courtesy of Full Frame
Still from Andrew Rodgers' Crooked Candy
After wading into the relatively shallow Thursday pool of opening-day films
, the 18th Full Frame Documentary Festival
dove headlong into its perennially plentiful Friday fare
. Amid a sea of food tents and converted hotel ballrooms, it was time for the full panoply of passholders to navigate the lines winding like tributaries through the festival’s four-block radius in downtown Durham.
There are Green Lines and Blue Lines. There are Last Minute Lines. There are Will Call lines. There are lines for food and lines into the parking garage across the street from the Carolina Theatre. Still, Full Frame’s queuing process, like the festival itself, is far more orderly and manageable than larger film events throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Friday is also the day when ubiquitous huddles of festival patrons materialize, chatting over souvlaki and Caesar salad about which docs they’ve already seen and mapping out which ones they’ll attend out of the sometimes five or six showing at a time.
It’s too early to draw definite conclusions about this year’s festival with two full days of showings remaining. But a couple of themes—one anecdotal, one actual—began to emerge. One is a noticeable number of films with promising premises that peter out due to running times that outstrip their material. This is obviously a qualitative assessment that differs between viewers. However, colleagues noted a number of films with enticing subjects and/or subject-matter that couldn’t sustain run times of 80 minutes or longer.
The other, more practical issue was audio problems that beset the venerable Fletcher Hall throughout the day, causing consternation for audiences, staff and filmmakers. The six-minute short film Crooked Candy
was reshown following its companion feature doc because of a sound-mixing snafu during the initial screening. The volume for Being Evel
varied from EAR-SPLITTING MUSIC to muffled, barely discernible dialogue
. A few audience members already in Fletcher were asked to leave and then reenter several minutes later as workers attempted to correct audio issues prior to the screening of 3½ Minutes
However, Friday also saw two of the most highly acclaimed entries in this year’s festival. The Wolfpack
, winner of the documentary U.S. Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, was given a peculiar 10 p.m. start time. And the most emotional moment of the day was the screening of 3½ Minutes
, an adeptly edited courtroom drama surrounding the trial of Michael Dunn for the 2012 murder of teenager Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida. The film’s timely impact was heightened by the presence of Ron Davis, Jordan’s father, as part of a post-screening Q&A session.
Day Three of Full Frame kicked off today with a full slate that includes a 10 a.m. showing of Peace Office
r, winner of the Documentary Feature Grand Jury and Audience Awards at last month’s SXSW. As I arrived at the theater, ticket takers directed me onto a circuitous 50-foot roped route to the entrance instead of an unobstructed 10-foot saunter, though there was no one ahead of me. Maybe I picked the wrong line.