Over the past nine months, we have been in continuous discussion and consultation with colleagues around the world—with festival directors, programmers, filmmakers, sales agents, distributors, cinema operators, and broadcasters—to ensure that IDFA takes a well-planned approach to celebrating documentary film and new media as well as the artists and teams behind them. We have carefully sought to present film professionals and audiences with what they expect from IDFA every year: a true and meaningful cinematic experience and an inspiring, yet effective, program for professionals.
Given the development of the current health situation globally and in the Netherlands, and following the government and health authorities’ recommendations, IDFA 2020 is led by the mandate to ensure the safety of audiences, filmmakers, and staff. Therefore, the festival will continue in an adapted hybrid form that prioritizes the safety of all, with both physical and online activities. IDFA 2020 will not stop.
Over the past months, we have worked closely alongside the teams of IFFR, NFF, and Cinekid to jointly develop a smart and flexible online platform. The project is guided by the aim to offer a wholly revamped online experience centered around the user. This platform will allow IDFA and its partners to offer the audience and accredited professionals an updated and unique online experience in 2020. It will provide a smooth and helpful environment for the whole film program as well as for IDFA Forum, Docs for Sale, IDFAcademy, and the Industry Program of talks, panels, sessions, and meetings as most of these activities move online this year.
Before us today is an exceptional year for IDFA, with an exceptional selection in every part. IDFA 2020 is going to remain a reflection of and a testimony to the beauty and the necessity of good film, the artistic treatment of reality, and this art form, which is growing to become even more relevant, more connected, and ever more essential.
Despite this very peculiar moment of history we are all experiencing, IDFA’s program team spent the past months fully dedicated to watching a few thousand films and experiencing hundreds of new media projects. The result was a 2020 lineup which humbled us, urged us to think outside the box, and put up new efforts to be of service to filmmakers, artists, and our audiences.
As long as cinemas are open, every IDFA 2020 film will first screen in theaters, no matter how limited the capacity (currently capped at 30 persons). These safe theatrical premieres will allow filmmakers and loyal audiences to enjoy a real festival experience, which—this year specifically—will also reflect the far more important symbolic value of resilience. Should health recommendations change, we will adapt, and we will keep everybody informed.
After their theatrical premieres, a large selection of IDFA 2020 films will be streamed exclusively on a new online environment that IDFA will soon unveil. IDFA online screenings will be geo-blocked and highly secure. Instead of having a rental window as typically seen with VOD platforms, audiences will enjoy scheduled online streaming followed by live Q&As. Accredited professionals will get the chance to watch the film program in a separate dedicated on-demand environment. IDFA 2020’s online screenings aim to minimize the alienation filmmakers feel as their films screen virtually this year and to cherish some of the elements that make a festival exciting: an immediate, collective experience that includes the wonderful chance of meeting the filmmaker after watching their film.
Furthermore, thanks to the collaboration with some of the Netherlands’ most prominent distributors, IDFA will bring a selection of 2020 films to some 40 theaters across the country for Dutch audiences to enjoy without having to travel.
Looking at all the films and the projects in our lineup, we are compelled to do the best job possible. IDFA 2020 will be taking place… In a year like this, the world needs good film more than ever.
Orwa Nyrabia, Cees van ‘t Hullenaar, Isabel Arrate Fernandez
On behalf of the IDFA team