Speakeasy Conversations

    Recent Conversations

    Black Frame: New Voices of Documentary

    Join us for a conversation with contemporary Black filmmakers on how they are moving the documentary form forward using new approaches, cinematic languages, and theory in their recent work. In partnership with the Department of African & African American Studies at Duke University, this conversation is a part of Black Frame, a series of discussions, curriculum, and presentations with a focus solely on Black documentary filmmakers and their work.

    Mark Anthony Neal, Ph.D., James B. Duke Professor of African & African American Studies

    Garrett Bradley, director (TIME)
    Darius Clark Monroe, director (EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL)


    Gatekeeper Accountability: Film Festivals


    What are the implications and special challenges that festivals face when trying to vet films that might spark controversy in terms of authorship and consent? Join us in collaboration with Working Films for a discussion about the role that film festivals can play in increasing ethics and accountability in the documentary field. Working Films’ StoryShift Strategist Natalie Bullock Brown will moderate this discussion with representatives from the documentary filmmaking and film festival community. Don’t miss this important and timely conversation.

    Natalie Bullock Brown, StoryShift strategist at Working Films

    Opal H. Bennett, programmer at DocNYC / shorts producer at PBS POV
    Sean Flynn, program director at Points North Institute/Camden International Film Festival
    Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, owner at Vespertine Films, producer, editor, and director
    Lela Meadow-Conner, executive director at Film Festival Alliance / founder and CEO at mama.film


    Documenting Distress: A Discussion

    Throughout history, documentary film has been used to bring to light the abuses that human beings can inflict upon one another, whether during war, genocide, imprisonment, or via policies that force people into desperate conditions, such as exile, migration and/or starvation. Such work can and has brought public awareness to circumstances that bring about changes in laws, policing, public opinion, and inspire cultural norms to shift. How do documentary filmmakers walk the fine line of exposing abuse and not exploiting victims? What is appropriate to portray and what crosses the line? This group of esteemed Full Frame colleagues discuss their work, the work of the field, and how today’s image-heavy culture impacts the work of documentarians.

    Adama Delphine Fawundu, visual artist and educator

    Marco Williams, director
    Rory Kennedy, co-founder at Moxie Firecracker Films, producer and director
    Laurens Grant, producer, director and writer


    Online Festival Strategy for Documentary Filmmakers

    As more festivals make the move online, documentary directors are left questioning, what is the right path for their films? Join us for a discussion on emerging strategies for nonfiction filmmakers, where we’ll tackle the most pressing concerns and questions about the changing festival landscape.

    Deirdre Haj, director at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

    Josh Braun, co-president at Submarine Entertainment
    Ramona S. DiazCineDiaz, director (A THOUSAND CUTS)
    Brian Newman, founder at Sub-Genre

    About Speakeasy Conversations


    Full Frame has been proud to present the annual A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy at the festival for a number of years. The A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy hosts several panel conversations over the course of the festival that are free and open to the public. In 2020, Full Frame transitioned the Speakeasy program online and hosted several panels throughout 2020-21.

    The Speakeasy offers a casual setting where a small audience can listen to industry leaders take on topics that are at the heart of the documentary community today.

    The A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy feature spirited and engaging discussions and debates between professionals working at the highest levels, both on stage and with the audience. This not-to-be missed series of conversations takes place on Friday and Saturday in the lobby of the Durham Hotel.

    The Archive

    A wide array of topics related to documentary film and filmmaking have been tackled since the program’s inception. To watch and learn more about previous conversations, please visit the A&E IndieFilmsSpeakeasy Archive.