IDA’s Award weekend kicked off with a luncheon for the award winners and nominees sponsored by Kodak on Friday, December 5th. IDA’s Interim Executive Director/Board President-elect Eddie Schmidt described the intimate, casual gathering as “the Senior Class trip before graduation,” and he urged the nominees and winners to get to know one another.
Attendees of the 2008 IDA Awards Filmmaker Luncheon. Photo by Meg Madison.
Each awardee and nominee present was given the opportunity to say a few words about their project. Tom Dziedzic, director/producer of short film nominee Redemption Stone, kicked off the remarks by telling everyone that he was so surprised when he received the call about his nomination that he actually called back to double-check that the call was indeed meant for him.
Kassim the Dream director/producer Kief Davidson made fun of his own lame response to the news of his nomination. He was on the phone with his wife in Germany, and his response to the IDA’s Peggy Ellithorpe’s call was an apologetic, “Oh shit, let me call you right back.”
Davidson and I chatted for awhile about the recent whirlwind of activity surrounding his film. Kassim won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at AFI Fest, as well as the Doc U Award at IDFA. Davidson had just arrived back in Los Angeles from Santa Fe, where the film screened at the Santa Fe Film Festival as part of AFI’s 20/20 Program, an international initiative designed to enhance cultural understanding and collaboration through films from the US and abroad. Davidson is now waiting to find out where his film will screen internationally with the program, but he told me he’s gunning for South Africa and Paris.
Many of the awardees took a lighthearted approach when expressing their appreciation for their honors. “I’m a virgin – this is my first major award!” joked Remy Burkel. The director was honored with the Limited Series Award for Sin City Law, along with Denis Poncet, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, Remy Burkel, Maha Productions, Arte and Sundance Channel.
Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega, the filmmakers behind La Corona, the winner of the 2008 IDA Documentary Award for Short Documentary. Photo by Meg Madison.
The eternally charming Marina Goldovskaya, winner of the Preservation and Scholarship Award, had the audience laughing with her when she said, “I don’t know if I deserve it, but I got it!”
Like Goldovskaya, Sam Pollard, the recipient of the inaugural Avid Excellence In Editing Award, also took a playful tone when expressing his appreciation for his career honor. He said, “I feel like I’m a little young to be getting a lifetime achievement award, but I’ll take it!”
Laura Waters Hinson from American University is just starting her career. She received the IDA/David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award for As We Forgive and was thrilled when Kodak’s Candace Chatman presented her with a surprise $1000 grant for Kodak film stock.
Several of the nominees and awardees got personal about why they had chosen to work as documentary filmmakers. Short film nominee Jenny Mackenzie (Kick Like a Girl), who was a social worker for 20 years prior to becoming a filmmaker, said that making docs has given her the chance to reach audiences and effect social change in a different way than her previous career.
Pare Lorentz Award Winner David Novack (Burning the Future: Coal in America) said that for him, “Making documentaries is like always being in grad school, just for a different thing each time. You get to learn everything about a topic you’re passionate about.” He cited the ability to meet people with whom your paths would never otherwise cross as an additional bonus.
Filmmakers look on at the 2008 IDA Awards Filmmaker Luncheon. Photo by Meg Madison.
Stefan Forbes, winner of the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Filmmaker Award and director of Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, eloquently spoke about the meaning of being recognized with an award. He said, “Documentaries are often treated like the red-headed step-child of the film industry. As documentary filmmakers, we grapple with the problem of how to tell a story. The very story we’re grappling with is often something that society is not yet ready to deal with.”
See tons of photos from the luncheon on the IDA Flickr photostream.