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Documentary aficionados and insiders come in ebullient droves to watch and support emerging documentaries in sold out screenings all over the city. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) is one of the largest documentary film festivals in the world, attracting nearly 200,000 attendants last year. The twelve-day IDFA has been held annually in Amsterdam since 1988, screening nearly 300 documentaries across cinemas and other venues. From shocking to hilarious and everything in-between, these documentaries tell extraordinary tales from all over the world. This year the festival is celebrating its 25th year and is being held from November 14th through the 25th.


The idea behind IDFA is to exhibit innovation and creativity in documentaries, showcase relevant social issues, and promote the documentary culture and the works themselves. Outside of screenings debates, forums, and workshops are held. Those who want to get to the industry should take a look at their IDFAcademy, an intensive four-day course for promising filmmakers, producers, and film students.


A notable workshop this year is Masterclass Victor Kossakovsky, where the award-winning Russian documentary gives a talk about favorite clips from his films. Another that stands out is the Interactive Documentary Conference, featuring a slew of cutting edge digital pioneers and documentary media artists answering an important question: “What is the future for documentary storytelling in the digital age”?


A highlight of the IDFA is the awards ceremony. There are six main awards: The VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary (over 60 mins), The NPS IDFA Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary (30-60 mins), The IDFA Award for Best Short Documentary (under 30 mins), The IDFA Award for Best First Appearance (debut films), The IDFA Award for Best Student Documentary, and The Dioraphte IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary. Many of these films wind up in other later film festivals, such as Sundance.


Tickets for regular screenings can be purchased at the Guest Box Office or online by clicking on the desired show on the schedule (