Ten documentaries backed by the Fund of which 4 competition entries, are among the 30+ Nordic titles taking part in IDFA’s 30th anniversary celebration (November 15-26).

In their special anniversary edition, Amsterdam’s prestigious festival is sticking more than ever to its mission to bring high quality films offering an ‘alternative to mass entertainment and uniformity’.

Karolina Lidin, Documentary Advisor at Nordisk Film & TV Fond said: “IDFA is always the end-of the-year celebration of the power and beauty of documentaries worldwide – especially this year, honouring all 30 years of Ally Derks at the helm of the festival and our global community. We are proud to contribute to this from our Nordic corner of the world, again this year with an impressive array of cinematic voices & urgent stories, many taking stock of the instability of our world, addressing global conflicts and the rise of discontent from personal and disturbing perspectives. The 30+ films in the festival and 12 projects at the Forum together speak to the infinite creative power of our genre, but more importantly, to the importance of independent voices of documentaries today.”

This year two films backed by the Fund are among 15 titles vying for the VPRO-Best Feature Film:

  • The Deminer directed by Hogir Hirori (The Girl Who Saved my Life) with Shinwar Kamal, is produced by Sweden’s Antonio Russo Merenda (Ginestra Film) who said: “I am very proud that The Deminer is having its world premiere at the leading documentary event of the year, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for the film to have the same luck as my previous film Don Juan which won the award in 2015.” The Deminer is a nerve-wracking portrait of a Kurdish colonel who disarms thousands of roadside bombs and mines only with his courage and a pair of write cutters. 
  • Golden Dawn Girls by Håvard Bustnes (Two Raging Grannies) is produced by Norway’s Faction Films. When members of the Greek neo-nazi party Golden Dawn are imprisoned, accused of leading a criminal organisation, their wives, daughters and mothers step up to lead the ranks and maintain the position as Greece’s fourth largest political party. The film exposes the mindset, values and personalities of three women in the front line.

Two other films backed by the Fund are competing in the First Appearance category: 

  • Stronger than a Bullet by Maryam Ebrahimi (co-director and producer of the International Emmy-award winning No Burqas Behind Bars) is produced by Sweden’s Nima Sarvestani of Nima Films. Ebrahimi follows former war photographer Saeid Sadeghi as he looks back remorsefully at how the heroic photos he took during the Iran-Iraq war were used by the regime as propaganda to lure countless often very young soldiers to their death. 
  • The Distant Barking of Dogs by Simon Lereng Wilmont (The Fencing Champion) is produced by Denmark’s Monica Hellström of Final Cut for Real, in co-production with Finland’s Mouka filmi and Sweden’s STORY. The film focuses on what it’s like to grow up as an 11-year old boy to grow up under the threat of war in a small village in Eastern Ukraine.

Screening at the Panorama section dedicated to thought-provoking films is Aleppo’s Fall directed by Nizam Najar, produced by Henrik Underbjerg and Tore Buvarp for Norway’s Fenris Film with Denmark’s Stray Dog and France’s YUZU Productions. The director travels back to his home town, where a group of civilians defend themselves against their government. The film follows them through the days of hope, via desperation, death, and division – until Aleppo falls and the survivors must flee to Idlib.

Three films backed by the Fund are screening in the Best of Fests, gathering festival highlights of the past year. 

  • Ouaga Girls by Theresa Traore Dahlberg (SE) was nominated for a Dragon Award in Gothenburg, 
  • Land of the Free by Camilla Magid (DK) won Best Nordic Film at CPH:DOX, 
  • Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas by Joakim Demmer screened in Munich and Sheffield among others and was pre-selected for the European Film Awards 2017. 

Finally 18 renowned filmmakers have selected their favourite IDFA films in the Visual Voice programme honouring the festival’s 30th anniversary. The Yes Men selected Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady picked Anders Østergaard‘s Burma VJ-Reporting from a Closed Country while Danish master Jørgen Leth will introduce his own coup de coeur, Santiago by João Moreira Salles and Finland’s documentary queen Pirjo Honkasalo will introduce the Iranian film The House is Black by Forough Farrokhzad. Honkasalo will also take part in the Camera in Focus programme (November 16-21) with her 1996 film Atman, winner of IDFA’s Fest Feature Length Film.

Meanwhile the parallel industry section IDFA Forum (November 20-22) has selected 57 projects from 23 countries for its three-day co-financing and production market, including the following 12 Nordic projects:

  • Aalto-Architect of Emotions by Virpi Suutari (Euphoria Film, FI) 
  • A Comedian in a Syrian Tragedy by Rami Farah (Final Cut for Real,OSOR, DK/Shashat Multimedia, FR) 
  • Confessions of a Dictatorship by Karen Stokkendal Poulsen (Bullit Film, DK) 
  • Family on the Run by Eva Mulvad (Danish Documentary production, DK)
  • Gabi by Engeli Broberg (House of Real, SE) 
  • Hiding Saddam Hussein by Halkawt Mustafa (Stray Dogs Productions, DK/Fenris Film, NO) 
  • Kids on the Silk Road 6-15 by Jens Pedersen (co-directors Simon Wilmont, Kaspar Astrup Schröder (Toolbox Film, DK) 
  • Krogufant by Victor Kossakovsky (Sant & Usant, NO) 
  • Maiden of the Lake by Petteri Saario (Pohojola-filmi, FI) 
  • Scheme Birds by Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin (Sisyfos Film production, SE)
  • The Self Portrait by Katja Høgset, Espen Wallin, Margreth Olin (Speranza, NO)
  • With Love by Magnus Gertten (Auto Images, SE) 

Aalto-Architect of Emotions, Confessions of a Dictatorship and Gabi were backed by the Fund.

Watch out for our IDFA special published on Friday.