Doc Fests Cut Back on Films During Pandemic


    JIHLAVA: The Ji.hlava IDFF’s East West Index 2021 reveals that documentary film festivals reduced the number of films selected for their programmes by a total of 22% during the pandemic. The East West Index, which analyses data from 14 documentary film festivals, showed that some festivals made even more dramatic cuts of up to one half of their 2019 numbers.

    The data was presented during a debate at the Marché du Film / Cannes Docs, co-organised by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.

    ”In terms of regional balance we can see that the programme structure has not changed much, but if we focus on the details, we see how dangerous this trend of cutting down the festival programme can be: The underrepresented regions were even less represented during the Covid year. Of course, the number of films is not the only key criterion when analysing the impact of film festivals, but losing such a big space for filmmakers might affect the diversity of presented films and change the European film infrastructure,“ said Marek Hovorka, director of Ji.hlava IDFF.  

    The survey has also shown that some European documentary festivals shifted their focus towards national or regional films that attract wider local audiences, live and/or online.

    The East West Index was originally launched by the Ji.hlava IDFF in 2019 with the aim to point at the unbalanced representation of East European filmmakers at festivals in Western Europe, and to follow the trends related to representation of other regions at European festivals, including Africa and Asia.