The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival came to a close on Sunday, April 6th with the traditional North Carolina barbeque awards ceremony. The first Full Frame since Nancy Buirski stepped down as director featured a streamlined, more user-friendly ticketing process, new venues and a greater diversity of student fellows from colleges and universities around the U.S.
Despite the persistent drizzle, spirits were high and many of the festival’s screenings sold out. There was a general sense of camaraderie as natives and visitors alike soaked up a year’s worth of docs in just four days. Some of the standouts from my perspective were: Life. Support. Music., an intense portrait of what it takes to bring a loved one back from brain injury by POV alum Eric Metzgar (Chances of the World Changing, POV 2007); City of Cranes by Eva Weber; and My Olympic Summer, a short film by Daniel Robin. My Olympic Summer pushes the boundaries of documentary pretty far. I’ll discuss the film and the issues it raises in a later post.
There’s quite a bit in the blogosphere already about Full Frame ’08. To get a 360-degree picture of the festival, supplement your reading with a visit to All These Wonderful Things and Still in Motion. AJ Schnack and Pamela Cohen both offer incisive takes on many of the discussions around the films that were screened in Durham over the weekend. I especially think the discussion around the credits on Trouble the Water that began on these blogs ought to be continued.
One thing that hasn’t received as much attention in the days since the festival wrapped up is the Full Frame Career Award presented to William Greaves (read Rachel Hall’s essay here). Greaves is among the pioneers of cinema in the U.S., and one of the most accomplished African American directors of his generation. Full Frame was punctuated by screenings of his films Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One and Take 2½, as well as The Fight, and The First World Festival of Negro Arts. The First World, which screened just prior to the awards ceremony, is a masterful display of cinematic prowess and just shows what a brilliant cinematographer Greaves is. His camera follows the explosive dances from around Africa as if he knew what moves were coming next. Unfortunately, The First World is not currently in distribution. The festival also screened a work-in-progress sample of his current project, Once Upon a Time in Harlem, which looks back at the Harlem Renaissance and the evolution of black culture. During his remarks, Greaves shared that the project had recently received major foundation support — good news for documentary fans everywhere.