December 1, 1997

Short Takes, December 1997


The last week of October in Pasadena brought more nonfiction to that fair city than the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl combined: DOCtober, the week-long international docu-spool had crowds of the uninitiated filling the seats of the Playhouse District's State Theatre, and the Ritz Carlton recovered from the DocuGala of all Galas. IDA trundled up their reels and headed back across the hills for the flats, where they unwound untold miles of celluloid at the annual DocuFest at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: for thirteen hours on the 1 st of November, docu-enthusiasts enjoyed winners of the 1997 IDA Awards and the confabs with the filmmakers that followed each scereening. As anticipated, the closer for the day, Waco: The Rules of Engagement, brought out legions of rifle-totin', conspiracy­ spewin', government hatin' off-the-grid­ders for a couple of nerve-wracking hours of hyper-ventilation. Thus November was launched, after one of the more exhaustive Octobers for IDA in recent memory-well, at least since that memorable month in 1995, when IDC2: In and Out of the Cold, and the '95 Awards Gala, and the annual DocuFest kept IDAers hoppin'. Amidst accolades for jobs well-done, Apple Via (DOCtober), Kim Tamny (IDA Gala), Pam Steinman and Edward J. Holub, Jr. (IDA Awards) and the other IDA staffers repaired to their offices and/or callings elsewhere to catch up on the demands of clean-up, along with the chores of administration and the goings-on of the media arts world. ExecDirect Betsy A. McLane addressed the LA-based Cinewomen at its monthly meeting, as visions of fowl over­-eating and impending, tinsel-motivated credit card debt occupied the thoughts of the other IDA minions.

Independent Television Service Promotes Lois Vossen to Director of Communications

The Independent Television Service (ITVS) has appointed Lois Vossen to be Director of Communications. Vossen had served as Marketing and Promotion Mgr. and will now oversee all areas of post­ production activities for ITVS-funded programs, including broadcast, marketing and promotion, outreach, publicity and distribution. Prior to coming to ITVS in the summer of 1996, Vossen spent five years at the Sundance Institute as Assoc. Managing Director of the Sundance Film Festival and the Writers Labs. Prior to Sundance, she worked as Program Director at The Loft, the nation's largest literary center.

Archive Films Now Representing Los Angeles County Film Collection

Archive Films, the New York-based stock footage library, has joined forces with the County of Los Angeles to represent their library of promotional and training films produced in the 1960s and '70s, for stock footage and film clip use. Included in this collection are a wide variety of public service announcements and profiles of people, places and events in and around Los Angeles.

North Carolina to Host Doc Fest in Spring

With a projected $400,000 budget and endorsements from leading lights Martin Scorcese, Robert Redford and Ken Burns, the DoubleTake Documentary Film Fest will make its presence known to the docu­mentary world when it debuts next April in Durham, NC. The Festival takes its name from DoubleTake magazine, which itself was launched last year out of Duke Univer­sity's Center for Documentary Studies. Photographer Nancy Buirski and film pro­ducer Holly Ornstein Carter, both New York-based, brought the idea of the festival to DoubleTake founder Alex Harris two years ago. With Harris' blessing, Buirski rounded up some of the more prominent names in independent filmmaking to help lay the foundation. "We have a population here that's highly curious, highly educated and used to a certain level of cultural events," Buirski said in a recent interview. "It... makes enormous sense to do this in one of the most important filmmaking states in the country. North Carolina has really created a name for itself in film production, but it hasn't yet in terms of exhibition."

United Nations' Top Environment Prize Goes to Barbara Pyle of Turner Broadcasting

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced in October that the 1997 UNEP Sasakawa Environ­ment Prize was awarded to Barbara Pyle, Vice President Environmental Policy for TBS and CNN's Environment Editor. This is the first time a journalist has received this award, usually reserved for scientists and political leaders. Since joining Turner Broadcasting in 1980, Ms. Pyle has been at the forefront of environmental programming. She has produced more than 35 films, including Without Borders and One Child, One Voice, which have won more than 75 awards. She also founded Earth Matters, CNN's daily environmental news feature and weekly program on the envi­ronment. In 1994, she launched People Count, a series of specials highlighting success stories behind United Nations Confer­ences. Pyle explores the world to profile remarkable individuals who are making a difference to improve their own commu­nities.

Awards Round-Up

Sharon Greytak received an ArtsLink Collaborative Project grant for support of a documentary film made in collaboration with The Wheeled Mobility Center in Novosibirsk, Russia, and the West Siberian Documentary Film Studio. Titled The Resilient Spirit, the film will examine the aspirations and challenges of people living with disabilities... At press time, the fol­lowing CableACE Award winners were announced in documentary categories: Writing a Documentary Special—Sam Hurst, Ned Judge: The Coming Plague (TBS); Editing a Documentary Special or Series—Sandra Consentino, Stephen Consentino: Muhammad Ali: The Whole Story (TNT); International Documentary Special or Series—The Selling of Innocents, William Cobban, Elliott Halpern, Simcha Jacobovichi, prods. (Cinemax);

Festivals Round-Up

The Long Way Home, a film by Rabbi Marvin Hier and TOA members Richard Trank and Mark Jonathan Harris, won the Gold Hugo Award at the Chicago Inter­national Film Festival; IDA members Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys's film Riding the Rails won the Silver Hugo Award for Best Historical/Biographical Documentary Fea­ture; and Beautopia, directed by Katherine Otto, won the Silver Hugo Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Feature... Paul Seydor's The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage, took Best Documentary hon­ors at the fast Los Angeles International Short Film Festival... The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival saluted documentaries in its George Sidney Inde­pendent Film Competition last month. Honorable mention went to the following films: Canary of the Ocean, directed by IDA member Miranda Smith; It's Time for "T": The Story of Jazz Trombonist Jack Teagarden, executive produced by Stephen Charles LaVere; and Drive for Five, directed and produced by Mark Negrete. Third Place in the competition went to Surviving Friendly Fire: The Making of a Street Kids Theatre Project , directed by IDA member Todd Nelson and edited by IDA member Michael Hofacre; A Question of Genes, directed and produced by Noel Schwerin, took second place; and the first place in the competition went to Genre de Razon, written, produced and directed by John Grabowska... Hands on a Hard Body, directed by Rob Bindler, and Perfect Moment, directed by Nicholas Hondrogen, screened at the AFI Los Angeles Film Festival in October... The Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Film Festival screened Diamonds and Tiaras, a documentary about pop star—and Atlanta resident—Elton John.


Nancy Dickerson, the first woman correspondent at CBS News, died in Octo­ber following complications from a stroke she had suffered in 1996. She was 70 years old. She began her journalism career in ra­dio, producing a political show called The Leading Question for CBS in the 1950s. She quickly moved into television, serving as associate producer for Face the Nation. In 1960, CBS hired her to cover presiden­tial elections, and although rival networks ABC and NBC had already broken the gen­der barrier in their reporting teams, Dickerson (then Nancy Hanschman) was considered the premiere female correspon­dent in broadcasting. She also hosted her own radio show, One Woman's Washing­ton. She later joined NBC News in Washington, where she covered national news and politics. She branched out on her own in 1970, forming her own production com­pany and producing such documentaries as 784 Days That Changed America—From Watergate to Resignation, which earned a Peabody Award; Being With John F Kennedy, which she co-produced with IDA member Robert Drew; and Islam: The Veil and the Future, which addressed the role of women in the Arab world. Dickerson was also a fixture in Washington's fabled party scene, hob-nobbing with pols and pundits alike. She and second husband, John C. Whitehead, also maintained a home in New York City, where she was active in several charities.

David Gill, whose best-known docu­mentaries celebrated the rich history of the movies, died in September at his home in England after suffering a heart attack. Gill's thirteen-part series Hollywood, covering the evolution of cinema from its nickelode­ on days through its innovations in special effects, was broadcast on Thames Televi­sion in 1980 and subsequently aired on PBS. He later produced documentaries about Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. His films also addressed such subjects as Vietnam, South Africa and Northern Ireland, and his 1968 work about the River Thames (Till I End My Song) earned him Emmy® and British Film Award nominations. But he always returned to his real passion: the roots of Hollywood. With his producing partner, Kevin Brownlow, he restored such silent classics as Napoleon, Birth of a Nation and The Gold Rush as part of the Thames Silents series that he and Brown low produced. His most recent work, Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood, aired on television in 1995-96.

Juri'ichi Ushyama, famed documen­tary producer and founder of NAY (Nippon Audio Visual Productions) died on October 6th at the age of 67. For years NAY produced documentary films on travel, ethnography and social commentary. Films that he personally directed earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award from his peers in 1984. His most recent films concerned the neglect, abuse and looting of the Angkor Wat ancient ruins in Cambodia; also 160,000 Young Lives Lost in New Guinea, concerning the abandonment of the huge Japanese anny force in New Guinea, due to miscalculations by Japan's military. Ushiyama also made a film in recent years about the slaughter of Japanese women and children as they fled Manchuria (Manchuko) in the final weeks of the war. Ushiyama's work won festival awards and other honors in Europe, Japan and else­ where. He also founded and managed NAVI (Nippon Audio Visual Library) in Tokyo, which invited Japanese and foreign professionals to show their work and meet their counterparts. He is survived by Ichioka Yasuka, the co-producer of a num­ber of his films, including the New Guinea film; a daughter and a son.