The International Documentary Association earned some mockery for its list of the 25 best docs of all time, but its upcoming Pare Lorentz Film Festival might provide some redemption. If nothing else, it proves the IDA does have a sense of history, even if none of the "best" docs of all time were made before 1955.

West Virginia-born Pare Lorentz made four films in the 1930s and '40s, all of them about important social matters, and two of them produced by the United States government. All four films will screen together in Los Angeles next week, along with all the past winners of the IDA's Pare Lorentz Award.

Lorentz's films are The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936, made to increase Dust Bowl awareness), The River (1938, about the importance of the mighty Mississippi), The Fight for Life (1940, about childbirth in poverty-stricken urban areas), and Nuremberg (1946, using the Nazis' own film footage to condemn them).

Some of the Pare Lorentz award winners to be screened include Mandela (about the South African leader), the Arctic conservation film Oil on Ice, and last year's An Inconvenient Truth. Spike Lee's Katrina doc When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts is on the schedule, too, as is John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath -- not a documentary, of course, but a fitting companion to Lorentz's films. (Trivia tidbit: Lorentz and Grapes author John Steinbeck were close friends.)

The fest runs Oct. 18-21 at The Landmark theater in West L.A. Individual tickets are $11, and a few of the screenings are free. (Check out the site for details.) This is a rare opportunity to see some great documentaries from the past, as well as to explore issues that modern filmmakers have addressed in a way that has kept Lorentz's spirit alive.
categories Cinematical