Photo by Thomas Schlijper.
How do we look back at a year in which everything was different? A year in which the film industry changed irrevocably and the consequences of the global pandemic remained unclear. While coping with the changes, great and small, brought to everyday life by the pandemic, filmmakers are also having to learn to deal with this new reality. A reality that is forcing filmmakers to increasingly fall back on their own resources. Meetings with colleagues from around the world can no longer be taken for granted; contact with audiences has become a rarity; in many cases, it has proved impossible to complete projects as planned. Furthermore, the future is still uncertain. Quite apart from the uncertainty surrounding a return to some kind of ‘normal’, the closure of cinemas and the arrival of online festivals have transformed the screening and distribution landscape for documentaries entirely. When governments face crises, the cultural sector is generally the first to feel the financial squeeze. Within its regular contact with filmmakers, as well as within the activities of IDFA, the IDFA Bertha Fund (IBF) has responded to these changes as far as it can, continuing wherever possible to support filmmakers with advice and expertise. In this annual report, we are proud to give several IBF-supported filmmakers an opportunity to speak about their films, projects and visions for their field of endeavour. The Fund’s selection rounds took place in 2020 without any major modifications; support activities and meetings with filmmakers were moved online as far as possible. Six years on from the launch of the IDFA Bertha Fund Europe category, it is clear that international cooperation between producers is increasing, with positive results. Six documentary films awarded an IBF Europe – International Co-production grant that were completed in 2020 premiered at renowned festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, Toronto and IDFA. As the year progressed, the impact of the pandemic on the Fund’s operational regions became ever more apparent. On the one hand, finance possibilities are drying up as national governments cut budgets for the culture and film sectors, resulting in increased competition for international funds.
On the other hand, in certain parts of the world filmmakers’ freedom of movement and of expression generally were curtailed even further. The volume of applications responding to the call for the IDFA Bertha Fund Classic’s second deadline in June almost doubled. This placed huge pressure on the selection process, as initially no more budget was available. Additional emergency funding from the Ford Foundation made it possible to nevertheless support more projects. The various ongoing lockdowns mean that many IBF-supported filmmakers are experiencing delays in their productions. In particular filmmakers with a finished film ready to be shared with audiences have had to find a way to deal with the restrictions and changes to festivals and screenings all over the world. In spite of all this, IBF-backed films successfully found their way within the world of online festivals. 2020 started off as a hugely successful year for the IDFA Bertha Fund with the selection of Fund-supported films for big international festivals, and the year ended with two awards for Radiograph of a Family, and an award for This Rain Will Never Stop at IDFA 2020. Another significant change took place within the organisation with the step by IDFA to group its creative activities under three pillars: Film, Filmmakers and Industry. The creation of the Filmmaker Support Department unites the activities of Talent Development and the IDFA Bertha Fund within a single department. This is a logical step in view of these departments’ existing intensive cooperation and presents an opportunity to strengthen programmes and broaden reach, thereby serving filmmakers better. The Filmmaker Support department places filmmakers front and centre and aspires to safeguard a space for the creative process of documentary filmmaking. The Fund retains its status as an independent foundation and now shares the same board with Foundation IDFA. The support categories of the Fund remain in place. We thank the Bertha Foundation, Creative Europe, Ford Foundation, Stichting De Hoorn and the IDFA Special Friends+ for their support. In addition, the Fund would like to express its heartfelt thanks to all supported filmmakers for their passion and perseverance in bringing their unique, urgent and beautiful documentary films into the world.
Photo by Coen Dijkstra.
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."