Today, at 10 a.m., a forty-two minute film about Hurricane Katrina-made without a single edit-will open the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in downtown Durham. Over the next four days, dozens of premiere documentary films will hit screens across town, and some of modern film's top artists will be in attendance as Full Frame celebrates its tenth year.
The past decade has dealt a hand of overwhelming success to the festival, which was founded by Nancy Buirski in 1998 and has grown into one of America's premiere documentary film festivals. It has hosted Oscar winners (Murderball) and massive celebrities (Michael Moore and Martin Scorsese), and has received acclaim from major publications (A.O. Scott of The New York Times complimented the festival by noting how easy it was to, "lose yourself in real life."). But more than anything else, the resilience of the festival is due to the unwavering quality of its programming. recess previews the most interesting and important films and events at the 2007 festival.
Lake of Fire is billed as the abortion documentary to end all abortion documentaries. Directed by American History X's Tony Kaye, Fire's run time of over two and a half hours may scare off many potential viewers, but don't let the length intimidate you. Kaye's passion for the material is unparalleled, and the film is strong enough to have already secured distribution from THINKfilm. (2:15 p.m., Cinema One, Carolina Theatre)
Bob Dylan: 65 Revisited is the name of a new cut of footage originally shot for the landmark documentary Don't Look Back. D.A. Pennebaker, the director of both films, has been a member of the Full Frame jury for years, and will host a question and answer session after the screening. (10:30 p.m., Cinema One)
Sherman's March, one of the finest Southern documentaries of all time, is part of a five-film tribute to Ross McElwee, who will receive a career achievement award at this year's festival. At almost three hours, it's McElwee's epic, but it's also one of the shortest long films you'll ever see, tracking the filmmaker's search for love while he tracks the long-lost footprints of George Sherman's famed march across the South. (9:15 p.m., Civic Center One)
The premise of The Hands of Che Guevara is so absurd you know you'll be sucked in before you even settle into your seat. This hour-long film follows, quite literally, the hands of El Che after they are chopped off and preserved in formaldehyde. (3:00 p.m., Civic Center One)
Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee's praised 1989 film, and a making of documentary, creatively titled Making "Do The Right Thing," are both screening at the festival as documentary filmmaker St. Clair Bourne's "The Power of Ten" selection. For years, Do The Right Thing has remained an important part of the canon, influencing other great films, like La Haine, which won Cannes in 1995. Bourne's work on the companion piece is incredibly detailed and surprisingly relevant for what would normally be a DVD extra. (Documentary at 9:00 p.m. at Cinema Two, Film at 11:00 p.m. at Cinema One)
Martin Scorsese will once again contribute to Full Frame, with a video introduction for his "The Power of Ten" choice, Harvest 3000 Years, an Ethiopian neo-realist classic, which, shot documentary style in black and white, aided a revolutionary political movement. (9:00 a.m., Cinema One)
The 2007 Career Award presentation for Ross McElwee will be a difficult event to get into, but if you can manage, it'll be worth it, as the filmmaker presents clips from his past films and his current work in progress. If your schedule can fit it, McElwee's other great film, Time Indefinite, screens before. (Film at 2:00 p.m. in Cinema Two, Career Award at 5:30 p.m. in Cinema One)
Sportsfan sounds like something you would stay far away from. After all, it's about a year in the life of a group of fanatical Minnesota Vikings football fans. But, since it's executive produced by Jon Stewart and Ben Karlin of The Daily Show, it's also a pretty good bet to offer some quality moments. (11:30 p.m., American Tobacco Campus)
When a film is mentioned in the same breath as those by Werner Herzog and Terrence Malick, it means it's time to sit up and listen. Nobody is such a film. The story of a "modern Huck Finn," Nobody follows a solitary man's quest to canoe four rivers from Indiana to the Gulf Coast. (9:15 a.m., Civic Center Two)
"Reaching Out on Global Warming" is only the second event recess has recommended that is not specifically a film screening, but it might be the most interesting hour and a half of the festival, as producers and executives of two top films on the world's most pressing issue discuss their strategies for filmmaking and marketing. (12:00 p.m., Durham Arts Council)