Skip to main content

Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, Spring 2018

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

Since the last education-themed issue that we tackled, back in Fall 2013, we launched a column, Doc University, in which we spotlight documentary education programs across the country, some of which were launched very recently. What’s more, many of these programs have spawned a steady stream of innovations and transformative studies. In addition, media arts nonprofits have continued to expand their educational offerings and partner with these venerable higher places of learning. So, while the costs of pursuing a documentary education can be considerable, the opportunities to expand one’s creative and intellectual palette continue to evolve in groundbreaking ways.

Akiva Gottlieb spot-checks a few of the noteworthy MFA programs that have sprung up across the country, while on the nonprofit front, Bhawin Suchak discusses his dynamic new program, NeXt Doc, which he premiered in 2017 as a weeklong intensive immersion program for young filmmakers of color. Earlier this month, IDA helped to unveil the online resource “Mapping the Documentary Journalism Landscape,” in conjunction with the Jonathan Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at University of Missouri. Alan Goforth speaks to Center Director Stacey Woelfel and Enterprise Documentary Fund Director Carrie Lozano about the implications for the project for the doc/journalism community. Columbia College Chicago is the subject of this issue’s Doc University column, and Tom Gianakopoulos talks to Ruth Leitman, Documentary Coordinator of Cinema and Television Arts, about how she’s been positioning her school among the thriving doc organizations in the Windy City.

It goes without saying that one of the most important criteria in exploring one’s educational options is the quality and renown of the teachers. Joshua Glick splits his teaching time between a small college in rural Arkansas and a large Ivy League university in New York City. He shares with us his thoughts on what makes for an effective and impactful documentary pedagogy.

Educators also have their short list of docs that all students must see before they graduate—and oftentimes, these are the docs that stay with them as lodestars as they navigate their way through their artistic careers. So, we turned to the teachers and asked them to share their essential works. The respondents offered a wide range of selections—from the usual suspects like Man with a Movie Camera and Night and Fog to new online interactive works from collectives in Ukraine, Indonesia and Philadelphia.

Finally, our team of legal scribes—Steven Beer, Jake Levy and Neil Rosini—share their advice about educational distribution.

Yours in actuality,

Tom White