By Maggie Burnette Stogner
Thanks to American University’s Center on Media and Social Impact (CSMI), six graduate students and I attended Full Frame Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina earlier this month. It was my first time at Full Frame and I highly recommend it! There were dozens of excellent documentaries, meetings with filmmakers, discussion panels, and more. Some highlights: the world premiere of Raising Bertie, a feature doc that follows the stories of three African American boys growing into adulthood in rural North Carolina. Director/producer Margaret Byrne, DP/Producer Jon Stuyvesant, and Producer Ian Robertson Kibbe from Kartemquin Films took us behind the scenes of six years of filming and the challenges of independent documentaries. After the sold-out premiere screening, the filmmakers along with the three young men in the film, as well as other characters, shared insights about the making of the film and the impact the filmmakers and subjects have had on each other’s lives. It’s a powerful film that tackles tough issues. Watch for it!
We also met the inspiring Kirsten Johnson, who was premiering her new film, Cameraperson. Kirsten is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and cinematographer whose credits include Pray the Devil Back to Hell, The Oath, Dafur Now, and Citizenfour. CSMI fellow Sarah Dale described Kristen Johnson’s talk as “the most rewarding experience of the festival.”
Other premieres included the surprisingly entertaining Weiner about Anthony Weiner’s bid for New York Mayor in 2013, and the illuminating Two Trains Running about two forgotten blues singers at the height of the civil rights movement in Mississippi.
A highlight for me were the Speakeasy Conversations that offered insightful panels on topics from impact producing to new models of theatrical distribution to #DocsSoWhite? that put a spotlight on race and gender issues. I met many filmmakers at an event hosted by Southern Documentary Fund, fiscal sponsor for Raising Bertie and for my indie doc In the Executioner’s Shadow which reveals a penetrating look at the consequences of the death penalty.
Another group of emerging filmmakers will be at Full Frame next year, thanks to AU’s Center on Media and Social Impact, and I will definitely be there!