Skip to main content

Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, November 2003

By Michael Donaldson

Dear IDA Members,

This fall IDA launched a four-city theatrical exhibition tour—to commercial theaters in Del Mar, California; Little Rock, Arkansas; Austin, Texas; and Seattle, Washington—in which we screened many of the films from the InFACT Theatrical Documentary Showcase that we presented in August.

The primary impetus for this tour has been to demonstrate the theatrical drawing power of feature-length documentaries, and to prove that Bowling for Columbine, Winged Migration, Capturing the Friedmans, Spellbound, OT: Our Town and Step into Liquid are not flukes. This tour will also form the basis for a repeat visit next year—and perhaps an expansion to more cities. IDA is dedicated to increased theatrical distribution of documentaries; this program is one component of that effort.

The true beneficiaries will be the documentary filmmakers and filmgoers: We will bring the latest and greatest in nonfiction films to cities where audiences might not otherwise get a chance to see them. This effort also helps to qualify the films in the InFACT Theatrical Documentary Showcase for Academy Award consideration. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences requires that films screen for one week in either New York or Los Angeles. In addition, the films must either play for two consecutive days in a commercial run in four additional cities, or, if nominated, must wait nine months after the announcement of the nominees to air on cable, television or the Internet.

Two organizations that have been particularly helpful in putting the tour together are the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute and Cinema Seattle. Both have demonstrated a real commitment to documentary filmmaking, and we were honored that they took time out from their other commitments to work with us. A wonderful side benefit for IDA in undertaking this project is the potential for further activities and collaborations with these and other organizations across the country.

Just as summer turned to fall, we said goodbye to Sarah Pattison, who came on board two-and-a-half years ago. She was hired as office administrator, but that job became just a fraction of what she eventually contributed to the growth of the organization: She oversaw the awards process in 2001 and 2002 and made sure that this magazine got to newsstands, festivals and markets and, most importantly, to you. She also enhanced the IDA website and helped it evolve into a much more vital resource. Now she moves on to Florida. We are grateful for her tour of duty at the IDA and wish her much success.

And we welcome Tarra Bercegeay, who brings a solid background in filmmaking, multimedia production and project management to the IDA. Tarra will carry Sarah's work to the next level. We also welcome Charlotte Bowens, who will be assisting Janice Van Wagner in membership and marketing.



Michael C. Donaldson
IDA President