April 2, 2003

Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, April 2003

Dear Readers,

It begins in December with the Best-of-the-Year lists, and, dare I say, the IDA Awards. This is the snappy start of the annual drum roll that picks up speed in Park City, rumbles deftly through the thicket of awards ceremonies in February and March, and reaches a thunderous, death-defying crescendo with the Academy Awards, and IDA's own days-long salute to the nominees in the doc categories, the Oscars Reception and DocuDay.

This issue salutes the nominees, and Jason Lyon talks to last year's winners about what a difference a year in the glow of the little golden man has made. Steve Rosenbaum, in his "Reality Check"  column, shares his thoughts on the revised rules on eligibility for Academy Awards consideration.

Reporting from Sundance, Tamara Krinsky talks about the meeting and commingling of the fiction and nonfiction minds at this year's edition, with such documentarians as Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, and Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman making the crossover into drama-ville for the first time with their respective films Party Monster (based on Bailey and Barbato's doc of the same name) and American Splendor, which employs documentary elements to push the narrative forward. From the upcoming series The Blues­­­­––excerpts of which screened at Sundance––Marc Levin and Wim Wenders contributed their hybrid pieces that typify the guidelines of the series: not strictly documentary, not strictly fiction, but an impressionistic blend of the two. And I report on a selection of films, and invariably the festival gives rise to a theme, or series of interlocking themes. This year, the double-helixed themes seemed to be the passage of time, how it instigates and refracts memory and reflection, and the persistence of family––the knotty, malleable, prismatic and variegated template that shifts and splinters and sometimes evens coalesces in spite of itself.

Rounding out the Park City experience, Sarah Jo Marks reports on Slamdance, the rogue counterpart that, year after year, manages to unspool startling new discoveries. In years past, such films as Hybrid and Stone Reader have kick-started the docu-genre with their fresh energy, and this year's crop, including Missing Peace and Long Gone, just might rattle the firmament again.

Now, given that this is Awards season, or the tail end of it, and at press time, war looms on the horizon, you all might want to take a cue from the furious tribute to Joe Strummer that closed this year's Grammy Awards; Westway to the World, Don Letts' documentary about Strummer's band The Clash, took the Grammy in the Music Video Long Form category. This was not a call to arms, as much as it was a call to act, be heard, and, for all of us, pick up our cameras!  Not just London, the world is calling!


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White