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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, May 2001

By Michael Donaldson

The IDA has been going through lots of changes and the positive manifestations are just beginning to emerge. The IDA party for the Oscar® nominees drew the biggest attendance ever; corporate sponsorships were also up. As a result, not only did we have a great time, but we made money on the event.

All of this was due to the hard work of our new managing director, Melissa Disharoon; the event’s committee headed by Rick Trank and Ann Hassett; Lynne Littman, who put together the clips and script; and a whole host of other volunteers who made the evening sparkle. We have retained the firm of Double A (Alexia Haidos and Alison Deknatel) as part-time development executives. We hope to be able to announce a new executive director for IDA in this space next month; we are currently in negotiations with an outstanding candidate for that position.

DocuDay was held in the Paramount Theater at Paramount Studios the Saturday after the Oscar® party. IDA screened every nominated film, followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. It was another financial success. More importantly, it provided visitors from around the world the opportunity to see these Oscar®-nominated documentaries on the big screen. They were a remarkable group of films.

And now a little shameless self-appreciation. You know of the strong representation of IDA in the final field of nominees for the Oscar®. Now the Oscars® have been handed out, and here are the results:

Feature Length Documentary: Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport—Deborah Oppenheimer, producer; Mark Jonathan Harris, director/writer.

Short Documentary: Big Mama—Tracy Seretean, producer/director.

Your IDA continues to grow in important ways. In addition to focusing on the financial strength of the IDA, we are establishing a mentor program for those who participate in the fiscal sponsorship program. A broad-ranging DocStudies program is being developed in Los Angeles to introduce students to documentary filmmaking at the secondary school level. Once it takes hold here, the program can be applied throughout the United States and then internationally. This program is being funded at $250,000 for the first year. It is very exciting to participate in this groundbreaking initiative.

Now let’s turn our attention to the next big event for the IDA: Summer Nights at the Ford. Last year this event honored Bob Drew and his film On the Road with Duke Ellington, which screened after a combo of musicians who had played with the Duke performed some of his most famous music. This year the evening will honor D.A. Pennebaker and his film Don’t Look Back, the classic look at Bob Dylan as Pennebaker follows him on his 1965 British tour.

See you at the Ford Theater!



Michael C. Donaldson
IDA President