The 2020 Amsterdam Independent Film Festival featured an eclectic selection of 24 films by local and international talent. Like previous years, we've also payed tribute to one of the masters of the independent film industry and explore the beginnings of their creative journeys. In 2020, we focused on famed Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman (1950-2015). A pioneer of modern feminist cinema, her oeuvre often explores the mundanities of everyday life with a clear, personal eye and has left a considerable mark on avant-garde cinema.
The announcement of a new partial lockdown on the first evening of this year's festival threatened to throw a wrench in our live event, but we were relieved to hear cinemas were allowed to remain open, at reduced seating capacity. The festival team was very pleased to be able to safely welcome a limited number of guests at our screening venue cult cinema LAB111, a former anatomical pathology hospital.
We are excited to share with you now the 2020 award winners. The jury members have cast their votes and chosen the following films as this year's finest:
The award for Best Narrative Feature Film was given to 'Obscure' (United States) by Kunlin Wang. Obscure is a coming-of-age journey of a teenage boy who sexually awakens after discovering the intimate relationship between his father figure and sister figure. The sibling love and companionship, which once served to counterbalance familial strangeness, is now disturbed and gradually develops into attraction and desire.
Best Documentary Film was awarded to 'At Midnight Plays A Dance-Tune' (Netherlands) by Roy Seerden. When the Dutch filmmaker Roy Seerden’s mother dies, there’s no holding him back. Sex, drugs, roaming through the night: his life transforms into a bundle of energy, grief and detachment. At the same time, he can’t help thinking of Antoine, the strange neighbor from his youth. Antoine the non-conformist, who was eventually thrown out of his home and ended up on the street. Without putting it into words, Seerden draws an obvious parallel between Antoine and himself. Fast-cut collage of images, an experimental explosion of impressions that feel amazingly intimate.
'Birth of a Poet' (United States) by James Franco, Pedro Gómez Millán, Zachary Kerschberg received the prize for Best Narrative Short Film. 'Birth of a Poet' is a dramatic short that captures the moment Stephen Dobyns transitions from a disillusioned journalist to an emerging poet. It is adapted from autobiographical poems.
Best Experimental Film want to 'Shivering Wall' (Taiwan) by Tseng Yu Chin. A dark room. A reverberating bass. A languid heap of teenaged bodies at a house party. A heavy atmosphere. A slight smog represents a spirit in the space. Is the spirit someone else? Is the smog another you – a parallel you from another world to look at your own body in this group full of chaos and desire? All you can do silently look down at your body, and move away quietly.
The prize for Best Animated Film was given to 'Faceshop' (China) by Zhongwen Hu. A shop located in a mysterious street can help people to achieve their dream faces by cutting and modeling. It's called "Faceshop". One day, a man without a face comes to the shop to have his first experience.
'Queen Crocodile' (Belgium) by Charles Habib-Drouot was awarded with the prize for Best Red Lights Film. Rayna is a Bulgarian prostitute, working in Brussels’ Red Light District. One night, she shares a mystical and sexual moment with an African client, who dies shortly after. That night will haunt her…
To conclude, Best Dutch Film went to 'Wald' (Netherlands) by Floortje Pols. The characters in this short drama will be carried away into the behavior of the other. They are shielding their own emotions and will constantly confront and avoid confrontation. Everything to keep going, to gain control over the other, and not to be vulnerable. In this way the public comes across the feeling of being trapped between the desire for invulnerability and the search for rapprochement.
At the Amsterdam Independent Film Festival, we focus on film. The glitz and glamour of show business in the mainstream film festival can sometimes detract from the true purpose of the event — the celebration of creative film-making. The festival will bring independent artistic visions to an audience that demands a more fulfilling experience than the latest Hollywood fare.
Thanks to the amazing support by LAB111, Tarkovski, and Eye Institute.
See you all next year.