Doc About Indonesian Lives Wins Top Prize at IDFA '04
by Eugene Hernandez
The film that opened the 2004 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) ten days ago was in the spotlight during the event's final weekend. Leonard Retel Helmrich's "The Shape of the Moon," which follows a poor suburban family in Indonesia, outside Jakarta, was awarded the VPRO Joris Ivens Award, including a €12,500 prize that the filmmaker said would go directly to his film's subjects. The movie marks Helmrich's return to Indonesia, following a 2002 film with a similar subject matter.
Insiders close to the project told indieWIRE this weekend that the movie will have its North American premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival in January. Worldwide sales for the film are being handled by Films Transit International.
Jonathan Stack & James Brabazon's "Liberia: An Uncivil War," offering an up-close look at the battle to oust leader Charles Taylor, was honored with a special jury award, presented during Friday night's ceremony at Panama nightclub and restaurant in Amsterdam.
Romanian director Ileana Stanculescu's "The Bridge" (Podul Peste Tisa) won the event's First Appearance Award which honors emerging doc directors with a cash prize of €2,500. Her film looks at a river separating families and friends in separate Romanian and Ukrainian towns, and the struggle to build a bridge between the two.
In the Silver Wolf competition for work under one-hour in length, the winner was "Georgi and the Butterflies" by Andrey Paounov. The prize includes a €10,000 award and a television broadcast by the Netherlands Programme Service.
Piro Honkasalo's "The 3 Rooms of Melancholia" won the event's Amnesty International prize, including a €5,000 award and Håkan Berthas and Johan Bjerkner's "Nabila," won the festival's first DOC U! Award, selected by a youth jury.
Nabila, an outspoken Swedish rapper at the center of the doc, told Friday's awards show crowd that just as depicted in the film, she also faced threats in the wake of festival screenings in Amsterdam, making the prize that much more significant. Citing a death threat from a neo-Nazi group earlier in the week, she added, "its OK now, I guess, I can beat them in the head with this," she smiled, raising her trophy to cheers from the audience.
More than a year after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2003, "The Yes Men" by Dan Ollman, Sarah Price, and Chris Smith continued to win over audiences. Festivalgoers selected the film as their favorite of the 194 movies that they judged with post-screening ballots, giving the filmmakers a €4,500 prize.
[EDITORS NOTE: Eugene Hernandez served as the head of First Appearance jury at IDFA 2004.]
[indieWIRE will have more from IDFA 2004 in tomorrow's edition.]