IDFA Completes Competition Lineup For 36th Edition Of All-Doc Festival – Deadline

The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam revealed its opening night film and announced competition lineups in two main categories today, completing the program for the upcoming 36th edition of the world’s largest documentary festival.

At a press conference in Amsterdam, A Picture to Remember, directed by Ukrainian filmmaker Olga Chernykh, was announced as IDFA’s opening night film on November 8. The festival, which includes more than 250 films total, runs from Nov. 8-19.

“[A Picture to Remember] presents a deeply personal and essay-style account of the ongoing war in Ukraine and its violent history, seen through the prism of three generations of women: Chernykh herself, her mother, and her grandmother,” IDFA said in a release. “In a bid for connection and intimacy, the filmmaker uses old family films, recordings of conversations, and news reports to bridge the distance between her and her grandmother. The result is a kaleidoscopic and personal film that travels through time fluidly.”

IDFA audiences watch a film


IDFA announced the 11 films that will compete in the prestigious International Competition, a slate that includes Life Is Beautiful, the latest documentary from Gaza City-native Mohamed Jabaly, who won acclaim for his 2016 film Ambulance, also set in Gaza. The International Competition selection “takes us on a profound and human journey through the harsh realities of the most tumultuous conflicts of our time—from Gaza, Myanmar, to Nagorno-Karabakh,” IDFA said. “By revisiting archives and engaging in recent debates, several filmmakers take to the critical re-examination of our established recounts of history. With the ever-rising urgency of climate crisis, a number of selected filmmakers turn their attention to the rapidly unfolding consequences to our natural world.”

Selected films: International Competition

• 1489, dir. Shoghakat Vardanyan (Armenia), 76’ – World Premiere

• As the Tide Comes In, dir. Juan Palacios (Denmark), 89’ – International Premiere

• The Burden, dir. Elvis Ngaibino Sabin (Central African Republic/France/Democratic Republic of the Congo/Italy), 80’ – World Premiere

• The Clinic, dir. Midi Z (Taiwan/Myanmar), 87’ – World Premiere

• Danger Zone, dir. Vita Drygas-Niewińska (Poland/United Kingdom), 93’ – International Premiere

• Flickering Lights, dir. Anirban Du[a, Anupama Srinivasan (India), 90’ – European Premiere

• The Last, dir. Sebastian Peña-Escobar (Paraguay/Uruguay/France), 87’ – World Premiere

• Life Is Beautiful, dir. Mohamed Jabaly (Norway/Pales6ne), 90’ – World Premiere

• Limitation, dir. Elene Asatiani, Soso Dumbadze (Georgia), 125’ – World Premiere

• Selling a Colonial War, dir. In-Soo Radstake (Netherlands), 133’ – World Premiere

• The World Is Family, dir. Anand Patwardhan (India), 96’ – European Premiere

The aforementioned A Picture to Remember is among the documentaries chosen for the Envision Competition, a slate of 12 “unparalleled films,” as IDFA described them, “each of them stylistically arresting, as visionary filmmakers forge new cinematic languages.”

IDFA logo


IDFA added, “By refusing to abide to conventional film structures and embracing subjectivity, the films in this selection deviate from the widely established definition of documentary film. Several filmmakers are explicit in the constructing of their world view, each shaped by their own emotions, aesthetics, and ethics. Others turn to look at recent socio-political history through a personal gaze. The selection additionally presents compelling takes on form, with singular aesthetics, hybrid films, and a new era of typography and associative narratives in documentary film.” 

Selected films: Envision Competition

• La cancha, dir. Mustafa Uzuner (Canada), 54’ – World Premiere
• Canuto’s Transformation, dir. Ariel Kuaray Ortega, Ernesto de Carvalho (Brazil), 130’ – World Premiere • Chasing the Dazzling Light, dir. Yaser Kassab (Syria/Qatar/Sweden), 63’ – World Premiere
• Damnatio Memoriae, dir. Thunska Pansirvorakul (Thailand/Germany), 108’ – European Premiere
• GAMA, dir. Kaori Oda (Japan), 53’ – International Premiere
• Mud, dir. Ilya Povolotsky (Russia), 50’ – World Premiere
• Paragate, dir. Jialai Wang (Belgium), 72’ – World Premiere
• A Picture to Remember, dir. Olga Chernykh (Ukraine/France/Germany), 72’ – World Premiere
• Silence of Reason, dir. Kumjana Novakova (North Macedonia/Bosnia-Herzegovina), 63’ – International Premiere
• Tales of Oblivion, dir. Dulce Fernandes (Portugal), 63’ – World Premiere
• Thermodielectric, dir. Ana Costa Ribeiro (Brazil), 72’ – International Premiere
• The Wasp and the Orchid, dir. Saber Zammouri (Tunisia), 66’ – World Premiere 

In addition to the International Competition and Envision Competition lineups, IDFA provided background on several other competitive and non-competitive sections:

IDFA DocLab Competiton for Immersive Non-Fiction 

The 13-title Immersive Competition boldly expand the genre’s horizons, featuring a selection of multisensory experiences, live performances, artistic VR creations, and immersive installations. 

IDFA banners outside the press headquarters in Amsterdam


The selection features multisensory explorations into the frontiers and limitations of artificial intelligence— ranging from how we ascribe emo6onal value to an AI void of meaning and interactive experiments reimaging cinematic classic and film scores. XR remains a medium of choice for groundbreaking immersive works, with interactive projects that explore everything from worlds unknown to speculative digital utopias. 

IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling 

With 10 selected titles, the Digital Storytelling Competition builds on the rich history of interactive storytelling with captivating works by both new talent and established names. 

Taking a playful approach to familiar technologies, several projects in this selection use gaming elements and augmented reality to create engaging and thought-provoking experiences. Broaching anti-capitalist activism, football realms, and insightful scenic drives, these projects are designed to engage audiences with creativity and unique narratives. Multiple projects critically explore AI beyond our collective marvel, to examine the implications of this new technology—including governmental risk-based profiling and scripted social realities. 

IDFA DocLab Spotlight 

With 10 selected titles, the non-competitive DocLab section brings award-winning VR projects, immersive theater, and an expanded offering of fulldome projects, affirming the latter as a flourishing stage for new media. 

Several works take the age-old medium of literature as the starting point for new media explorations— craving augmented experiences to demonstrate cyberfeminism’s legacy and immersive non-linear storytelling that explores the self, life’s catastrophes, and our psycho-geographies. 

Cross-section awards 

IDFA has also announced the nominations for the IDFA Award for Best First Feature, IDFA Award for Best Dutch Film, and the Beeld & Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award. The winners will be announced during the IDFA 2023 awards ceremony on Thursday, November 16. 

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