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Dallas VideoFest Preps For Its Last Picture Show With Over 20 Indie Films and Docs

Rey, a security guard at McAllen's last abortion provider, tries to tune out the constant protests from pro-life and religious groups and the affect both have had on his life in On the Divide, one of several films that will be screened at this weekend's Dallas VideoFest and DocuFest.
Rey, a security guard at McAllen's last abortion provider, tries to tune out the constant protests from pro-life and religious groups and the affect both have had on his life in On the Divide, one of several films that will be screened at this weekend's Dallas VideoFest and DocuFest. Fishbowl Films/screenshot from YouTube
We're less than a week away from the final Dallas VideoFest. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Bart Weiss, the founder of Dallas VideoFest, announced over the summer that the 34th annual media festival would be the last. He said he felt it was time to retire the annual film gathering because of the changing landscape of media and availability of independent TV and cinema since the first VideoFest in 1986.

"A lot of what we set out to do was seeing things that are beyond the margin, just going beyond the first six pages on Netflix to find something more interesting," Weiss says. "Right now on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, and certainly on the Criterion Channel, are things that we would've been interesting in showing or things we have shown."

Some of the festival's staple spinoffs such as the Ernie Kovacs Achievement Award and the Big D Mobile Phone Fest will continue, but this year's VideoFest, which runs from Sept. 29-Oct. 3 at Dallas' Angelika Theater, will be the end. Here's a look at some of the more interesting, headlining films and media projects you can catch for the last time.


On the Divide, by Leah Galant and Maya Cueva
Weiss calls this movie "the most important film of this year's festival," and it's not hard to figure out why from the description. It tells the story of three Latinx people in McAllen who comes into each other's lives at the last women's clinic able to offer abortions on the U.S.- Mexico border. The clinic begins receiving dangerous threats as pro-life forces harass it daily. The three leads are "forced to make decisions they never could have imagined," according to the VideoFest website. On the Divide was also one of the featured documentaries at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

Dream Chaser, by Rahim Handy
Rapper Lil Snupe's story is one that the entertainment industry knows all too well. The protégé of Meek Mill died while his story was still being written when a killer abruptly ended his life at the young age of 18. Snupe's story from began from humble beginnings in Louisiana, eventually signing with the Dream Chaser label to build the kind of career that most aspiring musicians can only dream of achieving. His film tells his short but storied life story through the people who knew him and through his music.

Truly Texas Mexican, by Adan Medrano
The Lone Star State, particularly its cuisine, was built by generations of people who came from far beyond its borders, but those responsible for Texas' food identity were pushed aside and forced out of business simply because who they were. This "road movie" takes a trip through San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Brownsville to identify the racist forces that took the credit away from the people who made Texas Mexican food part of both places' identity and culture.

Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait, by Bud Force and John Lagmore
Whenever some out-of-towner wanders down here, one of the first things they're sure to ask is "where have all the cowboys gone?" This feature-length documentary takes audiences for a ride with some real, modern cowboys to cattle ranches big and small across America and aims to separate the myth of the 10-gallon hat from the real lives of people who still make their living in a saddle.

The Art of Directing: The Final Episode, by Allan Holzman
There could not be a more poetic and apt screening for the final VideoFest. The final film in the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director's five-part series takes one last look at the filmmaking process from the view of the director's chairs. Holzman's final entry explores the art of directing through some of modern day film's most unique and accomplished auteurs, such as David Lynch and James Cameron and legendary contributors to the silver screen like John Ford and Billy Wilder. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.