In Amsterdam, a busy first full day at IDFA with five film screenings and a the late-night “Talk Show” session. First off this morning was Taggart Siegel’s “The Real Farmer John,” a well-done look at a modern farmer in Illiinois who re-builds a working organic farm on land that’s been in his family for generations. An intriguing companion piece later in the day is Erwin Wagenhofer’s moving “We Feed The World”, which takes a eye-opening look at the raising of mass quantities of fish, chicken and soy within the global food industry. Equally downbeat is Ove Nyholm’s “The Anatomy of Evil”, which looks at what causes people to committ horrific crimes against humanity, while Erik Gandini and Tarik Saleh’s “Gitmo – The New Rules of War” offers a mostly unsatisfying exploration of the current situation at Guantanamo Bay.
Without a doubt the personal highlight of the day was Marshall Curry’s “Street Fight”, looking at the brutal 2002 Newark mayoral election, pitting two Democrats — one a newcomer and the other a seemingly corrupt longtime politician — against each other in a down to the wire race to win the post. Wrapping up the evening, Brian Brooks and I stopped in at the first of the fest’s nightly “Talk Shows,” a daily panel discussion with filmmakers and others. Tonight Kim Longinotto and two of her film’s subjects spoke for an hour about the IDFA opening night film, “Sisters In Law”. The session included inspiring words from Beatrice Ntuba and Vera Ngassa, two women within the legal system in Cameroon who have catalyzed change and empowerment for local women. (We’ll have Brian’s dispatch from the first two days at IDFA in indieWIRE this weekend.)