It's that time of year again, when the days darken early and Dutch parents still don't put hats or gloves on their kids.
It's also time once again for the International Documentary Film Festival, the best 10 days for movie geeks to sneak some peeks at the world's best un-Hollywood films.
I'm now on my third year of this cinematic feast, and as a seasoned vet I am all over this like Herman Cain on an assistant.
Want to make the most of the festival? Here's the lowdown:
- Get on the mailing list for the festival; they are not spammy, with only a few emails sent throughout the year, and you will get ample warned well in advance of the ticket sales and the overall program.
- On Day 1 of the kaartverkoop, go online and buy tickets for all your favourites. I bought 5 tickets this year, and it wasn't easy whittling down the choices. But waiting until the day before or day is risky. Although last-minute no-shows do happen; if you really want to see something, head to the cinema about 30 minutes before the show and talk to a ticket-taker or wait for a seller to start hawking.
- Bring your smartphone to the show - no need to line up to pick up pre-bought tickets this year, as the organizers have gone all smartphone-friendly.
- If you have any questions, be patient. The volunteers range widely from friendly and on the ball to friendly and way off the ball. It happens every year - some of them seem genuinely surprised to be there.
The lineup for each annual version is much the same - many films with a very strong social message, some with serious stomach-churning violence and sadness; some with beauty as their main feature; and others that are light and a bit wacky. Virtually all of them look great.
This year, I've got tickets for:
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Just came back from this; it's a fascinating movie about the discovery of cave drawings in France dating back 32,000 years, directed and narrated by Werner Herzog - in 3D no less. This movie expands your brain, largely (I think) by making us realize how short a time we're really here and how close we are to messing it up.
The very sad story of camel jockeys (yes, actual camel jockeys) in the UAE.
Happiness... a Promised Land
A look at a simple question posed to various people on a hike: What makes you happy? (These days? An awesome fiancee, dogs, Guinness, playing squash, and movie festivals. I suspect this movie will delve a little deeper).
POM Wonderful presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Morgan Spurlock, the guy from Super-Size Me, casts a light on the prevalence and absurdity of advertising and insidious product placement. Which seems like a good time to mention that this blog is currently sponsored by Lithuanian garlic, Simon Levelt Indian Chai tea, Etos cough syrup and Hema's Ultra Soft nose tissues.
The Last Dogs of Winter
The Canadian Eskimo Dog is the only dog that can survive a temperature of minus-60 degrees. Only a few hundred are left. We'll see if it's chilling or heart-warming.
So a full agenda of movie-viewing is on tap, and I am overly, geekily, excited about it all. Some other ones that I may even try to see are Four Horsemen ("What is created by humans, can be changed by humans" - check out the trailer) and G Spotting: A Story of Pleasure and Promise (oddly, the identical working title of the first movie listed above). Just hope I find the damn place.
* Jeff is our Been there local for Amsterdam. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/amsterdam-local-jeff-funnekotter.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/jefffunnekotter
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