My guide to IDFA, bring on the documentaries!

My guide to IDFA, bring on the documentaries!

Nov 13, 2010 |  by  |  Art, Event
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I'm Tamar, 24, in love with photography and all other things that inspire me! Any inspiring tips? Email me at: !

The 17th of November is approaching which means….. no not an early Sinterklaas party, but IDFA time! (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam). A few weeks ago we already posted some mood setting trailers, and promised a bigger preview. IDFA gave me the chance to pick several documentaries which had caught my attention and prepare you all with some inside scoops. Just to warn you in advance, because of IDFA’s very extensive program, this post only reviews a couple of documentaries which stood out to me. If you’re interested in reading about all the documentaries, check out the A-Z documentary list.

Waste Land

The documentary which intrigued me most was Waste Land. This documentary follows the successful art photographer Vik Muniz whom works with natural materials to create artistic portraits. During this documentary, Vik returns to his roots in Rio de Janeiro where he portraits the garbage pickers on the Jardim Gramacho, world’s largest garbage landfill. This documentary does not only depict Muniz as a great artist, but also strongly emphasizes the diminishment of Muniz’ primary focus on art while he becomes more and more socially engaged with the garbage pickers’ lives. He ultimately decides to help them by doing what he does best: create beautiful modern art, which in turn changes the garbage pickers’ lives. A definite recommendation in which art meets societal engagement. Watch the trailer below:


A more light-hearted documentary is Pandore which depicts an evening in the life of a merciless doorman at the Parisian nightclub Pandore. In 35 minutes, this documentary shows the psychological games this doorman plays with the crowd eager to gain entrance to the club. He decides who can and cannot enter the club with very unclear selection criteria. His perverted exercise of power is fascinating and the response of the crowd even more so! Maybe this documentary will teach you which ways work best while trying to get into exclusive clubs too (I know, you don’t need help).


Belgian film maker Tim De Keersmaecker created the documentary Aperture in which he uses alienating camera angles, a minimalistic soundtrack, snapshots and lots of serene close-ups to visualize a man with a mental condition whose life has been destroyed by the chaos of his psychosis. The combination of De Keersmaecker’s beautiful visualization and the eccentric personality of the man in question make sure that you get pulled into the screen and will watch the documentary in awe.

Three more documentaries worth watching

What’s in a name – New York body performer Jon Cory bares his sexually ambivalent and explicit performances which he calls “gender terrorism”. Watch the trailer:

Day is Done – In an extremely in-your-face kind of way, Guido Hendrikx films the last months of Peter Oud, a Sisyphus-like figure who hasn’t been outside for two years. Trailer below:

Armadillo – Embedded in Camp Armadillo, Afghanistan, with young Danish soldiers for whom war is an adrenalin kick.

Awkward Family Photos

And lastly, there’s an interesting IDFA docs project called Awkward Family Photos. This project started out as a joke but quickly gained more and more attention on the internet. The project depicts awkward family portraits and covers the whole spectrum of the meanings of the words ‘awkward': clumsy, uncomfortable, disturbing, painful and embarrassing. On Wednesday November 24th at Tuschinksky, a special screening of these photos will take place accompanied by live story telling. And on top of that, a series of especially awkward photos was selected and those depicted on them will be telephoned live! Gotta be hilarious!

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