"There is no talking down to them. There are no taboos. It is all about taking the audience very seriously," is how Kids and Docs head Meike Statema underlines the commitment both of the festival and the doc sector to youth audiences. This year, the Kids and Docs programme of features and shorts has been elevated to competition status, with twelve films competing for a €2,500 prize.
Saturday 21 November sees the start of the competition with three Scandinavian co-pro titles. One of these is Victor Kossakovsy's Varicella, pitched at the Forum in 2014. Four of the six Dutch films in competition were developed at the Kids & Docs Workshop 2014/2015, a joint venture between IDFA, Amsterdam-based kids fest Cinekid and the Dutch Cultural Media Fund. A fifth Dutch doc, Ninnoc by Niki Padidar, was developed during the 2013/14 programme.
"Our dedication to documentaries for children is part of the same Dutch tradition that started in the 1970s of making quality kids films for television and fiction," says Statema. "What I really like now is higher budgets, which means that documentaries can be made in a more cinematic way. If you look at the Scandinavian co-productions in the programme (Varicella, Dancing for You and Ruth), you see they are very innovative in their storytelling and cinematic approach and show ambition for the big screen. Don't think because it's for kids you can make it on the cheap. The audience may be young, but they deserve high-quality films too."
The Norwegian/Dutch kids doc Tongue Cutters, about young kids working in the fishing industry, will be pitched November 25 at Forum. Following this, an industry talk will assess shifting landscapes in terms of emerging platforms and new sources for funding, and as well as roundtable co-pro and distribution sessions. "Our focus on kids is getting bigger every year, especially with the support from Creative Europe," continues Statema. "It's really good that the industry gets to know the genre better. And we have to acknowledge that television is not necessarily the main platform anymore, so what are the new ways to reach audiences? That's something everybody has to think about for this specific audience."