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                                                                      THE INTERNATIONAL VOICE OF IDFA, NO. 4         TIO

                                                                      MONDAY                                                                                                               23 nov 09

                                                      PAGE 3                                                       PAGE 5                                                       PAGE 7
                                                      Eyal Sivan                                                   Bananas!* beats law suit                                     Space Tourists
                                                      Wide Management spreads out                                  Cities on Speed                                              Blood Relation
                                                      ITVS International Call                                      Docs for Sale Top 10                                         Earth Keepers

                                 IDFA Daily: Mark Baker, Nick Cunningham, Melanie Goodfellow, Geoffrey Macnab. Mail:

IDFA’s annual co-financing market, the FORUM, kicks off on Monday with 43 projects due                          selection includes Cairo-based Ismail Mokadem’s
to be scrutinized by the industry, tackling subjects as diverse as the British fashion designer                 Pop Goes Islam, about the world’s first Islamic
Vivienne Westwood, pop and heavy metal music in the Muslim world, the aftermath of the                          pop channel 4shbab, Soweto filmmaker Dumis-
earthquake in the Italian region of Abruzzi and India’s new obsession with beauty pageants.                     ani Phakathi’s To Marry My Mother, which has
                                                                                                                already secured the backing of the BBC’s Nick
By Melanie Goodfellow                                   good ratings. With this in mind, we’ve really           Fraser, and Israeli Sagi Borenshtein’s Kafkaesque
                                                        being emphasizing the fact in our guidelines and        Story, following the search for lost letters and
“We try to have a variety of topics. This year,         online that we’re interested in series.” Series being   manuscripts of writer Franz Kafka. Another 15
perhaps, there is more contemporary stuff than          pitched at the FORUM include Ukrainian direc-           projects – seven of them Seedling Projects in the
in past years”, says Industry Office head Adriek        tor Sergey Bukovsky’s six-part examination of the       early stages of development, and eight Rough
van Nieuwenhuyzen, who oversees the event.              collapse of the Soviet Union, Farewell Comrades!,       Cut Projects on the verge of completion – will
“Although we’re looking for variety, in terms of        which will span Leonid Brehznev’s second term           be discussed at more intimate round-table ses-
content and style, quality is also important.” Van      as Soviet president, from the mid-1970s to the          sions in the afternoon. In addition, for the first
Nieuwenhuyzen notes attendance and submis-              Soviet Union’s final years in the early 1990s.          time, the FORUM also welcomes eight projects
sions to the FORUM have remained steady,                                                                        recently presented at other pitching events. “We
although there are signs projects are taking            Important fIxture                                       have eight projects which won’t be pitched. We’re
longer to get green-lit financially. “Projects seem     In spite of the drop in available finance, Van          calling them observer projects. We invited the
to be taking longer to get off the ground”, she         Nieuwenhuyzen insists that the FORUM                    producers and directors and set up meetings for
says. “We see a lot of projects which have been         remains a valid event, both in terms of concrete        them. They’re great projects and the selection
around for a year, 18 months, perhaps even              finance and networking. “Someone said to me             committee is really enthusiastic about them”,
pitched at other festivals a couple of years back.      yesterday that they would still rather come to          Van Nieuwenhuyzen says.
Sometimes it’s because the projects don’t have          the FORUM to listen to the pitches, to see how          She is also keen to the note the inclusion of three    Adriek van Nieuwenhuyzen    photo: Bram Belloni
international appeal, but I think it’s also a sign      the directors and producers present themselves          projects with a strong cross-media component,
that there is less money – it’s hard at the moment      and their visual material than sift through a pile      including Prison Valley, about Fremont Valley in      characters in the valley through web chats and
to find finance. The FORUM has traditionally            of projects on their desk. The FORUM remains            Colorado which is home to 14 separate prisons         forums. Cross-media finance will be the topic of
been aimed at one-off documentaries, but what           an important fixture for networking and finding         and some 7,500 inmates. The project, brain-           a panel discussion on Monday afternoon, featur-
we’re also seeing is that channels are increasingly     great projects.”                                        child of producer Alexandre Bachet,         ing speakers ARTE France’s Joel Ronez and the
interested in series rather than one-offs. They see     This year, 27 projects feature will be pitched in       who attended the FORUM last year with                 National Film Board of Canada’s Michelle van
it as a format that is more marketable and gives        the morning Central Pitches sessions. Monday’s          Gaza-Sderot, features interaction with eight key      Beuesekom.

   A discussion with the great controversial
   Israeli filmmaker about his creative process,
                                                        ICINg ON ThE CAkE
                                                        Renowned American filmmakers Chris He-                                                                        “He invented photography! The first time I
   his critics, his IDFA retrospective and his
                                                        gedus and D.A. Pennebaker are in Amster-                                                                      ever saw a Vermeer picture, I didn’t know he
   Top 10 choices. Host: Peter Wintonick.
   Escape Club | 10:30-12:30 | ticket purchase          dam this week for the international premiere                                                                  lived in the 1600s. Looking through a lens
   required                                             of Kings of Pastry, a film about 16 French                                                                    affects the nature of the picture in the way that
                                                        pastry chefs competing for the ‘Collar’: the                                                                  the eye doesn’t. You see it differently. Most
   MIDDLE EAST DEBATE                                   ultimate prize for those who specialize in                                                                    people don’t realize that… his pictures have
   Immediately following the Eyal Sivan                 making elaborate, multi-layered cakes and                                                                     that quality. I found out by studying that he
   Master Class, filmmakers and the public              sugar sculptures.                                                                                             did have a lens and that his friend was making
   will debate issues of indoctrination, in-                                                                                                                          these photographic boxes. That was why he was
   formation and ideology. Speakers include             By Geoffrey Macnab                                                                                            able to draw circles of confusion and things out
   Eyal Sivan (Jaffa, the Orange’s Clockwork),                                                                                                                        of focus.”
                                                        Pennebaker likens the pastry chefs’ level of              Hegedus & Pennebaker       photo: Felix Kalkman
   Yoav Shamir (Defamation) & Alberto Arce
   (To Shoot an Elephant). Escape Club | 13:30-         dedication to that of physicists, ballet dancers,                                                             DIrect cInema
   15:30 | Free admission                               violinists… or filmmakers like himself and              internationally by Jane Balfour), which was           In 2004, when there was a gathering of the
                                                        Hegedus. “That’s all they do in their lives…            shown at the Sheffield Doc Fest earlier this          key figures from US ‘Direct Cinema’ at IDFA,
   TALK OF THE DAY                                      and all we do in our lives is film. We have a           month prior to its international premiere at          Pennebaker was an absentee. But he still feels
   The live broadcast VPRO IDFA Report                  dog and a cat and children but basically, that’s        IDFA. So how did Pennebaker and Hegedus               close to Leacock, Maysles, Wiseman, et al., and
   with Jaffa, The Orange’s Clockwork, Double           all we think about – how to make a film and             manage to get the film into three rival events?       argues that their contribution is likely to be
   Take and Videocracy, then at 20.20 the               how to go some place new with a film.”                  “Usually, you have to lie about it!” Pennebaker       even more highly valued in the future. Their
   IDFA talk show featuring Japanse inven-              The ‘Collar’ competition is rigorous in the             jokes of the politicking required to secure           work has been done “in repose and careful
   tor Dr. Nakamats and directors Viola                 extreme. “They look in the chefs’ garbage.              festival berths. In Berlin, Kings of Pastry will be   articulation. Nothing was allowed to jumble it
   Ayala and Daniel Fallshow on the many                They check every aspect of what they do. They           programmed in a special sidebar dedicated to          up because of monentary fervour or fashion”,
   difficulties they came across making their           judge by artistic beauty and by taste”, Hegedus         ‘cuisine cinema’.                                     Pennebaker says, likening their films to “a kind
   first film, Stolen. Plus must-see documen-           explains. “They taste it [the pastry] the way                                                                 of literature… we’re going to look back on it to
   tary tips, the Mid-length and Short juries           they taste wine or something. It goes through           Vermeer                                               find out our history... you want it [documen-
   and a passionate speech from speaker’s               their mouth in a way I’ve never watched people          Here in Amsterdam, the filmmakers will be             tary] to be able to sustain itself through time
   corner.                                              eat before.”                                            taking time out to visit the local museums.           and build and be there 50 years from now. I
   Escape Club | 19:45-21:15 (doors open at             Kings of Pastry is now Berlin-bound. The                Pennebaker is a devoted admirer of Vermeer            think that documentary film has acquired that
   19:30) | Free admission                              screening at the Berlinale next February will           and argues that there is still plenty for doc         quality because of what Fred and Ricky and Al
                                                        complete an unusual hat-trick for the doc (sold         makers to learn from the old Dutch master.            have done. It’s great....”

                                                                                                                                                                                                           IDFA – 1
                                                                                                       ITVS REACHES OUT

  Eyal Sivan                                                             photo: Tobias Davidson                                                                     Last Tightrope Dancer In Armenia

                                                                                                       Claire Aguilar, Vice-President of Program-         classroom in China where they do an experi-

                                                                                                       ming at the US Independent Television              ment in democracy, to Iron Ladies of Liberia
                                                                                                       Service (ITVS) is attending IDFA 2009              [Daniel Junge, Siatta Scott Johnson, 2007]
                                                                                                       both to represent five of the service’s films in   about the first female president of Liberia.”
                                                                                                       official selection and to put out the call for     Aguilar also emphasised the importance of
Paris-based, Israeli director Eyal Sivan, who is being feted by IDFA this year with a retrospec-       funding to international filmmakers ahead          attending IDFA in person “It is very im-
tive of his work as well as the screening of ten documentaries selected by him, is a filmmaker         of her February deadline.                          portant to reach out to all the forums and
who has never shied away from controversy.                                                                                                                co-production pitching platforms like at IDFA
                                                                                                       By Nick Cunningham                                 and Hotdocs,” she continued. “This is where
By Melanie Goodfellow                              left for Argentina. It was a breaking point of                                                         we have found more than half of our [interna-
                                                   the canonical representation of Eichmann,”          The ITVS International Call enables produc-        tional] projects.”
“I bring to the table those things that people     says Sivan.                                         ers from outside the United States to create       Of the five ITVS projects at IDFA, four
don’t want to talk about. I feel like the boy in   More recently, Route 181, which he shot with        docs for US broadcast. Funding emphasis is         came through the Call. These are the Swedish
the Dogma film Festen who wants to discuss         Palestinian filmmaker Michel Khleifi, was           placed on films in the production or post-         Bananas!* (Fredrik Gertten), a co-production
the family secrets no one wants to talk about”,    banned in France after a group of filmmakers,       production phase. Aguilar confirmed yesterday      with WG Films, SVT, ARTE/ZDF and
says Sivan. Just about every film Sivan has        politicians and philosophers claimed it would       that she is looking to invest in 8-10 projects     VPRO, Cowboys In India (UK, Simon Cham-
made in his 25-year career has prompted            incite anti-Semitism. His latest film Jaffa, the    with a single-project maximum spend of             bers), co-produced with Channel 4, Last Train
outrage in his native Israel and sometimes         Orange’s Clockwork, prompted protest before         US$150,000. She has a (international) total        Home (China/Canada, Lixin Fan) a co-pro
abroad. The Specialist, based on footage of the    it was even made after it came to light he          budget of approximately US$1 million at her        with EyeSteel Films, the Sundance Documen-
1961 trial of war criminal Adolf Eichmann          was to receive funding from a key Israeli film      disposal. ITVS will host tonight’s Guest Meets     tary Fund, TV5, Super Channel and Channel
and taking inspiration from Hannah Arendt’s        fund. The finance was withdrawn. But beyond         Guests reception at the Escape Club.               4, and The Last Tightrope Dancer In Armenia
Eichmann in Jerusalem, a Report on the             his filmmaking, Sivan says he also rankles          “We aim to look at the world in other ways         (Arman Yeritsyan, Inna Sahakyan), co-
Banality of Evil, shocked for his portrayal of     because he is politically, as well as cinemati-     that aren’t mediated by news,” she told the        produced with NHK, SVT , TVP , Estonian
Eichmann as an ordinary man, even prompt-          cally, committed. Throughout his career, he         IDFA Daily. “Creative documentary was what         Television and YLE.
ing claims from the Spielberg Archive that he      has signed petitions and spoken out against         we had in mind when we started to do this.         The US project The Most Dangerous Man in
had fabricated some of the material.               the Israeli occupations.                            It has proved to be really successful and has      America (Judith Ehrlich, Ron Goldsmith),
“I didn’t want to make another film in the         “Many Israeli filmmakers think it is enough         made a major impact on American audiences          screening in IDFA Long-feature Competition
genre of holocaust films; I wanted to make a       to show what is going on; I think you have to       with everything from the Chinese film Please       is a co-pro with Arte/ZDF. The film received
political essay about the issue of responsibil-    be politically committed too”, says Sivan. The      Vote for Me [Weijun Chen, 2007], about a           ITVS funding to th e tune of $350,000.
ity and obedience. I wanted to deviate the         filmmaker says he first became interested in
archives from their original goal. This is what    filmmaking as a teenager. “As an adolescent,
I have done throughout my career”, says            I was into photography. I was obsessed. I was
Sivan. “The response to the film was incred-       spent my time walking round Jerusalem with
ible. It opened in the Official Selection at       a stills camera”, recalls Sivan. “I was chosen at
the Berlin Film Festival. It was a shock for       the time by Israeli TV – at that time there was
the spectators, and a political shock. It was      one channel reporting in black and white – as
a symbolic shock. It was Iike Eichmann had         a reporter for a news programme aimed at
come back to Berlin. Some 54 years after he        teenagers,” says Sivan.

French sales outfit Wide Management is to          The Belgrade Phantom was directed by Jovan
open a dedicated documentary arm. Wide             Todorovic and produced by Bogdan Petkovic
House, as the new outfit will be called, is        for Emote Productions. Daxar Multimedia
likely to be launched in time for Hot Docs         Ltd has bought the film for the Middle East.
next year. Anais Clanet, Head of Sales at          On the eve of IDFA, Wide added two new
Wide Management, will head the specialist          docs to its sales slate: Mine, My Life Behind The
doc outfit.                                        Scenes is a documentary by Valrie Minetto. The
                                                   film offers a portrait of Mine Barral Vergez,
Founded in 1997, Wide Management has long          who has been making costumes for 40 years
been active in handling feature docs. Here         for such famous outfits as the Moulin Rouge
at IDFA, the company is representing The           and the Comedie-Francaise. She also designed
Belgrade Phantom, an international premiere in     costumes for singer Juliette Greco. All rights
Reflecting Images: Panorama. The film is about     are available outside France.
                                                                                                                                                                                photo: Felix Kalkman
a young rebellious outsider in late 1970s Yugo-    Also new on Wide’s slate is Open-Sky, a feature
slavia who annoys President Tito by joyriding      doc by Ines Compan. This is a production
around the city at night. While the Yugoslavian    from Mosaique Films and Le Hamac Rouge.                “Twenty years is not so long in the history of Persia”, said Iranian-Canadian journal-
president unleashes his police force, the young    Set in Argentina, it is about the Kollas natives       ist, filmmaker and IDFA stalwart Maziar Bahari in a discussion with IDFA head Ally
man always stays one step ahead. The project       and the problems they face when a Canadian             Derks yesterday in the Escape Studio, referring to the amount of time he may have to
has been called a Balkan equivalent to Mesrine     company opens an open-sky silver mine in               spend away from Iran. He also called for a boycott of state-sponsored Iranian films.
by some critics.                                   their backyard. GM

                                                                                                                                                                                            IDFA – 3
Yes, we hAve no BAnAnAs!*
There aren’t many filmmakers at IDFA                 LA was an act of defiance. This was where Dole
who’ve been the target of a multi-million            Food was based. In effect, they were playing
dollar law suit because of their latest docu-        their doc in the heart of enemy territory. How-
mentary, or who’ve faced down a huge multi-          ever, the US media seemed to buy Dole’s ac-
national corporation with the assistance of          count and to accept that Bananas!* was flawed
their national parliament. This is what hap-         and defamatory. “None of the newspapers
pened to Swedish director Fredrik Gertten,           managed to turn the story around. To do that,
however, when his film Bananas!* (screening          you need to do a lot of investigative journalism
in Reflecting Images: Panorama) was chosen           and these newspapers don’t have money for
for the LA Film Festival last summer.                that any more. I think documentaries today –
                                                     we are now the ones who do these investigative
By Geoffrey Macnab                                   jobs and do the stories that can turn the debate
                                                     around; but when the shit hits the fan, we
Bananas!* tells the story of a campaigning           don’t really have the support of other journal-
lawyer who represents 12 workers at a Nica-          ists,” the director suggests.
raguan banana plantation in a lawsuit against        In Europe, Bananas!* soon became a cause cé-
their employers, Dole Food. They alleged that        lèbre. Local media covered the story in depth:
Dole had caused their infertility through the        Swedish hamburger chain Max said it would
use of a banned pesticide. The documentary           stop selling Dole fruit. Other Dole clients
was selected for competition in LA. However,         also expressed misgivings about the giant food
once Dole’s lawyers started writing “cease and       company flexing its muscles against the docu-
desist” letters to the festival, its sponsors, the   mentary maker. At the beginning of October,
filmmakers and even to the Swedish ambas-            Bananas!* was screened in the Swedish Parlia-
sador in Washington, the LA slot came under          ment. A petition was launched among Swedish
threat. In the end, the Festival withdrew the        politicians, calling on Dole to withdraw its
film from competition. The doc was shown as a        lawsuit. The major food chains in Sweden were       should have the right to do a film on a global          Gertten has been filming his experiences. After
“case study” with a disclaimer from the festival     invited to a lunch at the Parliament. There         corporation and that the corporation has to             IDFA, he will decide whether he has enough
organizers, saying that it did not present a fair    was a real threat of a major boycott of Dole        accept that this is part of the game.” In mid-          material for a documentary. Maybe, then, in a
and accurate account. “For us, we felt totally       products in Sweden and possibly beyond. “You        October, Dole withdrew its lawsuit. Under-              roundabout way, Dole might have done him a
betrayed,” Gertten says of how Bananas!* was         know, in a Swedish (food) shop, the turnover        standably, after his long and grueling (and very        favour after all.
treated by the LA Film Festival and by some          is 1% bananas,” Gertten explains of the enor-       expensive) legal battle, Gertten’s own attitude
of his fellow filmmakers in LA, who seemingly        mous profits that bananas generate and that         toward bananas is ambivalent. In fact, he can           Bananas!*
accepted Dole’s charges against the documen-         the lawsuit was putting at risk.                    hardly bring himself even to eat the fruit. As          Fredrik Gertten
tary. “They [the Festival] tried in many ways to     The press and respected politicians left and        for the rest of us, his advice is clear: stick to
provoke us to pull the film ourselves, but we        right insisted that this was a freedom of speech    Fair Trade bananas.                                     Munt 09; Mon 23-11, 22:00
refused”, he says.                                   issue. They contended – as Gertten puts it –        One up-side of his vexatious legal battle is            Tuschinski 2; Thu 26-11, 14:15
For Gertten and his team, screening the film in      that “in a global society, a Swedish filmmaker      that it might form the basis for a new project:         OBA; Sat 28-11, 17:00

MegAcItY Four
Cities On Speed, the series of 4 Danish-made docs about               growth of “megacities” that the world is currently experiencing. It   film “a comedy about infrastructure” – insists that the film is not
megacities shot in Bogota, Cairo, Mumbai and Shanghai, is             is calculated that by 2030, 8o% of the world’s population will live   intended as a grim piece of environmental agit-prop. Once she
to receive a special screening at the United Nations Cli-             in urban areas.                                                       and her collaborators had identified the main issues they would
mate Change Conference in Copenhagen next month. The                  Right from the outset, the plan behind the films (also backed by      be highlighting, they looked for characters whose stories reflected
Conference is being billed as a crucial event as rich and poor        the Sundance Channel and NHK, among others) has been to               the day-to-day problems of citizens in a city where 13 people die
countries attempt to hammer out a new global treaty on                use screenings to generate discussion about urban planning and        every day on public transport. Dalsgaard’s Bogota Change tells the
climate change.                                                       sustainable development. “The question was whether urban plan-        story of two mayors with very different visions and personalities,
                                                                      ning can be administered as in the good old days from an office…      who have managed to transform Bogota, which used to be seen
By Geoffrey Macnab                                                    or whether these megacities are growing so fast that it is actually   as a city coming apart at the seams. “The other three films tend
                                                                      more at a grassroots level that the cities are developing”, Camilla   to look at problems and how things get stuck in the maze of bu-
The four 58-minute Cities On Speed films received their world         Nielsson says of a key issue the project set out to explore.          reacucracy and corruption, whereas the film from Bogota actually
premiere at CPH DOX earlier this month and have already               “Usually, when we look at cities in the Third World, we tend to       looks at solutions.”
been stoking fierce debate in Denmark. Two of the films, Bogota       make portraits of victims and of victimized people. The aim of        The filmmakers on Cities On Speed (who also include Mikala
Change by Andreas Dalsgaard and Mumbai Disconnected by                this series was different”, Andreas Dalsgaard explains the perspec-   Krogh, director of Cairo Garbage, and Nanna Frank Moller,
Camilla Nielsson and Frederik Jacobi, are screening at IDFA this      tive the doc-makers take.                                             director of Shanghai Space) were working many miles apart. Each
week.                                                                 Mumbai Disconnected is a portrait of deeply dysfunctional city,       of their projects was very different. Nonetheless, the filmmakers
The Cities On Speed project was hatched by the Danish Film            suffering from severe pollution and with its transport system         had an obvious camaraderie. “These films have been made very
Institute and broadcaster DR to highlight the uncontrolled            in near meltdown. Nonetheless, Nielsson – who has called the          quickly. They were made in less than a year, most of them”, says
                                                                                                                                            Nielsson. “I think we have been sharing frustrations and joys.”
                                                                                                                                            The four Cities On Speed docs will be travelling hand-in-hand on
                                                                                                                                            their journey through the festival circuit and into international
                                                                                                                                            distribution. As Nielsson puts it: “part of the idea of making a
                                                                                                                                            series is that you can combine four distribution budgets and make
                                                                                                                                            a much bigger splash than if you made one independent film
                                                                                                                                            about a megacity.”

                                                                                                                                               As of 4 pm yesterday, the Top 10 most-viewed titles at
                                                                                                                                               Docs for Sale were:

                                                                                                                                               The Edge of Dreaming .......................................34 views
                                                                                                                                               Beauty Refugee...................................................33 views
                                                                                                                                               Space Tourists .....................................................33 views
                                                                                                                                               Act of God .........................................................31 views
                                                                                                                                               Eyes Wide Open – A Journey through
                                                                                                                                               Today’s South America .......................................29 views
                                                                                                                                               The Miscreants of Taliwood ................................29 views
                                                                                                                                               The City of the Dead..........................................27 views
                                                                                                                                               BANANAS!* ......................................................27 views
                                                                                                                                               Farewell ..............................................................27 views
                                                                                                                                               Talhotblond .......................................................27 views
  Camilla Nielsson and Andreas Dalsgaard                                                                   photo: Corinne de Korver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    IDFA – 5
Deep spAce
Oscar-nominated Swiss documentary maker                                                                                                                               in space. In spite of her vast wealth, she was a
Christian Frei first had the idea for Space                                                                                                                           humorous and approachable subject. Despite be-
Tourists when he read a small newspaper ar-                                                                                                                           ing a billionaire, she clearly had her own “dignity
ticle about a Japanese billionaire who wanted                                                                                                                         and mystery.”
to go to the International Space Station. This                                                                                                                        “I didn’t want to make a commercial movie like
billionaire was prepared to stump up $20                                                                                                                              IMAX movies or Discovery Channel films,” Frei
million to fulfill his childhood dream of be-                                                                                                                         reflects. Instead, he was aiming to make a poetic
ing a spaceman.                                                                                                                                                       and provocative documentary.
                                                                                                                                                                      It’s almost a decade since Frei’s Oscar nomination
Frei began to research the subject in earnest. He                                                                                                                     for War Photographer. The success of that project
learned all about the space launching station Bai-                                                                                                                    hasn’t changed his approach to his craft. “I work
konur, where wealthy would-be astronauts could                                                                                                                        three years on one film… and I will continue
have themselves shot off into space. Frei immedi-                                                                                                                     that very slow rhythm.” Without his patience, he
ately spotted the irony. This space tourism wasn’t                                                                                                                    adds, he would never have been able to negotiate
being encouraged in the entrepreneurial, free-                                                                                                                        the minefield of post-Soviet bureaucracy. “The
market West, but in the post-Soviet East. What’s                                                                                                                      Oscar nomination helped me internationally
more, the space tourism industry wasn’t quite as                                                                                                                      and with my reputation but it didn’t change my
high-tech as outsiders might have assumed. The                                                                                                                        methods at all. I just continue my work. I am
Soyuz rocket that the astronauts use was designed                                                                                                                     proud to be allowed to be slow and to go into
in the 1960s. It’s an efficient, if determinedly old-   ists was initially “a nightmare.” He faced a tough     from the space-ship debris.                            deeper levels.” GM
fashioned piece of hardware. “The Russians don’t        battle to win permission to shoot in Kazakhstan        The director’s own attitude toward space travel
change their technology if it works.”                   and to convince the authorities to allow him to        combines awe with a healthy dose of skepticism.        IDFA Competition for
In the end, the Japanese billionaire didn’t fly.        do more than just shoot at press conferences.          “I can understand these dreams. Anousheh for           Feature-Length Documentary
He was replaced by the US-Iranian entrepre-             The documentary juxtaposes breathtakingly              me is really an interesting character”, he says
neur and engineer Anousheh Ansari. “She just            beautiful imagery of space with down-to-earth,         of his main protagonist, a highly successful IT        Space Tourists
dropped in, like from the sky!” Frei recalls of the     surreal footage of Kazakh farms and scrap-met-         specialist and businesswoman. “She is not at all a     Christian Frei
personable Ansari.                                      al collectors, who use the metal detritus from         Paris Hilton character. The money she is spend-
Frei, whose credits include War Photographer            the rockets as makeshift cooking pans or sell          ing is her own money. She is not rich because of       Tuschinski 1; Mon 23-11, 17:00
(2001) and The Giant Buddhas (2005), is a fa-           the precious metal to the Chinese. The farmers         her family or her husband… it’s her. ”                 Munt 09; Wed 25-11, 22:00
mously patient filmmaker. Shooting Space Tour-          even manage to fashion farming implements              Frei captures Ansari’s child-like delight at being     Munt 10; Sat 28-11, 15:00

RelAtIve stRAngeRs
Some five years ago, Israeli filmmaker Noa                                                                     “I started filming four years ago, and quickly         Salma, however, asks her Jewish relatives to
Ben Hagai unearthed a long-buried family                                                                       found myself documenting the complex rela-             help her get Israeli citizenship. As the daughter
secret: that her Jewish, Israeli family had Pal-                                                               tions between my Jewish family in Israel and our       of a Jewish mother, she technically has this
estinian relations living in the West Bank;                                                                    Arab family in the territories after we renewed        right under the Law of Return. Salma, whose
the off-spring of a never mentioned great                                                                      contact”, says the director. “Had I fully realized     husband and children are unable to get work in
aunt who had run away as a teenager in the                                                                     the extent of the past and present tragedies, I        the territories, is soon regularly calling on her
early 1940s and married a Palestinian man,                                                                     wouldn’t have pursued the idea of the movie.           Israeli family for both moral and financial sup-
bearing him eight children.                                                                                    When I started to think about the movie I was          port – her requests echoing those of her mother
                                                                                                               blinded by curiosity and a desire to know what         decades earlier. This time round, will the Israeli
“I first discovered the story of my grandmother’s                                                              became of my grandmother’s sister”, she adds.          side of the family help out, or will history repeat
Arab sister when I came across an old family                                                                   In the film, the initial meeting is amicable, but it   itself? MG
photo album. I leafed through it and found              and closeness. She wanted to be accepted despite       quickly becomes clear that the situation is com-
pictures of unknown relatives. After I asked            having gone to the Arab side. She also begs for        plicated. On the Israeli side, one of Ben Hagai’s      IDFA Competition for
about these pictures, I heard the story for the first   very simple and everyday things such as food,          relatives is a former military governor respon-        Feature-Length Documentary
time”, recounts Ben Hagai.                              travel passes, work permits. These letters provide     sible for intelligence throughout the West Bank.
The director discovered that the great aunt,            a snapshot of life in the early days of the occupa-    On the Palestinian side, some of the family            Blood Relation
called Pnina, had disappeared as a teenager, only       tion”, says Ben Hagai.                                 members are in prison or under Israeli surveil-        Noa Ben Hagai
to re-surface some 25 years later in the West           Her curiosity piqued, Ben Hagai decided to track       lance for their activities in Palestinian resistance
Bank camp of Nablus. “I also found out there            down her relatives in the West Bank. Blood Rela-       organizations.                                         Tuschinski 1; Mon 23-11, 22:30
were letters, fifty heartbreaking letters Pnina         tion follows the ensuing painful family reunion as     Many of Pnina’s children decided not to stay in        Tuschinski 2; Wed 25-11, 13:15
wrote from the territories to her family in Israel;     well as the director’s efforts to piece together the   touch because having Jewish relations was too          Tuschinski 3; Thu 26-11, 12:30
desperate letters in which she begs for contact         circumstances behind Pnina’s disappearance.            dangerous for them. Pnina’s youngest daughter          Munt 09; Fri 27-11, 13:30

AuDAcIty oF hope
Literally just off the plane from Quebec, director of IDFA Competition for Feature-Length                                                                             on the Earth Keepers; her daughter as director
Documentary contender Earth Keepers Sylvie van Brabant is looking forward to taking part                                                                              of photography and her son helping during the
in the Green Screens debate on Wednesday (13.30, Escape Club).                                                                                                        editing process. “We had a lot of arguments
                                                                                                                                                                      during editing”, the filmmaker reveals. “It is
“A big aim is to denounce apathy and show the           demand change”, the filmmaker says. Another                                                                   very important to me not to focus too much
audacity of hope”, she says of her doc, which           measure Van Brabant has used to bring the                                                                     on the negative. I want to show that there is
follows young Canadian eco-activist Mikael              enviornmental message home in Canada was                                                                      hope: it is possible to live sustainably on this
Rioux, both on a literal journey – in which he          to give out postcards at screenings of the film                                                               planet. We have the solutions, as is shown in
visits various “mentors”or visionaries who have         addressed to the Canadian Prime Minister,                                                                     the film. What we need now is the will.” MB
realised projects to promote sustainable ways           urging him to take measures to combat climate
of living around the world – and on a personal          change. “Canada is lagging way behind when it                                                                 IDFA Competition for
journey, into fatherhood and responsibil-               comes to the environment”, the director says.                                                                 Feature-Length Documentary
ity. From an “angry young man” who gained               “I hope that this film can help make a spring-         at solutions for 50 years, he was disappointed
celebrity in Canada by opposing the building            board for action, and that Quebec can become           that his ideas had not yet become mainstream.          Earth Keepers
of a dam on the river close to his home in              a model for others to follow.”                         It is crucial that these ideas, this inspiration       Sylvie van Brabant
Trois-Pistoles, to a more positive example of           Van Brabant met pioneering environmental-              gets passed on to the next generation. That is
how we can all change our attitudes and be-             ist Christian de Laet – the main “mentor”              where Mikael comes in.” That the next genera-          Tuschinski 2; Mon 23-11, 15:45
haviour and thereby avoid global catastrophe.           consulted in the film – some 15 years ago.             tion is taking up the challenge of saving our          Tuschinski 3; Thu 26-11, 22:15
“I hope that my film can contribute to young            “Christian had a great desire to pass on his           environment is demonstrated by the fact that           Munt 12; Fri 27-11, 13:45
people becoming inspired, and standing up to            knowledge”, she says. “He had been looking             Van Brabant’s son and daughter both worked             Munt 11; Sat 28-11, 11:00

                                                                                                                                                                                                             IDFA – 7

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