With a bit of creative thinking and some helpful contacts, in 2010 Danish filmmaker Andreas Johnsen gained unprecedented access to Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei and started filming him over the next three years. The result, Ai Weiwei The Fake Case, concentrates on the nerve-wracking year starting in summer 2011 when the artist was freed on parole, charged with evading millions of dollars in taxes.
The film is part of the competition line-up for IDFA 2013, kicking off 20 November. Director Andreas Johnsen has made a string of documentaries exploring social and cultural issues from such different parts of the world as Nicaragua, Brazil, Jamaica, Ivory Coasty and Nigeria.
Also in competition is Berit Madsen's Sepideh, an extraordinary insight into the world of a young girl from Iran who is fighting against all odds to make her dream of becoming an astronaut come true – a film that paints a different and more nuanced picture of Iran. "Sepideh" is Berit Madsen's first feature documentary.
Just the Right Amount of Violence by Jon Bang Carlsen, the grand old man of Danish auteur documentary film, is selected for Reflecting Images: Masters. True to his signature style, Bang Carlsen mixes reality, fiction and personal reflection in a story from Los Angeles, where so-called interventionists are specialized in entering homes in the night and ripping troubled teens, with the parents' consent, from their beds to transport them to a reform school in Utah.
Selected for the Student Competition is Alexander Lind's Carl & Niels. In his graduation film from the Danish National Film School, Lind explores the interactions between two identical twins facing the difficult process of separation after being inseparable as children.
Three children's films will screen in Kids & Docs. Simon Lereng Wilmont's The Sumo Wrestler's Son zooms in on the hardships and victories of 10-year-old Chikara who is training to become a sumo wrestler. Jens Pedersen's Layla's Melody is part of a five-film series portraying Afghan children living in the shadow of the war. And Shanne and her Friends, by Ulla Søe and Sussie Weinold, invites its young audience into the world of 13-year-old Shanne and her experiences of friendship, euphoria and loss.
Finally, Jesper Jargil's The Humiliated, which follows the birth of Lars von Trier's Dogme film "The Idiots" (1998), is to be showcased in Paradocs, IDFA's section for films operating on the borders between film and art.