End to End Support: A Quick Look at the International Documentary Association

The International Documentary Association (IDA) supports all aspects of documentary filmmaking—providing grants to filmmakers, hosting public programs and numerous screening series, and offering classes, workshops, and seminars. (Everything, it seems, except catering.)

The IDA recently announced nominees (and some winners) for its annual documentary awards, to be presented in Los Angeles on December 5, so we figured now is as good a time as any to take a closer look at the IDA's impressive reach. 

Let's first start with the grants.

The IDA's Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund provides production grants totaling $195,000 to be used in the creation of original, independent documentary films that illuminate pressing issues in the United States. Named after the American filmmaker known for his movies about the New Deal, grants will be made for up to 12 projects that tell compelling stories and focus on one of Lorentz's central concerns—the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all or the illumination of pressing social problems. Grants, which range from $15,000 to $25,000, will be used to advance or reimburse production and post-production related expenses. Click here for more information.

Then there's the IDA's Fiscal Sponsorship program. Let's say you're a film organization with an idea for a project that lacks tax-exempt status, but nonetheless advances a charitable mission that is in line with a potential nonprofit 501(c)(3) sponsor. Often referred to as a "pre-approved grant" relationship model, this resource lets sponsored projects seek grants and solicit tax-deductible donations in support of the project. Click here for Fiscal Sponsorship FAQs.

What's more, the IDA also provides an exhaustively comprehensive database of seemingly every film-related grant opportunity known to mankind.  

Now, let's briefly turn to the IDA's annual Documentary Awards, which celebrates the best nonfiction films, programs, and filmmakers of the year. The ceremony recognizes achievements in multiple categories, including Best Feature, Best Short, Best Curated Series, and Best Cinematography, as well as special filmmaker honors, including the Career Achievement Award. Past recipients include Robert Redford, Barbara Kopple, and Werner Herzog. Check out this year's honorees and nominees here.

According to its website, the IDA receives support from 14 foundations and government agencies, including the Annenberg Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Ford Foundation JustFilms.