There will be one prominent new feature at this year's Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. After festival founder and guiding spirit Nancy Buirski stepped away after leading Full Frame through its first decade, two directors served through a tough period for arts nonprofits before the latter of them, Peg Palmer, stepped down last year. Two months ago, the festival hired its fourth executive director, Deirdre Haj, who comes with extensive experience in film, television and documentary production.
This year, there will be a handful of local documentaries showing in competition. Rodrigo Dorfman's Generation Exile is a personal documentary that narrates his long, tangled path from a childhood in Chile to Europe to Durham, N.C. Two new docs come out of Duke University and the Center for Documentary Studies: In My Mind is a portrait of jazz composer Jason Moran and his restaging of Thelonious Monk's concert at New York's Town Hall, while Pelada is a film made by former soccer players who travel the world in search of the beautiful (pickup) game. Fans of the documentary filmmaking process—and followers of local work—will want to check in on the Southern Documentary Fund's annual In the Works program on Sunday, April 11, when excerpts from Private Violence, Kit Gruelle's new film about domestic abuse, will be shown.
One big (and inspired) change to the programming this year is the inclusion of free community screenings outdoors at Durham Central Park: Friday night will be Racing Dreams, while Pelada will screen Saturday. Both will begin at 8 p.m.
The festival has a few big-name offerings—either as the film's subject or behind the camera. Among them are And Everything is Going Fine, Steven Soderbergh's portrait of the late monologuist Spalding Gray; No Crossover, a film by Steve James (Hoop Dreams) that examines a controversial incident in basketball superstar Allen Iverson's adolescence; Thorn in the Heart, a documentary from the eclectic filmmaker Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); and The Kings of Pastry, the latest from festival perennials D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, which will serve as the opening night film.
This year, lifetime achievement recognition goes to Liz Garbus and Rory Kennedy, the filmmakers behind such acclaimed works as The Farm: Angola, USA, American Hollow, The Execution of Wanda Jean and Shouting Fire, which will all be shown this weekend, among other titles.