Durham, N.C. — Full Frame, a four day international documentary film festival held every spring in downtown Durham, did not disappoint.
More than 100 films were screened last weekend, many featuring question and answer sessions with filmmakers.
My favorite part of Full Frame is reflecting on everything that I was able to see over the weekend. With so many options to choose from, I am always afraid that I missed something. There are some documentaries I feel truly honored to have seen and felt really touched by. There are others that I wonder how the heck they even made it into the festival. With that being said, I have found that sometimes you have to see a frustrating film to really appreciate a great one. Here are a few of the films that stuck with me, some for better and some for worse:
“Weiner” did not disappoint. Now with all jokes aside, I commend Anthony Weiner for letting us into his life at the most trying of times. The film followed the former New York House representative during his 2013 run for mayor of New York City. Weiner resigned from congress after a sexting scandal in 2011. At first, the story seemed to be about forgiveness and redemption, but history soon repeated itself when more allegations surfaced. The film was a great inside look at how Weiner’s digital infidelities affected his family, campaign and followers.
“Newtown” was incredibly emotional. The film recounted the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary, where 26 lives were taken by an emotionally unstable person with access to a gun. The film highlighted the people of Newtown, who were left feeling helpless after an unimaginable tragedy. One of the special benefits of Full Frame is being able to talk with the filmmakers and subjects. I was left speechless when the father of one of the victims spoke after the film. It’s not about closure, it’s not about moving on. It’s about what we do, when this is all we have left.
“Audrie and Daisy” was my favorite film of the weekend. It told the story of Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman who were sexually assaulted and bullied, yet their assailants received little to no consequences. Both girls tried to take their own lives. While the world lost Audrie, Daisy lived to find her voice and stand up for others in similar situations. The documentary painted a scary picture of rape culture in our country and, being a woman, I couldn’t help but think about all of the victims that are afraid to speak out. You can find “Audrie and Daisy” on Netflix this summer.
The world premiere of “Raising Bertie” was packed, and many viewers were turned away. The North Carolina aspect really worked in favor of the film, which follows three Bertie County teens over a six year period, showing them struggle to graduate, find jobs and beat the odds. Unfortunately for me, the film never found its purpose. What started as a film about an alternative school run by community activist, Vivian Saunders, shifted to follow the subjects after the school was shut down. Sanders was full of energy and life when she was on screen and I found that the energy and life was lacking without her. I was left wondering what the film was really about.
I want to see a film that is going to keep me up at night wondering what’s next.
What is next for the people of Newtown? Will they ever find some sort of peace? Will more sexual assault victims come forward because of Audrie's and Daisy’s stories? Will Anthony Weiner ever learn, and get a cell phone without a camera? Will the boys of Bertie become more than their situation?
I feel exhausted and emotionally drained but seeing these amazing films and being able to talk to the filmmakers and subjects made the long weekend worth it. If you enjoy watching films that have meaning and you think you can take on a four day long marathon of films, Full Frame is the place for you.
Cheers to Full Frame 2016, until next year!
When Sierra Clarke isn't hitting the movies or dining around downtown Raleigh, she is the creative services coordinator for Fox 50.