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IDFA Bertha Fund Introduces Distribution Support


The IDFA Bertha Fund is adding a new branch called Distribution Support to its recently introduced IBF Europe category. The first deadline for the new scheme is 1 February 2016. The purpose of the additional branch is to have a place for new experiments and innovative ways of getting films on the market, said IBF Manager Isabel Arrate Fernandez.

The impetus behind starting the distribution support category was the observation that the distribution of documentaries is still very focused on traditional outlets like TV, festivals and theatrical releases, Fernandez explained. "There should be more of a link to more innovative forms, such as digital platforms, the outreach strategies that are becoming more and more popular, or special event screenings. But outreach is all about getting a message out there, whereas traditional distribution is focused on turning a profit. It seems that much more could be achieved through combining the two."

The projects that are eligible for the new scheme are the same as for IBF Europe international co-production support, being co-productions between a producer from a DAC-listed country and one from a European country. "For the first deadline in February 2016, we're looking for films that already have a final cut", Arrate Fernandez says. "In other words: films that are ready for release in 2016. The second deadline in September 2016 has a little more leeway."

Part of the experiment is to find out who will be the one to actually send in the application, Arrate Fernandez says. The regulations for the new scheme stipulate that the applicant should be European, and that at least three partners should be linked to the distribution of the film at the time of the application. "My gut feeling is that the ideal applicant would be a sales agent, working closely with the producers", Arrate Fernandez says. "But it could also work the other way around, with a local producer who's very involved in the release of the film being the applicant. Or a distributor or outreach partner."

Either way, a large percentage of the IBF distribution support should be set aside for marketing and promotion. "The idea is that these communication tools will be used to pull together all those disparate distribution channels", Arrate Fernandez says. "To enrich each other, instead of having various stakeholders doing their own little thing. Every film will have its own recipe, of course. But we hope that these two years will bring to light some best practices and examples that could be case studies going into the future."

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