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IDA 20 year timeline

By IDA Editorial Staff


January—Linda Buzzell places ads in Daily Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times announcing the charter meeting of a new organization—the International Documentary Association.

January—The US Film Festival, later to be renamed Sundance Film Festival, adds documentary competition.

Channel 4 is launched in UK.

US Households with Cable Television: 29,340,570 (35.0%)

February 6—IDA Founder Linda Buzzell chairs Charter Meeting of International Documentary Association held at Production Center on 8489 Third Ave. in Los Angeles; 75 people attend.

February 24—IDA Steering Committee meets to discuss establishing nonprofit status, building membership network, sponsoring a documentary film festival, establishing historical and archival resources, and hosting major educational conferences. Other committees that would later form in 1982 include Archival/Preservation, Marketing, Networking/Membership, New Technology, Programs/Screenings/Seminars, Publicity and Research.

March—Ben Bennett—Honorary First Member; Kristin Caperton and David Wolper—first Sponsoring Members; Jack Haley Jr. Productions and Charles Fries Productions—first Organizational Members; Peter Fowler, marketing director of New Zealand National Film Unit—first International Member. Other charter members include producer/director Gabor Kalman; producers/directors Frieda Lee Mock and Terry Sanders; current HBO Executive Vice President Sheila Nevins; producer/Director Andrew Solt; and producer/director Robert Wise.

March 27—First IDA Event: a gathering of IDA members and documentary exhibitors, in conjunction with FILMEX, the Los Angeles International Film Exposition.

April—IDA sets up office at The Production Center, 8489 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles.

April—First IDA publication, Docos, a two-page newsletter, printed. Linda Cirigliano is editor.

June 23—First IDA screening event, a festival of films and videos by IDA members, is held at The Production Center.

August 11—First IDA Seminar, on post-production, is held at The Post Group in Los Angeles.

September—IDA News is published as a quarterly newsletter; Linda Buzzell is editor.

Fall—Phillips and Sony release the first Compact Disc, for audio use.

October—First IDA fundraising event, a performance of a play by documentary maker Jules Maitland, directed by Robert Guenette, held at Celebrity Centre Theatre in Los Angeles.


Broadcast News Network (BNN) is founded.

Frontline premieres on PBS

January—First meeting of IDA Board of Directors—David Bell, Linda Buzzell, Audrey Coleman, Linda Grinberg, Brian Grunshor, Jack Haley Jr, William Kronick, Frieda Lee Mock, Niki Lapieneks, Larry Nieman, Irwin Rosetn, Larry Saltzman, David Saxon and David Wolper.

April 8—First Oscar Reception to honor Academy Award® nominees in the documentary categories is held at Beverly Hills Hotel; Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley officially declares the day “Documentary Day.”

April 9—DocuDay, an all-day screening of the Academy Award®-nominated documentaries, is held at Norris Theater at University of Southern California. Audrey Coleman and Paula Haller organize the event, and Mitchell Block and Ben Shedd are instrumental in providing the venue.

May—IDA Logo, designed by Hank Chu, is introduced with Spring 1983 edition of IDA News.

September—HBO announces plans to program one independently produced documentary each month in 1984.

September—Alan Landsburg becomes IDA’s first Documentary Patron, the initial incarnation of what would later be “Trustee.” David Wolper, Jack Haley Jr. and Linda Grinberg follow shortly thereafter as Patrons.

Fall—IDA News is now International Documentary, a quarterly newsletter; Linda Buzzell is editor.


A&E Television Networks, AMC and Lifetime Television all begin service.

HBO launches America Undercover documentary series.

Apple Computer introduces first MacIntosh—the first commercially available computer to have graphical user interface (GUI) and a mouse.

March—IDA publishes its first Membership Directory.

July—In conjunction with FILMEX and the Directors Guild of America, IDA produces Sports on Film program. IDA awards the first of its IDA Achievement Awards, which would officially be launched in 1985, to Warren Miller, Bud Greenspan and Steve Sobol.


VH1 begins service.

January—International Documentary Foundation recognized by the IRS as the nonprofit 501 (c) (3) cultural and educational arm of the IDA.

June—IDA launches a monthly Career Workshop to provide career consulting and skills training for documentarians.

June—Discovery Channel is launched, under the leadership of John Hendricks.

October—IDA honors legendary filmmaker John Huston at a fundraising event in Malibu.

November—IDA launches monthly Member Screening series.

November 20—Under the leadership of Harrison Engle, IDA launches its first IDA Awards for Distinguished Documentary Achievement (see Awards pages), Career Achievement and Preservation and Scholarship, with the funding support of Eastman Kodak.

December—Linda Buzzell steps down as executive director, president and editor of International Documentary; Mary Bahny fills administrative director position; Sandy Northrop assumes editor position. Robert Guenette is elected IDA’s second President.


June—Washington federal appeals court rules that the Justice Department may label as “political propaganda” three Canadian films—If You Love This Planet, Acid from Heaven and Acid Rain: Requiem or Recovery—that deal with the subjects of nuclear war and acid rain.

June—IDA Board of Trustees is created to “advise and counsel” the IDA Board of Directors, and convenes once a year in a forum setting. David L. Wolper, Jack Haley Jr. and Alan Landsburg are the first trustees.

June—IDA launches fiscal sponsorship program, thus enabling members to apply for grants for documentary projects under IDA’s nonprofit tax status. Filmmaker Les Blank is the first member to apply and receive fiscal sponsorship.

Summer—American Masters, a series of documentaries profiling American notables in the creative arts, begins airing as a weekly series on PBS.

December—IDA Board member Paula Lee Haller leads an IDA-sponsored three-week tour of China for documentary filmmakers to meet their counterparts in China, at the invitation of the China Film Association.


US Households with Cable Television: 44,970,800 (50.5%)

January 6—Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sub-committee of the Board of Governors votes to eliminate documentary feature and short award presentations from the national telecast.

January 6-13—IDA President Robert Guenette, Board member Frieda Lee Mock and Executive Director Mary Bahny lead a public awareness campaign, targeting the media and documentary community; Trustees David L. Wolper, Mel Stuart and Jack Haley, Jr. and legal counsel Michael Donaldson send letters to the Academy; AFI President Jean Firsetnberg sends appeal to Academy Board.

January 13—Academy Board of Governors votes to keep documentary feature and short award presentations on national telecast.

Spring—Denise Bigio assumes editorship of International Documentary.

April—Down and Out in America (Joseph Feury and Milton Justice) earns Academy Award® for best feature documentary—the first Oscar® winner to have been executive produced by a cable channel, HBO.

Fall—Mary Bahny Frederick is promoted from Administrative Director to Executive Director.

November—Ronald Reagan is re-elected US President.

November—David L. Wolper endows IDA/David L. Wolper Student Documentary Achievement Award; Gabor Kalman helps establish the international student competition for this award.

December—Robert Guenette steps down as IDA President; Chuck Workman is elected to succeed him as IDA’s third President.


True Stories, documentary series, premieres on UK’s Channel 4.

National Film Preservation Board, part of the Library of Congress, is authorized by an act of Congress to register and preserve classic American films in their definitive versions.

Summer—P.O.V., a series of independently produced documentaries, is launched on PBS. Marc Weiss is series creator and executive producer.

Fall 1988—International Documentary is distributed for the first time to newsstands in Los Angeles, San Diego and New York.

Fall—US Congress mandates creation of Independent Production Service (later Independent Television Service, or ITVS), through the Public Telecommunications Act of 1988.

September—IDA Awards Film Festival screens IDA Award-nominated films and an outdoor screening of Godfrey Reggio’s Powaqaatsi.

October—The American Experience, a new history series produced by WGBH in Boston and designed to feature the work of independent producers, premieres on PBS with The Great San Francisco Earthquake.

November—International Documentary FilmFestival Amsterdam (IDFA) makes its debut.

November—George Bush is elected US President.

December—Chuck Workman steps down as IDA President; Harrison Engle is elected to succeed him as IDA’s fourth President.


The National Science Foundation’s NSFNET begins its own Internet network, allowing public access.

Summer—“Culture Wars”—the far right vs. public funding for the arts, including public broadcasting, launched in Washington DC, as Senator Jesse Helms (R, NC) takes aim at photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Gilbert Serrano. The Culture Wars would last well into the 1990s, with Marlon Riggs’ documentary Tongues Untied one of the objects of attack, along with PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS.

Summer—IDA holds its first Master Class, in conjunction with Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors. The Class produces a 30-minute video, Power and Fear: The Hollywood Graylist, a look at ageism in the entertainment industry.

November—DocuFest, the precursor of which was the IDA Awards Film Festival, screens the IDA Award-winning films the day after the IDA Awards luncheon.

October—Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival makes its debut.

November—DocuFest Community Outreach Program, the first IDA outreach program, is developed in conjunction with DocuFest, in which IDA members take selected films and videos into schools and low-income communities in Los Angeles.

November—The Berlin Wall is torn down, thus signaling the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

November—First Australia International Documentary Conference held.


The Film Foundation is founded to foster greater awareness of the urgent need to preserve motion picture history.

Library of Congress National Film Registry selects first 25 films for preservation.

Microsoft releases Windows 3.0, the first workable version of its own GUI.

May—First Sunny Side of the Doc market held in Marseilles, France.

July—Mary Bahny Frederick steps down as IDA’s executive director.

September—Lora Fox is hired as IDA’s executive director.

September-October—Ken Burns’ 11-hour The Civil War breaks audience records for public television.

September—ITVS incorporates as a nonprofit corporation.

November—Amascultura International Documentary Film Festival (later Encontros Internacionais de Cinema Documental) is launched in Portugal.

December—Harrison Engle steps down as IDA President; Jon Wilkman is elected to succeed him as IDA’s fifth President..


Federal legislation expands NSFNET, renaming it National Research and Educational Network (NREN) and encouraging development of commercial transmission and network services.

First browser, or software for accessing what is known as the World Wide Web, is released.

The CD-ROM is developed as an interactive multi-medium.

Nonlinear editing, a computer-based, random-access system of editing, begins to change the way off-line and on-line editing is executed. Such systems as the Mac-based AVID Media Composer products lead the post-production market.

January-March—Persian Gulf War brings live coverage, via CNN, and invites controversy on control of public opinion and reporting.

January—IDA sponsors symposium on television news and documentaries, and the “Meet the Filmmaker” series, which screens short works by IDA members.

Summer—Denise Biggio steps down as editor of International Documentary.

August—Soviet Union collapses.

September—Lora Fox resigns as IDA Executive Director; IDA Board appoints Board member Betsy McLane to succeed Fox.

October—International Documentary resumes publication, after a hiatus, as a monthly publication (incorporating its monthly calendar), under the pro bono editorship of Nancy Wilkman.

October—US Congress passes law barring United States Information Agency (USIA) from denying certificates to documentary films for political reasons, from requiring films to present or acknowledge opposing points of view, and from attaching propaganda labels. The law is passed partly because of a lawsuit filed by several companies and individuals who claimed that USIA regulations which determine what films were of “educational character” were unconstitutional.

November—First Australian National Documentary Conference is held.

December—The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and IDA announce year-long collaboration in 1992 on a series of programs commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Oscars for documentaries, the 10th anniversary of the founding of the IDA, and 100 years of the documentary tradition in cinema.

December—ITVS announces its first “open call” for applicants.


US Households with Cable Television: 57,211,600 (61.5%)

February—Fine Cut, a documentary series, premieres on BBC2

March—IDA Board votes to consolidate IDA and IDF into a single nonprofit entity known as International Documentary Association.

April—Pare Lorentz dies.

April 29—Reaction to Rodney King verdict sparks three-day uprising in Los Angeles and other cities across America.

October—Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the first film festival in the US devoted exclusively to documentaries, is launched, with the assistance of IDA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Hot Springs screens IDA Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated films, among other works.

October 21-23—First International Documentary Congress, a co-production of IDA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is held at the Academy. Over 750 people attend from around the world, representing 24 countries and five continents. Harrison Engle, Jessica Yu, Lisa Leeman, Alex Gibney, Betsy McLane and Jon Wilkman serve on the Congress Committee for IDA. Participants include Henry Hampton, Michael Moore, Andre Singer, Michael Apted, Trinh Minh-Ha, Errol Morris, Jean Rouch, Eric Barnouw, Dennis O’Rourke, Renee Tajima-Pena, William Greaves, Patricio Guzman, George Stoney, Walter Cronkite, Marlon Riggs and Ric Burns, among many others.

November—Bill Clinton is elected US President.

November 18—Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors votes to drop the short documentary category from Oscar® competition.

December 15--Following a letter-writing campaign initiated by key members of IDA and Hollywood heavyweights, the Academy Board of Governors reverses its November 18 decision to eliminate the documentary and live-action shorts categories.


Sony releases Vx3 three-chip Hi-8 camera.

National Center for SuperComputing Applications releases Mosaic, the first graphical Web browser.

PBS is under fire from independent producers for not airing such acclaimed, but controversial, documentaries as The Panama Deception (Barbara Trent), Building Bombs (Mark Mori, Susan Robinson), Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons and the Environment (Debra Chasnoff). Building Bombs would eventually air on POV in the summer.

February 26—Terrorists bomb World Trade Center.

April—Diana Rico is hired as editor of International Documentary.

Spring/Summer—IDA, under board member Rich Samuels’ leadership, conducts Outreach Production Workshops at a juvenile probation facility in Los Angeles County.

October—IDA presents the Amicus Award to John Hendricks, founder, chairman and CEO of Discovery Communications. This special award is given occasionally to “friends of the documentary who have contributed significantly to our industry.”

November—International Documentary FilmFestival Amsterdam launches FORUM.

November--First Visible Evidence Conference is held

December—Jon Wilkman steps down as IDA President; Mel Stuart is elected to succeed him as IDA’s sixth President.


March—Sheffield International Documentary Film festival is launched in the UK.

April—IDA establishes a working documentary archive in collaboration with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

October—IDA introduces the Short Documentary category among the IDA Awards.

November—Republicans win majority of seats in both the House and the Senate.

November/December—IDA launches Documentary Workshops, which would later become “Docs from A to Z”—a series of seminars taking a “how to” approach to creating and completing the documentary.


Sony releases VX1000 DV camera; Canon releases XLII DV camera.

February—The Documentary Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does not nominate Hoop Dreams, one of the most acclaimed documentaries of 1994, for an Academy Award®, triggering an outcry from the documentary community and from critics. Academy President Arthur Hiller appoints a committee to investigate the voting process.

April 19—Domestic terrorism strikes home as anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh bombs the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 169 people.

June—Board of Governors of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences approves changes in the procedures for nomination in the documentary category. Among the changes: a split of the feature Documentary Screening Committee into a Los Angeles group and a New York group, with each group screening half of the submitted documentaries and selecting finalists to be screened by the other committee for final selection of the five nominees. Another change: starting in 1996, a documentary film must qualify by receiving seven consecutive days of theatrical exhibition in either Manhattan or Los Angeles County.

October 5—O.J. Simpson is acquitted on charges of murder.

October 25-28—Second International Documentary Congress, co-produced with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, held at the Academy. The Congress includes a month-long screening program, curated by Robert Hawk, entitled “In and Out of the Cold, 1945-1995: Documenting 50 Years of Change.” Congress co-producers—Betsy McLane and Mikel Kaufman. Congress participants include Daniel Schorr, David Wolper, Jack Haley Jr., Mel Stuart, Alan Landsberg, Marcel Ophuls, Michael Apted, George Stevens Jr., Alanis Obansawin, Marina Goldavskaya, Henry Hampton, Robert Drew, Allie Light, Dai Sil Kim-Gibson and Nick Deocampo, among many others. Congress includes outreach program with Los Angeles-area high schools.

November—Republican-led Congress shuts down government in face-off with President Clinton.

December—Mel Stuart steps down as IDA President; Lisa Leeman is elected IDA’s seventh President.


February—ITVS teams up with regional distributors to create fund for local co-productions between indies and their local public television stations.

March—It’s All True Documentary Film Festival debuts in Brazil.

Spring—IDA Outreach program, administered by Grace Ouchida, includes Documentary Workshop collaborations with Venice High School and Hollywood High School.

June—Discovery Communications launches Animal Planet.

July—Soros Documentary Fund debuts under the auspices of the Open Society Institute.

July—indieWire premieres as Web mag for independent film.

September—Diana Rico steps down as editor of International Documentary.

October—Timothy Lyons assumes editor position at International Documentary.

October—IDA donates files and miscellaneous data on the IDA Awards from 1989-94 to the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

October— is launched by filmmaker Doug Block as an online diary, and later evolves into online discussion area for documentary makers and professionals worldwide.

November—Bill Clinton is re-elected US President.

November—First-ever four-color cover of International Documentary

November—The DVD Player is made commercially available for the first time, in Japan.

December—Lisa Leeman steps down as IDA President; David Haugland is elected to succeed her as IDA’s eighth President..


US Households with Cable Television: 65,929,420 (67.3%)

March—DVD players made commercially available for the first time in the US.

June—IDA screens Pare Lorentz’s rarely shown Nuremberg at Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

July—IDA and PBS co-produce a day-long seminar: “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About PBS…But Not Known Whom to Ask!” presented at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Board member Lance Webster and IDA President David Haugland produce the event.

Summer—ITVS relocates from St. Paul, Minnesota, to San Francisco.

Summer—Jacques Cousteau dies.

October—Through the efforts of Betsy McLane, IDA launches the annual DOCtober Documentary Film Festival in Pasadena, California, based on an idea presented by Mitchell Block DOCtober includes outreach program with local youth and their families. This weeklong festival qualifies films for Academy Award® consideration.

November—New IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award categories are introduced——Limited Series and Strand Program. The ABCNews VideoSource Award also makes its debut, thanks to the support of ABCNews VideoSource, for the “best use of news footage in a documentary.” The IDA/Pare Lorentz Award also premieres. Endowed by Elizabeth Lorentz and Pare Lorentz, Jr., with the help and guidance of Sanford Low and Erik Barnouw, the award is presented to the documentary that “best reflects the democratic sensibility, activist spirit and lyrical vision of Pare Lorentz.” IDA presents second Amicus Award to Steven Spielberg for his Friends of the Shoah History Project Foundation.

December—IDA and the Getty Center premiere Concert of Wills: Making the Getty Center (Albert Maysles, Susan Froemke, Bob Eisenhart) at Paramount Studios to commemorate the grand opening of the new facility.


ReelScreen, a publication of Brunico Communications, is launched.

Apple releases the iMAC.

January—IDA debuts four-part seminar series: “Docs from A to Z: Putting It All Together.”

January—IDA/Academy Documentary Archive receives Robert Drew/Drew Associates collection of documentary work and film footage.

March—IDA premieres its website,

Spring—IDA collaborates with The HeArt Project, an LA-based nonprofit that brings arts workshops to high school students, and California State University at Los Angeles to work with underserved teens, teaching them the basics of documentary filmmaking. The resulting works are screened for the public. IDA Board member Thelma Vickroy spearheads the effort, with funding from Langley Productions.

Spring—The Cruise (Bennett Miller) and The Saltman of Tibet (Ulrike Koch) are two of the first documentaries shot entirely on digital video; both films were shot on Sony VX-1000 mini-DVs. The Cruise would later earn the distinction of being the first all-digital production released by a major distribution company (Artisan Entertainment).

April—MIPDOC, the first ever Reed Midem market dedicated exclusively to nonfiction television, premieres in Cannes, France.

April—DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival makes its debut in Durham, NC.

June—docfest debuts in New York.

October 16-29—In collaboration with HBO, IDA presents Frame by Frame, a showcase for documentary features and shorts, including selected works from DOCtober. DOCtober also tours locally to San Pedro and Canoga Park.

October 27—IDA screens newly restored prints of Robert Drew’s Kennedy Trilogy—Primary, Crisis and Faces of November.

October 28-30—The Third International Documentary Congress, IDC3, a co-production of IDA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, convenes at the Academy. Participants include Arthur Dong, David Wolper, David Grubin, Geoffrey Gilmore, Ally Derks, Chris Haws, Jan Rofekamp, Brian Donnegan, Mark Lewis, Barry Clark, Elvis Mitchell, Michael Ritchie, Julein Temple, DA Pennebaker, Albert Maysles, Penelope Spheeris, Les Blank, Nick Broomfield, Werner Herzog, Jon Else, Ricky Leacock, RJ Cutler and Vickram Jayanti. Programs include “Docs Rock,” an examination of significant rockumentaries over three decades, curated by Tomm Carroll and Andrew Thompson; and “Docs That Shook the World,” curated by Betsy McLane.

November—Chihuly Over Venice (Gary Gibson), a profile of Seattle-based glass-blowing artist Dale Chihuly, marks the first high-definition television broadcast on PBS. Frank Lloyd Wright, Ken Burns’ work about the legendary architect, is the first digital television program to be aired with enhanced digital content.

November—Henry Hampton dies.


Cable and telephone companies begin making broadband commercially available to home computer users. Broadband, which previously was available only to corporations, is the means for transmission and delivery of data over the Internet at ten times the speed of a 56k modem.

January—IDA and ReelScreen premiere and co-sponsor Documentary Pavilion at NATPE (National Association of Television Program Executives) Convention.

January—Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors votes to eliminate Short Documentary category from the Academy Awards.

April—Apple releases Final Cut Pro, a cost-effective, time-efficient nonlinear editing system.

April—Thanks to the support of Reed Midem Organization, IDA establishes presence at MIPDOC, representing ten projects by IDA members.

April-May—IDA presents seminar series in New York, expanding on the events and activities that IDA has produced there in recent years.

April-May—IDA sponsors Sun Valley Documentary Festival in Sun Valley, Idaho.

June—Digital cinema is introduced as means of distribution, delivery and projection via digital technology and electronic transmission methods. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace is the first major motion picture to be theatrically exhibited as digital cinema.

June 1— Kathleen Fairweather replaces Timothy Lyons as editor of International Documentary.

June 28—IDA opens New York office; Susan Berry is hired as East Coast coordinator. IDA continues throughout the year to shore up its presence on the East Coast through this office. However, IDA would have to close the office in November 2000 due to lack of funding.

June—Following an open letter from prominent members of the entertainment industry to the Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and based on research commissioned by the Board, the Board of Governors votes to restore Short Documentary category.

Summer—Discovery Communications launches Discovery Health.

August—IDA, in collaboration with the Hollywood Film Festival, presents WattStax, a rarely seen documentary about Black America in the early 1970s, set against a landmark concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and featuring commentary from Richard Pryor and performances by Isaac Hayes, the Staples Singers, Rufas Thoimas and other Stax recording artists. The film, directed by Mel Stuart and produced by David Wolper, is screened outdoors at the John Anson Ford Theatre. David L. Wolper is honored with the first IDA Mentor Award.

August—Independent Lens, a series of independent nonfiction and fiction work, premieres on PBS.

October—The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revamps procedures for determining nominees in feature documentary category. A committee of 50 Academy-member documentarians, at the invitation of the Documentary Executive Committee, would view the year’s eligible entries and winnow them down to 12 semi-finalists, which all members of the Academy would be invited to see, and then participate in the final determination.

October—IDA helps to establish documentary film festival in Beirut, Lebanon.

November—IDA establishes new Award category: Television Magazine Segment.

November—IDA screens DocuFest in New York, as well as in Los Angeles.

November—Doug Block’s Home Page is the first feature film ever to be released on the Internet (on iFILM) in its entirety before its theatrical release.

December—Kathleen Fairweather steps down as editor of International Documentary; Betsy McLane fills in as acting editor.


January—In addition to its co-sponsorship of the Documentary Pavilion with ReelScreen, IDA sponsors panel at NATPE on the digital future.

January—House of Docs, a forum, meeting place and information center for documentary filmmakers, debuts at Sundance Film Festival.

March—Pat Mitchell, president of CNN Productions and Time Inc. Television, takes the helm as president and CEO of PBS.

April—IDA moves to new headquarters—the Los Angeles Center Studios in downtown Los Angeles—thanks in large part to the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and developers Smith, Hricik & Munselle. IDA is the first nonprofit organization to reside at the Studios under the Percent for Art Program.

April-May—IDA conducts second seminar series in New York.

June—Betsy McLane steps down as IDA’s executive director, and as editor of International Documentary. Grace Ouchida is named Acting Executive Director, and Thomas White is appointed Acting Editor.

July— launched to connect documentary filmmakers and social issue organizations, via a database of documentaries and links to 700,000 nonprofit organizations.

August—The second Summer Nights at the Ford screening is a newly restored print of Robert Drew’s On The Road with Duke Ellington, courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive. The evening also includes music from a jazz ensemble and the presentation of the IDA Mentor Award to Drew.

September—IDA launches the DocStudies Program, later Docs Rock, the next big step in its series of Outreach Programs over the years. Docs Rock is funded, in large part, by the City of Los Angeles Development Fee Fund. Deborah Claessgens is program director.

November—, a documentary resource devoted to global storytelling, is launched on the Web.

November—George W. Bush is elected US President.

December—David Haugland steps down as IDA President; Michael Donaldson is elected to replace him as IDA’s ninth President. Grace Ouchida resigns as Acting Executive Director.


January—Michael Donaldson begins term as IDA’s ninth President.

January—Elizabeth Lorentz dies.

January—Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences grants “branch” status to documentarians, thanks, in part , to the efforts of Arnold Schwartzmann. Frieda Lee Mock is later elected to Board of Governors as governor of Documentary Branch.

BBC launches BBC Four, an all-digital channel devoted to factual programming.

February—Thomas White is officially named editor of International Documentary.

March—Court TV announces $140 million commitment to doc programming.

March—James Yee, ITVS Executive Director, dies.

April—Timothy Lyons, former editor of International Documentary, dies

April—Jack Haley Jr. dies.

May—Sandra Ruch takes the helm as IDA Executive Director.

May—Sally Jo Fifer named to lead ITVS.

June—Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors rule that documentary shorts may qualify for award consideration by winning a Best Documentary Short award at one of nine designated film festivals.

July—Soros Documentary Fund is transferred from Open Society Institute to International Program of Sundance Institute; the OSI will continue to support the Fund.

July—Erik Barnouw dies.

August—The third Summer Nights at the Ford program includes screening of DA Pennebaker’s Dont Look Back and the presentation of IDA Mentor Award to Pennebaker.

September 11—Terrorists attack the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington, DC.

October 6—US begins war effort in Afghanistan.

December—IDA presents first Pioneer Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service to the Documentary Community to Robert Guenette, and the first Courage Under Fire Award for exemplary pursuit of truth in the face of extraordinary danger to Saira Shah. Both awards henceforth will be given on an occasional basis.

December—IDA holds first Mentoring Workshops for Fiscal Sponsorees, coordinated by Mitchell Block.


January—Robert Redford announces formation of separate documentary channel under the auspices of the Sundance Channel.

January—The American Film Institute announces The Silver: AFIDiscovery Documentary Festival, to be held in Silver Spring, Maryland, in June 2003.