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Notes from the Reel World: The President's Column, September-October 2006

By diane estelle Vicari

Dear IDA Community:

This summer, I took a cinematic journey around the world in less then 80 days, without the hurly-burly of crowded lines, airport security checks and late departure tickets.

While in New York City, I went to Brooklyn and met Imran, a young American Muslim confronted by his roots as he leads his community during the holiest day of the year. I also ventured back in time and dropped in on the exhilarating world of saloonkeeper Toots Shor.

A few days later, I bore witness to the moving testimonies of patriotic young Americans soldiers as they returned home. And I got a first look at wartime Iraq through the eyes and lives of ordinary Iraqis. Then, I encountered a different corps of soldiers--Americans as young as six years old who are trained and committed to join "God's Army." And on the other side of the world, in the villages of Anhui Province, China, I met children of the same age who are fighting for survival after losing their parents to AIDS. 

Shifting toward art and culture, I took in the paintings and life of African-American icon Purvis Young. With wonderment, I watched the accomplished dancer Homer Avila transcend an imperfect body into one of beauty and grace. With tears, I devoured a poetic presentation of Mario Petrucci's poem for Chernobyl, as I was reminded of the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear power.

Making my way to the villages of impoverished Ethiopian coffee-growers, I became aware that my daily latte would never taste the same again and promised myself to become an activist for fair trade--a not-so-easy promise to keep. 

Having grown up in Canada, I never miss an opportunity to meet and learn about American politicians and their direct shaping of the US social system. I spent over two hours of my journey with Ralph Nader. So much has been said about Nader and his controversial political reputation, but I had not been aware of his astounding legislative contributions to the lives of so many Americans

As I write to you, I am deeply grateful for what these worldly documentaries have offered me. I have been touched by human tragedy, courage, kindness, joie-de-vivre and a universal will to survive.

Please join us in celebrating these extraordinary documentaries on August 17 at the DocuWeek opening night party at the Arclight Cinema in Hollywood! Then, throughout the following week, come to the Arclight and take a trip around the world! See the inserted program for details.


I look forward to meeting you there!

diane estelle Vicari
IDA President