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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, July 2004

By Richard Propper

Dear IDA Members:

Giving your time....

As many of us punch through our day-to-day routines of phone calls, emails and FedEx deliveries, once in while there is a moment of contemplation: how to make the world a better place. Perhaps you're already doing something socially or politically; it is an election year, after all. For some people, the lightning bolt of personal inspiration or motivation just hasn't hit yet. Until it does, they just want to get involved in anything that has a greater good. Yes, I'm talking about volunteers.

At the IDA we see quite a number of happy, motivated people come through our doors to give their time. I can proudly say that a number of them actually have fun doing it. Hanging out at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the IDA Oscars Reception, working on the InFact Film Series, or sitting on viewing committees in search of the next great documentary to honor, these people give their time to something inherently good. My hat is off to these wonderful volunteers. And we need more!

A few years ago, the IDA (and its inventive board at the time) spearheaded and developed a visionary new curriculum for high school students called DOCS ROCK. Several schools across Los Angeles now present a fully accredited curriculum about documentary filmmaking, and these young filmmakers have already begun to win awards. Within these pages, you can read more about this exciting program that the IDA continues to guide, mentor and help to further expand. Introducing the next generation of filmmakers to the documentary form is magical. They know more than we do about their world, and maybe a few feature film companies will take notice and produce some feature releases that are based more on the factual world. Classroom teachers, filmmakers and program donors work together in DOCS ROCK to motivate and support a new league of young hopefuls into our business. Long may they thrive.

As this issue makes it way to the newsstand, two politically based films will be in theatrical distribution (or close to it): The Hunting of the President (Harry Thomason and Nickolas Perry, dirs.; Douglas Jackson, prod.) and Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore, prod./dir.). These films could have a tremendous impact in this year's political debate. I look forward to seeing what pointed reviews and scandals arise from the release of these two documentaries. If there was ever a year for hard-hitting political documentaries to catch fire, this is it.


Until next time,

Richard Propper
IDA Board President