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Letter from the Editor, April 2023

By Abby Sun

Dear Documentary Magazine Readers,

I’m Abby, the Director of Artist Programs at IDA, and I’m writing to introduce myself as the interim editor of Documentary magazine. First up: in this newsletter, you will find links to pieces from Documentary magazine’s winter 2023 issue, which focuses on reverberations from Getting Real '22. They include new provocations building off of conversations started at our biennial conference, attendee reports, and the publication of all three inspiring keynote talks from documentary stalwarts Nanfu Wang, Anand Patwardhan, and Erika Dilday.

We have temporarily paused printing Documentary issues in order to hold a series of visioning sessions on the future of IDA’s editorial operations. We held our first staff brainstorming meeting last Monday. After reflecting on the energy generated from that session, it’s clear that we are dedicated to printing magazine content in some form. Don’t worry—we have lots of ideas of where we can go, as well! 

We are able to do this visioning process thanks to the runway left to us by former editor Tom White. We are grateful to inherit Tom’s work, as well as that of the many editors who have built Documentary magazine from its inception as a photocopied newsletter, development as a monthly magazine named International Documentary, and blossoming into a quarterly full-color glossy sold on newsstands. There are columns that have been in continuous publication for decades, becoming an invaluable archive of the history of documentary film.

For example, Documentary magazine predates and covered the development of ITVS, cable broadcast of documentaries, and even non-linear editing systems (AVID). It’s an incredible legacy for a publication with a focus on the art of nonfiction storytelling.

As we concretize our ideas and ideals, we look forward to sharing the future plan for Documentary magazine with our readership this summer. 

The spring 2023 issue of Documentary will be online only and we’ve already started posting pieces. Next month’s Documentary newsletter will feature that themed content. In the meantime, we are still publishing festival dispatches and essays on new documentary trends. Read Anthony Kaufman’s analysis of sales news from Sundance 2023 and a tribute, in our “Passings” strand, to the impact of activist Judy Heumann (who was featured in Crip Camp) on our documentary and independent film field. 

Keep an eye out for a new strand profiling documentary production companies and the different ways filmmakers are sustaining themselves, more essays on new films, and pieces advocating for more globally connected, distributed, and equitable forms of documentary production and circulation.

If you have suggestions, ideas, and pitches, please reach out to me at

If you would like to advertise with Documentary, see our offerings here.

Until the next issue,

Abby Sun
Editor, Documentary