Full Frame Lays Out a Feast
For any film person in our area who hungers to see the latest and greatest documentary films, the Full Frame Festival in Durham Thursday, April 12, through Sunday, April 15, will be a feast for the eyes and ears.
The theme this year is "The Powers of Ten." This title celebrates Full Frame's 10th anniversary that is being highlighted by asking 10 powerhouse filmmakers, writers and producers to select the documentary films that have spoken most powerfully to them about our culture and documentary filmmaking.
The 10 filmmakers include Ariel Dorfman, Michael Moore, St. Claire Bourne, DA Pennebaker, Julia Reichert and Martin Scorsese. Films chosen by the "Big Ten" include "Battle of Algiers," "Roger and Me," "Making 'Do the Right Thing'," "ABC Africa," "Tongues Untied" and "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man."
One of the most exciting features of Full Frame is "New Docs: Films in Competition," which this year features 89 films chosen from more than a thousand entries. These films, short and long, range over an amazing variety of topics and themes: "The Rape of Europa," the Nazis plundering of the art treasures of Europe in World War II, is being sought for exhibition at the Sunrise; "Two Hands," the life of a left-hand-only classical pianist, Leon Fleischer, was an Academy Award nominee; and "The Killer Within" documents a murder that took place in 1954 on the dorm floor just above me at Swarthmore College. I'm even in a bit of this one.
The opening night film in Durham's Carolina Theater will be Gereon Wetzel's "Castells," which documents a 400-person human pyramid building team from the small town of Valls in Catalonia.
Other evening films in the Carolina will be "Larry Flynt: The Right to be Left Alone," an examination of First Amendment Rights and pornography and "In the Shadow of the Moon," a film that features the surviving men who walked on the moon. Both films will provide special conversations on stage with their creators and subjects.
One constant over recent years is "The Southern Sidebar: Truth and Reconciliation." This year it features a panel and three films that look at reunion and resolution in the American South: "Banished, Moving Midway," and "Greensboro: Closer to the Truth."
Another major sidebar, similar to last year's Katrina grouping that I covered for Documentary Magazine will be on "Africa Stories." The number of films submitted on Africa this year was unprecedented.
In addition to the categories already mentioned, the Festival also invites films and filmmakers of note to show their works. These are often some of the most exciting of all the films presented. Some of the titles are "Bob Dylan: 65 Revisited," "Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing," "The Prisoner or How I planned to Kill Tony Blair," preceded by "Stranger Comes to Town" an animated short on the alienating experience of immigrating to the U.S. new courtroom footage by John Ford is presented in "Nuremberg: The Nazis Facing Their Crimes."
Panels, parties under the sun and stars if the weather cooperates and the interesting venues add zest to this communal experience, while rubbing elbows with the filmmakers, young and old, famous and unknown has its special zing.
Each year after Full Frame's founding 10 years ago, I could always count on seeing a Southern Pines friend of mine at the Festival. We sometimes would sit together in a screening, compare notes on other films we had seen or wanted to see and discuss which ones we might bring to the Sunrise.
The late Joan Scott was not only an ardent Full Frame participant, she was also a modest sponsor of the Festival. She loved and supported documentaries, and I miss her opinion, guidance and wry sense of humor very much.
Ron Sutton, a Pinehurst resident, is the president of the Sunrise Preservation Group. He is a professor emeritus of film at American University in Washington, D.C.
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