Full Frame Film Festival Recap, Day One
Opening day at the 16th Annual Full Frame Film Festival was equal part of fun, entertaining, chaotic and exciting. Full Frame is my first ever film festival so I have nothing to compare it to. I’m in the same boat with many other attendees and filmmakers.
After checking in and going over my assignments for the day I jumped in head first. I talked to many people in between screenings. Lots of jet-lagged people looking for coffee, many film students, producers and execs were wandering around. This is the south and southern hospitality reigns. You can talk to anybody anywhere and the vibe at Full Frame was energetic but friendly.
My 1st film of the day was Citizen Koch. (Summary -A multilayered dissection of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance decision as seen through the lens of Wisconsin’s 2011 election standoff. Director(s): Carl Deal, Tia Lessin) Held in Fletcher Hall, several times during the film the audience gasps and laughed and exposed shock at the details of the film. Afterward during the filmmaker Q&A the question began with details of the film and Super PACs and shifted to the recent bills and policies that NC filmmakers have been making that sparked the audience to clap and yell at their disagreement with what the currently seated elected officials have been up to.
I then went up to the hospitality lounge to get some pictures of filmmakers. Everyone was nice and friendly and each one of the filmmakers I talked to was excited to be here. Talking to several others from First Team Donors, Students, and other volunteers everyone seemed to be taking in the event and talking to whomever they happened to be standing next to at the moment. Several filmmakers commented that the vibe at Full Frame is different from other film festivals and that the inter-mingling made them relax more.
The 2nd film a caught was American Promise. (Summary – This personal film follows the directors’ son and his best friend from their first day of kindergarten through high school graduation, and how their lives diverge. Director(s): Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster) This was the first film that I had to vote on for the day. As I sat there watching, I was captivated because the directors lived in a neighborhood I remember from my childhood. This powerful film which spans over many years and personal tragedies is something that all educators and parents should see. Especially parents of black males. The Q&A afterward focused on various points in the film, the diagnosis of one of the boys with ADHD, how recent the film had wrapped (both boys are in the 2nd terms of freshman year) and why they picked the school they put the boys thru. I go some time to talk with both Stephenson and Brewster after the film and ask some great questions.
The last film of the night I caught was the Opening night film Gideon’s Army. (Summary – This remarkable film—a powerful testament to what it means to dedicate one’s life to the service of others—follows three young public defenders as they wrestle with massive caseloads and overwhelming student loans in order to ensure the rights of the accused. Director: Dawn Porter) The film was completely sold out. All 3 levels of Fletcher Hall were packed. The Full Frame crowd clearly wanted to see this film. After some opening remakes from Tom Rankin, Deidre Haj and Sadie This film really moved me. I almost never cry at movies. I was moved to tears watching Gideon’s Army. The audience loved it. The Q&A that followed asked many questions about how public defenders are treated and paid, as well as about what’s being done here locally.
I wrapped up the night by heading across the street to the Durham Armory for the Opening Night party. I’ve been to the Armory several times for Drag Bingo so it was interest to be there for a completely different event. I spent some time talking to more filmmakers, including local filmmaker Scott Calonico (Director of the short film – You Can’t Always Get What You Want), some film students from Florida State University, several producers and attendees. Again the vibe where everybody casually mingles was once again present even at the afterparty. This festival is welcoming to all.
With so much to take in, Full Frame is definitely a great event. I will be live tweeting more of the festival and you can follow me along on twitter @notthecar.