Festival Begins Its Second Decade
The 11th Annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival will be held in Durham Thursday, April 3, through Sunday, April 6. In its four fully packed days it will feature more than 90 documentary films.
I have attended the Festival for the last 10 years, covering it since 2001 as a writer for The Pilot and first as a reporter and then as a contributing editor for Documentary, the magazine of IDA (International Documentary Association).
We (Features Editor Faye Dasen and I) always felt a bit conflicted. Not about publicizing the Festival, for an increasing number of Doc fans from the Sandhills have attended and enjoyed the now nationally and internationally acclaimed Festival's film presentations, as well as its refreshing Southern hospitality.
The problem has been the relative difficulty in seeing documentary films after the Festival closes. Unless they make it to the major theater chains or are selected for showing at the Sunrise, or appear later in the year on TV (PBS or HBO), there is little point in telling you about films you could not see easily.
Then came NetFlix, a DVD rental mail service, through which you can select documentaries of all kinds, both famous ("No End in Sight," "March of the Penguins") and obscure ("The Electric Car," "Protocols of Zion"). Documentaries of all kinds suddenly are available.
So here are the basic highlights of this year's Full Frame Festival should you choose to attend. When the festival has ended and the filmmakers, both the famous and unknown, have departed, we will follow up with some of the award-winning documentaries that might merit viewing on your part at some point in your NetFlix future.
"Center Frame" films highlighting the three major evenings of the Festival include:
n "Trumbo," a profile of the legendary Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, best known for writing "Spartacus," "Roman Holiday," "Hawaii," "Exodus," and "The Fixer," and as a member of the famed Hollywood Ten who defied the "un-American" activities of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the late 1940s. This is a U.S. premiere and Trumbo's son, Dalton, on whose play the film is based, will be present for a question-and-answer session after the screening.
n "The Black List," by famed portrait photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders features interviews with 20 prominent African Americans currently on one type of "black list" or another.
n "Body of War" chronicles the mental and physical struggles of soldier Thomas Young on his return from Iraq paralyzed by a bullet to the spine. His courageous anti-war voice for peace parallels Trumbo's own 1938 novel on World War I, "Johnny Got His Gun," which he made into a motion picture in 1971.
There were over 1,200 films submitted from around the world for the open competition category at Full Frame. Sixty-one films were chosen and will comprise this category titled "New Docs." They will be competing for a dozen or more prizes and awards offered at the Festival.
The annual Career Award will go this year to black filmmaker, William Greaves. Often referred to as the "dean of African-American independent filmmakers," a number of his documentaries will be screened, including "The Fight." This 1971 movie tracks Muhammad Ali's first abortive attempt to regain his heavyweight title from Joe Frazier, a title unfairly taken from Ali because of his stand on the war in Vietnam.
There will be seven films in the "Curated Series." Each year a Curator, a person with special knowledge of a body of documentary work, is chosen, and they in turn choose the films for this showcase. This year's Curator is Lourdes Portillo, an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker whose work has focused on the search for Latino identity. The theme this year is "Migrations," and the films touch on a variety of migrations ranging from Spain to China to Africa to Cuba to Central America and the U.S.
As if this feast was not large enough, there are always panels and workshops and special programming included in the final program.
To take a look at titles and brief descriptions of all the films that will be shown, as well as get ticket and venue information, visit www.fullframefest.org.
Pinehurst resident Ron Sutton is professor emeritus of film at American University in Washington, D.C.
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