‘Minding the Gap’ Wins Top Award From International Documentary Association

Bing Liu’s skateboarding movie “Minding The Gap” has won the International Documentary Association’s award for top feature of 2018. Floyd Russ’s “Zion” was awarded best short. Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country” won for be…

Bing Liu’s skateboarding movie “Minding The Gap” has won the International Documentary Association’s award for top feature of 2018. Floyd Russ’s “Zion” was awarded best short. Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country” won for best limited series and HBO’s “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” took the ABC News VideoSource Award. PBS’ “POV” won for best curated […]

IDA Documentary Awards: ‘Minding The Gap’ Takes Best Feature – Winners List

The 34th Annual IDA Documentary Awards were handed out Saturday night at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles with Bing Liu’s Minding The Gap taking top honors in the Best Feature category.
Hosted by actress and producer Ricki Lake, the ceremony also h…

The 34th Annual IDA Documentary Awards were handed out Saturday night at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles with Bing Liu's Minding The Gap taking top honors in the Best Feature category. Hosted by actress and producer Ricki Lake, the ceremony also honored Floyd Russ's Zion as Best Short as well as Netflix’s Wild Wild Country which won for Best Limited Series. Other winners for the evening included  HBO's John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls for the ABC News VideoSource…

How ‘The Judge’ Inspired Middle Eastern Women to Pick Up the Gavel

Director Erika Cohn explained the ripple effect at the IDA screening series.

Utah native Erika Cohn was teaching film in Israel and Palestine via a Rotary scholarship when she met the subject of her film “The Judge” for the first time. She was at a conference with a friend when Palestine’s first female Shari’a judge, Kholoud Faqih, walked into the room and took her breath away, Cohn told the crowd after a showing of her film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series.

“She had this unbelievable charisma and presence that just radiated about the room,” Cohn said. After the two women spoke, Faqih invited Cohn to visit her courtroom. The filmmaker showed up to the Shari’a courts with her camera and her conversational Arabic, eventually gaining access. (“I was underestimated,” she said.) While she occasionally ran into trouble accessing the courts (especially when the Chief Justice changed), she knew she had to persevere because she wanted to tell Faqih’s story.

“I know that this woman’s story is incredible and what is unfolding in her courtroom is the opportunity to see something that we will never get to experience,” Cohn said.

Read More: Morgan Neville: ‘They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead’ Is No Orson Welles Biography

While making the film, she realized that any time she strayed from Faqih’s story it didn’t work as well, which is why the background information about the court and the Israel-Palestine conflict is barebones. Instead of a primer on the conflict, she really wanted to make a film about Faqih’s struggles and successes so it would inspire women.

“[Faqih’s appointment has] created this conversation in Palestine that has had a ripple effect throughout the Middle East. There are women in Jordan who want to become judges,” Cohn said.

Ultimately, Faquih wanted to do the film because it was “an opportunity for her to encourage women’s leadership…without her having to be there. This is a way for her to reach larger audiences.”

Said Cohn, “I hope that women get to see more women in power as role models. It’s about representation.”

“The Judge” airs Nov. 19 on PBS’ “Independent Lens.”

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

‘Minding the Gap’ Director Bing Liu Reveals the Connection Between Skateboarding and Personal Growth

His film recently played as part of the IDA screening series.

Bing Liu didn’t originally think he would include himself in “Minding the Gap,” his documentary about skateboarding and intergenerational violence. But once he began filming his other subjects, he reconsidered.

Liu first began filming skateboarders six years ago, he told the crowd after a showing of his film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series in Los Angeles. He’d talk to them after they’d finished skating, so they were in great moods and open to his questions. Once he zeroed in on his two main subjects, skateboarding buddies from his hometown whom he’d filmed while growing up in Rockford, Ill., Liu was able to delve deeper into their lives — including some uncomfortable and intimate questions.

“What we do as documentary filmmakers is we toe this line between public and private,” he said at the Q&A, adding later, “putting myself in the film was a solution in trying to get at this tension between private and public.”

It also was somewhat of a necessity, considering his other two subjects, Zack Mulligan and Keire Johnson, were less communicative. Liu would sometimes go back to shoot, and they wouldn’t respond — so he began filming people from his own life.

“Sometimes when you’re shooting … there’s a moment that changes everything,” he said. That moment was when Zack’s girlfriend, Nina, told Liu that Zack had been physically violent toward her. The thread of violence linked the three stories — Liu’s abusive stepfather, Johnson’s father, and Mulligan’s own actions — and strengthened the film.

“I knew firsthand how a man can be one way in public and another way inside the household,” Liu said. “I knew that intimately, so I believed her immediately.”

He then took a 40-hour domestic violence class so he would know how to better deal with the subject matter, and began seeing a therapist. Liu also made peace with the fact that his subjects could potentially decide that they didn’t want such personal information out in the world.

Ultimately, all of this also helped him deal with his own trauma, he said. And Mulligan did not revoke any permissions after he viewed the final cut of the film.

“At the credits, he was crying,” Liu said. “He was relieved because he thought he was going to be portrayed worse.”

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

International Documentary Awards Focus Spotlight on Oscar Contenders, from ‘Free Solo’ to ‘Dark Money’

A short list of movies are consensus picks among early awards groups, which gives them a better chance of being sampled.

With the sprawling number of high-caliber documentaries flooding every platform and clamoring for attention, the International Documentary Association Awards are a crucial curator pointing other awards groups in the direction of what they need to see. Academy documentary branch members, who are inundated with hundreds of movies to watch, aren’t necessarily keeping track of which movies won awards at festivals along the way.

So far, the influential DOC NYC shortlist and the Critics Choice Documentary Award nominees also included many of the IDA’s feature picks: On all three lists are Stephen Maing’s NYPD expose “Crime + Punishment,” fall box office hit E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s vertiginous “Free Solo,” rookie filmmaker Bing Liu’s “Minding the Gap,” and Morgan Neville’s summer box office phenomenon “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” an emotionally wrenching portrait of the late TV star Fred Rogers.

Making two out of three are Kimberly Reed’s timely political thriller “Dark Money” and ReMell Ross’ “Hale County This Morning This Evening,” plus two summer hits, Betsy West & Julie Cohen’s “RBG” and Tim Wardle’s “Three Identical Strangers.”

In order to address the plethora of strong stories, the IDA has “expanded the number of nominees in the Best Feature and Best Short categories to ten films,” said Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director of IDA. “Documentary storytelling is a vital way to explore and make sense of our world, and these nominees illustrate how vibrant and essential films are to a healthy democracy.”

"Minding the Gap" director Bing Liu

“Minding the Gap” director Bing Liu

Emily Strong

The IDA is giving the Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award to Chicago-based filmmaker Bing Liu for “Minding the Gap,” his examination of a group of skateboarders, including himself, with wrenching home lives. “Minding the Gap” broke out at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where it took home the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking. Liu, along with co-editor Joshua Altman, will also receive the Best Editing Award for Minding The Gap.

And the coveted IDA Courage Under Fire Award — which is given to a filmmaker who demonstrates extraordinary courage in pursuit of the truth — will be presented to director Stephen Maing, officer Edwin Raymond, investigator Manuel Gomez, and all the NYPD12 whistleblowers of “Crime + Punishment.”

Winner of the Amicus Award is Chicken & Egg Pictures, which was founded in 2005 by Julie Parker-Benello, Judith Helfand, and Wendy Ettinger, and led by Executive Director Jenni Wolfson since 2013. Chicken & Egg Pictures has awarded $6.3 million in grants and thousands of hours of creative mentorship to 300 filmmakers. Filmmakers who have been supported by Chicken & Egg include Dawn Porter, Grace Lee, Natalia Almada, and Laura Nix.

Three-time Academy Award nominee and co-founder of New Day Films Julia Reichert will receive the Career Achievement Award for her five-decade career supporting stories about women and working people.

Winners of the 34th edition of the IDA Awards will be announced at the ceremony on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at Paramount Studios, hosted by Ricki Lake, director with Abby Esptein of the documentary “Weed the People” (Mangurama), which explores the medical use of cannabis in the treatment of children with cancer.

The IDA’s mission is “to build and serve the needs of a thriving documentary culture, provides year-round support, education, and advocacy for documentary makers,” and to provide $1.2 million annually in grants to support documentary filmmakers.

IDA Members can vote for Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short starting November 4, 2018 until December 3, 2018.

The 2018 IDA Documentary Awards are sponsored by: NETFLIX, National Geographic Documentary Films, Showtime Documentary Films, A&E IndieFilms, Participant Media, RYOT, PBS, and Archibald Family Charitable Foundation. The Official Media Sponsor of the Awards is The Hollywood Reporter.

The full list of 2018 IDA awards honorees and nominees is below.

2018 IDA Awards Features Nominees

“Crime + Punishment” (Hulu. Director/Producer: Stephen Maing. Producers: Ross Tuttle and Eric Daniel Metzgar)

“Dark Money” (PBS Distribution. Director/Producer: Kimberly Reed. Producer: Katy Chevigny)

“Free Solo” (National Geographic. Directors/Producers: E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. Producers: Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill)

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” (Cinema Guild. Director/Producer: RaMell Ross. Producers: Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim)

“Minding the Gap” (Hulu/POV. Director/Producer: Bing Liu. Producer: Diane Quon)

“Of Fathers and Sons” (Kino Lorber. Director: Talal Derki. Producers: Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias Siebert and Hans Robert Eisenhauer)

“Sky and Ground” (World Channel (PBS). Directors/Producers: Talya Tibbon and Joshua Bennett. Producers: Maro Chermayeff and Jeff Dupre)

“The Silence of Others” (Cinephil/POV. Directors/Producers: Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar)

“United Skates” (HBO. Directors/Producers: Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown)

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Focus Features. Director/Producer: Morgan Neville. Producers: Caryn Capotosto and Nicholas Ma)

2018 IDA Awards Shorts Nominees

“Black Sheep” (The Guardian. Director: Ed Perkins. Producers: Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn)

“Fear Us Women” (RYOT. Director: David Darg. Producer: Diego Traverso)

“Lifeboat” (Director/Producer: Skye Fitzgerald. Producer: Bryn Mooser)

“Los Comandos” (World Channel. Directors/Producers: Joshua Bennett and Juliana Schatz-Preston. Producers: Jeff Dupre, Maro Chermayeff and Jessica Chermayeff)

“Mosul” (PBS Distribution. Director: Olivier Sarbil. Co-Director/Producer: James Jones. Producers: Dan Edge and Raney Aronson-Rath)

“Sidelined” (A&E IndieFilms. Director: Galen Summer. Producer: Jason Goldman.)

“The Girl and the Picture” (USC Shoah Foundation. Director/Producer: Vanessa Roth. Producers: Devorah Palladino and Stephen D. Smith)

“We Are Not Done Yet” (HBO. Director: Sareen Hairabedian. Producer: Jeffrey Wright and David Holbrooke)

“We Became Fragments” (The New York Times Op-Docs. Director/Producer: Luisa Conlon. Directors: Lacy Jane Roberts and Hanna Miller)

“Zion” (Netflix. Director/Producer: Floyd Russ. Producer: Carter Collins)

2018 IDA Awards Series Nominees

Curated Series

American Masters (PBS. Executive Producer: Michael Kantor)

Doc World (WORLD Channel. Executive Producer: Christopher Hastings)

Independent Lens (ITVS & Independent Lens / PBS. Executive Producers: Sally Jo Fifer and Lois Vossen)

POV (POV/American Documentary. Executive Producers: Justine Nagan and Chris White)

“Why Slavery?” (The Why Foundation. Executive Producers: Mette Hoffmann Meyer and Nick Fraser)

Episodic Series

“Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” (CNN. Executive Producers: Anthony Bourdain, Christopher Collins, Lydia Tenaglia, Sandra Zweig, Jared Andrukanis, Amy Entelis and Lizzie Fox)

“Christiane Amanpour: Sex & Love Around the World” (CNN. Executive Producers: Anthony Bourdain, Lydia Tenaglia, Christopher Collins, Joe Caterini, Anna Chai, Amy Entelis and Lizzie Fox)

“ESPN Films: Enhanced” (ESPN. Executive Producers: Gentry Kirby, Alex Gibney, Brad Hebert, Stacey Offman, Libby Geist and Connor Schell)

“Last Chance U” (Netflix. Executive Producers: Greg Whiteley, Joe LaBracio, Dawn Ostroff, James D. Stern and Lucas Smith)

“The Confession Tapes” (Netflix. Executive Producers: Philip David Segal, Sarah Whalen, Jeff Bumgarner, Steven Robillard, Kelly Loudenberg, James Graves and Devin Griffin)

“The Trade” (Showtime. Executive Producers: Matthew Heineman and Pagan Harleman)

Limited Series

“Best Shot” (YouTube. Director/Executive Producer: Michael John Warren. Executive Producers: LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Andrew Fried, Dane Lillegard and Jordan Wynn)

“Bobby Kennedy for President” (Netflix. Director/Executive Producer: Dawn Porter. Executive Producers: Laura Michalchyshyn, Jon Kamen, Justin Wilkes, Dave Sirulnick, Nestan Berhrans and Gunnar Dedio)

“Flint Town” (Netflix. Directors/Executive Producers: Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper and Jessica Dimmock. Executive Producers: David Pritikin, Steve Golin and P.G. Morgan)

“November 13: Attack on Paris” (Netflix. Directors/Executive Producers: Jules Naudet and Gédéon Naudet. Executive Producer: Paul Barrois)

“Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story” (Paramount Network. Directors/Executive Producers: Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason. Executive Producers: Mike Gasparro, Shawn Carter, David Glasser, Chachi Senior, Nick Sandow, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton)

“Wild Wild Country” (Netflix. Directors: Chapman Way and Maclain Way. Executive Producers: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Josh Braun and Dan Braun)

Short Form Series

Guardian Documentaries (The Guardian. Executive Producers: Charlie Phillips and Lindsay Poulton)

Life Underground (Doc & Film international. Executive Producer: Laurence Milon)

MEL Films (Executive Producer: David Freid)

The New York Times Op-Docs (The New York Times. Executive Producer: Kathleen Lingo)

VICE News on HBO (HBO. Executive Producers: Shane Smith, Tim Clancy and Subrata De)

2018 IDA Awards Music Documentary Nominees

“A Modern Man” (Rise and Shine World Sales. Director: Eva Mulvad. Producers: Sigrid Dyekjær and Sidsel Lønvig Siersted)

“Bathtubs Over Broadway” (Director/Producer: Dava Whisenant. Producers: Amanda Spain and Susan Littenberg)

“MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.” (Abramorama. Director/Producer: Steve Loveridge. Producers: Lori Cheatle, Paul Mezey and Andrew Goldman)

“Mr. SOUL!” (Director/Producer: Melissa Haizlip. Co-Director: Samuel D. Pollard)

“Whitney” (Roadside Attractions. Director: Kevin Macdonald. Producers: Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn and Lisa Erspamer)

2018 IDA Awards Creative Recognition Awards

Best Cinematography

Winner: “Distant Constellation” (Cinematographer: Shevaun Mizrahi)

“Crime + Punishment” (Cinematographer: Stephen Maing)

“Free Solo” (Cinematographer: Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin and Mikey Schaefer)

“Taste of Cement” (Cinematographer: Talal Khoury)

“The Distant Barking of Dogs” (Cinematographer: Simon Lereng Wilmont)

Best Editing

Winner: “Minding the Gap” (Editors: Bing Liu and Joshua Altman)

“Distant Constellation” (Editors: Shevaun Mizrahi and Shelly Grizim)

“Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle” (Editors: Raúl de Torres and Daniel Urdiales)

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” (Editor: RaMell Ross)

“The Stranger” (Editor: Rasmus Stensgaard Madsen)

Best Writing

Winner: “The Other Side of Everything” (Writers: Mila Turajlic)

“Did You Wonder Who Fired The Gun?” (Writer: Travis Wilkerson)

“Of Fathers and Sons” (Writer: Talal Derki)

“People’s Republic of Desire” (Writer: Hao Wu)

“Wild Relatives” (Writer: Jumana Manna)

Best Music Score

Winners: “Bisbee ’17” (Composer: Keegan DeWitt) and Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Composers: Scott Alario, Forest Kelley and Alex Somers)

“Bathtubs Over Broadway” (Composer: Anthony DiLorenzo)

“The Distant Barking of Dogs” (Composers: Uno Helmersson and Erik Enocksson)

“MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.” (Composers: Dhani Harrison and Paul Hicks)

2018 IDA Awards Sponsored Special Awards

ABCNews VideoSource Award Nominees

“Jane Fonda in Five Acts” (HBO. Director/Producer: Susan Lacy. Producer: Emma Pildes and Jessica Levin)

“John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” (HBO. Directors/Producers: Peter Kunhardt, George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt)

“Love Means Zero” (Showtime. Director/Producer: Jason Kohn. Producers: Amanda Branson Gill, Anne White, Jill Mazursky and David Styne)

“Mercury 13” (Netflix. Directors/Producers: David Sington and Heather Walsh)

“Studio 54” (Zeitgeist Films. Director: Matt Tyrnauer. Producer: Corey Reeser, Matt Tyrnauer and John Battsek)

Pare Lorentz Award

Winner: “The Silence of Others” (Cinephil/POV. Directors/Producers: Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar)

Honorable Mention: “The Distant Barking of Dogs” (Cinephil. Director: Simon Lereng Wilmont. Producer: Monica Hellstrøm)

David L. Wolper Student Award Nominees

“Abrázame” (National Film and Television School. Director: Jas Doyle Pitt)

“Circle” (National Film and Television School. Director: Jayisha Patel)

“Forced” (UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Director: Grace Oyenubi and Nani Walker)

“Palenque” (Northwestern University School of Communication. Director: Sebastián Pinzón Silva)

“Walker’s” (University of North Carolina Wilmington Department of Film Studies. Director: Kyle Myers-Haugh)

‘Crime + Punishment,’ ‘Free Solo,’ ‘Minding the Gap’ Among 2018 IDA Documentary Nominees

The International Documentary Assn. announced nominees for the 34th annual IDA Awards Wednesday, spotlighting the best in documentary filmmaking. Among the feature nominees were mainstays on the circuit so far this year like Hulk’s “Crime +…

The International Documentary Assn. announced nominees for the 34th annual IDA Awards Wednesday, spotlighting the best in documentary filmmaking. Among the feature nominees were mainstays on the circuit so far this year like Hulk’s “Crime + Punishment” and “Minding the Gap,” as well as National Geographic’s “Free Solo” and Focus Features’ “Won’t You Be My […]

IDA Documentary Awards Nominations Revealed

The International Documentary Association is out with the nominees for its 2018 IDA Documentary Awards. Winners of the 34th edition will be announced December 8 duyring a ceremony hosted by Ricki Lake at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. See the full l…

The International Documentary Association is out with the nominees for its 2018 IDA Documentary Awards. Winners of the 34th edition will be announced December 8 duyring a ceremony hosted by Ricki Lake at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. See the full list of nominees below. Up for Best Feature — which has been expanded to 10 nominees this year — are Stephen Maing's Crime + Punishment, Kimberly Reed's Dark Money, E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin's Free Solo, RaMell Ross' H…

Paula Eiselt Reveals How She Gained the Trust of Brooklyn’s Hasidic Community in ’93Queen’ — Watch

The acclaimed documentary recently played as part of the IDA screening series.

More than five years in the making, Paula Eiselt’s feature debut is a labor of love about a group of Hasidic women in Brooklyn trying to form the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in New York. “93Queen” required her to film more than 200 hours of footage over four years straight — by herself.

Getting that level of access into the Hasidic community as a non-Hasidic person is unheard of, but Eiselt is Orthodox Jewish and understands the Hasid’s modesty laws and their customs. She earned the trust of her main subject, Rachel “Ruchie” Freier.

“There’s a lot I can relate to with these women,” she said at a Q&A following a showing of her film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series in Los Angeles. “I can give them a voice and get access because of my background.”

Ruchie was key to gaining the appropriate access to the women, who responded to Eiselt’s own background and her commitment to putting forward a fair portrayal of Hasidic women in the media, something the community rarely sees from an outsider.

“By being Orthodox, that was my entry in,” Eiselt said. “I understand the laws of modesty and I was able to respect that.“

And after Ruchie expressed disappointment in how the media has portrayed her community in the past, Eiselt said she could change that. “She was very committed to having an empowered story out there, so she let me in.”

93Queen documentary

“93Queen”

While the first half of the film focuses on the clash between the women trying to found their group, Ezras Nashim, and the all-male Hasidic ambulance corps, Hatzolah, the hardest part about gaining access for Eiselt was actually tapping into the internal conflict among the women. The second half of the film has larger implications than the ambulance corps, even as Ruchie, a lawyer, runs for District Court judge.

“What really drew me to Ruchie was her complexity. … She’s heroic, she’s groundbreaking, she’s a trailblazer, and she has flaws. She’s a human,” Eiselt said. “The thing that I really admire about Ruchie is she is not afraid to be disliked. … I wonder if a man would have done this how we would feel if we saw that ambition.”

Ultimately, Eiselt said, she wants her film to be one of many films about the Hasidic community.

“The Hasidic community is a diverse community like any other place,” she said. “It’s not monolithic, and there are many stories to tell about this community and many truths. … I just think there needs to be a variety of perspectives because no one film can tell a story about an entire community. It’s multiple stories.”

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

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‘Inventing Tomorrow’ Director Laura Nix Wishes Her Documentary About Brilliant Teenagers Were Four Hours Long — Watch

The acclaimed film recently played as part of the IDA screening series.

The people profiled in Laura Nix’s documentary “Inventing Tomorrow” are trying to change the world by coming up with solutions to threats facing the environment. They’re also teenagers.

They might be accomplished scientists and innovators who are addressing problems facing their local communities, but they’re also kids. That was just one of many difficulties Nix said she faced while filming the competitors from various countries at the International Science and Engineering Fair.

“When you’re filming with young people, ethically you’re in a different territory” than when you’re working with adults, Nix told the crowd after a showing of her film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series in Los Angeles. While working with children, you ask permission before filming everything.

“You’re always negotiating access when you’re filming,” she said — whether the scene in question is a fight between mother and son or a breakdown under pressure or something else less dramatic. “You hope that everybody understands what it means to put this moment on camera for other people to see.”

For example, there’s a scene between Hawaii teen Jared Goodwin and his mother while driving in a car that might not necessarily have been something Jared wanted to share with the world — but “in the end, I think that is a natural moment,” Nix explained. It helps show that not only are the kids in this documentary smart and ambitious, they’re also normal teenagers.

"Inventing Tomorrow"

“Inventing Tomorrow”

Sundance

It also exemplifies the balance that Nix and her editors needed to strike between showing the pressure of the competition and showing the kids in their normal lives. It’s also why she wanted to follow the kids back home after the competition and not just end on a winning or a losing moment.

“Of course my favorite version of the film is the four-hour version of the film,” Nix said, because the kids “have rich lives. You just have to be careful about what you use.”

Something else she realized while filming “Inventing Tomorrow”: Today’s teens are extremely conscious about the problems facing the world.

“What struck me when I met the crew of people I was following is they have a very unique perspective on this issue,” she said. “It took me my whole life to understand that I’m growing up in the world where there’s climate change. … But if you’re Jared’s age you’re already thinking about … what I can do?”

It’s a lesson we can all learn: Pay attention to the planet, and pay attention to the next generation. Said Nix, “It’s our job to listen to them and act accordingly.”

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

‘Shirkers’ Director Sandi Tan on How Her Film Was Lost — and Found, After 25 Years

The Sundance hit recently played as part of the IDA’s screening series.

In 1992, teenager Sandi Tan and her two film-loving best friends spent their summer break making an independent film in their home of Singapore. It would have been one of the country’s first independent films if it had been completed. After filming, their director and film teacher Georges Cardona stole their completed footage. When Tan got the footage back two decades later, she decided to make a documentary about the making of her movie — and what exactly happened to it afterward.

After a screening of her documentary, “Shirkers” (named after the original movie), as part of the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series in Los Angeles, Tan said the main question she’s gotten at Q&As is why she and her friends didn’t search harder for the man who stole their movie.

“A lot of people don’t seem to remember that in the ’90s, the Internet didn’t exist yet,” she said. “It was hard to look for someone who had vanished.”

Also, few understood that they had written a script, auditioned and hired actors, corralled hundreds of extras, secured the 70 rolls of film they shot for free from film companies, and filmed at 100 different locations across Singapore. Not many people were willing to help.

For years after, Tan felt almost as if she’d dreamed the entire thing. And while she dreamed of making films, she became a film critic for a time, then went to film school at Columbia, and eventually became a novelist. But once she got the footage back, her childhood dreams resurfaced. She realized she had to investigate what happened with Cardona not only for herself, but for everyone involved in making the original movie. That was easier said than done.

"Shirkers"

“Shirkers”

Sundance

“It was really hard to convince people I could make this when I had nothing to show for it,” she said. She made the documentary with the same punk-kid spirit she had when she and her friends made the film back in the ’90s — and even hired a barista with one credit (but a lot of passion) to help her edit the movie.

“The whole process of making this movie was really empowering,” she said, which allowed her to rediscover her “love for making movies. … I got to find a new tribe of people to bring this to life with.”

While Cardona painstakingly stored the film in climate-controlled areas for two decades, the sound was lost to time. So while some people have suggested Tan try to edit the original movie together, it seems like an impossible task.

“I think that would be a fun project,” she said — although it would be incredibly time-consuming to match the soundless footage with what was in the script. Tan is definitely interested, though resistant, to the idea of dubbing it, since it could very easily feel tacky. She does, however, think it could work as a silent film.

At this point, though, she’s happy that “Shirkers” (the documentary) can serve as an inspiration for people to finish their own long-gestating projects, especially people who don’t live in filmmaking hubs like New York or Los Angeles. When it debuts on Netflix Oct. 26, it will be available in 195 countries and 25 languages.

“I just want people to watch this movie, people [from] small places like me,” she said.

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

‘On Her Shoulders’: How One Remarkable Woman Can Save the Yazidi People of Iraq

Alexandria Bombach’s documentary, which is part of the IDA Screening Series, has put a spotlight on Nadia Murad and the plight of her people.

Most people who see Alexandria Bombach’s “On Her Shoulders,” about young activist and UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad, have likely never heard of the Yazidi people. Bombach herself hadn’t heard about the small religious group from Northern Iraq until she began making her documentary about Nadia’s quest to bring awareness of the group’s genocide by ISIS in 2014.

At a Q&A after an IDA screening in Los Angeles, Bombach and producer Hayley Pappas, head of RYOT Films, told the audience that the stated intention was to make a short. But Bombach made her first cut in secret — and once Papas and the team at RYOT saw the feature-length version, they knew she was right.

In August 2014, ISIS fighters invaded the Sinjar region and eventually made their way to Nadia’s village, where they rounded up and killed most of the men and elderly people before holding the women captive as sex slaves. Nadia escaped and was sent to Germany for therapy, where she realized the only way she would be able to heal would not be through talking with a therapist about her own feelings but rather speaking out for the rest of the women in captivity. She soon became the Yazidi people’s most vocal activist, speaking before the U.N. and urging world leaders to acknowledge the genocide and send help.

Bombach and Papas began filming Nadia in early 2016. The film shows Nadia traveling the world and recounting her rape in detail to journalists in many countries, something that made the director cringe as her subject had to repeat the details over and over again.

“When I saw her go through these interviews, I was shocked,” Bombach said. “Watching her through a long lens go through that really was confronting for me as a storyteller.” It made her wonder why the journalists had to force Nadia to relive her trauma over and over again rather than ask about what she viewed as a solution to the problem. “Why do you need to know how she was raped? Why do you need to know how long she was in captivity? … It’s a strange thing that has happened to our packaging of traumatic stories.”

So while the film gives background on the massacre that Nadia survived, it doesn’t dwell. Instead, it focuses on Nadia as a normal young woman, albeit a perpetually sad one with a seemingly steely demeanor. Bombach viewed this as a purposeful choice lest her fellow displaced survivors, who are mainly living in refugee camps all around Europe, think her mind wasn’t on the plight of her people at all times.

“On Her Shoulders”

CIFF

“A lot of the film to me is about the pressures of survivor’s guilt and the effect of that. I saw her laugh a lot more when the camera was turned off, and feel joy, but at the same time it never left her,” Bombach said. “You could always tell that she was thinking about it.”

The film follows Nadia as she speaks in front of the U.N. multiple times, eventually gaining a strong ally in human-rights attorney Amal Clooney, whose high profile and years of experience are helping Nadia in ways she never could have achieved on her own. “She is brilliant,” said Bombach. “She knows what she’s doing and she is probably the best hope that [the Yazidis] have.”

Now, Bombach said, Nadia doesn’t have to talk to every concerned journalist about her experience. She’s only speaking with world leaders and working with the foundation she started, NadiasInitiative.org, to help her people de-mine her home of the Sinjar region in Iraq, which ISIS left completely destroyed.

“She’s not doing these interviews with, like, a college student or anything like that. She’s meeting with presidents and that’s it,” Bombach said. “She’s not coming to screenings. She didn’t even come to Sundance, and I’m very proud of her and thankful that she has that ownership over her life.”

The film, which releases theatrically in mid-October, has Nadia’s endorsement. She thought it was “very powerful” when she watched the film (a nervewracking prospect for Bombach, because Nadia didn’t move or speak the entire time), and is now focused on reconstruction of her home. She knows it’s an uphill battle for people who don’t have a lot of weight in the world.

As for Bombach, “I’m very interested as a filmmaker in stories about storytelling and how we are using apathy or empathy right now in such a critical time.”

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’: Morgan Neville’s Fred Rogers Documentary Opens IDA Screening Series

Neville discussed his acclaimed film about Fred Rogers, and the influence of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Like many Americans born around the time that “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” premiered in February 1968, filmmaker Morgan Neville has a long history with the children’s television pioneer. He loved the show as a child, but hadn’t thought much about it as an adult — until he was making “The Music of Strangers” with Yo-Yo Ma and discovered that the cellist was close friends with Rogers for decades. A clip he included of Rogers in that documentary received some of the biggest audience reaction — and Neville decided, with the aid of an introduction by Ma and his son, that he’d like to make a film about Mr. Rogers’ show.

Once he secured the cooperation of Rogers’ family, that film became “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” the documentary that opened the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series in Los Angeles September 12. After screening his movie, Neville discussed the ways in which it helped him deal with an increasingly fraught political climate and why Rogers’ legacy endures to this day.

In 2015, Neville found himself in a YouTube spiral of commencement addresses given by the beloved TV host. “Can you make a serious film about someone people don’t take seriously?” he mused in front of the sold-out crowd at the post-screening Q&A. “This film was my way of dealing with the culture.”

After meeting with Rogers’ family and telling that he didn’t “want to make a film that’s a biography of Fred Rogers; I want to make a film about his ideas,” they trusted him completely. Their only request: Rogers’ widow, Joanne, asked Neville not to treat her late husband, who died in 2003, as a saint. “To keep him as someone who existed on another plane is to absolve us from living up to that,” he explained.

The documentary doesn’t focus much on Rogers’ early life, instead beginning with his foray into television rather than Rogers going into seminary after high school. It explores his quest to show young children how to deal with their feelings — and that it was okay to have them.

“He leaned into the messy things and he was happy living there in this place where you had to figure out how to feel about it and learn how to deal with those things,” Neville said, adding, “he essentially looked at the world as divided between love and fear, the two great forces.”

Rogers was a man who walked the walk — Neville said he learned that, at one point in time, Rogers received more mail than anybody in America. “And he personally responded to everyone,” Neville said. “He didn’t see it as an obligation. He saw it as his work … the TV was just there as a tool to give people help.”

Many of Rogers’ philosophies were ahead of his time. Today, people pay to download mindfulness apps on their phones, but Rogers encouraged that practice 50 years ago.

Ultimately, Neville said, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a reminder that the political divide in America is a result of people thinking the center can always hold — but it obviously can’t.

“How can we advocate and remind ourselves that it takes work to keep us together?” he asked. “And that’s what Fred did.”

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

International Documentary Association Announces Keynotes For Getting Real Conference

The International Documentary Association has announced the keynote speakers for the biennial Getting Real ’18 conference which takes place Sept. 25-27 in Los Angeles.
The three-day conference will welcome acclaimed curator and film scholar Chi-h…

The International Documentary Association has announced the keynote speakers for the biennial Getting Real ’18 conference which takes place Sept. 25-27 in Los Angeles. The three-day conference will welcome acclaimed curator and film scholar Chi-hui Yang,  award-winning filmmaker and human rights attorney Michèle Stephenson, and Executive Producer and founder of A&E IndieFilms Molly Thompson. Getting Real is the largest conference in North America focused on documentary…

International Documentary Association Names Kevin Iwashina President; James Costa And Lauren Lexton Elected As Co-VPs

The International Documentary Association announced today that Kevin Iwashina has been appointed as President of the Board of Directors. He steps in for Marjan Safinia whose term ends this year. The IDA also announced that filmmaker and philanthropist James Costa and producer and Authentic Entertainment CEO Lauren Lexton have been elected as Co-Vice Presidents.
“I could not be more honored to be appointed the President of the IDA at this critical moment in documentary…

The International Documentary Association announced today that Kevin Iwashina has been appointed as President of the Board of Directors. He steps in for Marjan Safinia whose term ends this year. The IDA also announced that filmmaker and philanthropist James Costa and producer and Authentic Entertainment CEO Lauren Lexton have been elected as Co-Vice Presidents. “I could not be more honored to be appointed the President of the IDA at this critical moment in documentary…

International Documentary Association Gives Grants to 13 Films

The International Documentary Association has announced 13 grants to films worth a combined $205,000 and aimed at furthering inclusion and diversity, Variety has learned exclusively. The grants come from the IDA’s Enterprise Documentary Fund and Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund. The selected projects include 11 female directors, 11 directors and/or producers of color, and two directors […]

The International Documentary Association has announced 13 grants to films worth a combined $205,000 and aimed at furthering inclusion and diversity, Variety has learned exclusively. The grants come from the IDA’s Enterprise Documentary Fund and Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund. The selected projects include 11 female directors, 11 directors and/or producers of color, and two directors […]

‘Dina’ Wins Best IDA Award for Best Feature

Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles’ documentary “Dina” has won the International Documentary Association’s award for top feature of 2017. Laura Checkoway’s “Edith+Eddie” won for best short. Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin’s  “LA 92” won the ABC News VideoSource award and PBS’ “Independent Lens” won for best curated series. HBO’s “The Defiant Ones” won for best […]

Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles’ documentary “Dina” has won the International Documentary Association’s award for top feature of 2017. Laura Checkoway’s “Edith+Eddie” won for best short. Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin’s  “LA 92” won the ABC News VideoSource award and PBS’ “Independent Lens” won for best curated series. HBO’s “The Defiant Ones” won for best […]

‘Machines’ Director Rahul Jain Wanted to Ask a Very Simple Question With His Film — Watch

The director discussed his documentary at a recent IDA screening.

When “Machines” director Rahul Jain was growing up in India, he spent plenty of time as a child in his grandfather’s small textile factory. When Jain started making what would become his first film during his breaks from Cal Arts many years later, he knew he wanted to capture some of those mesmerizing sounds and visuals.

“There was a big sensory soup in my consciousness I was chasing,” he told IndieWire Special Projects Editor Steve Greene following a showing of his film about the goings on of a massive textile factory in Gujarat, India, at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series.

Of course, it took some time to figure out how to do that.

“When you’re in such a sensorially rich and stimulating environment, as a director you kind of feel like you should get everything, and I was trying to do that — which was a total failure,” he said. “You have to really calm down and really understand the space, which is a combination of not just the physical locations but also the people there.”

“And yes, many times you do get the feeling that you’re watching paint dry but factory work, just like any work, is about time and in particular here the work is very repetitive. And I think to relay that sense of time I had to use almost a tenth of the editing speed that most films are edited at. I was trying to use time as a weight or gravity on your shoulders when you’re the audience, and I hope it was not boring.”

With “Machines,” which captures the daily work at a textile factory and short interviews with several of its low-paid workers, Jain said he wanted to pose the very simple questions that had been plaguing him since childhood.

“Growing up in India, but also in a politically or socioeconomically upper class background, I was always curious about how can somebody who serves me wine make half the value of that bottle of wine in a month while people just gulp that down? It was very simple questions that an economist would easily answer,” he said. “But I didn’t go to an economist — I went to an art school.”

The final film features very little dialogue and instead focuses on the mesmerizing machines that produce fabric — and the humans that help them. But it could have looked very different, Jain said.

“I made 60 cuts in the editing room of the film,” he said. “The first one was a very linear way of how the fabric was made just because it was easy to set up like that, but it was a total disaster. It felt like an infomercial that would air at 2 a.m. in the night. From the beginning I did have the sense that I did want to leave the film open-ended because for me, I was not trying to provide any answers about what this is or how this is done. I was trying to raise questions — the same simple questions that have been plaguing me forever.”

Watch clips from the Q&A below:

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

‘Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press’ Filmmaker on the Battle Between Privacy and a Free Press

Brian Knappenberger discusses the trial that brought down Gawker.

When filmmaker Brian Knappenberger began working on what would eventually become his film “Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press,” he didn’t actually realize the scope of what he would capture. At first, he took an interest in Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media (for publishing a sex tape of the wrestler with his friend’s wife) simply because he was interested in the case’s battle between the free press and privacy.

“I was really fascinated by this whole Hulk Hogan-Gawker trial, and I was interested in it before it started taking the radical twists and turns that it took later,” he said in a Q&A following a showing of the film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series. “There’s a really interesting battle between freedom of speech and privacy. These are two things that some of my other work [revolves around], so I just thought these two ideas were playing themselves out in a really cartoonish way in this courtroom in Florida.”

But that was just the beginning — only he didn’t know it at the time.

“Then there was this staggering verdict — $120 million dollars, it was eye-popping — and then the revelation that Peter Thiel was funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit made it a very different kind of story for me, a story about how money can be wielded in secret against the press to thwart and silence critics,” he said. “And this of course was happening on the backdrop of Trump…saying we’re going to open up libel laws and sue you like you’ve never been sued before and all of that. All of these things were gurgling and bubbling to the surface and I just wanted to jump in and capture it.”

It’s a defining time for the media right now, Knappenberger said.

“Media, journalism should be going after the powerful. It should be comforting the afflicted. It should be speaking truth to power. It should be trying to go after the Roy Moores of the world,” he said. “So when people stop listening to it or believing that that’s what it’s doing, that it has another agenda, I think it’s lost some of its power.”

Watch clips from the Q&A below:

“Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press” is available to stream on Netflix.

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

‘Unrest’ Director Jennifer Brea Reveals How Making a Documentary About Her Illness Helped Treat It

Brea explained her process at a recent IDA screening.

When Jennifer Brea began documenting the symptoms of her mysterious illness on her phone, it wasn’t because she set out to make a film. It was because the documentarian, who wound up including the footage in “Unrest,” about her own struggle and the international community struggling with M.E. (a.k.a. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), wanted a way to capture her experiences.

The Harvard PhD student normally would have written about her experience, but the disease zapped all the energy from her body.

“My whole life I had been a writer, so normally I would have picked up a pen and started journaling. I’ve kept journals my whole life, but I reached a point where I was so limited in terms of my cognitive exertion that if I would write a sentence or two of an email I would pass out for the next four hours,” she explained in a Q&A following a showing of her film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series. “And so for me, the recording on my iPhone was really just a substitute, it was a space to put that grief and fear and anger in this moment in my life when I had no idea what was happening to me, and needed an outlet.”

But in fact, the moments she captured on her phone helped alert her doctors to the seriousness of her symptoms. Once they saw how difficult her daily life had become, they reacted with shock and horror.

“It occurred to me that I spent 18 months just talking and no one had been able to understand what I was trying to say, and in a few seconds of showing it just sort of transformed the conversation, and so that gave me the insight that maybe this story had to be told visually.” Making the film took years of effort on Brea’s part, and she recalls one moment in particular that stuck with her and encapsulated her experience on the project. She was Skyping with her crew in Denmark, and the sun began to set while they were filming.

“The emotion of that moment is that I hadn’t been outside my own home in four months, and I’d forgotten that I hadn’t actually seen the sun in that long and I’d forgotten what it was like to watch the sun set. It was in gorgeous color on my screen and me watching this forest in a country I’d never been before,” she said.

“It was surreal because it was in some ways better than life, but at the same time I couldn’t even go into my backyard. That contrast between how big my life was and how small it was at the same time, and how amazing and awesome it was to be on that journey, and how desperate I was to get out of the bedroom, it was unfolding in that moment.”

Watch clips from the Q&A below:

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

How ‘LA 92’ Directors Sorted Through 1,700 Hours of Footage for Their Sobering Film

Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin delved into their process at a recent IDA screening.

By the time directors Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin had finished editing “LA 92,” their documentary about the riots in Los Angeles following the 1992 verdict in the Rodney King trial, they’d amassed 1,700 hours of footage. The film gleans from news footage, personal videos, and other sources for a 114-minute film comprised completely of archival footage — no talking heads.

“In a perfect world, we would have had two years to make this, and we had nine months,” Lindsay said following a screening of the film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series.

Editing a film made up of such upsetting, violent imagery did take a toll, but Lindsay and Martin both said they knew what they were getting into when they signed on to direct the project — and besides, nothing would compare to the experience of people who lived through it.

“I think we knew what we signed up for. Some of the stuff at the flashpoint was definitely hard to watch. It’s just hard to watch in general, so just screening the stuff sometimes was difficult,” Lindsay said. “But I just could never compare our experience to the people that are living through it.”

Martin said that making the film was important to him for several reasons, one of which is because of his own heritage.

“My mom’s black and my dad’s white, and I found myself very observant of my place in society at an early, early age just by nature of, depending on where I was and what community I was in, the way in which people would treat me,” he said. “So the exploration of race and class and even gender issues in this country has been top of mind in things that I’ve been interested in for a very long time, and we tend to explore race and class a lot in our work. So engaging in this film was an extension of that same conversation.”

He continued, “So to make the film, learn more about ’65, learn more about ’92, and look at the similarities, wake up every day and read about Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, everybody you name — Philando Castile, that happened while we were cutting the film — just made it that much more complicated and honestly sickening to make it. And then to throw on top of that, just practically speaking, the nature of the content of the footage, and then the way in which the footage was shot, personally I was just nauseous a lot for six, seven, eight months straight. You kind of go in waves. You fall asleep thinking about it, if you can fall asleep.”

In the end, Martin and Lindsay hope their film leaves a sobering impression on those who watch it.

“Oftentimes you have documentaries that, for some reason, feel the need to end on this note of hope. I’m not saying that there’s not hope engaged in the film and we believe in hope, but we’re also not going to make a film that’s making a promise that things have gotten better — but rather hopefully a film that’s sobering, that asks the right questions,” Martin said. “Naturally the material just kind of sticks with you. And if anything I can say it changed us for the better, the experience. Like Dan said, we can never compare ourselves in terms of our experience making it to those who actually experienced it in real life, however…I can say that hopefully we’ve gained something intellectually and emotionally as a result of making it.”

Watch clips from the Q&A below:

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.

‘The Final Year’ Documentary Crew Only Had One Rule While Filming Obama’s White House

Director Greg Barker had nearly unlimited access to the administration.

There was really only one rule filmmaker Greg Barker had to follow while shadowing the Obama administration’s senior officials for “The Final Year”: no classified material.

That was actually pretty easy to follow, considering neither he nor his crew had the clearance to be in the room when classified information was being discussed.

“The rules were actually pretty straightforward,” Barker said at a Q&A following a screening of his film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series. “The rules were you can’t show classified material, but it’s not really a problem because they’re not allowed to — none of us have security clearance, so they can’t really bring it into a room…it was never really an issue. And that was basically it, because they knew it had to feel authentic.”

For “The Final Year,” Barker followed Secretary of State John Kerry, Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, and Deputy National Security advisor/senior staffer Ben Rhodes beginning in September 2015 as they embarked on their final year of work for President Obama (who also appears frequently throughout the film). And yes — most of the people involved, including Kerry, Power, Rhodes, and Obama himself, have seen the film.

In fact, Power and Rhodes were present when “The Final Year” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Barker said the crowd’s reaction was very emotional to watch.

“They have not spoken much publicly, so seeing the reaction when they came out afterwards was just incredibly emotional, very emotional,” he said. “So I think it’s very gratifying for them to see it with a public audience in particular.”

The film would play very differently if Hillary Clinton had been elected president instead of Donald Trump, but the fact that much of the work the team completes during the final year of their tenure would wind up undone a year later adds another layer to the film. There’s what audiences see play out in the film, and there’s what they know will play out a year later.

“I’ve never made a film that plays like this plays. It seems to me like there’s two narratives going on. There’s the narrative of the film, and then every week there’s a new scene that resonates in a different way for me,” he says, adding, “It speaks to the moment that we’re living in.”

Watch clips from the Q&A below:

The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year’s most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.