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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, March 1997

By David Haugland

The documentary and IDA are on an important threshold. The docu­mentary form is in the forefront of more minds, on more television sets, in more theatres, and more powerful than at any previous time. As a result, we have before us great opportunity at IDA. As the organization that is most closely identified with this genre, we are at the center of the profusion of non-fiction work. And it is incumbent on IDA that we use our voice to further support, promote and preserve the documentary.

Of course, it's unrealistic to assume that IDA can or should do all the work necessary in this field alone. But IDA can and must take the lead. As we have in the past, IDA continues to forge partnerships and relationships to advance the documentary.

Foremost among the partnerships that sustain the IDA is the on-going support that we receive from our individual and corporate trustees. Currently 15 in number, our trustees offer their insight, counsel and guidance. As a demonstration of their continuing and increasing support, trustees convened for the first time last fall at Turner Broadcasting In Los Angeles, hosted by Patricia Mitchell. The trustees now plan to meet twice yearly. A spring meeting is planned for New York, hosted by Sheila Nevins and HBO.

Other partnerships continue to develop as well. Our IDA board member in London, Andre Singer, is serving as a liaison with the European Documentary Network to develop cooperative programs and events that will benefit producers on both sides of the Atlantic.

In December, former IDA president and trustee Mel Stuart hosted a meeting of IDA staff and executive committee members with Gao Kerning, Chief Secretary of the China TV Documentary Academic Association. From this meeting, plans for future exchanges of both professionals and programming are developing. It is hoped that the first IDA delegation visit to China may happen within the year.

In the past year, IDA Executive Director Betsy A. McLane has been carrying the IDA torch to festivals and markets in the U.S. and abroad. From Sundance to the Independent Feature Market, from Amsterdam to London, Betsy has been building relationships with filmmakers, exhibitors, broadcasters, distributors and audiences to help serve the current and future needs of IDA members and supporters.

In January, IDA was well represented at the International Film Financing Conference in San Francisco with the participation of board members John Mason, Andre Singer and myself. Although the producers represented at IFFCO this year were two-thirds fiction and one-third non-fiction, we all became aware early on that the documentary was disproportionately represented in interest from both producers and buyers alike.

Looking ahead, IDA continues a tradition begun some years ago of making Oscar® week special for the documentary film nominees. We are returning this year to our evening event at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday, March 20, at 8 p.m. This evening at the Academy is a special opportunity to meet the filmmakers and become acquainted with them and their work. IDA will present screenings of the nominated films on DocuDay, Saturday, March 22, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Please join us at both of these events.

Finally, I want to welcome Marina Goldovskaya, Richard Proper, Joan Sekler, and Michael Tobias to the IDA Board. They will be joining returning board members Nicholas Clapp and Lynne Littman as we begin a year of challenges, opportunities and growth. On a personal note, I look forward to meeting many of you whom I do not know and to get to know better many more of you during the coming year. Together, I believe that IDA will stand as a clear strong voice for the documentary in this dynamic time and into the future.


David Haugland, recently elected President of the International Documentary Association, is an Academy Award® -nominated filmmaker (Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker), whose work includes films made in China, Latin America, South Africa and the United States. His films have been broadcast in Australia, Europe, Israel, Africa and the U.S. His credits also include music videos, nature programs, television movies and dramatic feature films.