Empowering creative documentary films

Film still: Milisuthando, dir. Milisuthando Bongela (South Africa).

What We Do

The IDFA Bertha Fund supports artistic, independent and critical voices from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe (the IBF regions). The aim is to create a space for free artistic expression and support, and safeguard critical and relevant filmmaking. At the same time, we want to foster the growth of local documentary industries and contribute to a more balanced representation and (co-)ownership of documentary narratives.

Support is offered for the development, production and distribution of documentary projects by talented filmmakers from these regions. On top of the financial support the IDFA Bertha Fund also plays a crucial advisory role, and acts as a matchmaker and promoter of the supported filmmakers and documentary films to financiers, producers, sales agents, and festivals worldwide.

IBF Funding schemes

Applications to the IDFA Bertha Fund can be made in a variety of funding schemes: IDFA Bertha Fund Classic, IDFA Bertha Fund Europe and NFF+IBF Co-production. In all schemes, the Fund is looking for films that use strong visual treatments to tell compelling stories and have the potential to reach a global audience. 

IDFA Bertha Fund Classic

IBF Classic offers direct development and production support to filmmakers from the IBF regions. The Fund maintains a list of focus countries (see button below), and only filmmakers from these countries are eligible to apply. The applications the Fund receives are assessed by an international selection committee consisting of members active in the documentary film industry in various capacities, taking into account certain selection criteria (see button below). The IBF Classic funding scheme consists of two categories: Project Development and Production & Post-production.

Project Development: Contributions for the development of a project during the early phase play a crucial role in starting up a project. The maximum contribution is € 5,000. Filmmakers may use the contribution for research, development of a script and/or production of a fundraising teaser. Production & Post-production: Financial support during the production phase allows filmmakers to make a start on the actual realization of their projects. During the post-production phase, a contribution can cover the cost of editing, as well as sound design/mix and color correction and everything else that is necessary to have films ready for screening on television, in cinemas and at film festivals. The maximum contribution is €17,500. The filmmakers may use the contribution for all forms of production and post-production.

IDFA Bertha Fund Europe

IBF Europe aims to stimulate the collaboration between independent European producers and producers from the IBF regions. By focusing on funding documentary films from IBF-focus countries (see button below) through European partners, the Fund is able to increase the support to these films, to strengthen the creative participation of the European partners and to stimulate the circulation of documentary films from the IBF-focus regions in a world that is mostly dominated by Western media. The Fund offers support through two funding categories: IBF Europe – International Co-production and IBF Europe – Distribution of International Co-productions. For IBF Europe – International Coproduction the Fund supports the production of documentary films co-produced between European producers and producers from IBF-focus countries. This category is for documentaries in any stage of production that have a director from an IBF-focus country. The maximum amount awarded per project is €40,000.

The IBF Europe – Distribution of International Co-productions category is designed to support innovative distribution plans for documentary films co-produced between European producers and producers from IBF-focus countries. Distribution plans should seek to reach a global audience. Financing is made available for plans that make use of both innovative means of distribution and more traditional distribution forms. The maximum amount awarded per project is €30,000. Applications for both IBF Europe categories are assessed by an international selection committee consisting of members active in the documentary film industry in various capacities, taking into account certain selection criteria (see button below). One of the goals of the IBF Europe program is to support European producers in the smaller EU countries and to encourage them to co-produce with the regions the IBF supports.

NFF+IBF Co-production Scheme

The NFF+IBF Co-production Scheme is a collaboration with the Netherlands Film Fund. This category is aimed at supporting the realization of international documentary co-productions between Dutch producers and producers from IBF-focus countries.

Projects which have previously received a contribution for development or production from the IDFA Bertha Fund are eligible. The maximum contribution per project is €50,000. The Netherlands Film Fund oversees the application and selection processes, and the IDFA Bertha Fund is involved in the selection of projects.

Film still: Shut the Fuck Up!, dir. Taisiia Kutuzova (Ukraine).

Talent Development

The IDFA Bertha Fund offers its selected filmmakers a range of training opportunities to stimulate their development and strengthen their documentary projects. Starting in 2020, as part of the activities of the new Filmmakers Support department, IDFA launched 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. IBF-supported projects are also able to participate in this program. Another Filmmakers Support department activity in which IBF grantees can participate in is the IDFAcademy, taking place during IDFA in November. IDFAcademy is a training program for emerging documentary filmmakers and producers.

During this intensive training program, participants gain up-to-date market knowledge of the documentary film industry and learn first-hand about the current trends in documentary filmmaking. IDFA’s training programs do not always correspond to the production schedule of a project, so the Fund also offers filmmakers the opportunity to receive feedback from IDFA staff or international experts on story development and their rough-cut throughout the year. Furthermore, through its staff or network of international experts, the Fund can offer filmmakers advice on festival strategy, co-production, safety measures, and other subjects relevant to the production of their films.

Network  and Knowledge Expansion

The IBF has an extensive industry network encompassing both the international film industry and organizations active in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. The broadest possible use is made of this network to offer supported filmmakers greater opportunities in the realization of their projects, such as attending IDFA and participating in the IDFA Forum. Attending IDFA Attending IDFA (online or on-site) is a great opportunity for documentary professionals to expand their networks, broaden their knowledge of the documentary industry and see many documentary films that are difficult to access in their own regions. Each year, the Fund invites all makers of IBF-supported documentary films selected for the IDFA program, IDFAcademy and IDFA Forum. Aside from the filmmakers, the Fund also invites an increasing number of IBF-supported producers to participate in Industry activities, such as the Producer’s network.

IDFA Forum Every year some IBF projects make it into the selection of the IDFA Forum, the international co-production and co-financing market for documentary films, and one of the most influential meeting places for filmmakers, creators, and producers working on creative documentary films and new media projects. During the IDFA Forum, projects are presented to an industry delegation of film professionals from around the world. Besides the public pitches, the project representatives are able to pitch their ideas and plans to interested funders, co-producers, sales agents, and distributors in pre-arranged one-on-one meetings. In addition to the IBF-supported projects selected for IDFA Forum, the Fund invites several other IBF-supported producers to attend IDFA Forum as observers, in order to broaden their networks and meet potential financiers or co-producers.

Yearly Harvest & Distribution 

Each year, IBF-supported documentary films are selected for the IDFA program: an important moment in the international career of a documentary film. These films also contribute to the cultural diversity of IDFA and play a significant part in attracting interested audiences to the festival. 

The completed documentary films are also included in IDFA’s Docs for Sale, where international distributors, festival programmers, and television buyers view the new documentary film harvest. Most of the documentary films made and presented at IDFA experience many more screenings and win awards at international festivals, are broadcast on television worldwide, or are distributed in theatres and through grassroot screenings.

Film still: The Echo, dir. Tatiana Huezo (Mexico).