfestival.nl.

  • 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 www.maisondescartes.com/cinepremnl.html.

  • 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 found on: www.orthlorng.com/interruption.

  • 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" ("Russian Ark").

    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 Richard.

    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 "Bloody Sunday."

    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" (Canada).

    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: www.europeanfilmacademy.org.

  • 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: www.rlff.com/db_world02/cinema.cgi/interimhomepage/. (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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