In July, we welcomed 16 international filmmaking teams to IDFAcademy Summer School, our week-long program for emerging film talent to elevate their script or rough cut alongside renowned directors, editors, and other film professionals. Read more about this energizing and inspirational edition of Summer School, and watch our exclusive tutor tips for extra insight.
This year IDFAcademy staff were proud to welcome three notable women directors as tutors. Sophie Fiennes, Pirjo Honkasalo, and Alina Marazzi joined the roster of experienced documentary tutors who worked closely with the filmmaking teams. Although the loss of longtime tutor Menno Boerema was noticeable, this year’s dedicated team of tutors led a strong program packed with intensive consultancy sessions and more masterclasses and screenings than ever before.
For some participants, the robust film program, which included screenings of The 3 Rooms of Melancholia (Pirjo Honkasalo, 2004) and For One More Hour with You (Alina Marazzi, 2002), proved to be the most interesting. “The selection was good,” said Between Two Wars director Alina Gorlova. “It gives you the energy to experiment.”
For others, meeting and exchanging ideas with their documentary heroes was the highlight. “Precious and amazing exchanges with some of the mentors [led to] important moments talking about the challenges as a producer,” said Jasmin Basic, the producer of Everyone Is Looking for What They Don’t Have.
In many cases, this exchange allowed the filmmaking teams to return to their own projects with a fresh mindset. “The most important point was for us to reconnect with the core of our project and have deep talks about the film outside the production procedures,” reported Danielle Davie and Mohamad Sabbah, the filmmaking team behind Embodied Chorus.
This Summer School edition proved particularly helpful in opening up new project directions that wouldn’t otherwise occur to the filmmakers. “There’s this writer’s block for filmmakers, especially after working on a project for so long,” explained Siyi Chen, the editor on My Mom and My Little Secret. "We were stuck thinking that we had done the best we could and suddenly a lot of new, different possibilities opened before us,” said Clara Kleininger, director of Globus.
All in all, the week brimmed with positivity—a direct result of tutors and participants helping each other. As Kleininger noted, IDFAcademy Summer School enabled participants to meet people whose lives are immersed in documentary film, and to find a bit of international community and company; “I loved to hear at the end that we are part of the family now,” she added.
As members of the IDFAcademy family, the experience doesn’t stop when Summer School ends. Many filmmakers from past editions have made their way into the festival selection over the years, often to great acclaim. While it’s too early to say anything yet, IDFA 2019 is already expected to be a bright festival for IDFAcademy alumni, noted Meike Statema, Head of Education at IDFA. “Tracking the harvest of this Summer School edition is still fresh, but our festival programmers have already noticed a substantial amount of submitted films coming from previous editions. We’re very excited to see how the program shapes up,” Statema said.
As for the tutors, all the knowledge shared in Summer School is only the tip of the iceberg. During the week, Sophie Fiennes, Pirjo Honkasalo, and Alina Marazzi sat down with our camera crew to share even more insight about the ins and outs of documentary filmmaking. Check out their tutor tips below.