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Notes From the Reel World: December 2023

By IDA Editorial Staff


By Grace Lee AND Chris Perez

Dear IDA Community,

We are thrilled for the return of Documentary Magazine. For the past 42 years, it has served as a space for dialogue, provocation, and an archive of the documentary form’s power, persistence, and evolution. We want to give thanks to Tom White—who gave shape to the magazine for 22 years—alongside a devoted community of readers and contributors for getting us to this milestone. The magazine was paused for nearly a year following his departure, and issue #2 is presented with Abby Sun as its editor. Abby’s curiosity and intellect are boundless, and we join all of you in anticipation of what future issues will bring.

As we round up our tenure as IDA Board co-chairs, we have been reflecting on the many transitions underway. It hasn’t been an easy path, and we are grateful to everyone who has supported IDA over the past few years. In fact, IDA membership has grown each of the last two years, even as we continue to navigate many changes. Unionization, a majority BIPOC staff and leadership, a Nonfiction Access Initiative centering the disability community, and a renewed commitment to international members are just the beginning. From staff to leadership to the board, we want to give space to examine the questions raised by the work we do.

We are surrounded in today’s world by uncertainty, violence, aggression, and misunderstanding. As we grapple with how we meet one another to focus on humanity and care, we clearly see the need for stories from underrepresented regions, voices, and conflicts. IDA will continue to convene the documentary community, raising questions that reflect the state of our field. Getting Real in April 2024 will focus on access and distribution, and is being co-created with the international documentary community. Can the storytelling economy and the powers driving distribution make room for representation and shared values? We hope you will join us in Los Angeles and online to work through these questions together. 

Finally, the release of this issue coincides with the introduction of new leadership at IDA. We welcome our new executive director, Dominic Willsdon, whose history of leveraging art as a vehicle for engagement aligns with our belief that the future of IDA will be determined with our community and by the events and stories that define our times. The nature of this reflexivity demands that the organization continue to undergo change, which we have learned to embrace and eagerly anticipate. 

As we move into this next chapter, we hope that you, our readers, and community members, actively take part in the programs, convenings, and initiatives that IDA continues to evolve. We encourage you to engage with the ideas brought forth through these pages and to keep the conversations going in the field. We’ve learned that the only way to survive the next 40 years is if we build community and foster healthy communication and mutual respect. We look forward to the future!

Warmest regards,

Chris Perez and Grace Lee 
IDA Board Co-Presidents