Notes from IDFA

Hi Brett – I know I’m not supposed to blog this way… summing everything up on the plane ride home. That’s more of a report.

But it’s very hard to blog from IDFA, where the FORUM starts at 9am, the films play 18 hours a day (in the case of Frederick Wiseman I think that’s only 2 of his films back-to-back), the parties go literally until dawn. So it feels like one long continuous day of documentary surreality. And I would have to say this year was the best I ever experienced, but I remember very little.

Some snippets: We screened Rip! Remix Manifesto as part of the audience choice retrospective (and then it went on to with Audience Favorite in the Dutch TV broadcast that week), after which a bunch of anarchist videobloggers swifted me away into a taxi to some squat/art house where they we’re conducting Vlog Europe 09. I have no idea what it was but there were a whole lotta laptops and cables. Then they gave me directions how to get home by tram (which I’m actually grateful for, because it gave me a chance to see the city the normal way).

Next, we were playing LAST TRAIN HOME to 800 people in the beautiful Tuschinki cinema, after with I met with the fascinating Dutch filmmaker/artist provocateur Renzo Martens (ENJOY POVERTY) and we had a drink while he gave me a complete breakdown of what was wrong with Last Train Home (the Dutch? Blunt?) and I gave advice on how to clear copyright on a Neil Young song (he would email me a few days later, after the award, letting me know he might have been mistaken in his Last Train assessment). After that, we presented TAQWACORE as part of the sold-out triple bill RockDocs section (thanks Martijn, programmer extraordinaire), where we played in with the new Julian Temple (THE FILTH AND THE FURY) film about Dr. FeelGood, called OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL. Awesome. Then the Doors film played (Narrated by Johnny Depp as if he were reading a coffee table book for 11 year olds) and all I can say about that film is thank god you can drink beer and heckle in Dutch cinemas.

The FORUM was cool – I would say the highlights to me were HEAVY METAL ISLAM pitch and ANGRY INUK. Nice to see all those people pitching films and the broadcasters finding new ways to be non-committal and cool.

The low-light of the festival would have to be valliant filmmaker Mitchell Kezin losing his cell phone, finding his cell phone, then losing his wallet and passport to a pick-pocket in a ten minute span LIVE ON DUTCH TV! Next day he had to then travel to the Hague to get a new temp passport right before flying off. And I hear that lots of people were similarly scammed that week. Boo!

The highlight would have to be, of course, the final awards night – which we won best feature for LAST TRAIN HOME, and then we left the awards celebration to rush off to the TAQWACORE screening (across town, who schedules these things? Oh yeah: Martijn. Curse you.) at this incredible cultural center / cinema in the Muslim quarter. Omar gives the best Q+A’s. Then we went back to our houseboat for the final party (I think) which had been pretty much rolling continuously since Day 3 of the festival, the highlight of which was either David from True/False on D.J. duties dropping “I’m on a Boat” by Lonely Planet, or Daniel and Martijn swapping clothes in the middle of the dance floor.

Anyway, thanks to Ally, Adriek, Martijn, Anne, Isabel all all the IDFA people and volunteers who made it such a great fest. And to Catherine Le Clef for keeping up with all the chaos in having to represent Last Train Home for us. And to all of EyeSteelFilm for pulling it off in the first place.