What We Do

Film still: A Night of Knowing Nothing, dir. Payal Kapadia

Empowering creative documentary films

Since 2020, the IDFA Bertha Fund is part of the Filmmaker Support Department. As a crucial part of IDFA’s year-round activities, the Filmmaker Support Department functions as an umbrella department, bringing together all activities to support filmmakers—the IDFA Bertha Fund and IDFA’s talent development department. The aim is to create a space where filmmakers can develop their projects according to their creative vision, and not only according to the demands of the market, and by doing so, create room for different documentary narratives and styles.

Within this department the IDFA Bertha Fund focuses on grants and tailor-made support to artistic, independent, and critical voices from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania (IBF regions), with the aim of stimulating free artistic expression and supporting critical and relevant filmmaking in these regions. At the same time, the Fund wants to foster the growth of local documentary industries and contribute to a more balanced representation and (co-) ownership of documentary narratives.  

Grants are offered for the development and production of documentary film projects by talented filmmakers from the IBF regions. On top of the financial support, the Fund offers tailor-made support by connecting the selected projects to different talent development programs, giving advice on all aspects of documentary filmmaking, and acting as a promoter of 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. In all categories, the Fund is looking for films that use strong visual treatments to tell compelling stories and have the potential to reach a global audience. 

IBF Classic offers direct development, production, and post-production support to filmmakers from and living in the IBF regions.

IBF Europe aims to stimulate the collaboration between independent European producers and producers from the IBF regions.

NFF + IBF Co-production Scheme, a collaboration between the Netherlands Film Fund and IBF aimed at stimulating Dutch producers to get involved in projects that have already received an IBF grant. 

Film still: Welded Together, dir. Anastasiya Miroshnichenko

IDFA Bertha Fund Classic

Filmmakers from and living in the IBF regions can apply for IBF Classic, for which the Fund maintains a list of eligible countries (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 can play a crucial role in starting up a project. Filmmakers may use the contribution for research, development of a script and/or production of a fundraising teaser. In 2021, the maximum contribution was € 5,000.

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 filmmakers may use the contribution for all forms of production and post-production. In 2021, the maximum contribution was € 17,500.

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).

IDFA Bertha Fund Europe

European co-producers of documentary films from IBF-focus countries (see button below) can apply for IBF Europe. By focusing on funding films 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. Specific attention is paid to the stimulation of European producers from countries with limited national co-production funding schemes, or from countries that are not yet fully involved in international co-productions.

In 2021, the Fund offered support through two funding categories: IBF Europe – International Co-production and IBF Europe – Distribution of International Co-productions. IBF Europe – International Co-production: This category is for documentary films in any stage of production that have a director from an IBF-focus country. A contribution may be used for the majority of production and post-production costs. In 2021, the maximum amount awarded per project was €40,000.

IBF Europe – Distribution of International Co-productions: This 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. In 2021, the maximum amount awarded per project was €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).

NFF+IBF Co-production Scheme

The NFF+IBF Co-production Scheme is a grant made possible in 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 with Dutch co-producers which have previously received a contribution for development, production, or co-production from the IDFA Bertha Fund can apply in this funding scheme.

The Netherlands Film Fund oversees the application and selection processes, and the IDFA Bertha Fund is involved in the selection of projects. In 2021, the maximum contribution per project was €50,000.

Film still: Land of Women, dir. Nada Riyadh & Ayman El Amir

Creative and Professional Support

Talent development

The majority of countries where the IDFA Bertha Fund is active have little or no film training, a non-existent film industry, or a limited industry focused on commercial fiction films. The Fund aims to support filmmakers in their creative process and, where necessary, help them bring their work to a next 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 IDFAcademy Summer School (which ran until 2020), IDFA Project Space (launched in 2020), and IDFAcademy during IDFA in November.

IDFA Project Space

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. 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. 

IDFAcademy during IDFA

Another Filmmaker Support Department activity which IBF grantees can participate in is the IDFAcademy during IDFA in November—a training program for emerging documentary filmmakers and producers. During this intensive training program, participants gain up-to-date market knowledge of the documentary industry and learn first-hand about the current trends in documentary filmmaking.

Additional support

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 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, distribution, and other subjects relevant to the production of their films

Network  and knowledge

The IBF has an extensive industry network within the international film industry in the IBF regions and that also extends the rest of the world. Whenever necessary the Fund connects supported filmmakers to this network in order to enhance opportunities for the realization of their projects. Another way the Fund uses to expand the network of filmmakers and increase their knowledge of the documentary industry is by inviting them to IDFA and facilitating participation at 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, as well as a number of supported filmmakers with projects still in production, selected for IDFAcademy and IDFA Forum to attend the IDFA festival. Aside from the filmmakers, the Fund also invites an increasing number of IBF-supported producers to participate in the different Industry activities at IDFA. These activities include Industry Talks & Sessions to give updates on current developments in the industry as well as covering larger trends and urgent discussions, Filmmaker Talks with renowned documentary directors covering their work and creative methods, Press & Industry Screenings of films from the IDFA program and Round Table Consultancies focusing on subjects such as handling film rights, impact producing, distribution, funds and much more.

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. The IDFA Forum facilitates encounters through four market platforms, Producers Connection, Forum Pitch, Rough Cut Presentations and DocLab Forum. During the Forum Pitch and Rough Cut Presentations 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 (on-site and online) one-on-one meetings. During the Producers Connection - newly launched in 2021 -, selected producers present their project to independent co-producers whose countries offer funding for minority co-productions. 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 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 carry on to experience many more screenings and win awards at international festivals, are broadcast on television worldwide, or are distributed in theaters and through grassroot screenings.

Film still: Our Memory Belongs to Us, dir. Rami Farah