IDFA Festival to Host a Physical 33rd Edition; IDFA Forum, Docs For Sale to Run Online (EXCLUSIVE)

Nederland, Amsterdam, 09-10-2019-Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director
Roger Cremers - 2019

With Dutch theaters now reopening, IDFA, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, has confirmed it will host a physical 33rd edition in November with potentially reduced capacity. The industry markets IDFA Forum and Docs for Sale, however, will take place online.

Movies competing at IDFA will have their premieres in over 60 theaters throughout the Netherlands with international juries on hand. IDFA will also be organising virtual cinema screenings and events around the competitions for those who can’t attend the festival in person.

Like the rare festivals that haven’t been canceled this year, IDFA, which is scheduled to run Nov. 18-29, will be slightly downsized with around 200 titles compared with 300 films and projects in previous editions.

Orwa Nyrabia, the artistic director of IDFA, told Variety that it was crucial for the event to be maintained to “encourage and celebrate the comeback of the industry” which has been weakened by the health crisis.

“We were moved to see the plight of filmmakers during (the pandemic), they really pushed to have their films released eventually when theaters would reopen,” said Nyrabia.

“The documentary field brings together a combination of micro-companies and freelancers, and we know these are the most vulnerable groups in our industry, so it’s important for us to help their recovery,” said the artistic director.

Nyrabia explained that while theaters have started reopening in the Netherlands, the cap per auditorium is currently limited at 30 people, but he anticipate that by November the situation will have evolved. “By then, if all goes well, we expected that social distancing will still be mandatory but with no cap, which will allow us to open theaters of various sizes,” said Nyrabia.

IDFA will expand its theatrical offering this year with a sub-selection of 20 films. Beyond theaters, additional online screenings will allow local audiences to choose their preferred route through the festival.

In order to keep a momentum around movie premieres, the online screenings will take place at fixed times. “Our idea of a hybrid festival is to give people the opportunity to watch the films with everyone, listen to the talks with filmmakers before and after the screenings; that’s the concept of togetherness,” said Nyrabia.

Introductions and live Q&As will remain central to the festival screening experience, whether in cinemas or online. The fest will also be supporting filmmakers through a revenue-sharing model.

IDFA DocLab, the festival’s new media program and exhibition space, will return to Tolhuistuin this year, where several live events will take place. DocLab will also present events for 30 or 100 visitors at other locations such as the ARTIS Planetarium.

The submission deadline for all completed films is Aug. 1. and July 1 for all performances and interactive/immersive new media projects.

While IDFA Forum and Docs for Sale will this year be carried out online, some industry activities will combine virtual and in-person formats. As usual, the Forum will present a range of high-profile arthouse projects to support filmmakers looking for co-production and co-financing partners.

Docs for Sale, meanwhile, will showcase new documentary films and previously released titles that have regained new relevance in 2020. Both the Forum and Docs for Sale will open for entries on June 12 with accreditations launching in August.