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Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival.
Living in a city like Amsterdam, has some advantages for a movie fan. Though there are more events that I go to like Cinekid, one of my favorite moments is when the IDFA is held, and documentaries take up the time of movie watching Holland.


IDFA 2007 was the first festival I went to. I got a ticket from a Swedish friend, but only had the chance to watch 2 documentaries.
This year (2008) I decided to do it differently. Beside buying a ticket for Fire Under The Snow (my other favorites were sold out) I bought a ticket for Docs Around the Clock. From 10-10 watching documentaries, rated the highest by the audience, ending in a breakfast at the Tuschinski Theater. An experience I am going to repeat next year for sure!


Fire Under the Snow 
I definately was a lucky guy. I had trouble to get tickets for the documentaries I wanted to see, and also for this one there were no tickets left. But luckely some people didn't show up, so I got one for the last showing.
My heart is always with the Tibetans and their strugle to gain their independence again, to get recognized by the world.
But beside that, this documentary is more than just another plea for that.
In the documentary, Makoto Sasa surprised me with some very old material that I had never seen. At the same time, it was not only about Palden Gyatsu and his suffering. It was a plea in general against torture, against the violation of human rights, and I was deeply impressed by it all.
The hungerstrike by Palden on occasion of the Olympic Games in China was maybe a bit to prominent, but at the same time it showed that despite his suffering, depsite his old age, he still has the energy to continue fighting a corrupt and dictatorial undemocratic regime. One of the documentaries of 2008 you should watch in my opinion.
Lucky me! To our surprise, Palden himself joined Makoto, to answer our questions about the documentary, the situation in Tibet and such.


Burma VJ - Reporter i et lukket land
It's not easy to watch this documentary without letting emotions run high. Watching people getting killed on the spot, watching the terror from a government and an army against it's own people... Looks like walking around in hell on earth.
Brave young people try to show the world what's really going on in Burma, and many of them pay a high price for it.
Some people think that this documentary only receive an award for the fact that the issue was so hot and not because it was a good documentary. But for me a documentary is good when it goes streight to the heart, and is not just showing facts.
For me it was one of the highlights of IDFA 2008. And at the same time a moment of reflection how helpless you sometimes can feel.... maybe it's about time I become an active member of Amnesty International....


El Externante


Rough Aunties
Very much in doubt... if it depended on me, both Burma VJ and Rough Aunties had received an award. Rough Aunties shows a number of South-African women and men, trying to help victims of sexual abuse, young and old.
While the viewer is busy watching the women work hard to help their victims, and use all kind of methods especially to help children communicate, we are confronted with the fact that the women themselves are struck with desaster in their own private lives, while they still continue in their work.
It brings these women close to your home, wanting to hug them, and encourage them to go on. Life is hard, the world is hard, and we still need people with a heart full of warmth.
What I admire in the documentary as being a documentary, the filmmaker lets us share in the private lives of these women, without asking for judgement, emotions, sympathy. Just makes sure that we notice the commitment shown here, that, no matter what life brings them personally, the next moment they are there again for the victims who need them.
I think that is the power. It shows, people who help best are often the people who have gone through much of it themselves. Who know that as much as you need them, they also need you.
Make sure you visit the website, and see if you can do something to help THEM.

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