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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, March 2002

By Michael Donaldson

Looking back and looking forward have always been linked in my mind. What’s the use of looking behind us if not to see where we might go?

These pages are filled with reminisces, reflections and remembrances of many of those who shaped the IDA. As someone who was recruited by Linda Buzzell a few short months after the formation of the IDA, I am proud to say that it is a joy to see the growth that has taken place. We were a very small group at the beginning. The bylaws needed some serious fixing. We soon launched a fiscal sponsorship program that was somewhat groundbreaking at the time. Today, such programs are common. IDA’s fiscal sponsor program has helped hundreds of documentarians to get their films made. Over the years, IDA has participated in projects around the world that help and support the growing field of documentary filmmaking.

This is the year that the IDA growth will follow a new and dynamic path. IDA is in the early planning stages for chapters in various international cities. The first outpost is being discussed with the New York contingent of members. In fact, there is a gathering planned for later this spring. We are hoping for meetings in London and in Paris in the spring also, and in Asia sometime after that. There are strong nuclei of members in each of these areas, so growth in that direction is a natural.

Our plan is to establish these chapters by following the same model that worked so well in the founding of IDA itself. Each local chapter will organize itself, elect its own members and run its own programs with help and support from the international headquarters. There will need to be some by-law adjustments. Our target is to send those out by mail during the summer.

New alliances are being formed around the world, and documentary makers continue to tell their stories, build bridges among people and contribute to better understanding among the people of the planet. It’s a way of making the world work for everybody.

But closer to home, you won’t want to miss IDA’s longest running event, the Oscars® Reception for the Academy Award® nominees in the documentary categories on March 21 at the Academy, as well as DocuDay on March 23, which screens those films all day long. In 1983, a year into IDA’s life, those two events helped celebrate the work of artists who weren’t getting the recognition they deserved. Now, the Academy finally has a Documentary Branch, and 60 years after the first Oscar® for Best Documentary was awarded, the documentary will be celebrated prominently before an international television audience. Now, that’s progress!



Michael Donaldson