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Notes from the Reel World: The Executive Director's Column, Winter 2012

By Michael Lumpkin

Dear IDA Community:

As executive director of the International Documentary Association, I'm pleased to be able to share some exciting news with you about our latest efforts to spread our mission and message in support of documentary films and filmmakers across the nation and to the farthest reaches of the globe.

First, IDA is proud to announce that it is partnering with the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts to send American documentaries and their creators around the world through a new US State Department-sponsored program called the American Film Showcase.

Inspired by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vision of "smart power diplomacy," the American Film Showcase will build on the past successes of the American Documentary Showcase, a collaborative effort between the State Department and the University Film & Video Association, which screened over 80 documentaries in more than 40 countries around the world between 2009 and 2011.

This new edition of the Showcase will expand the program's reach by presenting cinematic work of all genres to an international audience that might not otherwise have the opportunity to see this work. IDA will work with USC to select and program the documentaries of the Showcase, focusing on films that promote insights into American life and culture while illustrating different viewpoints.

The program will do more than just raise the profile of American documentary makers around the world. It will also give approximately 40 of the Showcase filmmakers and film experts the chance to help emerging filmmakers hone their skills by conducting lectures and master classes on filmmaking, animation, digital technology and emerging media.

But the Showcase is just one of the ways IDA is re-dedicating itself to nurturing new talent.

I'm also happy to announce that, for the second year in a row with the support of the Academy Foundation, I will be heading east right after the IDA Documentary Awards on December 2 to take our popular and invaluable Doc U program to eager audiences in Washington, DC, New York and Chicago. There, panels of funders, filmmakers and educators will have in-depth discussions with the members of the local doc communities on how to use the power of nonfiction storytelling to advocate for solutions to complex social issues. They will also urge people to take action and make sure that your documentary has the greatest possible impact.

And back at our home base in Los Angeles, we continue our increasingly popular monthly Doc U sessions at Cinefamily, offering both aspiring and experienced filmmakers training and insight, as well as the opportunity to mingle and connect with other IDA members.

Wherever you live, I hope that you can join us at Doc U, overseas with the American Film Showcase or online at

See you there!

Michael Lumpkin
Executive Director