From depictions of life far away from home to an exploration of our fear of the different, from intimate portraits to a probing of the documentary genre's borders – the Danish films at IDFA 2015 cover a wide range of stories and genres, including three titles selected for competition. For overview of films, see below
Three films in competition
"Natural Disorder" by Christian Sønderby Jepsen is selected for the feature-length competition. Tracking journalist and comedian Jacob Nossell as he searches for the meaning of life as a person with cerebral palsy, the film received five-starred reviews across the board at its Danish premiere on 7 October. Christian Sønderby Jepsen received much acclaim for his darkly shaded family story, "The Will," which was shown at 2011's IDFA.
"At Home in the World" by Andreas Koefoed is off to the competition for mid-length documentaries. The director has a unique IDFA track record, as Koefoed's new film, portraying the daily lives of five asylum-seeking children at a Danish Red Cross school, is his eighth title at the festival since 2008.
"Home Sweet Home" by Katrine Philp is selected for IDFA's longstanding children's section Kids & Docs, which this year is made into a competitive programme with the opportunity to win a prize for best film. The director brings us a close-up of Salimah who grew up in Malaysia and now, at age 10, is moving to a distant, unknown country called Denmark to be reunited with her older sister and father.
Both "Natural Disorder" and "At Home in the World" are selected for CPH:DOX, beginning 5 October, where they will be taking part in the competition for best Nordic film.
"Motley's Law" by Nicole N. Horanyi will be showing in Panorama, a section presenting every year a crop of films on urgent current social issues. For two years, the director followed Kimberley Motley, a hard-hitting American lawyer and former Miss America candidate who has left her husband and children at home in the US to work as the only foreign – and the only female – defense lawyer in Kabul. The film will be enjoying its world premiere at the Chicago Film Festival from 15 October.
"Olmo and the Seagull" by Lea Glob and Petra Costa is participating in the programme for experimental film, Paradocs. Danish Glob and Brazilian Costa met at CPH:DOX's international talent lab and made their documentary mixing drama and documentary observation in a story about the successful Théâtre du Soleil actress Olivia and her emotions, reactions and thoughts at the prospect of becoming a mother. The film won the award for best Nordic film at CPH:DOX in 2014 and was honored in August with an award at the Locarno Film Festival.
"Flotel Europa" by Vladimir Tomic is selected for Best of Fests, a selection of films that have captured the festival's attention during the past year. Premiering at the Berlin Film Festival, Tomic' film is an autobiographical tale about life on a giant refugee ship in the harbor of Copenhagen, where the director lived in his early teens along with thousands of others fleeing the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Jon Bang Carlsen's "Deja Vu" will be taking part in the Masters programme for established directors' latest works. A grand old man of Danish documentary filmmaking, Bang Carlsen in his new film mirrors his own life's story in images and clips from his more than forty films made in a variety of genres.
Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth and Spanish anthropologist Olatz González Abrisketa are behind "Pelota II," a film about the world of the Basque ballgame pelota, a centuries-old sport similar to squash, which was also the subject of a film by Jørgen Leth from 1983. The film participates in Masters.
"Motley's Law," "Flotel Europa," "Deja Vu" and "Pelota II" are all showing at CPH:DOX, starting 5 November.
Focus on sound
"Man Falling" by Anne Wivel is selected for Sounds Real, a special section this year focusing on sound in documentary film. The festival has asked five internationally renowned sound designers to each choose two titles with a unique sound – one new film of their own and one film put to sound by a colleague.
Thus Kristian Eidnes Andersen, who has worked on Lars von Trier's films among others, and Thomas Jæger chose as their own film Anne Wivel's portrait of her friend and renowned painter Per Kirkeby after he fell down a staircase and hit his head – and as a consequence lost his ability to recognise colours and even his own paintings. Their choice of a work by a peer fell on "Megacities" by Michael Glawogger. "Man Falling" will be premiering in Danish cinemas on 11 November.
Michael Madsen's "The Visit" is also participating in IDFA's special sound celebration this year. American sound designer Tom Paul has chosen Madsen's sci-fi fable about alien life visiting the planet as his bid for a film with an attractive soundtrack. Madsen finds himself in the distinguished company of "The Fog of War" by Errol Morris as Paul's choice of a film for which he hilmself created the sound.
"Man Falling" is this year's opening film at CPH:DOX.
New awards, new structure
IDFA 2015 opens on 18 November, and the big awards ceremony will take place Wednesday, 25 November, while the audience award will be presented Friday, 27 November.
IDFA has changed their awards structure, now granting two awards in each competition section: an award for best documentary and a special jury award. The festival's usual nomination round three days prior to the awards party will no longer take place. Read more about the new awards structure on IDFA's website
Find factsheets on each film on right side
IDFA 18-29 November 2015
Danish films at IDFA 2015
Natural Disorder by Christian Sønderby Jepsen
Production: Malene Flindt Pedersen and Sidsel Lønvig Siersted for Moving Documentary
At Home in the World by Andreas Koefoed
Production: Sara Stockmann for Sonntag Pictures
KIDS & DOCS COMPETITION
Home Sweet Home by Katrine Philp
Production: Katrine Sahlstrøm for Good Company Pictures
Motley's Law by Nicole N. Horanyi
Production: Helle Faber for Made in Copenhagen
Olmo and the Seagull by Petra Costa og Lea Glob
Production: Charlotte Pedersen for Zentropa
BEST OF FESTS
Flotel Europa by Vladimir Tomic
Production: Selma Jusufbegovic and Srdjan Keca for Uzrok
Deja Vu by Jon Bang Carlsen
Production: Jon Bang Carlsen and Marianne Christensen for C&C Productions
Pelota II by Jørgen Leth and Olatz González Abrisketa
Production: Carlos Juárez for Basque Films
Man Falling by Anne Wivel
Production: Sigrid Dyekjær for Danish Documentary Production
The Visit by Michael Madsen
Production: Lise Lense-Møller for Magic Hour Films