02 December, 2008

IDFA Announces Winners In Amsterdam

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

IDFA came to a smashing and glamorous climax last evening at the IDFA Awards Ceremony. Winning the Joris Ivens Competition, the Festival's most prestigious prize, was Burma VJ--Reporting From A Closed Country by Danish director Anders Ostergaard. The film is a gripping chronicle of the 2007 uprising by Burmese monks, which creates a political and religious crisis in a country that is viewed as the most repressive regime on earth. Nearly all the footage in this fascinating and historically significant work was shot by native, covert video journalists, who risked their lives in getting the story out to the rest of the world. A few have since been arrested and are spending time in jail awaiting criminal prosecutions.

The film mixes staged shots with authentic footage and reconstructs telephone coversations, weaving in the dramatizations with the factual set pieces to powerful effect. The filmmakers provide an honest and deliberate portrait of the courage, the struggle and the sacrifice of those who stand up for the rights of the people in a regime that does not tolerate descent of any kind. The film also won the Movies That Matter prize for best social issue documentary. For more information, visit the film's website:

The popular favorite and winner of the IDFA Audience Award was RIP! A Remix Manifesto by Canadian Brett Gaylor. The film displays the artistic virtuosity as practiced by such popular remix artists as Girl Talk, who construct contemporary club music by "mashing up" well-known pop tracks and creating a musical sound all its own. The film explores the many legal and copyright-oriented issues involved in re-using popular music and imagery, while defending the first amendment right to comment and react to an existing work of art. The film includes segments with fellow remix artists, along with a lawyer/lobbyist who speaks at industry forums and college campuses about his strong urging of the U.S. government to loosen its grip on strict copyright law to allow for the popular expression of "mash up" reworkings. What is born is a manifesto that takes on the powers that be and reestablishes the right of the common citizen to interact with popular culture that is part of the public domain (although corporate copyright lawyers would disagree with that assessment. Making it clear that downloading of imagery and audio tracks and the disemination of the remixed works over the internet cannot be fully policed, the film invites viewers to engage in the issue of public versus private and an expansion of rights where consumers are no longer passive but are encouraged to actively engage with the media that surrounds them. The film also recently won a Special Jury Prize at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema Montreal. The public is invited to remix the existing film into their own "mash up" by visiting the website:


Joris Ivens Competition
"Burma VJ - Reporting From a Closed Country," (Denmark/Sweden/Norway/UK, Anders Ostergaard)

Silver Wolf Competition
"Boris Ryzhy," (The Netherlands, Aliona van der Horst)

Silver Cub Competition
"Slaves - An Animated Documentary," (Sweden/Norway/Denmark, Hanna Heilbronn and David Aronowitsch)

First Appearance Award
"Constantin and Elena," (Romania/Spain, Andrei Dascalescu)

IDFA Student Award
"Shakespeare and Victor Hugo's Intimacies," (Mexico, Yulene Olaizola)

Dioraphte Audience Award
"RiP - A Remix Manifesto," (Canada, Brett Gaylor)

Movies that Matter Human Rights Award
"Burma VJ - Reporting From a Closed Country," (Denmark/Sweden/Norway/UK, Anders Ostergaard)

DOC U! Award
"Kassim the Dream," (USA/Germany, Kief Davidson)

The Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Fund Award for Documentary 2008
"Monsters Under the Bed," (The Netherlands, Sarah Mathilde Domogala)

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