Michelle Benham / Full Frame / / (919) 433.9802


Durham, N.C. – March 14, 2017 – The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, one of the world’s premier showcases of nonfiction cinema, today announced its NEW DOCS lineup of features and short films in juried competition, along with its annual Invited Program.

“We are proud to present 71 new titles at the festival this year,” said Full Frame artistic director Sadie Tillery. “These selections represent a wide breadth of current work, and illuminate the many forms that documentary film can take. Festival attendees are in for an extraordinary experience that is fitting of our 20th anniversary.”

The NEW DOCS program includes 48 titles—27 features and 21 shorts—selected from over 1,750 submissions from around the globe. These films are eligible for the Full Frame Audience Award and are shortlisted for a variety of additional juried awards offering a combined value of over $50,000 in cash prizes. Award winners will be announced at the annual Awards Barbecue on Sunday, April 9.

The Invited Program features 23 films—22 features and 1 short— screening out of competition. Included in this program are the festival’s Center Frame screenings, which take place in Fletcher Hall at the Carolina Theatre and include moderated discussions following the films.

The 20th Annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival will be held April 6­–9, 2017, in Durham, N.C. The Thematic Program lineup will be announced on Wednesday, March 15. The Opening Night Film, Closing Night Film, Center Frame programs, and other special free screenings will be announced with the full schedule of events on Thursday, March 16. Individual tickets go on sale March 30 and can be purchased online at


116 Cameras (Director: Davina Pardo)
Surrounded by a twinkling constellation of cameras, Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss records her stories for an interactive hologram project, preserving her experience for future generations. World Premiere

All Skate, Everybody Skate (Director: Nicole Triche)
Tucked away in picturesque Topsail Island, N.C., Miss Doris’s roller skating rink pops with energy as she leads her customers in games and skates, as she’s done for over 50 years.

Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer (Directors: David Barba, James Pellerito)
Praised for the sublime way he partners ballerinas, Marcelo Gomes is the center of this intimate film that takes us inside his world to chart a luminous 20-year career with American Ballet Theater.

Asiyeh (Director: Leila Merat)
An intelligent, no-nonsense bonesetter in northern Iran has been healing the people in her community for as long as anyone can remember. US Premiere

Balloonfest (Director: Nathan Truesdell)
In 1986, the United Way of Cleveland sets out to break a world record, releasing over a million balloons in the air, but the event has unexpected consequences when the lift off doesn’t go as planned.

The Botanist (ботаник)
(Directors: Maude Plante-Husaruk, Maxime Lacoste-Lebuis)
This breathtaking short follows Raimberdi as he ingeniously constructs a hydroelectric generator to better survive in the mountains of Tajikstan.

City of Ghosts (Director: Matthew Heineman)
Captivating in its immediacy, City of Ghosts follows the journey of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently,” a group of anonymous Syrian activists who band together to document the Islamic State’s crimes after the city is taken by ISIS.

Depth Two (Dubina Dva) (Director: Ognjen Glavonić)
This suspenseful illumination of long-buried war crimes, which began in 1999 with NATO bombings in Serbia, is told in a harrowing combination of narrated testimonies and present-day images of the sites in suburban Belgrade where the crimes took place.

Donkeyote (Director: Chico Pereira)
The grandest adventure of all is afoot for a Spanish septuagenarian and his mischievous dog and stalwart donkey, if only they can survive chronic arthritis, impertinent travel agents, and just one more bridge.

Dysphoria: Inside the Mind of a Holocaust Survivor (Director: Joseph Edward)
This poetic and visually arresting exploration of one man’s memories takes an inventive and sensory approach, immersing the viewer in his experiences. World Premiere

The Earth Did Not Speak (La Tierra No Habló) (Director: Javier Briones)
Survivors of the 1982 government-sponsored massacre in Rio Negro, Guatemala, share their stories as the camera quietly pans across seemingly tranquil places that once were home.

Far Western (Director: James Payne)
Fueled by music and personal charisma, Charlie Nagatani embodies Japan’s obsession with American country and western music. North American Premiere

The Force (Director: Peter Nicks)
A riveting, on-the-ground look at the Oakland Police Department during a period of intense scrutiny and reform, as a new sergeant aims to correct protocol in the wake of charges of misconduct and abuse.

Funne – Sea Dreaming Girls (Le ragazze che sognavano il mare)
(Director: Katia Bernardi)
A whimsical tale of a group of elderly women in a small Italian village who get creative while trying to raise funds for a trip to the sea, which many of them have never seen. North American Premiere

The Great Theater (Wielki Teatr) (Director: Sławomir Batyra)
A meandering camera takes a graceful, evocative journey through the spaces and operations of Warsaw’s Grand Theatre as it presents the opera Madama Butterfly.

Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (Director: Frank Stiefel)
Animated drawings and extraordinary shots of Mindy Alper’s sculptures create a lovely portrait of the artist as she unabashedly examines her experiences with a mental disorder (that prevented her from speaking) while discussing art, love, and life.

I’M OKAY (Director: Pia Lenz)
Adult themes unfold through the perspective of young protagonists in this beautifully photographed feature that captures the experiences of two refugee families struggling to rebuild their lives in Germany. North American Premiere

Island Soldier (Director: Nathan Fitch)
Through the intimate stories of two soldiers, this film explores the high cost of opportunity. In the Federated States of Micronesia—an “associated state” of the U.S.—a high proportion of residents serve in the American military, with few resources to support their lives after duty ends. World Premiere

The Kodachrome Elegies (Director: Jay Rosenblatt)
A short and lyrical ode to Kodachrome film stock that reflects on family, loss, and the end of an era.

Last Men in Aleppo (Director: Feras Fayyad)
Urgent and harrowing, this film follows the White Helmets’ unrelenting efforts to save fellow Syrians. When air strikes devastate homes, they descend on the wreckage to rescue buried men, women, and children, refusing to leave their people or their city behind.

The Last Pig (Director: Allison Argo)
This lyrical film follows an introspective farmer as his beliefs undergo a dramatic shift, from believing that there are more humane ways to slaughter animals to questioning the premise of his life’s work. US Premiere

Life in Riva (Tra ponente e levante) (Director: Lorenzo Giordano)
An aging resident imparts the history of his seaside Italian town. His recollections, and a trove of impeccably photographed artifacts, reveal the evolutions of one place over time. North American Premiere

Luis & I (Directors: Roger Gómez, Dani Resines)
The wife of a human cannonball describes their life in the circus and the ways their love has endured decades of this itinerant lifestyle.

Mommy’s Land (Director: Garret Atlakson)
As the Cambodian government demolishes homes, and arrest counts and brutal police violence increase, elder resident “Mommy” and other neighborhood women prove to be peaceful, and vivacious, resisters. World Premiere

My Father’s Film (Director: Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz)
A daughter crafts a portrait of her father through the spaces he occupied, a meditation shaped by the tools he left behind. World Premiere

One October (Director: Rachel Shuman)
Filmed in the final weeks of the 2008 presidential campaigns, this city symphony follows a radio reporter as he takes to the streets to invite fellow New Yorkers to share their thoughts and opinions in a time of great uncertainty. World Premiere

The Original Richard McMahan (Director: Olympia Stone)
A visionary artist painstakingly recreates the masterpieces of others, producing thousands of intricate miniature replicas of works made across centuries, from Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Plastic China (Director: Jiu-liang Wang)
At a recycling center in the Chinese countryside, two families survive between seas of plastic bottles and wrappers shipped from the U.S. and other countries; processing this waste has become their burden, and yet for their children, they dream of a better life.

QUEST (Director: Jonathan Olshefski)
This thoughtful and incisive observation of the Rainey family over the course of ten years seamlessly captures pivotal life experiences as well as issues of poverty, politics, and gun violence in a North Philadelphia neighborhood.

The Rain Will Follow (Director: Eugene Richards)
From his chair in a retirement home, 90-year-old Melvin Wisdahl shares poignant recollections of wartime and strife in this deeply personal account set aglow by beautiful images of North Dakotan farmland.

Samuel in the Clouds (Director: Pieter Van Eecke)
Samuel Mendoza continues the family tradition of operating the ski lift in a Bolivian Andes resort, while a melting glacier below threatens everyone’s way of life.

Shivani (Director: Jamie Dobie)
In this unique tale of grief and healing, three-year-old Dolly Shivani, believed by her parents to be the reincarnation of their dead son, trains as an Olympic archer. World Premiere

Slowerblack (Director: Jessica Edwards)
A hand-poke tattoo artist in Brooklyn reflects on her unique style and approach
to inking. World Premiere

Socotra, the Island of Djinns (Socotra, la Isla de lod Genios)
(Director: Jordi Esteva)
In this extraordinary black-and-white account, a group of camel herders travel inland on the island of Socotra to avoid the rainy season while sharing nighttime tales of supernatural djinns. US Premiere

Still Tomorrow (摇摇晃晃的人间) (Director: Jian Fan)
In rural China, a determined, courageous woman balances her fame as an eloquent and frank poet with societal expectations around disability, independence, and family obligation.

Storyboard P, a stranger in Sweden (Director: Matthew D’Arcy)
In this mesmerizing vignette, a dynamic Brooklyn street dancer travels to Sweden to teach and perform—a journey that tests his devotion to the art form.

Strong Island (Director: Yance Ford)
Director Yance Ford rigorously unpacks the events surrounding the death of his brother, who was shot in 1992. Profoundly cinematic and deeply personal, their family story is a powerful examination of race in America.

The Submarine (Director: Wenceslao Scyzoryk)
A 95-year-old cinematographer returns to his lab each day to perfect his invention—a machine that repairs celluloid damage.

The Swirl (El Remolino) (Director: Laura Herrero Garvin)
As the largely abandoned town of El Remolino in Chiapas, Mexico, struggles to yield viable crops and keep its school open, two siblings remain to battle the rainy season and their painful childhood.

They Took Them Alive (Director: Emily K. Pederson)
In 2014, 43 students disappeared from a bus traveling in Iguala, Mexico. Their families seek answers as the official investigation comes to a troubling and suspicious halt. World Premiere

Through the Repellent Fence (Director: Sam Wainwright Douglas)
The artist collective Postcommodity examines lines, origins, and the people to whom land really belongs with a two-mile-long installation of inflatable spheres high above the U.S.–Mexico border.

Timberline (Director: Elaine McMillion Sheldon)
This short documents a West Virginia town caught between transitional pressures: an abandoned naval base is up for auction, and the NSA occupies a station just down the road. What will become of the locals for whom this place is home? World Premiere

Tribal Justice (Director: Anne Makepeace)
Two dynamic Native American women—chief judges for the state’s largest tribes—draw on tradition and village wisdom to help defendants rebuild their lives, encouraging healing over jail time and punishment.

Two Worlds (Dwa Swiaty) (Director: Maciej Adamek)
In this expressive study of family relationships, a daughter helps her two deaf parents navigate the world—as she has since she was three—and balances life between school, home, and self.

Waiting for Hassana (Director: Ifunanya Maduka)
Jessica, an escapee, recollects a friendship shattered by the 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls by the Boko Haram.

Winter’s Watch (Director: Brian Bolster)
The longtime winter caretaker of the Oceanic Hotel off the coast of New England welcomes months of solitude, relishing the opportunity for introspection and productivity.

Zaatari Djinn (Director: Catherine van Campen)
This incandescent portrait documents four children in a refugee camp who are transformed by the light of imagination and possibility despite numerous hardships. North American Premiere

Zuzana: Music Is Life (Directors: Peter Getzels, Harriet Getzels)
The life story of eminent Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Ruzickowva transcends the personal in a deeply affecting look at the redemptive power of art throughout the Czech Republic’s turbulent 20th century. World Premiere


500 Years (Director: Pamela Yates)
A sweeping examination of resistance movements in Guatemala, including the recent uprising, and a chronicle of the country’s first trial for war crimes committed against the Mayan people.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Director: Steve James)
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the only U.S. bank accused of mortgage fraud was the family-owned Abacus Federal Savings in Manhattan’s Chinatown. This stunning film chronicles the Sungs’ legal battle as they fight to defend their business and their family name.

Austerlitz (Director: Sergei Loznitsa)
In vivid black and white, tourists and guides visit concentration camps. In observing their interactions, Austerlitz provides a powerful meditation on the (often imperfect) ways human beings connect, remember, and reflect.

Bronx Gothic (Director: Andrew Rossi)
With a blend of performance footage and penetrating discussions about her purpose and process, this film follows Okwui Okpokwasili as she tours her powerful one-woman play around the country. World Premiere

Buzz One Four (Director: Matt McCormick)
In 1964, a B-52 long-range bomber crashed on a Maryland mountainside with two thermonuclear bombs on board. This suspenseful account, crafted by the pilot’s grandson, skillfully weaves archival footage with personal recollections.

The Challenge (Director: Yuri Ancarani)
Miles of barren desert provide the backdrop for this surreal compilation of images: private jets, race cars, exquisite birds, and even a pet cheetah descend on the Qatar dunes to take part in a remote falconry tournament.

Dina (Directors: Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini)
At once tender and triumphant, humorous and hard, Dina introduces a woman in love as she navigates complex expectations in the days leading up to her
impending nuptials.

EXPRMNTL (Director: Brecht Debackere)
This lively overview of the legendary EXPRMNTL film festivals held in Belgium from 1949 to 1974 interweaves archival footage with the recollections of the makers who defined experimental cinema. US Premiere

The Good Postman (Director: Tonislav Hristov)
An inspired citizen decides to run for mayor on a daring platform: that embracing the arrival of refugees may be the key to revitalizing his Bulgarian village.

The Grown Ups (Director: Maite Alberdi)
Adult students with Down Syndrome question their unknown futures. After attending the same school for decades, is there anything left to be discovered in this place, and what opportunities exist in the outside world?

In Loco Parentis (Directors: Neasa Ní Chianáin, David Rane)
For more than 40 years, John and Amanda Leyden have taught elementary-age children at a remote Irish boarding school. Filmed over the course of a year, the teachers bring wonder to their classrooms and roll with the joys and challenges that the changing seasons bring their young pupils.

An Insignificant Man (Directors: Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla)
With unimaginable access, this film follows the turbulent campaign of Arvind Kejriwal, a businessman turned politician who formed India’s Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man’s Party) in 2012, as he runs for his country’s top office.

Life – Instruction Manual (Leben – Gebrauchsanelitung)
(Directors: Joerg Adolph, Ralf Buecheler)
Featuring short excerpts from a wide range of classes, from childbirth to end-of-life care, this film reflects on the myriad ways that we depend on learning, particularly from others. North American Premiere

Long Strange Trip (Director: Amir Bar-Lev)
Personal interviews, performances, and never-before-seen footage create a multifaceted portrait of the Grateful Dead. They were more than a band. They were a movement.

May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers
(Directors: Judd Apatow, Michael Bonfiglio)
Personal, rich, and from the soul, this film follows the equally soulful Avett Brothers as they record a new album, reflect on the creative process, and navigate strong ties while managing lives spent on the road.

Project X (Directors: Laura Poitras, Henrik Moltke)
Rami Malek and Michelle Williams understatedly narrate guidelines from a top-secret NSA handbook, as the viewer travels from stark and isolated spots in the National Business Park to a windowless skyscraper in downtown Manhattan.

Purple Dreams (Director: Joanne Hock)
This film follows six students at the Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C., who thrive as performers in the first-ever high school musical production of The Color Purple while grappling with difficult and stressful issues in their own lives. World Premiere

STEP (Director: Amanda Lipitz)
This inspiring film follows three members of the Lethal Ladies step-dance team at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. With the support of their intrepid coach and an uncompromising counselor, they are determined to attend college.

TAKE EVERY WAVE: The Life of Laird Hamilton (Director: Rory Kennedy)
In sparkling cinematography and intimate interviews, this epic look at the surfing legend’s life in and out of the waves is also a no-holds-barred illustration of one man’s dedication to continually reigniting his passion.

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities
(Director: Stanley Nelson)
A monumental, essential, and compelling survey of the history and cultural significance of HBCUs in America.

This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous (Director: Barbara Kopple)
Gregory Lazzarato to Gregory Gorgeous to Gigi Gorgeous—family members and millions of followers support the makeup and beauty YouTube star before, during, and after her transition.

Trophy (Director: Shaul Schwarz, Co-Director: Christina Clusiau)
This revelatory and exquisitely photographed investigation into conservation practices and big game hunting invites nuanced scrutiny and debate.

Whose Streets? (Director: Sabaah Folayan, Co-Director: Damon Davis)
This unflinching story of the Ferguson uprising is told by the activists who were there, chronicling the birth of a new generation of resisters in America.

About Full Frame

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is an annual international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of nonfiction cinema. Each spring, Full Frame welcomes filmmakers and film lovers from around the world to historic downtown Durham, N.C., for a four-day, morning-to-midnight array of nearly 100 films, as well as discussions, panels, and Southern hospitality. Set within a few city blocks, the intimate festival landscape fosters community and conversation among filmmakers, film professionals, and the general public. The 2016 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival yielded $2,788,650 for Durham’s local economy, and had a local tax impact of $81,890.

The festival is a qualifying event for nominations for the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject and The Producers Guild of America Awards. The milestone 20th annual festival will showcase nearly 100 documentary features and short films from around the world, some of which will make their World or North American premieres. Festival screenings will be held at multiple locations in downtown Durham, including venues within the iconic Carolina Theatre and the Durham Convention Center.

Serving the local Durham area as well as the documentary film community throughout the year, Full Frame also promotes the festival’s mission by presenting documentary work in the Full Frame Theater and other venues both locally and nationally. Full Frame encompasses education and training opportunities such as the Full Frame Fellows Program, the School of Doc summer program for teenagers, the documentary literacy program Teach the Teachers for local educators, and the annual Youth Screening, drawing hundreds of students and teachers to the Carolina Theatre for an immersive, instructive experience.

The Festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, a nonprofit 501(c)3, and receives support from corporate sponsors, private foundations, and individual donors whose generosity provides the foundation that makes the event possible. To learn more about the mission of Full Frame, scheduled films, festival tickets, or how to support Full Frame, visit

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