EXCLUSIVE: Rick Peréz has announced his intention to resign as executive director of the International Documentary Association, with word coming just days before the organization’s signature annual event, the IDA Awards, Deadline has learned exclusively.
The surprise announcement came during a meeting with staff late Monday, a gathering that included IDA personnel both in-person and virtually. His resignation takes effect December 23, Peréz said.
“Rick thanked the staff for their work and acknowledged the difficulties as well as successes during the past year and a half as executive director, but that the challenges of leading a changing organization, during and post-pandemic, have weighed on him,” an IDA spokesperson told Deadline. “Ultimately, he decided his work was done and that he wanted to return to filmmaking, and working with directors, producers, and others as well as creating film projects, his true passion. He announced that his last day will be December 23.”
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The IDA announced that non-profit veteran Ken Ikeda will serve as interim executive director. The board, led by co-presidents Grace Lee and Chris Pérez (no relation to Rick), noted, “The IDA board is confident in the ongoing work of the senior leadership and staff,” according to the spokesperson.
Pérez joined the IDA in May 2021, but his tenure was marked by tensions with IDA staff. In January of this year, four senior staff members resigned, protesting Pérez’s leadership style, which they characterized as abusive and belittling. Over a period of months, the IDA lost more than half of its staff. One of those who resigned earlier in the year was Cassidy Dimon, who served as associate director of public programs and events. She wrote on her departure, “The current atmosphere at the organization, that I and many other staff members experienced as hostile and intimidating, made it untenable for me to stay.”
The IDA’s board had strenuously backed Pérez and said staff departures were not unexpected when an organization faces a leadership change. Pérez succeeded Simon Kilmurry, who served as executive director for six years.
Pérez took the top job at the IDA after holding senior positions with the Sundance Institute and WGBH. He became the IDA’s first BIPOC and LGBTQ leader. His documentary credits include co-directing (with Lorena Parlee) the 2014 film Cesar’s Last Fast, about United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez, and co-directing (with Joan Sekler) the 2002 film Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election.
The IDA is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. The organization founded in 1982 oversees a series of educational and development programs for filmmakers, including the IDA Documentary Enterprise Fund, the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund, and the IDA+XRM Media Incubator.
The annual IDA Documentary Awards will be held Saturday, December 10 on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. The organization describes the ceremony as “the world’s most prestigious event dedicated to the documentary genre, celebrating the best nonfiction films and programs of the year.”
More to come…
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