Nurturing Talent

IDFAcademy Session: How to Pitch Successfully, with Mikael Opstrup. Photo by Roos Trommelen.

Talent Development

In most countries where the Fund is active, there is little or no film training and a film industry is non-existent, or limited and focused on commercial fiction film. Therefore, the Fund aims to support filmmakers in their creative process and, where necessary, help them bring their work to an international level. For more than a decade, the IDFA Bertha Fund has offered its selected filmmakers a range of training opportunities to stimulate their development and strengthen their documentary projects, such as the IDFAcademy Summer School and the IDFAcademy during IDFA program. In 2020,  the pandemic had sadly prevented the possibility of organizing an  IDFAcademy  Summer School in its traditional form: a one-week pressure cooker that welcomes filmmakers from all over the world to connect, collaborate, and develop here in Amsterdam. 

Therefore, as part of the activities of the new Filmmakers Support department —which brings together  the IDFA Bertha Fund and  IDFAcademy—, IDFA accelerated the launch of a new year-round talent development program:  IDFA Project Space.  The IDFA Project Space is a  program that offers selected filmmakers a range of guidance and mentorship activities throughout the year.  The core of this program consists of individual consultancies tailored to the projects' needs and creative development.  Additionally, sessions are organized that focus more on market orientation, in addition to broader inspiration. 

IDFA Project Space

2020 turned into the kick-off of the IDFA Project Space program, offering an intensive online program from June 29 to July 10, a follow-up program in the autumn and attending IDFA and IDFAcademy online in November. One-on-one sessions, film screenings, lectures, and intimate group sessions were all part of the two-week schedule, which continued in follow-up consultancies offered till the end of the year, as well as inspirational plenary sessions on co-production and distribution in September and October.

A select group of up-and-coming international filmmaking talents got the chance to be matched with experienced mentors, who guided the filmmaking teams to creatively develop their project’s script or rough cut. Of the ten selected teams, seven were previously supported by the IDFA Bertha Fund. You can read more about the launch of the IDFA Project Space program here.

IBF participants at IDFA Project Space Do You Love Me?, dir. Lana Daher (Lebanon, Germany) The Elf's Tower, dir. Polina Kelm (Poland, Ukraine) I, Poppy, dir. Vivek H. Chaudhary (India) Last Days at Sea, dir. Venice Atienza (Philippines) The New Greatness, dir. Anna Shishova-Bogolubova (Russia) Regarding Memory and Neglect, dir. Ricardo Martensen (Brazil, Portugal) Testament, dir. Meena Nanji & dir. Zippy Kimundu (Kenya, United States)

IDFAcademy Session: Where to Begin? Writing for Documentary Film, with Firouzeh Khosrovani (screen left) and Maite Alberdi (screen right). Photo by Roger Cremers.

IDFAcademy 2020

One of IDFA's international talent programs IDFAcademy, which normally takes place over the course of four days during IDFA festival, also went online. The program itinerary included an opening talk by Claire Simon, a masterclass with Gianfranco Rosi, and sessions on directing with cinematic limitations, how to start up writing your documentary, and finding your audience in a digitally overloaded world. Participants were also invited to attend informative sessions on international co-production, project pitching, sales and distribution strategies, and were given the opportunity to reflect on the sessions and their projects in small groups under the guidance of a mentor. During the five day period—November 19, 20, 23, 24 and 25—60 young international participants (including ten IBF grantees) attended the online IDFAcademy.

We are pleased to note that during IDFAcademy 2020, several directors who had previously received IBF funding took center stage during different IDFAcademy activities: Maite Alberdi (The Mole Agent) and Firouzeh Khosrovani (Radiograph of a Family) provided insight into writing and researching for projects proposals during the Small Session: Where to Begin? Writing for Documentary Film. Aswang producer Armi Rae Cacanindin spoke about international co-productions with Mikael Opstrup during the Small Session: International Co-Production.

IBF participants at IDFAcademy 5 Houses, dir. Bruno Gularte Barreto (Brazil, Germany) Against the Tide, dir. Sarvnik Kaur & prod. Koval Bhatia (India) Baby Jackfruit Baby Guava, dir. Quang Nong (Vietnam) Concrete Land, dir. Asmahan Bkerat (Jordan, Canada, United Arab Emirates) Just Another Year, dir. Ruslan Fedotow (Russia, Belarus) Nyandeng, dir. Akuol de Mabior & prod. Sam Soko (South Sudan, Kenya) Shut the Fuck Up!, dir. Taisiia Kutuzova & prod. Olga Beskhmelnytsina (Ukraine, France)

IDFA Project Space

7 IBF projects participated in 2020

IDFAcademy during IDFA

7 IBF projects participated in 2020 43 IBF projects participated since 2015

IDFAcademy Summer School

71 IBF projects participated since 2008

IBF Talent Development outcomes

For most of the participating filmmakers, the IDFA Talent Development Programs provide a much-needed push—resulting in powerful documentary films being screened all over the world. Since the first IDFAcademy Summer School in 2008, combined with the IDFA Project Space numbers of 2020, the Fund has facilitated participation of 78 projects—56 of these projects have since been realized, 42 of which were selected for the IDFA program. Almost half of the selected films were screened in one of the festival's competitions, and nine of them won awards at IDFA.