9th Wonder, tuition, wars among Full Frame's offerings this year

Mar. 06, 2014 @ 05:29 PM

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival announced its list of new documentaries and invited programming Thursday for the 17th annual festival to be held April 3-6 in downtown Durham.
The opening night film April 3 will be the world premiere of “112 Weddings,” an HBO Documentary Film by director Doug Block, a filmmaker and part-time wedding videographer who tracks down couples he has filmed over the years.
There are 48 “New Docs” and 21 films in invited programming. The new documentaries are 33 features and 15 shorts, chosen from 1,200 submissions from across the country and world. There are 10 world premieres and 10 national premieres.
“I’m inspired by the quality of the filmmaking and the wide breadth of subject matter represented in these works,” Sadie Tillery, director of programming, said in the release. “I’m also proud that a number of vibrant films will be having their debuts at Full Frame,” she said.
Filmmaker and Full Frame founder Nancy Buirski directs one of the invited programs, “Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq.” Full Frame describes the film about Le Clercq, who “inspired choreographers unlike any ballerina before her, but in 1956, at the height of her fame, she was stricken with polio. A mesmerizing film of love, loss, and surprising grace.” Buirski previously produced and co-wrote the documentary “The Loving Story.”
Other invited films include “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” directed by Chapman Way and Maclain Way. It is “a celebratory portrait of the Portland Mavericks, who joined the minor leagues in 1973 as the lone single-A team without a major-league affiliation.” On the civil rights and human rights fronts, there is “The Case Against 8” (Ben Cotner, Ryan White), which follows the team who fought to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage; “E-Team” (Katy Chevigny, Ross Kauffman), about Human Rights Watch investigating war crimes in Syria and Libya; and “Freedom Summer” (Stanley Nelson), which features archive footage of 1964 civil rights activists in Mississippi.
And on a topic close to home, there is “Ivory Tower” (Andrew Rossi), which asks “Is a college degree worth the price? This sweeping examination of higher education questions the value of college in an era of rising tuition costs and staggering student debt.”
More invited films are “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” (Thomas Allen Harris) and “WHITEY: United States of America V. James J. Bulger” (Joe Berlinger).
For new documentaries, subjects range from a nun in Jerusalem to a choreographer to Scottish bison farmers to a high-energy particle accelerator. Topics are as varied as life in the U.S. and beyond.
The world premiere of a film about 9th Wonder, the hip-hop star from Durham, is “The Hip-Hop Fellow” (Kenneth Price). It follows the rapper and music producer’s travels from North Carolina to becoming Harvard’s first hip-hop fellow.
In “Bronx Obama” (Ryan Murdock), an unemployed Puerto Rican father bears an uncanny resemblance to the president. In “DamNation” (Ben Knight, Travis Rummel), the film follows the movement to tear down America’s dams and restore fisheries. The Penn State scandal is depicted in “Happy Valley” (Amir Bar-Lev), with a focus on the community. In “Evolution of a Criminal” (Darius Clark Monroe), 10 years after robbing a bank as a teenager, Monroe returns home and turns the camera on himself. In the North American premiere of “Fairytale of the Three Bears” (Tristan Daws), three hardworking men recall the story of the “Three Bears” as they muse on their lives in post-Soviet Russia.
A film with environmental and Southern interest, “The Great Invisible” (Margaret Brown), is an investigation of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill through the stories of people still experiencing its aftereffects.
For restaurant and labor interests, there is the world premiere of “The Hand That Feeds” (Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick) about New York City restaurant workers in a labor dispute.
Internationally, in “Return to Homs (Al Awda Ila Hims)” (Talal Derki), the Syrian Civil War frontlines are the backdrop for “two friends who are determined to defend their city, abandon peaceful resistance and take up arms, heading straight for the heart of the warzone.”
Domestically, there is “Rich Hill” (Tracy Droz Tragos, Andrew Droz Palermo) about three boys from a small Missouri town dealing with isolation, instability and poverty.
And about a character most people recognize, there is the world premiere of “Ronald” (John Dower) about “one man, one supersized pair of red shoes, over 99 billion served.”
The full list of new documentaries and invited programming is available at www.fullframefest.org. The schedule of films and venues will be announced March 13. Individual tickets go on sale March 27.