West Lake International Documentary Festival

About IDF


West Lake International Documentary Festival(IDF)is a high quality platform for the arts and the humanities that promotes documentaries through screenings, competitions, pitchings, forums and workshops. The festival is held at the China Academy of Art, by the side of the West Lake in Hangzhou every year during the "golden" autumn season.


IDF stands for I Documentary Fact and aims to explore the relationship between documentary creation subjects, objects and methods. The festival is centered on "discovering documentary subjects, designing experiment s for youth, holding high the will of the people, and reshaping the poetry of oriental culture". Furthermore, IDF promotes the values associated with honest observation and humanitarian responsibility. IDF encourages reflection on human existence, especially in the natural world, through the lenses of documentaries. Through this form of record we can also think about the inheritance of culture through changing times, about the artistic expression of oriental poetry in a pluralistic society, and about initiating the return of documentary to its authentic core, returning us to the positive values of humanistic care.


The 1st IDF was successfully held at China Academy of Art in Hangzhou in April 2017 with the theme of Things & Sentiment, which attracted 26 outstanding documentaries from 8 countries on 3 continents and more than 300 domestic and international documentary professionals and guests. The 2nd West Lake International Documentary Festival (IDF2018), with the theme of Epoch & Scope, attracted 453 documentaries from 51 countries on 6 continents and nearly 400 documentary professionals and more than 5000 audiences. The 3rd West Lake International Documentary Festival (IDF2019), with the theme of Something·Somewhere, attracted 632 documentaries from 6 continents, 61 countries and regions. It has seen an unprecedented level of public participation with over 10000 audiences, including general public, industry representatives and special guests participated in various events. The 4th West Lake International Documentary Festival(IDF2020), with the theme of Life, Lives, attracted 472 documentaries from 72 countries and regions on 7 continents. IDF arranged 22 online and physical Q&As during this special time. More than 5000 audiences gathered in Hangzhou for the documentaries. The 5th West Lake International Documentary Festival(IDF2021), with the theme of Perceiving, Knowing, attracted 562 documentaries from 73 countries and regions on 6 continents. 38 documentaries have been screened during the festival that attracted more than 10 thousand audiences. West Lake International Documentary Festival is becoming one of the most academic, professional and international documentary festivals in China, presenting a good Chinese brand and reputation effect in the world. 


The 6th West Lake International Documentary Festival (IDF2023) will be held from 24th to 26th September 2023, in Hangzhou, China. IDF2023 consists of  IDF Competition, Glory of Documentary Screening Section and IDF Forum, which will invite documentary filmmakers, production companies, distribution companies, scholars and media from home and abroad to gather by the West Lake, Hangzhou to share the glory of documentary.



IDF Mission


Embracing core values of innovation, pioneering spirit, academic rigor, and non-fiction cinema, IDF aims to unlock boundless possibilities as new technologies revolutionize documentary filmmaking. We believe that documentary is a medium ingrained in humanity’s wisdom of “observation and decision-making”. Our society serves as the best observation arena of this medium, where filmmakers, characters and audiences collectively shape its subjects. We cherish time and space captured within images, and appreciate inner thoughts and souls depicted therein. We champion documentaries as gateways to the real world, rather than mere replicas of reality. What matters is whether these gateways lead to new revelations and profound insights. We will delve into the intricate relationship between creating fictional content and documenting reality, and highlight their interplay and collision. This exploration will offer both filmmakers and audiences with greater freedom to interpret and envision reality, ultimately injecting new vitality into China’s documentary industry.



Opening Ceremony

Press Conference

Opening Film

Closing Ceremony

Award Ceremony

West Lake Night Party

IDF Competition

This section conducts an open call for submissions. After evaluation by selection committee, 15 documentaries will be selected for IDF Competition to compete for grand prizes including feature-length documentaries and short documentaries.

Glory of Documentary

This section focuses on the screening of outstanding international documentaries and the post-screening Q&A with the director.

IDF Forum

This section consists of academic lecture, academic forum and filmmakers forum, which will invite documentary professionals to participate in the academic discussions and to share the experience.