The Festival

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is an annual international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of nonfiction cinema. Each spring, Full Frame welcomes filmmakers and film lovers from around the world to historic downtown Durham, North Carolina, for a four-day, morning-to-midnight array of nearly 100 films, as well as discussions, panels, and Southern hospitality. Set within a few city blocks, the intimate festival landscape fosters community and conversation among filmmakers, film professionals, and the public.

The festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), and receives support from corporate sponsors, private foundations, and individual donors whose generosity provides the foundation that makes the event possible. The Presenting Sponsor of the festival is Duke University.

The Mission

Full Frame serves the documentary form and its community by showcasing the contemporary work of established and emerging filmmakers. The festival provides a space that nurtures conversation between artists, students, and the Full Frame audience. Full Frame is committed to enhancing public understanding and appreciation of the art form and its significance, while making films more accessible to a wider audience.

Year Round Programming

Full Frame also promotes the festival’s mission throughout the year by presenting documentary work in other venues both locally and nationally. Full Frame brings free documentary films to the Triangle with the Full Frame Road Show. The Road Show runs between May and November at the Full Frame Theater at the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham, and venues throughout the Triangle. Full Frame has also partnered with organizations like the American Tobacco Historic District/Capitol Broadcasting Company, Des Moines Art Center, Duke University, the IFC Center, the International Affairs Council of North Carolina, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, Rooftop Films, the University of North Carolina (UNC) School System and the Walker Art Center. Join our mailing list for updates on activities throughout the year.

Panel Discussions

Full Frame is proud to present conversations following many films during the four-day festival and at select year round screenings. These discussions are intended for the filmmakers of the exhibited title. Filmmakers may choose to have individuals featured in the film or subject matter experts participate in the Q&As, but such opportunities are at the discretion of the filmmaking team.

Full Frame Theater

Full Frame presents screenings throughout the year at the Full Frame Theater at American Tobacco Campus. Please note the venue is also available for rent, and other organizations host screenings and events in the space. The Theater is managed by the Center for Documentary Studies. For more information, including rental inquiries, please refer to the CDS website.


Full Frame assists in promoting films via social media that have screened during the festival or year round programming. The festival does not publicize screenings hat have not screened with the festival.