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Notes from the Reel World: The President's Column, Summer 2015

By Marjan Safinia

Dear IDA Community,

As this edition of Documentary magazine is reaching all of you, we at IDA are excited to be revving up for the next leg of the organization's evolution under the leadership of our new executive director, Simon Kilmurry.

From the beginning, we knew that we were looking for someone with impressive knowledge and passion for documentary, as well as proven expertise in running a nonprofit organization. In Simon, we found our dream hire.

Simon joins IDA after an illustrious 16-year tenure at POV—the long-running PBS showcase of independent documentaries—where he served as executive producer since 2006. Simon also served as executive director of American Documentary (AmDoc), POV's nonprofit parent organization.

At POV, Simon was much lauded, winning a Primetime Emmy Award, 12 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, a Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking, as well as more than 50 News and Documentary Emmy nominations. He is also the recipient of five Peabody Awards, three Du Pont Columbia Awards, two Overseas Press Club Awards and a Grierson Award, and is a two-time recipient of the Best Continuing Series Award from IDA. In all, his remarkably impressive trophy case demonstrates his incredible passion and commitment to documentary.

Beyond the double-digit Emmy wins for POV, Simon led parent organization AmDoc to receive the National Association of Latino Independent Producers' Award for Corporate Commitment to Diversity and a $1 million grant for Creative and Effective Institutions from the MacArthur Foundation: an equally impressive demonstration of the skills it takes to lead a nonprofit organization while remaining nimble, responsive to the community, adaptive to change and true to the course.

For me, perhaps the most exciting aspect of Simon's work is his strong and long-standing relationships with an international who's who of documentary filmmakers and organizations. Simon's arrival at IDA signals a renewed drive for our organization to serve a broader community of filmmakers, across and beyond the US borders.

And to top it all, Simon's a genuinely great guy. He's truly one of our tribe.

We're honored that he has chosen to leave behind his beloved city of New York to join us on the West Coast, although I'm sure this winter's bitter cold on the East Coast made the decision a lot easier! Los Angeles is becoming an ever more significant documentary city, and we can't wait to introduce Simon to the arts community here.

So now all that is left is for you, our growing global community, to join us in supporting Simon as he steps into the IDA driver's seat. As we hand over the keys, let's give him a full tank of gas with which to implement his vision. I hope you will consider supplementing your annual membership dues or making a tax-deductible donation to IDA by contributing to our new Executive Director's Fund at the IDA. With the community's enthusiasm, coupled with Simon's vision, we're excited to see IDA shift into a new gear.

Buckle up; it's going to be quite a ride.


Until next time,

Marajn Safinia
IDA Board President