So IDFA has been and gone … Films, Q + A’s, overpriced beer in Rembrantplein – it was a blast. As usual, the sheer scope, inventiveness and experimental nature of the documentaries on show was overwhelming and impressive. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but the more documentaries I see, the more doc festivals I attend, the clearer it becomes: the genre’s resurgence points to the fact that it’s basically more exciting than anything else happening in film at the minute.
My highlights were: a documentary called ‘Sexy Baby’ which looked at the lives of three very different American women against the super-sexualised backdrop of popular culture and social media; Nishta Jain’s harrowing and beautiful ‘Gulabi Gang’ (which looked at the pink-saried Northern Indian women’s group the Gulabi Gang and their fights for women’s justice); Peter Mettler’s ‘The End of Time’ (an experimental look at the nature of time, with a fabulous ambient soundtrack by Peter Bracker), Sophie Huber’s impressionistic portrait of Harry Dean Stanton ‘Partly Fiction’ and the experimental documentary ‘The Empire Project’ (which examined the ‘unintended consequences’ of Dutch colonialism), and which I’ll be doing a separate blog post about.
I really enjoyed the music documentary ‘The Sound of Belgium’ (about the origins of Belgian New Beat). I was disappointed by the Nazi family story ‘Diaries of An Elephant’, though I admired its intentions. I was shaken up by the Snoop dog narrated music documentary ‘Uprising: Hiphop and the LA riots’. I hated the Shining documentary ‘Room 237′ (for a number of reasons, starting with its frustrating form and annoying background music, and its pedantic style of analysis). I *loved*, felt homesick and generally melted in front of Julian Temple’s opus ‘London: Modern Babylon’, and I was intrigued by the Dutch documentary ‘Alone in the World’, which followed the lives of three adults whose parents had been 60′s radicals in Holland.
So, onto the reviews. Here are a couple of music related ones. First up is my review of the hilarious and unusual music documentary The Sound of Belgium. I can’t wait for this to come out in England!
Next up is my review of Emmett Malloy’s folkumentary ‘Big Easy Express’ which follows a vintage train containing three nu-folk bands including Mumford & Sons across the desert. This was not really my bag, but not unpleasant, and very pretty to look at.