IDFA 2020: First competitions announced alongside selections for Luminous, Frontlight, IDFA on Stage

    Today, IDFA is delighted to announce the films selected for the Dutch, short, student, and young audience competitions, as well as for the non-competitive sections Luminous, Frontlight, and IDFA on Stage. A total of 90 films and performances have now been added to the festival program, in an expansive selection that introduces the filmmakers and artists of the future and celebrates those who define our present moment.

    IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary

    Eight world premieres make up the IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary, with titles from both emerging filmmakers and masters of documentary cinema. Together, the selection reveals sincere, curious, and humanist views between the filmmakers and their subjects, whether close to home or across the world. Reimagining the environment, questioning death, finding resistance in music, and trying to decolonize art in Africa: Today’s leading Dutch filmmakers approach our social, political reality through individual stories and ambitious visual language. The result is a diverse set of perspectives on existence and existentialism.

    See the selection

    IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

    12 titles are selected for the IDFA Competition for Short Documentary, exhibiting ambitious approaches to filmmaking and the utmost respect for the short documentary format. Several films are very personal and outspoken in nature, while others quietly abstain from commentary in order to invite new interpretations of the themes. Collectively, the selection is a reminder of how much artistry can be expressed in just a few minutes—it is an ode to duration, even in the shortest form.

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    IDFA Competition for Student Documentary

    The 11 titles selected for the student competition raise the bar of student filmmaking, illustrating focused, conscious intentions behind every shot. Traveling hundreds of meters underground and to the darkest corners of the human mind, these young filmmakers are asserting who they want to be, offering glimpses of brilliance in the process. Ten world premieres, a strong majority of female filmmakers, and lengths ranging from 12 to 95 minutes reveal an entire spectrum of young perspectives that explore new conceptions of visual language, identity, and home.

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    IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs

    With 13 titles from a wide range of countries, the Kids & Docs competition invites young audiences to discover the art of documentary film. Difficult subject matter and vast artistic expression are the cornerstones of this selection, which caters to both preteens and young adults for the first time. Shorts, feature-length films, and virtual reality all find a home in the selection, broadening the horizons of what a documentary can be. Collectively the titles speak loud and clear: Imaginative young audiences are to be taken seriously.

    See the selection


    What does it feel like to be alive today? The 20 films selected for the non-competitive section Luminous answer this question from a kaleidoscope of perspectives and shifting certainties. All of them give cause to pause and reflect, prompting audiences to consider lives that aren’t their own. The world premiere of Red Card by Mohamed Said Ouma portrays a group of basketball players in the Comoros islands who, against all odds, stay in their country to fight for their future. Set in a Chinese hospital, The Ark by Dan Wei intimately considers the process of death and the sensitivity of grief, while the first moments of the COVID-19 crisis unfold in the background. Other highlights include Alison Kuhn’s The Case You, which explores the normalized abuse of women in the film industry, drawing on the shocking facts of first-hand experience.

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    The 17 films selected for the non-competitive section Frontlight encourage a deeper understanding of the world today, examining the zeitgeist from lesser-heard perspectives. Highlights include We Are the Thousand by Anita Rivaroli, about a thousand-person band in an Italian village who uses the power of playing together to bring Foo Fighters to town. Other must-sees include Landfall by Cecilia Aldarondo, which interweaves narratives of Hurricane Maria, Bitcoin imperialism, and the US military in Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, Wuhan Wuhan* by Yung Chang and Gong Cheng witnesses the titular city during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    See the selection

    IDFA on Stage

    The creative challenges of 2020 have blurred the boundaries between film, new media, and the performing arts, bringing the IDFA on Stage and IDFA DocLab sections together for the special program do {not} touch. This collaborative program, unique to this year, revolves around the pillars Exhibition, Immersive, and On Stage.

    As part of the do {not} touch program, the non-competitive program section IDFA on Stage offers, for the first time, a combination of live events in Amsterdam and online. Much of the selection features work by artists who have taken the pandemic as a creative challenge, surprising us with new cinematic formats. Highlights include the international premiere of Farewell Tour, a climate-neutral performance which sees theater collective De Warme Winkel embark on an ascetic tour of the Netherlands by bicycle. Web-based events include the online premiere of Little Ethiopia: Chez nous, the live documentary by Joe Bini and Maya Hawke in which the renowned editors perform their shared personal histories through edited material and live narration. More to be announced.

    See the selection

    Additions to Masters and Best of Fests

    In addition to the above, IDFA has selected Ziyara by Simone Bitton for Masters and Their Algeria by Lina Soualem for Best of Fests. The non-competitive program sections now stand at 19 titles and 48 titles respectively.

    IDFA puts health and safety first. The 33rd festival edition will take place in Amsterdam and online, with comprehensive hygiene measures in place at all on-site venues. See the latest updates at

    *This title is no longer in the selection due to technical reasons.

    IDFA’s competition program is supported by Ammodo.

    IDFA's audience program is made possible by Fonds 21, Creative Europe Media, VSBfonds, City of Amsterdam, Democracy and Media Foundation, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, and Zabawas Foundation.

    IDFA on Stage is supported by Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Zabawas Foundation.

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