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IDFA 2020 IDFA for Professionals

Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen and Yorinde Segal • Head of IDFA Industry and IDFA Industry Forum manager

“We feel a huge responsibility towards the filmmakers because now, more than ever, we need to exchange ideas”


- We spoke to Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen and Yorinde Segal, respectively head of IDFA Industry and IDFA Industry Forum manager, about the main changes for this year’s industry strands

Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen and Yorinde Segal • Head of IDFA Industry and IDFA Industry Forum manager
Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen (left) and Yorinde Segal

We sat down with Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen, head of IDFA Industry, and Yorinde Segal, IDFA Industry Forum manager, to discuss how IDFA’s online industry initiatives will help documentary filmmakers out in these difficult times.

Cineuropa: How are the main industry initiatives adapting to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak?
Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen:
Early in the summer, we made the decision to hold the markets online, and the festival and industry programme in a hybrid form. At the moment, much is unclear, but with the new, stricter measures in place, we have decided to move the industry programme online and host audience events in Amsterdam, if the situation will allow us to do so. We feel a huge responsibility towards the filmmakers because now, more than ever, we need to exchange ideas, share knowledge and debate our future. It has proven to be very difficult for them to keep up the momentum after pitches in an online environment. In particular, newcomers are having a hard time finding partners. For this reason, we decided to create a new category, and we will have more pre-scheduled meetings as part of the Docs for Sale programme. In this strand, we will showcase projects from major European and North American markets, but also others that were presented at smaller, regional events during the course of the year. We were also more active in promoting films through the Docs for Sale platform during the summer and early autumn. Furthermore, we will have an online version of the producers' network on 23 November with decision-makers interested in finding co-production partners.

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Luckily enough, this year’s Forum selection has succeeded in giving filmmakers from all around the world opportunities and a voice, more so than in the past. The 63 projects included in the industry programme represent over 45 countries. With regard to gender, it consists of over 50% female filmmakers, with a quota of 64% for the Film Forum and 46% for the DocLab Forum. I am extremely happy with these results. Finally, we selected more rough-cut projects, as the committee felt that the quality was exceptionally high, and given the circumstances, we thought that this category had to be expanded. In total, 20 projects will be pitched online and 15 DocLab projects will be presented. We will retain the Children’s Pitch Project category, and three projects will be pitched. Alongside the pitching sessions, a number of experts will host round-tables to discuss the peculiarities of the genre and how to strengthen international collaborations.

What’s new in this year’s DocLab Forum?
Yorinde Segal:
This year, we have a good bunch of dance-themed live performance pieces, a full-dome project, web-based interactive experiences and artists who are telling their stories in the virtual world. There’s a great variety in terms of the stories and formats. We have a few projects dealing with collective memory,and it is interesting to see how these deal with the theme, all in different ways. Other projects focus on the rituals of dance in relation to nature, collective human behaviour or redesigning the human body.

Was it difficult to come up with solutions to how to present DocLab projects in an online environment?
Filmmakers and artists are thinking about how to develop and adjust their own projects in these difficult times. During the days of the Forum, they will share their solutions and find new ways to co-operate. Alongside pitches and one-to-one meetings, the annual research-and-development expert meetings will also take place as part of the IDFA DocLab R&D programme. This think-tank event brings together experts from all corners of the interactive and immersive storytelling industry, allowing attendees to explore the next steps in developing the medium through a series of online meetings. The initiative will also introduce information gained from research, case studies, prototypes, and demos of interactive and immersive storytelling experiments in progress. Besides, during the online Forum and the festival, we will gather a diverse group of professionals to discuss a number of topics, and in that way they can meet each other and find future partners.

Do you already have any plans in mind for the 2021 edition?
Over the course of this year, it has become clear that festivals and markets are a crucial part of our industry. The documentary community wants to return to a world where we can meet each other, go to cinemas and experience the energy of physical events. So, for 2021, I hope we can return to hosting a fully physical festival, while harnessing our knowledge and making the most of our mutual experience.

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