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Notes from the Reel World: The Executive Director's Column, Summer 2014

By Michael Lumpkin

Dear IDA Community:

Thirty years ago, the International Documentary Association broke new ground by presenting the first IDA Awards for distinguished documentary achievement. The goal was to raise the profile of documentary film as an art form, and bring its greatest practitioners the recognition they deserved. IDA continues to pursue these goals today, though the times and the awards have definitely changed.

The year 1985 saw the presentation of just seven awards: five for Distinguished Documentary Achievement, one for Preservation and Scholarship, and one for Career Achievement. That set the pattern for the next few years. But as the documentary field expanded in the following decades, the IDA Awards did too.

The David L. Wolper Student Achievement Award was introduced in 1987. The first Amicus (Friend of the Documentary) Award was presented in 1993, followed by the first Short Documentary Award in 1994, then the Limited Series Award, the Strand Program Award, the IDA/ABC News Videosource Award and the Pare Lorentz Award-all in 1997. The year after that brought the first award for a television magazine segment.

In the 2000s, awards for Pioneers, Courage Under Fire, Music, Editing, Writing and Cinematography were added to the mix, along with the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award and the Humanitas Award. In response to the growth of nonfiction programming on TV, the Strand Program Award was renamed the Continuing Series Award to reflect the series itself as the honoree, rather than one episode from it. But fitting the growing array of series programming being created for TV and other platforms into these two categories hasn't been easy. So this year, the IDA Awards are changing once again.

The 2014 Awards will double the series categories to four: Episodic Series, Curated Series, Limited Series and Short Form Series.

IDA is now accepting entries in these and every other category of the 2014 awards. We urge nonfiction film and television makers to join us in this annual salute to documentary art and artists by sending in their work for consideration. Submission forms and more information on our new series categories can be found here.

We also invite all lovers of the documentary arts to join us in December to help celebrate the 30th anniversary edition of the IDA Awards, and to honor the best of the year's documentary films.

See you there!


Michael Lumpkin
Executive Director