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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, Winter 2013

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

After an action-packed autumn highlighted by the most expensive US Presidential election campaign in history, the most calamitous storm to ever wallop the New York/New Jersey region, and a rough-and-tumble political imbroglio over the fate of the "fiscal cliff," Awards Season 2012 arrives as a welcome relief, as the mediamaking world honors the courage, vision and innovation of its creators. We at IDA have been celebrating the best in nonfiction filmmaking for nearly three decades, and each edition of the IDA Documentary Awards reflects a range of  work that continues to astonish and change us.

As we go to press, the IDA membership is considering, online, the nominees in the Shorts and Features categories, while a legion of committees is grappling for consensus on the winners in the Limited Series, Continuing Series, Humanitas Documentary, ABCNews VideoSource and David L. Wolper Student Documentary categories.

We do know that Jon Shenk's The Island President is this year's recipient of the Pare Lorentz Award, while the Creative Recognition Awards, now in their second year, go to Peter Gerdehag, for his cinematography on Best Feature Award nominee Women with Cows; Rodney Ascher, for his editing on Room 237, a deconstruction of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining; Malik Bendjelloul, director of Searching for Sugar Man, for blending his own musical compositions with those of the film's subject, Sixto Rodriquez; and director Keith Patterson, for his writing on Ann Richards' Texas, a lively profile of the former Governor of the Lone Star State.

The Career Achievement Award dates back to the very first honoree, Pare Lorentz, and this year's recipient, Arnold Shapiro, joined the IDA at its inaugural meeting 30 years ago, at the urging of Founder Linda Buzzell, when they both worked for the legendary television impresario David Wolper. Shapiro has over the past several decades earned his stripes as a TV producer and director on his own right, having garnered more than 150 awards and produced programs for every broadcast network and 14 cable channels. His signature film, the Academy Award-winning Scared Straight!, was one of the first documentaries to take viewers inside the prison system, and his prodigious body of work has alerted viewers to a range of urgent social issues. Michael Rose talks with Shapiro about his long and fruitful career.

The Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program and Fund (DFP), the Pioneer Award honoree, has led the charge in developing and supporting documentaries that have made a difference in the ongoing conversation about how we can make our world better. In this issue, we reprint an article by Daniel James Scott from the Summer 2012 issue about the DFP's many accomplishments in its first ten years.

The Sundance Film Festival was the world-premiere venue for David France's debut film, How to Survive a Plague, which captures a crucial period in the history of the AIDS epidemic in America. The film has earned many honors in 2012, including a Gotham Award and an Independent Spirit Award nomination. France himself is the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award honoree, and I spoke with him via e-mail about how his distinguished career as a journalist and author helped inform his nascent career as a filmmaker.

Yours in actuality,

Thomas White