Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
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The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is an annual international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of non-fiction cinema. Each spring Full Frame welcomes filmmakers and film lovers from around the world to historic downtown Durham, North Carolina for a four-day, morning to midnight array of over 100 films as well as discussions, panels, and southern hospitality. Set within a few city blocks, the intimate festival landscape fosters community and conversation between filmmakers, film professionals, and the public.
The festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies, a non-profit, 501(c)(3), and receives support from corporate sponsors, private foundations, and individual donors whose generosity provides the foundation that makes the event possible. The Presenting Sponsor of the Festival is Duke University. Additional sponsors include: A&E IndieFilms, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, National Endowment for the Arts, Merge Records, Whole Foods, ilili Hospitality Group(parent company for Saladelia Cafe and Madhatter Bakeshop and cafe),and the City of Durham.
The festival began in 1998 with no more than a few hundred patrons and has grown tremendously since then. Full Frame is now considered to be one of the premier documentary film festivals in the United States. The Festival was founded by Nancy Buirski, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor of The New York Times and documentary filmmaker.
Full Frame's mission is to serve the documentary form and its community by showcasing the contemporary work of established and emerging filmmakers. The festival provides a space that nurtures conversation between artists, students, and the Full Frame audience. Full Frame is committed to enhancing public understanding and appreciation of the art form and its significance, while making films more accessible to a wider audience.
Full Frame became a qualifying festival for the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for Best Documentary in 2012, and a qualifying festival for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2013.
Full Frame also promotes the festival’s mission throughout the year by presenting documentary work in other venues both locally and nationally, partnering with organizations like the American Tobacco Historic District/Capitol Broadcasting Company, Des Moines Art Center, Duke University, the IFC Center, the International Affairs Council of North Carolina, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, PNC Financial Services, Rooftop Films, and the University of North Carolina (UNC) School System.
Full Frame has reached national recognition not just from its impressive programming but also the presence of numerous filmmaking celebrities. Over the years, those attending have included Michael Moore, DA Pennebaker, Martin Scorsese, Danny DeVito, Ken Burns, Joan Allen, Al Franken, and Steve James.
The 19th annual festival took place April 7–10, 2016. The 2016 Call for Entries opened August 15, 2015 and closed December 15, 2015.
Each year the festival invites a member of the documentary filmmaking community to curate a series of films on a specific topic. The curated series have included:
- 2016: Perfect and Otherwise: Documenting American Politics, curator R. J. Cutler
- 2015: The Moral Compass, curator Jennifer Baichwal
- 2014: Approaches to Character, curator Lucy Walker
- 2013: Stories About Stories, curator Amir Bar-Lev
- 2012: Family Affairs, curator Ross McElwee
- 2011: One Foot in the Archives, curator Rick Prelinger
- 2010: Work and Labor, curators Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert
- 2009: This Sporting Life, curator Steve James
- 2009: Migrations, curator Lourdes Portillo
- 2007: The Power of 10, curators St. Clair Bourne, Charles Burnett, Ariel Dorfman, Cara Mertes, Michael Moore, Walter Mosley, Mira Nair, DA Pennebaker, Julia Reichert, and Martin Scorsese
- 2006: Class in America, curator St. Clair Bourne
- 2005: Why War?, curator Cara Mertes
- 2004: Hybrid: A New Film Form, curator Mary Lea Bandy
- 2003: Leadership Through a Gender Lens, curators Marie Wilson and Chris Hegedus
- 2002: Score!, curator DA Pennebaker
- 2001: 2001 - Fast Forward', curator Kent Jones, Film Society of Lincoln Center
- 2000: Outside Looking In: Coming of Age Stories, curator Alan Berliner
- 1999: 'World Without Limits
- 1998: Tolerance, curator Larry Kardish
From 1998 to 2011, the festival presented a filmmaker with the Full Frame Career Award. In 2012, this award was changed to the Full Frame Tribute. Past recipients include:
- 2016: Kirsten Johnson
- 2015: Marshall Curry
- 2014: Steve James
- 2013: Jessica Yu
- 2012: Stanley Nelson
- 2011: Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
- 2010: Liz Garbus and Rory Kennedy
- 2009: St. Clair Bourne
- 2008: William Greaves
- 2007: Ross McElwee
- 2006: Richard Leacock
- 2005: Ken Burns, Ric Burns
- 2004: Marcel Ophüls
- 2003: Charles Guggenheim
- 2001: Barbara Kopple
- 2000: DA Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus
- 1998: Albert Maysles, Michael Apted
Occasionally, the festival honors an industry member who has made important contributions to the field with the Full Frame Industry Award. Past recipients include:
- 2007: P.O.V./Marc Weiss
- 2003: Pat Mitchell
- 2001: Soros Documentary Fund/Diane Weyermann
- 2000: Sheila Nevins
The festival offers a number of prizes at each festival.
The prizes awarded at the 2015 festival were:
- The The Reva and David Logan Grand Jury Award for the best feature film.
- The Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short for the best film of 40 minutes or less.
- The Full Frame Audience Award for a short film and a feature film chosen by ballot of the attendees of the festival.
- The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) Filmmaker Award for the film that best combines originality and creativity with firsthand experience in examining central issues of contemporary life and culture.
- The Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award for the best first-time documentary feature filmmaker.
- The Full Frame Inspiration Award for the film that best exemplifies the value and relevance of world religions and spirituality.
- The Full Frame President's Award for the best student film.
- The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights for a film that addresses a significant human rights issue in the United States.
- The The Nicholas School Environmental Award for the film that best depicts the conflict between our drive to improve living standards through development and modernization, and the imperative to preserve both the natural environment that sustains us and the heritages that define us.
Past Grand Jury Award winners are:
- 2015: (T)ERROR, Kings of Nowhere
- 2014: Evolution of a Criminal
- 2013: American Promise
- 2012: Special Flight (Vol Special)
- 2011: Scenes of a Crime
- 2010: Enemies of the People
- 2009: Burma VJ
- 2008: Trouble the Water
- 2007: The Monastery
- 2006: Iraq in Fragments
- 2005: Murderball, Shape of the Moon
- 2004: Control Room
- 2003: Etre et Avoir
- 2002: The First Year
- 2001: Benjamin Smoke, Avant de Partir
- 2000: La Bonne du Conduite: 5 Histoires d' Auto Ecole (The Way I Look at You: 5 Stories of Driving School')
- 1999: Return with Honor, Fotoamator
- 1998: In Harm's Way, Travis
- Beth Hanna, "Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Chosen as Oscar-Qualifying in Documentary Short Category", IndieWire, February 22, 2013.
- Lisa Sorg, "The Loving Story is Full Frame founder Nancy Buirski's documentary about a landmark in marriage equality and civil rights", IndyWeek, April 13, 2011.
- Tambay A. Obenson, "Producers Guild of America Expands Fest List to Include Full Frame, Silverdocs, SXSW Film Fests", IndyWire, August 21, 2012.
- Adam Benzine, "IDFA, SXSW, Tribeca, Silverdocs to qualify Oscar shorts", Realscreen, March 28, 2013.
- Morris, Neil (April 1, 2009). "A smaller, more compact festival yields documentary riches". Independent Weekly. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
- "Submit", Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.