IDFA Bertha Fund Director on Supporting Filmmakers



When asked how she felt about this year’s opening film at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) having been supported by the IDFA Bertha Fund (IBF), the fund’s executive director and IDFA deputy director Isabel Arrate Fernandez beamed with pride, stating it is “amazing, most of all because it’s a beautiful film.”

The film in question is Olga Chernyk’s “A Picture to Remember,” which has its world premiere at IDFA, running between Nov. 8-19. “The film team was involved with IDFA in several ways, not only through financing via the fund but also because Olga and Kasia [Boniecka], the film’s editor, attended the IDFA Project Space earlier this year. From the fund’s perspective, you never know where the films will end up, and when they start their career this way it’s incredible.”

Speaking to Variety, Fernandez recalls how “A Picture to Remember” was one of the 10 projects selected as part of a special leg of IBF Classic in 2022, created to support Ukrainian filmmakers during wartime. “There are a lot of efforts around for Ukrainian filmmakers and it is wonderful to see that such efforts can have this impact,” notes the fund director. “The downside of it is labelling all films as Ukrainian films because it can sell the film short. ‘A Picture to Remember’ is so much more — it is a personal, poetic essay. It is a female-driven generational story. Olga is such an incredible filmmaker and artist.”

“All of us here are carving out this space, be it like last year specifically for Ukraine but also for all these other voices that have more difficulties reaching the limelight or reaching that space where they will be seen,” Fernandez emphasized. “Voices that bring other stories, other perspectives, are incredibly important not only for us as humans everywhere in the world but also from an industry perspective and from a cinephile perspective because this is what brings a breath of fresh air.”

There are 12 IBF-supported films in this year’s IDFA selection. Joining the opening film are Ilya Povolotsky’s “Mud”; Mohamad Sabbah and Danielle Davie’s “Embodied Chorus”; Joe Houlberg Silva’s “Ozogoche”; Meena Nanji and Zippy Kimundu’s “Our Land, Our Freedom”; Tatiana Huezo’s “The Echo”; Sarvnik Kaur’s “Against the Tide”; Milisuthando Bongela’s “Milisuthando”; and Asmae El Moudir’s “The Mother of All Lies.”

One of the recurring conversations within the fund’s strands is the focus on co-production and providing information to filmmakers navigating the model for the first time. “We are currently working on having information and support not only through our workshops but also through our website. Part of it is how people do business with each other and how to co-produce but part of it is also related to people who are just getting into this and doing their homework to understand what they are getting themselves into.”

As part of such initiatives, the IBF has made available resources for fair co-production and equitable co-production on the training section of its website. The fair living of filmmakers is something the IBF team is greatly concerned about, with Fernandez mentioning how aware she and her team have become of the often lengthy processes involved with filmmaking as they communicated with fund recipients over the years. “Some filmmakers took over ten years to make a film, others took less, but we became very aware of how lonely that is. A lot of people make films on the side while maintaining a job to pay for their living.”

She concludes her thought with hope: “What we aim for with topics like this is to bring people together to have continuous conversations, during and after IDFA, as this is the only way people will become more aware of it and hopefully something will change.”


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