IDFA founder Ally Derks to step down in 2017

The Amsterdam-based festival's founder and artistic director will leave the annual event after its 30th anniversary in 2017.
April 5, 2016

The founder of one of the world’s leading documentary festivals is stepping down.

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) founder and festival director Ally Derks announced on Tuesday (April 5) that she will leave the annual event after its 30th anniversary next year.

Ahead of her departure, Derks will spend 2017 on sabbatical in Berlin as an invited fellow at the German foundation Robert Bosch Stiftung. She will remain affiliated to the festival until she officially steps down during the 30th annual festival that November.

“That seems like a good moment to say farewell and pass on the baton to the next generation,” she said in a statement. “A year in Berlin will be a great challenge. I know I am leaving IDFA in good hands with my hugely appreciated,¬†professional, dedicated colleagues.¬†I look forward to the future with confidence, both for IDFA and for myself.”

IDFA’s board has appointed visual artist and filmmaker Barbara Visser – who also chairs the Royal Academy of the Dutch Royal Society of Arts – to take over Derks’ role in 2017.

Visser has a five-year association with the festival. She has been on IDFA board since January and will step down from the position next year. In 2013, she guest curated the Paradocs program and last year she chaired the feature doc competition jury. Her film C.K. won the festival’s Media Fund’s Documentary Award in 2010.

“We are of course hugely indebted to Ally for what she leaves behind: a strong organization, a fantastic festival and a great future,” board chair Derek Sauer said.

The festival plans to announce a new artistic director in January of 2018. At that point, Derks will move into an advisory role to ensure a smooth transition. IDFA’s financial director, Cees van’t Hullenaar, will become managing director in 2018.

An influential player in the Dutch film world, Derks founded IDFA in 1988. The event also is a major destination for producers seeking cofinancing and coproduction thanks to the IDFA Forum. In addition, the fest encompasses the Docs For Sale marketplace; the IDFA Bertha Fund, which supports docmakers from non-Western countries; new media program DocLab; and development institute IDFA Academy.

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