Despite the cloud cast over proceedings by the murder offilmmaker Theo Van Gogh earlier this month, the mood as the 17th InternationalAmsterdam Documentary Festival (IDFA) drew to an end at the weekend was upbeat.Audience figures were up to 120,000 (from 116,000 last year) and moreinternational visitors (2300) were in town than at any previous edition of thefestival.
Some uncertainty remains over IDFA's main screeningbase. The City multiplex is being re-developed and the festival is likely tohave to looking for screening facilities elsewhere within the next two years.The Munt, a venue with excellent screening facilities in the centre ofAmsterdam, is the most likely alternative.
It is also expected that the two autonomous arms of theevent, the festival itself and its pitching market The Forum will merge by nextyear. Whatever happens, Amsterdam's status as the documentaryworld's most lively bazaar and talking shop is not in doubt.
This week, in the wake of Van Gogh's death, the mosturgent debates have been about freedom of speech.
"IDFA has proved that it is really a platform for alldifferent kinds of opinions, visions, cultures, and religions," Festivaldirector Ally Derks said in an interview at the weekend.
The festival ended as it started, with the opening film,Leonard Retel Helmrich's Shape Of The Moon, a poetic study of an Indonesian family, back in the spotlight andwinning the main prize, The Joris Ivens Award worth 12,500 Euros.
Shape Of The Moon,produced by Helmrich's sister Hetty Naajikens Retel Helmrich through herRotterdam-based production outfit, Scarabee Films, is now being tipped forselection in another major festival early next year. World sales are beinghandled by Films Transit.
The Joris Ivens jury gave its Special Jury Award to: Liberia:An Uncivil War by Jonathan Stack and JamesBrabazon (USA, 2004), a harrowing war doc, set in Lberia and Monrovia as battleraged last year between the rebels and the forces of the President, CharlesTaylor
The Silver Wolf award, restricted to films less than 60minutes and worth 10,000 Euros, went to Bulgarian director AndreyPaounov's Georgi And TheButterflies, a study of life inside aBulgarian psychiatric institution.
The First Appearance Award, for the best debut, was pickedup by The Bridge by Ileana Stanculescu(Romania, 2004). The Amnesty International - DOEN Award, was won by 3Rooms Of Melancholia by Pirjo Honkasalo(Finland, 2004). The Audience Award was won The Yes Men by Dan Ollman, Sarah Price and Chris Smith (USA,2003).