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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, November 2001

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

September 11 will be with us for a long time, and we’ll be looking, in this issue and future issues, at how documentary filmmakers can make a difference in their work in the new, unsettling world in which we find ourselves. Undoubtedly, the events of that date will impact the way we find and tell stories—and make us consider our sense of duty and responsibility as documentary makers. New York-based documentarian Gregory Orr shared daily e-mail dispatches from Ground Zero, and I asked him to contact other New York-based filmmakers for their thoughts and reflections, and to share them along with his own. I spoke with Steven Rosenbaum, founder and CEO of, about what his company did during that extraordinary week following, the account of which appears in these pages.

For those of you seeking to hone your skills, the bulk of this issue is devoted to documentary production training programs. Mitchell Block, who has taught at the university and college levels for over two decades, has put together a guide for considering different options for programs. He has organized his research into four areas: undergraduate and graduate programs at colleges and universities, continuing education programs sponsored by colleges and universities, workshops and classes sponsored by media arts organizations, and self-instruction and mentoring. He has also provided a directory, which includes as many programs as we can fit in this issue. Mind you, this guide is by no means a ranking; rather, it is intended to assist you in evaluating different criteria. We will continue to cite other programs in our Jobs & Opportunities column.

Elsewhere in the issue, Cleo Cacoulidis interviews filmmaker Raoul Peck, who made both a documentary and a feature film about Patrice Lumumba, the slain African leader; and Henry Lewes reports from Marseilles, which hosted both the Sunny Side of the Doc market and the Festival International du Documentaire. For “Tales from the Trenches,” Carlos Tavares writes about making a film on a strange phenomenon in his native Brazil: a community of descendents of the American Confederacy, both black and white, that celebrates its heritage every year, seemingly oblivious to the deeply divisive implications of the Confederate flag in the United States. And also about his difficulty in getting it distributed.

In the next issue, we’ll be examining funding: what foundations and government agencies look for in proposals and sample reels, how this new era of anxiety and terror might play out in terms of funding priorities, and how some documentary filmmakers have found ingenious means to fund their films. The December/January issue will also salute the IDA Award winners, including this year’s Preservation and Scholarship Award winner, Pacific Film Archive. Check out the nominees in this November issue, and start your office betting pools now.


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White