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Docs on the Spot

HOT SPOT FOR DOCS: Documentary Festivals Calling / Ones to  watch / Docu Fests Highlights and Awards / Submit


Lineup for IDFA, running 16 November - 6 December, both online and onsite in the Netherlands

Twelve films by some of the world’s leading filmmakers are selected for the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary. The selection includes giants of documentary film, but also theater and visual art. With strong artistic concepts and bold formalist approaches, each title displays the mark of an auteur, from hybrid films to cinéma vérité.

Below the films in competition this year at IDFA


Gorbachev. Heaven

  • Vitaly Mansky
  • 2020

A fascinating interview with former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the most influential figures of the last century, whose rule heralded the end of the Soviet Union. In an intimate
setting, he gives his view of Russia then and now.
More info


The Grocer’s Son, the Mayor, the Village and the World...

  • Claire Simon
  • 2020

In a one-street village in southern France, while some are harvesting or struggling with hail, others are creating an international streaming platform for independent documentaries. An inspiring
tale of tenacity and idealism and their salutary effects.
More info


Inside the Red Brick Wall

  • Hong Kong Documentary Filmmakers
  • 2020

A candid account of the student protests that took place at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2019, culminating in a violent police crackdown. The journalistic reporting makes this feel like a
compelling action movie.
More info


Morning Star

  • Nantenaina Lova
  • 2020

Fishermen in Madagascar are alarmed when an Australian company threatens to turn their sacred beach into a harbor. Filmmaker Nantenaina Lova follows the passionate activists and paints an
engaging portrait of the villagers who refuse to give in.
More info



  • Thomas Imbach
  • 2020

Zurich’s old railway station is making way for a giant prison, soon to be filled with rejected refugees. Their testimonies urn the spectacle of transformation, shot entirely from the filmmaker’s
window, into a vision for our times.
More info


The New Gospel

  • Milo Rau
  • 2020

The story of the crucifixion of Jesus gains topical relevance in this docufictional film about alarming conditions for illegal farm workers in southern Italy. A convincing passion play, making-of
film, and powerful statement against exploitation.
More info


Nothing but the Sun

  • Arami Ullón
  • 2020

For years, Mateo Sobode Chiqueno has been visiting Ayoreo communities in Paraguay with an antique cassette recorder to register conversations, stories, and songs of his people. This heritage
contains the poignant testimonies of a disappearing culture.
More info



  • Yoichiro Okutani
  • 2020

Odoriko are the dancers of the dying Japanese striptease theater. An intimate observation of the moments backstage when, stripped of their costumes, they chat, eat, and philosophize—until it’s
time to get ready for the next act.
More info


Radiograph of a Family

  • Firouzeh Khosrovani
  • 2020

Director Firouzeh Khosrovani is the daughter of a secular father and a devout Muslim mother, co-existing under one roof in Tehran. The Islamic Revolution took place in their home, affecting
every corner of their family life.
More info


Le temps perdu

  • Maria Alvarez
  • 2020

At a cafe in Buenos Aires, a group of aging Marcel Proust fans have been getting together for years to read In Search of Lost Time, the author’s seven-part classic novel. This black-and-white
film celebrates writing, reading, and bygone times.
More info


War and Peace

  • Massimo D'Anolfi, Martina Parenti
  • 2020

Every day we can witness scenes from countless violent conflicts all over the world, through television, news sites, social media and newspaper images. This exciting, dreamlike film explores the
intimate relationship between war and cinema.
More info


White Cube

  • Renzo Martens
  • 2020

Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent: they successfully co-opt the concept of the “white cube” gallery space as a means to stop the commercial exploitation of their land by
multinationals such as Unilever.
More info

Check our pick of the festival:  our titles include the festival’s opening film and Feature-Length Competition entry Nothing but the Sun (Apenas el sol) by Paraguayan director Arami Ullón, whose previous work includes Paraguay’s first ever Oscar submission El tiempo nublado. Also in the IDFA Feature-Length Competition is Nemesis. For over seven years, Thomas Imbach filmed the construction site in front of his studio, as a distinctive freight station is replaced by a repatriation center.

The Last Hillbilly will celebrate its world premiere in IDFA’s Competition for First Appearance, after it received the ACID Cannes 2020 label.  

Celebrated filmmaker Simone Bitton (WallRachel) heads to the fest’s Masters strand with the world premiere of Ziyara.

‘Til Kingdom Come, exposing the controversial bond between American Evangelicals and Jews, is making its way to IDFA’s Best of Fest along with mother-daughter drama Long Live Love by Sine Skibsholt, who returns to IDFA after her previous film Who We Were won IDFA's Award for Best First Appearance in 2016.

by Arami Ullón
Switzerland / Paraguay, 2020, 71’
world premiere
Facing the consequences of a violent uprooting, Mateo Sobode Chiqueno has been recording stories, songs and testimonies of his Ayoreo people since the seventies. In an attempt to preserve fragments of a disappearing culture, Mateo walks across communities in the arid and desolate Paraguayan Chaco region, and registers on cassettes the experiences of other Ayoreo who, like him, were born in the vast forest, free and nomadic, without any contact with white civilization, until religious missionaries forced them to abandon their ancestral territory, their means of subsistence, their beliefs, and their home.

by Thomas Imbach
Switzerland, 2020, 132’
international premiere
The old freight station in Zürich once brought prosperity to the city. Its construction unleashed a flow of goods and unveiled new access to the world. But 125 years later, this symbol of international exchange and movement is making way for control, isolation and national security. A new Prison and Police Centre is planned to rise in its place, designed to accommodate people awaiting deportation.
Shot entirely from his window, film maker Thomas Imbach has observed the construction site for over seven years, wringing life and beauty from the restless movement of machines and people that are reshaping the area. Fueled by Imbach’s consternation, and accompanied by both his personal chronicle, along with testimonies of newly arrived immigrants, Nemesis probes how we deal with the extinction of history.

by Diane Sara Bouzgarrou & Thomas Jenkoe
France / Qatar, 2020, 80’
world premiere
ACID Cannes 2020 label 
In the state of Kentucky, it is often said that its residents feel less American than Appalachian. Reeling from the effects of an economic downturn, mines that used to employ thousands sit empty across a wild, rolling landscape. Those remaining in the area are often referred to disparagingly as “hillbillies”. For Brian Ritchie, a gentle local worker and loving father, this term is a provocation to be proud of, regularly using it in his affirming, vulnerable poetry to outline his identity and subvert stereotypes.

The Last Hillbilly breaks away from traditional narratives around the American wilderness and offers a cinematic last witness to a quickly vanishing world waiting to be reinvented.

by Simone Bitton
France, 2020, 99’
world premiere
In Morocco, Ziyara - the visit of the Saints - is a popular tradition shared by both Jews and Muslims. As part of a cinematic pilgrimage to her Jewish roots, director Simone Bitton embarks on a road trip across Morocco to meet with the muslim guardians of the country’s jewish memory.

by Maya Zinshtein
Israel / UK / Norway, 2020, 76’
Millions of American Evangelicals are praying for the State of Israel. Among them are the Binghams, a dynasty of Kentucky pastors, and their Evangelical congregants in an impoverished coal mining town. They donate sacrificially to Israel’s foremost philanthropic organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, because they fervently believe the Jews are crucial to Jesus’s return. This film traces this unusual relationship, from rural Kentucky to the halls of government in Washington, through the moving of the American Embassy in Jerusalem and to the annexation plan of the West-Bank.

With unparalleled access, 'Til Kingdom Come exposes a stunning backstory of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, where financial, political and messianic motivations intersect with the apocalyptic worldview that is insistently reshaping American foreign policy toward Israel and the Middle-East.

by Sine Skibsholt
Denmark, 2020, 79’ 
Long Live Love is a coming-of-age story about Rosemarie - a teenager whose life has repeatedly introduced a seriousness, for which she is far too young. After beating cancer, twice, Rosemarie is now eager to get back to a typical teenage life of partying, drinking and kissing boys. But in the aftermath of her daughter’s illness, Rosemarie’s mother is paralyzed by fear of losing her and thus a constant reminder to Rosemarie that she was ill.

The film unfolds an intense mother-daughter drama, which Rosemarie must go through in order to understand and reconnect with her mother, while also trying to find herself in the midst of the chaos of life. 


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