Letter from the Editor, 2023 October
By Abby Sun
This past month, as violence flares up around the world and we receive more news about ongoing censorship of documentary filmmakers, we are bolstered by the organizing of our colleagues. Efforts supported by the work of informal and formal collectives include the open letter from UK Documentary Film Council rallying the independent sector, the launch of the DISCO network’s Independence Project, upcoming screenings around the world in solidarity with the film festival Palestine Cinema Days—the 10th anniversary was scheduled to start yesterday—and many more. From our vantage point, there is deep pain, distrust, and uncertainty in many parts of the documentary world, which naturally reflects the world beyond our films. But there is also deep work being done in reconciliation, repair, and renewal.
At Documentary, we continued “Making a Production,” Documentary's new strand of in-depth profiles featuring production companies that make critically-acclaimed nonfiction film and media in innovative ways. This month’s profile heads across the pond courtesy of Carol Nahra, who spent a lot of time at Orlando von Einseidel’s Grain Media. This generous peak behind the curtain offers insight into developing projects with multiple revenue streams, from individual investors to streamers and more traditional broadcasters, and the pressure to package documentary films as entertainment. More profiles will follow.
Two pieces this month ruminate on changes in the industry. The first is from IDA’s grants manager, Melissa D’Lando, whose film archivist background drew her to the nonprofit Missing Movies, whose work helping filmmakers and audiences locate “missing” documentaries is highlighted in “Seven Reasons Why Documentaries Go Missing.” The second is Emily Abi-Kheirs’s interview with new ITVS head Carrie Lozano, discussing the challenges and opportunities facing ITVS and public media more broadly in the U.S.
We also hear directly from filmmakers. Darcy McKinnon delivered a rousing keynote address at the first Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Filmmaker Forum, advocating for the value of public media and documentary as a part of our shared public square. Gabriella Ortega Ricketts interviewed David P. Zucker upon the release of My Friend, Memphis, which was workshopped as part of DocuClub. Kolby Ari, who is based in Tulsa, discussed the particularities of telling stories of Black communities with Nailah Jefferson, upon the streaming premiere of her short, Descended from the Promised Land: The Legacy of Black Wall Street.
As a reminder, Documentary will relaunch as a print magazine for Winter 2023 in early December, hitting newsstands on December 11. To receive the next issue, make sure you’ve joined IDA membership and update your address in the member portal.
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Until the next newsletter,