Day three of Full Frame, a Saturday, and the crowds came out in full force. It seemed like the crowd was bigger than last year, but I haven’t heard any official numbers yet. It was a beautiful spring day in Durham, and I’m sure the Full Frame staff it pleased to see so many locals show up for documentaries on such a beautiful day. What is wrong with us documentary fans, staying inside with such gorgeous weather?
The highlight of the day was Genius Within: the Inner Life of Glenn Gould. Combining archival footage and interviews with Gould’s contemporaries, Michele Holzer and Peter Raymont’s film examines the strange and powerful life-force that drove Gould. The archival scenes of Gould’s trance-like, passionate and unrestrained performances were the film’s highlight. Gould was a musician without limits, fully in touch with his muse. Like many prodigies, he was something of an eccentric character. The film delved into the relationship between artist and audience, looking at how the media, working supposedly on behalf of his audience, persisted in examining his idiosyncrasies as much as his artistry. After all, it was difficult to relate to his artistry but you had to wonder about a guy who wore a winter coat and scarf in mid-summer. But is the public really served by the prying nature of the media? And what if the artist, as suggested in this film, let his idiosyncrasies proceed unbounded, recognizing that they were part of his fame? In the end, a film can’t answer these questions, but the directors explored them with great care and nuance.
I was also captivated by The Fence, a film from Full Frame Career Award winner Rory Kennedy about the 700 mile fence constructed on the U.S.-Mexico border. The film looked at the false premises behind the fence’s construction, and the exorbitant cost of building it. The most interesting thing for me was that the Minutemen interviewed in the film, who I would have presumed favored the fence, brought up the strongest arguments against its construction.
Unfortunately, some dinner-time snafus prevented me from seeing Restropo, by all accounts a superb movie about the war in Afghanistan from the perspective of embedded reporters. The film garnered an Honorable Mention award for the Anne Dellinger Grand Jury Award. Hopefully, a theatrical release is around the corner.