In its 18-year history, Full Frame has become one of the most prestigious documentary film festivals in the nonfiction community. While it’s not a marketplace, the Durham, N.C.-based four-day fest gives well received Sundance and SXSW docs a boost, while also showcasing smaller films seeking distribution.
One such film, Erika Frankel’s “King Georges,” made its world premiere at fest on Saturday and is the only doc that Submarine Entertainment’s Josh Braun signed during his time in Durham.
Braun, who will be honored with the festival’s 2015 Advocate Award, brought six previously released titles — “Mavis!”, “Iris,” “Peace Officer,” “Sunshine Superman,” “Meru” and “Kingdom of Shadows” — to Full Frame. HBO just acquired U.S. broadcast rights to Jessica Edward’s “Mavis!” about the life of musician and civil rights activist Mavis Staples.
Braun says that “Peace Officer,” about the increasing militarization of U.S. police departments, currently has three remake offers (two for television and one for feature adaptation), as well as four offers for the film itself (two theatrical and two broadcast).
Since 2013, Full Frame has served as an Oscar-qualifying festival in the short docu category. A nonfiction film no longer than 40 minutes that receives the Jury Award for best short automatically qualifies for Oscar consideration without having to participate in the standard theatrical run. The 2014 Full Frame short winner, “White Earth,” went on to nab an Academy Award nomination.
In addition to shorts, Full Frame is a necessary stop for documentary features hoping to reach the awards circuit. “Man on Wire,” “The Cove” and “Born Into Brothels” all screened at Full Frame before winning the Oscar for best documentary.
While Sundance hits, including “(T)error,” “3 and 1/2 Minutes,” “Cartel Land” and “Best of Enemies” drew some of the festival’s largest crowds, three titles making their world premieres at Full Frame garnered plenty of buzz.
“From This Day Forward”
Filmmaker Sharon Shattuck eloquently explores her father’s very intimate transition from male to female. The critical success of Amazon’s “Transparent,” along with Discovery’s new six-part transgender-focused docu-series “New Girls on the Block” and TLC’s upcoming unscripted show “Jazz Jennings” about a transgender teen will only help generate further buzz for this film.
Peter Galison and Robb Moss’ latest documentary also taps into another controversy magnet — nuclear power. The directing duo isn’t strangers to hot-button topics. Their 2008 Sundance hit “Secrecy” chronicled the massive efforts by the U.S. government to classify data from the general population. “Containment,” about the scientific, moral and philosophical problems that surround the disposition of nuclear waste, is sure to spark a national debate.
It’s no secret that some of the best, most acclaimed documentaries are, as Jerry Seinfeld said at the 2007 Academy Awards, “incredibly depressing.” So when a poignant, emotional docu like Erika Frankel’s “King Georges,” about a fiery French chef’s crusade to save his world-renowned 40-year-old restaurant from becoming obsolete, evokes a steady stream of laughter, it’s reason enough to look forward to it.