Full Frame Documentary Film Festival celebrated it’s 21st anniversary this year.
Full Frame it is the conversations
by: Chrystal Kelly and Aaron Mandel
As a Durham media constituent and local residents, Full Frame is about the conversations. Likely, that’s because all movies are about the conversations afterward. The shared experience of watching the magic on-screen becomes the grist for the mill for everything from good times to social change.
These days, the conversations, like the Full Frame Festival itself, are everywhere.
Photographer Chrystal Kelly took to the streets with that thought in mind. Rather than follow the filmmakers and stars around, we left that to the national media, Kelly’s goal was to capture stories of the amazing volunteers that underpin the festival, along with the festival goers.
Katherine and Mark Simonsen have been meeting their friends Sharon Ravenscroft and Dara Shain at the Full Frame Festival for more than a decade. This year they loved the Mr. Rogers documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?“. Chrystal Kelly heard that over and over during the weekend. The couple and the two friends also put in a recommendation for “Jazz Ambassadors“. This documentary film is the story of America’s jazz legends on the front line for Civil Rights.
Kelly also met Pasha Gray. Gray is highly regarded local filmmaker who’s work has screened at The Carrack.
Where did Kelly find this talented young filmmaker?
In conversation with Brett Chambers.
They told Kelly about Gray’s narrative science fiction film, “Zoey Gray“. Gray hasn’t yet made a foray into documentary film, but she still enjoys the atmosphere the festival brings to town. She and Chambers were chopping it up about some of her “next moves” according to what they told Kelly.
We can’t wait to hear and see more of Pasha Gray’s “Films about the reality of miscommunication“.
And if you read Mr. Chambers long and distinguished biography here, you will think that’s a pretty terrific mentor to be having a conversation with on a sunny film festival afternoon.
Kelly also met Dane Summers.
Mr. Summers is a Full Frame Festival volunteer who was out there early. He moved to Durham five years ago, in a spot next door to Toast (we are intrigued). Naturally, Toast is now his favorite restaurant. Summers told Kelly he considers volunteering at the Full Frame one of the highlights of his cultural year.
We didn’t get the name of every participant in every great conversation we saw taking place.
Nor did we catch the names of all the great volunteers we saw.
They were universally happy to be there.
We did get to hear the story of James Neeley and his daughter, Melissa Neeley.
James Neeley has been volunteering at the Full Frame Festival for five years. He spends every year posted up in the same spot in front of the Carolina Theatre in the plaza.
He has two daughters connected to film. This year his daughter, Melissa Neeley was volunteering as well.
Melissa Neeley is a filmmaker who co-hosts the 48 Hour Film Festival of Greensboro. Incidentally, registration for the event, where local filmmakers compete to see who can make the best finished film in only 48 hours, opens this week. The champion advances to a national competition.
Rose Oxnard, Neeley’s other daughter is a North Carolina School of the Arts graduate who now lives and works in Los Angeles in the film industry.
There certainly were people at the Full Frame Festival rocking the fashion LA/NYC/Paris level fashion.
We never did find out who this stylish couple was…
Kelly also met Rex Miller and Mark Barroso.
Miller is a videographer by trade. Barroso was part of a group that recently purchased the Chelsea Theater in Chapel Hill and helped save it by converting the theater to a member supported 501(c)3.
The one less than beautiful part of the weekend was the tacky downtown Marriott Hotel. At least before the most recent interior redecoration the grit had character, if the character of a dive bar, now the lobby looks like an airport or worse.
A minor critique amidst a weekend of great conversations and great stories in Durham brought to us by the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival for the 21st consecutive year.