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Welcome to the 2009 edition of the London International Documentary Festival in association with the London Review of Books. The LIDF09 comes with a re-design, a new web-site, new venues, and a new sponsor: Ecover. We are once again pleased to be working wth Amnesty International, and, for the first time, Cancer Research UK. The final programme is diverse and reflects the large number of international submissions and subject matters. However, inevitably, micro-themes have appeared that cross international boundaries creating interesting, and unintended, connections.

The LIDF has reinforced its commitment to what it calls ‘conversations in film’. Panel discussions are sprinkled throughout the festival. They feature politicians, writers, cultural commentators and other area experts. We have also produced larger-scale events: Cineforum on Women: Visibility and Leadership, Pakistan: Filmmaking for Social Change, ‘EU-Day: Migration, Cultural Memory and the Environment’. Other highlights include, a complete John Samson Retrospective, a repeat of last year’s popular Sunday at the Roxy, and our closing all-day event at the British Museum – a feast of films across three screens.

The films are always both pretext and context for discussion. Entertaining they certainly are but this is a notion that is subtly modified by the desire we encounter every year to go beyond the films themselves and escape the, all too common, sense that there is nothing anyone can do about anything.

Recently, I have come to appreciate that documentary film is a poor label for what is another form of storytelling. These complex narratives that we weave are the products of an insatiable desire to communicate, and new technologies have made this easier and cheaper. And yet, stories always contain elements of the fabulous, and images are seductive, and heroes and villains ubiquitous. Nothing is ever quite what it seems. The stories we tell, and the ones we choose not to tell, say a great deal about our assumptions, often naïve, about ourselves, and the world we live in. But a festival provides that rare thing: that collective moment when, with the help of others, we can see ourselves, and our relations with others, just that little bit clearer.

New events and workshops may appear so keep an eye on the festival website and subscribe to the newsletter for regular updates.

Patrick Hazard, Festival Director


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  • Photos from LIDF