On March 11, this year’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, which is held annually in Durham, N.C., was cancelled. The cancellation came directly as a result of Duke’s recent policy to suspend all University-sponsored events through May 7 in response to the health and safety risks posed by the spread of coronavirus.
According to their press release, the festival’s organizers are currently “in the process of notifying filmmakers, sponsors, donors, ticket buyers and all of our stakeholders” of the cancellation. Full Frame is one of many off-campus events that has been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak and Duke’s subsequent ban on gatherings with an expected attendance of 50-plus people.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is a beloved international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of nonfiction cinema. Each spring, Full Frame attracts and welcomes filmmakers and film-lovers from around the world to Durham, N.C. for a four-day, morning-to-midnight array of nearly 100 films, as well as discussions, panels and awards.
With sponsors such as HBO, Netflix, Duke University and National Geographic, and with hundreds of film submissions every year, the festival has not only become a highly anticipated event within the Durham community, but also a household event within the film and documentary scene. This year’s festival would’ve marked the 23rd festival in Full Frame’s history.
Beyond the disappointment of film fanatics, documentary buffs and festival attendees in general, a cancellation of the Full Frame festival could have immense consequences, particularly for the local Durham community. Being such a large-scale festival that attracts people from all over the globe, Full Frame provides an annual boost to the local Durham economy.
Without the festival happening this year, hotels, restaurants, gift shops and small Durham businesses in general could see lower sales, revenue and eventual profit. Further, as a result of this festival’s cancellation, many notable documentaries will not be featured and introduced to the public. (Full Frame has not announced any plans to stream the films online, an option SXSW is currently exploring.) This lack of additional advertising could potentially lower movie theater sales later in the year, as people remain unaware of such documentaries and don’t go out to see them.
As of now, next year’s festival is still slated to be held at its normal time and dates of April 8 to 11. Tickets to attend however, will not go on sale until February 2021.
Continual updates on this developing situation can be found directly on Full Frame’s website at https://www.fullframefest.org/covid19/.