IDFA 2020: A Year in Review

2020 was an eventful year—the most eventful year in IDFA's history. We don't have to explain why. But in addition to many disappointments and difficulties, 2020 also brought a lot of hope. The state of the world invited reflection. In the first place, there was something remarkable about time, or rather the sense of time. It seemed as if we were, on the one hand, catapulted back in time and, on the other hand, as if we made a huge leap into the future. Measurable time and tactile time differed immensely. As the weeks rolled on, IDFA's virtual offices were infused with a pioneering spirit that was strongly reminiscent of the 1990s. Swallowed up in the folds of time, everyone worked with tremendous energy on all matter of new activities even though we didn't know how our efforts would turn out and what the effects might be.

Experiments were conducted at all levels, and decisions were made that had no precedent. There was hardly any time to test. Going live was the test. With that unstoppable energy, we powered through several years’ worth of developments in only one year. It felt as if we were organizing a festival in some unknown—and somewhat alienating—future, because in a very real sense, we were.

Yet when past and future converge in a festival and the result is by most counts successful, it’s a very satisfying feeling. In 2020, we reinvented both ourselves and the festival after which we are named. We very courageously took a leap forward and surfaced again. Perhaps it’s unusual in the foreword of an annual report to first thank the team for their courage and perseverance, but we do so here with conviction.

In turn, the solidarity we felt from all directions was heartwarming. Financiers and partners, audiences and filmmakers, festivals and locations—if 2020 delivered one thing, it’s the overwhelming community spirit that emanated from all our relations and stakeholders. The encouragement to make IDFA 2020 a success was exceptional. More than ever, we dedicate the festival to all our friends worldwide who made this past edition possible. It was a joy to be able to support each other in such difficult times. Now on to the next chapter! Back to the theaters where we can experience cinema together.

Cees van ‘t Hullenaar, Executive Director