The International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) is the world’s largest documentary film festival. Despite the closure of theatres in the Netherlands for the early part of November, there will be a mix of in-person and virtual screenings this year; with the industry program taking place entirely online. The festival takes place between 18 November and 6 December and online content is region-locked. This year the festival boasts a mammoth selection of hundreds of shorts, features and VR.

Some of the highlights include:

The Magnitude of All Things

When Jennifer Abbott lost her sister to cancer, her sorrow opened her up to the profound gravity of climate breakdown. In The Magnitude of All Things, stories from the frontlines of climate change merge with recollections from the filmmaker’s childhood on Ontario’s Georgian Bay. What do these stories have in common? The answer, surprisingly, is everything.

MLK/FBI

MLK/FBI is the first film to uncover the extent of the FBI’s surveillance & harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr. – directed by Emmy Award winner Sam Pollard.

Gunda

Gunda is a film about the intelligence, emotions, and sensibility of animals which we have been living close to for thousands of years and mainly considered as our food. The film will show how animals have thinking without language, the capacity to anticipate, the power of insight and decision. And therefore their own destiny.

Nothing but the Sun

Facing the consequences of a violent uprooting, Mateo Sobode Chiqueno has been recording stories, songs and testimonies of his Ayoreo people since the seventies. In an attempt to preserve fragments of a disappearing culture, Mateo walks across communities in the arid and desolate Paraguayan Chaco region, and registers on cassettes the experiences of other Ayoreo who, like him, were born in the vast forest, free and nomadic, without any contact with white civilization, until religious missionaries forced them to abandon their ancestral territory, their means of subsistence, their beliefs, and their home.

Once Upon a Time in Venezuela

Once upon a time, the Venezuelan village of Congo Mirador, floating on stilts just inches above the deep Lake Maracaibo, was prosperous, alive with fishermen and poets. In recent years, it has decayed and disintegrated, rotting beneath pollution and neglect—a small but prophetic reflection of Venezuela itself.

Red Moon Tide

Time seems to stand still in a village in the Galician coast. Everybody there is paralysed although we can still hear their voices: they talk about ghosts, about witches, about monsters. Three women show up, they are trying to find Rubio, a sailor that has recently disappeared in the sea.

City Hall

City government touches almost every aspect of our lives. Most of us are unaware of or take for granted these necessary services such as police, fire, sanitation, veterans affairs, elder support, parks, licensing of various professional activities, record keeping of birth, marriage and death as well as hundreds of other activities that support Boston residents and visitors. City Hall, by Frederick Wiseman, shows the efforts by Boston city government to provide these services.

Bosco

Bosco is an Italian village of 13 inhabitants surrounded by chestnut trees that devour it day after day. Its forestial origin imposes itself also as its destiny. An ocean apart, in Uruguay, from his swivel chair Orlando, with 103 years, pushes us on a journey that becomes a fable. Between Bosco and Salto, between imagination and memory, a dialogue is built, giving birth to landscapes that exist beyond time and reality. Filmed over 13 years, Bosco explores what remains when everything seems bound to disappear.

The Mole Agent

Sergio, a dapper and sprightly 83-year-old widower, infiltrates a care-home as a secret agent to investigate claims from a family that their mother is being mistreated. Once inside the home, with his cover established, Sergio soon becomes enmeshed in the daily routine of the care-home and struggles with his original assignment as he becomes involved in the lives of several fellow residents. 

Radiograph of a Family

I am the product of Iran’s struggle between secularism and the Islamic ideology. My parents’ love story takes us from the Shah era to the Islamic Revolution and the hardships during the Iran-Iraq War, up to the present day – all in our home in Tehran. In my childhood, I was constantly forced to choose between my parents; every day, I endured imposition from one side and acceptance from the other.

To find out more details, visit the IDFA website.