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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, October 1999

By David Haugland

Dear IDA Members:

More than 500 people gathered under the stars for a beautiful summer evening at the Ford Amphitheater in the Hollywood Hills to honor David Wolper, and thrill to a rare screening of the 1973 documentary Wattstax. Produced by Wolper and directed by Mel Stuart, Wattstax stands as one of the great music performance/social issue documentaries of this century.

Joining us that evening was Rain Pryor, honoring her father, renowned comic Richard Pryor, who made his film debut in Wattstax. Also in attendance was actor LeVar Burton, who is known to us all as Kunta Quinte of the Wolper-produced television miniseries Roots, and, as Captain LeForge of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Burton presented IDA's first Mentor Award to David Wolper in celebration of his five decades in filmmaking.

In other awards matters, IDA volunteers gathered many evenings throughout the summer to screen over 500 entries submitted to the 15th Annual IDA Awards competition. In addition to the existing categories, this year marked two "firsts" for the awards: a new category that was established for television magazine segment and the convening of our first awards jury on the East Coast.

Lynne Litmann and Ted Thomas chaired our two feature committees. Sven Berkemeier chaired the short documentary jury and John Mason oversaw the student documentary category. Televisionentries in the Strand program and limited series jury was chaired by Barbara Gregson, while Jonathan Mednick led the magazine segment jury. Awards coordinator Jessica Rath ably supported all of the juries and kept the record number of entries flowing smoothly. Thank you to all of our jury chairs, staff and volunteers for making this a very successful awards season! (The complete list of this year's IDA Award nominees is listed in this issue.)

From the hundreds of documentaries submitted, 14 films have been selected for screening in the 3rd Annual DOCtober series from October 15-21 at the State Theater in Pasadena. The shorts: A Turning of the Earth: John Ford, John Wayne and The Searchers by Brian Jamieson and Nick Redman; 24 Girls by Eva Ilona Brzeski; Extraordinary Ordinary by Thelma Vickroy and Fred Beshid; Just a Wedding by Gerry Flahive; The Last Guy To Let You Know by Rolf Gibbs; Living Positive by Karen Robinson Hunte and Harold E. Houze Jr.; Sasquatch Odyssey by Julie Lee and Sheera von Puttkamer; Paint Me a Future by David Kaminsky, Janice Kaminsky and Mel Damski; Bird By Bird by Frieda Lee Mock; and Growing Up Fast by Joanna Lipper.

The features include Legacy by Tod Lending; Pop & Me by Richard Roe and Chris Roe; Gibtown by Maury Solomon, Loretta Harms and Melissa Shachat; and Shadow Boxers by Katya Bankowsky.

Later this month, we will honor the makers of this year's award-winning films, including the ABC News VideoSource and Pare Lorentz Award winners, and confer two awards recognizing distinguished accomplishment in the documentary field at the 15th Annual IDA Awards Gala. Michael Apted will be honored with our Career Achievement Award and George Eastman House will receive our Preservation & Scholarship Award.

As you know, October is the month to celebrate this year's outstanding documentary achievements. IDA Members and guests are invited to watch 14 outstanding documentaries at DOCtober, and mingle again with fellow IDA members and guests at our annual IDA Awards Gala on October 29. Capping off the month is the opportunity to meet the filmmakers at special screenings of IDA Award-winning documentaries during DocuFest at the DGA Theaters in Los Angeles on October 30 and New York on November 6. See you there!


Very sincerely,

David Haugland
IDA Board President