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Festival entries
Selecting films and new media projects for the 2024 festival

Selecting films and new media projects for the 2024 festival

All festival entries—made up of both film and new media projects—are reviewed thoroughly and carefully by our international programming team. At IDFA, selecting is a highly collaborative process that involves a dedicated team of experienced programmers, associate programmers, and program advisors. These experts from around the world join in the discussion that leads up to IDFA’s final selection. The selection process is overseen by IDFA’s artistic director.

About the film selection process

Film entries are considered for IDFA’s competitions, Luminous, Frontlight, Signed, Best of Fests, Paradocs, and IDFA on Stage. Films can also be actively scouted for these sections, which is handled by the Program team in collaboration with regionally based Associate Programmers. In all cases, the films undergo an extensive selection process that starts with all filmmakers sending in an entry form.

Programmers María Campaña Ramia, Joost Daamen, Sarah Dawson, and Laura van Halsema collaboratively work on the selections for the International Competition, Envision Competition, Luminous, and Frontlight. For these sections, the four programmers each work with their own team of program advisors to put forward a shortlist of films. Once the films are shortlisted, the programmers collectively curate the selection for the two main competitions, Luminous, and Frontlight.

For short films, Programmer Jasper Hokken will work together with new member of the short film committee team, Associate Programmer Makiko Wakai, to make a selection for the IDFA Competition for Short Documentary. Jasper also selects the short films for Best of Fests, Signed, Luminous, and Frontlight.

Programmer Joost Daamen is responsible for selecting films for the Paradocs section, taking input from the programmers and program advisors of the other sections.

Selecting the titles for IDFA on Stage is a collaborative effort between programmer Jasper Hokken and IDFA’s new media team.

All programmers are involved in selecting the films for the program sections Best of Fests and Signed, which together make up the bulk of the festival selection.

Filmmaker Niki Padidar, the director of IDFA's opening film All You See in 2022, will once again lead the selection for the Youth Competition this year. Last year, Niki published a statement on youth documentary film programming on how we should take younger audiences more seriously in IDFA’s publication: Notes on a festival 2023.

Finally, entered films are sometimes also considered for IDFA’s thematic Focus Programs. These sections are curated by IDFA’s programmers and include both new and historical films.

The entire selection process is overseen by Orwa Nyrabia, IDFA’s artistic director.

Film programmers

María Campaña Ramia is an Ecuadorian film curator based in Rio de Janeiro. She holds an MA degree in Documentary Filmmaking from the University of Strasbourg. As a programmer, she has worked for MajorDocs (Spain), Ambulante (Mexico) and Encuentros del Otro Cine - EDOC (Ecuador), where she served as Artistic Director for ten years. María has organized festivals and showcases in Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, and the United States. She writes for international journals and film publications and collaborates with funds and institutions evaluating projects.

Joost Daamen is a senior programmer at IDFA. He holds an MA degree in Film Studies from the University of Amsterdam. Since 2005, he has been working for IDFA’s Program department. Over the years, he has contributed to and programmed the main (non-)competition programs and Paradocs program, and he has (co-)curated focus programs.

Sarah Dawson is a programmer and festival organizer from South Africa, where she began her career lecturing and writing about film and presenting grassroots film exhibition programs to nurture a local culture of film appreciation. She has gone on to contribute to festival programs, including Durban International Film Festival, where she served as festival manager, as well as Africa in Motion, Sheffield Doc/Fest, London Short Film Festival, and IDFA. She has an MA in Film Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Laura van Halsema has an MA degree in American Studies from the University of Amsterdam. She has been working for IDFA since 2002, where for many years she developed and curated focus programs on several elements of documentary film art. The focuses ranged from the purely artistic aspects of filmmaking to investigations of complex questions relating to individualism, global politics, the role of media, and democracy. As Senior Programmer, she is part of the selection committee of the main competitions and responsible for the focus programs and talks program.

Jasper Hokken is a programmer at IDFA, where he is responsible for IDFA’s Short Documentary Competition and the short film selections for Best of Fests, Signed, Frontlight, and Luminous. He is also a curator for the IDFA on Stage program, which presents unique live events that explores the space between documentary cinema, new media, and performing arts. Additionally, he manages the festival’s online video-on-demand collection, which currently offers a curated online catalogue of 1000+ IDFA-selected documentary films and new media projects. Prior to working at IDFA in 2011, he studied Media & Culture Studies at the University of Amsterdam. In 2012, he completed his master's degree in Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image.

Filmmaker Niki Padidar is leading the selection for the Youth Competition again this year. Niki studied photography at the New School University in New York, did an orientation year at the Gerrit Rietveld art academy and got her master's at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in youth & media and representation. Ever since she has written and directed many stories for children, teens, and twenty-somethings on everything from the pressure to comply in groups, to sexual education, to an egg escaping his egg carton in search of a better life. Niki's youth film Ninnoc won 7 international prizes, including at IDFA and Berlinale. She prefers working with children and teens because they are funny, brutally honest and won't let you get away with bells and whistles.

Film program advisors

Camilla Baier is a German/Brazilian film programmer, curator and researcher currently based in Edinburgh. She holds an MSc in Film, Exhibition and Curation from the University of Edinburgh, and after working in contemporary art spaces in Mexico City and Mérida, returned to Scotland to program a variety of independent cinemas across the UK. She is the co-founder of feminist film collective Invisible Women, which champions the work of women and filmmakers with marginalized identities from the history of cinema. There she has staged events for organizations including BFI Southbank, Sheffield DocFest, Cinema Rediscovered, London Short Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, and Cine Tonalá.

Ela Bittencourt writes regularly about art and the moving image for publications such as Artforum, Frieze, Film Comment, Hyperallergic, and Sight & Sound. She's served on numerous festivals and work-in-progress juries, contributed to festival catalogues, and mentored in critics academies, most recently at Porto/Post/Doc, in 2023. In the past, she also presented documentary, experimental film and video art, at the True / False Film Festival, São Paulo International Film Festival, CineSesc, Instituto Moreira Salles, and the Museum of the Moving Image. In addition to IDFA, she advises for Venice Days. She holds an MFA in writing and an MA in arts management, both from Columbia University, New York.

Kees Brienen is a film programmer, curator, and teacher. Digital moving images and their consequences for our visual language have been the subject of his experimental film programming, exploring various disciplines of art and their relationship with cinema. Over the years he has curated many (special) programs for cinemas, television, museums, and festivals such as IDFA, IFFR, Movies that Matter, Pluk de Nacht, Los Cabos IFF and Cinema Planeta in Mexico. Since 2000, he has been a member of IDFA’s selection committee.

Hawa Essuman is a film director based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her 2017 feature-length documentary Silas, co-directed with Anjali Neyar, tells the story of Liberian environmental activist Silas Siakor's fight to preserve the country's rainforests from commercial logging. The film won multiple awards, including the Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award (2018) and the Audience Award for best documentary at the RiverRun International Film Festival (2018). Hawa's first feature film, Soul Boy (2010), also received a series of awards. In addition, Hawa has produced a range of TV programs, commercial films, music videos, and adverts.

Suhaib Gasmelbari is a Sudanese film director, screenwriter, and cinematographer. He studied cinema in France at the University of Paris VIII. He is also a researcher with a special focus on audio-visual archives. Through his research he was able to find some long-lost Sudanese films and actively participate in international and local projects for saving and digitizing some Sudanese films, including those of Ibrahim Shadad, Suleiman Mohamed Ibrahim, and Altayeb Mahdi.

Film curator and critic Katarina Hedrén resides in South Africa. She has worked as film curator and co-curator for Stockholm CinemAfrica Film Festival, Johannesburg First Wednesday Film Club, South Africa European Film Festival, Addis-Ababa African Film Week, and London Film Africa. Katarina provides regular support as a consultant, advisor, mentor, speaker, and moderator to film festivals, markets, funds, and other events around the world.

Wood Lin is a documentary film critic, writer, filmmaker, curator, and festival organizer who has served as Program Director of Taiwan International Documentary Festival since 2013. He has also served as a juror in many international film festivals and is the supervisor of the Research and Program division at Taiwan Film Institute.

Wakai Makiko is New Asian Currents program coordinator of the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF), that aims to showcase and bring together emerging filmmakers from across the region. She is programmer, feminist, activist, filmmaker and beer-enthusiast based in Tokyo. Ongoing film related works include: FAV (feminist active documentary video festa) that distributes/screens independent films in Japan; video collective Video Juku that works to document and archive testimonials of former "comfort women"; Kyoto-University-based Visual Documentary Project that showcases theme-specific short documentary films across Southeast Asia; and a decade-plus documentary project centering around a Japanese-Filipino family living in Asahi village, Yamagata, which led her to spend a year in Bataan, Philippines (API fellowship 2012-2013).

Andrea Meuzelaar is a media scholar at the department of Media and Culture Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She holds a PhD from the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis and her research interests include the fields of television history, documentary film, archival theory, and postcolonial studies. She has advised the (former) Shadow Festival and the documentary committee of the Netherlands Film Fund. She has been a member of IDFA’s selection committee since 2015.

Paramita Nath is an independent nonfiction filmmaker. She works in both traditional and emerging platforms, experimenting with new approaches to storytelling. Her works have been described as “visually remarkable” (Huffington Post) “like a poem… a cinematic gem” and travelled to festivals around the world. In 2019, Paramita made her debut as stage director for a multimedia opera double-bill production featuring two works by acclaimed Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa at the University of Toronto New Music Festival. Born and raised in India, Paramita has lived in Canada (1996-2016), New York (2016-2023) and recently moved to the Netherlands. She brings into her art practice a diverse lived experience and understanding of the socio-political complexities of our times, and intricate questions of belonging and unbelonging.

Sevara Pan is an Amsterdam-based film critic, journalist, and curator. She contributes to such publications as IDA's Documentary Magazine, Modern Times Review, and Cineuropa. She is part of the Activist Committee of the human rights film festival Movies that Matter. In 2023, she served as a jury member for Support to EU Film Festivals, a project initiated by the European Union and implemented by Goethe-Institut, Institut français, and Cineuropa. She also curates independent film screenings in Uzbekistan and collaborates with the documentary streaming platform True Story in programming a special strand of documentaries by Central Asian filmmakers.

Belgrade-born and Zagreb-based Vladan Petkovic is a film journalist, critic and festival programmer. His programming experience includes ZagrebDox, Cinema City Novi Sad, FeKK Ljubljana, Kratkofil Banjaluka, and Belgrade Short & Documentary Film Festival. He is also a correspondent for Screen International, senior writer for Cineuropa, contributing editor for IDFA's website, and head of studies of the GoCritic! training program for emerging film critics.

A graduate of Anthropology (1997) and Urban Arts studies (2020), Lulu Ratna is an Indonesian short film activist based in Jakarta who programs, promotes, and distributes Indonesian short films. She has been working as a film festival organizer since 1999 and now is a lecturer on film festival management with an annual student film festival UCIFEST - UMN Animation & Film Festival as her students' practice.

Céline Roustan is a film curator, with almost a decade of experience. Senior programmer at the website Short of the Week, she also programs short films at the Palm Springs ShortFest and SXSW where she also programs features. She has previously programmed for the Dublin International Film Festival, SFFILM, and currently contributes to the programs of the Cannes Official Short Film Competition, TIFF ShortCuts, Aspen ShortsFest.

Ana Siqueira is a Brazilian film curator, translator and researcher. Head of program at FestCurtasBH - Belo Horizonte International Short Film Festival (2013-14 and since 2017), she was previously a programmer at Cine Humberto Mauro film theater and other Brazilian film festivals, such as forumdoc.bh and Mostra Tiradentes. She holds a MA in Film Studies from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG – Brazil) and was a member of the IDFA 2022 and 2023 short film selection committee.

Marietta de Vries is an Amsterdam-based researcher, editor, educator, and producer who works in film and book publishing. She teaches at the Design Academy Eindhoven, and since 2017 she has been a program advisor for IDFA.

Jelte Zonneveld graduated with a specialization in documentary research and development from the MA in Film Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Since then, he has worked as a (freelance) editor/researcher, programmer, and (impact) producer for various documentary projects. At IDFA he worked as a producer of the Industry program and as an editor for the Doc Talks program; since 2017 he has been a program advisor. He currently works as an independent producer and creative producer at mint film office in Rotterdam.

About the new media selection process

All new media festival entries and proposals for the DocLab open call are assessed by various international program advisors, followed by production checks and a final selection round by IDFA’s own DocLab curatorial team.

Caspar Sonnen is Head of New Media at IDFA, where he created IDFA DocLab in 2007 to provide a platform for curating, showcasing, and developing interactive and immersive documentary art. Previously, he co-founded the Open Air Film Festival Amsterdam and served as an advisory board member for SXSW Film and MIT Open DocLab. In 2015, he received the EDN Award for Outstanding Contribution to European Documentary Culture.

Annabel Troost is a programmer, researcher, and feminist. She started as co-founding editor of hard//hoofd, and went on working on digital storytelling and pioneering presentation formats for museums, art spaces, and festivals—including The British Museum, the Science Museum London, V2 Lab for Unstable Media, Holland Festival and, since 2017, IDFA DocLab. She studied media, politics and curation of media art in Amsterdam and Berlin with an MA in Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image.

Nina van Doren is a programmer at IDFA DocLab with a background in art history and sound design. A former researcher at LIMA (Living Media Art), specializing in digital art exhibition and archiving, Nina holds an MA in comparative arts and media studies from VU. She focuses on analyzing experimental forms of storytelling, indie games and digital culture to contribute to IDFA DocLab’s program of exhibitions and live events.

Through the call for festival entries, a diverse range of new media and performance projects will be considered for IDFA's new media competitions: Immersive Non-Fiction, Digital Storytelling, and IDFA on Stage. All entries are evaluated by an international group of dedicated new media program advisors with an outstanding track record in interactive and immersive art and storytelling. With their extensive expertise, they provide crucial input to ensure the DocLab program pushes artistic exploration, signals new trends and talents and showcases the best and most cutting-edge projects in the field.

Dutch projects eligible for the Film Fund DocLab Interactive Grant will be selected together with the Netherlands Film Fund.

New media program advisors

Brian Afande is an agent of change accelerating the adoption of immersive technologies in Africa by empowering young people to be the XR innovators and inventors of the future. As a creative technologist, he leverages XR knowledge to expand opportunities for young Africans, helping them develop new ideas, technical skillsets, new business models, and jobs that will contribute positively to overcoming the continent’s social and economic challenges.

Raul Balai a.k.a. el bastardo is an Amsterdam based artist. His work centers around the exploitative state of our minds, and how this subsequently frames the shape of the world. Through his work he provides insights into power structures: how they resonate in the way the story of history is told and reproduced, and how they lead to the society we have today.

Zuraida Buter is a playful arts curator based in Amsterdam. She curates, consults, and documents events, exhibitions and projects focused on playful arts, digital culture and games. Working on different local and international projects and events has given her the opportunity to highlight and connect with a wide range of different (game) projects and artists throughout the years. In 2020 she was awarded the Game Changer award by IndieCade (US). She is currently the program curator for A MAZE. / Berlin (DE), an international arthouse games & playful media festival in Berlin. She also works with Sickhouse (NL) on projects such as The Overkill Festival and Sick Gaming Trajectory.

Avinash Changa is a VR-maker, director, creative technologist, and international speaker on immersive creation. He is founder of multi-award-winning studio WeMakeVR, with notable productions such as Meeting Rembrandt, Angels of Amsterdam, and most recently The Saga of Sage. He also coaches new talent in the Venice Biennale program and consults on immersive productions. Currently he is working on the next generation of immersive experiences, including new live social VR/Metaverse performances, hybrid theatre/music/vr works, educational works, high-end volumetrics, and “shared space” multiuser VR experiences.

Toby Coffey is an award winning Director and Producer with a strong background in storytelling with the use of emerging technologies. Now independent, he was previously Head of the Immersive Storytelling Studio at the National Theatre in London, which he founded in 2016. The Studio examined how Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality along with other emerging technologies could enhance the NT’s remit to be a pioneer of dramatic storytelling.

With a focus on the cultural and museum sector, Callum Cooper works at the intersection of storytelling, design, and technology. He has led a range of large-scale innovative digital projects for institutions including the National Air and Space Museum (Washington), Empire State Building (New York) and is currently the Head of Digital and Content at the Powerhouse Museum (Sydney).

Maria Ignacia Court is a director and producer with expertise in interactive narratives, XR and documentary productions on multiple platforms. She produces and co-direct the award-winning interactive documentary Quipu Project (IDFA DocLab 2015, Peabody Award 2022), the sound series The Burst of Things (Sheffield DocFest 2020, Ars Electronica 2021) and co-produced and co-scripted the virtual reality project Going Back Home: Mother VR (IDFA DocLab 2023).

Loc Dao, co-founder of NFB Digital and CBC Radio 3 studios, oversaw 100+ interactive projects. He currently serves as Executive Director of Signals Creative Tech Expo in Vancouver, BC. With over 100 awards including Digital Producer of the Year, 10 Webby Awards, and two New York Festivals Grand Prizes, Loc's work spans prestigious festivals like IDFA, Sundance, and Tribeca with projects such as Bear 71, Cardboard Crash VR, and The Enemy Multi-user VR.

Samantha Gorman is an interdisciplinary scholar, artist, and educator specializing in digital media, immersive media, and narrative design. She is co-founder of Tender Claws and faculty at UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering. Her acclaimed projects include PRY, Virtual Virtual Reality (VVR), and The Under Presents. Samantha's work has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, and Wired, and she is an artist-in-residence with the San Francisco Opera. She holds an MFA from Brown University and a PhD from USC.

Nienke Huitenga is an award-winning immersive director and producer. Her designs stem from a curiosity for how technology sharpens our understanding of being human. At Studio ZZZAP she blends an XR practice with digital art and experiential storytelling.

Faye Kabali-Kagwa is an arts coordinator, cultural curator, and writer. Faye has an uncanny ability to read the pulse of the cultural zeitgeist. Her work connects people and audiences across platforms and disciplines which include theater, literature, film, and emerging technology.

Mac Liu is a young programmer and event producer based in Amsterdam with a background in sociology. She has been working with IDFA since 2021, assisting with the DocLab 2023 program. Mac has also contributed to festivals such as CinemAsia, focusing on VR and Filmlab, and has worked as an independent programmer, collaborating with STUDIO/K and KINO Rotterdam to screen Chinese art-house films. In 2023, she served as a jury member for the Debut Competition at the Sprouts Film Festival.

Anna Szylar is a seasoned curator and cultural manager, recognized for her expertise in immersive media. She led the Digital Cultures festival as initiator and director (2017-2020). Collaborating with renowned festivals like SXSW, Tribeca Film Festival, and Sheffield Doc Fest, she promotes Polish art internationally. Currently, she explores transformative audiovisual culture, focusing on VR, AR, interactive documentaries, and film essays at the Visual Narratives Laboratory (vnLab).

Rafaella Wang is an illustrator and graphic designer who has worked with various festivals. She has collaborated with IDFA DocLab on exhibition design and festival publications since 2012. Rafaella has been a program advisor since 2020.