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Int'l Doc Film Festival Amsterdam 2009

The 22nd edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)—the biggest documentary festival in the world—runs from November 19 through 29 at Festival Cinemas Pathé Tuschinski, Reguliersbreestraat 34; Pathé de Munt, Vijzelstraat 15; Amsterdam Public Library (OBA), Oosterdokskade 143, Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) in Amsterdam.

The opening film, War Games and the Man Who Stopped Them by Polish director Dariusz Jablonski (1961), tells the story of Ryszard Kuklinski, a Polish colonel who during the Cold War passed on more than forty thousand strategic documents concerning the Warsaw Pact to the American CIA.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, five Russian documentaries that were screened during the first edition of IDFA in 1988 as part of its Glasnost program will be included in the Perestroika – 20 Years Ago program.

More than 300 documentaries will be screened in various (competition) programs. To complement the film program, IDFA is also organizing daily talk shows, debates and master classes that include guests such as Frederick Wiseman, Eyal Sivan and Ira Glass.

This edition also sees the first IDFA Lecture, given on this occasion by the English filmmaker Julien Temple. The nominations will be announced in the Talk of the Day on Wednesday, November 25. The award ceremony will take place on Friday, November 27, in Pathé Tuschinski 1.

Other programs include Reflecting Images: Best of Fests, with 31 documentaries that made an impact at international film festivals over the course of the past year. Reflecting Images: Masters explores the work of documentary filmmakers. This year, new films by Michael Moore, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, Yoav Shamir, Michael Winterbottom and Frederick Wiseman will be among those screened. Reflecting Images: Panorama comprises 58 urgent, socially engaged documentaries.

Paradocs will feature daring experimental films at the interface of documentary and art. The 23 innovative films and videos in this program tell their stories in unconventional ways. The theme of Paradocs Talks will be The Making Of. Various filmmakers will provide insights into their working methodology in their own unique way. Participants include William Raban (4’22’’) and Jeanette Groenendaal (work-in-progress performance)

The Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan compiled this year’s Top 10. The most important themes in his selection for the Top 10 are the functioning of collective memory, ethics and the representation of history. These subjects are also central to Sivan’s own work. In addition to his Top 10 films, IDFA will also be screening his latest, Jaffa, The Orange Clockwork.

In honour of his 80th birthday, IDFA pays considerable attention to the work of Frederick Wiseman. Wiseman has directed and produced dozens of documentaries that explore social relationships in various American institutions. In addition to a retrospective of his work that he compiled himself, IDFA will also screen his latest film La danse – The Paris Opera Ballet.

All the films that won the Audience Award during the past ten years will be screened again this year in the Keuze van de Kijker (Viewers Choice). The public will also have the opportunity to evaluate recent films from this year’s program.

A jury comprising five youngsters will select the best film from the DOC U! program, which were shortlisted from the IDFA program by youngsters. The DOC U! jury consists of youngsters aged from 15 to 18 years old, who will confer the IDFA DOC U! Award.

Frederick Wiseman and actress Catherine Samie will participate in a special theatrical event based on Happy Days, a play by Samuel Beckett. This event will combine live performance, lectures, film fragments and a discussion about Wiseman’s version of the play, which he produced for the Comédie Française in the Théatre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris.

This year, IDFA is paying particular attention to the theme Niet Normaal (Abnormal) in a special program in collaboration with the art event to begin on December 16, 2009 in the Beurs van Berlage. In it, international artists respond to a topical social issue: what is normal and who decides? The IDFA program includes 11 recent documentaries about people who, for various reasons, do not lead a normal life. The program also explores the ethical boundaries of the desire to be normal.

De Open Stad is also a theme of the festival program. Each of the documentaries in this program is located in a large city, such as Peking, Mumbai and Bogota, which are dealing with the various problems and challenges arising from global urbanisation.

Each year, IDFA’s Doc Lab presents a program that explores the relationship between new media and documentaries. The festival will include a selection of films and web-documentaries, installations, live presentations and meetings, taking place at participating cinemas and elsewhere. This year’s theme is Live Stories. These are documentaries whose narrative is not entirely pre-determined and the maker continues to exert influence over the outcome of the story during its presentation.

Doc Lab’s special guest this year is Ira Glass, the radio producer. The radio version of his documentary program This American Life (there is also a television version) draws more 1.8 million listeners each week and has won almost every non-fiction prize in existence since it started in 1995. The bizarre, moving and superb documentary stories that Glass presents during his weekly radio show have already inspired a dozen feature films (the most recent being The Informant, with Matt Damon). During his afternoon lecture, Glass will explain how he brings a story to life on the radio and how, using the correct techniques, a minor anecdote can be transformed into a grand and engaging documentary story. For a complete overview of all Doc Lab’s activities, locations and projects, see:

The productions screened in the Workshop Results program came about thanks to the IDFA Documentary Workshop. This year the program comprises four documentaries.

IDFA TV is IDFA’s online documentary channel. Visitors to the IDFA website ( can view around 40 complete documentaries from the festival archive, free of charge. They include Hair India and Necrobusiness (the films that feature in this year’s IDFA commercials). There is also a selection of the best films made in the past with grants from the Jan Vrijman Fund, IDFA’s fund for filmmakers in developing countries. Furthermore, visitors to IDFA TV can view video reportages, trailers, IDFA commercials and complete recordings of IDFA events, all year round. The number of complete films available online will increase significantly in coming years.

Other programs include:

Educational programs for students, in which special early-morning screenings will be held for schools.

IDFA’s Documentary Workshop, an annual event organized in cooperation with the Dutch Cultural Media Fund. The goal is to create a film treatment for a 50-minute documentary which will be produce/co-produced and broadcast by one of the Netherlands’ public broadcasting services.

IDFAcademy, a carefully compiled training program for film students and promising young filmmakers from all over the world.

Each year, IDFA organises the FORUM, an international co-financing market where independent producers pitch documentary projects to international broadcasting corporations such as the BBC, ARTE, ZDF, Al Jazeera and ITUS, as well as all public broadcasting services in the Netherlands. This year, 42 projects have been selected from 27 different countries. The FORUM will be held from November 23 to 25 in the Compagnie Theatre, Amsterdam.

IDFA has grown from an institution organising an annual film festival into a platform involved in screening, making and discussing creative documentaries. Together, IDFA, Docs for Sale, the FORUM and the Jan Vrijman Fund form a centre for documentary film that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. These four organisations attract more than 2000 representatives from the international field to Amsterdam.

For more information, visit

Italian Neorealism

The Film Society of Lincoln Center presents Life Lessons: Italian Neorealism and the Birth of Modern Cinema -- the biggest collection of Italian Neorealist films ever screened in the United States. Running from October 30 through November 25, 2009, the series spans the range from early films by Italy’s household-name directors--Antonioni, De Sica, Fellini, Pasolini, Rossellini and Visconti--to those less popularly well-known, including Alberto Lattuada, Carlo Lizzani, Ermanno Olmi and Luigi Zampa.

To be viewed at the Walter Reade Theater, the series kicks off with Roberto Rossellini’s Open City, the film that has come to be regarded as the movie that launched the movement. Also to be seen in the series are Rossellini’s Paisán and his rarely seen Voyage to Italy.

Two virtual mini-retros are included for Vittorio De Sica and Giuseppe De Santis. De Sica’s films are Bicycle Thieves, Miracle in Milan, Umberto D, and Shoeshine, the first foreign language film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

De Santis’ screenings are Bitter Rice, Rome 11:00, The Tragic Pursuit, and Days of Glory, the 1945 documentary film with sequences by Mario Serandrei, Marcello Pagliero and Luchino Visconti.

Also included is Visconti’s Ossessione, his unauthorized adaptation of James M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, which was not seen in the U.S. until the 1976 New York Film Festival.

Two earlier works by directors who are as famous for inspiring several generations of filmmakers worldwide as they are for their own landmark films are I vitelloni, by Federico Fellini, and Il grido, by Michelangelo Antonioni.

This is a series that is not to be missed by any serious film aficionado.

For more information, visit

NYC Downtown Short Film Festival

The Sixth Annual NYC Downtown Short Film Festival is presenting its Audience Choice Screenings Dec. 2nd-4th, 2009, in which ordinary filmgoers help determine the films that will make it into the April festival.

Being held at the DUO Theatre in Manhattan's East Village, The Audience Choice Screenings came about after the festival had more than 1,000 films submitted last year.

In today's attention-deficient world of YouTube, instant messages, and blog posts, the short film has never been more relevant. The same can be said for the NYCDSFF, which attracts more submissions and a larger audience every year.The $10 screenings, start each evening at 8 p.m. and last approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes. The audience will watch four to five short films. Afterward, a ballot is given to rate each film, and those rated the highest will earn a spot at the NYCDSFF.

The films to be featured include some of the best that have been produced internationally as well as the work of established American actors and directors. Those being showcased include Jesse L. Martin, Eric Roberts, Shelly Long, Linda Hunt, Jose Rivera, Ana Ortiz, Mark Margolis, Neil Flynn, G. Gordon Liddy, Blanche Baker, Eddie Murphy, Dan Butler, Robert Guthrie, Emily Deschanel, Melissa Joan Hart, Gary Marshall, Tony Tanner and Nick Tate, among others.

Seating is general admission, and tickets can be purchased at or by calling 212-868-4444.

If available, tickets will be sold for $15 at the box office.

DUO Theatre
62 East 4th Street New York City
Dec. 2 to Dec. 4, 2009

For more information, including the screening schedule, check out:

Think Kink: San Fran Hosts CineKink Film Fest Tour

Following its February premiere in New York City, the CineKink NYC Festival heads to the city The Auteur (2008) CineKink NYC 2009by the sea, San Francisco, for  a weekend of what it calls "sex-positive and kink-friendly depictions in film and television", at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street (at Third).

With "offerings drawn from both Hollywood and beyond, with works ranging from documentary to drama, camp comedy to hot porn, mildly spicy to quite explicit," the fest (running from Nov. 19-21) to opens with A. Benjamin's 46-minute documentary Kinky (Nov. 19th, 7 p.m.), about African-American race and sexuality issues in the world of bondage, fetish and BDSM. Screening with it is the documentary short BDSM: It's. Not What You Think.

At 9 p.m., the festival screens the shorts program Whips & Restraint, featuring the pieces Gravuren Desade, Butler in the Closet, 20 Licks, Valley of the Dommes, Serving Madame Gina and Kink, Inc.

Night two opens at 7 p.m. with the shorts program Lipsticks & Crinoline, featuring Miss Jezebel's Feathers, Dorian: A Picture, Pritch and Panch Do... The Cinderfella Experience at Miss Vera's Finishing School and The Tour De Pants. At 9 p.m. is a companion shorts program, "Wanton Female Desire," with the films Teat Beat of Sex: 8-11, My Favorite Time of the Day, Barcelona Sex Project: Irina, Case 1112: Forty Is the New 14, Strap On Motel and Matinee.

On Saturday night at 7 p.m. is James Westby's 2008 comedy feature The Auteur (above), winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature. A mockumentary set in the world of adult film, it follows a renowned porn director who has arrived in Portland, Ore., to receive a Lifetime Achievement award at a film festival. Screening with it is the darkly comic short Je Dis Non, Ali.

Closing out the festival at 8 p.m. is Best of CineKink/2009 Shorts Sampler. The program includes At the Porno Shop, Teat Beat of Sex: 8-11, Un Piede di Roman Polanski, Erotic, Belle de Nature, Rubberheart and Kink, Inc.

CineKink 2010's final Call for Entries is December 4th and the next CineKink NYC, the annual festival, takes place
from February 16-21, 2010 in New York City.

More info/tickets:

CineKink Festival
from Nov. 19-21
The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street (at Third)
San Francisco, CA


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