January 1, 1997

Short Takes, January / February 1997


IDA's attorney Michael Donaldson conducted a well-attended seminar in November on copyright and clearance for independents, sponsored by Eastman Kodak. IDA closed out the year with its traditional holiday party, with Board members—past, present and future—quaffing wassails, mulled wine and eggnog with members, the IDA staff, and the workers of International Documentary. Executive Director Betsy Mclane flew in for the fete from another diplomatic docu junket—this time to Amsterdam for the International Documentary Film festival and its accompanying Forum for independent documentary producers.

ABCNews VideoSource Announces IDA Award

ABCNews VideoSource will be presenting an award for the first time to be called The IDA Award for Best Use of News Footage in a Documentary. The award offers a cash prize of $2,000 to the producer of the award-winning documentary, along with $2,000 worth of research time at the ABCNews VideoSource library facility in New York City.

The new IDA/ABC award will be given annually in tandem with the existing IDA Distinguished Achievement Awards (sponsored by Eastman Kodak ). Entries will be accepted beginning in March of 1997, and the first winner will be announced in fall 1997.

"ABC News Video Source has had the opportunity to work with some of the world's foremost documentary filmmakers," said David W. Seevers, manager of sales and marketing for ABC News Video Source, and newly appointed IDA Trustee. "We believe that the historical, news based documentary is a vital medium and we hope that this award makes a contribution to the support of the field. Because of its deep involvement with, and commitment to documentary filmmaking, the IDA is the ideal organization to take the lead in this project."

In the two years since its inception, ABCNews VideoSource—which includes the tape and film collections of ABC News ­has become a prime source for documentary filmmakers and multimedia producers.

For additional information on the IDA/ABCNews VideoSource Award, contact David Seevers at (800) 789-1250 or Jane Maxwell at (212) 456-4725; or Grace Ouchida (Special Projects Coordinator/ID) at (310) 284-8422, ext. 5.

IDA Welcomes Roos and Seevers as Trustees

President and founder of Film Roos, Bram Roos joins the Trustee board having served as a member of IDA's Board of Directors. With more than twenty years of experience (Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, 20th Century-Fox, Lorimar, Trans Cinema), Roos has received an Emmy nomination and contributed his talents to such worthy causes as the Foundation for People and the Martyrs Memorial and Museum of the Holocaust of Greater Los Angeles.

David W. Seevers is Manager of Sales and Marketing for ABC News VideoSource. The company includes the tape and film collections of ABC News and is acknowledged to be the most comprehensive news and stock footage resource in the world.

GLAAD Honors HBO's Sheila Nevins

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) presented a 1996 Fairness Award to Sheila Nevins, HBO/ Cinemax Reel Life, on November 19th. Nevins, as HBO's Senior Vice President of Documentaries and Family Programming, has supervised the production of more than 150 programs, winning 35 CableACE Awards, 12 Emmys, eight Peabody Awards, and five Academy Awards. Among her most notable programs dealing with lesbian and gay issues are: The Celluloid Closet; Why Am I Gay?; More Than Friends: The Coming Out of Heidi Leiter; The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter; Cinemax's Singing Positive; and the new Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End.

HBO CableACES the Competition

HBO added two CableACE Awards to the three cited in the December issue of ID, capturing awards for Environmental/Nature Documentary Special (To Love or Kill: Man vs. Animal—America Undercover [Sheila Nevins, Roger James, executive producers; Anthony Thomas, producer]) and Sports Information Specially (The Journey of the African-American Athlete—Ross Greenburg, executive producer; Rick Bernstein, senior producer; Kendall Bridges Reid, Leslie Farrell, Paul Hutchinson, producers).

Other multiple winners included TBS for Documentary Special (Survivors of the Holocaust—Pat Mitchell, executive producer; Vivian Schiller, senior producer; Jacoba Atlas, supervising producer; Visual History Foundation, June Beallor, James Moll, producers) and Informational or Documentary Host (David Attenborough of the IDA Award-winning The Private Life of Plants). Turner's CNN was also honored for Non Fictional Short-Form Programming Special for Poisoned Pen (Pamela Hill, executive producer; Peter Bergen, supervis­ing producer; Kathy Slobogin, producer; Sean Daly, associate producer). A&E won awards for News Special (Investigative Reports: Seized by the Law—Michael Cascio, executive producer; Bill Kurtis, Kurtis Productions, executive producer; Michael Harvey, producer) and Public Affairs Special (Investigative Reports: Wife Beaters—BBC: Olivia Lichtenstein, executive producer; Helen Aappio, producer; Kurtis Productions: Glen Dacy, senior pro­ducer). The Travel Channel earned top honors for Magazine Show Special (The Other Europe—Dalton Delan, Billy Kimball, executive producers; Karen Hanley, co­-executive producer; Doug DePriest, producer; Night Light Productions: Ted Jessup, producer/director) and Recreation and Leisure Special or Series (Lonely Planet: Central Asia—Dalton Dean, executive producer; Phil Frank, supervising producer; Karen Thomson, managing producer; and Pilot Productions: Ian Cross, executive producer.). The Independent Film Channel won an award for Entertainment/Cultural Documentary Special for its first documentary, The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera (Jonathan Schering, executive producer; Havoc Films: Tim Robbins, executive producer; British Film Institute: Paula Jalfon, Colin Maccabe, producers).

Rounding out the rest of the winners, The Learning Channel took the award for Documentary Series (The Revolutionary War—Mary Ellen Iwata, John Ford, executive producers; Real TV: Carol Fleisher, executive producer; Paula Deats, supervis­ing producer; Alan Bardsley, Frank Kosa, co-producers; Tiffany Hoss, associate pro­ducer); AMC won for Educational or Instructional Special (Blacklist: Hollywood on Trial—Lewis Bogach, executive producer; Christopher Koch, producer); and John Hendricks of Discovery Communications won the Governor's Award.

DOX (Documentary Film Quarterly) Faces Crisis

From an emergency issue of the international magazine/newsletter (September 1996):

"In spite of major efforts within the last three months to secure new sources of financial help, we must now face the fact that the future of this unique magazine is in grave danger.... As a result of the restructuring of the European Union's Media Programme, DOX has lost the crucial financial support of the media initiatives Documentary and Map TV....

"DOX needs help! We are in urgent need of more subscribers, more advertisements, and—at least in the interim—finan­cial help from institutions, organisations or sponsors....

"Please contact us. Phone: 011 -49-208-471-934; fax: 011-49-208-474-113; e-mail : 100773.1253@compuserve.com."

Festival Watch

The WorldFest Charleston International Film Festival awarded Gold Special Jury Awards to Microcosmos (Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennou), The Heroin Wars and Inside Burma —Land of Fear (both Carlton U K Television).

The Banff Festival of Mountain Films wrapped in November, with the Grand Prize going to The Tsaatan—The Reindeer Riders (Boreales, producer), which was also award­ed Best Film on Mountain Culture. The Best Film on Climbing went to the South African film San Valentin, while Italy's Snowboard took the award for Best Film on Mountain Sports. Mountain Gorilla: A Shattered Kingdom was a double winner, taking Best Film on Mountain Environment and People's Choice Award.

At the Vancouver International Film Festival, an unprecedented number of documentary features from around the world vied for this year's National Film Board of Canada Award for Best Documentary Feature, which went to Predictions of Fire (Michael Benson, director). Daniel Cross's Canadian documentary The Street was awarded a special mention.

Member News

Ken Luebbert has spent the year editing the first season of U.S. Customs: Classified hosted by Stephen J. Cannell, also the first season of Cyberlife, produced by Termite Art for the Discovery Channel; he recently completed writing The Everglades for U.S. News's Forever Wild series on the Disney Channel.

David Rabinovitch produced documentaries for the entire television spectrum in the last year. The Diary of Aaron Bacon, a special investigation into the death of a boy in Utah wilderness program, for DatelineNBC, was honored with a Headlines Award. The Search for Shangri-La, made for the Ancient Mysteries series, was shown on A&E. The recently completed Crime & Punishment in America, an adaptation of the book by Lawrence Friedman, will air on PBS January 13th.

Producer Edward Rosenstein's A Tickle in the Heart, directed by Stefan Schwietert, wrapped up the festival circuit in London (following Berlin, Toronto, the Hamptons and a dozen other festivals) and began its theatrical run in Europe in November, on twenty-two screen in Germany and Switzerland. The film chronicles Max, Willie and Julie Epstein, who were the kings of klezmer music in Brooklyn 60 years ago, then retired to Florida, thinking that the music's appeal and popularity had died. Now, both klezmer and the Epsteins are making a comeback. The films being distributed in the U.S. by Kina International and open in New York on January 23rd.

Docs at Sundance: 16 out of 127

Recent announcement of the screen in os line-up at Sundance (January 16-26) included five documentaries by members of IDA: St. Clair Bourne's John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk; Arthur Dong's Licensed to Kill; Mark J. Harris's The Long Way Home; Tina DiFeliciantonio's Madonna Mia (with Jane Wagner); and Renee Tajima's My America (or, Honk If You Love Buddha). Additional documentaries to be screened are Act of Conscience (R. Leppzer); Family Name (M. Alston); Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary (L.A. Simon); The Fight in the Fields, Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle (R. Tejada-Flores and R. Telles); A Healthy Baby Girl (J. Helfand ); Hide and Seek (S. Friedrich); New School Order (G. Reticker); Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End (L. Kleinberg); Poverty Outlaw (P. Yates and P. Kinoy); Riding the Rails (L. Lovell and M. Uys); and Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (K. Dick).



The NEA and Benton Foundation Announce On-Line Initiative

On October 22, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Benton Foundation announced the nation's first initiative to provide community access to the arts on the Internet at sites in all 50 states as well as propel the non-profit arts on-line by helping them to become effective information providers on the World Wide Web. The project, called Open Studio: The Arts Online, is funded through an NEA Leadership Initiative award of $500,000, which the Benton Foundation is committed to matching as part of a cooperative agreement.

The two components of Open Studio include: 1) the initiation of more than 100 public access points to the Internet set up in arts organizations and community centers in every state; 2) funding for ten institutions, such as libraries, universities and community telecommunication centers, which will receive up to $35,000 each to serve as mentors to 10 local cultural institutions and 10 local artists, teaching them how to become effective information providers on the World Wide Web. The trainees will then mentor another organization or artist within a year of completing their own training.

By the fall of 1997, this program will generate an Internet presence for 200 arts organizations and artists with 200 more in training.

For more information, contact the Benton Foundation, 1634 Eye St., NW, 1 2th fl,Washington, DC 20006-4006; phone: 202-638-5770; e-mail : benton@benton.org.