The support scheme comes in lieu of DocLab’s traditional award structure, which typically grants €5,000 to the winners of the IDFA DocLab competitions for Digital Storytelling and Immersive Non-Fiction, and €2,000 in special jury awards.
During the 2020 festival edition, however, pandemic-related restrictions on travel and exhibition eliminated the possibility of presenting all works equally to an international jury. The situation inspired an alternative approach to IDFA’s new media competitions: use the DocLab prize money to support these artists in adapting their works beyond 2020, giving each competition title a chance to apply.
"During the festival preparations, we were moved and humbled again and again by the persistence, resilience, and creativity of the artists in this year’s IDFA DocLab selection. As physical installations moved online, live performances migrated to virtual worlds, sensory experiences were made COVID-proof, and artists adapted their works to move between physical festival venues, public space, and the living rooms of our audience," the DocLab team wrote to the artists in competition.
"With COVID being far from over, and business being far from back to normal, we know that in moving forward from IDFA, these artists will have to continue to be flexible and readapt their works."
The selected proposals have already indicated some impressive adaptions to come. Initially conceived as a chat-based interactive performance, Lauren Lee McCarthy’s Later Date has since grown into a larger series of technologically-mediated performances. In the coming months, McCarthy plans to present the works together for the first time as a narrative text that will also be recorded as an audio piece.
"Lauren’s COVID-19 works perfectly capture this moment in time. We’re delighted to help bring them together so creatively, and for them to reach a wider audience," said the selection committee.
Dries Depoorter and Shishani Vranckx’s 24h Sunset/Sunrise v2, on the other hand, originally exhibited at DocLab as a web-based installation. Looking ahead, the project is set to become more immersive, with plans to incorporate eight projection screens and a 360-degree sound experience.
"A never-ending sunrise/sunset is a poetic proposition. We’re excited to watch this project develop in physical form," said the selection committee.
The IDFA DocLab Creative COVID Response Support selection committee included Myriam Achard (Chief of New Media Partnerships and Curator at PHI), Eddie Lou (Founder of Sandman Studios, Director of Sandbox Immersive Festival), and Francesca Panetta (Co-founder of Phantom Productions). As part of the Creative COVID Response Support scheme, this independent international selection committee will choose two more rounds of recipients over the course of spring 2021.
Still: 24h Sunset/Sunrise v2 by Dries Depoorter and Shishani Vranckx.