Last week we had the great pleasure of attending the remarkable Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina. It was Lance and Lindsay’s first time at Full Frame, the second time for Brandon, and the fifth(!) for MHP advisory board member Angelica Das. Now that we’re back home in DC, we’ve had a little time to reflect on just how much Full Frame represented the ideal blend of all the best things you could ask from a film festival — incredible films, a beautiful town with all programs within walking distance, delicious barbecue, and most importantly — an unforgettable sense of community.
The films were top-caliber works of art and storytelling. We were blown away by the visual beauty and poetry of Tocando la Luz, the fierce urgency of Saving Mes Aynak, the moral dilemmas in Point and Shoot, and the candid, emotional and personal journey and love story in From this Day Forward, just to name a few. The films were accompanied by panels that brought these filmmakers together to engage in deeper dialogues on pressing issues facing the film community. Angelica moderated an exceptional session on Dangerous Docs, exploring how filmmakers handle various forms of risk-taking in their pursuits of truth and justice in storytelling.
After each screening and event, the filmmakers were so eloquent, candid and passionate in their responses to audience questions. The dialogues felt like actual dialogues and conversations, rather than what often emerge as distant or stuffy panels in these kinds of settings. In every conversation, we learned something that helped us to appreciate the struggle and perseverance required to make each one of these fine pieces of filmmaking.
As if the films weren’t enough, for us, the atmosphere, attitude and community at Full Frame was the real reason we will keep coming back. Lance had the ‘unique’ privilege to drive a van-load of George Washington University students down to the festival with our friends Jason Osder (associate professor at GWU) and Chithra Jeyaram (instructor in GWU’s Doc Center program). Some of our best highlights from the weekend came from experiences hanging out with the students, hearing about their ambitions for beginning a career in documentary filmmaking, talking with them about the films, and seeing the students have a chance to interact with some of the finest filmmakers working today. Everyone at Full Frame, regardless of skill level, career status, hometown or education level, felt so cordial, supportive and open to sharing insights, advice, and wisdom amongst one another. It made us feel particularly grateful to be a part of this community. The students’ enthusiasm for the craft and the field was energizing in thinking about how we approach our own work.
As much as we enjoyed Durham’s farmers market, outdoor cafes and most importantly — the public hammocks — we’re happy to be back in our hometown and fast at work finishing the last stage of the City of Trees edit, teaching at Mundo Verde and Sitar Arts Center, wrapping new shorts made for Lutheran Social Services and The Center for Inspired Teaching, just to name a few of the things happening this spring at the MHP studio.
And we've already got Full Frame on our calendar for next year...