BLOG: Tough choices at Full Frame Festival

I grew up in New Orleans and had the same problem every year at Jazz Fest, what do you go see when you have so many great options? The choices are tough! On Friday I had to choose between a movie about my home town, or a movie about Italy. I'm half Italian and love going to Italy. I chose the New Orleans film, Mr. Cho Goes to Washington. It was great, and it won the Festival's Inspiration Award. The problem is I chose a winner, now it will be shown again this afternoon at Full Frame, while Italy Love It or Leave It will not.

It's always a gamble when it comes to choosing films at Full Frame, but usually the gamble pays off even if the film you're hoping to see doesn't get replayed Sunday afternoon. For four days I've been able to immerse myself in worlds away from Durham, while still being able to enjoy all downtown has to offer. Tonight you have one final chance to experience Full Frame and it's FREE! There is one final free screening in Durham's Central Park. An inflatable screen is set up next to "The Leaf" and you're able to sit the hill behind the skate park to watch it. This is one of Durham's time to shine as people from all over get a chance to experience the Bull City. Come out tonight and show them some southern hospitality. And enjoy a beautiful evening under the stars.

Get tickets, times and details here

2012 Winners list (.pdf)


Posted: Wednesday - April 11th, 2012

In the first two days at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival I've been able to see what life is like for the people of Paraguay, Congo, Jamaica and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.  That is one of the beauties of Full Frame.  It gives you a view of the world from a unique perspective.  While the perspective may be one-sided and you may not always agree with it, it gives you something to think about.  

"Raising Resistance" offered a look at how genetically altered soy crops being farmed on massive plots of land is impacting the small farmers of Paraguay.  These people are seeing their health compromised and their way of life disappearing.   The documentary is beautifully filmed and gives you sense of actually being in the middle of the soy fields.  

"The Law in These Parts" is a look at the laws imposed on the Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories for nearly 50 years.  It something many of us have not even considered. I've always assumed the Palestinians lived under the same laws as the Israelis, but that's not the case.  Seeing how justice is dispensed helps gives you an insight to the frustration that fuels the Palestinians.  

Speaking of justice, "Justice for Sale" is the story of a man in Congo convicted of raping a general's wife.  The film follows a female attorney's efforts to prove his innocence.  Despite conflicting testimony and a lack of evidence she is not able to win his freedom. But this film demonstrates the true power of the documentary. After seeing the film the Congolese government has decided to review the case.  So what the attorney could not accomplish, the filmmaker may.

All three of these films are in the "New Doc" category which means if they win an award they will be show again Sunday afternoon.  Check out Full Frame's web site early Sunday afternoon see the schedule.  

Finally, documentaries can also be fun.  Last night my 15-year old daughter and  I went to see "Marley."  The documentary takes an in-depth look at the life of Bob Marley.  While I've known Marley's music for decades, there was a lot I didn't know about his life, including the fact that his father was white.  Watching the movie with my daughter was a great experience.  She loved the movie and even better, the music. While many of the movies at the Festival will not appeal to teenagers, there are many that do and it offers parents a unique opportunity to spend some special  time with their child this weekend.  


Posted: Wednesday - April 11th, 2012

What started 15 years ago as a small gathering of documentary filmmakers has grown into one of the premier documentary film festivals in the U.S.Thursday marks the opening of the 15th annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in downtown Durham. Hundreds of filmmakers and documentary fans will invade the Bull City to watch more than 100 films over four days in six venues.

A lot of people may feel intimidated by the term "film festival" and are not sure what they need to do to see a movie. It's actually fairly simple once you get used to the Full Frame terminology. While many festival goers will be wearing one of several different types of passes, you don't need a pass to get into a film. If you see a movie on the schedule that peaks your interest, simply go to the Full Frame box office set-up in the Durham Convention Center adjacent to the downtown Marriott hotel and buy a ticket. You then go to the venue where the movie will play and wait in line. If you have any questions about where you should go there are dozens of volunteers eager to help and point you in the right direction. If the movie is sold out, there's still a chance you can get in. Just go to the "last minute" line and wait for everyone who has tickets to be seated. If there are any empty seats you can buy a ticket right there in line. You'll need cash for this option and the price is $10 for a regular event and $15 for a premium event.

Get tickets, times and details here

The Festival films are broken up into several categories. By far the largest category is "New Docs." This category features a wide array of documentaries, from the drama of the discriminatory laws against Palestinians in "The Law in These Parts" to an experimental short film about an Israeli soccer fan's obsession in "Sivan." Six of the 57 new documentaries will make their world premier at Full Frame, 13 will be North American premiers and 4 are US premiers. "Thematic Program" is another category on the Festival lineup. Every year Full Frame invites a nationally recognized documentary filmmaker to curate the series. This year Ross McElwee curates the program called "Family Affairs." It features 10 selections that explore family dynamics.

Full Frame also honors a documentary filmmaker every year and their films are put in the "Career Award" category. This year the Festival will honor Stanley Nelson and each day one of his films will be shown. Finally there's the "Invited" category that usually contains a variety of documentaries that don't fit into the first three categories.

After the movie is over, don't leave! My favorite part of Full Frame is getting to hear from the filmmakers themselves. Nearly every film has a representative in attendance. After the film they talk briefly about the experience of making of the documentary and then answer questions from the audience. It's truly insightful and educational to sit through these sessions.

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is one of the highlights of my year. Not only to you get to see some interesting movie you won't see at the mall multiplex or on Netfix, you get to meet people from around the world. If you've never been, give it a try. Start small, pick one or two movies and see what it's all about.

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