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Film (festival) criticism

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Thank you for your excellent coverage of Full Frame, which, by all accounts, has been a local gem 11 years and counting ("Film at 11," cover story, April 2). I'd like to point out, however, that the festival, though it may be a boon to indie filmmakers and critics, is not as accessible to the casual movie-goer as it could be.

Let's begin with ticket pricing, which, at $15 plus the $2.50 service fee for advance tickets, might be unremarkable to New Yorkers and Europeans flying in to see the festival and pick up a cheap iPhone at Southpoint, but is double what the local moviegoer typically pays. OK, many of these are first-look films that we may not get a chance to see at theaters or even on DVD—I get that. But the pricing is nevertheless prohibitive to locals who, in most cases, are already providing the year-round backing via tax-paying, charity and patronage that makes the festival possible in our local setting.

Secondly, the ticket categories are more than a little bit confusing to anyone who does not have the time to read the entirety of the Full Frame literature or their (god-awful) Web site—and even to many, like me, who do. There are advance tickets, day-of tickets, tickets for passholders and last-minute tickets. I don't think the casual film fan who comes out on Saturday or Sunday is going to feel terribly welcome at an admittedly snooty indie film festival when something that should be as simple as purchasing a ticket becomes an ordeal. And the volunteers are not informed enough to be able to help newbies to the festival understand, say, that though day-of tickets for one film are all gone, there remain limited last-minute tickets that will be available at the venue just before the screening takes place.

The unfortunate consequence of all of this is that we have a fairly closed, and genuinely "foreign," film festival taking place in our own backyard, and while it may be possible for a Kimberly Roberts to win the festival, it would not be so easy for her to actually attend the festival. A shame.

Brian Gardner
Chapel Hill

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