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Driving an industry

Industry Program: Setting the agenda

What can our future documentary industry be? What does it need to be? During the festival, 3,300 documentary professionals (approx. 635 filmmakers, 730 producers and 125 editors) gathered to discuss these questions, to do business, and to celebrate their premieres. Our Industry Program guided them in the most pressing directions through six days of talks, sessions, think tanks, and meetups.

Diversity and representation came to the fore in sessions on Collectif 50/50, diversifying documentary film festivals, and the filmmaker’s gaze.

Subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) was also top of the agenda, with talks on Europe’s future platforms and the current state of the sector. Meanwhile, LaScam urged filmmakers to stand up for their rights, and a directors’ panel talked financial survival.

One overarching insight proved relevant: how filmmakers obtain funding, find the story, and reach an audience is changing. The aim of our program was to arm our guests with the insights needed to stay ahead of these developments.

Meanwhile, our consultancies and one-on-one meetings helped directors and producers from around the world boost their careers. Finally, a growing number of international filmmaker delegations presented their countries’ latest harvest of documentary projects in progress.

One of five industry talks, "Filming 'the other'; entitlement or privilege" invited international filmmakers to elaborate on awareness, gaze, and entitlement.

IDFA Forum: New models of co-producing and co-financing

With new technologies, players, and financing resources in today’s industry, the demand for documentary is higher than ever before. The market reality, however, is complex: financing remains a struggle for creative filmmakers, despite higher available budgets and acquisition offers.

For that reason, in 2019, our long-running market IDFA Forum entered a new era of co-production and co-financing. Facing a broad constellation of financiers and documentaries, our answer was to do away with the one-size-fits-all approach, and instead tailor each pitch set-up to the needs of the selected 60 projects—of which 17 were new media projects, 6 were rough cuts, and 37 were linear documentaries in development or production.

At the Forum, we strived to match nearly 200 decision makers—film funds, broadcasters, digital platforms, and other stakeholders—with teams pitching artistic films, high-end TV documentaries, and new media projects. In the latter category, we showcased more projects than ever before at our newly expanded IDFA DocLab Forum.

Pitching highlights included filmmaker Manuel Abramovich’s Cowboy Love, directors Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s Eternal Me, and video artist Tamara Shogaolu’s augmented reality piece They Call Me Asylum Seeker.

Curating a tailor-made pitching platform within a landscape made up of divergent formats, financiers, and perspectives is challenging. 2019 saw the important first steps towards establishing a model that champions multiple ways of storytelling and artistic approaches.

In 2019, the IDFA Forum selection represented 47 countries. Women made up 56% of selected filmmakers.

IDFA Forum is supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands and Creative Europe Media.

Avi Mograbi's documentary project The First 53 Years was among the first pitches in the new IDFA Forum setup.

Docs for Sale: The best films on the market

In our day and age, anyone can upload a film online. Docs for Sale is different for two major reasons.

Firstly, the selection. With a catalogue of 442 films in 2019, our sales market presented a formidable selection of the top documentaries available to the international market, with films for cinema, television, and online audiences.

Second, Docs for Sale brings the industry together in Amsterdam’s industry together. Picture 548 sales agents, TV buyers, distributors, festival programmers, and sellers. All of them are watching films in the viewing booths; doing business in the Docs for Sale lobby or in one of 260 pre-arranged one-on-one meetings; and networking at the daily Docs for Sale happy hour. Now you begin to have a sense of the vastness of this industry sector, and why we value gathering together.

In 2019, the Docs for Sale selection represented 83 countries. Women made up 44% of selected filmmakers.

No less than 260 pre-arranged one-on-one meetings took place in the Docs for Sale lobby at Arti et Amicitiae.