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An Industry First Timer: Rebecca Goes to IDFA

Even though it was my first time attending IDFA, something about it felt like home. Of course Amsterdam is unlike Toronto in many ways. I wish we had peaceful canals surrounded by elegant Dutch architecture, and more Dutch pastries, please. But something about IDFA had a pleasant familiarity and ease, from the conveniently walkable venues, to the animated and cheerful crowds at events.

The intimate industry program offered topics ranging from children’s documentaries to web series, blending together other timely topics such as impact, co-production and cross-media narratives. With fresh ways of exploring digital technology, virtual reality and interactive media, IDFA presented numerous ways for interactive doc filmmakers to experience, interact and receive financing. In addition to the DocLab Interactive Conference and Summit, IDFA’s DocLab featured live cinema events, an interactive exhibition, and round table cross-media projects pitches at IDFA Forum.

Of course, traditional documentary lovers received a lively set of options as well. In addition to IDFAcademy, a training program to stimulate new talent, IDFA rearranged its award structure to add a category for international youth. For 2015, a new Forum category was also announced, and filmmakers with at least 75% of the footage for their projects had the opportunity to present a rough cut to TV buyers, distributors, sales agents and festival programmers in the Rough Cut Projects category. Docs for Sale, the onsite digital market, is also geared towards facilitating the sales of documentaries to over 250 buyers, distributors, sales agents and festival programmers. Appropriately located at Arti et Amicitiae Society (translates to Arts and Friends), the building is home to a historical institution that supports artists through networks and funding.

Walking into the Docs for Sale space was like stepping into an alternate universe of the Hot Docs Doc Shop. Posters and postcards of all sizes were featured up on the walls, with viewers in the digital library room absorbed in their screens. Despite the tight schedule, the wonderful staff were able to set me up with a viewing station. I chose a film based on a poster that caught my eye; The Swedish Theory of Love, which explores the results of an increasingly autonomous society. Having worked with The Doc Shop library for four years, it was incredible to experience the other side of the database. The Docs for Sale lineup boasted a diverse mix of titles selected for the IDFA festival and other timely documentaries. The online platform is continuously updated throughout the year and available on the web year-round for industry. The next edition of IDFA runs from November 16 to 27, 2016.

Rebecca Rodrigues is an Industry Programmer responsible for distribution and The Doc Shop. She attended the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam from November 21 to 27, 2015.

Categories: From the Road


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