The Lone Star Film Society has announced the lineup for its seventh annual film festival and its poised to be their biggest year yet. Along with big names like The Book Thief, directed by Brian Percival of Downton Abbey fame, and studios like Fox and Sony Classic Pictures, the 2013 Lone Star Film Festival is also featuring prominent international films and its independent film competition.
There are five narrative films and four documentaries in competition this year, out of a record-breaking 1,000 submissions. The LSFF is open to directors who have made either their first or second movie, and for a budget of less than $500,000. The winners in each of the two categories receive $2,500, and all entrants have the chance to meet with industry experts for tips on marketing and distribution. The jury deciding the winners will be announced next week, but Alec Jhangiani, LSFS Director, tells us it will mostly consist of local and national producers and people on the lookout for up-and-coming talent. "Generally people who have watched a lot of movies," he says.
We're particularly excited about Bob Birdnow's Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self, directed by Eric Steele, one of the owners of Texas Theater, and starring Dallas-based stage actor Barry Nash. Nash plays Bob Birdnow, a man reluctantly giving a motivational speech at a sales conference. This is a common trend among new directors, says Jhangiani, choosing to adapt a stage play set in only a couple locations to cut costs and put heavy emphasis on writing. "It's a technique that lends itself to first-timers and low budgets."
"This is by far our strongest documentary year. I think it's really going to steal the show," says Jhangiani. Among the documentaries in competition is My Name is Faith, directed by Tiffany Sudela-Junker, Jason Banker and Jorge Torres-Torres. My Name is Faith focuses on a young girl and her brother, raised by a drug-addicted mother and later adopted, while exploring broader challenges for youths in America.
Among the showcased documentaries (the ones not in competition) is Little Hope Was Arson, directed by Theo Love, about the 2010 burning of 10 East Texas churches, and Tim's Vermeer, directed by Penn and Teller (we shit you not), which has generated a lot of excitement since it premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September.
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Also worth catching is Palme d'Or nominee and winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes, Like Father, Like Son, the latest film from internationally revered Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda. Probably best known for Nobody Knows, about four siblings living alone and struggling to make sure no one discovers they've been abandoned, Koreeda's work focuses primarily on family drama. Like Father, Like Son is about a paternal bonds and looks amazing.
Rounding out the lineup is Manos: The Hands of Fate, a 1966 horror flick considered the worst movie ever made that skyrocketed in popularity after a Mystery Science Theater 3000 showing 20 years ago.
"I think it's comically bad to watch," says Jhangiani. "We take film very seriously and focus on extremely selective high quality stuff and the idea of cinema as a high quality art form. But it's unlike other art forms in that it doesn't always take itself very seriously. Sometimes it's fun to just screw around and people love the really terrible films as much as they love the really good ones."
The Lone Star Film Festival will take place November 7-10 in the Sundance Square in Fort Worth. For the full lineup, check out the festival's website.