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Notes from the Reel World: The Executive Director's Column, Winter 2011

By Michael Lumpkin

Dear IDA Community,

As the end of the year approaches, I want to thank all of our members, donors and sponsors for helping us make 2010 a banner year for the IDA--and for documentary filmmaking. I also want to talk about how we can all continue to work together to make 2011 even better.

But first, let's take a moment to look back at some of the great things IDA accomplished this past year, thanks to the generous support we received on both the local and national levels.

One of the year's most exciting milestones was a generous grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs in support of Docs Rock, our innovative in-school program that introduces high school students to the world of documentary filmmaking. Docs Rock teaches technical filmmaking skills and develops critical life skills, such as team-building, communication, cooperate learning and leadership by giving students the chance to make their own documentary films. This summer, the folks at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were so impressed by Docs Rock that they funded the making of a PSA touting the program's effectiveness.

But the Gates Foundation and the Department of Cultural Affairs weren't the only ones supporting the IDA and its programs in 2010. The Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences provided funding for Doc U, our series of informative seminars and workshops on the art of documentary film, held here in Los Angeles. With the Academy's help, we were also able to present Doc U programs in New York, Boston and Washington, DC.

We've also worked hard to expand our efforts as advocates for documentary filmmakers in courtrooms, staterooms and newsrooms across America and around the world. Consequently, IDA has taken a lead role on major issues confronting our industry, including Net Neutrality, Fair Use, Licensing and Copyright, Digital Rights Management and, above all, the rights of documentary filmmakers under the provisions of the First Amendment and other laws.

It's been a tremendous year at IDA, but the work's not done yet!

In 2011, we hope to bring Docs Rock into more schools, and we are making plans to continue to bring Doc U to more cities. And of course, we intend to continue our important work as advocates for documentary makers, wherever and whenever their rights are under threat.

But that's not all. The New York Community Trust will support the launch of a re-granting initiative where production funds will be offered to deserving documentary filmmakers.

But we can't do all of this alone. That is why I am asking you to make a year-end donation to support our efforts. Please give and give generously, so that we can make 2011 another landmark year for both the IDA and the documentary filmmakers who make this unique and vital art form. To support us, visit or send your tax-deductible donation to: International Documentary Association, 1201 W. 5th St., Ste. M270, Los Angeles, CA 90017.


With gratitude, appreciation, and high hopes for 2011,

Michael Lumpkin
Executive Director