Volunteers Prepare for Full Frame Festival

Annual documentary festival returns April 3-6

Lani Simeona, production co-director for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, said the event wouldn't be possible without the help of volunteers, many of which are Duke employees. Photo by Charlotte Claypoole.

While other Duke employees may wait until summer to use some vacation days, Robin Berger has made a habit of setting aside time each April for something special.

Like she did last year, she'll use vacation days this week to volunteer at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, an annual international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of documentary cinema. The festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies and Duke University is its presenting sponsor.

"Full Frame is a gem - it's one of the most amazing parts of what Durham offers so I requested time off months ago," said Berger, a clinical research coordinator with Duke's Carolinas Cord Blood Bank. This will be her sixth year overall volunteering at Full Frame. "If you volunteer for 15 hours, you get tickets to see five films, so I get my volunteer hours in early and see as many movies as I can."

In the past, Berger has spent time handing out passes at festival registration tables or acted as a line monitor to make sure attendees get into shows in an orderly fashion. She suspects she'll be up to the same this year and is looking forward to the chance at seeing documentaries by world-class filmmakers.

In all, about 100 films will be shown between April 3 and 6. Tickets are $15 per film and can be purchased online or at the Festival Box Office in the Durham Convention Center. Viewers can join the "last minute line" at screening venues, where tickets are dolled out on a first-come, first-served basis for all screenings. A full lineup of films is available on the Full Frame website.

Duke faculty, staff and students get $2 off tickets purchased for films on Sunday, April 6. Discounted tickets must be purchased at the Festival Box Office in the Durham Convention Center with a valid DukeCard ID and excludes the awards barbecue and last minute line tickets.

With so many films and logistical efforts to pull off the festival, Lani Simeona, production co-director for Full Frame, said it wouldn't be possible without dedicated volunteers.

"So many travel in from around the country just to be a part of our annual event," she said. "Their passion and commitment to Full Frame and our festival is remarkable."

Marianne Drysdale, a senior analyst programmer with Research Applications Development at Duke, volunteered at Full Frame for the first time in 2013 and will be back this year. She joined the festival because she wanted to support Durham and the event.

"It's not just carrying tickets or handing out ballots," she said. "You're an ambassador for Durham and the festival. It's exciting to be part of early fans of movies that are going to be in the limelight in six to nine months."