Mission statement

Every year, IDFA presents the best documentaries, selected from a huge field. This selection is made on the basis of clear criteria. In short, IDFA looks for documentaries that are interesting from a stylistic point of view, or are particularly innovative, relevant to social issues and successfully manage to communicate with their audiences.

Creative documentaries
IDFA has always focused on creative documentaries. This means that IDFA chooses films that have been painstakingly designed and that express the personal vision of the maker. The creative documentary is an art form. The documentary-maker is therefore an artist - not a journalist. Where the journalist attempts with his or her reports to present reality as objectively as possible, the artist follows his or her own idea. The laws of journalism therefore do not apply to the creative documentary; the documentary has its own quality criteria. Like reportage, documentaries provide insights into the world around us; but they are also characterised primarily by artistic qualities: innovation, originality, professional skill, expressiveness and cultural/historical value.

Form

In a good documentary, the form is no less important than the content. IDFA is most interested in films that reveal the documentary tradition in a new light. In filmmakers that forge their own path, or give a new twist to an existing movement, such as direct cinema.

Whether this cinematographic renewal ensues from technical changes - such as the advent of the digital camera - or a highly personal concept of style, interest in form is a crucial characteristic of auteur cinema. For many years, IDFA has devoted attention to filmmakers with a consistent oeuvre, a clear vision of their own and recognisable signature.

Little wonder then that renowned directors such as Werner Herzog, Kazuo Hara, Robert Kramer, Michael Moore and Ulrich Seidl have all received special attention at IDFA in the past. In addition, every year brings new discoveries of interesting young innovative filmmakers; recent examples include Victor Kossakovksy, Sergei Dvortsevoy and Yoav Shamir.

Content

A good documentary is urgent. In the same way that art is by definition critical and cannot be seen separately from the society that produces it, creative documentaries also offer a probing, surprising window on the world. This is not simply a question of collating the most up-to-date images and the latest soundbites, such as those which constantly bombard us via the media.

Documentary-makers do not spend their time chasing after the latest story. Documentaries are not fleeting, but hold a mirror up to our times. They are able to stimulate the viewer and provoke thought, by approaching the news from a different angle; by placing different accents, applying a slower rhythm, an original point of view.

The social relevance of a documentary is of great importance to IDFA. A documentary festival is the place to identify and analyse the changes taking place in our society, far from the daily media storm and protected from the superficial circus of pundits and soundbites, but nevertheless firmly rooted in the world.

Communication
Good documentaries appeal to us. Documentaries stimulate the viewer to think further, to discuss, to ask questions. The best documentaries make maximum use of the opportunity to communicate with the audience, whether through a wake-up call, teasing, shocking or even pleasing.

The latter is not always necessary. The films that finish highest in audience polls - the crowd favourites - are not necessarily those most appreciated by authorities, fellow filmmakers and critics. Sometimes, it is precisely the films that fail to unite the audience in appreciation - but rather divide opinions - that are most interesting in terms of both content and style.

Balance
Not every film IDFA selects will score well in relation to all of the above-mentioned criteria. After all, not every documentary is an obvious masterpiece. Selecting films for a festival like IDFA is all about striking the right balance. IDFA does not show only films that are guaranteed to be hits with audiences, nor does the festival select films purely on the grounds of their social relevance.

It is only when form, content and communication are each sufficiently represented that the basis can be laid for a successful festival. A festival that stimulates and offers new perspectives.
Accreditation for IDFA 2014 is now open! Join us to celebrate the documentary genre at the 27th edition of IDFA! The deadline for accreditation is October 10.
IDFA Bertha Fund selects 19 new projects July 8, 2014 | The IDFA Bertha Fund has concluded the May selection round of 2014. Nineteen documentary projects from countries like Nicaragua, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and South-Sudan will be supported by the fund.
New collaboration with Docu Rough Cut Boutique July 8, 2014 | IDFA is proud to announce a new collaboration with the Sarajevo Film Festival and Balkan Documentary Center's Docu Rough Cut Boutique, where every year five projects from the Balkan and Caucasus region receive tailor-made coaching with an eye to moving forward the projects in their final stage.
Summer School's Out July 6, 2014 | The seventh edition of the IDFAcademy Summer School has closed its doors. For six days, young and upcoming talents from 15 different countries worked tirelessly on their projects, supported by eight renowned tutors, among whom was editor Ollie Huddleston: “If you think too much about what other people think, you can get really lost.”
Digital and interactive storytelling at IDFA 2014 July 4, 2014 | Since 2008, IDFA explores the future of non-fiction storytelling with its DocLab program and the Forum for crossmedia projects. This year, in collaboration with De Brakke Grond, we will present the biggest interactive storytelling program yet. We look forward to consider your interactive, transmedia and virtual reality projects.

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RT @idfa: Today, August 1, is the last day to submit your new documentary for #IDFA2014. We look forward to your submission: http://t.co/pw…
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