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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, January 2004

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

It's been a remarkable year for remarkable documentaries, and theater audiences have helped to keep the art form thriving. We close out 2003 by celebrating both those individuals who have helped to shape the documentary and the films that have exemplified artistic achievement.

As a natural history documentarian, Sir David Attenborough, the Career Achievement Award honoree, has transformed the arcana of zoology, botany and biology into some of the most compelling and enriching stories about the world around us. Terry Tanner Clark, who, with husband Barry Clark, have made their own impressive contributions to the natural history form, talks with Sir David about his work and the state of the genre he has impacted.

Mel Stuart, this year's Pioneer Award honoree, has had the good fortune of working with such mentors and colleagues as Henry Salomon, Burton Benjamin, Walter Cronkite and David Wolper—all pioneers in their own right, who inspired and encouraged him to shape his own style. At a point in one's 50-year, 150-film career where most people would look back, Stuart looks ahead, fighting the good fight for artistic credits, rights, autonomy and pay on behalf of the documentary community.

Michael Rabiger, the Preservation and Scholarship Award honoree, started out as an editor and then director for the documentary divisions at the BBC, Granada Television and other broadcasters. But it is his career as an educator and author where he has made a global impact. His books Directing the Documentary, Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics and Developing Story Ideas have enabled documentarians around the world, while Columbia College Chicago, his outpost for some 30 years, has emerged as a leading center for documentary education. David Heuring caught up with Rabiger to ask him about his three decades of educating.

Alex Rivera, who in his brief career has worked in a number of different media to explore the Latino experience in America, is the first recipient of the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Filmmaker Award. Kevin Lewis talks to Rivera about how his aesthetic evolved and how, through SubCine, a collective of Latino filmmakers he co-founded, he is working to enhance Latino representation in media-making.

Finally, Joseph Miller and IDA Board member Barbara Gregson pay tribute to 2001 Pioneer Award honoree and former IDA President Robert Guenette, who passed away in October after a valiant battle with cancer.

And congratulations to the honored films: Balseros; The Revolution Will Not Be Televised; My Flesh and Blood; Bus 174; Berga: Soldiers of Another War; AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Murder of Emmett Till; The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow; Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story; and BOM-EE-O-MYUN (Waiting for Spring).


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White