The International Documentary Association (IDA) announced the full program schedule and additional keynote presentations for Getting Real ‘18, a biennial conference presented by the IDA, in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The three-day conference held from September 25-27 in Los Angeles, California, is designed as a filmmaker-to-filmmaker conference where peers throughout the documentary field can share information and build networks to help accelerate careers and amplify nonfiction storytelling. Newly appointed artistic director for the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Orwa Nyrabia will deliver a keynote speech at Getting Real ‘18. Nyrabia was born in Syria and made a name for himself in the documentary world as a film producer, curator and programmer – as well as a mentor, an activist and a lobbyist. Due to President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, Nyrabia cannot come to Los Angeles for the conference and will deliver his speech via Skype. “Getting Real ’18 represents a rare opportunity for representatives from all sectors of the documentary community to come together and examine the state of our field,” says Simon Kilmurry, IDA Executive Director. “What we hope emerges from these discussions are creative solutions, born out of a collaborative spirit, that tackle the collective challenges we face.” In addition to keynotes, panel discussions, and a special edition of the Gimme Truth! game show, hosted by comedian Brian Babylon. The Getting Real Conference will feature case studies, interactive workshops and presentations that explore the craft of documentary filmmaking. Gimme Truth! is presented in partnership with the True/False Film Fest. Newly added programming includes:
  • Caty Borum Chattoo (Director, Center for Media & Social Impact, American University) will moderate a discussion about the Role of Documentary in the Public Sphere. This panel will consider provocative and thoughtful angles about documentary in a political and civic moment fraught with danger, threat, misinformation and polarization. Panelists include: Jeffrey Jones (Director, George Foster Peabody Awards), Marcia Smith (President, Firelight Media) and Cara Mertes (Director, Just Films, Ford Foundation).
  • Pulling Back The Curtain is a unique session offered to filmmakers only and will discuss the latest data on distribution revenues and costs. This off-the-record event will enable filmmakers to share hard numbers. In addition to a few key case studies, attendees will crowdsource data on real-life revenues and the distribution costs required to earn them—information that is difficult or impossible to access. The presentation will be led by Peter Broderick (Paradigm Consulting) and Keith Ochwat (Producer/Filmmaker, Age of Champions).
  • The Palestinian Filmmaker Panel will feature an in-depth conversation about the challenges and opportunities for filmmakers from the Palestinian global diaspora. Panelists include: Dima Abu Ghoush (Filmmaker, Director, Emwas Restoring Memories), Salim Abu Jabal (Filmmaker, Roshmia), Muayad Alayan (Filmmaker, Sacred Stones), Mahmoud Al Massad (Filmmaker, Recycle, This Is My Picture When I Was Dead), Emad Burnat (Filmmaker, 5 Broken Cameras), Mohamed Jabaly (Filmmaker, Ambulance), May Odeh (Filmmaker, Diaries), and Rula Salameh (Education and Outreach Director, Just Vision; Producer, Budrus, Naila and the Uprising).
  • Case Study with the Filipino Production Team for Call Her Ganda will offer an in-depth look at the making of Call Her Ganda, an international production led by a majority-Filipino directing and producing team based in the US, Canada and the Philippines. Panelists James Costa (Co-Executive Producer), Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala (Producer), PJ Raval (Producer, Director/Writer), Marty Syjuco (Producer) and Lisa Valencia Svensson (Producer) will discuss how the conscious decision to have the team behind the camera reflect those in front of it influence the storytelling process. They will also share what they learned through each phase of production.
  • After #MeToo. Having been on the front lines of numerous sexual harassment battles in the entertainment industry, Nicole Page, of NYC-based Reavis Page Jump LLP, along with a team of female industry veterans, leads an exploration of the documentary industry after the past year’s sweeping wave of sexual harassment allegations and convictions across the media industry as a whole. Panelists include: Nancy Schwartzman (Filmmaker, Roll Red Roll), Annie Roney (Founder, ro*co Films), Nina Menkes (Filmmaker, The Bloody Child; Professor, California Institute of the Arts), Caroline von Kuhn (Director of Artist Development, San Francisco Film Society) and Michèle Stephenson (Filmmaker, American Promise)
  • Conference attendees can hear from director of the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Lab Programs in Making a New Reality with Kamal Sinclair. As more storytellers use immersive media, artificial intelligence and other innovations in their work, this presentation will share insights from a year-long research project on this topic as a commission of the Ford Foundation/JustFilms program — Making a New Reality.
  • In Documentary Production Between China and the US, producer/distributor Karin Chien will lead a discussion with a group of extraordinary Chinese (People’s Republic of China) independent documentary filmmakers living and working in the US and Canada. As more global filmmakers travel to mainland China to film — and sign distribution agreements there — there is a greater need for a nuanced understanding and honest dialogue around the realities of documentary-making in China. The panel will explore unique considerations of making and showing work in and around China’s censorship system. Panelists will include: Violet Feng (Producer, Filmmaker, 1428, A Young Patriot, Please Remember Me), Shengze Zhu (Filmmaker, Out of Focus, Another Year), Cui Zi’en (Filmmaker, Queer China, Enter the Clowns), Zhao Dayong (Filmmaker, Street Life, My Father’s House), Zhu Rikun (Filmmaker, The Questioning, Dust, The Dossier, Annie).
  • Collective Intelligence: Co-Creative and Emergent Documentaries. Sarah Wolozin and Katerina Cizek, executive producers of the Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab, present a live cinema performance of the evolution of cutting-edge, collaborative nonfiction across innovative platforms and technologies.
  • Journalists Under Threat. Tom Jennings (Program Director, Logan Nonfiction Program) will lead a discussion about the journalists and human-rights experts who regularly get their hands dirty share the reality on the ground, along with best practices for getting the story while staying safe and prepared for risk. Panelists include: Fiona Lawson (Executive Producer, Witness, Al Jazeera English), Monika Bauerlein (CEO, Mother Jones), Palika Makam (US Program Coordinator, Witness, Al Jazeera English), A.C. Thompson (Producer/ Investigative Reporter, ProPublica / PBS Frontline).
  • The 2018 edition continues the conference’s Here’s What Really Happened sessions with intimate explorations of: Minding The Gap with Bing Liu (Director) and Diane Quon (Producer), and Drone with Tonje Hessen Schei (Director), Jonathan Borge Lie (Producer) and Diana Holtzberg, Sales Agent, East Village Entertainment)
Getting Real ’18 is presented by the IDA, in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. A limited number of three-day passes are now on sale. For more information, please visit