Festival Programmers: IDFA

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
August 1, 2008

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
Ally Derks
Dates: November 20 to 30, 2008

How many films do you screen?
I myself see 800. I’m looking for documentaries that are interesting from a stylistic point of view, relevant to social issues and that communicate with the audience. I’m talking auteur films, not an objective report like journalism. We’re looking for the personal point of view of the director.

What don’t you want to see?
I hate boring films. I’m not looking for so-called ‘objective’ documentaries. I think it’s a very subjective genre. As well, I don’t want to see films that are very predictable.

What advice can you give filmmakers?
I think a good doc is really about good storytelling, and all of the technical things have to be in order. It doesn’t help to scream or yell or put it in a beautiful package [when you send us your film]. The only thing that helps is making good films.

What surprises you about the selection process?
That sometimes you think you’ve seen it all. I’ve been programming IDFA for 20 years and every year there is some story or some way of storytelling that is so new and so different from anything I’ve ever seen before.

What sort of audience do you make selections for?
I don’t think about an audience, to be honest, because in the end it’s a matter of personal taste. I do think the smaller films deserve a place at IDFA. I know beforehand when I show a new Herzog or a new Scorsese that the screening will be packed. But that’s not why I select films, because of the name of the director. I hope that the audience at IDFA sees different things from what they usually see on television.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.