Documentary Festival IDFA Reveals Wang Bings Top 10 Chinese Films, Focus Program Lineups

Documentary festival IDFA, which runs Nov. 8 to 19 in Amsterdam, has revealed Guest of Honor Wang Bing‘s top 10 Chinese films of recent decades. The Chinese filmmaker’s selection will take the viewer “on a contemplative journey into contemporary Chinese cinema,” according to the festival.

In a statement, IDFA said: “The films and their politics are subtle in their film language, representing a wave of filmmaking rarely shown internationally.” The selection, which covers films produced since 1999, includes Lixin Fan’s 2009 film “Last Train Home,” which was supported by IDFA’s Bertha Fund. The film documents the millions of migrant factory workers that travel home for Spring Festival each year.

The festival has also revealed the films playing in two of the three Focus programs: Fabrications, which probes the difference between reality and realism, and 16 Worlds on 16, an homage to 16mm film.

Fabrications explores the relationship of trust between documentary film and audiences, presenting 10 films that test the limits of the format’s promise of truth. IDFA said: “The program explores the documentary form as realism, as opposed to reality, and encourages audiences to think more deeply about how all realities are fabricated on screen.”

The selection includes the late Safi Faye’s docufiction about the village in which she was born, “Letter From My Village,” and Massoud Bakhshi’s kaleidoscopic city portrait “Tehran Has No More Pomegranates!” The first four titles in the program have been announced; the remainder will be made public in October.

The 16 Worlds on 16 program looks back on 100 years since Kodak introduced 16mm. It explores how the film format influenced the history of documentary film. The less expensive and lighter alternative to 35mm cameras enabled experimental and independent filmmaking to flourish, also making it more accessible for less represented communities.

The films include Sara Gómez’s “The Other Island” that addressed Cuba’s inequalities between sections of society, as well as cinema verité classics, such as Agnès Varda’s “Daguerréotypes,” and examples of metaphorical critiques of authority to bypass censorship, such as Abbas Kiarostami’s exploration into revolutionary mindsets in “First Case, Second Case.” All 16 titles that make up the program have been announced.

The third Focus program is Corresponding Cinemas, which is a series of films and conversations on the connections between filmmakers.

IDFA said: “Placing connectivity and creative influence in the spotlight, Corresponding Cinemas will examine the ways through which the work of each filmmaker has inspired the work of the other, offering a glimpse into cinema’s endless relay of creative connections.”

The program will start with Sky Hopinka, and will then explore the work of and connections between Basma al- Sharif, Jumana Manna, Ibrahim Shaddad and Abderrahmane Sissako. The program will also show nine titles by the filmmakers.

Wang’s selection is as follows:
“Before the Flood” (2005), directed by Yifan Li, Yu Yan
“Bing’ai” (2007), directed by Yan Feng
“Born in Beijing” (2011), directed by Li Ma
“Last Train Home” (2009), directed by Lixin Fan
“The Next Life” (2011), directed by Jian Fan
“Old Men” (1999), directed by Lina Yang
“Petition” (2009), directed by Liang Zhao
“To Live Is Better Than to Die” (2003), directed by Weijun Chen
“Wheat Harvest” (2008), directed by Tong Xu
“When the Bough Breaks” (2011), directed by Dan Ji

Focus program: Fabrications
“Bushman,” directed by David Schickele (U.S.)
“The Connection,” directed by Shirley Clarke (U.S.)
“Letter From My Village,” directed by Safi Faye (Senegal)
“Tehran Has No More Pomegranates!,” directed by Massoud Bakhshi (Iran)

Focus program: 16 Worlds on 16
“Africa, I Will Fleece You,” directed by Jean-Marie Teno (Cameroon, France, Germany)
“Daguerréotypes,” directed by Agnès Varda (France)
“Fireworks,” directed by Kenneth Anger (U.S.)
“First Case, Second Case,” directed by Abbas Kiarostami (Iran)
“The First Year,” directed by Patricio Guzmán (Chile)
“Fogo, l’île de feu,” directed by Sarah Maldoror (France, Cape Verde)
“From the East,” directed by Chantal Akerman (Belgium, France, Portugal)
“Goodbye CP,” directed by Kazuo Hara (Japan)
“Meshes of the Afternoon,” directed by Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid (U.S.)
“A Moment in Love,” directed by Shirley Clarke (U.S.)
“On the Other Island,” directed by Sara Gómez (Cuba)
“Pull My Daisy,” directed by Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie (U.S.)
“Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania,” directed by Jonas Mekas (U.S.)
“Salesman,” directed by Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin (U.S.)
“Step by Step,” directed by Ossama Mohammed (Syria)
“Twenty Years Later,” directed by Eduardo Coutinho (Brazil)

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