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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, November 1997

By David Haugland

Recognition of outstanding achievement in documentary filmmaking inspired the creation of the IDA Awards in 1985. This year's exceptional field of documentaries from around the world reflects the high quality and vitality of documentary-making today.

The 13th Annual IDA Awards are again underwritten by founding sponsor Eastman Kodak. In partnership with Eastman. IDA and documentary makers have developed the IDA Awards to a level where this year's Career Achievement Award Recipient, Henry Hampton, commented, "It's an extraordinary recognition. I feel a little uncomfortable being included among the quality of people who have been given this award, but not to the point where I won't accept it."

This year IDA is honoring Jonas Mekas with the Preservation and Scholarship Award for his founding and continuing work with Anthology Film Archive in New York. Mr. Mekas joins a prestigious list of previous recipients, all of whom share the distinction of commitment to documentary preservation and to documentary education.

The Board of Directors elected this year to bestow the IDA Amicus Award, our highest award for a "friend of the documentary," on Steven Spielberg for his founding and continuing support of the Shoah Project. Since its inception, the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Project has documented over 30,000 stories from the Holocaust in 35 countries. 

Responding to the growth in documentaries originated for television, IDA this year created two new categories: Outstanding Achievement in Limited Series and Outstanding Achievement for a Single Program from an Ongoing Strand. The high calibre of programs nominated in these new categories speaks well for the future of televised documentaries and establishes a high standard for television programming in the future.

With the generous support and guidance of the Pare Lorentz Panel, IDA will this year confer the first IDA/Pare Lorentz Award to a film which most closely reflects the democratic sensibility, activist spirit, and lyrical vision of Pare Lorentz.

Honoring the best use of news footage in documentary, the IDA/ABC News VideoSource Award is another first to be presented this year under the sponsorship of ABC News VideoSource.

Again this year the Feature and Short Documentary and IDA/David L. Wolper Student Documentary categories were rich with well produced, insightful true stories from around the world. Documentarians are boldly taking on personal stories, political issues, social concerns and historic events. enriching them with their artistry and bringing to audiences films which enlighten, inform and entertain. Congratulations to each of you for your passion, commitment and hard work which has given us such an extraordinary wealth of documentaries this year! 

Every year at the IDA Awards Gala, we honor the documentaries and the makers whose talents and works reflect the best of our field. The IDA and the documentary community truly have a lot to celebrate at our 1997 Awards Gala. Enjoy!


David Haugland
IDA President