For 20 years, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival has screened invited films but also new ones, with Durham audiences getting to be the first to see documentaries before they move on to other festivals, theaters and distribution. This year’s dozens of new docs includes the world premiere of “One October.”
Filmed in October 2008 in New York City the month before the election of President Barack Obama, WFMU radio show host Clay Pigeon interviews people on the street about their lives, their thoughts on the election and their feelings about their city.
Filmmaker Rachel Shuman captures New York City not just in the voices of those interviewed, but so many visual settings, from an animal blessing at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights to a single mom in Harlem worried about gentrification to an older man in a park reflecting on the good life he’s lived.
Clay Pigeon asks the right questions to get people talking, and Shuman — who is director, editor and producer — captures the city from aspects busy and slow, quiet and loud. As Clay interviews people about their city, so too do viewers reflect on what they think of New York as well, assuming they’ve spent any time there. There is wisdom and variety in every answer.
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“It’s still wonderful — it’s New York — but it’s changing,” one New Yorker says.
Clay’s voice is calm and curious, reminiscent of a National Public Radio host. He gets New Yorkers to open up, and opens up the city to audiences, too. If you have an opportunity to see “One October” at Full Frame, or wherever it goes next, you should.