IDFA 2023

Here you can learn about the fascinating Nordic docs that are taking part in IDFA 2023. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam is taking place from November 8 to 19.

International Competition

As the Tide Comes In

Juan Palacios / Denmark / 2023 / 89 min / World Premiere

The 27 residents on the tiny Danish Wadden Sea island of Mandø, are used to severe weather and flooding. Climate change has only made things worse and now it poses a serious existential threat to the eight-square-kilometer island. However, its last farmer, Gregers, whose family has lived there for eight generations, hasn’t given up in the face of the impending catastrophe. He refuses to build a life elsewhere and instead hopes to find a wife to manage the farm with him..

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Life Is Beautiful (Al Haya Helwa)

Mohamed Jabaly / Norway / 2023 / 90 min / World Premiere

Living the diaspora wasn’t a choice. In forced exile, in the dark, arctic winter, Palestinian filmmaker Mohamed Jabaly is fighting using his camera to feed hope for a better future.
A young Palestinian filmmaker is invited to Norway to share his work: creating and spreading positive images of his hometown Gaza. While on tour, the border to Gaza closes indefinitely and he is stranded in the Arctic. With nowhere to go, he applies for residency and in the process finds himself stripped of his identity. Thus begins an odyssey through bureaucracy. Refusing to be put in a box, he turns his camera on himself to define his identity, find his future, and create his own story.

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Envision Competition

Chasing the Dazzling Light

Yaser Kassab / Sweden / 2023 / 63 min / World Premiere

A Syrian filmmaker residing in Sweden seeks to capture the essence of his new home Sweden in a new film project. Upon discovering that his father in Aleppo once aspired to study cinema, the two halves of the family come together to collaborate on a poignant and personal film that explores their shared experiences of exile and passion for cinema. In a heartwarming reunion, the family finds a common ground and a newfound sense of connection through the shared process of filmmaking.

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Echo of You

Zara Zerny / Denmark / 2023 / 76 min / World Premiere

When 86-year-old Rene buys flowers, he always thinks about what color his wife would have chosen if she were alive. Like most people in this film, he spent more time with this partner than without.Through candid, revealing interviews, ’Echo of You’, presents a group of Danish men and women, all aged 80+. With poignant openness and honesty, they share their thoughts on their life partnerships; lost loves who, one way or another, are no longer with them. They discuss the heartbreak of losing a life partner, and the ways in which life goes on. Filmmaker Zara Zerny, tenderly brings their individual voices together like a choir, interweaving them with abstract, dreamy images, music and artistic interpretations of their inner lives. Together, they form a collection of diverse perspectives on love, life, loneliness and death, merging into a unique body of testimony.A sensuous, life-affirming portrait of a generation slowly saying goodbye.

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Hiding Saddam Hussein

Halkawt Mustafa / Norway / 2023 / 96 min / World Premiere

During the Iraqi War, a simple farmer gets a visitor on his doorstep, a man he must hide from family, friends and 150.000 American soldiers. One of the biggest manhunts of the past decades has started. The guest is Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

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Son of the Mullah

Nahid Persson Sarvestani / Sweden / 2023 / 100 min / International Premiere

The Iranian journalist Rohollah Zam was born into a high-ranking clerical family. Later having opposed the regime he leaves the country for France, where he starts a news channel, exposing the regime’s money laundering. In 2019, the director starts to film Rohollah in hiding. The regime manages to infiltrate his network, planting ‘moles’ posing as critics of the regime. Months into the shoot Roholla is lured into a trap and kidnapped to Iran.”

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Breaking Social

Fredrik Gertten / Sweden / 2023 / 93 min / Dutch Premiere

All societies are based on the idea of the social contract. We give up a part of our individual freedom to get protection from our state. We elect representatives to govern us. We study, we work, we pay taxes. It should pay off, but then we have the rule breakers – who make the real profit, extracting wealth, creating a frustration and division in society.”

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Songs of Earth

Margreth Olin / Norway / 2023 / 91 min / Dutch Premiere

Songs of Earth is a majestic symphony for the big screen. With Olin’s 85-year-old father as a guide, we experience Norway’s most scenic valley, Oldedalen in Nordfjord. This is where he grew up and where generations before him have lived in balance with nature. Majestic images of wild mountains, calving glaciers, and bustling wildlife go side by side with the parents’ stories about the generations who trod the trails, the relationship we have with nature, and what is valuable in life. The music is composed of unique sound recordings – nature’s own melodies, translated and performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra.

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IDFA Competition for Youth Documentary 9-12

Girl Away from Home

Simon Lereng Wilmont, Alisa Kovalenko / Denmark, Norway / 2023 / 22 min / World Premiere

Nastia (13) is an elite gymnast in Kiev. Her teammates are her best friends. After months of hard work, they win the Ukrainian championship. A month after the win, a war breaks out in Ukraine. Nastia and her grandmother has to flee to Germany leaving friends and family in Ukraine. Nastia has a tough time in Germany. But when she joins a German gymnastics team, things start to brighten.

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Eternal Father

Ömer Sami / Denmark / 2023 / 31 min / International Premiere

Afraid that he won’t be around to see his children grow up, Nasar decides to be cryonically frozen upon death. As his family grapples with what it means for their lives, and whether they should follow suit, Nasar is forced to reassess what truly matters in life. A life-affirming and thought-provoking exploration of how we deal with mortality.

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IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

How to Please

Elina Talvensaari / Finland / 2023 / 28 min / World Premiere

In How to Please Iraqi Wed Al-Asadi tells his story how he got stuck in the Finnish asylum system. He tries his best to get through the bureaucratic maze but realizes getting out becomes even more difficult than getting in.

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Best of Fests


Hanna Badziaka, Alexander Mihalkovich / Sweden / 2023 / 96 min / Dutch Premiere

Two filmmakers bring the frontline home when they expose the consequences of staying silent against a tide of autocratic violence within the military system that bleeds over to the streets of Belarus. A journalist and former military conscript join together to expose both the personal and global consequences of autocratic and institutional violence when used as a societal tool of suppression. Are we, ask the filmmakers, responsible for our world by being silent against it?

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Smoke Sauna Sisterhood

Anna Hints / Estonia, France, Iceland / 2023 / 89 min / Dutch Premiere

Tucked in a lush green forest in southern Estonia, a group of women gather in the safe darkness of a smoke sauna to share their innermost thoughts and secrets. Enveloped by a warm, dense heat, they bare all to expel fears and shame trapped in their bodies and regain their strength.

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