Adriek Van Nieuwenhuijzen • IDFA industry head
"If you want to develop a healthy documentary film ‘climate’, the key is thinking about ways to nurture talent"
- We had the chance to chat with industry head Adriek Van Nieuwenhuijzen, who talked us through the main industry initiatives at this year’s IDFA
Cineuropa got the opportunity to speak to IDFA industry head Adriek Van Nieuwenhuijzen. This year, the world’s largest documentary film event will run from 20 November-1 December and, as always, will feature a rich industry programme. In particular, our conversation revolved around the festival’s markets, the industry panels and the event’s role in fostering talents, among other subjects. The full selection of Forum projects is available here, and for more information on the complete industry line-up, please click here.
Cineuropa: What are this year’s main industry initiatives?
Adriek Van Nieuwenhuijzen: In a broad sense, what we call the “industry programme” comprises our two markets – namely, Docs for Sale and the Co-production and Co-financing Forum – plus our rich series of sessions, talks, meet-ups and think tanks. The purpose of these initiatives is to discuss what’s going in the industry today, to orient professionals in the documentary landscape, to network and to get to know each other for future collaborations.
In terms of talks, we are bringing back under the spotlight the topics of diversity and inclusion, a goal yet to be achieved on the festival circuit. In this respect, we have organised a think tank addressing a small group of festival decision makers. There will also be a talk entitled “Filming the Other. Entitlement or Privilege?” The panel’s main purpose is to stimulate debate and raise important questions such as, for instance, can the West tell stories about the Global South? And if so, how do we do that?
Moreover, we will host a talk about the current remuneration levels for filmmakers, taking into account next year’s changes in European legislation. We will try to understand how filmmakers make a living today – there are also a few reports published by several European countries and Creative Europe MEDIA on the matter, which will also be under discussion. Another interesting talk will be entitled “Who Owns History?”, and it will centre on the topic of memory preservation, in close cooperation with the Creative Use of Archive section.
Finally, we have numerous other informative sessions revolving around all kinds of topics, such as financing and distribution, and besides the sessions about what’s happening in the market, we also have more “inspirational” talks. These will be long interviews with filmmakers. These personalities won’t only speak about their latest movie; rather, they will talk us through their entire oeuvre for one hour.
The festival has announced some important changes to the pitching format. Could you tell us anything else about them?
Yes! As an industry platform, we need to follow the market’s most recent developments. What we noticed is that the financing dynamics have changed drastically, with new platforms popping up, a different or smaller role of television broadcasters and the growing importance of funding bodies – especially in Europe and for co-productions – together with our wish to include a wider range of projects. We do not want to cater only to television documentaries or arthouse pieces which will be released exclusively in cinemas, but we’d like to be as inclusive as possible.
This year, every project will have a 20-minute presentation, to be delivered in a fairly unrestricted form and aimed at a group of hand-picked potential financiers. If relevant, we can also include producers who wish to co-produce, and of course, we can also invite sales agents and distributors to join in. Every pitch will be delivered at a round-table, either in a big room offering seats to all forum attendees or in a smaller one, which has room for around 50 observers.
You mentioned diversity and inclusion as important long-term goals. Are there any other areas of development you’d like to explore in the future?
When we speak about diversity, something else that comes up – which will also be the subject of one of this year’s talks – is the language of film itself. If we really want to be an inclusive and plural festival, we need to look at non-Western ways of storytelling or alternative modes of narration. And diversity is not just about the artist’s unique perspective, but can also be favoured through hybrid forms or collective works. This search will continue in the years to come. As a rich and plural festival, we need to constantly think about that.
What’s the festival’s role in fostering young talent?
If you want to develop a healthy documentary film “climate”, I believe that the key is indeed thinking about ways of nurturing talent. As a festival, we organise several initiatives heading in this direction. It’s so fascinating to see, for example, people who attended the same film school and who then come back to the forum to pitch their first projects, and maybe one year later, their films are featured in the First Appearance section… It’s a big, complex chain, and we want to play a significant role in their career development.
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