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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, January 2005

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

Twenty years ago, the IDA hosted a group of prestigious filmmakers and members of the documentary community, honoring them with the first IDA Awards. Pare Lorentz, whose lyrical, cinematic examinations of social conditions across America would inspire generations of filmmakers to come, received the first Career Achievement Award, while Erik Barnouw, the great scholar whose book Documentary: A History of the Non-fiction Film continues to be essential reading, earned the Preservation and Scholarship Award.  The award-winning films included 28-Up (Michael Apted), America and Lewis Hine (Daniel Allentuck and Nina Rosenblum), George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (George Stevens Jr.), Sixteen Days of Glory (Bud Greenspan) and The Times of Harvey Milk (Richard Schmiechen and Robert Epstein).

With documentary enjoying a groundswell of popularity, we salute, as we have for 20 years, the makers who have brought us to this point, and those who will lead us to new territory.

William Greaves, the Career Achievement honoree, has created a trove of work that celebrates, in large part, the African-American experience. St. Clair Bourne, whose own distinguished career was shaped in its early stages by Greaves, returns the favor with an appreciation.

As part of the breadth and scope of what the United Nations does, the News and Media Division of its Department of Public Information is a prodigious wellspring of more than five decades of history, captured on film. Bob Fisher takes us into that tour.

Throughout her prolific career, Alanis Obomsawin has celebrated the life and culture of the First Nation peoples among her fellow Canadians, while calling attention to the long history of injustice and inequality inflicted upon them. diane estelle Vicari, herself Canadian-born, talks to Obomsawin about the life and work that have earned her the 2004 Pioneer Award.

In 2001, IDA introduced the Courage Under Fire Award, an occasional honor given to those who have weathered extraordinary circumstances in pursuit of the truth. Filmmakers Jonathan Stack and James Brabazon traveled to Liberia to get both sides of the story of the recent civil war there—Brabazon embedding himself among rebel troops, Stack interviewing the now-exiled Liberians strongman Charles Taylor. Michael Rose talks to both filmmakers.

Finally, t6he Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award goes this year to two filmmakers who have shown the promise of helping to shape the art form for years to come: Jehane Noujaim, whose Control Room has helped to provide viewers around the world with a better , more judicious understanding of the Middle East-based satellite TV channel Al Jazeera; and Jonathan Caouette, whose dazzingly rhapsodic autobiographical documentary Tarnation has riveted festival and theater audiences across the nation.


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White