An overview of IDFA's current competitions, non-competitive and special focus program sections, and special awards.
IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary
A selection of documentaries longer than 70 minutes compete in the IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary. An international jury will evaluate the films and select the winners of the IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary and the IDFA Special Jury Award for Feature-Length Documentary.
IDFA Competition for First Appearance
With this competition, IDFA supports talented new filmmakers. The documentaries in this competition compete for the two awards given out in this section. An international jury will evaluate the films and select the winners of the IDFA Award for Best First Appearance and the IDFA Special Jury Award for First Appearance, in memory of Peter Wintonick.
IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary
Documentaries between 40 and 70 minutes long are competing in this competition. A five-member international jury will evaluate the films and select the winners of the IDFA Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary and the IDFA Special Jury Award for Mid-Length Documentary.
IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling
DocLab is open to all sorts of interactive projects, ranging from webdocs, apps and virtual reality projects to data art, multimedia journalism, installations and live performances. Each year a jury is invited to give out the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling as well as the IDFA DocLab Immersive Non-Fiction Award.
IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary
Dutch documentaries have always occupied an important position at the festival. Since 2009, IDFA has presented the IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary to highlight this connection. An international jury evaluates the films in this competition and selects the winners of the Beeld en Geluid IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary and the IDFA Special Jury Award for Dutch Documentary.
IDFA Competition for Student Documentary
A selection of international graduation films compete in this competition. An international jury will evaluate the films and select the winners of the ARRI IDFA Award for Best Student Documentary and the IDFA Special Jury Award for Student Documentary. Both winners will also receive an Amira camera, provided on loan by ARRI.
IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs
In its long-standing program section Kids & Docs, IDFA presents the best new international children's documentaries. An international jury will evaluate the films and select the winners of the IDFA Award for Best Children's Documentary and the IDFA Special Jury Award for Children’s Documentary. Several of the selected titles each year are the results of IDFA's annual Kids & Docs Workshop, which ran until 2015 and offered directors the opportunity to develop a documentary for young people.
IDFA Competition for Short Documentary
A selection of international short films compete in this competition. An international jury will evaluate the films and select the winners of the IDFA Award for Best Short Documentary and the IDFA Special Jury Award for Short Documentary.
In the program section Masters, the festival presents the newest documentaries by renowned documentary auteurs such as Errol Morris, Claire Simon, Steve James, Rithy Panh, and Lucy Walker.
Best of Fests
In Best of Fests, the festival presents films that have made an impact on the international festival circuit this year.
Panorama is one of IDFA's main program sections, returning every year. In this section, the festival presents films from all over the world, which are thought-provoking in their form and choice of theme.
IDFA DocLab New Media Program
Since 2007, the IDFA DocLab program showcases the best interactive non-fiction storytelling and explores how the digital revolution is reshaping documentary art through an exhibition, Live Cinema Events, an annual conference and much more.
The "periphery" of the documentary genre takes center stage in the Paradocs porogram. The films in this program section showcase what is going on beyond the frame of traditional documentary filmmaking, on the borders between film and art, truth and fiction, and narrative and design.
Capturing a band, an orchestra or an musician, these documentaries live for music. Screenings of many films from the program will be accompanied by live performances connected to the films during the first festival weekend.
Top 10 and Retrospective
Each year, a renowned filmmaker gets the chance to present his or her personal favorite documentary top 10. IDFA will also honor this author with a retrospective of his or her own films.
Every year, IDFA presents several theme programs which connect a selection of films to gain insights into specific subjects. These can be artistics themes or urgent matters in current society. The programs can encompass both recent documentaries and (modern) classics. Theme programs give color to the festivals and present the films in a new context.