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Orwa Nyrabia named IDFA artistic director

Syrian-born filmmaker and festival director Orwa Nyrabia has been appointed artistic director for the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Nyrabia succeeds Ally Derks, the founder of IDFA, who announced her departure ...
January 30, 2018

Syrian-born filmmaker and festival director Orwa Nyrabia has been appointed artistic director for the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

Nyrabia succeeds Ally Derks, the founder of IDFA, who announced her departure from the festival in 2016 after 30 years at the helm.

Visual artist and filmmaker Barbara Visser was appointed by IDFA’s board to handle the 2017 festival program as interim artistic director.

Nyrabia, director of the 2013 Sundance-winning Return to Homs, has been previously been involved with IDFA in a variety of roles. Most recently, he worked as a programmer on the “Shifting Perspectives: The Arab World” program, while having also served as a festival juror and a mentor and advisor for the IDFA Academy and the IDFA Bertha Fund.

In 2008, Nyrabia founded DOX BOX as the first documentary festival in Syria, bringing renowned filmmakers D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, Patricio Guzmán and Nicolas Philibert to the city of Damascus.

Arrested for his political activism in 2012 in Syria, the docmaker fled the country following his release, working as a producer in Egypt and Berlin.

Nyrabia is a member of the Academy for Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Deutsche Filmakademie, the International Documentary Association and the European Documentary Network.

“With his knowledge of the documentary world, his international background and inspirational personality, Orwa is exactly the right person to consolidate IDFA’s position as the most important documentary film festival in the world,” said IDFA board chair Derk Sauer in a statement.

“The appointment of a new artistic director is an extremely painstaking process, and we have spent a year on this,” added festival director Cees van ‘t Hullenaar. “Orwa is a powerful voice in the international documentary field, has a sharp cinematographic eye, a great knowledge of film history and is socially very committed.”

The 30th edition of IDFA takes place Nov. 14-25 in Amsterdam.

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