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IFDA Founder and Festival Director Ally Derks Announces Departure

IFDA Founder and Festival Director Ally Derks Announces Departure

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam founder and festival director Ally Derks is moving on after thirty years from the event she created. The IFDA announced today that Derks is departing the festival, and “will spend 2017 living and working in Berlin as an invited ‘fellow’ of the prestigious ‘Robert Bosch Stiftung.'” Of her decision to leave after 30 years with the festival, Derks commented, “That seems like a good moment to say farewell and pass on the baton to the next generation.”

Per the official press release, “as a ‘Bosch Fellow in residence,’ Derks will remain affiliated to IDFA in 2017, but on a sabbatical. In November 2017 – during the thirtieth anniversary celebrations – Ally Derks will officially step down from ‘her’ IDFA.”

Dubbed “The High Priestess of Documentaries” by this very publication, Derks has long been one of the most influential participants in the Dutch and documentary film worlds. Derks founded IDFA in 1988, and the first edition of the festival screened 80 films to an audience of around 3,000 people. Since then, the festival has only grown in both prestige and reach, with an estimated 271,000 visitors last year. The festival has also grown to include the IFDA Forum, the Docs for Sale marketplace and the IDFA Bertha Fund for filmmakers, along with newer programs like DocLab and IDFAcademy. 

Derks has long been lauded for her work, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Bannink Cock medal for her contribution to the city of Amsterdam and Hot Docs’ Doc Mogul Award. Last year, she was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French ambassador to the Netherlands. 

READ MORE: Why IDFA Founder Ally Derks is the High Priestess of Documentaries

Of the news, Derks added, “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.”

Chairman of the board Derk Sauer added, “IDFA without Ally is almost unthinkable. We are of course hugely indebted to Ally for what she leaves behind: a strong organisation, a fantastic festival and a great future.”

Barbara Visser, visual artist/filmmaker and chair of the Royal Academy of the Dutch Royal Society of Arts, will take over Derks’ role in 2017, and will be responsible for the creation of next year’s festival program. 
Visser said, “The documentary story, whether told in film or through interactive media, builds a bridge between social commitment and artistic freedom. These days there is always an abundance of information, while the giving of context and creation of beauty are pushed to the margins. The success of IDFA demonstrates that increasingly large numbers of people are coming to realise this.”

Moreover, the IDFA board will name a new artistic director during the first quarter of 2018. The current financial director, Cees van ‘t Hullenaar, will transition to managing director in 2018.

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