Dcument about docu-mania
17th international festival of documentary film — IDFA 2004, Amsterdam, 18-28 November 2004
At the time when Amsterdam International festival of documentary film was founded, new global wave of documentary film was hardly forming. Founded seventeen years ago, the festival gradually developed into an extensive and versatile showroom of world documentarism, important for promotion and selling documentaries. As far as the number of films and visitors are concerned, IDFA sets a new record every year. A new record was set in 2004 too, which was, according to the festival director Ally Derks, ’the year of documentaries’.
In ten days of the festival, IDFA screened over two hundred films in fifteen theaters, sold a record number of hundred and twenty thousand tickets, and hosted over two thousand professionals. Films and their realities exchanged rapidly sorted either in one of the categories in competition (Joris Ivens, Silver Wolf, First Appearance) or in some of the festival’s regular programme sections (for example, Jan Vrijman, Reflecting Images) and retrospectives. Many documentarists, dedicated to revealing some of the world’s phenomena or simply their vision of the world, came to the festivals as anonymous individuals, others as more experienced authors. Despite a great number of titles from the USA, Australia and the Western Europe, particularly Netherlands, western way of life did not succeed in becoming the ’top’ theme of the festival whose complementary funds/forums (Jan Vrijman Fund) encourage and finance independent authors from developing countries, to bear witness of those whom contemporary culturologists often call The Others.
IDFA remains open to all documentary genres, methods and lengths, from ’specific purpose films’ or thematic miniatures features as foreplays to longer films (like, for example the series Cell Stories by Edward Lachman and 26.000 Faces) to feature films. In 2004, we observed a rise of documentarism in Eastern Europe (especially in Romania and Bulgaria), whose thematic potential is as rich as that of most problematic zones of our planet. The war between Russia and Chechnya inspired one of the best works at IDFA, feature length documentary Three melancholy rooms by Finnish author Pirjo Honkasalo, while the position of women in patriarchal countries inspired some of the best documentaries from the Near and Middle East. Latin-American filmmakers (especially from Argentina and Brazil) dealt with economic and political crisis in their countries.