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IDFA Forum

As the largest co-production and co-financing market for documentary film in Europe, IDFA Forum proved to be a pivotal meeting place for the industry, connecting independent filmmakers and producers with potential financiers, co-producers, distributors, funds, and other documentary stakeholders. This year the Forum evolved, extending its reach to a vast range of regions, filmmakers, and documentary genres, while simultaneously tightening its selection and securing more one-on-one meetings with decision makers. Diversity could be seen on multiple levels: the Forum continued its strive for gender parity and geographical diversity in the selection, while new stakeholders also took a seat at the table.


In 2018, IDFA Forum received a record-breaking number of 770 submitted projects. Of these, a committee of international experts made a final selection of 51 projects, reflecting a plethora of cultures and documentary forms. The main production companies of the selected projects were based in 24 different countries, with a higher percentage of projects from the Global South than in previous years.

As always, the 2018 selection featured new projects by both established filmmakers and emerging talents. One of the key voices in Iranian documentary cinema, Mehrdad Oskouei, whose previous film Starless Dreams won 37 awards at over 120 film festivals, introduced his latest documentary project Sunless Shadows (pitched with the working title The Revisited). The renowned Mohamed Al-Daradji (Iraq’s Invisible Beauty, Belgium) and Hemal Trivedi (The Half Truths, India, United States), pitched their latest projects alongside up-and-coming talents Sun Hee Engelstoft (Forget Me Not, Denmark) and Ayse Toprak (The Other Half, Turkey).


Over 650 Forum guests were welcomed for four days in the Compagnie Theater and in the Zuiderkerk. Returning IDFA guests included filmmakers Nanfu Wang (Untitled Cuba Project, United States), Camilla Nielsson (Democrats II, Denmark), and Renzo Martens (A Gentrification Program, the Netherlands), as well as celebrated DocLab artist Ali Eslami (nerd_funk, the Netherlands, Iran) in the Crossmedia Forum. Of the 2018 selection, four films were also supported by the IDFA Bertha Fund, and four filmmakers previously took part in IDFAcademy Summer School. On the festival side, the Forum’s harvest was plentiful: 13 films that previously pitched at IDFA Forum went on to screen at IDFA 2018.

IDFA Forum was made possible by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, and Creative Europe Media.

Rough Cut Screenings

Elsewhere on the festival grounds, a new tradition continued to bloom. Docs for Sale and IDFA Forum once again presented the Rough Cut Screenings, selecting 7 handpicked projects in the last stages of production that sought financing and distribution, and showcasing them to decision makers in an intimate cinema setting. In 2018, the IDFA Industry team was overjoyed to see Rough Cuts get a serious boost. There were more submissions than ever before, and several projects went on to premiere at Berlinale and Sundance in 2019.

Docs for Sale

As one of the world’s premier markets for documentary film, Docs for Sale continued facilitating sales of high-end documentaries by gathering all interested parties under one roof at IDFA 2018, as well as bringing them together through the Docs for Sale online catalogue. Once again, this year saw more than 300 TV buyers, sales agents, distributors, and festival programmers convene in Amsterdam to watch a selection of the very latest and best documentaries available to the international market. In addition to our popular screening booths, the familiar Docs for Sale Lounge, Meet the Professionals sessions, Happy Hours, and various other activities offered superb networking opportunities. 

In 2018, Docs for Sale maintained its relevant position amongst documentary professionals as an ever-expanding marketplace for both theatrical and TV documentaries. In total, 451 titles made the cut into the 2018 catalogue, from 74 different (co-)production countries. When it came to presenting this extensive collection, Docs for Sale was eager to try something new: for the first time, IDFA-selected titles were made available in the Docs for Sale screening booths after their world premiere at the festival, resulting in new, sought-after titles being added daily.

Docs for Sale was made possible by Screening Factory.