The International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (November 21 to December 1, 2002) saw sold-out screenings and innumerable corner-table meetings between producers and commissioning editors. Ticket sales increased to roughly 97,000 from 90,000 last year, and the number of registered attendees rose to 1,584 from 1,476 in 2001.
By the end of the event nearly every screening was selling out. Michael Moore films proved especially popular (including Roger and Me and The Big One), with Bowling for Columbine collecting the audience award. Other big winners were Steve James’s Stevie (best long doc) and Lech Kowalski’s On Hitler’s Highway (special jury award). The Amnesty International-DOEN award, handed out for the first time, went to two films: The Day I Will Never Forget, by Kim Longinotto, and The Trials of Henry Kissinger, by Eugene Jarecki.
The festival also stood as a milestone for the Spanish doc industry, with prodcos from the territory participating in all three segments of the IDFA (Forum, Docs for Sale market and festival exhibition) for the first time, said Joan Ubeda, of Barcelona-based Media 3.14 and head of documentary group Docus. Ubeda attributed the representation to Spanish prodcos hitting a ‘critical mass’, adding that ‘interest for international coproductions has been growing’ in the country.
The 10th annual Forum for International Co-financing of Documentaries (November 24 to 26, 2002) sped through 44 pitches in three marathon sessions (see also page 20). A new element was a broadcaster pitch. Once a day, key players – such as Nick Fraser, commissioning editor for bbc’s ‘Storyville’, and Tom Koch, director of WGBH International, the distribution arm of the Boston, U.S.-based public channel – offered tips on what they look for from projects. Although the idea was good, few producers were confident enough to offer up much constructive (or critical) comment, as many participants noted afterward.