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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at


Early on in the week, I attended a party celebrating the premiere on Discovery Times of OFF TO WAR, a DCTV project following the Arkansas National Guard nto Iraq. The event was held at DCTV, headquartered in a reconditioned firehouse which is the oldest surviving firehouse in New York. It houses Jon Alpert?s eclectic organization which produces films and teaches young people to be videographers and editors. Energetic staff members slide down the brass fire pole when they want to make a quick descent from the second floor.

Craig Renaud was there, one of the team making the film, fresh from Iraq, getting ready to go to Arkansas to continue following the families of the soldiers in Baghdad. As I stepped out on the rooftop to join the party, Craig came up to me to thank me for my help.

He was as young as I remembered.

He, thankfully, did not look the worse for wear. We talked; I congratulated him on the film he, his brother Brent and Jon Alpert are creating. Before the screening started I slipped away so that I could watch the show on air at home.

Brent sent me an e-mail from Baghdad. No one ran anymore for the bunkers at night when the mortar shells fell randomly into the encampment; sleep was too precious to be disturbed. He figured that when someone died again everyone would bunker down for a few days ? and then get careless again. His note had the sound of a dedicated but sleep deprived journalist.

The CINE AWARDS were on Thursday evening. I am on the Board and close to two of the organization?s sponsors, ClearChannel and BBC Technology.

CINE is an organization that has been giving awards for film and video excellence for forty five years. Unlike ATAS or AMPAS, it is not a membership organization.

The glittering part of the evening were the awards given to individuals for their outstanding career achievement.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sharon Percy Rockefeller, CEO of WETA [think Ken Burns and The News Hour], wife of Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. The Trail Blazer Award went to D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, who made the film THE WAR ROOM and were cinema verite pioneers, having influenced now a generation of film makers. The third major award, the Leadership Award, went to Stanley Nelson, a winner of the MacArthur Foundation ?Genius? Award and the film maker who made THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL, which garnered an Emmy Award in 2003.

It was an evening of film makers and their passions, awarded and rewarded for their dedication to their art. These are, for the most part, not the high paid ?Hollywood? types but film makers who dedicate themselves to messages they want to communicate through visual imagery ? a touching film following AIDS in Africa, several that dealt with the emotional aftermath of 9/11, stories about the war in Iraq, stories of coming of age and self-revelation.

These are the people who feed the machine of cable channels and network news programs, peppering film festivals with their work. It is a celebration of artistic success and the hard working application of a craft learned by watching previous CINE winners work.

DCTV won a CINE Award this year for TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, a documentary made for PBS and, hopefully, will be back again next year to collect one for OFF TO WAR.

The week has been a celebration of the passion of the craft of film makers who devote portions of their lives to a topic that demands something from them. It has been a celebration of the work of the Renaud brothers and the year of their lives that will go into documenting the ANG; it has been a celebration of all their fellows who do the same for stories that are as important to them as Arkansas is to the brothers Renaud.

It was a time for those of us who facilitate or just appreciate their work to step up and applaud, to acknowledge hard work and craftsmanship, to salute talent that often goes unrecognized and unrewarded.

Bravo to those who pick up their cameras and follow their stories?