Festivals and Distribution

IBF films around the world

Festivals and Distribution

Various means are used to promote IBF documentaries among festivals and distributors worldwide. Most of the documentaries realized are presented at IDFA, an important starting point for the international career of a documentary. Documentaries that screen at IDFA and are included in Docs for Sale often go on to have many more screenings at international festivals, to be broadcast on television worldwide or to be distributed in theatres and by grassroot screenings.

Festival Circulation

Every year, IBF-supported documentaries are screened and win awards at prestigious film festivals around the world. 2018 was a very successful year with a lot of IBF titles being programmed at major international festivals and winning important awards there. Highlights include Dead Souls having its World Premiere at the Cannes film festival, Theatre of War premiering at the Berlinale 2018, Freedom Fields premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival and Of Fathers and Sons which, after having its World Premiere at IDFA 2017, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance FF 2018 and screened at 105 festivals worldwide. This culminated in the film’s nomination for the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2019.

Top 10 worldwide festival screenings in 2018

  • 105 festivals | Of Fathers and Sons
  • 65 festivals | Silas
  • 42 festivals | In Praise of Nothing
  • 36 festivals | The Next Guardian
  • 33 festivals | Amal
  • 29 festivals | Heiress of the Wind
  • 29 festivals | Silence is a Falling Body
  • 27 festivals | Theatre of War
  • 26 festivals | Strike a Rock
  • 20 festivals | House in the Fields

Screenings in the Benelux

In 2018 in the Benelux, IBF-supported documentaries were shown at IDFA, online, on TV, at festivals and in special themed programs. Amal was part of IDFA by Night, a special IDFA outdoor cinema selection, and of the Best of IDFA on Tour program. In Praise of Nothing and Los Reyes were both screened at Kriterion X IDFA and Kabul, City in the Wind was screened at satellite festival IDFA@Vlieland. The number of IBF-supported documentaries available on IDFA's online channel in 2018 was 117. The Benelux public broadcasters purchased or screened some IBF-supported titles, including Laila at the Bridge, Of Fathers and Sons, Sonita, Ambulance and Raghu Rai, an Unframed Portrait.

Local Distribution Successes

Some films also booked impressive successes in their home country or region, such as The Next Guardian, Heiress of the Wind and When the Guns Go Silent.

The Next Guardian
Arun Bhattarai & Dorottya Zurbó, Hungary/Bhutan
A love-filled portrait of a family in Bhutan. The daughter wants to be a soccer pro, while the son has doubts about becoming a monk.

As one of the few independent documentaries made in Bhutan, The Next Guardian required alternative and innovative strategies to reach Bhutanese audiences. Ultimately, it was distributed by way of a traveling cinema that toured through urban towns and remote villages across the country. The film was screened in high schools, colleges, institutions, monastic schools, nunneries, and in various venues for Bhutan’s LGBTQ Community. The Next Guardian also won an award in the best documentary category at the Bhutan Film Association’s annual award ceremony. The film’s distribution will continue in 2019, marking the first Bhutanese documentary ever to be released in cinema and screened on national television in Bhutan.

Trailer The Next Guardian

Heiress of the Wind
Gloria Carrión Fonseca, Nicaragua
Archive footage and candid interviews evoke painful, melancholy memories of the Nicaraguan revolution.

Another documentary that had an impressive distribution in its own region was Heiress of the Wind. The film became the first Nicaraguan blockbuster in theaters. For the premiere, the theater pre-sold around 900 tickets, drawing a crowd so large that three additional screening rooms had to be opened at the last moment. The media campaign was highly successful as well, and managed to put the topic of memory, conflict, and conflict resolution on the public agenda. A large number of articles were published in national and international newspapers, as well as digital platforms. The filmmakers also received private donations to hold extra screenings with students, former contra fighters, former Sandinista fighters, war victims, and teenagers.

Still from Heiress of the Wind

When the Guns Go Silent
Natalia Orozco, Colombia/France
The FARC, the oldest guerrillas in the world, are finally taking the path of democracy, together with the Colombian government. How to achieve peace after 50 years of civil war?

In 2018 the filmmakers of When the Guns Go Silent released an impressive social impact campaign in Colombia. Alongside the documentary, they developed a methodology named Cinema To Heal with which they organized 36 impact screenings and workshops throughout Colombia, in regions where the local communities never had the opportunity to see a film before. Screenings and workshops were also held in schools and universities. Through non-stop travelling, the filmmakers consolidated Cinema To Heal as a tool for peace-building in their country.

Outreach video report of When the Guns Go Silent

Festival and Distribution outcomes

All in all, a total of 44 IBF documentaries have been screened at 689 festivals worldwide, winning a total of 125 awards together.

IBF-supported Asian and Latin American documentaries did particularly well within their own regions. 17 docs from Asia had 159 screenings all together, 28% of which were regional. The 8 Latin American documentaries had 141 screenings all together, of which 41% were regional. This can partly be explained by the relatively large numer of smaller festivals within these regions.

Three IBF-documentaries from Eastern Europe were circulating in 2018, two of them were broadcast on television (60%) and distibuted in theatres (60%).

The 11 docs from the MENA region had 217 festival screenings all together. However, only a small percentage took place in the actual region, possibly due to their sensitive subjects and the dwindling infrastructure for film festivals in territories of conflict.

There were only 5 African documentaries circulating in 2018, but they were shown at a stunning 102 festivals. Due to the minimal screening possibilities in African countries, only 15% of screenings took place in the region.