FESTIVAL: A Focus on Storytelling; DoubleTake Doc Fest Enters New Era As Full Frame
by Hugo Perez
(indieWIRE/ 04.10.02) — The DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival began its fifth anniversary with an unexpected announcement: from now on, the event will be known as the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The decision — part of the organizers’ efforts to become more independent and better able to expand its programs in the future — did not seem to affect the flow of the festival, which despite record numbers for attendance, ran more smoothly than in previous years and seems to have come into its own. (Starting next year, the fest won’t be affiliated with Duke University‘s Center for Documentary Studies, former publisher of DoubleTake magazine.) Full Frame, formerly DoubleTake, continues to be the premiere festival for documentaries in the U.S. primarily because of its commitment to being a filmmaker’s festival, a festival more concerned with films and discussion of issues than with parties and market buzz.
Jules Naudet, part of the filmmaking duo behind CBS’s gripping “9/11,” expressed the feelings of many of the filmmakers present. “It’s not very often that documentary filmmakers get to see each other,” he said. “It’s especially wonderful to be in a place where we can get together to discuss our films and the issues that they raise.” The offerings at the festival this year spanned the gamut from experimental and quirky to traditional broadcast journalism, from vérité to personal essay documentary, and highlighted many of the themes that are central to the documentary film genre: the question of identity, the need to explore and raise awareness of social issues, the act of providing alternative interpretations of history, and, ultimately, the impulse to tell good stories.
The opening night events presented a study in contrast, and set the tone for the wide range of offerings at this year’s festival, which ran April 4-7. The festival opened with Alexandra Pelosi‘s “Journeys with George,” a timely personal essay documentary that chronicles Pelosi’s interactions with then-candidate Bush on the campaign trail, creating a more humane portrait of the president film festival audiences love to hate. The audience was won over by her portrait of “W,” but did not hesitate to lay into the filmmaker for not being tougher on her subject. Pelosi responded by commenting on the dangerous camaraderie that exists between the media and politicians, and her feeling that there was a more critical film to be made that she was not in a position to make.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Pelosi’s campaign trail diary was “Yo La Tengo” and the films of Painlevé,” the opening event in the sidebar program Score! Music and Documentary, which was curated by music documentary maestro D.A. Pennebaker. New York indie rockers Yo La Tengo provided an avant-rock live performance score for a series of short documentaries created by Jean Painlev