Ross, what are your picks for the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival?(I’m trying to get you to post them all in one place so I don’t have to hunt them down on various ephemeral social media.)

Ross, what are your picks for the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival?(I’m trying to get you to post them all in one place so I don’t have to hunt them down on various ephemeral social media.)

My 2015 Full Frame picks

Two friends have asked me for Full Frame suggestions in advance of tickets going on sale this week. Here are the movies that I shortlisted for myself this year, which is as close to a list of recommendations as I can get. For those slots where there are direct conflicts, I put an asterisk next to the one I finally wound up selecting:


  • Iris
  • Monte Adentro
  • Uyghurs, Prisoners of the Absurd
  • (Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies *
  • Best of Enemies
  • Meru *
  • Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck


  • Overburden
  • Curious Worlds: The Art & Imagination of David Beck * 
  • Manufactured Landscapes
  • Barge
  • Being Evel * 
  • 3 ½ Minutes
  • Here Come the Videofreex
  • From This Day Forward * 
  • The Wolfpack


  • Peace Officer
  • The True Meaning of Pictures * 
  • Mavis!
  • Cartel Land
  • Harry & Snowman * 
  • The Storm Makers
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
  • The Term


  • LIsten to Me Marlon * 
  • Hot Type: 150 Years of the Nation
  • Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead
  • City of Gold * 
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Sunshine Superman

My 2015 Full Frame picks

March 21-25, 2015

I spent a big chunk of the weekend at UNC for PearlHacks, a hackathon aimed specifically at high school & college women, regardless of previous programming experience.

It was really amazing. There was just so much exuberance coming from the (4-500) young women there, such a sense of open inquisitiveness. I love the idea that there may have been as many as 2-300 girls nudged more in the direction of careers in computing, thanks to one amazing weekend experience.

(Of course, if we don’t fix the culture problem in the tech industry, they’ll all be really disappointed when they finally graduate & get jobs – but on the other hand, the more gung-ho young women who enter the industry, fully unwilling to put up with any shit, the faster the culture will change. I hope.)

I’m normally pretty negative about hackathons. The basic premise is that teams of students get together, come up with ideas, and then spend 18-36 consecutive hours building quick [semi] working prototypes, which they demo at the end of the weekend. Prizes are generally awarded.

And then, near as I can tell, never touch again. Whenever I interview a student, if they have hackathons on their resume, I ask whether they’ve continued working on their hackathon projects. The answer is pretty much universally no.

So in a nutshell, then, hackathons are an opportunity to stay up all night slapping together half-working code, potentially win some sort of prize, and then immediately abandon the project. This tweet sums it up perfectly:

But PearlHacks was different, in part because it was aimed partially at non-programmers, so there were a lot of structured activities for students who didn’t feel up to hacking on a project.

I still wish I could believe that even one or two of the 63 projects were going to persist past the weekend, though.

But it was rewarding enough to see a team of high school girls win a prize for a side-scrolling game in which an intrepid young woman has to leap over Chlamydia cells and grab flying condoms to earn points.

Sunday night we watched Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. What an amazing exhausting experience. I had never seen it before, although I read the Autobiography in high school, and it made enough of an impression on me that I was able to tell that the movie stuck pretty close to the story as told in the book.

The cinematography, staging, costume design – the dance numbers – just the overall dizzying sensation of the first hour was the perfect destabilizing setup for all that followed in the second and third hours. What an epic story. Highly recommended. 

The rest of this week thus far has just been the typical late-March stress rollercoaster of extending offers to students and then waiting to see whether they accept or not. Oh, and most of a day wasted at the Honda dealership waiting for them to install a part that should have only taken 10 minutes. Spoiler alert: They didn’t actually install it, so I get to go back.

March 21-25, 2015

March 19-20, 2015

Thursday after work I went to Wine Authorities and restocked on vermouth & amari & some sherry, because earlier this week I got this book called The Art of The Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level, on the recommendation of one of my favorite local bartenders, Danny at Bar Virgile (formerly of Gocciolina). 

I’ve made a few drinks from it already, and they really do make a nice change from what I usually drink. (straight kerosene)

Friday I had lunch with friends at Jamaica Jamaica, which is still there. Not going to say it’s totally unchanged, although it hasn’t changed much. We talked about … um … OK I have already forgotten what we talked about. I’m having trouble concentrating right now because M is in the other room listening to “Rhinestone Cowboy” and humming along, loud, and it’s adorable.

Friday night we swung by the shiny new museum at the shiny new 21c Hotel at the Hill Building in downtown. It’s pretty remarkable – it literally is a small contemporary art museum spread across 2-3 floors of the hotel. There were some rough edges – not all of the lighting is optimal, and some of the art was sans labeling – but there are some great pieces in the collection.

Most notably a gorgeous Kehinde Wiley. It’s amazing to think that one can wander in there at any time of the day or night & sit & look at that Wiley.

(And, given the paucity of docents, at least on Friday night, do god only knows what else in the place. Not that we did, mind you, but it was disconcerting to *not* be obviously watched as we wandered the maze of large & small gallery spaces.)

The inaugural exhibit is about pop culture in contemporary art, which is kind of a fraught topic – there were 2-3 pieces about Britney Spears &, you know, nobody really cares anymore. Some of it was predictable, and some of it – like a room full of large-format photo portraits of cosplay kids – is amazing.

I’ll definitely be going back regularly, because did I mention it’s free? And open either 24/7 or at least 18/7, depending on who you ask.

After that we came home & watched Primer. It was nice to feel free to let go & just kind of absorb the general milieu, without worrying too much about the timeline. The first time I saw it I actually tried to keep up, but it’s basically impossible, and I’m now fairly certain also unnecessary. 

March 19-20, 2015

March 14-18, 2015

Saturday we trekked out to Morrisville, to [apparently] the only theater in the state showing the Glen Campbell documentary. It’s a wonderful & heartbreaking movie.

It’s not a traditional biopic – it basically starts sometime around 2011 and ends a year or two later. It’s about Glen Campbell in the immediate aftermath of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and the farewell tour that he did after he was diagnosed. You get bits & pieces of his history & achievements, but it’s almost entirely in the moment.

The most mindblowing part is seeing how the disease affected different parts of his memory in different ways. He could rarely remember the names of his children. He had to use a teleprompter for the song lyrics (and when it went offline, he was genuinely lost). But he could still follow the melodies perfectly, and most impressively, he could still play guitar like a motherfucker. Seriously. That ability was clearly stored in a completely different part of his brain, at least up to a point.

Towards the very end of the tour, even that started to break down, and that was probably the most heartbreaking part. But his doctors said that the constant playing had actually helped to exercise his brain & to keep him lucid & capable for much longer than he would have been otherwise – and that’s pretty obvious from the movie.

Sunday night it was obviously necessary to watch the new Wrecking Crew documentary, which was made by the son of guitarist Tommy Tedesco. It has apparently been the works for years & years – there was interview footage that had been shot specifically for the documentary that was in 4:3 TV aspect ratio, and in which everyone looked a *lot* younger. I’m told that the thing was hung up for years in negotiations over the rights to all the music that was of course absolutely critical to the telling of the story.

I read the fairly recent book last year, so it’s hard for me to gauge how well the movie did at telling the story. It seemed kind of loose & randomly organized, but there were so many amazing anecdotes that it honestly doesn’t really matter.

And even if you’re intellectually aware of how many hits the Wrecking Crew played on, it doesn’t really sink in until you start to hear them all back-to-back-to-back. My only gripe, given our Glen Campbell streak, is that Glen didn’t get more screen time.

Earlier this week my friend Laura tweeted a gripe about whistlers (talmbout how if people loved whistling there’d be more top selling whistling albums) & so I had to google “top whistling albums” which led me to this amazing website.

So, uh, have fun with that one, I guess.

All kinds of other Twitter Stuff happened, and I guess you can go read about it over there. Starbucks is going to solve race relations in America. I saw a bunch of dudes my age (or older) at work wearing hoodies and realized that I just can’t be a member of that club anymore. Stuff like that.

March 14-18, 2015