Making an application for International Connections Fund – Group Attendance at International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) 2024

This guide gives you advice and recommendations on how to write a good application to the BFI National Lottery International Connections Fund for an in-kind Group Attendance award.

1. Overview

The BFI has dedicated a portion of its International Connections Fund to support UK screen industry professionals to attend international markets, festivals and other international events identified by the BFI as key opportunities for collaboration and to build networks. This will lead to increased international collaboration across the screen sector.

We aim to support UK screen industry professionals and talent to:

  • build mutually beneficial creative relationships
  • discover new funding
  • discover new distribution opportunities

This will have ongoing reciprocal benefits for industry professionals and give them the potential to scale-up projects and reach new audiences.

Group attendance at IDFA 2024 

The BFI, in collaboration with Doc Society, is inviting applications from UK documentary producers (film and immersive) with active projects in development to take part in a Group Attendance to the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) between 16 and 20 November 2024 (the Event).  

IDFA is the world’s largest documentary film festival, held annually since 1988 in the Netherlands. Over a period of 12 days, it screens more than 300 films and sells more than 250,000 tickets. IDFA is an independent, international meeting place for audiences and professionals to see a diverse (in form, content and cultural background) programme of high-quality documentaries. IDFA selects creative and accessible documentaries, which offer new insights into society.

IDFA has a wide range of professional activities as part of their industry programme, contributing to the development of non-fiction filmmakers and their films at all stages: IDFA Forum is a prolific co-financing and co-production market, where filmmakers pitch their plans to financiers; at Docs for Sale, new documentaries are on offer to programmers and distributors; the IDFA Bertha Fund supports filmmakers and documentary projects in developing countries; and the IDFA Academy offers international training programmes for up-and-coming doc talent.

During the festival, the Industry Programme gathers the world’s documentary community to discuss the evolution of the industry, offer surprising perspectives, and build long-lasting connections. The extensive programme of high-profile talks, presentations, consultancies and think tanks runs for six days, welcoming some 3,000 documentary filmmakers and professionals annually.

This Group Attendance at IDFA will support up to seven UK documentary producers to attend and participate in the industry activities of the festival, including: 

  • access to industry programme of talks, consultancies and networking events
  • tailored networking with international documentary screen professionals, including potential co-producers and buyers 
  • access to film screenings
  • access to IDFA DocLab (Immersive) Exhibition

Participants may also be able to attend the IDFA Forum and IDFA Doclab Forum as an observer (subject to acceptance by the IDFA industry department). 

This group attendance will take place from 16 November 2024 to 20 November 2024. 

Successful applicants will be provided with an economy return train (or, where necessary, an economy return flight), 4 nights’ accommodation, and industry accreditation. 

For any questions about this group attendance, please contact

2. Check if you’re eligible

To apply to this fund, you must:

  • be a producer working in the UK screen sector on a freelance basis; or in a small to medium sized enterprise (SME) that is not substantially owned by a non-UK entity, broadcaster, streamer or studio.
  • be a UK resident.
  • have at least one lead producer credit on a completed feature length or immersive documentary project released or broadcast commercially within the last five years, and/or be the lead producer on a feature length or immersive documentary project currently in development, production or post-production.

Get in touch with the team if you’re unsure whether you are eligible for this fund: 

3. What you can use the funding for

The BFI will make ‘in-kind’ awards to successful applicants.

The ‘in-kind’ award will cover:

  • 4 nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast
  • return economy train or, where necessary, return economy flight from the UK to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, up to a total of £350
  • airport/rail transfers in Amsterdam
  • IDFA Industry accreditation (plus Forum Observer access, subject to approval by IDFA only)

We are committed to minimising the environmental impact of our National Lottery funded programmes; therefore, if your journey time by land is 8 hours or less (door-to-door) we would expect you to travel by rail (or alternative low carbon transport). 

The BFI will organise the majority of the group attendance on behalf of successful applicants but will ask individuals to make their own travel arrangements. Eligible travel costs will be reimbursed by the BFI after the attendance has taken place. 

Ineligible costs

BFI funding will not cover:

  • subsistence costs other than any stated above (general refreshments, meals, or per diems)
  • hotel incidentals
  • travel insurance (essential)
  • upgrading of flights or train tickets
  • travel within the UK to or from the international departure point
  • any COVID testing
  • any marketing or press activity associated with your attendance at the event
  • additional baggage or freight costs associated with attending the event

Applicants requiring any access support to take part in the Group Attendance will be able to apply for these additional costs.

If you are successful, we will let you know the total contribution towards these costs covered by the BFI. Please be aware that this may differ from one initiative to another, and participants may be expected to cover some of the cost.

4. BFI principles for funding

All National Lottery awards must deliver against our three principles for National Lottery funding:

Equity, diversity and inclusion: addressing under-representation in perspective and representation, talent and recruitment, agency and opportunities, widening the range of voices and audiences served.

UK-wide: supporting individuals across the UK, increasing the number of projects and screen professionals outside London and the South-East, looking at location and representation.

Environmental sustainability: addressing sustainability both creatively and practically.

All applicants will be required to:

  • demonstrate a commitment to sustainability (whether in terms of production or onscreen content) in the proposed projects they are taking to the event; and
  • consider how they could make their travel more sustainable.

BFI will:

  • consider the types of transport that are funded on each trip, and may not support air travel where an event can be reached by train;
  • be unlikely to support travel to an event that can be attended with the same level of benefits through online participation; and
  • aim to support attendance at sustainability-related sessions at events.

5. How to apply

When you can apply

  • Applications will close at 10am on Monday 29 July 2024 

Submitting an application

Complete and submit the application form below:

Make sure you complete all the sections as incomplete forms will be automatically ineligible.

Information you need to provide 

In the application form you will need to provide the following information:

  • your name, address and contact details
  • your experience and track record
  • demonstrable professional interest in feature and/or immersive documentary, including rationale for international co-production 
  • specific projects that could be structured as international co-productions 
  • co-production experience to date
  • why you need National Lottery support
  • your response to the BFI’s principles for funding
  • if you have any access needs, or anything else that you think we need to be aware of when making arrangements

Equality monitoring

You’ll be asked to complete an equality monitoring form when you submit your application. The form asks for your demographic information. The data that you submit on this form will be confidential and anonymous and not seen by the staff assessing your application. However, we will not be able to put forward your application for assessment until you have completed the equality monitoring form.

If you have any questions when completing the application form, please contact us on

6. What happens after you apply?

You’ll get confirmation that we have received your application within 1-2 working days. Then you’ll get a decision within two weeks of the closing date.

Once submitted, we will review your application and if necessary, may write to you to obtain more information. If your application is ineligible, we will email to tell you we will not be able to consider it.

How your application is assessed 

We are looking for UK producers who can demonstrate success on an international level and/or a strong interest in working internationally, and ideally who have viable documentary projects in development that could be structured as international co-productions.

When assessing your application, we will consider:

  • the level of relevant experience (including in international co-production) and track record 
  • evidence of interest in and/or need to find international partners, including any projects in active development with international potential that would benefit from exposure at IDFA
  • commitment to, and justification for, co-producing 
  • how you have managed any previous BFI awards
  • your demonstration of need for National Lottery funding 
  • how you have addressed the BFI Principles for Funding 

Applications will be assessed by members of the BFI’s International team in collaboration with Doc Society. We may share parts of your application with other BFI teams or external consultants to help us assess it.

We will also pay particular attention to applicants who have not previously participated in a BFI International Fund group attendance, as well as applicants self-identifying as coming from under-represented backgrounds.

How we prioritise applications

We will prioritise applicants with the strongest combination of experience and demonstrable professional interest in attending IDFA, including any projects with international potential in active development, together with a clear demonstration of need for National Lottery funding. 

We will also pay particular attention to applicants who have not previously participated in a BFI International Fund group attendance, as well as applicants self-identifying as coming from under-represented backgrounds.

Lottery Finance Committee consideration

Once all applications have been assessed, the BFI’s International team will make funding recommendations to our Lottery Finance Committee. This is the final stage of the funding decision process.

We undertake due diligence assessment of all applications we are recommending to the decision-making committee; if we are recommending your application for approval, we will request your full name, address and date of birth to allow us to carry out an identity check.

Please note that this is not a credit check and will not affect your ability to receive credit from other organisations. We will be unable to submit your application to our decision-making committee until we have received your completed form.

Please note that our request for this information is not an indication or confirmation of funding and you will be informed separately of the funding decision on your application. All applicants will be informed in writing of the decision on their application.

7. Getting a decision

If you’re successful

You’ll receive a written offer of funding which you’ll need to sign and return via email to the BFI within 3 working days.

If you’re unsuccessful

We receive a high number of applications that meet our assessment criteria and have to make tough decisions on who to support. We may have turned down your application because we determined that it did not:

  • fit our funding aims and outcomes
  • demonstrate a strong enough commitment to one or all of the following principles: equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI); environmental sustainability; UK-wide
  • demonstrate enough relevant experience
  • demonstrate sufficient need for National Lottery support and should be financed by other means

We will keep the data and supporting materials you sent to us in line with our records retention policy.

Feedback on an unsuccessful application

We’re a small team and unfortunately that means we are unable to give feedback to individual applicants. We welcome your feedback on the application process and how we might improve it.

8. Conditions of funding

If you are offered an ‘in-kind’ award from us, in addition to the general conditions of National Lottery Funding, the following conditions will apply to your participation at the event.

If you are selected as a participant, you will be asked to enter into a short agreement confirming your attendance at the event and supplying us with personal details allowing us to make arrangements in your name. We will confirm what costs are being met by BFI, what you need to do and how we expect you to report to us.

As a participant in the Group Attendance, you will be benefiting from a non-cash grant funded through the National Lottery. As an award recipient, we are required to publicise information about you including names and a brief biography. 

You will be expected to attend all events, sessions, meetings etc. organised by the BFI and its partners as part of the overall event, and to represent, promote and advocate for the UK screen sector. In doing so, you are expected to act in a collegiate and collaborative manner, adhering to all relevant codes of conduct, including those in use by the relevant festival or market.

If you fail either to attend the event at all or to participate in all of the set sessions within the event, you may be required to reimburse costs incurred on your behalf.

The BFI has anti-bullying, harassment and racism guidance and principles in place and is committed to providing a safe, welcoming, accessible, and inclusive work environment for all our participants, partners and organisers, in-person and online. Our expectation is that every delegate, representative, or partner attending our events, as well as every member of our team, behaves in a respectful, responsible and reasonable way towards colleagues. Any kind of discrimination, abuse, harassment, harmful behaviour or bullying (such as: use of offensive or discriminatory language; intimidating behaviour; micro-aggressions) has no place on our programmes and anyone not observing these principles will be stopped from attending immediately and asked to reimburse the costs incurred by BFI by way of this non-cash grant.

You will be required to promise that you will comply with all applicable laws associated with your attendance at the event and not act in a way which, in our reasonable opinion, might be damaging to the BFI or our partners’ reputations or goodwill whether directly, by association or otherwise. 

You will be required to share your findings in the form of two detailed impact reports looking at the impact of your attendance at the event (the first shortly after the event and the second 12 months later) and may additionally be asked to share findings verbally for the benefit of the wider UK film industry at future events to be organised by the BFI.

Questions that will be asked include:

  • How many new connections have you made while participating in the opportunity?
  • Have you identified potential partners for your current or future projects?
  • Has there been commitment to collaboration on your project from potential buyers / financiers?
  • Have you attracted a sales agent to the project? (for festival attendance)
  • Have you expressed interest in projects that were pitched to you at the market/forum you attended?
  • Are you going to board a new project as a co-production partner as a result of this attendance?

BFI will work with our designated cultural sustainability partner to assess the environmental impact of each trip. To help us do this, as part of the impact report you will be asked to provide us with information on your travel that will enable us to calculate the carbon footprint of the trip as a whole.

9. Delivering against our National Lottery Strategy

All activity funded through BFI International Connections Fund will deliver against the following outcomes of the BFI National Lottery strategy:

  • An increase in the international engagement and reach of the UK screen sector
  • Creative talent is supported and nurtured, as they emerge and throughout their careers
  • Better support available for small and medium-sized enterprises and independents to develop their businesses
  • A wider range of stories are told that otherwise wouldn’t be
  • People from under-represented groups across the UK can access the support they need to develop their careers and skills

Key performance indicators

The BFI will measure the success of the Connections Fund using the following key performance ondicators (KPIs). Each trip will contribute towards the following targets for 2023-2026:

  • 75 beneficiaries
  • 50% of beneficiaries based outside London
  • 25% of beneficiaries new to BFI National Lottery funding
  • An increase in UK professionals’ networks and connections
  • An increase in collaborations (including co-productions) involving UK partners
  • Increased ability of beneficiaries to attract partners and financing to their projects
  • Increased exposure and visibility of projects originating from the UK at global events, enhancing the potential of them being:
    • made (for projects in development);
    • sold and distributed outside of the UK (for completed projects without sales representation); or
    • further exhibited outside the UK (short films)

Diversity of beneficiaries

  • Disability (including those identifying as D/deaf or neurodiverse, and those with a longstanding physical or mental diagnosis) 18%
  • Ethnically diverse (London) 40%
  • Ethnically diverse (outside London) 30%
  • Gender (50-50 balance of male and female identifying within the gender binary) 50%
  • LGBTQIA+ (including those identifying outside the gender binary) 10%
  • Working class background 39%

Diversity standards

All of the activity supported by our funding is informed by the BFI Diversity Standards. We champion projects and activity that meaningfully tackle under-representation in relation to disability, gender, race, age, sexual identity and socio-economic status, while also considering the interactions of these identities and any other barriers to opportunity.