The Nordic films heading to this years IDFA


Amateurs in Space dir. Max Kestner

Screening as part of the IDFA Feature-length Documentary Competition

Peter Madsen (42) and Kristian von Bengtson (39) are both working hard to make their dream come true. They are busy building a spaceship that must be able to take a man into space. Peter is the astronaut on the first trip, because Kristian’s girlfriend demanded it. Peter and Kristian are standing in an old dirty workshop at Refshaleøen in Copenhagen, where they are building their spaceship. Kristian arrives every day at 9.15 A.M. when he has dropped off his children in daycare. Just before arriving at the workshop, he sends a text to Peter to let him know he is on his way. This gives Peter just enough time to roll out of his berth from underneath the spaceship and get dressed. Peter Madsen is a self-taught submarine builder; specializing in making the impossible happen. He is responsible for the booster part that is supposed to take the spacecraft out of Earth’s atmosphere. Kristian von Bengtson has previously worked for NASA and is responsible for building the actual spacecraft that is to take Peter into space – and back home again. Everything in the spacecraft’s structure is home made and the materials are all bought at the local DIY shop.

Dream Empire dir. David Borenstein

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for First Appearance

Suky’s selling the illusion of a never-ending boom to Chinese home-buyers. But like the people he’s helping to dupe, he too makes painful sacrifices to buy into the “Chinese Dream”.

Everyday Projects dir. Austin Merrill/Peter DiCampo/Bjarke Myrthu

Screening as part of the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling

How to Meet a Mermaid dir. Coco Schrijber (co-production with The Netherlands/Belgium)

In How To Meet a Mermaid the sea connects the lives of Rebecca, Lex and Miguel in, on and under the surface of the water. The sea is both beauty and danger, friend and foe. Through the mood of the ocean, the audience becomes part of the doubts, sadness and courage of the protagonists who seek help in the ocean. Director Coco Schrijber also turns to the ocean for answers about her missing brother Lex, but however understanding, vigorous or tranquil the sea is, eventually it is just water and indifferent to our questions. Rebecca, Lex, Miguel and their family left behind must fend for themselves.

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary & IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

News Globus dir. Mikio Kiura/Sena Partal/Bjørn Karmann/Charles Gedeon

Screening as part of the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling


A Place Called Lloyd (2016)
A Place Called Lloyd (2016)

A Place Called Lloyd dir. Sebastian Cordes 

Screening as part of The Quiet Eye

Bolivia’s proud air carrier LAB went bankrupt in 2008. But the workers still come to work, look after the planes and keep the place going – all without getting a single Boliviano for their troubles. And all in the hope that their company will one day be airborne again. The Danish filmmaker Sebastian Cordes has made an almost photographic portrait of a determined but toughly challenged community, which defies the crisis and refuses to let itself be thrown off the track. But when you – like one of the airline’s pilots tells us without blinking, in a scene that is bound to give anyone a tremendous fear of flying – has tried to crash-land a plane after a bomber has blown himself to pieces three kilometres up in the air, you have seen it all. Life in the living ruin of a hangar continues, and when Lloyd Aereo Boliviano one day gets its license back, there will be both life jackets under the seats and paperwork that is in order. ‘A Place Called Lloyd’ is a stylistically and photographically complete portrait of a resilient community.

Those Who Jump (2016)
Those Who Jump (2016)

Those Who Jump dir. Estephan Wagner/Moritz Siebert/Abou Bakar Sidibé

Screening as part of Best of Fests

Mount Gurugu overlooks the Spanish enclave of Melilla on northern Africa’s Mediterranean coast. The European Union and Africa are separated here by a high-security border facility consisting of three fences. Refugees, mostly from the sub-Saharan region, live in the tree-covered foothills, from where they try to cross the land border between Morocco and Spain. One of them is Abou Bakar Sidibé from Mali, who in Les Sauteurs is both the protagonist and the one doing the documenting.

Venus dir. Lea Glob/Mette Carla Albrechtsen

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for First Appearance

In VENUS young Copenhagen women reclaim the casting couch in order to look for female role models. Driven by questions raised from their own sexual frustrations, growing up, two female directors invite 100 different young women for an erotic audition that will challenge the bravest to reconstruct their most memorable sexual experience.

The Wait dir. Emil Langballe

Screening as part of Panorama

In 2010 Rokhsar and her family fled Afghanistan because they were afraid of the Taliban and after six months of illegal border crossing through Europe they ended up in Denmark where they sought asylum. Nevertheless, the Danish immigration authorities doubt their story and the fact that they will be persecuted if they return to Afghanistan which means that they have been denied asylum several times. Now they are staying in Denmark illegally and can be deported any time. Most of the other family members are very traumatized by the circumstances around the escape and since Rokhsar is the only one who speaks Danish fluently, she has undertaken the burden of fighting the authorities in order to change their decision.  In spite of her young age Rokhsar is dealing with the immigration authorities, lawyers and different NGOs and every time they get mail from the authorities about their case, Rokhsar has to translate and explain the content to the rest of the family. Sometimes she even withholds information from her parents because she is afraid that it will have a negative impact on their fragile mental state. This immense burden means that she has been rapidly forced into adulthood – the pressure affects her enormously and it is very difficult for her to manage school, friends and hobbies at the same time. As Rokhsar turns 16 the family is up for the final option to get asylum, this time the case is build on Rokhsar’s strong integration. But carrying her family’s destiny on her tiny shoulders comes with a price.

The War Show (2016)
The War Show (2016)

The War Show dir. Andreas Mol Dalsgaard

Screeing as part of Best of Fests

In March 2011, radio host Obaidah Zytoon and her circle of friends join the street protests against President Bashar al-Assad, as the Arab Spring reaches Syria. Knowing their country would be changed forever, this group of artists and activists begin filming their lives and the events around them. But as the regime’s violent response spirals the country into a bloody civil war, their hopes for a better future will be tested by violence, imprisonment and death. Obaidah leaves Damascus and journeys around the country, from her hometown of Zabadani, to the center of the rebellion in Homs, and to northern Syria where she witnesses the rise of extremism. A deeply personal road movie, the film captures the fate of Syria through the intimate lens of a small circle of friends.

Who We Were dir. Sine Skibsholt

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for First Appearance

A life like so many others: Kristian and Mette Line have been together for 12 years. In the beginning it was all about falling in love, travelling the world and careers. Later, it grew from a life of just “you and me” into a family and now they have two children named Celeste and Cyron. Two years ago, they bought their dream house, where they planned to live out their dream of the good life, until one day Kristian suffers a stroke. It destroys one third of his brain. The damage is irreversible, and life as they knew it is gone. Forever.



The Good Postman dir. Tonislav Hristov 

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

While running for mayor of a small Bulgarian village troubled by the refugee crisis, the local postman learns that while good intentions are not enough, even the smallest deeds matter.

A small Bulgarian village just by the Turkish border has been resisting foreign invaders since the times of the Ottoman Empire. Now its electorate of 38 elderly Bulgarians is facing a tough decision.

The Great Gate, as the village has been called for centuries because of its location, has found itself in the middle of a European crisis, as at night asylum seekers sneak passing the border. The forgotten village has become the most important secret loophole of Europe.

Ivan, the local postman, has a vision. He decides to run for mayor and bring the dying village back to life by welcoming refugees. His opponents want to close their eyes, close down the border and reintroduce communism. As the campaign goes on, Ivan soon learns that while good intentions are not enough, even the smallest deeds matter.

Machines dir. Rahul Jain (co-production with India/Germany)

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary / Assembling Reality

Minispectacles Albuquerque Straight dir. Maarit Suomi-Väänänen 

Screening as part of Paradocs

Time Capsule (2016)
Time Capsule (2016)

Time Capsule dir. Jan Ijäs

Screening as part of Paradocs

Belgian artist Louis de Cordier bought piece of land above the snow level from Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain. De Cordier has now built an underground library and a seedbank for non-genetically modified plants. The location at a height of 2000 metres above sea level, small temperature fluctuation, and dry climate slow the erosion of time. The architecture of the buildings draws on the design language of the visionary American architect and theoretician Buckminster Fuller.

What Is Community? dir. Erkka Nissinen

Screening as part of Paradocs: Amsterdam Art Weekend at IDFA

Ellen de Bruijne projects is proud to present the new video installation by Erkka Nissinen: “What is Community?”. This absurd, but critical movie reflects on the contemporary tendency of reality TV, where truth and fiction are no longer visible and where entertainment is moving further to “the borders of society”. Nissinen is using this time ink-drawings in a stop motion technique to tell his story, accompanied by his hillarious and dry comments as voice over. 


La Chana dir. Lucija Stojevic (co-production with Spain and the USA)

Screening as part of Panorama

In the 1960s and 1970s, self-taught Gypsy dancer, Antonia Santiago Amador, known as La Chana, was one of the biggest stars in the flamenco world, surprising audiences worldwide with her innovative style and use of rhythm.  Peter Sellers, with whom she features in The Bobo (1967) invited her to Hollywood. Instead, at the peak of her career, she suddenly disappeared from the scene.

La Chana is a feature documentary that brings us under the skin and into the mind of La Chana as she returns to the stage to give a final seated performance after a 30-year break.  Along the way, La Chana reveals the secret behind her disappearance: for 18 years she was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her first husband.


Ambulance (2016)
Ambulance (2016)

Ambulance dir. Mohamed Jabaly

Screening as part of Best of Fests

A raw, first-person account of the last war in Gaza in the summer of 2014. Mohamed Jabaly, a young man from Gaza City, joins an ambulance crew as war approaches, looking for his place in a country under siege, where at times there seems to be no foreseeable future. While thousands of things are published on the recurring violence in Gaza, the stories behind them remain hidden. Not this one.

Dugma – The Button dir. Paul Refsdal

Screening as part of Best of Fests

When al Qaida in Syria are up against a seemingly impenetrable enemy position, they send in the Martyrdom Seekers – volunteers who drive a truck or an armored personnel carrier loaded with tons of explosives towards the enemy and detonate the load. These operations are simply known among the Jihadis by the Arabic word for button – Dugma. In the film Dugma we follow four Martyrdom Seekers in their daily lives waiting for their turn to go on the final mission.

Forever Pure dir. Maya Zinshtein (co-production with Ireland/The Netherlands/Israel/England/)

Screening as part of Best of Fests

Beitar Jerusalem Football Club is the most controversial sports team in Israel. Loyal fans, known as La Familia, take pride in Beitar being the only team in the Israeli Premier League that has never fielded an Arab player. In 2012, team owner Arcadi Gaydamak, a Russian-born billionaire and failed mayoral candidate in Jerusalem, signs two Muslim players from Chechnya. Their presence turns La Familia into opponents of their own team and initiates an ideological contest with wide ripples.

Filmmaker Maya Zinshtein embeds herself inside the locker room and among the fans, as they are caught up in the manic and intersecting worlds of sports, religious fanaticism, and Israeli politics. The young Chechen players, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev, isolated from their homeland, are taunted by calls of “death to Arabs” and live under constant threat. The Israeli players are caught between loyalty for their new teammates and allegiance to their old fans. When team captain Ariel Harush attempts to bridge the divide, he pays dearly for it.


Liberation Day dir. Morten Traavik/Ugis Olte

Screening as part of Music Documentary

Mogadishu Soldier dir. Torstein Grude

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary / Assembling Reality

The film captures the ongoing war in Mogadishu, Somalia, not from the white Western filmmaker’s perspective, but from the perspective of two Burundian soldiers who are deployed there to fight the Islamist extremists Al-Shebaab. The soldiers undergo a basic technical film course at Piraya Film AS before going to war.

Nowhere to Hide dir. Zaradasht Ahmed

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

Remember Me? dir. Ragnhild Nøst Bergem

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Student Documentary

In 2010 Siri got the diagnosis younger onset dementia at the age of 38. She is now living in an institution, while her husband continues his daily life without her presence at home. In many ways its the memories that create the bonds between us. What happens to the fellowship when the memories fade away? This film follows everyday-life of Siri and two others with the same diagnosis: younger onset dementia.

Thea dir. Halvor Nitteberg

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs

When I Hear the Birds Sing dir. Trine Vallevik Håbjørg 

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs


A Bastard Child dir. Knutte Wester

Screening as part of the IDFA Mid-length Documentary Competition

The Borneo Case (2016)
The Borneo Case (2016)

The Borneo Case dir. Dylan Williams/Erik Pauser

Screening as part of Masters

The Borneo Case is a modern day thriller building upon unique material filmed over 25 years, that tells the epic tale of how the Rainforest was transformed from the home of the last nomads into a land stripped of its natural resources. A story that reveals how billions of dollars of illegal profits solicited by the Chief Minister of Sarawak, the Malaysian part of Borneo, were money laundered with the assistance of the largest global banks into offshore accounts and property portfolios all over the world.

Kiki dir. Sara Jordenö 

Screening as part of Best of Fests

In New York City, LGBTQ youth-of-color gather out on the Christopher Street Pier, practicing a performance-based artform, Ballroom, which was made famous in the early 1990s by Madonna’s music video “Vogue” and the documentary “Paris Is Burning.” Twenty-five years after these cultural touchstones, a new and very different generation of LGBTQ youth have formed an artistic activist subculture, named the Kiki Scene.

KIKI follows seven characters from the Kiki community over the course of four years, using their preparations and spectacular performances at events known as Kiki balls as a framing device while delving into their battles with homelessness, illness and prejudice as well as their gains towards political influence and the conquering of affirming gender-expressions. In KIKI we meet Twiggy Pucci Garçon, the founder and gatekeeper for the Haus of Pucci, Chi Chi, Gia, Chris, Divo, Symba and Zariya. Each of these remarkable young people represents a unique and powerful personal story, illuminating the Kiki scene in particular, as well as queer life in the U.S. for LGBTQ youth-of-color as a whole.

Light Year dir. Mikael Kristersson

Screening as part of The Quiet Eye

The heart of the film is the sundrenched kitchen garden. Towards the street in the west are dense lilac bushes; on the northern side a half-timbered house; a raspberry thicket serves as a border to the southern neighbour and a lush honeysuckle grows on the fence to the parkland in the east. There are out-houses, a chicken run, a bricked -in corner for compost and a herb garden. The giant hawthorn lives side by side with the gnarled old apple tree, and then, there is a throng of birds at all times of the year – the residents, the casuals and the migrants.

With beautiful sequence of shots and meticulously authentic sound, Mikael Kristersson explores the greatness of the small objects in his own garden in Falsterbo, an old village in the south of Sweden. We see the real world from the perspective of the great tit, the wasp and the cabbage butterfly, and we human beings as one species among many. 

The Pearl of Africa / Jonny von Wallström

Screening as part of Panorama

Captures an intimate’s struggle for the right to love. Following a Ugandan transgender girl, forced to leave her country.

Prison Sisters dir. Nima Sarvestani 

Screening as part of Masters

Sara refuses to believe that her former fellow inmate Nadjibeh was killed in Afghanistan. Exiled, Sara tries to find her, but encounters a tragic maze of lies and half-truths.

The Return dir. Zahavi Sanjavi

Screening as part of the IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.