The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) has announced that Laura Poitras will be the Guest of Honor for their upcoming edition. Two curated focus programs, Around Masculinity and Playing Reality, were also announced, in addition to the IDFA DocLab theme of Nervous Systems. The 35th edition of IDFA will take place in person from November 9 to 20, 2022.
Long prolific in the spheres of documentary and journalism, Poitras’ fearless filmmaking has changed the world as we know it.
Her unflinching examination of oppression, representation, and resistance, well-known from her own body of work, finds new affinity in her Top 10 program, in which Poitras curates ten films key to the human condition. The program includes reflections on political imprisonment (Hunger by Steve McQueen; This is Not a Film by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb), incarceration and psychiatry (Frederick Wiseman’s Titicut Follies), and genocide (Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah), among other interventions so influential on Poitras’ own view of the world, and film’s place in it. As part of the Top 10, Poitras will be in conversation with several of her selected filmmakers during the festival’s public talks program.
In the Retrospective section, IDFA presents all seven films directed by Poitras from 2003 to today. Alongside titles that made Poitras a household name, the program includes lesser-screened films such as Risk, the years-in-the-making portrait of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and her first feature Flag Wars, a cinéma vérité film on the gentrification of a working-class African American neighborhood at the hands of wealthy gay men. In celebration of the filmmaker, the festival will hold a public master talk with Poitras and IDFA’s artistic director Orwa Nyrabia in Amsterdam’s historic Pathé Tuschinski cinema.
Poitras most recently won the Golden Lion at this year's Venice International Film Festival for her latest All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, a portrait of iconic American photographer Nan Goldin's relentless battle to get the name of the Sackler family removed from art galleries and cultural institutions around the world, following the disaster their Big Pharma company Perdue caused in the ongoing Opioid crisis. Poitras' 2014 intimate, edge of your seat, film on Edward Snowden titled Citizenfour won an Oscar for Best Documentary as well as several other awards.
This year's IDFA Focus program Around Masculinity is also a must watch.
From the alpha male to toxic masculinity, the focus program interrogates the problematic social construct that is masculinity from a variety of perspectives. The curated section homes in on a blind spot in film history, inviting audiences to take a hard look at their heroes by re-reading classics such as Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams and the Maysles Brothers’ Meet Marlon Brando. Fragility comes to the fore in Heddy Honigmann’s Crazy, as do the inherent paradoxes of masculinity in Pirjo Honkasalo’s The 3 Rooms of Melancholia. Elsewhere in the program, Anand Patwardan’s Father, Son and Holy War takes up the subject through its relation to religion and nationalism, while lesser-seen titles such as Bitch Academy by Alina Rudnitskaya turn to the institutional domination of women by men. The first nine titles in the program have been announced; the remainder will be made public in October.
The other Focus program is called Playing Reality. Bringing the drama of documentary film center stage, the titles in this focus program creatively reimagine the concept of theatricality. Clio Bernard’s The Arbor, on renowned playwright Andrea Dunbar, foregrounds the "performativity" of language and voice. Werner Herzog’s Little Dieter Needs to Fly iconically uses re-enactment as a documentary film instrument, while Lola Arias’ Theatre of War experiments with mise-en-scène as its protagonists revisit memories of the Falklands War. Eduardo Coutinho’s Moscow, on the other hand, deals directly with the physical space of the theater. Playing Reality is the result of a special collaboration between IDFA and Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA), with more details to be announced. The first eight titles in this focus program have been announced; the remainder will be made public in October.
With the theme Nervous Systems, IDFA’s new media section also returns to the heart of Amsterdam for 10 days of in-person digital and XR programming.
This year marks the 35th edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, which will take place from November 9–20 throughout the city. General ticket sale begins on October 31. Accreditations applications for press and industry professionals are now open. Program announcements will follow throughout October.
Check out the festival website here.