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Notes from the Reel World: The President's Column, September-October 2005

By Richard Propper

Dear IDA Members,

DocuWeekTM is upon us, and what a great time it is!

What is this IDA theatrical documentary showcase? Why does it matter? Our members are a group of determined, creative people. When the planets align themselves and a filmmaker is able to produce a documentary that is truly something special, an obvious question is posed: "How can I get my film qualified for Academy Award consideration?" To go it alone is neither cheap nor easy.

Back in 1997, the IDA assembled an event called DOCtoberTM, a showcase of feature and short documentaries that were exhibited for one week in October. The IDA provided an organizational and promotional structure by which the filmmakers could pay a fee and collectively qualify their films at a reasonable cost. As the qualifying dates were moved, the name of our event was changed to InFACTTM, and now DocuWeekTM. This program has gone on to qualify many feature and short documentaries for Academy Award consideration, and yes, some have even gone on to win an Oscar, including Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's Born Into Brothels and Maryann DeLeo's Chernobyl Heart.

This year, DocuWeekTM has 12 feature documentaries and three shorts. Shorts (40:00 minutes or less), from a theatrical exhibition standpoint, are very hard to promote and place. Year after year, DocuWeekTM brings short documentaries to the forefront.

Outside of Los Angeles and New York, many documentaries are never seen, except in mainstream releases in larger cities. After the single week of exhibition in Los Angeles, DocuWeekTM will tour to four cities--Boulder, Colorado; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Ketchum, Idaho. This is part of the qualification process, to encourage a theatrical rollout, but for IDA, the tour is an opportunity to build bridges to communities across the country and strengthen partnerships with such organizations as the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute, the Magic Lantern Cinema in Ketchum, the Teton Theatre in Jackson Hole and the Landmark's Crossroads Cinema in Boulder. Check for the latest schedule. 

The IDA is committed to push documentaries of all shapes and sizes into communities around the world. We believe this form of information and art can, and often does, change the world.

Before I go, I would like to say goodbye to two IDA employees who have left for greener pastures--Mindy Perrin, our wonderful office administrator, and Angele Price, our development director. They will both be missed.

Until next time,

Richard Propper
IDA President