The 29th annual event held its awards ceremony on Nov. 23, giving top honors to the five-years-in-the-making Norwegian/Swedish coproduction about an Iraqi nurse forced to flee his home to escape the Islamic State.
The award comes with a €12,500 prize (US$13,200).
“There are those films which are wonderful to see and there are films that the world needs to see,” the jury said in a statement. “The film we choose is both of these things. The experience was immersive and left us deeply touched. The director respected the unique perspective that only the subject could have and in doing so he gave us an unprecedented window into the real-life lasting consequences of war.”
Meanwhile, Chinese director Jian Fan picked up the Special Jury Award for Still Tomorrow, a profile of farmer-turned-poet-turned-media-sensation Xiuhua Yu.
Reber Dosky won best Dutch doc for Radio Kobanî and Guido Hendrikx’s festival opener Stranger in Paradise nabbed Special Jury honors for Dutch documentary.
In all, 16 awards were handed out.
Director Heddy Honigmann presented the €50,000 Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Documentary Award to filmmaker Ester Gould, and, the night before, the IDFA Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ bestowed the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary to Maite Alberdi for The Grown-Ups.
Ali Eslami’s DeathTolls Experience won the Scenic IDFA DocLab Immersive Non-Fiction Award and Mia Donovan’s Deprogrammed won the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling.
In the mid-length doc category, Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry claimed the top honors for Death in the Terminal and Ksenia Okhapkina picked up the Special Jury prize for Come Back Free.
Lastly, the award for best children’s doc went to Daan Bol’s Rocknrollers. Saskia Gubbels won the Special Jury award in the kids category for Naomi’s Secret.
IDFA continues through Nov. 27, when the winner of the VPRO IDFA Audience Award is announced.