IDFA is in Town

Join us for the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Many great films, among which quite a few about curious borders.


The festival will take place from November 17 till 28 in cinemas across the city. In cooperation with Joost Daamen, the programmer of IDFA, De Facto selected four movies that you should definitely go and watch:

Revolution of Our Times
Kiwi Chow
Hong Kong, United Kingdom

A single spark can ignite an unquenchable blaze: that’s what the citizens of Hong Kong have proved in recent years. What began as a peaceful protest grew into a bitter clash between citizens and the authorities. Revolution of Our Times carefully traces how the situation escalated.

Broken down into nine chapters set in the period from 2019 to 2021, the film draws the viewer into the experiences of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. The film’s director Kiwi Chow collected an immense quantity of powerful footage, using it to maintain a fast-paced narrative throughout two-and-a-half hours. While experts analyze the politics, the film zooms in on people on the front lines: from teens to seniors, from a Molotov bomber to a logistics strategist.

As time passes, this vast congregation of people gradually form their own society, one that is tightly organized and marked by camaraderie and commitment—against the backdrop of growing animosity, vigilante groups, and trigger-happy police. There are heartbreaking and desperate moments, but no matter how painful the setbacks, the fire will not be extinguished.

The Empty Center
Hito Steyerl

IDFA 2021’s guest of honor Hito Steyerl examined the large parcel of land between former East and West Berlin with an archeological eye for her 1998 graduation project Die leere Mitte. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, Potsdamer Platz had to again become the center of the city, as it had been in the past. But it’s no easy thing to erase history, and walls live on even after they have been demolished.

Steyerl shows us old and new boundaries, captures the rising xenophobia and racism of post-unification Germany, raises questions about a reconstruction financed by multinationals, and reveals that few people benefit from gentrification. Much more than a portrait of an era, this ingenuously edited film is a kaleidoscopic dive into central Berlin’s past: from the destruction and renovation of the Reichstag to the boundaries of colonial Germany that were defined there. We discover that the center is a place from which people are always excluded.

Stories of Destroyed Cities
Sêro Hindê

The streets of Sinjar are deserted. A barbershop is in ruins, the mirror shattered, the clippers broken. Mannequins in a women’s fashion store hang bare and spattered. Shots of the devastated city in the Kurdish autonomous region are accompanied by a soundtrack simulating a vibrant community. This is how it must have sounded in the past. Will things ever be the way they were before?

Reality and fiction blend in stories of the inhabitants of the cities of Sinjar, Kobani, and Jazaa—destroyed by IS, recaptured by Kurdish fighters—in the autonomous region of Rojava: those who died, those who survived, and those who continue the fight.

The Rojava Film Commune was established after IS was driven out of the region. Its members are experienced filmmakers and students, many of whom experienced the war first-hand. While setting up the collective, they immediately made this first film, using what was available: their own experiences, ruins, and local actors and extras. The film itself became part of the reconstruction.


The Treasures of Crimea
Oeke Hoogendijk

It was a fateful coincidence that in 2014, just when the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam was staging an exhibition of Crimean artworks, Russia annexed the region. So now the question arises of who should the artworks be returned to? To the museums in Crimea who had been so kind as to loan them out? Or to Ukraine, perhaps, the country Crimea belonged to before the annexation? What should the museum’s director Wim Hupperetz do?

Veteran documentary filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk (The New Rijksmuseum) is just the woman for the job when it comes to turning this complex issue into an exciting film, and finding the human dimension in a tangled judicial tug-of-war. Political, emotional, personal, cultural, and historical interests all jostle for position as lawyers arguing from a purely judicial perspective present their case and distressed museum directors face big gaps in their collections.

While archaeologists in Crimea continue their groundbreaking historical work, it looks like their previous finds are going to be re-buried in the Netherlands—shut off from the world in a warehouse, they are perhaps the biggest losers in this conflict.