Indonesian film scoops Dutch award

A film about the impact of political and social upheaval on an Indonesian family  has won top honours at the Amsterdam IDFA documentary festival.

Shape of the Moon is an intimate portrayal of life in Indonesia
Shape of the Moon is an intimate portrayal of life in Indonesia

In the film, which took the Joris Ivens award for best documentary picture, Dutch director Leonard Retel Helmrich captures world events erupting into the personal life of a widowed Christian woman when her son converts to Islam and the two are driven apart.

While the film, the Shape of the Moon, gives an intimate portrayal of family life, shots of Jakarta city life, student and radical demonstrations, also give insight into political life in Indonesia.

The International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) is one of the world’s biggest documentary festivals, with about 120,000 tickets sold this year and about 2000 film professionals attending.

Part of the festival’s popularity with documentary film professionals is the IDFA forum, where filmmakers and producers can pitch ideas to commissioning editors from all over the world.

Pickles story

This year 43 people pitched projects for possible financing. Nitza Gonen, an Israeli producer, was chosen to present her project Pickles, a documentary about eight Palestinian widows who start a pickle factory.

Palestinians were represented at the event for the first time

Palestinians were represented at
the event for the first time

“I am very proud and very happy because I have already found people who are interested in the project,” she told AFP.

Karen Michael, a commissioning editor for the Franco-German ARTE television station, told AFP: “Amsterdam is a good selection, it is unique and international. The forum really is the place to be.”

The IDFA festival this year was screening a dozen completed films that had secured financing through the forum in previous years.

Palestinian presence

This year Palestinian director Raid Sandoni is hoping that his documentary will be picked up by a commissioning editor. He and his brother Said are the first Palestinian filmmakers to present a project at the forum.

“At the forum you are one out of 42 projects instead of being one out of a thousand people that try to contact television and film companies directly to finance a project,” he said.

Sandoni’s project, Improvisation, is a musical documentary following the Jourban trio, Palestinian brothers whose improvised music on the oud – a traditional Middle Eastern instrument – is a success both at home and abroad.

The IDFA festival runs until Sunday. Information on the schedule, getting tickets and a short synopsis of all documentaries to be screened can be found on the website ( 

Source : AFP

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