The IDFA Bertha Fund is very proud to present this report on our activities in 2019. Through presenting 15 films at IDFA, supporting 30 new projects and offering ongoing cooperation with filmmakers, in 2019 the Fund was able to continue fulfilling its mission to create a space for free artistic expression as well as supporting and safeguarding critical and relevant filmmaking. The following pages contain five interviews in which filmmakers from India, the Philippines, Mali, Sudan and Iran talk about their films, ambitions and countries. What motivates a filmmaker to spend years of her or his life making a film? The answers range from ‘the power of telling stories’, ‘searching for justice’ to ‘this film simply had to be made’. These interviews also underline the importance of being afforded the time, independence and space to freely express oneself and fully develop and finish a film. IDFA 2019 opened with Sunless Shadows (Mehrdad Oskouei, Iran, Norway, 2019). In addition to supporting the previous works of Oskouei, the Fund made the development and production of Sunless Shadows possible. The film screened as part of the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary, going on to win the Best Director Award. Another four Fund-backed films were selected for the First Appearance Competition, with Aswang (Alyx Ayn Arumpax, the Philippines, France, Norway, Germany, Qatar, 2019) winning the FIPRESCI Award.

A total of 30 projects were supported through the Fund’s various funding schemes. Half of these are projects by first-time filmmakers, while the selection also includes new works by veteran filmmakers. Women directors make up one third of the selection, and for the first time the Fund supported projects from Mali, the Philippines and Vietnam. You can read more about these projects and the rest of the selection in this report. Alongside its funding schemes for the development, production and distribution of documentary projects, the Fund also plays a crucial advisory role. As a matchmaker and promoter of the supported filmmakers, we steer them towards financiers, producers, sales agents and festivals worldwide. In all cases, the Fund makes use of its network to support filmmakers wherever possible. In 2019, a new program – NFF+IBF Co-production Scheme – was initiated in collaboration with the Netherlands Film Fund, with the aim of involving Dutch producers in projects that have previously received an IBF grant. The first result of this, the international co-production Smog Town (Meng Han, 2019), was selected for IDFA’s First Appearance Competition. The IDFA Bertha Fund would like to thank the Bertha Foundation, Creative Europe, ASN Bank, the Netherlands Film Fund, Stichting De Hoorn and IDFA’s Special Friends+ for their support. In addition, the Fund expresses its heartfelt thanks to all supported filmmakers for their passion and perseverance in bringing their unique, urgent, and beautiful documentary films into the world.

Mehrdad Oskouei accepting the award for Best Directing in the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary for his film Sunless Shadows.

Main partner of the IDFA Bertha Fund

Bertha Foundation supports activists, storytellers and lawyers that are working to bring about social and economic justice, and human rights for all. Envisioning a society in which activists build collective power, stories come from many different voices, and law is used as a tool for justice.

By investing in the IDFA Bertha Fund the Foundation supports the global creative documentary field and films that make a difference. Adrian Kawaley-Lathan, Creative Director at Bertha, "We love the IDFA Bertha Fund! We love that it creates an important space for broadening the documentary sector and it empowers diverse global narratives from under-represented regions. We are happy to support the Fund and are continually impressed by the compelling content and strength of storytelling displayed year after year."