The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) is launching two new awards this year, and festival director Ally Derks says both were introduced to mirror current trends.
The first, the Green Screen Documentary Award, was created after the festival received a deluge of green-themed documentary submissions. A three-person jury will judge the 12 films in the new competition, and the winner will receive €2,500. The program is in partnership with the Netherlands’ Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
Films featured in the competition include Ondi Timoner’s Cool It and Windfall from Laura Israel.
‘I’m not so sure if we want to do it next year again, but I noticed that a lot of the films being sent to us deal with the climate issues and sustainability so I thought that’s a good reason to emphasize [these] a little more within the festival,’ says Derks. ‘Maybe next year it’s human rights. It’s whatever comes up from the selection that you see.’
Another new award this year is the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling, an offshoot of the pre-existing DocLab program. Derks says that films that have been presented in IDFA’s DocLab section have won acclaim at other festivals around the world, so it was time to make a prize for them at the Amsterdam fest.
The most creative and effective use of digital technology in a doc will be awarded with the DocLab award, which comes with a Canon 5D Mark II camera, at the award ceremony on November 26. The films in the competition will be judged by an international jury made up of Alexandre Brachet (Gaza-Sderot.com,Prison Valley 2009), Antoinette Hoes (Leylines) and multimedia producer Zach Wise.
In terms of content, Derks says her team received multiple doc submissions touching on the subjects of religion and immigration. Another common topic was Africa, with the subjects being more hopeful than African-themed docs of past years. While many of the submissions are still made by non-African filmmakers, IDFA has selected Congo in Four Acts to screen during the fest, which was supported by IDFA’s Jan Vrijman Fund.
The 23rd International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam runs from November 17 to 28. Look for a wrap-up on realscreen.com in the weeks ahead.