AyaanHirsi Ali was a surprise guest at the opening of theInternational Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

In her speech to festivalguests, the Somalian-born Dutch MP and filmmaker hailed IDFA for dedicatingthis year's event to freedom of speech and for offering a platform "tomakers of documentaries about Muslim women and the lives they lead."

"Theimpression that all Muslim women are passive creatures with no will of theirown is as simple as it is false," Hirsi Ali declared. She also praisedIDFA's opening feature, Sisters In Law, for its championing of women's rights.

HirsiAli, who been living under police protection since the murder of her colleagueTheo Van Gogh by a Muslim extremist last year, recently announced her plans fora sequel to Submission, the controversial film she made with Van Gogh.

The newshort will look at the plight of homosexuals within Muslim society. Hirsi Alitold the Dutch press that the identities of all her collaborators on theproject will be kept secret.

IDFAruns until 4th December. Over the next 10 days, hundreds of documentaries willscreen; 41 new projects will be pitched in front of commissioning editors atthe IDFA Forum (28-30 November) and there will be numerous public debates.

Thefestival is staging a Raymond Depardon retrospective and will screen a"top 10" chosen by Palestinian/Dutch director, Hany Abu-Assad(Paradise Now.)

Festival director Ally Derkshas also announced the launch of a new IDFA Fund which will offer grants of up to $6,000 to people who are the subjects of documentaries screened at the festival.

Thefestival had barely started when one sidebar, Docs At War (an internationalprogramme of documentaries from the period 1939-1946), provoked a spat betweenIDFA and France's Centre National De La Cinematographe (CNC).

To the festival'sannoyance, the CNC has refused to allow a scheduled screening of anti-SemiticFrench propaganda film, The Corruptors (1941).

"Wehave to know exactly the purpose of the festival and how the film iscontextualised. In this instance, we didn't have sufficient security," theCNC's Michelle Aubert commented of the decision to pull the film.

Sources close to the festival disputed this version ofevents and suggested that the real reason that the CNC wouldn't loan the filmwas that sensitivities over French behaviour during the Vichy era still runhigh.