full frame fever


In reflecting on Full Frame, I’d like to revisit a screening that’s already been somewhat discussed here. In pairing Albert Maysles’ latest film about Sally Gross (The Pleasure of Stillness) with the first film from Aurelien Foucault (Of Shadows and Men), the festival programmers created a dynamic that echoed through the rest of Full Frame. The convergence of master and novice, established and innovative, predictable and daring. That’s part of what made the festival so exciting, to see the potential everywhere mixed with stunning proven results.

We saw it also in films like Salim Baba, which was a beautifully-shot short about a man in India who drives a cinema cart to support his family. The cart is a mobile screening booth, with the film projected on the back wall of a little box, and children peeking through windows on the sides, under the cover of a curtain to keep the light out. To watch as the Indian man and his young sons take scrapped celluloid and re-configure it to make their own films, painstakingly taping the frames together with unwieldy scotch tape – that’s what’s exciting about filmmaking, what’s always been exciting about it.

When asked, many filmmakers we spoke to during the festival cited the digital revolution in filmmaking as such a great, revolutionary, daring part of filmmaking in 2008. The idea that every person can go out and buy a camera and edit a film on their laptop while sipping coffee in a cafe. Yes, it’s amazing! It’ll be even more amazing to watch what unexpected things people do with the medium now – ways of reappropriating the technology and the artform for something revolutionary. Glimpses of these possibilities were seen in films like Order Purchase In A Dream, which melded animation and film footage with an incredible family history and great cinematography to create a beautiful artifact. Or Man On Wire, which used dramatic representation and humour to re-enact and re-examine an act of daring humanity writ large.

This enthusiasm and encouragement were constantly present at Full Frame. Unlike other festivals, where the air shimmers with fevered competition, this was a great opportunity to just hang out with film fans and filmmakers alike and watch a bunch of great films together. Also, Durham, NC provided the perfect setting for this festival – relaxed, friendly, and home to some superb red velvet cake ( Purchase Blue Coffee Cafe).

It’s impossible to try to encapsulate everything in a handful of sentences though. The UnionDocs online http://www.cnsvt.ch/?p=9659 podcasts Buy made and photos taken during Full Frame lend another perspective to the madcap adventures that were undertaken in the pursuit of film appreciation.

On an ending note, some quips that were wonderfully memorable:

“To have a hand is to make good things.” – Laotian saying, quoted in The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

“I never thought I’d look at the twin towers and think of anything but 9/11, and your film changed that.” – audience response to James Marsh’s Man On Wire

“I didn’t want to make a sexy, National Geographic version of Kolkata.” – Tim Sternberg in Q&A about his film, Salim Baba Order

“…all it takes is two guys, a camera, and a computer.” – Aurelien Foucault on how to go about making your first film