Los Angeles, CA –– International Documentary Association (IDA) has announced that Dominic Asmall Willsdon has been appointed as the organization’s new Executive Director, effective January 8, 2024. Willsdon will take over the position from Ken Ikeda, who has served as Interim Executive Director since January 2023.
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An internationally renowned curator, educator and veteran nonprofit executive, Dominic Asmall Willsdon joins the documentary advocacy organization at a time of unique opportunity and impact unprecedented in its 41-year history. Following a year of significant progress, stabilization, and the groundbreaking ratification of its first collective bargaining agreement, Willsdon will be responsible for setting organizational strategies, with a focus on intentional advocacy efforts, expanding global reach, and deepening IDA’s commitment to a sustainable and equitable documentary ecosystem.
Willsdon joins IDA from the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he spent the last five years as Executive Director. He brings extensive leadership experience at cultural institutions with international stature and a deep commitment to film as part of contemporary visual culture and public life. Prior to the ICA at VCU, Willsdon held senior curatorial roles at SFMOMA and Tate Modern, where he launched acclaimed film programs. Throughout his 25-year career as an arts leader, Willsdon has been dedicated to supporting creative makers and to championing emerging talent from around the world.
“Dominic’s ability to work fluidly with independent storytellers from around the globe, across disciplines and audiences, is an extraordinary skill. He’s really an educator at heart, someone who is deeply committed to sharing knowledge, access, and culture from all parts of society. Combined with his extensive management, financial, and curation experience, we believe IDA will flourish under Dominic’s leadership,” said Grace Lee and Chris Perez, Co-presidents of IDA Board of Directors.
The IDA Board of Directors undertook a comprehensive and rigorous national search to find the right person with the vision and values aligned with the mission of the organization but also that of the staff. It was imperative to develop an inclusive process that centered the staff’s perspective and included their involvement.
Dominic Asmall Willsdon said, “The IDA Board and staff are a wonderful team: brilliant, dedicated, inclusive. It has already been a pleasure to share ideas with them. Together, in the coming years, we will ensure that IDA is an organization that is for anyone, anywhere in the world who cares about documentary filmmaking and its contribution to the common good.”
Willsdon founded the film program at Tate Modern in London with the British Film Institute in his first curatorial role. He went on to join the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as the Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs from 2006-18. At SFMOMA, he relaunched the film program beginning with a season of Werner Herzog’s films and Wide Lens, a documentary series co-organized with AMPAS. In partnership with SFFILM, Willsdon created Modern Cinema, a reinvention of SFMOMA’s commitment to film in the context of visual art. From 2018, as Executive Director of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Willsdon committed the nascent ICA to film programming, notably through a partnership with the annual Afrikana Independent Film Festival. Throughout his career, Willsdon has developed programs that combined screenings with public dialogue and education, featuring documentary filmmakers such as John Akomfrah, Sam Green, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Pratibha Parmar, and Anand Patwardhan.
In addition to these leadership roles, Willsdon has served as a curator for international contemporary art biennials: the Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2013) and the Liverpool Biennial, UK (2016). He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Visual Culture. Willsdon is originally from London, England, his family having migrated there from South Africa and India in the 1960s. He was raised in the west of England (by parents who met in film school), and educated in art history and philosophy at the Universities of Edinburgh, Essex, and Paris.
About International Documentary Association
Mission: To support the vital work of documentary storytellers and champion a thriving and inclusive documentary culture.
Vision: IDA is dedicated to the vision of a world where documentary creators flourish. Through our work, we connect audiences with the best of the form, provide resources, create community, and defend the rights and freedoms of documentary artists, activists and journalists around the globe. We do this work because we believe that documentaries enrich and deepen our culture, fostering a more informed and connected world.