IDFA Forum, Co-Production, Co-Financing Market, Provides Springboard to Women Filmmakers

Leading documentary festival IDFA has selected a diverse lineup for IDFA Forum, the festival’s co-production and co-financing market, which will be entirely online this year, as will the rest of the industry program. Among the 63 projects to pitch at IDFA Forum, there is a strong representation of female pitch teams.

In the Forum, women make up 64% of the producers and directors; in the DocLab Forum, the market’s new media strand, 46% are women. The entire Forum selection includes projects from 45 different production and co-production countries.

Many of the projects center on women. “How to Build a Library,” directed by Maia Lekow and Christopher King, follows two women as they transform a dilapidated, junk-filled library in downtown Nairobi into a vibrant space for the city’s residents.

“Queen of Chess,” directed by Bernadett Tuza-Ritter, tells the story of the relationship and mind games of Judit Polgar, the greatest female chess player of all time, and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who believed that a woman and a man cannot play one another.

[email protected] This Job,” directed by Vera Krichevskaya, follows Natalya Sindeyeva, who in 2008 decided to open an independent TV station, Dozhd, in Putin’s Russia. By 2020, she had lost everything.

“Kamay,” directed by Shahrokh Bikaran and Ilyas Yourish, looks into the death of a young woman from the mountains of central Afghanistan, who mysteriously committed suicide inside Kabul University.

“Alis,” helmed by Nicolas van Hemelryck and Clare Weiskopf, follows eight teenage girls who live on the unforgiving streets of Bogota. They close their eyes and dream up Alis, a fictional character. “Their soulful narrative reveals an amazing perseverance to break the cycle of violence and embrace a better future,” according to a statement.

Among the established filmmakers in the lineup are Maria Ramos, whose film “Desi” won IDFA’s Audience Award in 2000. She directs “Justice Under Suspicion,” which looks at the rise of fascism in Brazil and the role of the judiciary.

Mohamed Jabaly, whose “Ambulance” played at IDFA in 2016, is back with “Al Haya Helwa” (Life is Beautiful), about the Palestinian filmmaker’s cultural-exchange-turned-exile in the Norwegian arctic.

Another highlight is “Things We Said Today,” the new found-footage project from Andrei Ujica on New York’s daily life during the summer of 1965, when the Beatles first came to town. Ujica previously directed “The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu,” which got an honorable mention at CPH:DOX in 2010.

Among other historical projects is “A Fugitive in Cannes,” directed by Dimitri Kourtchine and Marie-Christine Malbert. At the beginning of the 1980s, Yilmaz Güney, a Turkish film director and political prisoner, made movies from his prison cell. With the help of European friends, he managed to escape. Filmed on the run, his movie “Yol” was awarded the Palme d’Or in Cannes.

Other films to center on the life of a creative mind include Eva Vitija’s “Loving Highsmith,” based on Patricia Highsmith’s personal writings and accounts of her family and lovers, and “Obsessed with Light,” directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, which looks at Loïe Fuller, one of the American creators of modern dance.

A full list of projects can be found here.

This year’s Forum, which takes place online from Nov. 16 to 20, has introduced the IDFA Forum Award for best pitch, with a cash prize of €2,500 ($2,947), to be handed out by an international jury in the market’s film and new media sections. The award winners will be announced online at the Forum’s closing event on Nov. 20.

IDFA’s industry section will be a completely online program this year. In addition to IDFA Forum, Docs for Sale, and IDFAcademy taking place online, all other industry programming and networking events will move to an online environment after a recent rise in COVID-19 infections in Amsterdam.

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