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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, Summer 2008

By diane estelle Vicari

Dear IDA Community:

My introduction to Los Angeles in the late ’70s was an all-access pass through the backstage door of the music scene. The industry vibrated with a dynamic, limitless pool of talent, from creators to hit-makers across all genres. Music in films was no exception.

Titles such as John Lennon’s utopian-themed “Imagine,” from the 1972 film of the same name by Lennon, Yoko Ono and Steve Gebhardt; the unforgettable piano and dance performance of Cat Stevens’ "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" from Harold and Maude; and Nino Rota’s love theme from The Godfather are but a few samples that evoke feelings of nostalgia.

During the 2008 Academy Awards show, the orchestra performed three recognizable music phrases: Bernard Hermann’s Psycho theme (1960), Bill Conti’s Rocky theme (1976) and John Williams’ Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). All recall a visual and sonic marriage forever imprinted in our memories.

As the commercial popularity of documentaries increases, they are slowly following suit with music.

On Friday afternoon, April 4, I jumped at the first opportunity to buy a ticket to the opening of Shine A Light, the Rolling Stones concert documentary directed by Martin Scorsese. Scorsese positions the viewer directly on stage with the Stones at the famed Beacon Theatre in New York City during their 2006 performances. Not even a front-row ticket could compare to the intimacy with the band this masterful director created. With a team of 18 all-star cinematographers, Scorsese captures the band’s energetic chemistry, resulting in a palpable experience. For a moment, we even get a glimpse of Albert Maysles, camera in hand, who, with David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, made the seminal Stones documentary Gimme Shelter. In a recent article in MovieMaker, Scorsese says “"I wish I could play music. I think I get as close as possible with the editing of the films. Over the years, music has been an even more important influence than—or as important as—film...” So turn off the cell phone, shut down the computer and go to your nearest IMAX theater.

Over the years, so many music docs have been lost in the mix as they compete side by side with more social, political or humanitarian films. At the 2007 IDA Awards Gala, IDA Trustee Alan Ett, a music aficionado himself, joined us in supporting our efforts to acknowledge and celebrate the craftsmanship of music and documentaries. The competition drew an astonishing number of great films, and the 2007 IDA/Alan Ett Music Documentary Award was given to We Are Together (Thina Simunye), which opens this May through Palm Pictures.

Official entries for the 2008 IDA Awards competition will be available shortly on IDA’s website,

Cameras rolling, so let the music play!


diane estelle Vicari
IDA President