Aug 15, 2023 - Things to Do

Duke's Full Frame Festival sets 2024 return, as documentary studies director resigns

A panel discussion at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in downtown Durham. Photo: Courtesy of Full Frame

Duke University's documentary film festival Full Frame is returning to Durham next year.

Driving the news: The four-day event will be held at the Carolina Theatre and Durham Convention Center from April 4-7 in 2024, Duke said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Full Frame's return is welcome news for the city's festival scene, which has struggled in the wake of the pandemic.

  • It's also a sign of Duke's future commitment to the craft, after questions have been raised about the future of the school's Center for Documentary Studies, which runs the festival.

Context: Full Frame went virtual in the pandemic, and then was canceled this year for the first time since 1998.

  • For the past few years, the Center for Documentary Studies has struggled financially, had leadership turnover and laid off workers earlier this year, The Assembly reports. Duke put the center under a strategic review earlier this year.
  • And the center's director, Opeyemi Olukemi, has resigned from her role, a Duke University spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday.

What's next: It said Tuesday that Ed Balleisen, Duke's vice provost for interdisciplinary studies, is now fulfilling the responsibilities of CDS' director.

  • Sadie Tillery, who had co-directed the festival since 2021 but resigned earlier this year, has also returned to lead the festival.
  • And the festival will now be run in partnership with CDS and Duke Venues and Performance Management next year — a change in how it has previously operated.

What they're saying: "Nothing will change in how festival leadership determines a vision for the event, nor how documentary experts select films," Balleisen said in a statement. "But the festival will mesh more substantially with operations at Duke to leverage logistical expertise and capacity."

  • "Duke remains committed not only to Full Frame, but to documentary studies, a robust set of undergraduate classes in this sphere, the certificate program in documentary arts, and CDS."

Go deeper: What's next for Durham's festival scene


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