Program information 2018

    In July, IDFA’s Artistic Director Orwa Nyrabia and the Program team announced several elements of IDFA’s new program structure. IDFA 2018 will feature fewer films in total, with only 12 films in each competition category, as part of a clear plan to be even more selective in our programming, and raise the profile of each film premiering at the festival. The 31st edition of IDFA, the world's leading documentary festival, takes place from November 14 to 25, 2018.  

    A plan to elevate the festival’s launchpad competition for new talent, First Appearance, was also announced. Whereas this competition previously welcomed first and second films, it will now be open to first films only, and these will be assessed by a jury of renowned professionals. Issues of gender and geography lie at the heart of the new developments: both younger and more experienced advisors and selectors from around the world have been added to IDFA’s acclaimed programming team. The Artistic Director pledged that IDFA will publish an annual diversity report and will ensure that our efforts—or shortcomings—in terms of inclusivity are transparent, accountable and useful to the global documentary film community. 

    Highlights from our program

    Star guest Helena Třeštíková

    During the 31st edition of IDFA, our star guest will be Czech director Helena Třeštíková. During the past 44 years, she has made almost fifty documentaries and won many prestigious awards, including the European Film Academy's Best Documentary Award. Třeštíková has developed her very own, authentic style over the years. In her work, Třeštíková follows her characters over long periods of time, presenting us with an exceptional view of the human condition as it changes and develops. Using this approach, she has released six outstanding films over the past ten years. 

    A selection of six films by Helena Třeštíková, including René and Katka, will screen during the festival. In addition, she will be compiling her Top Ten favorite documentaries, and will give a public masterclass. 

    Dziga Vertov's first film Anniversary of the Revolution to premiere at IDFA

    Renowned Russian film scholar Nikolai Izvolov worked for years on unearthing the fragments of Dziga Vertov's very first film, The Anniversary of the Revolution. This film is a grandiose fresco depicting the key moments of a critical event in world history: the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the beginning of the civil war in 1918. This is not only the first feature-length film Vertov made, but perhaps even the first creative documentary film ever made. In this film, we see the early signs of Vertov's cinematic language as seen in films such as Man With a Movie Camera, including exploration of aesthetic details, themes of the individual versus the crowd, a distinct rhythm, and treatment of the camera and the cinematographer as subjects. 

    Until recently, only twelve minutes of material had been recovered from this film, but during IDFA 2018 the entire film will premiere as part of IDFA on Stage.    

    Focus program: Me

    IDFA's main thematic focus program, titled Me, will offer a selection of films in which various representations of the filmmaker's self are explored. An investigation of complex questions ranging from individualism to global politics, seen though a sincere, subjective eye. The films in this program will combine older masterpieces with brand new ones, and will be accompanied by thorough DocTalks.

    Focus program: The Memory of Space

    This thematic program will explore the art of documentary film directing from a particular angle: the role played by physical space. The location where filming takes place can play a dominant role in a documentary, not only in visual terms but also as a leitmotiv or a starting point for the story. Five new films and five classics will be selected for this program. Extended DocTalks with the directors will follow each screening.     

    Focus program DocLab: Humanoid Cookbook

    In the DocLab: Humanoid Cookbook program, IDFA explores what it means to be human in a world where the distinction between man and machine is increasingly blurred. Joined by a selection of key new media artists, guest curators, and chefs, we will take the dining table as a metaphor and timeless stage for experimentation with new art forms and human behavior. The program consists of the annual exhibition, a series of unpredictable live events, and unique interactive dinners full of digital experiments.  

    What changes?

    • IDFA will select fewer than 300 films. A smaller total number of films means IDFA's program selection will be more rigorous, presenting an even tighter selection that does not prioritize subject matter over artistic value and cinematic ambition.    
    • Twelve films will be selected in each of the competition programs.  
    • IDFA is now the only Dutch ‘Oscar-qualifying’ festival for documentaries. The winner of our Feature-Length Competition is now automatically eligible for the Academy's consideration.  
    • IDFA proudly presents a new program section, titled IDFA Frontlight, offering up to twenty documentaries that tell urgent stories. This is IDFA's view of the world through the eyes of filmmakers as opposed to the eyes of global media.  
    • IDFA on Stage is a new IDFA section that will offer unique one-off events that take place in the intersection between documentary film and other performance arts, such as theater, music, dance, and new media. 
    • Only first feature films will be selected for the IDFA Competition for First Appearance, and IDFA will offer these films greater visibility and a central position in the spotlight. Second films will no longer be eligible for this competition; first films will now not be eligible for the Feature-Length competition.  
    • Premieres will be spread over the first half of the festival.   
    • A series of in-depth DocTalks will further enrich the festival experience through debates and discussions. 
    • IDFA sees film critics as key players in the industry; their attention and presence is essential as the documentary genre is developing like never before. More attention will be paid to industry and press screenings.
    Sneak peek: IDFA 2018 Industry program