Two projects by the Visual Narrative Lab in the competitions of the 36th IDFA International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam!

Close, and The School, a World, two projects produced by vnLab in 2023, have been recognized with nominations at the world’s largest festival dedicated to documentary art, IDFA 2023.

Close, a Japanese dance-based VR experience by Hana Umeda, was among the projects selected to participate in the IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction. In this category, dedicated to works made for AR, VR and Mixed Reality technology, Close will compete against 12 other projects for a prize worth 5,000 euros. The international jury includes Arnaud Colinart, Jessica Brillhart and Joy Mawela.

Meanwhile, the interactive documentary The School, a World, directed by Iga Lapinska, is competing in the IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction category alongside 9 other digital projects. The grand prize awarded by an international jury consisting of Jay Kim, Miri Chekhanovich and Zuraida Buterjest amounts to 5,000 euros.

The festival will run from November 8 to 19, when the winners of the various competition categories will be announced.


For more information, see:

Close – immersion in jiutamai dance

Close is an attempt to confront the ambiguous position of contemporary traditional Japanese jiutamai dance. The Japanese dancer functions in the West as a visual object, deprived of subjectivity, closed in orientalising categories determined not only by the male gaze, but also by the White gaze. By creating the effect of intimate closeness and by giving the dancer/heroine a voice through which the intimate confession and the trauma of whole generations of women hidden in the dance can be expressed directly, Hana Umeda tries to regain both for herself and for the whole multigenerational community of jiutamai dancers the agency and subjectivity. The silent confession that is jiutamai dance is both a means of coping with trauma and a gag placed over the mouth; a means of self-expression and repression by a patriarchal society.    

Hana Umeda/Sada Hanasaki – performer, dancer, natori at Hanasaki-ryu jiutamai school. In 2020, she was the first non-Japanese to be officially accepted into the Hanasaki-ryu jiutamai school, and was given the authority to nurture and further pass on the tradition of Japanese traditional dance. A student of Master Hanasaki Tokijyo, head of the Hanasaki-ryu school in Tokyo, she is a cultural scholar. In 2018 she made her debut as a director and choreographer with the performance SadaYakko presented at Komuna Warsaw. In her artistic work she is interested in both exploring and extending the tradition of jiutamai dance, as well as processing and deconstructing this tradition in search of new forms of expression. As a dancer, performer and co-choreographer she has worked with Marta Zió?ek, Katarzyna Woli?ska and Jadwiga Rodowicz-Czechowska.   

Dorota Sosnowska, PhD, assistant professor at the Department of Theatre and Performance of the Institute of Polish Culture of the University of Warsaw; vice-president of the Propaganda Foundation which runs the Propaganda gallery in Warsaw (co-organiser of Warsaw Gallery Weekend). In her research she deals with the history and theory of theatre and performance, combining her interest in theatre and visual arts. She is the author of the book Królowe PRL. Scenic Images of Irena Eichlerówna, El?bieta Barszczewska and Nina Andrycz as Models of Femininity (WUW 2014). She is the editor of the journal ‘View. Theories and practices of visual culture’.