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After studying Dutch literature she started  studying Film and theater science at the University of Utrecht.
From 1985-1987 Ally Derks was coordinator of Festikon; a yearly educational Film and video festival in Hilversum.
In 1988 she started with help of  the Netherlands film Institute the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA). Since 1989 she is the director of IDFA. Besides the selection of the yearly competition program she was responsible for different retrospect’s focused a/o on Cuban, Kazach, Lithuanian, Palestinian/Israeli and Polish documentaries.
Ally is director of the Jan Vrijman Fund and head of the selection committee of the Jan Vrijman Fund; a Fund that supports documentary filmmakers in developing countries. She also is a member of the advisory committee from the Amnesty International Filmfestival Amsterdam.She took part in different congresses and seminars around the world a/o: Dokumentar Kongress Munich; FORUM Bornholm International Film and television Forum China ; Hot Docs (Canada); IDA (Los Angeles)etc.