One of My Favorite Experiences – Volunteering At The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

full frame festival volunteer
Volunteering at the Full Frame Festival.

During our 3 years of living in Durham, North Carolina (2010-2013), my husband and I volunteered at the annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and it was my favorite event of the year. I always looked forward to it, and I still miss it. I wish I could volunteer this year! 

The Carolina Theater, Durham, NC
The Carolina Theater, Durham, NC

The festival is an international 4 day event featuring documentary films from around the world and occurs every spring around April. It takes place in the historic downtown Durham spanning 4 blocks at the Carolina Theater, the Durham Convention Center, the Durham Arts Council, the Durham Armory and Durham Central Park which hosts free outdoor movie showings.

There are over 100 film showings which play on 6 different screening rooms throughout the day, as well as panels, discussions and post-film Q&A’s.

At the Plaza shown above, there is food available from local catering. To the right you can see the Carolina Theater and the Convention Center to the left which connects to the Carolina Theater.

But Durham is known as the tastiest town in the South, and not very far away you can find an array of excellent places to eat.

The Durham Armory can be seen in the background on the photo above.

The Last Minute Line

One of my favorite Full Frame festival features is the Last Minute Line, especially as a volunteer.

Got cash, but no ticket? Try the Last Minute Line at the screening venues where remaining seats go on sale 15 minutes before showtime. Last Minute Line tickets are $16 for films (cash only), first come-first served and based on availability.

Zigzag light during the Fullframe Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC
One of the theaters that is created just for the festival at the Convention Center.


BENEFITS – Volunteers receive one pass credential, one volunteer t-shirt, and five (5) tickets to films and events at the festival. During your shift, volunteers also have access to the Volunteer Lounge where complimentary drinks and snacks are served and last minute line tickets are free! That means that if there is a seat you get in for free.

REQUIREMENTS – You must be 16 years of age or older, available to attend the mandatory volunteer orientation meeting and assigned team training session(s), and work 3-five hour shifts during the festival. Some positions require volunteers to be at least 21 years of age.

TEAMS – In your application you can pick your top choices from the 17 different teams to be a part of and you will be chosen for one. These include: Cinema Teams, Box Office + Merchandise Team, Green Team, Hospitality Suite Team, Pass Pickup + Info Team, Tech Team, Volunteer Lounge Team and more!

As a volunteer and thanks to the last minute line, during the four days I would see about 16 amazing films, all for free! Plus, the required shifts are fun! If you like films, I can’t recommend this experience enough.

For three years I was part of the Cinema Team (Cinema 1 & 2). My cinemas were located in the Carolina Theater. My husband was part of the Pass Pickup + Info Team. We both loved our own teams. We also both fell in love with documentary films because of this festival.

The line to “Page One: Inside the New York Times” (2011)
That’s me in the middle sitting, reading the festival brochure.

Don’t let the lines scare you. They move fast and the one above was for the biggest theater, Fletcher at the Carolina Theater.

Q&A after the showing of “Being Elmo” with the director, producer, DOP, and Kevin Clash (Elmo’s voice), and Elmo himself.

One of my other favorite things of the festival were the post film Q&A’s with the directors.

The Films

Every single film, short or long that they show in this festival is world-class. They are worth every penny. Curators spend countless hours picking from the many submissions they receive. Many of them have gone into Oscar nominations and national and international theater screenings.

Passes & Tickets

If you don’t want to volunteer and you would just like to attend, there are 4 festival passes to pick from with a variety of benefits ranging from $109 – $575.

Or you can buy individual tickets:

Prices for films and events
All Films — $16 (price includes sales tax)
Opening Night Party — $27 (price includes sales tax)
Awards Barbecue — $27 (price includes sales tax)
Full Frame Theater Screenings — FREE (Ticket Required)
Durham Central Park outdoor screenings — FREE (No Ticket Required)

Read more about the available passes, other tickets and anything else you need to know at the Full Frame website.

2 thoughts on “One of My Favorite Experiences – Volunteering At The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

  1. Sounds like a fabulous event. Too bad you can’t just whisk over to volunteer. Where did that magic wand go?


    1. It is. Last year I was missing it too, planning a trip in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

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