The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) announced its prize winners on Friday evening.

The 23rd edition of the festival (running Nov 17 to 28) gave both the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary and the Dioraphte IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary to Leonard Retel Helmrich’s Position Among the Stars.

Festival director Ally Derks had described the film, which opened the festival, as “a masterpiece.” Sales are handled by Jan Rofekamp’s Films Transit.

This double triumph for Helmrich echoes the success he enjoyed six years ago with Shape Of The Moon (2004), a winner both at IDFA and then at Sundance. The documentary selection for this year’s Sundance isn’t expected to be announced until the beginning of December but Position Among The Stars must be a strong candidate for inclusion.

The jury also granted a Special Jury Award to directors Luc Coté and Patricio Henriquez for You Don’t Like the Truth – 4 Days inside Guantánamo (Canada). The film  tells the story of Omar Khadr, who ended up incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay at the age of sixteen and is based on recordings of his interrogation.

Among other awards, The Public Broadcaster IDFA Audience Award (€ 5,000) went to Lucy Walker’s Waste Land (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 (€ 2,500) for What’s in a Name (Belgium).

The film profiles New York body art performer and transvestite Jon Cory who brands his very explicit stage performance as “gender terrorism.”

Festival organisers were upbeat about the reception of this year’s event, which is on track to post audiences of 180,000 (up from 165,000 last year). Net takings will have risen from €750,000 in 2009 to at least €850,000 this year.

As Festival Director Derks noted, IDFA receives only a quarter of its overall funding from the Government andsis therefore better placed to withstand the threatened cuts in public support for the arts than many other arts ogranisations. However, Derks promised that the Festival would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the rest of the culture sector

The number of Dutch and international guests increased in relation to 2009: to 2,477 from 2,295.

One minor controversy early in the festival was sparked by the allegation that IDFA had pressured director George Sluizer to cut a scene in his anti-Israeli feature-doc Homeland. This was something that Derks denied emphatically.

“I would never, never, never, never, never!” the Festival boss commented of the idea that she would force a director to cut his or her work. “I can show everything – dicks, hard dicks, ass f****g, whatever. We’re in Holland here and the first thing is that IDFA is doing is against censorship.”