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

By Michael Lumpkin

Dear IDA Community:

Every year seems to bring the release of more and more important documentaries, on an ever-wider range of topics, from an increasingly diverse and expanding community of talented filmmakers. This year was no exception. To anticipate and meet the needs of this growing field, IDA has to grow too. And it has to change. 2013 brought plenty of both growth and change.

One of the biggest changes brought the end of IDA's long-running Oscar-qualifying DocuWeeks program and the launch of IDA's popular new Documentary Screening Series. The series is designed to bring the best documentary films of the year to members of IDA and others in the film industry. Working with our media partners, Indiewire and The Nation, we will have presented over 20 of the year's top documentary features before the inaugural program ends in January. Some of the filmmakers and subjects featured in post-screening discussions have included Errol Morris, Morgan Neville, Merry Clayton, Alex Gibney, Barbara Kopple, James Lapine, Jacob Kornbluth, Robert Reich, Lucy Walker, Kevin Pearce and Dawn Porter.

This year also brought a major expansion in IDA's efforts to help filmmakers get their work made. Funding for IDA-sponsored projects hit an all-time high of $6 million in support for over 150 documentary films. Direct financial support of documentary films through our Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund increased this year, as well with $95,000 in grants going to six productions, including two international projects.

But even as IDA worked to keep future projects on track, it also worked on new ways to preserve its past, and the past of the documentary filmmaking community it serves. A $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts will support the creation of a new online home for Documentary magazine that will include an archive of more than 200 issues published since 1982.

Looking forward, another NEA grant is supporting IDA's creation of a new effort on behalf of filmmakers that will be announced in 2014. Other upcoming milestones include the re-launching of DocuClub, the long-running New York-based work-in-progress screening series that will now be presented by IDA.

To meet the demands of all this growth, IDA added four new members to its team this year. To make room for this growing staff, we relocated to larger offices in Koreatown. Our spacious new meeting room will be the future home for an expanded Doc U program.

Under the dedicated leadership of IDA Board President Marjan Safinia, our Board of Directors has also been working hard this year to ensure that IDA has the resources it needs to best fulfill its mission and deliver the best possible programs to our members and the entire documentary community.

For their tireless energy and inspiration, my thanks go out to IDA's incredible staff and Board of Directors. And to you, our members, donors and sponsors, thank you for supporting IDA and the work we do to on behalf of the documentary community.

It's been a great 2013 at IDA. With your help, 2014 will be even better.

Michael Lumpkin
Executive Director