Full Frame
it is the conversations


by: Meriel O’Connell

Nearing the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, I deliberated over what I would choose to write about, how could I encapsulate this topic to its full extent with mere words, given how intricate and variegated the festival is. I didn’t want to write solely on one film as I did the previous year, because I wanted to tackle broader themes. Thinking about this more, I realized that the documentaries pictured in Full Frame directly correlated with the social scene and vibe of the festival itself, and found my perfect discussion point, with the added bonus that I got to people-watch for a few hours without feeling too weird. I saw two interesting and different films: “Good Ol’ Freda” and “20,000 Days on Earth” and soaked up the atmosphere.



One of the greatest things about the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, besides the eye-catching and thought-provoking documentaries screened, is the coming together of both Durhamites and foreigners to the Dirty D. I was able to experience this head on, since I saw these films with my dad and his best friend, Ian, from New York. The beauty of Full Frame is that it is something not just local inhabitants can understand; it reaches beyond that and is able to affect anyone in its presence, opening the conversation between Durham and the world at-large.

As we folded up the grass-covered blanket we sat on during Friday’s outdoor film in Durham Central Park, “Good Ol’ Freda,” and others around us packed up their chairs along the crowded lawn facing the credit-rolling screen, I could hear murmurs of everyone in the area conversing about what they just had seen. These people didn’t have to know each other to discuss the meteoric fame of The Beatles or how Freda Kelly kept up with them all; they just wanted to get a broad scope of opinions, and the diversity of the scene made this easy. Ian got to chat with a few locals from the crowd, both benefitting and expanding their different or similar views. I even brought up this film to my friend who couldn’t make it, and we bantered back and forth for a solid hour about the ultimate cause of the end to Beatlemania.

From "Getting Better" on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album (1967)

From “Getting Better” on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album (1967)

The second film, “20,000 Days On Earth”, introduced incredible and profound statements that made me, as well as everyone else, think deeply about to wrap our minds around them. This one was indoors, and therefore had a slightly different vibe than the other, but when you truly get down to the essentials, the result was the same, the film sparked viewer’s minds and was a huge catalyst for conversation amongst the audience. I even got the pleasure of

Nick Cave

Nick Cave

running into my friend from school after we walked out of the building. We both were in a state of frisson over what Nick Cave, the focus of the film, had to say. I went straight home after the film, because I’m sixteen and can’t go to bars, but after every film including this one, my dad and Ian went to MotorCo or other night spots and talked with anyone that would listen and share their own thoughts. Their conversations would last hours. They got back home every night at 3 AM bubbling with enthusiasm. Our Durham culture is supported and enlarged by Full Frame, it is really captivating, momentous, and inclusive for anyone involved, whether it be children, teenagers like me, or adults like my dad and Ian.

Meriel O’Connell, is a high school junior at Durham Academy. She is a well-traveled young woman, in addition to having taken multiple trips to Australia, she has also spent time in New York City, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and Nicaragua. She loves to observe and absorb local culture. When she isn’t off to one of those fabulous locations, she is singing in her school choir, shopping for new shoes, taking yoga classes, and writing. Diverse and well-rounded, she is natural at New School Journalism.

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