Emily Hargrove

 

DALLAS: Come one come all! See 22 North Texas film festivals come together for four days with the best of their work! Nowhere else in America has this ever been done! Join us for North Texas Film Festival’s BEST OF FESTS Film Festival.

BEST OF FESTS opens on January 10 and runs through January 13. The films, which include features, shorts and documentaries, are showing at venues across Dallas including: Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, Studio Movie Grill, and the Texas Theatre.

How BEST OF FESTS was born

Bringing North Texas film fests together to showcase their work in a four-day festival was an idea that began at last year’s Art House Convergence, a conference for film festivals and people who run art houses, says Dallas VideoFest Founder Bart Weiss. “I was there, and so was Emily Hargrove with EarthxFilm Festival. We were talking and thought it might be a good idea to do this in Dallas. Then Emily said let’s do this, and she got the ball rolling. Emily really has spearheaded this and done an incredible job.”

BART WEISS
photo credit: theaterjones.com

This is an important event according to Weiss. “In every other city that I’ve been to that runs a film festival, the festivals don’t really get along very well, or at best, they tolerate each other, but they don’t work together the way that we do here. So it’s a different kind of spirit here [in North Texas] that says a lot about the people who are running our festivals, and I think that is something really worth celebrating as much as the films themselves.”

Another point worth noting, according to Weiss, is how many festivals are involved. “When we thought of this, we thought maybe there would be 10 festivals, and then, we ended up with 22. So just let that sink in. This is Dallas-Fort Worth, and we have 22 festivals working with us. I mean the breadth and depth of the different kinds of festivals that we have is truly astounding. So in a world where we celebrate diversity, we are really covering interests all over the place.”

While many of the festivals are showing more recent work, Dallas VideoFest is showing a film from its archives: The Big Buy: Tom Delay’s Stolen Congress. “I felt it was important because given where we are politically; this is, in part, about how we got there, and it’s also important to support Dallas filmmakers, like Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck.”

The southernmost North Texas Film Festival: Deep In The Heart Film Festival

Best of Fests Film Festival covers an area in Texas much like a diamond. It starts with Denton to the North, Fort Worth to the West, Dallas to the East, and Waco to the South. And Waco is home to Deep In The Heart Film Festival. Its co-directors, Samuel

(l to r) Lewis Hunter and Samuel Thomas
photo credit: deepintheheart.com

Thomas and Louis Hunter, created the festival three years ago. “We feel blessed to be included in BEST of FESTS, and it’s definitely a benefit for us,” Thomas admits. After all we’re just and hour and a half down the road from Dallas! BEST OF FESTS has allowed us to meet other filmmakers in the area that we weren’t familiar with; and as filmmakers, we are all in this together.”

Thomas says he and Hunter often think of themselves as the Cohen brothers, as they unite their visions. Deep In The Heart is all about the stories; deep, heartfelt stories. Moreover, the directing duo doesn’t mind if the film is lacking in production value, what matters most to them is that the story is strong.

“For us, it’s got to be about the heart so the essence of the film is the story itself,” Thomas says. “It’s cool that Waco is smack in the middle of the heart of Texas, that makes us feel distinctively Texan. We wanted to have a feel and a vibe; we didn’t want to just be a Waco film festival just based on a town; we want to be the essence of the story and the town. So it all comes together like that.”

During Deep In The Heart’s first year, Thomas and Hunter looked for a feature film that would bring in audiences. Then they found it, thanks to their partnership with Baylor University’s film and media department, which lead to a film produced by the department head, Chris Hansen. “I watched it. I showed it to my wife, then I showed it to Louis, and then things started to come together.” Blur Circle, which was shot in Waco, is a story about a woman who loses her son, and she stays in a state of stasis for years until she comes to a place in her life that brings her to redemption. “It actually premiered at the Dallas VideoFest and went on to win some nominations and awards. So when BEST OF FESTS popped up, we knew this film would best represent Deep In The Heart because it’s a high-quality, local film that has had an impact not only around the nation but around the world.”

photo credit: pixel.com

And for the audiences

Most people don’t know how many film festivals there are in the area. BEST of FESTS gives everyone the opportunity to see all kinds of films and learn about the many festivals North Texas offers.

“If I asked you about the Pegasus Film Festival, you may not know that this is a festival for high school [short] films from around the area. So you can go from film to film and see all kinds of work from all kinds of festivals and that gives you a taste of what every festivals does and when these festivals are coming,” Weiss summarized.

“And from the festival’s point of view, we get access to audiences that didn’t know about us and that makes us stronger as we reach more people and all of us will do better because of it.”

Participating film festivals include:

3 Stars Jewish Cinema, Asian Film Festival of Dallas, Crossroads Film & Music Festival, Czech That Film, Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF), Dallas Jewish Film Festival, Dallas Video Fest, Deep in the Heart Film Festival, Denton Black Film Festival, EarthxFilm, Festival de Cine Latino Americano, Flicks By Chicks, Fort Worth Independent Film Showcase, Frame4Frame, Lone Star Film Festival, Oak Cliff Film Festival, Pegasus Film Festival, Q Cinema, Sons of the Flag Film Festival, South Asian Film Festival, Thin Line Film Festival, and Women Texas Film Festival.

For information on the line up or to purchase tickets please go to: www.bestoffests.org.