Program Report: Deirdre Haj – Full Frame Success and Expansion

Documentary film is taking its proper place in the popular movie going and move-watching market – no question there.  In the words of former club and board member Deirdre Haj, “It’s no longer Broccoli” or as she said at another point Monday at lunch, “It’s no longer two guys talking with a fern behind their head.”

Haj moved to Minneapolis a few years back to enable a big career jump for her husband. She did not leave behind her career in documentary filmmaking as executive director of Durham’s prestigious national festival, Full Frame. Credit modern technology.

Nor did the geographic distance and passage of time erode her enthusiasm for our city and several growing educational outreach projects launched by Full Frame during her time at its helm – here or there. The purpose, as documentary film becomes household fare, is to broaden Full Frame’s local presence and impact beyond its niche in the national film world. And in that case, Haj said, a lot of credit goes to Durham Rotary.

“It really started here with all of you,” Haj said during a Full Frame update. She recalled what she described as the festival’s “inward-focused” position when she joined as executive director in 2010, the year she joined our club. Though prominent in documentary film making space even in 2010, the festival operated four days of each calendar year, she recalled, and appeared to carry the local perception of focus on the outside.

Citing inspiration and support by specific Rotary Club members, Haj outlined the details of community-focused programs that began with the assistance, support and participation of various club members. They have been moved along by energetic, talented staff.

Haj reminded club members how her growing Full Frame team launched outdoor screenings around the Triangle year-round known as the Full Frame Road Show.

“Teach the Teachers,” a program designed to train and certify teachers in ways to best instruct students in the fundamentals of basic film making. “ Teach the Teachers has started to go national, all through Durham,” Haj said.

Among other initiatives, Haj described “School of Docs,” a camp taught by professional filmmakers designed to help students learn the art of filmmaking. In some instances, students have gone onto promising new careers and UNC scholarships. In others, she said, “They may have and discover a talent they didn’t know.”

Ms. Haj was introduced by Rotarian Savannah Lennertz the Senior Development Associate for Full Frame. The Full Frame website is HERE.  Passes go on sale this Wednesday, February 14 at 11:00 AM. Tickets reservations begin on March 21 and the Festival begins on April 5 in Downtown Durham.

(Submitted by Mark Lazenby)

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