IDFA ’13: “Song from the Forest” wins in Amsterdam

Michael Obert's Song from the Forest (pictured) won the prize for best feature-length documentary at IDFA in Holland, while Mona Friis Bertheussen's Twin Sisters took the audience award.
November 29, 2013

Michael Obert’s Song from the Forest (pictured) won the prize for best feature-length documentary at IDFA in Holland, while Mona Friis Bertheussen’s Twin Sisters took the audience award.

Obert’s doc looks at Louis Sarno, an American who decides to take his son to the U.S. for the first time after spending 25 years living with a tribe of pygmies in a jungle in Central Africa.

Twin Sisters, meanwhile, tells the story of Chinese twins who are adopted in two completely different parts of world, before being re-united by fate.

Elsewhere, IDFA presented a special jury award to Khalo Matabane’s A Letter to Nelson Mandela, which sees the filmmaker taking a critical look at the world statesman, his status, and his role in the reforms that took place in South Africa in the 1990s.

Morgan Neville received the IDFA Melkweg Music Documentary Audience Award for Twenty Feet from Stardom; while the award for student competition went to Ricardas Marcinkus for Final Destination.

The award for first appearance, meanwhile, was presented to Farida Pacha for My Name Is Salt, which observes the labor-intensive process of salt extraction in an Indian desert. The latter film was made with financial support from the IDFA Bertha Fund, and was selected for the IDFA WorldView Summer School in 2009.

The jury also presented an extra award in memory of the late filmmaker Peter Wintonick: the Peter Wintonick Special Jury Award for First Appearance. The award went to Linda Västrik for Forest of the Dancing Spirits, a portrait of a tribe of pygmies in Central Africa.

The award for Dutch documentary went to breast cancer doc Awake in a Bad Dream, by Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster; while the film A Home for Lydia, by Eline Helena Schellekens, was voted by a children’s jury as the best Dutch youth documentary of the past year.

Meanwhile, the winner of the IDFA award for best mid-length documentary was Pussy Versus Putin, from Russian Collective Gogol’s Wives Productions. IDFA’s jury called the film “a brilliant and important account of the story of the collective group Pussy Riot told trough marvelous and precious footage.”

Finally, the IDFA DOC U Award, presented by a jury of young people, went to Joe Piscatella for #chicagoGirl – The Social Network takes on a Dictator; while the Firestarters IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling was won by Jonathan Harris’s web doc I Love Your Work.

The awards ceremony for the 26th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) took place at Amsterdam’s Compagnietheater this evening (November 29).

The awards come as the festival stated today that, although it runs until Sunday (December 1), it can already state that it will have welcomed more visitors than last year, with roughly 222,000 attending screenings – up from 14,000 from 208,000 in 2012.

Next year’s festival will take place from November 19-30, 2014.

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