IDFA unveils new program structure with two central competitions and revitalized awards

    In anticipation of its next festival edition, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) is pleased to launch a revamped program structure with two main competitions at the forefront. The new setup sees the introduction of the International Competition and the Envision Competition, which, in dialogue with each other, will make up the center of the IDFA program alongside a slew of new awards that celebrate the art of documentary filmmaking. Submissions are now open for the 34th edition of IDFA, taking place November 17 to 28, 2021.

    “Documentary film is going through a phase of historical transformation. New waves of filmmakers are continuously challenging the art form, investigating its limits, and sharpening its edges as they search for artistic liberty. IDFA is changing along with documentary film, moving into a new program structure that departs from its solid and proven past into a more flexible curatorial vision that is open to experimentation. We are adopting an open structure for an era of transformation—a structure that is carefully crafted to resonate with the documentary visions of the world’s filmmakers while creating equally important space for all the artistic diversity of the documentary art form,” said Orwa Nyrabia, Artistic Director.

    The International Competition presents approximately 15 world, international, or European premieres of films that are over 60 minutes in length. Artistically confident, well-rounded, and universally relevant films form the backbone of this competition, showcasing the work of filmmakers who have mastered all the sophistication and refinement of documentary cinema—the best of the art.

    The Envision Competition presents approximately 15 world, international, or European premieres of films that are over 40 minutes in length. With stylistic integrity and courage, films in this competition boldly seek their own cinematic language, traversing our current reality to propose visions of a documentary art form to come.

    Both competitions include a main juried award for best film in addition to other awards that acknowledge the craft and innovation of documentary filmmaking.

    Further, IDFA now introduces two cross-section awards: films in the main competitions, Luminous, and Frontlight can be nominated for Best First Feature, whereas films in all program sections can be nominated for Best Dutch Film.

    In lieu of their respective competitions, the festival now will select Dutch, mid-length, student, and debut feature films for competitions and sections throughout the program, taking into consideration only the films’ artistic contributions. IDFA’s competitions for shorts and youth films, alternatively, will remain unchanged.

    In the festival’s new media strand, IDFA DocLab celebrates its 15th edition in 2021, taking this anniversary as a point of departure to explore how the field has evolved across immersive art, digital art, and interdisciplinary installations and performances. The new DocLab competitions presented this year will reflect these developments in the field in tandem with a focus on artistic excellence.

    To mark this momentous occasion, filmmakers and new media artists can now submit their work for the 34th edition of IDFA, running November 17 to 28, 2021.

    IDFA’s competition program is supported by Ammodo.

    Related

    Awards

    • Every year, outstanding new films compete for IDFA’s coveted awards. Explore the overview of all awards and competitions below, and stay tuned for our festival jury and award ceremony livestream. A selection of the best films from IDFA 2021, especially compiled into a full day program, Best of IDFA: Award Winners. Buy your tickets here.

    Program sections

    • IDFA’s program sections are a testament to the evolving world of documentary film. From emerging art forms to established cinematic traditions, our slate of competitions and non-competitive sections offer something for every filmmaker and film lover. Explore the program below.

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