30th edition of IDFA brings back Short Film Docs comp with a win for Polish film Zhalanash

With the IDFA Competition for Short Documentary having been reinstated this year due to the “growing number of high-quality short films” (as an official statement from the festival read this year), short documentaries were once again given the opportunity to shine at the documentary festival which ran from 15-26 November.

While the short documentary had been present in the IDFA Competition for Student Documentary - and were also screened in other sections of the festival - the short documentaries with a length of 40 minutes or under now had a chance to compete on their own turf. 15 international documentaries were selected and screened in five blocks during a special 'Shorts Day'

Included amongst the films was the world premiere of Love Letters (Dir. Tara Fallaux, The Netherlands) follows five protagonists who are still in the business of writing love letters. The award winning Syrian-Swedish coproduction One Day in Aleppo (Dir. Ali Alibrahim) also got an outing

The ulitmate winner of the 2017 IDFA Best Short Documentary - with an endowment of 5000EUR - was Polish film Zhalanash – Empty Shore (Dir. Marcin Sauter) – perhaps appropriate given that the last winner of the IDFA Best Documentary Short was the 2009 Polish effort Six Weeks (Dir. Marcin Janos Krawczyk)

Zhalanash - Empty Shore examines a fishing village on the shores of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan where the village is now run dry and deserted. The film had its premiere at the 57th Krakow Film Festival where its Polish director received the Award of the Polish Filmmakers Association.

The jury said that it's "...  a film that portrays life in a bleak and almost apocalyptic setting with humor and many absurd moments. Through carefully observed vignettes, the film enters a microcosm that shows a community that has to live with the consequences of a megalomaniac, political decision. With a compassionate and humanistic approach, the director of this film presents visual metaphors for resilience in a post-Soviet reality. "

The IDFA Special Jury Award for Short Documentary - worth 2500 EUR - went to As We’re Told (Dirs. Erik Holmström and Fredrik Wenze, Sweden). The film makes creative and uniique use of cardboard puppets to explore the failure of the Swedish employment system.

The international jury consisted of award winning Hungarian director Tamás Almási (director of the film Tititá) and Argentine producer Gema Juarez (Road to La Paz). They are joined by photographer and filmmaker Dana Lixenberg (winner of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2017).

 The full list of winning shorts at IDFA 2017 is:

IDFA Award for Best Short Documentary

Zhalanash – Empty Shore (Dir. Marcin Sauter, Poland)

IDFA Special Jury Award for Short Documentary

As We’re Told–(Dirs. Erik Holmström & Fredrik Wenzel, Sweden).

IDFA Special Jury Award for Student Documentary

I Am (Dir. Denise Kelm Soares, Cuba/ Brazil)

IDFA Award for Best Children’s Documentary

Lenno & the Angelfish – (Dir. Shamira Raphaëla, The Netherlands)

IDFA Special Jury Award for Children’s Documentary

L I S T E N (Dir. Astrid Bussink, The Netherlands)

05 December 2017, by Sabine Kues