Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan

Full Frame is a Durham freeze frame — Baumgartner Vaughan

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is held every April downtown.
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is held every April downtown.

I’ve bought a T-shirt about every year I’ve covered the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival for the past decade. I like to commemorate things, so if a big event is selling T-shirts with the date on it, there’s a good chance I’m buying one. I like stuff with stuff on it. I’m not the only one — I see you and your commemorate T-shirts, too.

My collection includes Duke Homestead Harvest and Hornworm Festival, Apple Chill and Destination Dix, to cover the three corners of the Triangle in T-shirts.

This year my Full Frame memorabilia acquisition was a hooded sweatshirt, which I bought on the blustery first day. Admittedly I prefer Durham T-shirts with the now-changing skyline, but this design had a bull on it. Plus it was made by Runaway, the Durham clothing brand. Or Durm, for those who pronounce it correctly. Runaway does, and makes the “Durm” attire to show it. Using a local vendor is important for a local event, one that draws a new crowd to downtown each April.

Full Frame is a freeze frame of Durham, a snapshot in time of this city and the people who live here, work here, or both. Or just come here for all the cool stuff to do. The Carolina Theatre, the old Durham Armory and the Durham Convention Center are Full Frame’s architectural mainstays, the locations for film screenings and a gathering places for hundreds of people. It’s not just filmmakers and film fans that come to Full Frame anymore, though they are still easily identifiable by their Full Frame tote bags. Durham is projected on a bigger screen when people come to Full Frame from the corners of the Triangle.

This year’s screening of downtown Durham itself includes construction cranes and One City Center changing the downtown’s core and soon the city’s skyline. With the renovation of the NC Mutual Life Insurance building downtown, the NC Mutual sign will come down, as the company doesn’t own that building anymore. Another major downtown change since the last Full Frame is no more free street parking. On assignment Friday, I found two parking garages full and the only option left within blocks to be two-hour metered street parking. Or worse, one-hour metered parking. Sometimes it takes longer than an hour or two to do something downtown, and when garages are full, that doesn’t leave an alternative.

There’s a balance to maintain between new Durham and old Durham, a way to bring people in but not drive them away. While Full Frame has been in Durham for now 20 years, there are more and more other reasons for people to come check out the Bull City. And buy a commemorative T-shirt.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan