IDFA's Vondelpark Pavilion: A home for film education
IDFA's Vondelpark Pavilion: A home for film education

IDFA's Vondelpark Pavilion: A home for film education

Tuesday, January 16
By Staff

Last September, IDFA opened the doors of its brand new documentary cinema in Vondelpark. The name "Under Construction" has seen the launch of weekly film screenings and events, leading up to the official opening slated for March 2024. In addition to screenings for regular audiences, an expansive education program has found a home in the building. As many as 20 school screenings have already taken place, and nearly 900 students have seen one or more IDFA films in Vondelpark. "It leaves you wanting more!" said one secondary school teacher who visited the Fact or Fiction? program with students.

IDFA contributes to the development of a media-savvy generation that approaches the world both critically and with wonder, using an open mind that is unafraid to expand its own horizons. With this mission, IDFA has been showing documentary films in educational contexts for about twenty years. What once began as a few screenings for a few schools has grown into a robust education program with an annual reach of no less than 50,000 students from primary, secondary, special, and vocational schools. This growth is in line with broader social developments: school subjects such as Citizenship and Media Literacy are more important than ever in a society dominated and polarized by media and technology. Until now, IDFA's educational programming mostly took place in November at festival locations and year-round in the classroom via Docschool Online. Now, the Vondelpark Pavilion joins the roster as a permanent location: a home for film education.

IDFA kicked off in Vondelpark with a combination of new and existing education programs. Marije Veenstra, Head of Education, explains, "For the past festival editions, we developed a number of successful programs, which were well attended during the festival but not offered afterwards." The True Crime program is an example; it was developed for IDFA 2022 and booked frequently by schools at the time. "We try to connect our programs as much as possible to the experience of the target audience. Sometimes this is a challenge; documentary film is not the most popular genre among young people, but some documentaries are widely viewed, such as true crime films. Connecting with the target group's interests creates a starting point for dialogue and participation," Marije explains. "The goal of the program is to make students aware of different narrative forms and film techniques that filmmakers use to create a compelling story." 

Now that IDFA has its own cinema, even more schools can attend this program outside the festival period. Moreover, Fact or Fiction?, the program for primary, secondary, and vocational schools that has long been offered in collaboration with Eye Film Museum, can now take place year-round in the Vondelpark Pavilion. Teachers say that this program not only offers many entry points for CKV (Cultural Art Education) lessons, but also connects with the learning goals of Citizenship. "I'm going to look at films in a completely different way now," says an eighth-grader.

Last November, IDFA Education introduced a new program: The Stories of My (Grand) Parents, an interactive program about filmmakers who search for their parents' and grand parents' histories with war. "A very nice history program," responds a secondary school teacher after the screening. "These films make students reflect on their own identity. We think that's important at school," adds another teacher. Developed in collaboration with a history teacher, the program includes three (short) films about World War II, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda respectively. "In this program, we want to give a broad view of the different ways war affects different generations," Marije explains. "We do ask a lot of the students in the room. This is seen mainly in the amount of new information they get to process, which we invite them to reflect upon afterwards."

IDFA's Education team is constantly optimizing and developing educational programming. How do you encourage interaction in the room? How do you invite kids to share their perspectives outside the safety of their own classroom and in front of an unfamiliar moderator? What themes have been underexposed because they could not get the attention they deserve in the hustle and bustle of the festival? By seeking opportunities and co-creation in consultation with teachers, students, and other cultural institutions, IDFA aims to enter into new collaborations and develop new programs in 2024. After all, education, like society, is constantly changing.


Interested in visiting the education program, learning more about it, or supporting it financially as a fund or Special Friend+? Then contact us at

IDFA's education program is made possible in part by Fonds 21, Deloitte Impact Foundation, ELJA Foundation and IDFA Special Friends+. Fonds 21 additionally supports IDFA in the Vondelpark Pavilion as a Founding Partner through Fonds 21 EXTRA.

Want to read more? Visit our Education page.

Image: IDFA/Angeniet Berkers