Reel World Notes, Summer 2022
Dear documentary community,
A little over a year ago, I began my tenure as the first Executive Director of Latinx at IDA. I accepted the position in hopes of addressing the systemic inequalities and biases that plague the documentary industry. But this endeavor was interrupted by numerous staff resignations, causing unrest and confusion throughout the community.
I humbly confess that during this time the Board and I struggled to effectively communicate to the community what was going on. This was due to legal constraints regarding confidential personal matters. I also regret not having effectively managed declining staff morale while working to rebuild the leadership team, deliver on programmatic commitments, and address the concerns of our members and the community. Today, however, IDA is on the way to addressing staff concerns and uniting our constituents.
Some of the actions taken by IDA include hiring a human resource consultant to develop and implement best employment practices. We are now well on our way to ensuring that our organization adopts appropriate policies for a nonprofit of our size.
When 11 IDA staff members voted to form a union last March, the Board and I voluntarily recognized their efforts. We embrace the organizing process and have hired labor attorney and workers’ rights advocate Kathy Krieger to represent IDA in the bargaining process. We look forward to negotiating in good faith so that IDA can continue to fulfill its mission with staff who feel supported to do so.
Our new leadership team is the most diverse and inclusive in the organization’s history. Abby Sun, director of artist programs, former programmer at the True/False Film Festival, directs the programming for Getting Real ’22. Keisha Knight, Director of IDA Funds, co-founded Sentient.Art.Film, an organization dedicated to expanding distribution opportunities for filmmakers. Director of Development Brian J. Davis honed his fundraising skills at nonprofits serving LGBTQ youth. Zaferhan Yumru, Director of Marketing, Communications and Design, joins us from the New Orleans Film Society, where he helped grow their audience significantly. Louise Rosen, Acting Managing Director of IDA, has worked in independent media and the arts for more than 30 years, beginning her career in international film and television as Director of Sales and Co-productions at Boston’s WGBH station. PBS, then launching his own distribution company and sales agency.
IDA also elected new board members and three new board members who are deeply committed to supporting the vital work of documentary storytellers. Led by Chris Pérez, Grace Lee, Amir Shahkhalili and Marcia Smith, the board adopts a set of best practices under the guidance of nonprofit board consultant Tim Kittleson, whose clients have included the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences currently sits on the Outfest Board of Directors as Co-Chair of the Governance Committee.
Throughout this transition period, we have delivered on our programmatic commitments. We concluded the open call for the Enterprise Fund and launched the Sarowitz Project Completion Fund. We renewed our grant with the New York Community Trust, which supports the IDA Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund, and moved to a virtual edition of the IDA Documentary Awards when the Omicron variant prevented an in-person event. We celebrated a special set of winners at an intimate luncheon at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival; and opened submissions for the 38th IDA Documentary Awards.
In September, the community will come together for Getting Real 2022. Our highly anticipated conference is an opportunity to address issues related to the present and future of the documentary field. This year’s theme, Flipping the Frame: Community, Imagination, Reverberation, encompasses the work ahead of us.
We live in tumultuous times: war, mass shootings, an evolving global pandemic, a wave of hate crimes against multiple communities, and the dismantling of abortion rights in the United States. We must not be seduced by misinformation or impulses to foster divisions. My goal for IDA and my leadership is to strive for reconciliation and restorative engagement.
IDA Executive Director