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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, May 2003

By Michael Donaldson

Dear IDA Members,

I am happy to report on the successes of the Oscars Reception and DocuDay—and want to congratulate the Academy Award winners: Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine and Bill Guttentag and Robert David Port's Twin Towers.

In 1982, after Nigel Noble accepted the Academy Award for best short documentary, he was ignored by the media, which chose to interview his celebrity presenters instead.  So, in the spirit of the IDA's mission, the Oscars Reception and DocuDay, were born.

This is a far different world than it was 20 years ago. As this country wages a war that most of us did not want to enter, where do documentary film and documentary filmmaking fit? Well, documentarians can help to make sense of what we're experiencing—in daring to explore unknown and dangerous terrain, in seeking out something close to the truth, and in producing something of lasting, resonant value. Documentary filmmakers are the chroniclers of our times.

IDA's mission is to support the efforts of nonfiction filmmaking, whether it be reporting from the front lines or investigating in the homefront. This is all part of what nonfiction is about.

IDA is also about the people who make it happen, and over the past month we have said goodbye to three individuals who have contributed immeasurably to the growth and well-being of the organization. Managing Director Melissa Simon Disharoon served a tour of duty of four years. Whether managing the fiscal sponsorship program, producing DOCtober, or keeping the office running smoothly, Melissa engaged her considerable responsibilities with grace, poise and above all, class. Having helped steer IDA to where it is today, Melissa moves on to a more challenging position: motherhood.

Megan Moroney has served as membership and marketing coordinator for just over a year, but it seems longer. I think we were all so comfortably acclimated to how organized and well-run Megan's area has been, how substantially our membership ranks have grown, how professional and courteous she has been with our members. Megan moves on to the creative side of documentary filmmaking.

Finally, Programs Coordinator Sarah Jo Marks blessed us for an even shorter time—nine months—but her passion for documentaries was inspiring. She plunged in—from DOCtober to the IDA Awards program and Gala, to her swan song, as producer of both the Oscars Reception and DocuDay. Sarah Jo moves on to start her own documentary distribution company with her business partner.

Now as the old guard retreats, a new guard is ushered in. So, please welcome our new programs coordinator, Tracie Lewis, a filmmaker and former development associate at Columbia Tri-Star TV and NBC; and our new membership and marketing coordinator, Janice Van Wagner, whose background includes a stint at 7th Art Releasing, the documentary distribution company.



Michael C. Donaldson
IDA President