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DocLab Shorts 24 Nov at 19:45

A program of short stories that would never have existed without the internet.

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60 Seconds – Call for Mobile and Interactive Projects

Interactive Creators: Explore the Short Form! The Very, Very Short Form.

Life is short, today more so than ever. We want it all. We want it now. And we want it fast. But just because something is bite-sized doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in depth or feeling. In 2014, the National Film Board of Canada and ARTE launched Interactive Haikus to give digital artists the chance to create short-format experiences that pack a punch.

And now, the NFB and ARTE in collaboration with IDFA DocLab are calling on interactive creators to get in on the fun while it lasts.

For this edition, the theme is very much a reflection of our times: the mobile world. We’re all on the move. And the mobile world is right there with us, helping us make and break connections, rethink social norms and reinvent the world. Ideas have never been so much on the move as they are right now. Mobility can be about migration, losing our cell phone or the loss of physical mobility … occurring anywhere from everyday life to geopolitics.

And no platform better embodies the notion of mobility and the momentum of the digital world than the one we hold in our hands every day: the smartphone. We’re asking artist-creators to develop mobile and interactive experiences that are funny, moving, engaging or thought-provoking. You can be a designer, a writer, a creative coder, a digital artist, a musician or a game designer. You can be independent or part of a studio or collective.

An international jury made up of artists, producers and journalists will select the ten best entries that meet our criteria, embrace the theme of mobility, and respect the 10 rules of engagement. The ten winners will receive up to 10,000€ to produce their project and premiere it at IDFA DocLab in November 2017.

Time is ticking. Send us your projects.

The Rules:

  • Is a 60-seconds experience.
  • Is about mobility and demonstrates it through the use of smartphone features.
  • Works in a mobile browser, no native apps.
  • Brings personal and social media data into the story.
  • Interacts with users intuitively. We don’t need a navigation menu.
  • Is not a film.
  • Uses sound.
  • Is accessible to an international audience.
  • Own or have had all rights released on all creative and technical assets.
  • Break one of the creative rules (4 to 8) and explain why.

You can see the full technical brief and information on how to submit your proposal here. Submissions close 10 April 2017 @ Noon. Proposals must be presented in French or English.

All submissions, questions, or requests for clarification can be addressed by email to veryveryshort@idfa.nl. Questions may be written in French or English.

logo_onf         arte_logo_rgb Impression


Jury Report: IDFA DocLab Competition 2016

Winners of the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling and Scenic IDFA DocLab Immersive Non-Fiction Award announced at IDFA’s 29th award ceremony.

Members of the jury: Brett Gaylor (Canada), Anna Higgs (United Kingdom) and Jan Rothuizen (The Netherlands).
Overall we were hugely impressed with the range of projects in competition – from interactive web documentaries, physical installations, audio tours and interventions both physical and digital to still emerging VR forms. Unifying this range, it’s clear that the programmers are championing emerging creators, thereby showcasing the exciting new talents that are taking bold risks and exploring new forms in a rapidly changing landscape. The projects also reminded us that sometimes the simplest, even traditional, approaches can be the most effective. Disruption is not obligatory. We want to congratulate all the creators in competition on making highly engaging, thought-provoking works that tackles a huge range of issues with their own unique perspectives, great style, narrative and technical ambition. We look forward to seeing more work from you all. It goes without saying that this was a really tough year to judge, but we feel the two projects we have highlighted weaved together sound, vision and narrative to bring us emotionally affecting storytelling that – fittingly for DocLab – would only be possible using their chosen forms.

Scenic IDFA DocLab Immersive Non-Fiction Award
For the immersive prize, we were moved by a work which employed varied techniques to progress the narrative and challenge the relativism inherent in personal viewpoints. We felt ill, uncomfortable, and saw talent. In our current global climate, sometimes its important we don’t look away. We encourage the maker to continue to take chances, and contribute to this new medium’s evolving language.
The winner of the IDFA DocLab Immersive Non-Fiction Award is DeathTolls Experience by Ali Eslami.

IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling
The work we selected for the digital storytelling award lured us into a world where escaping seems impossible. As you move forward through a simplified landscape you listen to people whose experiences are reflected in the world around you. In this documentary the virtual gives a human perspective on how people fall victim to to indoctrination as adolescents, and how they find their way back.
The winner of the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling is Deprogrammed by Mia Donovan.

Ten Years!

MIT professor William Uricchio reflects on ten years of IDFA DocLab.


Although (for some of us!) it may feel like yesterday, ten years is an eternity in the age of Moore’s Law, when processing capacity doubles nearly every two years. 2006 was the year that Google acquired YouTube and Facebook first opened its services to the public. In the intervening decade, the Internet went from wide open spaces to ever more colonized, scrutinized, and monetized clusters of economic development.

IDFA’s DocLab was founded before Apple released its iPhone. And now, ten years later, mobile phone ownership has surpassed the 100% mark in most nations, developing economies included. Public participation has also changed dramatically. In 2006, YouTube’s users broke records by uploading 5,400 minutes of video per hour. Today the upload rate is closer to 1,440,000 minutes per hour. Meanwhile, Facebook claims 1.71 billion monthly active users – people who post, comment, and share. And Facebook is but one of the many platforms fighting for our attention, our personal data, and access to our credit cards.

We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion is an in-depth exploration of human feelings.

We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion is an in-depth exploration of human feelings.

As people deploy technologies in ever-changing ways, incorporating them into their lives, and using them to transform digital space into social space, the implications for the documentary arts are clear. Beyond the tools of the trade, beyond even new modes of distribution, the possibilities for the documentary emerge from the people who have grown up with new expectations regarding personalization, navigation, and participation. Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar articulated those new possibilities on the eve of DocLab’s birth with We Feel Fine, documenting the virtual social ethos not through sounds and images, but through data traces of social media; not through authorial curation, but by enabling the user to find her own way; not by ‘telling’ but by enabling.

We have entered a new era, and exact parallels are still lacking. One of the closest documentary precedents we have appeared with Cinema Vérité and Direct Cinema – new tools and style, newly defined relations between maker and subject, and above all, a new platform (television) that transformed the distribution of documentary. But television was still a highly centralized, ‘one-to-many’, platform, and distribution still formed a major bottleneck, still enforced the maker-audience divide. And it remained stable for decades.

{THE AND} performed at DocLab Live: Love and Other Digital Sins

{THE AND} by The Skin Deep performed at DocLab Live: Love & Other Digital Sins

Compare that to the past ten years during which high definition video became widely accessible (even a standard feature on most mobile phones), interactivity emerged as a norm, and the internet enabled ‘many-to-many’ distribution logics. IDFA DocLab was one of the first to consistently track, curate, and cultivate the implications of these developments, creating a truly international platform for what has become known as “the art of interactiveand immersive storytelling”. The history of DocLab’s programming is about as close as one can get to tracing the history of these new developments. But while it is tempting (and useful!) to look back at that work in an archival way, the real value lies elsewhere.

Moore’s Law means continuing change of dramatic proportions. And DocLab has a track record of anticipating change, of remaining flexible and creative in its definitions and selection criteria. The work of the last ten years suggests that we should watch DocLab and its sisters carefully if we want to understand what’s next. Consider the ‘internet of things’. There is every reason to expect that things large and smallwill document their own trajectories through the world, and that these traces will be as relevant to documentary makers as the sounds and images of the past. Consider AR and VR, with their new twists on immersion, interaction and even location. In our increasingly connected and ‘datafied’ world, things like biometrics, robots, artificial intelligence, and geo-location technologies will help to bridge the gap between the analog and digital, while at the same time providing new terrain for documentary makers – and a new vocabulary for the production process. These developments have been ongoing, and have already been broached by IDFA DocLab in its search for new documentary forms.

After graphic artist Jan Rothuizen participated in the DocLab Academy in 2013, he co-created Refugee Republic and later, together with Sara Kolster, won the IDFA DocLab Award with Drawing Room.

Drawing Room by Jan Rothuizen and Sara Kolster

But despite the relentless churn of the new, with all the excitement and fear it provokes, the heart of the matter remains the stories we tell about the world, and the memories and values that we use to bind ourselves together as a culture. Documentary remains that harsh mirror in which we see ourselves and our relations to the world in ways that are simply impossible with the unaided eye. Regardless of its form or the elements from which a documentary is composed, it remains shackled to this most human of tasks. Each generation seems convinced that it inhabits the most complex of times. And perhaps we’re the same, or perhaps we’ve really managed to get ourselves into a uniquely complicated situation this time. We live increasing portions of our lives in digital spaces, are finding new ways to connect the previously disconnected, and continue to invent and transform our condition in surprising ways. And the pace of change is relentless. But the same curiosity that drives these developments also offers us new ways to reflect, to represent, and to embrace our undefined future.
Here’s to the next ten years of curiosity and commitment to undefined notions of reality and art.

William Charles Uricchio

William Uricchio.

Professor William Charles Uricchio is an American media scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Utrecht University. He specializes in beginnings, when old media were new and new media emerge and stabilize. In 2011, Uricchio and director Sarah Wolozin started the MIT Open Doc Lab, a leading institution for academic research and support of interactive documentary art and storytelling.

Jury: DocLab Competition 2016

Brett Gaylor
Brett Gaylor is a Canadian documentary filmmaker and the director of Advocacy Media for the Mozilla Foundation. His most recent project, Do Not Track, is a co-production of Upian, the National Film Board of Canada, Arte France and Bayerischer Rundfunk, in association with Radio-Canada, Radio Télévision Suisse and Al Jazeera’s AJ+ network. It is the recipient of the International Documentary Association Award for Best Nonfiction Series, the Prix Gémeaux for Best Interactive Series, the International Association of Broadcasters Online Factual Prize, the Deutscher Prize for Online Communications, and the 2016 Peabody Award. His 2008 feature documentary Rip! A Remix Manifesto was the recipient of IDFA’s Audience Award. It was broadcast in 20 countries and seen by millions worldwide.

Anna Higgs
Anna Higgs is an award-winning British producer and creative executive who leads groundbreaking work at the intersection of film and digital storytelling. Higgs has recently taken up the position of Creative Director at NOWNESS, a global video channel bringing together the best in culture, with the best of emerging and established filmmaking voices. Prior to joining NOWNESS, she was Head of Digital at Film4, spearheading innovation for the Oscar-winning film fund with projects including Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s 20,000 Days on Earth, Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ’45 and Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank. Other credits include Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, Sundance-winner Dark Horse, directed by Louise Osmond, and Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy. Higgs was named as one of Time Out’s inaugural Culture 100, described as “the innovators, visionaries and pioneers behind what’s now and what’s next,” alongside Danny Boyle and Steve McQueen.

Jan Rothuizen
Dutch artist Jan Rothuizen realized at an early age that he would be a better artist wandering the streets of cities than working within the confines of a studio. Since then he has exhibited internationally and published a range of books. In 2009, Rothuizen published The Soft Atlas of Amsterdam, a collection of hand-drawn maps of the city he grew up in. He makes monthly reportage drawings for the Dutch daily de Volkskrant. In 2014, he developed the interactive web documentary Refugee Republic, currently exhibited at the MoMA in New York. Rothuizen won the 2015 IDFA Award for Best Interactive Storytelling with Drawing Room, a hand-drawn VR experience of his artist’s residency on top of Amsterdam’s Dam Square.

Crossmedia Projects at IDFA Forum 2016

The IDFA Crossmedia Forum is showcasing new media projects with an emphasis on interactivity.


At this year’s IDFA Forum 2016, interactive new-media projects will be publicly pitched to an audience of professionals from the interactive storytelling field and documentary film industry.

IDFA Crossmedia Forum 2016 selection:
Avi Does the Holy Land, Various Directors (2017)
Earn a Living, Alexandre Brachet, Margaux Missika (2017)
Gentrification Platform, Pieter van Huystee, Renzo Martens (2017)
Hectarium, Diego Briceño (2018)
If You Are Not There, Where Are You?, Maartje Nevejan (2018)
Konfiguration, Lucy Hawking (2017)
Lake Baikal: The Science and Spirituality of Extreme Water, Georgy Molodstov, Michael Owen (2017)
Narrators of History, Hanna Partanen (2017)
POPPY: Uncovering the New Drug Wars, Robert Knoth (2017)
Replay Memories, Andrés Jarach, Gordon (2018)
RIOT, Karen Palmer (2017)

IDFA Crossmedia Forum takes place on November 21-22: public pitches will be held on Monday followed by one-on-one meetings on Tuesday.