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IDFA Opener “Position Among the Stars” Takes Top Festival Prize

IDFA Opener "Position Among the Stars" Takes Top Festival Prize

Leonard Retel Helmrich’s “Stand van de Sterren” (Position Among the Stars) won both the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary and the Dioraphte IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) Friday, which includes a €12,500 prize. This is the first time ever that a director has won the award for feature-length documentary twice at IDFA – Retel Helmrich also won in 2004 with “The Shape of the Moon.”

The film, which opened IDFA last week, is the final part of a trilogy that views modern Indonesia through the eyes of a grandmother, Rumidjah. Through her vantage point in the slums of Jakarta, the changing economy and globalization are reflected in the life of her juvenile graddaughter, Tari, and her sons, Bakti and Dwi.

Taking home a special prize was Luc Coté and Patricio Henriquez for “You Don’t Like the Truth – 4 Days inside Guantánamo” (Canada). The film revolves around the case of Omar Khadr, who was incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay at the age of sixteen and is based on recordings of his interrogation. Boris Gerrets, meanwhile, received the NTR IDFA Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary (€10,000) for “People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am” (the Netherlands), in which the director attempts to break through the anonymity of the big city by filming conversations with strangers on the streets of London with his mobile phone.

A scene from Leonard Retel Helmrich’s “Stand van de Sterren” (Position Among the Stars). Image courtesy of IDFA.

Kano: An American and His Harem” (the Philippines) by Monster Jiminez received the €5,000 IDFA Award for First Appearance award. The film centers on an American who assembled a harem for himself in the Philippines and is now in prison for rape, though his many wives stick by him.

In other prizes, the Publieke Omroep IDFA Audience Award went to Lucy Walker’s “Waste Land” (€5,000) (UK/Brazil), about art photographer Vik Muniz, who is making a series of photographs of refuse scavengers at the world’s biggest refuse dump, in Rio de Janeiro.

Eva Küpper received the IDFA Award for Student Documentary for “What’s in a Name” (Belgium). The film is about New York body art performer Jon Cory and his sexual ambivalence: explicit performances he calls “gender terrorism.”

The Hyves IDFA DOC U Award, the €1,500 award granted by a separate youth jury, went to “Autumn Gold” by Jan Tenhaven (Germany/Austria). The film follows five extremely aged athletes preparing for a competition in Finland.

The first ever IDFA Award for Best Green Screen Documentary (€2,500) went to “Into Eternity” (Denmark/Sweden/Finland) by Michael Madsen. The film is an existential message for future generations about Onkalo, a depot deep below the rocky ground, where Finnish nuclear waste is to be permanently stored.

The jury also gave an honorable mention to “The Pipe” (Ireland) by Risteard Ó Domhnaill about resistance by local activists on the Irish west coast to the construction of a gas pipe line by multinational Shell.

Finally, for the first time, IDFA’s DocLab also inaugurated an award – the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling went to “HIGHRISE/Out My Window” (Canada) by Katerina Cizek. The project utilizes 360-degree image technology to portrays apartments and their inhabitants in cities around the world.

IDFA continues through Sunday, though it estimates its attendance increased by about 15,000 to 180,000 from 165,000 compared to 2009. IDFA released its estimated earnings this year, saying their intake went from €750,000 in 2009 to €850,000 this year. The number of Dutch and international guests increased in relation to 2009: to 2,477 from 2,295.

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