Exploring nonfiction cinema with the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is an annual international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of nonfiction cinema. Each spring, Full Frame welcomes filmmakers & film lovers from around the world to Durham, North Carolina, for a four-day, morning-to-midnight array of nearly 100 films. Attendants are also invited to discussions, panels, and (not forgetting) that warm & friendly Southern hospitality. Set within a few city blocks, the intimate festival landscape fosters community and conversation among filmmakers, film professionals, and the public.
“We are one of the oldest and most prestigious of the documentary-only film fests, considered a home away from home – or ‘documentary summer camp’ – by the professional documentary community,” announced Full Frame Director, Deirdre Haj. “We are southern and unpretentious; our awards ceremony is a barbeque. But we are strict about focusing on the documentary film form, not just the social impact.”
The festival began in 1998 with no more than a few hundred patrons and has grown tremendously ever since. In addition to its annual screening event, Full Frame offers year-round free programming for its local community as well as two free education programs. One – The School of Doc – has received funding from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the other – Teach the Teachers – instructs public school educators in documentary literacy, or how to employ documentary film in the classroom. “Both programs will expand in 2018,” added Haj.
For its 2018 film fest, running from April 5 – 8, renowned filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper) will curate the Thematic Program and the festival will honor Jehane Noujaim’s illustrious body of work with the 2018 Tribute. Delving into the fascinating genre of true crime, the Thematic Program will feature films that consider the ways documentary uniquely represents the complexities and limitations of the American judicial system. For the Tribute, Full Frame will showcase Noujaim’s lauded films exploring themes of resilience, freedom, democracy, and free speech.
Both Berlinger & Noujaim will attend the 21st festival, with the former stating, “Having had the honor of exhibiting many of my films at Full Frame since the festival’s inception, it’s tremendously gratifying to come back this year to curate the Thematic Program that I have so enjoyed as an audience member in years past.”
Meanwhile Noujaim expressed gratitude towards her honor at this year’s Full Frame. “I came to Full Frame in my twenties with my first film, Startup.com, co-directed with Chris Hegedus and produced by D.A. Pennebaker. We came back to Full Frame with Control Room almost fifteen years ago. To return now, at a time when I feel we are living in an age of digital control rooms on steroids, feels right. There will be a lot to talk about.”