Film Festival Reflects on Past Decade
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, held in Durham, is celebrating its 10th anniversary by inviting 10 powerhouse filmmakers, writers, and producers to reflect on the past decade.
Each curator has been asked to select a documentary that has spoken to her or him during this time about our culture and the art and impact of documentary filmmaking.
The 10 are St. Clair Bourne, Charles Burnett, Ariel Dorfman, Cara Mertes, Walter Mosley, Michael Moore, Mira Nair, D.A. Pennebaker, Julia Reichert, and Martin Scorsese.
The challenge for each of the curators was to choose a film that reflects on or informs us about the power of the past decade. The films did not need to be made during the last 10 years -- and they did not need to be strictly documentaries either. The final selections are as eclectic as the individuals behind them.
Charles Burnett, recipient of the 1988 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, picked "Empire in Africa," the story of Sierra Leone's civil war, directed by Philippe Diaz. Ariel Dorfman's selection, Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's powerful documentary "ABC Africa," premiered at Full Frame in 2001. Cara Mertes will screen "Tongues Untied," by Marlon Riggs, along with a surprise underground cult hit.
Filmmaker St. Clair Bourne has chosen his own documentary, "Making 'Do the Right Thing,'" a behind-the-scenes social commentary and chronicle of Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing." Walter Mosley decided on Lian Lunson's "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man."
Michael Moore's choice, Kazuo Hara's "The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On," is a daring look at World War II from a Japanese director's point of view and the horrors and responsibilities that come with war. Mira Nair chose Gillo Pontecorvo's famous "Battle of Algiers."
D.A. Pennebaker selected Nicole Vndrs' "La Vie Commence Demain." Julia Reichert felt Michael Moore's "Roger and Me" was essential, and Martin Scorsese chose Haile Gerima's feature "Harvest: 3,000 Years," a fictional account of an Ethiopian farmer's family and struggle against capricious landowners.
Many of the guest curators will be attending the 2007 festival in April and will present their choices.
In addition, each of the curators has written essays that reflect on the films and the personal connections each curator felt to his or her choice.
Nancy Buirski, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival founder, CEO, and artistic director, also announced that the 2007 Career Award would go to Ross McElwee.
"Ross McElwee is a filmmaker from our own region and has made its stories and his vision part of the larger American story," she says. "Humane and deeply compassionate, his filmmaking is both personal and universal in its themes and conclusions. We are very proud to be able to honor this gifted artist with this year's Career Award."
A native of North Carolina, McElwee is one of the pre-eminent documentary filmmakers of his time. He graduated from Brown University and later received a master's degree in filmmaking from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He began his career as a studio cameraman for the local evening news, housewife helper shows, and "gospel hour" programs in his hometown of Charlotte. He began making his own films in 1976 and early works include "Charleen" and "Backyard."
His most noted work, also his first full-length documentary, "Sherman's March," established McElwee's innovative first-person narrative style and won him the "Best Documentary" award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1987.
"Sherman's March" was also selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
McElwee's other films include "Something to Do with the Wall" (1991), which he co-directed with his wife Marilyn Levine, "Time Indefinite" (1993), "Six O'Clock News" (1996), and "Bright Leaves" (2003), which was shown as a work-in-progress at Full Frame and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. McElwee teaches a film production course at Harvard University, where he is Professor of Filmmaking in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies.
The 2007 Industry Award will go to PBS' pioneering documentary series, "P.O.V." Since its launch by filmmaker Marc Weiss in 1988, "P.O.V." has presented over 250 films to public television audiences across the country. "P.O.V." is television's longest running independent documentary series, and it remains a champion of the filmmaker's vision, supporting and presenting some of the most important documentary films of our time.
"P.O.V." films have won every major film and broadcasting award including 18 Emmys, 10 George Foster Peabody Awards, eight Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Broadcast Journalism Awards, three Academy Awards, 17 Cine Golden Eagles and the Prix-Italia. "P.O.V." continues to challenge the notion of television as a one-way medium through programs like "Talking Back" highlighting viewers' responses to the films, and through the development of innovative online activities at pov.org.
"P.O.V.'s" Community Engage-ment campaigns build new audiences through partnerships between public television stations and community groups, broadening public debate and fostering community-based activities around issues represented in select programs.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is scheduled for April 12 -15. For more information visit www.fullframefest.org.
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