In the alternative universe where we’re not all locked in our homes due to a global pandemic, we’d be at Full Frame right about now. Filmmakers, producers, and cinephiles from across the world would fill streets and restaurants booths; there would be lanyards and lit-up screens and cinematic thrill in the air. 

None of these things can happen because of COVID-19, and that’s everyone’s loss. But Full Frame has released its 2020 program and you can still celebrate the filmmakers, dive into their archives, and explore their releases

Nearly 2,000 films were submitted to this years documentary program. Out of these, the jury selected 44 features and 12 shorts; the program also included 4 world premieres, 6 North American premieres, and 2 U.S. premieres.

Amid this program you can find films that tell the stories of low-wage workers, abortion helpline counselors, mothers returning from prison, corruption across the medical industry, high school students preparing for a monologue competition, immigrant families making a life in New York City, and a fifty-mile race in Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

There were documentary portraits of the sculptor Audrey Flack, the neurologist Oliver Sacks, and the Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado. 

We could go on and on, but you get the idea. 

Thirty-two titles are eligible for awards and the juried panel will announce the cash prize winners toward the end of April. 

Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story, a documentary about the legendary bandleader and trumpeter, was slated to open the festival. Doc Severinsen was scheduled to be in attendance. Spaceship Earth, a look at the 1991 Biosphere 2 experiment in Arizona, would have brought up the rear on closing night. 

“We are honored to present the 2020 official Full Frame selections. By turns exciting and bold, luminous and poignant, these carefully crafted titles display a staggering range of creativity and dedication in examining the world around us,” Full Frame artistic director Sadie Tillery said in a press release. “While we are deeply disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to showcase this work in Durham and welcome these filmmakers for the four-day festival, in light of the circumstances, it felt especially vital to champion these films.”

The filmmakers Jessica Edwards and Gary Hustwit were curators of this year’s thematic program. Hustwit has since made his film Urbanized available for streaming. You can also find a list of previous Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant recipient films that are available for screening. (INDY favorite Minding the Gap is on that list.) 

And don’t worry, next year’s Full Frame has already been scheduled for April 2021. 

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