IDFA films

Mr. Landsbergis
Lithuania, the Netherlands – 2021 – Sergei Loznitsa – 246 min.

Sergei Loznitsa is a consummate chronicler of the history of Eastern Europe, covering both fairly recent events such as the Ukrainian revolt in Maidan (2014) and earlier ones such as Stalin’s funeral in State Funeral (2019). Always vigilant in his representation of the past, he skillfully uses archive footage to make you feel like you are an eyewitness. So too in this film about the Baltic nation of Lithuania from 1989 to 1991, when it broke away from the Soviet Union. This period of peaceful protests involving lots of singing came to be known as the “singing revolution.”

As one of the founders of the independence movement, the now 88-year-old Vytautas Landsbergis found himself at the center of a radical historic shift. His perceptive reflections are complemented by extensive archive footage of demonstrations, party congresses, and Soviet military intervention. The lengthy archive segments bear witness to the patience required of Landsbergis and his compatriots on the path to freedom. A captivating and detailed history lesson on the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Available in Europe except for Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland.

France – 2019 – Madeleine Leroyer – 63 min.

On April 18, 2015, a ship carrying at least 800 refugees sank off the Libyan coast. A year later, the salvaged wreck is brought to a Sicilian military base, where a forensic pathologist and her team are waiting to discover the identity of the victims. At this point, all that remains of victim #387 are remnants of clothing and decaying photographs and letters. Sim cards, soaked banknotes and a tube of toothpaste: these simple belongings have now become macabre still lifes.

In this investigative documentary, others employ their own methods to identify those who died. A researcher visits cemeteries where victims are buried as numbers, and works laboriously through various archives. Meanwhile, a Red Cross worker hopes to speak to possible family members in African villages, to discover the victims’ stories and give them a name.

Available in Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

Chelas Nha Kau
Portugal – 2020 – Bataclan 1950, Bagabaga Studios – 57 min.

The hip-hop beats of rappers Bataclan 1950 reverberate around the stairwells and corridors. In Chelas nha Kau this group of friends from Lisbon use their music to offer a glimpse into the life of the Chelas neighborhood—and they’re frequently found behind the camera too.

From 2016 to 2019, the production house Bagabaga Studios worked with Bataclan 1950 on an honest portrait of daily life in Chelas. In improvised sessions, these young people rap about poverty, racism, love for their hood, and their pent-up anger. A video they make for one of their tracks becomes a YouTube hit.

The outside world has all sorts of preconceptions about Chelas, so life isn’t easy there. Pizza couriers don’t deliver here, and the police crack down so hard that kids are distrustful of them from a very young age. But all that’s counterbalanced by plenty of support, understanding, and solidarity among themselves.

Available in all European countries.

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