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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, April 2002

By Michael Donaldson

Dear IDA Members,

As I mentioned last issue, this is a particularly banner occasion for the Academy Awards—and for documentary in general. IDA celebrates its 20th anniversary, as does the Sundance Institute, which this year launches the Sundance Documentary Channel. And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences commemorates 60 years of honoring the documentary form with a special presentation during the telecast. And the Documentary Branch, which has been sought after and fought for over the past few decades, is finally a reality.

Speaking of the Sundance Documentary Channel, we are proud to have them on board as the sponsor of IDA’s annual reception for Academy Award® nominees in the documentary category and of DocuDay this year. Many thanks to Paola Freccero and Kirk Iwanowski at Sundance for helping to make this partnership possible. I would also like to thank the hard-working members of the Oscars Reception Committee, chaired by Nancy Willen, and including Ann Hassett, Lynne Littman, Richard Trank, Richard Propper and Jan Peppler. And thanks, as always, to Bruce Davis, Ric Robertson and everyone at the Academy for hosting this event. Finally, congratulations to IDA members Edet Belzberg and Lianne Klapper McNalley, whose respective films, Children Underground and Artists and Orphans, are nominated for Academy Awards this year. Children Underground screened at the 2001 DOCtober and earned an IDA Award in the Feature Documentary category.

IDA and the Academy have enjoyed a particularly rich relationship over the past 20 years, partnering on three International Documentary Congresses, co-hosting the annual Oscars reception, and co-presenting a number of screening programs. We have also worked together when the documentary was in peril—in 1987, when the Board of Governors voted to eliminate the documentary presentations from the telecast; in 1992 and in 1999, when the Board voted to eliminate the short documentary from awards consideration; and in 1995, when the selection and nomination processes were called into question. We are happy to report that documentaries are now given the priority they deserve.

Speaking of the documentary community, the Los Angeles Media and Education Center (LAMEC), which last month hosted a wonderful celebration of IDA’s 20th anniversary, will be running a showcase programmed in part by you, the IDA members, of the 20 documentaries that every documentarian must see. We will make the list available as soon as it’s finalized. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you might want to stop by the Ivar Theater, on 1605 N. Ivar in Hollywood every Wednesday night for what promises to be a rich education.

Finally, you should be getting in your mailboxes the Calls for Entries for the 18th Annual IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards and DOCtober. Take note of the deadlines: May 17 for the early deadline; June 30, final deadline. Don’t miss out!



Michael C. Donaldson
IDA President