When I found out that Shut Up and Play the Hits was only playing for one day in theaters in July—some sort of devilish yet ingeniously effective scheme by the distributors in terms of purchase-motivating psychology, I imagined—I scrambled to buy tickets. I was rewarded; the film, recounting LCD Soundsystem’s final show, was historically important, captured the concert experience tremendously, delved into big questions about the nature of art and experience itself, and introduced us to lead singer James Murphy’s absurdly adorable French Bulldog. I paid around 10 bucks for that screening, movie-theater-buttered popcorn notwithstanding.
And yet I could’ve waited. On October 5, Shut Up and Play the Hits will be screened at the lawn on American Tobacco Campus—for free.
Shut Up and Play the Hits is the final screening of Movies on the Lawn, a free summer film series open to the public. This is the third consecutive year the series has run, the product of a partnership between Full Frame Festival and the American Tobacco Campus. The series focuses on music documentaries produced in recent years, and is a perfect dovetail into American Tobacco’s successful Music on the Lawn series, said Sadie Tillery, programming director at Full Frame.
This summer, the series has shown films like Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a documentary exploring the career of The Funk Brothers, the uncredited house band on all major hits recorded under the Motown record label, and Andrew Bird’s Fever Year, which documents the culmination of Andrew Bird’s most rigorous concert tour. Shut Up and Play the Hits, a film that Full Frame was not able to show at the festival due to the distributor’s plan, seems a fitting end to a successful series.
“It’s great to bring it back and show it in this other way,” Tillery said. “What’s nice about programming for this series is that you get to show a different variety of work…not just about music but different styles of filmmaking as well.” Movies on the Lawn endeavors to foster a relaxed family atmosphere, “a place together that’s not the home or office, where people come out and bring their families, dogs, picnic…sit underneath the stars…and just watch a great documentary film on music,” said Valerie Ward, arts coordinator at the American Tobacco Campus. “There’s something about that shared experience which is very exciting,” added Rebecca Mormino, Full Frame programming coordinator. In addition to numerous other arts programs, American Tobacco Campus is an important sponsor of Full Frame—“second only to Duke,” according to Mormino—indeed, Full Frame’s offices are located at the campus on Blackwell Street. Movies on the Lawn is Full Frame’s way of giving back to American Tobacco Campus and the Durham community.
“We’re really grateful to American Tobacco for sponsoring our programs, and we couldn’t do it without them,” Full Frame Executive Director Deirdre Haj said. Full Frame is committed to bringing year-round programming to the community, said Mormino; indeed, efforts do not end with the summer series. There is a youth screening in fall for middle school and high school kids as well as a winter series that screens documentaries selected for Academy Awards nominations. In collaboration with the Duke Center for Documentary Studies, Full Frame sponsors a school for Durham students who might not otherwise have the chance to learn about documentary filmmaking. In addition, the free Teach by Teachers program, taught by Duke professor Allen Kingsley, helps teachers learn how to utilize documentary filmmaking in the classroom. Next spring, Full Frame hopes to do a series with the Durham Public library.
As the final screening of Movies on the Lawn, Shut Up and Play the Hits is expected to garner a relatively large and diverse audience.
“We’re working with the [entrepreneurial coordination organization] American Underground, reaching to local entrepreneurs to make the screening a networking event,” Ward said.
Shut Up and Play the Hits will be screened through Movies on the Lawn on Friday, October 5, at 9 p.m.