#13. Full Frame
Our take: The small town doc fest experience began in Durham more than a decade ago and Full Frame still has its partisans - not just the filmmakers who screen but documentary veterans and a smattering of industry who are happy to take the short flight to RDU from New York to for a little Southern hospitality in the Spring. The new filmmaker hotel is a great addition - walking distance from everything rather than a schlep out to the research triangle. The neighborhood atmosphere around the convention center gets a little better every year. People are really rooting for new programmer Sadie Tillery and most thought that 2009 was much-improved...
The downside: ...but there's still a sense that Full Frame hasn't fully found its footing after three years of off-season tumult - the high profile departures of founder Nancy Buirski and programmer Phoebe Brush and the fest's ongoing search for a new Executive Director. The lack of a high-profile presence representing the festival within the community reminds everyone of Full Frame's unique and seemingly archaic programming committee, primarily made up of local academics. Would it hurt them to have a late night party scene?
Important recent premieres: OWNING THE WEATHER, SONS OF CUBA, VOICES OF EL-SAYED, LOWER NINTH WARD,
Selection of films screened at 2009 Fest: BURMA VJ, 45365, ART & COPY, THE WAY WE GET BY, OBJECTIFIED, FOOD, INC., THE COVE, THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE, O'ER THE LAND, REPORTER, UNMISTAKEN CHILD, ROUGH AUNTIES, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, EVERY LITTLE STEP
Our coverage of Full Frame here.
Filmmaker: "This is yet another really strongly curated program of films by Sadie Tillery and her wonderful staff. Heavy on the film watching, a little light on the partying, this festival seems to have the perception of being stodgy or outdated or something, but my experience ran counter to that interpretation. I think it has a lot to do with Sadie. She's doing something special here, turning it up a notch on a festival that already has a great history and status in the doc community. And the awards ceremony is one of my favorites: sloppy BBQ and beers in a big hall of happy doc filmmakers and film appreciators."
Filmmaker: "I haven't been in 2 years but this has always been my favorite fest. No industry there - just people who like to watch and make docs. Usually great weather and a perfect layout -- courtyard with picnic tables and food and people everywhere just talk to each other."
Filmmaker: "Very well run festival. Sadie Tillery and her team are extremely
well organized and bend over backwards to look after the filmmakers. The
audiences are fantastic: several filmmakers who had come on from Sundance and
SXSW said the FF audience was their best yet. They clap, cheer and laugh at all
the right places. The projection systems are first rate. If you are lucky
enough to play in the main theatre you are almost guaranteed a crowd of 1000,
spread over three levels. Who wouldn't want that? Not that much industry which
is good or bad depending what your goals are. Perhaps the festivals publicity
isn't quite as effective as competitors Hot Docs and Silverdocs. But all in all
a wonderful experience for any filmmaker."
Filmmaker: "Paid all expenses. Good for meeting American doc filmmakers and to some extent America network execs."
Filmmaker: "Is hit or miss, especially if your film isn't in "competition", which has been a source of friction with filmmakers in recent years. Also, too many venues, too many films for such a short festival. Could benefit from more focus."
Filmmaker: "really fun.
Very good curating. a community for doc makers. Nice location
in the south, also."
Filmmaker: "mixed feelings. i like the selection. but the town feels stilted. safe. rather dull. lots of old white people. not much excitement. feels like a conference. too bad Phoebe's gone."
Filmmaker: "The most intimate and rewarding film festival we attended. A documentarians dream. Surrounded by the patriarchs of documentary and a gaggle of new voices in a small, quiet southern college town. Good audiences. Great hospitality. No glitz and glamor, just wonderful interactions."
Filmmaker: "seems like their programmming is getting less conservative, but have gone twice and feels very old guard..."
Filmmaker: "great fan of this festival. I really like their selection of films. Their hospitality is wonderful, great food and parties, in particular now that they moved hotels. I love the fact that everything is very compact and everyone goes to the same places. Not sure about industry though, and I do feel they are missing some long-term vision and ambition, which I assume the new festival director will bring.. Always had good screenings with good audiences and good Q&A's. Would always come back if I can."
Filmmaker: "Wonderful setting – warm climate, everything is walking distance and centralized. Attracts very prestigious names in the doc world – from filmmakers to industry – with intriguing line-up and panels. Great idea to have famous filmmakers present their favorite movies. Lots of fun and laid back."
Filmmaker: "They flew me down and put me up and were just all around lovely people. Small and really for filmmakers and audiences, rather than industry. That's when I got to know Pennebaker and Hegedus..."
Industry: "I’m waiting for Full Frame to “re imagine” itself. Nancy Buirski has been gone for years and Phoebe’s departure left a huge vacuum to fill. Sadie Tillery is working hard but they need to start over and shake off the shadow of Nancy’s departure once and for all. Right now it’s faded from our radar as a must attend. They don’t have the budget to be as generous with passes and accommodations as they have been in the past."Industry: "I think the problem is that it’s a weird list. It’s like programming by committee. They show these old films and so I don’t pay much attention to it. But I do pay attention to what wins there."
Industry: "Still somewhat in flux after Nancy and the Phoebe departed. But it seems to be finding its footing again after a couple of shaky years. A real filmmaker friendly fest."
Industry: "I’ve not been in a few years, but I’ve always been impressed with their line up. Their policy of only screening films once can be tricky."
Industry: " G
"Assembles scores of new docs on the circuit. For a doc programmer, definitely worth the trip.
Great selection of films, ease of access to all venues in close proximity, staff helpful and friendly. It's part of their model to create urgency for each screening, but i don't care for the one-screening-only policy - you attend one film, you instantly miss out on 4-5 others screening at the same time. I'd prefer to see fewer films programmed and more repeats."
Industry: "remains a little gem - however is more about the experience than festival programming. Its nice to have filmmakers and industry in the same place. Everything is accessible."
Industry: "Love this fest, what could be just a regional festival is a launch pad for docs - atmosphere and audiences are extraordinary."