Full Frame: We recap last night's Opening Night Party at the Durham Armory | Arts

Full Frame: We recap last night's Opening Night Party at the Durham Armory


Through on-and-off downpours, filmmakers, festival staff, press and priority pass holders made it across the street from the Carolina Theatre to the Durham Armory last night for one of Full Frame’s most coveted tickets: the Opening Night Party. This is the festival’s prime opportunity for visiting documentarians, in town to present their films, to meet up with each other and let their hair down, sharing creative conversations over an open bar and late-night supper.

A Green Team was on site to collect the compostable cups, plates and utensils used to consume the sumptuous buffet of fresh strawberries, steamed mussels, marinated salmon, pulled barbacoa and green salsa, tabouli and orzo salads, banana pudding and baklava.

Providing audio and visual motifs, a black-and-white film was projected overhead to the chill, funky grooves of Durham jazz artist Al Strong, who teases the sound of his flugelhorn through a distortion pedal. The live music was a cross-promotion for Durham's Art of Cool Fest, just around the corner April 24–26. Strong’s crew featured drummer Kobie Watkins, bassist Kenny Phelps-McKeown and pianist Ryan Hanseler, who leaves Durham for Amsterdam later this month; Hanseler’s All-Star Farewell Performance, April 23 at Beyù Caffè, invites fans and Triangle jazz greats John Brown, Lynn Grissett, Brian Miller et al. to say goodbye.

You never know who you’ll meet at a Full Frame event; tap a shoulder and you’re likely to find a Duke vice president or a struggling filmmaker. Duke’s chief diversity officer Ben Reese was on hand as a Full Frame board member; Guatemalan-American cameraman Jeremy Bunch was there shooting the party as a volunteer.

“You have such an amazing film scene here, you should cherish it,” says Bunch, who is home-based in Oakland. His first film work isn’t showing at the festival, but the Bisbee Films documentary Don’t Cost Nothin’ to Dream follows hip-hop artists in Cuba, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Before he left, we networked and talked about the possibilities of screening the film in Durham before he leaves town.

Partygoers dispersed for bars or their beds a little after midnight, abuzz with anticipation for the next few days of marathon film-going.

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