BIFF 2020

Documentaire Extraordinaire

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Our competition selection for extraordinary documentaries from all over the world.

Documentaire Extraordinaire is one of the festivals main competitions. The winner film receives a prize of 30 000 NOK given by VGTV.

The winner will be announced at BIFFs price ceremony Wednesday 15th of October. The audience will get the opportunity to watch the winner films as reruns on the last weekend of the festival. Jury: Grethe Melby, theatre critic in Bergens Tidende | Paulo Chavarría, documentary filmmaker and lecturer at Infomedia, UiB | Andreas Gjellebæk Sverdrup, VGTV

The following films are nominated for DOCUMENTAIRE EXTRAORDINAIRE:

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BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND
Grief is hard for anyone to bear, but can be especially tough on the young. BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND documents the work of New Jersey-based counseling center Good Grief, where children come together to learn how to deal with the loss of family members. With her discreetly observing camera, director Katrine Philp captures the raw emotions and enormous personal growth of her young subjects. This uniquely touching and inspiring film has received many accolades, including South By Southwest’s top documentary award.

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IF IT WERE LOVE
In IF IT WERE LOVE we follow a young dance company as they tour Gisèle Vienne’s critically acclaimed “Crowd”, a piece best described as a rave in slow motion, where the dancers control the flow of time with their movements. Ghostly and uniquely cinematic, “Crowd” haunts its performers both on and off stage, as the characters seemingly take on lives of their own. Focusing on the remarkable hypnotic qualities of Vienne’s piece, Patric Chiha has made an atmospheric documentary which explores the intersection of art and reality.

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IN A WHISPER
Patricia and Heidi grew up and attended film school together in Cuba, but drifted apart after emigrating to Europe – with Patricia moving to Spain and Heidi ending up in Switzerland. In this dream-like documentary they trade video letters, telling each other about their lives and reflecting on their friendship and shared memories of a Cuba that no longer exists. Poetic, philosophical and steeped in complex emotion, IN A WHISPER was awarded the top prize at this year’s edition of Amsterdam’s prestigious documentary film festival IDFA.

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MEANWHILE ON EARTH
MEANWHILE ON EARTH is a quirky, poetic and distinctly Scandinavian film about death. Employing a visual language that evokes fellow countryman Roy Andersson, director Carl Olsson serves up a series of tableaus featuring funeral agents, cemetery workers and morgue attendants in which everyday small talk is contrasted with the absolute nature of their tasks. The resulting film is an intensely charming and quietly philosophical depiction of the last journey of the human body which forces its audience to look at death in new and unfamiliar ways

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THE MOLE AGENT
In order to determine whether an old woman is being abused at her nursing home, private eye Rómulo hires 83 year old Sergio to go undercover. Outfitted with hidden cameras and recording equipment, Sergio springs into action – but Rómulo has not taken his immense likeability into account. Finding himself the center of attention, Sergio struggles to carry out his investigation. Using its Hollywood-like premise as a springboard, THE MOLE AGENT is an unforgettable and irresistibly charming documentary about ageing, loneliness and human connections.

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SANTIKHIRI SONATA
Focusing on Santikhiri (“hill of peace”), an area in Thailand inhabited by many stateless people who originate from Myanmar, director Thunska Pansittivorakul delves into the authorities’ long history of hiding their crimes from their people. With a broad spectrum of filmatic tools at his disposal – including gay porn – Pansittivorakul dismantles the nationalistic propaganda, and examines how the country’s official history is a product of government indoctrination and the population’s quiet acquiescence.

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STRAY
In this remarkable documentary, the audience is taken on a guided tour of Istanbul led by three stray dogs. As we witness the playful and loyal interactions of the dogs up close, we are also introduced to a largely hidden world of child drug abuse, young Syrian refugees living on the streets and roving gangs of kids who treat the dogs as old pals. Thus, while the viewers are initially stunned by the dogs’ level of trust in the film team, what lingers is STRAY’s unique perspective on Turkey in the midst of tumultuous changes.

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THE WALL OF SHADOWS
“To climb the house of God is not an option”, Jomdoe argues when her husband Ngada considers an offer to guide three Western climbers on an ascent of the Nepalese mountain Kumbhakarna – a challenge which is said to be greater than Mount Everest. THE WALL OF SHADOWS is equal parts spectacular mountain climbing movie, family drama and a subtle exploration of the shifting power dynamics between tourist and guide. As the drama between the climbers escalates, it is mirrored by local folktales about the mountain and the hubris it inspires.