IDFA puts our tears under the microscope

Stunning new campaign, “Real Emotions. Real Film.” for IDFA, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, was created by We Are Pi and uncovers the unique beauty of our tears under the microscope, delivering the message that every tear tells a different story.

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November 5th 2020, IDFA, the world’s leading documentary film festival, best known for its support of independent filmmakers and artistic excellence, today launches a campaign to celebrate the beauty and power of emotions with “Real Emotions. Real Film.”

IDFA 2020 | Real Emotions. Real Films.

Created in-house by Amsterdam-based ideas company WE ARE Pi, in collaboration with artistic director Maurice Mikkers, the campaign takes an intimate look at different emotions under the microscope to capture the beautiful range reactions to documentary film.

“IDFA explores the depths of human emotion through their documentary films. We wanted to show just how real and beautiful those emotions are.” says Co-founder and ECD at We Are Pi, Barney Hobson.

The creative spirit of IDFA is conveyed by showing a new way to express emotion - by discovering the tangible art forms hidden within every single teardrop. The unique structure of minerals, shaped by different feelings, tell their own stories.

The idea to place tears under the microscope was inspired by Mikkers, who wondered what our tears looked like up close and made a curious discovery back in 2014 that under a microscope, each tear looked like a uniquely beautiful work of art.

To bring the campaign to life, WE ARE Pi worked with Mikkers to collect hundreds of tears, each representing a unique human experience, ranging in emotions from joy to sorrow, pride to heartbreak. To collect them, We Are Pi provided tear collection kits for people to then capture their moments of real emotion. “The images of these tears are already beautiful on their own, but it’s all about the story.” says Mikkers.

On the creative process, Artistic Director at IDFA, Orwa Nyrabia, says “together with Mikkers and WE ARE Pi, we were able to bring together science and fact with poetry, philosophy, and art.”

On the ambition of the campaign, WE ARE Pi Design Director Seth Josephs says, “We wanted to share the emotions of IDFA’s audience back with them. To show them just how real and beautiful our feelings are, and to invite people to experience that beauty with us at the festival through the power of film.”

To compliment the abstract beauty of tears under a microscope, We Are Pi created a fully immersive film of slowlapsing tears as they move under a microscope. The entrancing tears of pride, grief, love and joy, build up to a crescendo of visual splendour before inviting you to feel the beauty yourself by taking part in IDFA 2020. 

The campaign roles out across the Netherlands in Cinema, Social, Print, Outdoor and PR. 

For those that would like to explore their own breadth of emotion through film, the festival dates this year are 16 Nov - 6 Dec. In order to ensure safety protocol for the coronavirus, the festival will now include screenings, talks and workshops both in physical locations across Amsterdam, and online via their website. You can learn more at

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About IDFA

IDFA is an international documentary film festival that takes place each November in Amsterdam. Every year, the festival presents a program of around 300 creative documentaries and interactive documentary projects, accompanied by performances, conversations and debates with filmmakers, protagonists and special guests.

About WE ARE Pi

WE ARE Pi is an Amsterdam-based international Ideas Company, founded in 2011. Named Small Agency of the Year 2018, 2019 and 2020 by Adage and Creative Pool. Guided by the promise to ‘Never Settle’ the creative indie exists to build brands that thrive in changing times. WE ARE Pi delivers integrated strategies and innovative creative platforms for clients including Heineken, Nike, Just Eat, Intersport, LEGO, TED Conferences, Desigual, and Quintet bank.



Brand: IDFA

Artistic Director: Orwa Nyrabia

Festival Director: Cees van 't Hullenaar

Partnerships Manager: Andrea van den Bos

Head of Marketing Communications: Martine Van Duijn

Communications Coordinator: Marjolein Polder 

Social Media Manager: Cengiz Can

Designer: Kaz Salemink


Agency: We Are Pi

Chief Executive Officer: Alex Bennett-Grant

Executive Creative Director: Barney Hobson

Executive Creative Director: Rick Chant

Design Director: Seth Josephs

Creative Director: Matteo Maggiore

Creative Director: Valerio Mangiafico

Creative: Kyle Foreman

Creative: Brigitta Szaszfai

Designer: Nick Fatouris

Designer: Fleur Ellis

Production Director: Kim Buttery

Producer: Ekaterina Golovkina

Production Assistant: Amani Barr

Head of Strategy: Mark Lester

Strategist: Paris Bethel

Managing director: Patrick Garvey

Business Director: Agathe Derrstroff

Account Executive: Slav Slavov

Business Affairs: Barrie Williams


Production company: Pi Studios

Director & DOP: Richard Hu

Photographer: Maurice Mikkers

Music & Sound Design: Antfood

Music & Sound Design Creative Director: Pedro Botsaris 

Sound Designer: Rory White

Composer: Rory White, Luis Bergmann, Wilson Brown, Yuta Endo 

Colour Facility: De Grot

Colorist: Joppo in de Grot 

About WE ARE Pi

We Are Pi is an award winning Creative Innovation Consultancy that partners with clients to build brands worthy of thriving in changing times by initiating transformation programs. We Are Pi Client partners include Nike, Heineken, Uber, Diageo and Virgin. We Are Pi was named Small Agency of the Year 2018, 2019 and 2020 by Creative Pool and Ad Age.

We Are Pi cultural research platform, New Society Rules, helps brands navigate cultural change. We Are Pi content arm, Pi Studios, produces ground breaking stories about cultural change. We Are Pi is proud sponsor of OUTO, Black Strat and Plus Plus One.

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