Arlington’s Frame4Frame Festival gets rolling Thursday, with more than 20 films set to screen during the event. Now in its second year, the festival also features art and live music around downtown Arlington. The film screenings will take place Sept. 22-24 at Studio Movie Grill in Lincoln Square.
“There’s a real appetite for the flavor of more independent films in Arlington,” said James Hawthorne, director of the Arlington Film Society, at a recent roundtable. Here’s a quick look at 10 films on the festival’s lineup.
In a Dream
7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 (Short Film Series One)
This short romantic comedy is about a young woman “who goes through embarrassing mishaps and awkward blind dates” in search of an elusive Mr. Right who habitually haunts her dreams. Reacting to a statement from a friend that the man only exists in a dream state, Kate responds, “What if he’s real and he’s looking for me, too?”
She then discovers that her mysterious dream man has been hiding in plain sight all along. The movie’s endgame is that a dream might be worth fighting for. The 17-minute film, directed by Edina Kishonthy, is the first film by Fulfillms, a company focused on creating films with positive messages.
In a Dream is not the only dream-themed film in the festival. In Once Upon a Dream, directed by Anthony Nion, Valentin is convinced that Ludivine is the girl frequenting his dreams.
8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 (red carpet feature)
Set in the Jim Crow-era South, the comedy takes moviegoers on a hilarious, harrowing journey with friends Jerico Walker and Jarvis Cook as their good day gets progressively bad. The film's steady stream of humor eases tension as the two men try to follow their dreams but end up in a fight for survival amid the realities of racism.
Jerico was written by Brandon Lewis and directed by Seckeita Lewis, a husband and wife filmmaking duo out of Dallas. The film also screened at the annual Denton Black Film Festival earlier this year, where it won Best Narrative Feature Film.
Path of a Luthier
1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 (Short Film Series Two)
This short documentary spotlights the craft of custom guitar making as director Cliff Sarde explores the skills of the trade at Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. Founded by Robert Venn, John Roberts and William Eaton in 1975, the school encourages each student to build an acoustic and an electric guitar while gaining an appreciation for fine hardwoods and craftsmanship.
Former student Scott Walker now builds about 35 guitars each year. In the film, the luthier says that his stringed instruments “end up evolving naturally on their own.” The 26-minute film won Best Documentary Short at the recent Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival in Arizona.
Cloth Paper Dreams
1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 (Short Film Series Two)
In this short documentary, Austin filmmaker and National Geographic creative photographer Greg Davis weaves the colorful narratives of three men from different worlds who travel the same path. One man’s journey concerns faith while another man’s pilgrimage is that of devotion. The third man embarks upon a mission to find life’s purpose.
“Journey to India’s Kumbh Mela,” the Cloth Paper Dreams website reads, “where every 12 years, at the confluence of the three holiest rivers, untold millions converge to pray, commune and ultimately connect to something greater than themselves.”
2:10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23
Life can cut like a knife. Margaret Galbraith’s documentary Stickman tells the story of Roosevelt Wilkerson, a Dallas man who was sent to prison as a young man and later became homeless. Wilkerson creatively channels his anger by picking up a knife to carve out a new life through wooden walking sticks. Aided by an art lover and Dallas socialite, Wilkerson’s sticks become prized works of art. According to the Catholic News Agency, former President George Bush gave a Wilkerson stick, inscribed with the Ten Commandments in wood that he had collected along the Trinity River, to Pope Benedict XVl.
The Johnny Starr Story
3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 (Short Film Series Three)
This short drama follows a reporter on a mission to investigate the mysterious death of a rock musician and a
district attorney. Dallas filmmaker Israel Varela says that while he “took some creative license with it,” the film is based on actual events that happened more than 40 years ago. Varela believes that The Johnny Starr Story, which was filmed in Natchitoches, Louisiana, will resonate with people because it deals with corruption, greed and murder in small-town America.
“The rock star died in the plane crash, and there was some speculation that the sheriff had something to do with,” he said. “The investigator … he ended up getting shot and killed, and his murder was never solved.”
Varela plays reporter Jason Hawkins, whose grandfather was the murdered DA. Hawkins promises his father he will discover the truth about what happened before he dies.
The Johnny Starr Story won Director’s Choice Award at the recent Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase.
5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 (Short Film Series Five)
This psychological drama follows a young woman’s “desperate attempt to connect with her ghostly, schizophrenic father,” by tampering with his medication. The 18-minute Canadian film, directed by Jacinthe Dessureault, “is a short film inviting us to walk a bit at once in the shoes of a man struggling with schizophrenia, and in those of his daughter, who experiences the disease from the outside,” according to the movie’s Facebook page.
In the film, the daughter describes her experience as something like that of an adopted child yearning to know his or her biological parent. Only in her case, her father is there. Fog is a standalone companion to the two-part feature film Twilight State, which also gives a psychological look at a father-daughter relationship involving mental illness.
Fly By Light
6:05 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23
When a group of inner-city youth boards a bus and heads to West Virginia for eight days, the outcome is life changing. Over campfires and mountaintop experiences, a sense of camaraderie emerges, as well as a realization: The teenagers can’t change who they are, but they can help chart their own courses.
“But as they return to DC, each young person faces an unforgiving series of hurdles and roadblocks that challenge their efforts to build a better life,” Frame4Frame's website reads. “Fly By Light is an intimate exploration of the chaotic, confusing, and emotional journey to rewrite a young person’s future.”
This documentary is directed by Ellie Walton and presented by One Common Unity, an organization that seeks to build better neighborhoods and break cycles of violence through education and the arts.
4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24
This short comedy involves a math teacher “trumped by post-fact America” over the correct answer of two plus two. “It’s a takeoff on that phrase 'alternative facts,'” Dallas filmmaker David Maddox says.
When a student gives an answer other than four, the teacher is challenged by parents, the community and ultimately the school board. In the end, the ostracized instructor uses her wit to punctuate the ordeal with some fact checking of her own.
“I’ve heard from a lot of teachers that they really relate to this,” Maddox says. “I’ve had teachers say, ‘Oh my God, this is my life.’”
Maddox shot the film over three days and says he came up with the idea for the film after listening to people argue over basic facts. “There’s one rational side and one nutty side,” he says. “It’s just more and more ridiculous. Now, everybody has their own version of the facts.”
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4-7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24 (block following Alternative Math)
Coming Home is based on the life of a single father who tries to connect with his daughter through softball, says Flower Mound filmmaker Rod Hermansen. “It’s my story,” he says of the 94-minute film, which he describes as a combination of drama, sports, laughter and some heavy emotion.
Hermansen says he woke up one morning hoping there was something he could audition for but decided instead to make his own film. He had played professional softball. In the movie, he has his daughter play the best softball player in the country. He says those with children will understand the film, which contains a dual message of “life is short” and hope. “There’s a saying … there are parents out there who mourn the loss of a child that is still alive,” he says. “I’m one of those parents.”
Frame 4 Frame Film Festival, multiple locations in downtown Arlington, Thursday, Sept. 21, through Sunday, Sept. 24, tickets $10 to $50. Visit frame4frame.org.