Documentary Festival 2004:
Bouts, Calcutta Hookers, Carolina Claymation, Ken Burns, Elaine
Stritch, Michael Moore, Harry Shearer, whata party…
Special to Bestfilmfests
documentary director and best selling author Michael Moore
the instant he came into the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival's
filmmaker party Saturday night, April 3. But eventually, I got a
chance to shake his hand and introduce myself as "from some of that
liberal media we're all hearing so much about."
he said gruffly, but smiled.
The next day,
I met my colleague Shawn Pavey as we coordinated our coverage
of the festival. "I just met Ken Burns at lunch," he told
Later that day,
Burns screened the rough cut of his work in progress, Unforgivable
Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, a biography
of the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
It was that
kind of festival at Full Frame in April 2004. You couldn't turn
a corner without encountering BNFMs (Big Name Filmmakers) such as
Barry Levinson, D.A. Pennebacker, Burns, or Moore, not to
mention a bevy of up and coming filmmakers with work in competition.
were one of the hottest topics in the film world last year. The
saying among film fest attendees for sometime has been that "the
best films are always the documentaries."
success of Moore's Bowling for Columbine, and the
Academy Award for Errol Morris' Fog of War, the political
documentary in particular is riding an unprecedented wave of critical
and popular attention.
panels and special events appeared before packed rooms. Elaine
Stritch, Harry Shearer and Michael Moore filled the Carolina
Theatre's 1,000-seat venue.
Moore entertained their large evening audiences with combinations
of wit, clips from their film and TV work, and candid responses
to questions. Shearer's bits ripped from network satellite feeds
that most of us never see, including an unforgettable few minutes
of Nixon just before he resigned the presidency, were among the
most powerful documentary footage we saw at the festival.
the premiere of the HBO special about her Tony-winning Broadway
show with a gracious talk and panel appearance with D.A. Pennebacker
and other makers of the documentary.
forget you," Stritch told the audience, which greeted the documentary
about her show with considerable enthusiasm and no shortage of applause
even for a Broadway diva.
Two Thumbs Up...
answers questions after showing a rough cut of his work in progress,
a biography of the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack
Johnson. Photo by Renee Wright.
fans from the moment he entered. Photo by Renee Wright.
Voice of the Simpsons showed clips of his career as a performer
in This Is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind
during his conversation with MTV's Kurt Loder. Photo by
Award Winner tells Durham crowd, "I'll never forget you."