292 documentaries in 12 days

The world’s largest documentary film festival, the International Film Festival Amsterdam, will take place from 20 November to 1 December 2013.

The objective is to promote creative documentaries to a wide audience and organize debates, forums and workshops. Check out their rich programme schedule or festival website.

Opening event: Return to Homs
I had the chance to attend the opening event and view ‘Return to Homs’ by Talal Derki. With strong images and protagonists Basset (national soccer talent and protest singer) and Ossama (media activist), the film gives a face to the terrible Syrian civil war.

What is evident in the film is the absent distance of the film maker to the subject. Director Derki doesn’t have a any bird view on the conflict while honouring the martyrs of Homs.

Their dream, Syria being free from President Bashar al-Assad, is initially addressed by means of peaceful demonstrations. When the Syrian army reacts more and more brutally, and Homs is transformed into a ghost town, the protagonists – once so peaceful – become armed freedom fighters in hell on earth. Derki admires their courage and determination and the film is a homage in words and images. As well as a scream to the world.


Needless to say, it’s terrible there is no outlook for a peaceful solution to the civil war so far. While the rich west is self interested and still focussed on financial growth, millions around the world just dream about freedom and physical health.

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© June 2012, Marijn Engels