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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, Fall 2020

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

With COVID-19 still raging in synch with the fires on the West Coast, the current occupant of the White House in full-on mendacity and corruption mode, and the country tearing itself apart in an ever-widening and irreparable schism, the fourth edition of Getting Real Documentary Film Conference arrives like a much-welcome blast of civility and hope.

Access. Power. Possibility. These are the guiding beacons around which the Getting Real team has developed the five-day forum, and as the documentary community is undergoing the deep processes of systemic transformation, what emerges from this online confab will be a giant leap forward in representation and accountability. Suz Curtis talks to Director of Programming Maggie Bowman and programmers Christina D. King, Stephanie Owens and Nat Ruiz Tofano about how they met and embraced the challenges of creating a free, online conference. 

In July, we published an essay online from Sonya Childress and Natalie Bullock Brown that proclaimed a call for accountability. It rocked the doc world as a much-heralded manifesto, so we’re publishing it here in print. 

The Documentary Producers Alliance published its Crediting Guidelines shortly after Getting Real ‘18. This time around, they have unveiled their Guidelines for the Documentary Waterfall. Marilyn Ness and her team have crafted an executive summary here.

Among the community-specific collectives that have emerged recently is FWD-Doc, which evolved from a convening of filmmakers with disabilities at Getting Real ‘18. Reveca Torres, one of the 2020 Documentary Magazine Editorial Fellows, spoke to founders Jim Lebrecht, Day Al-Mohamed, Lindsey Dryden and Alysa Nahmias about the goals and intentions of this new organization.

Given the “Possibility” pillar of Getting Real, filmmaker Natalia Almada is actually a bit skeptical about the possibilities of both engaging with cinema and engaging with people via video platforms. Sheltering in place these past six months and working on her film Users, about the downside of technological progress, have given her plenty to think and write about here.

Elsewhere in the issue, we salute milestone anniversaries of two vital organizations in the documentary space—Firelight Media, celebrating 20 years, and Catapult Film Fund, commemorating 10 years.

Yours in actuality,

Tom White