Talent development program IDFA Project Space welcomed participants in Amsterdam for the first time this July—as part of a renewed four-month program. Next to the online program from June to September, sixteen international filmmaking teams with a documentary project in progress came together for a week-long program from July 4 to 9 to elevate their project alongside renowned directors, editors, and other film professionals. Read more about the inspirational week in Amsterdam for participants and their energized outlook on a bright film future ahead.
Taking place both in Amsterdam and online from June to September, IDFA Project Space has expanded its program to promote the exchange of knowledge and experience between talents and a renowned set of tutors. Following the online launch in June and ahead of online meetings running until September, the week of in-depth and tailored tutoring was complemented by a program of high-profile plenary sessions, film screenings, and inspirational Filmmaker Talks. Read more about the full program, tutors, and selected film projects here.
Deputy director of IDFA Isabel Arrate Fernandez explains: “We took out lessons from IDFAcademy Summer School (the last edition was 2019) and the two online editions of IDFA Project Space and created a program that combines the strengths to create a program that is tailor-made to each of the selected projects—inviting participants to work hard, expand on film projects, and inspire new ideas.”
Participants expressed enthusiasm about the ongoing four-month program and the relationships IDFA Project Space promotes. Hala El Kouch, director of The Place Where I Belong, described: “It's nice to know after this intensive week of building connections in Amsterdam, we can reconnect with the other participants, tutors, and IDFA team.”
The highly anticipated return to an in-person program had a profound effect on many participants. Carol Nguyen, director of The Visitors, shared: “It’s the spaces between the workshops and talking to your mentors that you find the time to reflect and connect with all these people from different communities, countries, and backgrounds. It’s been a refreshing reminder that filmmaking is all about collaboration and community.”
Hala El Kouch recounted a universal experience: “I came to realize that it’s true that we’re spread across the globe, but we all have or are going through very similar stories—this source of discomfort inside of us—and we have this urge to express ourselves through the tool of filmmaking. This experience makes you feel you’re not alone in the world.”
Collaboration also comes in the form of relationships between filmmaking teams. During their Filmmaker Talk, filmmaker Aliona van der Horst and editor Ollie Huddleston spoke about their collaboration on Love is Potatoes (2017). Speaking directly to Huddleston, Van der Horst divulged: “I could not have done it without you. It’s not just the technical support, but pushing me to make decisions and asking critical questions.” Huddleston addressed the participants in turn: “Great directors recognize the strengths of others, next to their own. You need to be very generous and really focused to recruit people to your cause.”
The opportunity to meet notable filmmakers, editors, and other industry professionals were something all participants expressed a deep enthusiasm for. For Joe H. Silva, director of Ozogoche (attending together with editor Oscar X. Illingworth), the week not only marked the first time watching his project’s first rough cut, but also getting a fresh perspective from his tutor, editor Ollie Huddleston. “You’re so immersed in the ideas, images, and characters, that you can lose perspective of what is working and what is not. Having someone you respect watch your film and talk to you about it, it’s all I could ask for right now. It has enriched the project, and me as a filmmaker and a person too.”
Speaking about the invaluable impact of conversations with her tutor, Carol Nguyen described leaving every meeting with her tutor, film consultant Gitte Hansen, thinking: “I didn’t know that I could see my film in this way, I didn’t know that I could dig any deeper.”
Following an intensive week of exchanging experiences, ideas, and feedback, the future looks bright for the selected filmmaking projects. In speaking to the wide range of tutors, a major takeaway for Hala El Kouch was not only their perspective, “but they challenge you to trust your own voice—to really trust yourself in the process.”
The program will continue until September, with online meetings. Meike Statema, Head of Talent Development, enthusiastically reflects on the new program and looking ahead: “The way the program has been designed this edition, allows us to connect with the participating projects throughout the year—to follow their films progress and, hopefully, welcome them back to IDFA in the future.”
As Joe H. Silva eloquently concluded: “The week has been wonderful. I feel really honored and privileged to be here. It’s a dream come true. And the dream still goes on—this is just the beginning.”