If you're a lover of documentaries and foreign films, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) -- the largest doc fest in the world -- must be close to paradise. Some 250 documentary features and shorts will be screened at the 20th annual fest this Nov. 22-Dec. 2. The fact that it's in one of Europe's greatest cities is just icing on the cake!

The opening night film will be Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience. Directed by Richard Robbins, the film spotlights letters written by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, read aloud by the soldiers themselves or by celebrities narrators such as Robert Duvall and Beau Bridges. It was recently nominated for Best Feature by the International Documentary Association.

As it happens, the very first IFDA in 1988 opened with Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, which did more or less the same thing but with Vietnam soldiers. That film will be screened again this year in commemoration of the fest's 20th incarnation.

Don't think the IFDA is heavy on American films, though. Far from it: The list of past festival winners shows American films taking the top prize only twice, with a few others winning the audience award. There's truly an international focus, both in the films that screen and the films that win awards.

Films in the main competition include Operation Homecoming plus these: All White in Barking (UK), Bajo Juarez, The City Devouring Its Daughters (Mexico), Darfur Now (USA), Desert: Who Is The Man? (Switzerland), Encounters at the End of the World (USA), Faces (The Netherlands/France), Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go (England), How to Become a Hero (Serbia), Mechanical Love (Denmark/Finland), Night (Australia), Septembers (Spain), Shadow of the Holy Book (Finland), Stranded (France), and Up The Yangtze (Canada).

For the complete list of screenings and more information about the fest, check out their website. And if you take a date to the festival, be sure to go Dutch. (Sorry, lame joke.)

categories Cinematical