elondocs cohort serves as Full Frame Fellows

Members of the yearlong documentary film production program received behind-the-scenes access to Durham’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, considered one of the world’s premiere showcases for nonfiction cinema.

Elon film students stand in front of Carolina Theatre sign in Durham, North Carolina.
Members of the elondocs cohort pose for a photograph outside Carolina Theatre while attending the 2024 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham. Pictured (from left) are Sylvie Cullen ’26, Merrie Byers ’26, Carter Craig ’25, Associate Professor Nicole Triche, Jenna Moylan ’26 and Samantha Katz ’24.

Prior to early April’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, it had been five years since the celebrated film event had gathered in person – albeit virtual editions were hosted between 2020 to 2022.

Elondocs students sit in movie theater in Durham.
The elondocs cohort settles in for a screening at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

Thankfully, after a year hiatus, the 2024 festival returned to in-person mode and six School of Communications students, all members of elondocs, served as Full Frame Fellows receiving an up-close look at the event’s nearly 60 projects.

Accompanied by Nicole Triche, associate professor of cinema and television arts, the half-dozen students attended four days of film screenings, panels and social engagements where they interacted with filmmakers and networked with industry professionals. These special access events included meeting the celebrated documentarians behind “Girls State” and “Union” at exclusive film student lunches.

“The elondocs students took full advantage of their Full Frame Fellows status,” Triche said.

Samantha Katz ’24, a cinema and television arts major, was one such student who relished the opportunity to meet with filmmakers at Full Frame, and the experience got off to a fast start for her.

During the opening night party, she spoke with Amanda McBaine, one of the directors of “Girls State,” which “got me extremely pumped for the rest of the week,” she said. “I overall felt that the festival fostered community and opportunity to speak with these filmmakers, and it didn’t feel intimidating at all.”

Stephen Maing speaks with attendees at Full Frame Film Festival.
Among the award-winning filmmakers the elondocs students met was Stephen Maing. His feature documentary “Crime + Punishment” won a Special Jury Award at Sundance, an Emmy Award and was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Maing is a director and producer of the 2024 film “Union,” which follows the Amazon Labor Union as it seeks to unionize Amazon’s JKF8 Warehouse in Staten Island, New York. The documentary was screened at the Durham film festival.

While Katz said she loved “Girls State,” the film “Echo of You” also grabbed her attention. The project by filmmaker Zara Zerny offers a candid look at the lives, loves and relationships of nine elderly Danish citizens.

“What was most impactful to me was the editing style and use of visual storytelling, which has left me inspired to try similar styles myself,” the Elon senior said.

One of Katz’s main takeaways from her Full Frame experience was that good filmmaking is a lengthy endeavor. Good work takes time.

“Documentaries are a process,” Katz said.” I think this (experience) reminded me to trust the process and really take in the content we’re receiving to make as beautiful and impactful of a story as possible. Love and care are the most important things when handling other people’s stories.”

In addition to Katz, Elon students Merrie Byers ’26, Jenna Moylan ’26, Sylvie Cullen ’26, Carter Craig ’25 and Marc Paillex ’24 also served as Fellows.