Legendary International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) founder and director Ally Derks is set to step down from her post in 2017. Derks will spend most of next year as a fellow in residence at Robert Bosch Stiftung, a German charitable institution. She will officially be handing over the reins to visual artist and filmmaker Barbara Visser in November.
Of the move, Derks said, “It has been 30 wonderful years, and saying goodbye is always a little painful. But I think the time is right. A year in Berlin will be a great challenge. I know I am leaving IDFA in good hands with my hugely appreciated, professional, dedicated colleagues. I look forward to the future with confidence, both for IDFA and for myself.”
Since founding IDFA in 1988, Derks has made unparalleled contributions to the documentary film world. Under her direction, the festival has grown from screening films to an audience of 3000 to almost 271,000 visitors last year. IDFA has also grown to become a leading platform for filmmakers around the world to finance and produce their films. By offering initiatives like Docs for Sale and the IDFA Bertha Fund, untapped talent could find funding and distribution for their films. The IDFAcademy also serves an integral part in developing international documentary film talent. According to IDFA, “each year more than 10,000 children are exposed to documentary film through the IDFA schools’ screenings.”
Dubbed “The High Priestess of Documentaries,” Derks has been recognized internationally for her achievements. In 2011, Derks received the prestigious Doc Mogul Award at Hot Docs, North American’s largest documentary festival. Last year, the French ambassador to the Netherlands made her a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres — a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Derks will step down from her post on the 30th anniversary of the festival, though she will remain in an advisory capacity through 2018. IDFA Chairman of the Board Derk Sauer commented, “IDFA without Ally is almost unthinkable. […] We are of course hugely indebted to Ally for what she leaves behind: a strong organization, a fantastic festival and a great future.”
Derks explained, “[The 30th anniversary] seems like a good moment to say farewell and pass on the baton to the next generation.”
Visser, who will take over Derk’s role, is also the chair of the Royal Academy of the Dutch Royal Society of Arts. She has previously served as a guest curator and jury chair for IDFA. She is currently a member of the IDFA board.