IDFAcademy: Talent development for the future
Supporting the next generation of documentary talent. Launching international careers. Offering a platform to develop as a true author. Finally, opening up the industry to promising young filmmakers. All this is at the heart of IDFAcademy, IDFA’s talent development program. Through year-round programs, 135 upcoming filmmakers passed through IDFAcademy’s doors in 2019. In July, renowned director Pirjo Honkasalo and seven other luminaries tutored at IDFAcademy Summer School, where they guided emerging film talent to elevate their scripts or rough cuts. A fierce voice of authorship, Honkasalo advised participants, "the best way to think about the audience is not to think about the audience at all. As soon as you do, you consider that they are more stupid than you are, and you place yourself above them. Then you are making a compromise in your film." November saw a new cohort of international filmmakers arrive in Amsterdam for IDFAcademy, which took place during IDFA.
The unparalleled Mohsen Makhmalbaf opened with an inspiring call to action: "Do not worry about awards. What you have to do is enjoy the process of making films. We need you. We need your voice and we need you to find the truth with your point of view." Beyond the school doors, IDFAcademy alumni thrived. Witnesses from the Shadows, fresh from Summer School, successfully pitched at IDFA Forum along with Parked Lives, a former IDFAcademy & NPO Fund Workshop project. In November, the festival even kicked off with an opening speech from Carol Nguyen, an IDFAcademy participant whose film No Crying at the Dinner Table was selected for IDFA's Student Competition. In 2019, IDFAcademy participants represented 48 countries. Women made up 70% of all participants. IDFAcademy is supported by Creative Europe Media, Dioraphte, VEVAM, and Videoland. The IDFAcademy & NPO Fund Workshop and ZappDoc LAB are supported by the NPO Fund.
IDFA Bertha Fund: Supporting the world of documentary
Now in its second decade, the IDFA Bertha Fund (IBF) is the only fund in the world dedicated solely to supporting documentary filmmakers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. 2019 proved to be a strong year for the IBF, with financial support granted to 30 new documentary projects. The selected projects from countries such as Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Belarus were particularly special—representing countries with fragile documentary industries that rarely end up in the IBF selection. 50% of all the selected projects were by emerging filmmakers working on their first feature film, showing immense promise for future development. Many will get the chance to participate in more talent development at IDFA.
The festival crystallized much of these filmmakers’ success. The IDFA 2019 opening film was none other than the IBF-supported Sunless Shadows by Mehrdad Oskouei, which later took home the IDFA Award for Best Directing. The First Appearance competition saw two milestones for the IBF: Aswang by Alyx Ayn Arumpac won the FIPRESCI Award, while the world premiere of Smog Town by Meng Han showcased the first results of the IBF’s new collaboration with the Netherlands Film Fund. Finally, several IBF-supported titles screened in Best of Fests after winning awards at major festivals, including Talking About Trees by Suhaib Gasmelbari, 143 Sahara Street by Hassen Ferhani, Tiny Souls by Dina Naser, Khartoum Offside by Marwa Zein, and No Gold for Kalsaka by Michel K. Zongo. In 2019, the IDFA Bertha Fund selection represented 33 countries. Women made up 60% of all selected filmmakers. The IDFA Bertha Fund is supported by Bertha Foundation, Creative Europe Media, ASN Bank, the Netherlands Film Fund, Stichting De Hoorn and IDFA's Special Friends+.