Media & Entertainment

IDFA: The highlights

Mark it in your agendas: IDFA, the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, will be held from 15 till 26 November. For the duration of 11 days, it will be possible to watch different documentaries, in every category you can think of, in a selection of cinemas around the city of Amsterdam. Due to the fact that there are hundreds of documentaries to choose from, we decided to help you out a little bit by presenting a small selection of IDFA must-see documentaries that would appeal to anyone.

An inconvenient truth II
You might still remember critically-acclaimed, yet Academy Award winning documentary: An Inconvenient Truth. In this documentary, Al Gore, vice president of the USA under Bill Clinton, and the presidential candidate for the democratic party in the elections of 2000, presents a lecture on climate change. Whereas An Inconvenient Truth I is more about proving that climate change exists and showing us what will happen if climate change continues in the way it does, An Inconvenient Truth II focusses on different issues involving climate change. It shows how we look at climate change nowadays. Gore shows recent storms and disasters as a ‘told you so’ to everyone who criticized An Inconvenient Truth I for exaggerating the consequences of climate change. He focuses on new innovations in the field of environmental sustainability and most importantly on America’s retreat from the Environmental Protection Act. Gore’s new documentary calls for action!

Land of the Free
Land of the Free is a powerful, ironically titled and intimate documentary that follows three people in Los Angeles who’ve all had to deal with imprisonment in their own ways. Brian (42) has spent his entire adult life in jail, is struggling to get his life back on track and to get accustomed to life in a modernized society. Juan (18) is trying to leave the gang life behind and quit drugs after being released from jail to live a normal family life with his girlfriend and daughter. The documentary shows his struggles and the impact his problems have on his family. Gianni (7) is having a hard time to reconnect with his mother after she’s been released from jail and she’s trying to prevent him from making the same mistakes that she did. All of their stories function as a critique to the prison system in the US, which concentrates on punishment rather than rehabilitation. It also shows the complexity of crime and poverty in American cities: there is little help, individualistic views dominate, and people rely heavily on themselves.

Spielberg
Spielberg is a documentary about the rise of one of the most celebrated directors of all times: Steven Spielberg. Naturally, the story narrative starts when Spielberg is still a child and unfolds into the story of Spielberg as the director we know and love by Spielberg explaining when and how he decided to become a director. The documentary shows cuts out of the 30 hours of conversations the documentary makers had with Spielberg. Besides Spielberg himself, the documentary features our favorite Hollywood actors and actresses, directors and more people in the field speaking about Spielberg’s insecurities, successes and the unraveling of his cinematographic style. All of this, ofcourse, accompanied by movie fragments out of all of his successful movies. A must-see for everyone who loves film and film classics!

Ouaga Girls
A feel-good documentary! Ouaga Girls is a documentary that follows a group of girls in the capital city of Burkina Faso who meet at the feminist center to study car mechanics. The documentary shows their dedication, the obstacles they’re facing, the sexist prejudice they have to deal with, their support for one another, but it also shows the normal and girly things they do on a day-to-day basis. They polish their nails, go clubbing, get a new haircut, take care of their children. The documentary tells a beautifully filmed coming-of-age story through a heartwarming class of young feminists who slowly evolve into sisterhood as their education progresses. Meanwhile, they’re trying to cope with everyday adult life in a country full of political change, economical backlog, and prejudice about what a woman should or should not do.

Of course these recommendations aren’t the only thing you should see at IDFA. There are hundreds of other interesting documentaries than the ones highlighted in this article. IDFA is a good opportunity to educate yourself by watching in-depth stories of people around the world. For a closer look at the entire program go to their website and check out the A to Z list of documentaries or go to their YouTube channel and check out some movie trailers. Keep an eye on news websites working together with IDFA for more recommendations as it is nearly impossible to make a small selection of interesting documentaries to watch on your own. There is just way too many to choose from!

Cover: Donald Tong

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Iris Ausems
Iris (22) is a Communications Science student with a preference for political communications and a special interest in media, politics, culture and society. Besides studying and writing, she likes to explore the cultural and culinary in her home country as well as abroad. A big plus about doing that abroad is that she can work on her tan, as she thinks there is no such thing as enough of a tan!

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