Selecting films and new media projects for the festival
All festival submissions 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
Submitted films 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 submitting 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 works with his own team of program advisors to make a selection for the IDFA Competition for Short Documentary. Hokken 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, is leading the selection for the Youth competition this year.
Finally, submitted 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.
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 as well as being 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 degree in Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image.
Niki Padidar is a filmmaker and responsible for the selection of IDFA's Youth competition.
Film program advisors
Alia Ayman is a filmmaker, curator and NYU doctoral candidate, based between Cairo and New York City, and has contributed to the programs of Berlinale Forum, IDFA, BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia the Arab Women Film Festival in Brazil, Images Festival in Toronto, Flaherty NYC and Arsenal Institute for Film and Video in Berlin among others.
Ela Bittencourt is a writer and critic currently based in São Paulo and Europe. Her essays on art and the moving image are featured in Artforum, Criterion, Film Comment, Frieze, Harper’s, Hyperallergic, New York Review of Books, Sight & Sound, and The Nation, among other publications. In addition to IDFA, Bittencourt also consults for Giornate degli Autori (Venice Days). She presented film programs at the True / False Film Festival, São Paulo International Film Festival, CineSesc, Instituto Moreira Salles, and the Museum of the Moving Image, served on juries at Gijón, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, JEONJU, and Curtas BH festivals, and mentored in critics academies at Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, and Fronteira film festivals.
Kees Brienen is a film programmer, curator and teacher. Digital moving images and its consequences for our visual language has been the subject of his experimental film programming, exploring various disciplines of art and its 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 is a member of IDFA’s selection committee.
Nadica Denić is a film researcher, lecturer and curator based in Amsterdam. Her main research interests include documentary theory and practice, film-ethics, and cultural memory. As a PhD researcher at University of Amsterdam, where she also teaches, she explores the ethics of engagement with first-person documentaries about migration in Europe. Her latest essay, titled "Epistemic Decolonization of Migration: Digital Witnessing of Crisis and Borders in For Sama", was published in Postcolonial Publics: Art and Citizen Media in Europe (Ca' Foscari University Press, 2023). She has curated and moderated various film events, and has been a member of IDFA’s selection committee since 2019.
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.
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.
Leah Giblin is a professional enthusiast of the moving image, based between New York City and wanderlust. After over fifteen years working at the forefront of resources and opportunities for artist development and project progression, at places including Cinereach and the Tribeca Film Institute, she has more recently returned to her festival roots, with contributions to Hot Docs, Camden International Film Fest, and the Rockaway Film Festival.
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.
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.
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.
Julian Ross is a researcher, curator, and writer based in Amsterdam. He was a film programmer at film festivals such as Doc Fortnight 2023 at The Museum of Modern Art, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Locarno Film Festival. He is Assistant Professor at Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) where he is also co-director of the interdisciplinary research center ReCNTR.
Currently based in Paris, Raquel Schefer is a Portuguese researcher, lecturer, and author with wide experience curating exhibitions and thematic showcases aimed for museums, festivals and film series. She is the co-editor of the quarterly journal of theory and history of cinema La Furia Umana and an Associate Professor at Sorbonne Nouvelle University.
Ana Siqueira is a Brazilian film curator, translator and researcher. Head of programming 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 various 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 dedicates her research primarily to the relationship between cinema and translation within films, through notions like perspectivism, opacity, and hospitality. She was a member of the IDFA 2022 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 & programming team
All new media festival entries and proposals for the DocLab Open Call for Festival Commissions are assessed by various international program advisors, followed by production checks and a final selection round by IDFA’s own DocLab curatorial team, overseen by Caspar Sonnen.
Proposals submitted for the IDFA DocLab Open Call for Festival Commissions are evaluated by distinguished experts in the field of documentary and new media. In 2023, these include Loc Dao, the executive director of DigiBC; Anna Szylar, a new media curator and visual artist; Jorge Caballero, a producer, director, and researcher at Gusano Films, a Barcelona-Bogotá production company specializing in documentary and new media; Milo Grootjen, the head of the ARTIS-Planetarium; Faye Kabali Kagwa, a cultural curator and writer; Camille and Marc Lopato, the founders of Diversion Cinema; Nienke Huitenga, immersive designer and director; Zeina Abi Assy, the partnerships & dialogue lead at Mozilla; interactive art director Harm van de Ven; Danielle Giroux, Atlas V's Head of Distribution and Publishing; and Eddie Lou, the founder of Sandbox Immersive, China's largest immersive media festival. These experts will carefully assess the submissions to identify the most promising proposals.
Dutch projects eligible for the Filmfund DocLab Interactive Grant will be selected together with the Netherlands Filmfund.
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 submissions are evaluated by an international group of dedicated new media program advisors with an outstanding track record in the field of 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.
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.
VR-maker, director, Creative Technologist, 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 “The Da Vinci Effect”. 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 Volumetrics and live VR/Metaverse performances.
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).
Rahima Gambo is a visual artist who came to artistic practice by working independently on long-form documentary projects. She works across media, exploring the experimental, conceptual, material and spatial territory between still and moving images as it intersects with psycho-geography, sociopolitics, ecology, and autobiography.
Nienke Huitenga is an award-winning immersive designer and director. In her work she blends immersive experiences, digital art and crossmedia storytelling. Her current practice revolves around exploring the limits of VR, algorithms and generative systems for podcast experiences.
Faye Kabali Kagwa
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 theatre, literature, film, and emerging technology.
Margarita Osipian is a curator, researcher and writer. Engaging with the intersections and frictions between art, design, technology, and language, she organizes collaborative projects both in formal institutions and in more precarious and fleeting spaces. Margarita is a programmer for The Hmm, a platform for internet cultures, and also works as a curator for both the W139 and Sonic Acts.
Ziv Schneider is an artist and designer whose practice engages critically with new and emerging technologies. Her work has been showcased internationally in festivals and museums. Her most recent project Sylvia (2021) won the Lumen Prize for Art and Technology.
Tamara Shogaolu is an Emmy award-winning director, writer, artist and creative technologist whose innovative approach to storytelling has been lauded by Forbes, The Guardian and Vogue naming her a visionary in the field. As the founder and creative director of Ado Ato Pictures, Shogaolu is the first Black Latina woman to head a leading studio specializing in film, animation and technology.
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).
Erwin Verbruggen is a web (& app) development project lead. With a background in moving image curation & archiving, he researched new media archiving approaches at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. Erwin was a film programmer for Amsterdam's open air film festival Pluk de Nacht and currently shepherds online museum projects at tech agency Q42.
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.