March 2001

The International Documentary Association's (IDA) 2001 DocuDay Academy Award® nominated documentary screenings are always an inspiration.   The venue, the Paramount Theatre at Paramount Studios, was spacious, comfortable, and state-of-the-art.  All five nominated features and four of the five* nominated shorts were screened on March 24th in marathon fashion from 10 a.m until a little past midnight.  This year's schedule allowed plenty of time for panel discussions with the filmmakers after each screening.  The filmmakers were also available in the lobby to discuss their work on a one-to-one basis.  Scottsboro: An American Tragedy was terrific and we were struck by themes similar to VilliscaSound and Fury was particularly interesting and well-done.  It was a tough call, but our picks for the Academy Awards® were Legacy (feature) and Big Mama (short).  Photographic highlights follow below.

*Dolphins, a nominated short, was playing at a Los Angeles IMAX theater and wasn't available at DocuDay.

9:55 a.m.

The Paramount Theatre and a picture-perfect Southern California morning provide the setting for DocuDay 2001.

11:55 a.m.

Roger Weisberg (left) and Josh Aronson (far right) discuss their feature Sound and Fury with theater-goers.

"Sound and Fury takes us inside the rarely seen world of the deaf to reveal a family at war over a medical technology which promises to end deafness.  Some family members see it as a miracle, but others fear it will destroy their language and way of life." *

*All synopses taken from the printed DocuDay program.

2:10 p.m.

Frances Reid (left) discusses his feature Long Night's Journey into Day.

"South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission from the inside out.  Following dramatically different cases over 2 1/2 years, we see the heights and depths of human possibilities as a nation collectively grapples with the great moral questions of our day."

Between shows, Tammy and I retreated to the park-like setting surrounding the theater for a snack.  Eating time was limited to about 5 minutes.  Packing a sack lunch complete with sodas and munchies is a critical part of planning for DocuDay survival. 

: )

docuday_05s.jpg (34735 bytes)
docuday_06s.jpg (18091 bytes) Inside awaiting the start of the next show.   Initially we were disappointed that this year's program would not be hosted again by the Director's Guild Theatre.  However, the Paramount facility was a spectacular venue.  Kudos to the folks at Paramount for co-sponsoring this event.
3:40 p.m.

An IDA moderator talks with Daniel Anker and Barak Goodman about their feature Scottsboro: An American Tragedy.

"The Scottsboro story documents nine innocent young men as they struggle for their lives.  A cautionary tale about using human beings as fodder for political causes."

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docuday_09s.jpg (33363 bytes) A view of the lobby between shows from the balcony.
6:15 p.m.

The entire group of filmmakers discuss their documentary shorts:

The Man on Lincoln's Nose--"Here we examine the cinematic contributions of one of Hollywood's most prolific and important Productions Designers, Robert F. Boyle."

Curtain Call--"This portrait of the Actor's Fund Home presents stories of those who helped lay the groundwork for today's world of show business."

On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom--"On Tip Toe tells the story of a man and his passion to create a new kind of music.   The leader of a South African singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo started with nothing but a dream and rose to become one of the most innovative and well-known musicians in the world.

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docuday_10s.jpg (34929 bytes) Another break in the lobby between shows.   The crowd seemed to build to about 200 as the day progressed.
9:25 p.m.

Mark Jonathan Harris (right) discusses his feature Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport.

"For nine months before the outbreak of World War II, Britain conducted an extraordinary rescue mission, unmatched by any other country at the time.  It opened it's doors to over 10,000 endangered children, 90 percent of them Jewish, from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia."

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docuday_14s.jpg (27722 bytes) Deborah Oppenheimer produced Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport.
11:40 p.m.

Tracy Seretean (center) comments on her short Big Mama.

"Big Mama documents a determined 89-year-old African American grandmother's struggle to raise her troubled 9-year-old grandson in South Central Los Angeles under the watchful eye of a cynical child welfare system."

Tod Lending (second from right) discusses his feature Legacy.

"For four generations the Collins family has been trapped in urban poverty, depending upon welfare and living in one of the oldest and most dangerous public housing projects in America--Chicago's Henry Homer Homes."

docuday_17s.jpg (18694 bytes)
docuday_19s.jpg (22162 bytes) 12:15 a.m

Yeah, we were a little tired by the end of the night, but it was well worth it.  It was an inspiring event that clearly demonstrated the power of the documentary film.

On Sunday, March 25th Deborah Oppenheimer and Mark Jonathan Harris received Academy Awards® for best documentary feature for Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport.

(The Academy Awards® broadcast is ©2001, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.)

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docuday_21s.jpg (21453 bytes)  

Tracy Seretean also received an Oscar® for her documentary short Big Mama.

For more information on the International Documentary Association, visit their website at:

Complementary use of high resolution versions of these digital photographs* is available to the filmmakers, their distributors, the IDA, or the Academy for publication or use on the internet by request.  e.mail Fourth Wall Films for more information.

(The Academy Awards® broadcast is ©2001, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.)

*Academy Award® ceremony screen shots are not available and are provided here for information purposes only.

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