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

By Richard Propper

Dear IDA Members:

While getting ready to head off to work, I like to sample the buffet of cable news programs. One morning I stopped to watch the Fox News Channel for few minutes. (For the record, I watch all the news channels throughout the week.) As the anchor was about to go to a commercial break, she uttered that now famous phrase, "You're watching Fox News—Fair and Balanced Reporting." The gleam in her eye complemented a colorful lower-third chyron that clearly stated: "Fair & Balanced." I had to laugh.

Documentaries are now more than ever the long-form medium of political opinion. Various filmmakers dig in their heels and assemble an hour and a half devoted to a particular point of view. It is a brave craft in this heavily charged political atmosphere. Nonfiction books are numerous on the state of domestic and international affairs. Cable news programs are devoting many hours to these writers. Every now and again you will see documentary filmmakers up in the hot seat too, sometimes alongside these writers. I enjoy these moments.

The documentary form is providing a new platform for those who have something to say beyond just a chat room on some obscure website. It is brave to produce something you believe in and then present it to the public. There is no cowering in the corner if you plan show your work on the big or small screen. You must stand and defend it.

Closer to home, the IDA works to accomplish a great number of goals throughout the year by way of some very talented people. Our executive director, Sandra Ruch, accomplishes the work of three people, and her staff is a tremendous group—gifted, organized and charming at the right moments. This magazine, headed by Thomas White, is no small effort, and progress is indeed being made every day.

But at this moment, I would like to say goodbye to a few members of our Board of Directors who are leaving us this year: Mark Johnstone, a strong voice, with a willingness to slog through the clutter to accomplish the goals at hand; Michael King, a filmmaker with an always positive attitude; and Brian Wakil, who in a short time has made his mark on the InFACT Theatrical Documentary Showcase and is doing the same on our end-of-year Awards Gala. Thanks to all of you for your devotion to the IDA.


Until next time,

Richard Propper
IDA President