Once in a blue moon a festival competition film comes along that’s a masterpiece, so flawless it’s inconceivable that it won’t take top prize. This year at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, that film was Alan Berliner’s “First Cousin Once Removed” (which I actually saw before this year’s 25th edition began), and it did indeed nab the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary, along with a nice sum of 12,500 euros. Fittingly, my reaction towards Berliner’s breathtaking portrait of his mentor and relative, the acclaimed poet and translator Edwin Honig, as he succumbs to Alzheimer’s disease, mirrors my take on IDFA itself. This crème de la crème fest, that in the past quarter century has grown to become the biggest doc event in the world, is simply in a league of its own.
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