When I received the call from Raul Niño Zambrano from the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (known internationally as IDFA) asking us if we would screen our film U.N. Me in the competition, I was unsure how to receive this news. You see, this is my first film and I haven't really been involved in the documentary community until recently. As such, I was unaware of the pecking order of documentary film festivals. But, I soon came to find out that IDFA is the Mecca of documentary filmmakers and enthusiasts. In fact, it is the largest and most prestigious documentary film festival in the world. Having your film in competition in the festival automatically brushes your movie with an imprimatur of legitimacy within the documentary film world.
So with that knowledge, I happily accepted the invitation and jetted off for a week in Amsterdam with my co–producer, agent and publicist. It wasn't quite "Entourage," but for our purposes it worked.
To truly understand the atmosphere of a film festival, you have to understand the bubble that is the film festival generally and documentary film festival in particular. This is not to pass judgment on it, but rather to simply point out the fact that they live in an inviolable envelope of political homogeneity, and when something shakes their world view, the tremors are felt throughout the festival. That is exactly what we did.
But IDFA is no normal film festival. Upon arrival, I felt as though I had entered the epicenter of secular, liberal, pseudo-intellectual Europe. Because we were the only political film that took a centrist political approach, we were marked men from the start, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
IDFA is a massive affair that had thousands of films submitted for consideration and tens of thousands of attendees discussing and debating the merits of the films that they had just screened among the cafes, restaurants and sidewalks of Amsterdam. The heart of the city during those ten days beats to the cadence of the festival. It truly is an experience to behold for any film lover and, for a filmmaker with a film in the festival, it is an experience unlike any that I have experienced before.