Creative documentaries

IDFA Program

When making their selections this year, IDFA’s programmers paid particular attention to originality and artistic merit, giving greater scope to the creative documentary. We were able to demonstrate that watching a documentary not only teaches audiences something about what is going on in the world, but that it is also an artistic experience that broadens audiences’ horizons in other ways. This year, the number of films and projects programmed was kept below 300, and for each competition we selected twelve instead of fifteen entries.


In 2018, IDFA invited Helena Třeštíková to be the festival’s Guest of Honor. This experienced filmmaker enjoys great renown in her native Czech Republic, and IDFA chose to bring her authentic way of working – which often involves following her characters for many years – to the attention of documentary lovers outside of Eastern Europe. Třeštíková compiled a Top 10 of her favorite documentaries which she discussed in a Filmmaker Talk. In addition, we screened a retrospective of her work.

For the first time, we brought documentary together with the performing arts during IDFA on Stage, a program made up of four performances including the world premiere of the fully restored and digitized version of Dziga Vertov’s Anniversary of the Revolution (1918). This film was accompanied by live music linking the year of the Russian revolution to the present.

Alongside hundreds of short audience Q&As, a range of extensive post-screening discussions – called Doc Talks – were presented featuring filmmakers, experts, and in some cases even protagonists from the films. This gave audiences unique background information on the film and how it came about.

For professionals, IDFA also organizes its Industry and Filmmaker Talks. These are sessions with renowned filmmakers and producers that deal with themes concerning the art of documentary filmmaking. 

This year, we recorded 33 of these talks in videos and podcasts so they can be accessed online, which was particularly interesting for industry professionals unable to attend the sessions in person.