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Letter from the Editor, November 2023

By Abby Sun

Dear Readers,

This month, we’ve been hard at work putting together the next print issue of Documentary Magazine, which will be in the mailboxes of IDA members starting December 11. Some of those pieces are print versions of some of the most impactful pieces from the 11 months print hiatus of the magazine, such as Jane Mote’s clarion call for a code of ethics at documentary labs and training programs, which includes three anonymized first-person accounts of gendered abuse. But most of the Fall 2023 print issue is comprised of new essays. Our subscribers will get exclusive access to the pieces first, which we’ll slowly release only in the coming months.

We have also ramped up the volume of digital publication as fall festival season is in full swing—and violence around the world that demands calls for action from film institutions abuts ever-busy awards campaigning. We featured a different kind of response, an interview conducted by Edward Frumkin with this fall’s Flaherty NYC programmers, on their programmatic response to the 2022 Flaherty Seminar. Jeromiah Taylor spent a month visiting and profiling three new film organizations that have started in the Great Plains of the U.S., mama film, Stray Cat Cinema, and the Transgender Film Institute. And impact producer Stephanie Palumbo launches our new strand “Producer’s Diary,” a series of BTS accounts of the production of notable new releases, with a detailed timeline of the collaboration baked into Fire Through Dry Grass.

Our on-the-ground accounts also continued. Lauren Wissot reported from Hot Springs’ first Filmmaker Forum industry conference, and first-time contributor Betty Stojnic put together a stellar dispatch on the local importance of and standout films from Yamagata, the oldest documentary film festival in Asia. In addition, you can also read interviews with filmmakers Tana Gilbert (Malqueridas), Brit Fryer (The Script), D. Smith (Kokomo City), Nicole Newham (The Disappearance of Shere Hite), Mohamed Jabaly (Life Is Beautiful), Li Lu (A Town Called Victoria), and Nisha Pahuja (To Kill a Tiger).

At the bottom of this newsletter, catch up with the exclusive clips and news we’ve debuted over the last month.

Drop us a line at if you have suggestions, notes, pitches, questions, jokes, feedback, or kind words. Everything is appreciated. 

Thanks for your continued readership and support.

Until the next newsletter,

Abby Sun

Editor, Documentary Magazine