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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, June 2004

By Richard Propper

Dear IDA Members:

I have just returned from MIP and MIPDOC in Cannes. These two events really are the center of the international broadcast marketplace. MIPDOC is a two-day specialized market dedicated solely to documentaries. There were some 1,031 entries this year, and the market attracted 350 buyers from around the world. I met a great number of people, most notably, the programmers from the Arab cable and satellite channel, al Jazeera, which is launching a second channel dedicated to documentaries and is looking for programming about the world at large. As Jehane Noujaim's Control Room, a vérité profile of the channel, will be released theatrically this month through Magnolia Pictures, these two buyers seemed oblivious to the larger attention they will soon receive.

MIP, a larger general broadcast market, started strongly and remained that way throughout the week. Our industry, at the moment, is robust with activity. Almost 12,000 people attended MIP, and for many of them, documentaries are part of their world. Good for them, and good for us.

As organizations, IDA and EDN (European Documentary Network) have been friends for years, but cooperation has always been a bit uncertain, given the Atlantic divide. But as luck would have it, Sandra Ruch, IDA's executive director, and I met with EDN's executive director, Anita Reher, and chairman, Ike Bertels, during MIPDOC—on the balcony of the Noga Hilton overlooking the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. We discussed a great number of possibilities for our organizations to cooperate in the future. Most immediately, we simplified ways for IDA and EDN members to join one another's organization at a discounted rate. You will hear more about our future endeavors as they develop.

For those of you unfamiliar with InFACTTM, now is the time to become aware of this great event. InFACTTM was established to help independent documentary filmmakers get their short or feature-length films qualified for Academy Award consideration. If you have a recently completed documentary and think it is good enough for feature competition, this is the event for you. Unlike a film festival, InFACTTM provides a complete structure to exhibit and promote your documentary. Talk to anyone who has tried this process, and you'll see why InFACTTM is a success. The deadline, May 7, is fast approaching. If you are ready, now is the time.


Until next time,

Richard Propper
IDA President