Kirsten Johnson and David France.

The Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) will be held entirely online in 2021, with an early line-up of international speakers that includes Sundance Film Festival director Tabitha Jackson, and directors David France (Welcome to Chechnya) and Kirsten Johnson (Dick Johnson is Dead).

AIDC organisers have stated the reconfiguration of the event will allow it to be more accessible, and mean it can offer more international speakers and host a larger contingent of decision makers.

In recognition of the challenges facing the industry, AIDC will also offer a discount on the first 100 All Access passes sold.

The theme for 2021 event will be ‘Moment of Truth’, “recognising that humanity is living in a time when there’s no turning back and crucial decisions need to be made” in areas such as sustainability, resistance, action, truth-telling, innovation and the response to COVID-19.

AIDC CEO and conference director Alice Burgin said: “AIDC is excited to be presenting an event that will not only provide our delegates with greater access to the world than ever before, but can do so in a way that is interactive, inspiring and inclusive. We want to thank all of our incredible partners, including Film Victoria, ACMI and Screen Australia, for being so supportive of our vision to create an event driven by urgency and agency during a pivotal time in the world.”

Other international speakers already announced include Ellen Windemuth, executive producer of My Octopus Teacher; and Fatima Salaria, newly appointed executive chair of Edinburgh TV Festival, and managing director of Fremantle’s Naked Television.

Confirmed for the marketplace already are:

  • Hulu (Belisa Baliban, head of documentary; Kate Bustamante, sr. associate, original documentaries and Beth Osisek, sr. manager, original documentaries)
  • A24 (Sarba Das, head of development)
  • BBC (Abigail Priddle, commissioning editor, specialist factual) 
  • Channel 4 (Danny Horan, head of factual)
  • PBS (Bill Gardner, vice president, programming and development)
  • ARTE G.E.I.E. (Prof. Peter Gottschalk, programme manager and commissioning editor, knowledge)
  • BBC Storyville (Mandy Chang, commissioning editor 
  • ESPN (Adam Neuhaus, director of development);
  • NTV (Gabriel C. Nensel, head of primetime and Christian Hensgens, deputy head of primetime); 
  • Sundance Institute (Adam Piron, associate director, Indigenous program and Ianeta L’ei, senior Manager, Indigenous Program); 
  • Sky UK (Poppy Dixon, director, documentaries and factual)
  • Participant (Kristi Whisler, director, documentary film & TV and Amanda Hillsberg, creative executive, documentary film & TV), 
  • Moxie Pictures (Robert Fernandez, CEO/co-Owner), 
  • XTR (Bryn Mooser, CEO and Kathryn Everett, head of film); 
  • Wall to Wall (Anna Miralis, head of UK factual) 

Through the curated Cut to the Chase program, producers will be matched with decision makers who are seeking sales and investment opportunities. Entries are now open and close January 31.

AIDC is also partnering with Getty Images on the new Getty Images Archive Pitch. Up to eight archive-driven projects will be invited to pitch to Getty representatives as part of Cut to the Chase with the potential to secure a partnership licensing agreement, with reduced upfront licensing fees. Getty Images will come on board as a co-production partner with successful projects. Producers are invited to submit archive-driven projects for consideration including single, feature or factual series at any stage of production. Apply here.

2021 will also see AIDC introduce awards for the first time, established to recognise the outstanding work of new publicly-released Australian documentary and factual content.

To be presented on the closing night, the gongs will cover six award categories: Best Feature Documentary; Best Documentary/Factual Series; Best Documentary/Factual Single, Best Audio Documentary; Best Short-Form Documentary, which includes a $5,000 cash prize, supported by the Documentary Australia Foundation and the Best Interactive/Immersive Documentary, which includes a $3,000 cash prize co-presented by Jumpgate and Deakin University.

The AIDC Awards complement the existing Stanley Hawes Award, a $5,000 prize presented annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the Australian documentary, factual or unscripted screen sector.

Final submissions for the awards will close on December 16.

AIDC will 28 February – 3 March 2021. Register here.

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