360 West November 2015 : Page 130
Spotlight Windsor , a coming-of-age film shot in Gainesville, was written and produced by Fort Worth’s Porter Farrell and stars Barry Corbin, above. Already a winner on the festival circuit, it screens at the Lone Star Film Festival. Photo by Bill Behr THE DETAILS Lone Star Film Festival The ninth annual festival brings a long weekend of screenings to Sundance Square — 37 feature-length films plus dozens of shorts. Of local note is the Porter Farrell feature Windsor and the James Johnston short Melville . All-access badges grant admission to all screenings, the keynote address by New York magazine film critic David Edelstein, panel discussions and the filmmaker happy hour and awards presentation. Nov. 5-8. Single tickets, $10; all-access badge, $150. AMC Palace Theater, Four Day Weekend theater and Sundance Square Plaza, Fort Worth; lonestarfilmfestival.com. Lone Star Film Festival Ball The annual fundraiser honors actress and singer Betty Buckley with the festival’s Stephen Bruton Award, given annually to a Texas musician for contributions to both music and film. Sundance Square receives the festival’s Visionary Award, accepted by Edward P. Bass and Johnny K. Campbell. 6 p.m. Nov. 6. Tickets, $600. Fort Worth Club, 306 W. 7 th St., Fort Worth; 212-868-8450, ext. 205 or lonestarfilmsociety.com. Legendary Texas musician Doug Sahm gets the big-screen treatment via a documentary by writer-historian Joe Nick Patoski, who makes his directorial debut with the film. It’s just one feature with Texas flavor screening at this year’s festival. Screen Time The Lone Star Film Festival returns for its ninth year with some 50 screenings — including a groovy Doug Sahm documentary — and an eye to the future. By Laura Samuel Meyn 130 November 2015 360westmagazine.com
Laura Samuel Meyn
The Lone Star Film Festival returns for its ninth year with some 50 screenings — including a groovy Doug Sahm documentary — and an eye to the future.
Lone Star Film Festival The ninth annual festival brings a long weekend of screenings to Sundance Square — 37 feature-length films plus dozens of shorts. Of local note is the Porter Farrell feature Windsor and the James Johnston short Melville. All-access badges grant admission to all screenings, the keynote address by New York magazine film critic David Edelstein, panel discussions and the filmmaker happy hour and awards presentation. Nov. 5-8. Single tickets, $10; all-access badge, $150. AMC Palace Theater, Four Day Weekend theater and Sundance Square Plaza, Fort Worth; lonestarfilmfestival.com.
Lone Star Film Festival Ball The annual fundraiser honors actress and singer Betty Buckley with the festival’s Stephen Bruton Award, given annually to a Texas musician for contributions to both music and film. Sundance Square receives the festival’s Visionary Award, accepted by Edward P. Bass and Johnny K. Campbell. 6 p.m. Nov. 6. Tickets, $600. Fort Worth Club, 306 W. 7th St., Fort Worth; 212-868-8450, ext. 205 or lonestarfilmsociety.com.
At its heart, the annual Lone Star Film Festival is about telling stories — the quirkier stories you don’t usually see on a big screen in a town without a dedicated arthouse movie theater. It’s also about getting an early look at films destined for wider distribution and awards-season buzz. Some of the stories are true and some are fictional; some are feature-length and some are shorts; all are screened and selected by a team especially for the Fort Worth festival, and entrance requires nothing more than a $10 movie ticket.
One much-anticipated film this year is Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove, a documentary about the late San Antonio musician Doug Sahm by Fort Worth-reared writer and historian Joe Nick Patoski, his directorial debut. Patoski has authored biographies of such important Texas musicians as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson and Selena — and written for decades about music (and other matters). But after a book editor deemed Sahm “too obscure” for a biography, Patoski decided that his story might be better seen and heard.
Sahm was a steel-guitar child prodigy who became a master of the many genres he was exposed to in his San Antonio neighborhood: country, Tejano, rhythm and blues. Patoski remembers first hearing Sahm’s Sir Douglas Quintet songs like “She’s About A Mover” and “Mendocino” on the radio. “In 1971 I had an indie record shop called Natural Records, on Rosedale and College. I got the promo album, The Return of Doug Saldana. The sound of it spoke to me, but also the album cover — he’s sitting on a porch, wearing a cowboy hat and boots, with long hair, clutching a Big Red soda,” says Patoski. “I walked down to a convenience store and bought a Big Red just to see what it was like.”
Patoski befriended Sahm after the restless musician’s move to San Francisco in its late-’60s heyday and back to Austin at the forefront of its live music scene. But then, instead of getting comfortable, Sahm wrote Austin a goodbye letter and headed to Europe to replace ABBA at the top of the charts. He eventually returned to Texas and formed the Texas Tornados, leaving the Tex-Mex music legacy to be carried on by his son, Shawn.
Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove traces a staggeringly talented musician not reined in by genre or location, business savvy or sobriety, through career highs and lows in his pursuit of the ever-elusive “groove.” Patoski’s documentary engenders frustration that Sahm never achieved the lasting fame of the many contemporaries who admired his sound — Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia among them. “He was an encyclopedia; no one could play the indigenous sounds of Texas as authentically,” says Patoski. “ ‘Texas Me’ and ‘At the Crossroads’ are some of the best Texas songs ever written.”
It’s just the type of movie that catches the eye of the Lone Star Film Festival’s new director, Chad Mathews. A TCU film graduate who founded the Hill Country Film Festival in 2010, Mathews spent a decade in Los Angeles acting, writing and producing short films before returning to Texas. After a shakeup at the Lone Star Film Society last summer saw the exit of several staffers, Mathews stepped in to lead the festival into its ninth year.
“We want to make an honest effort to make it Fort Worth’s film festival — everyone in the community is welcome; there’s everything from family-oriented to edgy indie films to mainstream,” says Mathews.
One addition this year is a free opening-night outdoor screening in Sundance Square Plaza, showing short films for all audiences. Later, inside Four Day Weekend theater, the festival takes off with its screening of Robert Edwards’ When I Live My Life Over Again, starring Christopher Walken as an aging crooner and Amber Heard as his punkrock daughter. An after-party follows on Reata’s rooftop, just an elevator ride away.
Music is a strong undercurrent in the Lone Star Film Festival, and not just in the programming. Festival founder and board chairman Johnny Langdon has long envisioned a companion Americana music festival. He’s collaborating with Grammy and Oscar award-winning songwriter and producer T Bone Burnett, a longtime friend, on the idea, which they hope to have in place by the time the film festival celebrates its 10th year in late 2016. For now, he’s looking forward to the festival this year. “We just want everyone to see some great films they might not have seen and have fun,” he says.
Deepening the experience are the question-andanswer sessions with the talent behind the films, which follow more than half the screenings; just stick around after the credits roll. “That’s one of the best parts of the film festival — the story behind the story,” says Mathews. “You have the opportunity to not only experience the film, but to gain some insight into these filmmakers, their passion, their struggle.”
Be sure to ask Patoski, who will be in town for his Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove screening, why Sahm never played with a set list, or what the Sir Douglas Quintet taught The Beatles about the Vox organ, or how he hopes to use the documentary to get Sahm long overdue recognition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“I’ve gotten to tell some great stories writing over 40 years; this is the one that almost got away,” says Patoski. “Willie represents Texas better than anyone, but Doug is the untold story.”
Helping Filmmakers, Helping Fort Worth
When filmmakers consider traveling to any given city to shoot on location, they start by contacting the local film commission. Film commissions help guide filmmakers through the unique local landscape of permits and resources, from the police department to parks and recreation to finding crew members. Fort Worth filmmaker Red Sanders of Red Productions has been through the process enough times to notice that cities with a film commissioner are easier to navigate, winning more of the film industry’s business. So together with the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau and David Berzina at the Fort Worth Chamber, Sanders has helped form the Fort Worth Film Commission. The newly named film commissioner, Jessica Christopherson, will travel with the Texas Association of Film Commissions and Texas Film Commission over the next few years, courting business and spreading the word. And when filmmakers contact her, she’ll create a unique link for their project, compiling images that show local resources that fit the filmmaker’s vision. “The returns on this are many. One is we want people to spend money here, book hotel rooms, go to restaurants, hire people, rent space to film,” says Mitch Whitten, vice president of marketing for the Fort Worth CVB. “But it also helps raise the reputation of Fort Worth; we’re all excited about what’s happening in our city; this is another part of sharing that with the world.” Whitten points out that having the nation’s fourth busiest airport nearby helps — as does Sanders’ leadership. Among Red Productions’ many projects is pitching the development of James Johnston’s short film Melville, screening at this year’s Lone Star Film Festival, into a TV series filmed in Fort Worth; football star-turned TV host Michael Strahan is already on board as executive producer. For more information, fortworth.com/film.
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