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Notes From The Reel World, Spring 2020

By Simon Kilmurry

Dear IDA Community,

We recognize that we are living in a time of enormous injustice, but also of potentially historic change. The deep injustice on which our society is built and that has been quietly tolerated has been exposed by both a national uprising against systemic racism and a pandemic that has hit communities of color disproportionately. Statements of solidarity are not sufficient. What counts is the commitment to do the hard work of making lasting change over the long haul. To support this change and the demands for racial justice, IDA commits to:

  • Amplifying Black voices. We will support partner organizations who are doing this work and the filmmakers who are telling their own stories. We will provide funding and advertising to independent Black-led documentary projects, production companies and organizations. We will leverage our relationships with funders, broadcasters and streamers to advocate for sustained funding and access for Black and POC-led organizations and filmmakers.
  • Doing the work. We will confront systemic issues and structural racism within our organization. We will confront systemic issues within our field. We will challenge the Whiteness that dominates the documentary ecosystem. We will evaluate all our work through a lens of racial justice. We will be transparent and share our plans with you. Our actions to date have not met the urgency of the demands Black and POC filmmakers, field leaders and organizational staff have made of our industry. We will build our work through collaboration. We commit to doing this work for the long haul.
  • Showing up for documentary storytellers. We will provide resources for our field that support collective action and promote justice and accountability. We will advocate for documentary makers' safety, health, economic and personal well-being. We will listen to and advocate for the needs of all marginalized storytellers. There can be no just future without their stories.

We recognize the inextricable link between economic inequality and racial injustice. We recognize that we are part of and make choices that perpetuate that broken system, like many nonprofits. It is an uncomfortable truth to acknowledge that, in order for IDA to survive, we rely heavily on income from sectors of the industry that perpetuate inequality. We will work to lessen our dependence on that income and to challenge those that wield the most power in our industry to engage in meaningful change.

We have an opportunity to make real, systemic change—let’s rise to the challenge and meet this moment with humility and purpose. Let’s do the work that documentaries do best—expose difficult truths, challenge power and shake the system—that’s our work.

As others have said, we do not want to get back to normal, because normal was not working for Black and Brown communities. As we strive to build a new normal, we invite you, the IDA community, to join us in this work and to hold us and each other accountable as we move forward.


Simon Kilmurry

Executive Director