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

By Michael Donaldson

Fall has arrived. The kids are back in school. And all good fans of the documentary art form have an opportunity to see some of the best documentaries of the year during IDA's fifth annual DOCtober™. DOCtober™ is a festival dedicated exclusively to documentary films. No fictional features need apply. About 15 films will be shown once a day for a week at the end of October. Both feature-length and short documentaries will be shown.

During the first four DOCtobers™, 42 films qualified for Oscar® consideration. Of those, eight were nominated, and two won. You will not be disappointed.

During the first four years, over 3,000 students were able to attend from elementary to high school level. The total audience exceeded 12,000. The audience this year will grow again with a new location. DOCtober™ is moving to the Laemlee's Santa Monica on 2nd Street in Santa Monica. There are great restaurants within walking distance, ample parking across the street and they never, ever run out of popcorn. So give yourself a big treat and join other fans of the documentary form. You'll be way ahead of the game when the office Oscar® pool starts up. You can say, “Oh, yeah, I saw that one at DOCtober™.”

Also, don't forget to put the dates of Friday, December 7, and Saturday, December 8, in your calendar. On the evening of December 7, the documentary community will once again come together to celebrate the art form, enjoy a great meal and honor the winners of the IDA awards for outstanding achievement in documentary filmmaking. The next day, all of the winning films will be unspooled in their entirety, location to be announced.

All of this comes amid the launch of one of the most exciting programs that IDA has ever undertaken. It was initially called the Outreach Program and is now called Docs Rock. The program brings a full curriculum of documentary filmmaking into high school classrooms. The pilot program will begin this month in the San Pedro area high school and spread from there. A kick-off was held at the Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro in May to an audience of students and educators.

Along with this program, the Fiscal Sponsor Support Program is also getting under way. It is an intensive, day-long workshop. The program is designed to build stronger grant-writing skills, successful fund-raising production and distribution. It is scheduled for Saturday, September 29, at Kodak’s offices on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. It is specifically constructed for the various filmmakers enrolled in the Fiscal Sponsorship Program.

It’s a busy time. Summer is over. Sharpen your pencils and your wits and join with the rest of the documentary community during this fun month.



Michael Donaldson