For me, the experience of full frame was something new and unique to any academic opportunity I’ve ever pursued. I wouldn’t say I watch a ton of documentaries, but I do tend to gravitate towards history documentaries, journalistic documentaries, and really any topic that sparks my curiosity. Going into full frame, I was expecting a variety of films on varying concrete topics that would not leave me walking out of the film utterly confused and wondering what I just watched. I was surprised to find this was not the case at all. My first day started off somewhat as I expected at the festival with the Ambassador’s Wife. The film centered around the monotony and solitude of a wife to an ambassador. The film itself was quite boring, and I found myself urging the film on during it’s slow draw out scenes. If the intention of the film maker was to have viewers have this reaction in order to have us jump into the shoes of the wife, it was effectively achieved. If this wasn’t the intention, the film was a musicless and disinteresting story centered on what this lady does everyday (not much) that I thought had confusing style of organization. I won’t say much more just because it was my least favorite of the films.
The next screening, Ressaca, was one of the most amazing films I’ve ever seen. It focused intensely on the lives of public artists and workers in Rio who found their home and workplace at a historic theatre. These people were in the firestorm of government corruption and the non-existent public funding for artistry and the story of their plight was beautifully captured. The stylistic choices of the film makers, such as the music and the black and white filter, created a nail biting and serious depiction of a person’s struggle and raw emotion. I had to continually remind myself that I was watching a documentary and not a budgeted Hollywood drama. It’s so fascinating to me how the film makers we’re able to capture the moments in the film. There was one moment where the director was running around during a violent protest in the midst of teargas and projectiles. Some of these film makers will go to unbelievable lengths just to tell a story. Overall, it’s a film I hope has or will win many rewards.
The next day I was met with what quite possibly was the most bizarre documentary I had ever seen. I should have known what was in store for me when I chose a film with the name “Koyaanisqatsi”. The best way I can describe this is imagine a time lapse of nature, the violent destructive forces of humans (such as atomic weapons and large scale industrial mining), and all aspects of major city life, all to the background of a soundtrack which sounds like it’s straight out of the Lord of the Rings. The film starts with a violent volcanic and fiery scene with some ancient cave drawings, and ends with the same scene. I know that this film was probably supposed to spark questions of our existence and purpose, but I found myself just wondering about what I was actually watching. I thought the the videography and some of the scenes were quite beautiful and interesting, so for that reason and the uniqueness of the film, I would put it on a must watch list for documentary goers.
The last film that I saw was a more traditional documentary called Decade of Fire. It focused on the phenomenon of universal fire during the 1960s in the South Bronx of New York. It was your classic documentary, following the directors pursuit of the truth and the telling of the history of this event and of the people and neighborhood that it effected. I especially liked it because it focused on an event that I had no previous knowledge of, and the music and choices of the director made a very well organized and shot story. It zoomed in-depth on the different people of the neighborhood, sometimes including interviews and stories of those people who were still alive and living in the South Bronx today. It was similar to Ressaca in the face that the entirety of the Bronx were fighting against unfair government action and policy. I actually found it to be motivational, because the people of South Bronx got creative to win this fight and sacrificed so much just to have something that everyone deserves, a home. Beautifully told story and a must watch for anyone that would enjoy learning about a unique part of history in our nation.