Durham’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival finished up today. After three days of films, I’m burned out and tired, but pleased to see documentary film making is alive and well. This is the third year I’ve attended the entire festival, and it is a real treat to be provoked, educated, and entertained by a wonderful onslaught of great films.
Before sharing my favorites, a simple disclaimer: I’m not a documentary film expert. You won’t find a lengthy discussion of why a film is good or bad here, just my opinions. Documentaries are often about death, disease, destruction, and other depressing topics. For my own mental health I try to balance the depressing docs with lighthearted fare, and I usually prefer the uplifting films.
So here were my favorites, in no particular order:
- Saint Misbehavin’: Michele Esrick’s film about Wavy Gravy, the legendary hippie clown, poet, Merry Prankster, philanthropist, and all around good guy. Be sure to check out Wavy’s charity, the Seva Foundation as well, they do great work.
- Art and Copy: Doug Pray’s whirlwhind tour of the history of advertising. Pray’s previous film, Surfwise, is wonderful as well.
- Objectified: Gary Hustwit’s follow-up to Helvetica, another design documentary, about industrial design.
- Superman of Malegaon: A film about a passionate filmmaker, struggling against all odds to bring a little bit of Hollywood to his community, a textile producing region of India.
- Food Inc.: In the spirit of Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemna, a close-up look at the ugly truth about our food industry, and the consequences of simply accepting it.
Some of these will be seen at arthouse theaters around the country soon, I am sure, or look for them on Netflix.