Skip to main content

My Experience as a IDA Documentary Screening Series Volunteer

By Paul Kirch

IDA Screening Series volunteer, Paul KirchMy name is Paul. I enjoy a good movie and consider myself the “George Costanza” of films. Over the years while watching the Oscars, they would name the category of Best Documentary. All the time I would wonder where do you see these films? Serendipitously, I saw IDA’s screening of films at the Landmark for free. Free can’t be all bad. Can it?

I saw my first IDA Documentary Screening Series film, The Witness, in 2016. It was the story of the rape and murder of Kitty Genoves that was reportedly observed by 38 people who did nothing to stop it. I went with a friend who was convinced of the “bystander effect.” The documentary debunked the myth and suggested the news coverage of the time was sensationalism at best. That struck a cord that there may be another side of the story that I was missing. 

After attending more screenings, I wanted to contribute to the IDA for bringing the documentaries to the public for free. I began volunteering for the Screening Series this year. Although I am not a very social individual, Nicki Bhardwaj, IDA’s Events Coordinator and Ken Lin, Production Assistant made me feel welcome and part of the team.

My favorite documentary of the season was Bathtubs over Broadway. Documentary film does not always have to be heavy. From a writer for David Letterman to unemployed and sitting in a bar waiting for his wife to finish work, Steve Young turned to the arcane hobby of collecting “Industrial Music.” It was something I and most people have never heard of. It was an informative, funny, and sentimental journey of one man's passion.

The post-screening Q&A’s are excellent for some personal insight into what the documentarian felt about their film. Another favorite of mine was the documentary Biggest Little Farm. For those of us who romanticize a simpler agrarian lifestyle, this movie will be a serious wake up call!

A few tips from a volunteer to those of you that want to join us next season:

  1. Always remember that IDA and guild members have first opportunity of admission. After that, it is by first come first serve in the general line. If a film is sold out online, you may not get in. Or better yet, become a member and support the art form that you enjoy. 
  2. Treat volunteers and staff with respect and a smile! Since Screening Series are free events, our team works hard to create a fun, accommodating experience for all. 
  3. Subscribe to IDA’s Screening Series invitation list weekly reminders on free screenings near you!

See you at a future screening!