×

IDFA 2015: Premiere Doc Fest and Market Has Global Hustle, Intimate Vibe

Since launching in 1988, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) has remained the largest—319 titles this year—world-class documentary screening and market event on the calendar, pointing auds and attendees toward fresh ideas, forms, and funding models, and constantly fine-tuning programming that reflects the international hustle, intimate vibe, and cinematic beauty of the city.

The 12-day fest opened Wednesday with Dutch filmmaker Tom Fassaert’s world-premiering intrigue “A Family Affair,” one of 15 international titles competing for IDFA’s best feature doc—the marquee prize amongst eight juried competitions which, along with the aud award, offer cash prizes.

As of this year, the jury-awards ceremony (Nov. 25) shifts earlier in the schedule to attract a larger pack of international guests; IDFA has also dropped the nomination process and instituted a new special jury award category in its six main competitions, accompanied by an increase in the overall amount of prize cash.

Continuing its longstanding rep as the Euro launchpad for prestige US docs, IDFA 2015 screens 54 feature-length US theatrical and TV titles—among them, “American Epic,” “ Cartel Land,” “Hot Sugar’s Cold World,” “Live From New York,” “Mavis,” “Keith Richard: Under The Influence,” “This Changes Everything,” and two from Barbara Koppel (“Miss Sharon Jones,” “Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation”)—across its regular, retro (an Errol Morris spotlight), and sidebar programs (strands exploring the art of sound, digital docs in the post-internet era, a special screening of Laura Israel’s “Don’t Blink—Robert Frank”).

U.S. presence at IDFA’s sprawling industry confab has, over the past decade in particular, significantly increased (up 12 percent from last year, according to IDFA head of industry Adriek van Nieuwenhuyzen), reflecting the rise in importance of international co-financing and idea-jamming in doc production.

IDFA’s recent emphasis on aud impact and outreach is mirrored in its industry activities, notably the facilitation of small sessions and consultancies that complement IDFA Forum (Nov. 23 to 25), its three-day flagship cofinancing and production market event. Sharpening and expanding guests’ intel of the global doc landscape is key.

“Besides networking, up-to-date market knowledge is important for filmmakers to stay tuned in to the rapidly changing documentary environment,” van Nieuwenhuyzen told Variety, adding that, this year, IDFA is drawing the attention of international casters and funders to children’s documentary, a genre that has found biz success in Holland.

“IDFA has always been truly international,” van Nieuwenhuyzen said. “This year we are hosting a big group from China for the first time, and we have seven Chinese films in various programs and in the Forum. We are also working with African institutes, as well as Arab organizations like AFAC.”

This year IDFA relocates its industry center to NH Carlton Hotel (spitting distance from its flagship screening venues), a move that puts existing (housing, press, press room, doc clinic) and new (topical industry sessions and meets) services under one roof.

Docs For Sale (Nov. 20 to 27)—a key global doc screening and market stop for TV buyers, agents, distributors, and programmers—introduces Rough Cuts Projects, a new strand showcasing 10 projects in the final stage of production.

IDFA has informed guests that the festival remains in close contact with Amsterdam police and officials, following the Dutch government’s increase in security levels throughout the country, including Amsterdam and all major events. The festival is not commenting on specific security measures.

The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam runs from November 18 to 29, 2015.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 'Elephant' Review: Less Majestic Than the

    'Elephant,' Narrated by Meghan Markle: Film Review

    Of all the members of the animal kingdom we think of as akin to humans — chimps, dolphins, whales, perhaps (if we’re being honest about it) our dogs — elephants may be the most movingly and preternaturally aware. Because you can see how intelligent they are. You see it in a chimp’s face, too, of [...]

  • Ken Shimura

    Ken Shimura Japanese Comedian Dies of Coronavirus Age 70

    Ken Shimura, a comedian who was a fixture on Japanese television for decades, died on Sunday evening from the coronavirus, the Japanese media reported Monday. He was 70, and immediately before his illness had been set for his first starring role in a feature film. Shimura entered a Tokyo hospital on March 20 with fever [...]

  • Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer,

    Gerard Schurmann, Film and TV Composer, Dies at 96

    Gerard Schurmann, whose 1960s film scores included “The Bedford Incident” and “Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow” but who also composed extensively for the concert hall, died March 24 at his home in the Hollywood Hills. The cause of death was not announced; he was 96. Schurmann’s death was announced by his music publisher, Novello & [...]

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content