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The Deminer. Photo: Lolav Media

Strong Swedish presence at IDFA

A total of eight Swedish films will be featured at this year's IDFA – the world's largest documentary film festival – with half of those in competition. The Deminer by Hogir Hirori and Shinwar Kamal, Stronger than a Bullet byMaryam Ebrahimi and the short films As We're Told by Erik Holmström and Fredrik Wenzel, One Day in Aleppo by Ali Alibrahim are all in with a chance of winning at this renowned festival in Amsterdam, as it celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

The Deminer by Hogir Hirori and Shinwar Kamal has its world premiere at this year’s IDFA, competing in the Feature-Length section. The film follows Fakhir, a father of eight, who embarks on a military mission to Mosul, Iraq, to fight terrorism after Saddam Hussein’s downfall in 2003. The Deminer is produced by Lolav Media/Hogir Hirori along with Ginestra Film/Antonio Russo Merenda.

Stronger Than a Bullet by Maryam Ebrahimi also has its World premiere at this year’s IDFA, where it competes in the First Appearance section. The film addresses the use of Iranian war propaganda to manipulate and control, such as when the government employed photographer Saeid Sadeghi’s pictures to inspire martyrdom in its citizens during the Iran-Iraq war. The film is produced by Nimafilm/Nima Sarvestani. Ebrahimi has previously produced feature documentaries I Was Worth 50 Sheep (2011) and No Burqas Behind Bars (2013), the latter awarded the International Emmy Award for Best Documentary in 2014.

As We’re Told by Erik Holmström and Fredrik Wenzel competes in the Short Documentary section, and is based on Roland Paulsen’s book ‘Vi bara lyder – en berättelse om Arbetsförmedlingen’ (As We’re Told – A Story of the Swedish Employment Services)The film uses animated puppets to tell the tale of the tasks undertaken by the case workers, psychologists and managers at the Swedish employment office, and investigates just what happens when we do as we’re told. The film has its world premiere at the festival, and is produced by Fasad/Hedvig Lundgren, SVT and Film i Väst.

One Day in Aleppo by Ali Alibrahim is competing in the Short Documentary section. Ali Alibrahim is a Syrian journalist and documentary filmmaker. In One Day in Aleppo he documents the small endeavours people make to express their hopes, after months of enduring suffocating sieges and daily bombings. The film is produced by Verité Production/Feras Fayyad with support from Region Jönköpings län.

Silvana by Olivia KastebringChristina Tsiobanelis and Mika Gustafson has its International premiere at IDFA, screening in the Music Documentary section. This documentary depicts Swedish artist Silvana Imam’s breakthrough, as well as her experience grappling with her own expectations and the notion of being a role model. Produced by Mantaray Film/Stina Gardell and Anna WeitzSilvana received funding from the Swedish Film Institute’s prior documentary film commissioner Antonio Russo Merenda, as well as from current commissioner Juan Pablo Libossart.

The Rebel Surgeon by Erik Gandini screens in the Masters section. Having grown tired of the bureaucracy in his homeland, a Swedish surgeon moves to Ethiopia, where he works in a small field hospital with limited resources, using whatever is at hand to help his patients. Produced by Fasad/Juan Pablo Libossart and Erik Gandini. Erik Gandini has made a number of internationally award-winning documentaries, including Gitmo (2006), Videocracy (2009), The Swedish Theory of Love (2016).

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas by Joakim Demmer will screen in the Best of Fests section. This documentary thriller begins by investigating the desperate situation in rural Ethiopia, and quickly stumbles across a blood-stained trail which leads all the way back to Europe and our dependency on ‘green gold’. Pre-selected for the European Film Awards (EFA), Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas is produced by WG Film/Margarete Jangård..

The Best of Fests section will also include Theresa Traore Dahlberg’s documentary debut Ouaga Girls, which is currently playing in Swedish cinemasThe film introduces us to a group of young women who, for a variety of reasons, find themselves at a school in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to train to become car mechanics. None of them have chosen this path for themselves, yet in a country with a 52% youth unemployment rate, work is a hot commodity. Produced by Momento Film/David Herdies.

All above films except One Day in Aleppo has received funding from Swedish Film Instutute’s documentary film commissioners Klara GrünningJuan Pablo Libossart and prior commissioners Cecilia Lidin and Antonio Russo Merenda

The Danish-Swedish-Finnish production The Distant Barking of Dogs by Simon Lereng Wilmont, co-produced by Swedish producer Tobias Janson/Story AB, will also screen in the First Appearance section.

Tounge Cutters by Solveig Melkeraaen is a Norweigan-Swedish co-production that will be in Kids & Docs competition. Swedish producer is Fredrik Oskarsson/Bautafilm.

IDFA runs between 15-26 November.