Joe Berlinger, Jehane Noujaim
Joe Berlinger, Jehane Noujaim

Delving into the fascinating genre of true crime, filmmaker Joe Berlinger will curate the 2018 Thematic Program of the 2018 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, which will feature films that follow individual cases and consider the ways documentary uniquely represents the complexities, and limitations, of the American judicial system. For the Tribute, Full Frame will honor Jehane Noujaim’s illustrious body of work and showcase her lauded films exploring themes of resilience, freedom, democracy, and free speech.

Academy Award®-nominated filmmakers Berlinger and Noujaim will both be in attendance at the 21st annual festival, held April 5 to 8, 2018, in Durham, North Carolina.

Exploring themes of crime and punishment, Berlinger will draw from his own work on the subject, as well as influential work by other filmmakers. A leading voice in nonfiction film and television for the past two decades, Berlinger’s films include the landmark documentaries Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, and Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru, among many others. Crude, about oil pollution in the Amazon Rainforest, won 22 human rights, environmental, and film festival awards and triggered a high-profile First Amendment battle with oil-giant Chevron. Berlinger’s Under African Skies, documenting the 25th Anniversary of Paul Simon’s Graceland album, was nominated for three primetime Emmy awards, including Outstanding Nonfiction Special. In addition to his feature documentary work, Berlinger has created many hours of crime-related unscripted series for television, including Gone: The Forgotten Women of Ohio, Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders, and Killing Richard Glossip. Berlinger is currently in production on a narrative film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, about infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, starring Zac Efron, Lily Collins, and John Malkovich.

“Joe Berlinger brings unparalleled vision to the subject of true crime,” said Full Frame Artistic Director Sadie Tillery. “Examining complicated accusations of wrongdoing and the legal proceedings that follow, his films make palpable the intricacies and tensions involved in these cases, in both the courtroom and the surrounding communities. They’ve not only impacted the lives of the people involved and even the outcomes of cases, they’ve also shaped the documentary form itself. We are honored to have Berlinger curate this year’s Thematic Program and to see this subject matter through his lens.”

“Having had the honor of exhibiting many of my films at Full Frame since the festival’s inception, it’s tremendously gratifying to come back this year to curate the Thematic Program that I have so enjoyed as an audience member in years past,” said Berlinger. “It’s also very timely to put a spotlight on true crime. While much has (deservedly) been made about the explosion of interest in this genre in recent years due to such breakouts as Serial, The Jinx, and Making A Murderer, crime and punishment has been a staple of documentary storytelling from the earliest days of nonfiction filmmaking. There’s no better time than now to examine the evolution of the genre by presenting some its milestone films.”

Past curators of Full Frame’s Thematic Program include Amir Bar-Lev, R.J. Cutler, Chris Hegedus, Steve James, D A Pennebaker, and Lucy Walker.

For the 2018 Tribute, Full Frame will recognize Jehane Noujaim, presenting a retrospective from her distinguished career. Noujaim earned a B.A. in Film and Philosophy at Harvard, and lives in Cairo and New York City. Noujaim’s impressive proportion of award-winning titles includes Academy Award®-nominated film The Square, which was widely hailed as the definitive film about the Arab Spring, and earned the Audience Award at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals. Her explosive 2004 film Control Room, about Al Jazeera and its coverage of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, was one of the first documentaries to examine modern media bias. It was described by A.O. Scott of the New York Times as “an indispensable example of the inquisitive self-questioning democratic spirit.”

Noujaim’s work has been nominated by the DGA, IDA, Independent Spirit Awards and several Critics Associations, and has exhibited at international festivals, has screened in theaters and been broadcast globally. In collaboration with Angelina Jolie, Noujaim most recently executive produced 2018 Academy Award®-nominated animated feature The Breadwinner. In 2006, Noujaim won the TED Prize, an annual award in which the recipients are granted a wish. Noujaim’s TED Prize wish, to create a day in which the world comes together through film, was the catalyst for the international multimedia event Pangea Day, broadcast live across the globe.

“We are thrilled to celebrate Jehane Noujaim’s work with our 2018 Full Frame Tribute,” said Tillery. “With intimacy and urgency, Noujaim’s films allow us to see global issues unfold through personal accounts. They introduce us to unforgettable people and bring new perspective to international events.”

“I am deeply grateful for this tribute, as Full Frame is such a special place for me,” said Noujaim. “I came to Full Frame in my twenties with my first film,, co-directed with Chris Hegedus and produced by D A Pennebaker, they loved the festival, and introduced me to it. I felt I had found family. We came back to Full Frame with Control Room almost fifteen years ago. To return now, at a time when I feel we are living in an age of digital Control Rooms on steroids, feels right. There will be a lot to talk about!”

Most recently, Full Frame has honored filmmakers Kirsten Johnson, Marshall Curry, Steve James, and Stanley Nelson with the Full Frame Tribute.

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