IDFA supports “brave, cinematic, creative documentaries”

The IDFA documentary film festival’s industry program kicks off on Friday as a face-to-face event while also offering remote access for those who cannot come to Amsterdam. Branch manager Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen and store manager Selin Murat speak with us diversity about what participants can expect.

What was learned from the digital experiments last year has not been lost, says van Nieuwenhuijzen, and what was delivered this year is a hybrid. “We know that these face-to-face encounters, the face-to-face meetings, are critical to the entire industry,” she says. “But we also learned that we are much more accessible to many people [through remote access]. So I’m happy that we still have the opportunity to offer some visibility for [the producing] Teams that can’t come to Amsterdam. ”The online passes offered by IDFA are“ a great opportunity for people around the world to see what’s going on and stay up to date, ”she says.

The team behind the industry program had made some changes to its presence activities in 2019 that have now been revived. “We made the entire pitching experience much more intimate for the pitch team – that is, for the producers and filmmakers – as well as for the audience, decision-makers and industry professionals. So less of the feeling of a UN meeting or board meeting. It has become an intimate space that is much more about the exchange of ideas and your cinematic approach. “

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Industry manager Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen and store manager Selin Murat
Courtesy of IDFA

The Producers Connection, part of the IDFA Forum, is a new strand with 15 selected projects, but it emerged from the so-called Producers Program in 2019. Execute projects and encourage them to co-fund projects without relying on support from platforms, broadcasters and distributors.

“It’s really about the collaboration between producers and encouraging their creative input. It is not that these projects are presented to a potential funder such as platforms or broadcasters or distributors, ”says Van Nieuwenhuijzen.

One goal is to encourage the development of “bold, cinematic, creative documentaries that are challenging, a bit out of the box,” she says.

This acts as a counterbalance to the preference many broadcasters have for more conventional approaches to documentary filmmaking, which also applies to most streamers. “Most of these streamers are very commercial and make movies for the vast majority [of viewers]. This makes it difficult for them to experiment with other film styles and narrative styles, ”says Van Nieuwenhuijzen.

Murat adds, “We made a selection of all kinds of full-length projects [in the Forum program] this could be of interest to broadcasters, streamers and independent cinemas. We have chosen a selection of projects that are very important to us in terms of their creative narratives.

“You will see many types of projects and some could be exciting to streamers. What we want to show them is the breadth of what can be done so that they may feel inspired to take a few risks. “

Streamers “keep evolving,” says Murat, and IDFA hopes to “attract different types of platforms”.

Meanwhile, theatrical distributors are coming from a very difficult time of the past year and a half. “To put it mildly, it’s not the best time for them,” says Van Nieuwenhuijzen. “It’s really hard to come back from that.”

Popular topics explored in IDFA’s industry projects include gender identity, such as Kani Lapuerta’s “Niñxs”, Nada Riyadh and Ayman El Amir’s “Land of Women”, Paul B. Preciado’s “Orlando: My Political Biography” and Viv Lis “The two mountains that weigh down my chest”.

Another hot topic is migration, but rather than tracking migrants ‘journeys, the films tend to focus on the migrants’ experiences when they settle in their new home and the reactions of the host communities. In some films, filmmakers or the subject matter of the documentaries “reflect on the fact that they feel displaced or are looking for their own cultural identity,” says Van Nieuwenhuijzen.

In Joseph Paris’ “The Flag”, the director examines how the French media have hardened attitudes towards citizens from a different background than the majority and transformed them into “the others”. Hanka Nobis’ “Brotherhood” deals with a young Pole who is confronted with hostility towards immigration, but who then goes through a process of deradicalization.

The widespread use of smartphones with video cameras has provided some filmmakers with a wealth of material from which to weave their stories. One example is Victoria Mapplebeck’s “Motherboard”, for which the BAFTA-winning director documents her 17-year life as a single mother and shoots it on various devices.

Filmmaking is a dangerous activity in some parts of the world and some projects are kept under wraps for this reason, find it difficult to gain backing in their home countries or are subject to political repression.

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