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

By Michael Donaldson

Dear IDA Members:

Our Oscars® reception in March was our most successful ever, and thanks are due to Nancy Willen, Michael Rose, Richard Trank, Ann Hassett, Lynne Littman, Kathryn Galan, Jan Peppler, Richard Propper, the staff and all the volunteers. Thanks also to the Sundance Documentary Channel, the sponsor of the evening and of DocuDay.

With the Academy Awards® fresh in our memory, we’re already looking ahead to next year—and this fall, since the deadline for submission of prints to the Academy for Oscar® consideration has been moved up to October 1. This means that DOCtober™, our annual festival that enables documentaries to qualify for Academy Award® consideration, will happen in September. The deadline for submission is May 31. Also, take note that May 17 is the discounted deadline for the IDA Awards competition, and June 30 is the final deadline.

Some exciting events are coming up that will at once form the basis for both the growth of IDA and a more intimate feeling of connection among IDA members around the globe. As promised, regional gatherings of IDA members will take place, starting this month in New York, on May 16, and in London, on May 17. Our new membership coordinator, Megan Moroney, will e-mail members in those regions about the time and location of each of these events.

The overall goals of the get-togethers are both to network and to develop programs that meet the needs of the documentary community in the region. This summer, look for by-law revisions that will formalize this structure. Our attorney, Michael Morales, is hoping to have those to you by mid-summer.

One of the items that we will be discussing at these meetings is the recent decision by Discovery Communications concerning credits. Discovery, which airs documentary programming around the world 24 hours a day, has advised its suppliers that it will, over the next year, stop airing end-roll credits on newly commissioned documentaries! Discovery conducted a study, which revealed that a healthy percentage of the audience goes elsewhere during the credit roll.

IDA and Discovery have enjoyed a long friendship over many years. But this friendship has been based on a love of documentaries and mutual support for documentary filmmakers. Dropping credits does a serious disservice to the artists who work long hours, on minimal resources, to create quality programming. These documentaries are indelible slices of time, works of art that reflect the truths of our times. Let’s not forsake the people who venture far and wide, to paradise and to purgatory to bring back stories that tell us about our planet earth and the peoples who live here.

A newly formed Council of former IDA presidents, led by Lisa Leeman, will be specifically charged with working on this issue. We encourage you to write us at IDA, or to Discovery, with your suggestions.



Michael C. Donaldson
IDA President