IDFA: the mode of a successful film festival

The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), founded in 1988 (IDFA, 2018). Its purpose is to promote the development of documentary culture worldwide and takes place each November in Amsterdam (IDFA, 2018) . Meanwhile, it is also the largest Documentary Festival in the world. Like most festivals, IDFA events include performances, conversations and debates with filmmakers, protagonists and special guests (IDFA, 2018).


IDFA has a clear standard for film selection. Briefly, IDFA seeks this style of documentaries: innovative, social-related, and able to communicate freely with the audience. As a documentary film festival, IDFA has its own unique attraction.

IDFA is committed to focusing on creative and distinctive documentaries. IDFA is dedicated to focusing on creative and distinctive documentaries and showing them to the public in different ways. For example, in addition to the movie screening, there is a new media program: IDFA Doclab. The best interactive non-fiction storytelling is showcased through the IDFA DocLab. At the same time, it also explored how the digital revolution reshaped documentary art (IDFA 2018).

Besides, IDFA provides a wide range of educational programs for talented documentary filmmakers. For instance, the IDFAcademy offers a international training programs for up-and-coming doc talents.

People at the festival have very different preferences. All kinds of fans come to the festival for a common purpose: to return to reality. Many people in interviews, regardless of their age or occupation, answered at most one sentence: “We like to see the real thing (Knews 2012).” The documentary on IDFA covers a wide range of themes and different life journeys around the world. Therefore, the audience can complete a unique global tour through the screening of the film.

IDFA attaches great importance to communication. It provides a platform for communication to the film industry. In order to the development of filmmakers and their films at all stage, IDFA has organized a lot of communication events ( IDFA 2018). Firstly, IDFA Forum filmmakers and producers pitch their plans to financiers at co-financing and co-production market ( IDFA 2018). Secondly, promoting the sales of high quality documentaries by the Docs for Sale which is the world’s premiere market for creative documentary cinema (IDFA 2018). Thirdly, the IDFA Bertha Found aims to support talented filmmakers and innovative documentary projects from developing countries. The Fund not only provides financial support to filmmakers, but also provides customized advisory and training programs to support their creative and production processes. In addition, filmmakers are invited to participate in various industry events offered by IDFA and to expand their knowledge of the international network and documentary industry.

Furthermore, IDFA has also provided viewers with a platform for in-depth understanding of documentaries, whether online or offline. For example, the Q&A session after the screening, enabling audience have access to know more about the documentary. Moreover, audiences can also interact with other viewers through IDFA’s Facebook or Twitter.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that IDFA has given me a lot of inspiration about how to set up a film festival. More importantly, IDFA provides a good model in terms of form and content. These contents will help to organize and plan our film festival.



IDFA 2018, about IDFA, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Viewed 2018,


Knews 2012, The twenty-fifth IDFA ended, Film information, viewed 3 December 2012,


Lewes, H 2005, International documentary film festival – Amsterdam, Take 1, Vol. 49, no. 13, pp. 42- 43, Viewed March 2005,

Author: Haihui Hu – 27708829

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