A slew of storytellers, leaders and radicals will soon mesh as the Women Texas Film Festival returns to Dallas.
The event, which focuses on the work of women in film throughout the Lone Star State, is back in Big D for the fourth time and will run Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 15-18. This year, the festival boasts more films, hard-hitting themes and several new screening locations in addition to the historic Texas Theatre.
Things get rolling with Emily Cohn’s CRSHD, a feature-length film that tracks a trio of college BFFs, including Izzy, who’s determined to lose her virginity before her freshman year ends.
“A prime opportunity presents itself when a Crush Party springs up,” says a festival press release. “The rules are, you can submit your crush to have them invited to the party, but you can only get in yourself if somebody else crushes on you.”
Not surprisingly, the trio attempt to out-maneuver the rules.
WTxFF, presented by Methodist Dallas Medical Center, has nearly doubled its previous offerings, with 17 feature-length films and 29 shorts. Justina Walford, founder and artistic director of the festival, describes an ocean of short film submissions that have arrived this year.
“It's getting harder and harder to contain within four days all of the amazing films I find,” Walford says. “And since our goal is to show the range of the female storyteller, you will see every genre, every style. The notion of gender behind the camera takes a backseat to the grit, emotion and vision projected on the screen – as it should.”
The festival will stretch across Dallas with screenings at Methodist Dallas’ David H. Hitt Auditorium and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema-Cedars, as well as The Texas Theatre. CRSHD debuts at 7 p.m. Thursday at The Texas Theatre while Bridget Stokes’ feature Emmett (Boy Genius) closes out the festival at the same location Sunday.
Emmett (Boy Genius) follows a 12-year-old genius whose brother is accused of a chain of thefts at school. Emmett sets out to prove his brother’s innocence, find the real thief and save his sibling from being shipped off to reform school.
That film is preceded by Earth Mother, a 3-minute musical short directed by Kelly Riot, that portrays Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart and Joan of Arc as they stand against the societal norms of their day.
In addition to the screenings, a special event featuring Emily Esperanza’s zero-budget, 25-minute comedy Make Out Party will screen on Friday at The Texas Theatre.
“The film is an outlandish, throw-everything-funny-at-the-wall to see what sticks comedy about a trio of lively characters as they make their way through the city to attend a pin-up queen’s infamous make out party,” says its release.
A Q&A will follow as well as an after-party, which starts at 11:15 and includes a DJ set and a live performance by Liz Martian and the Lounge Lizards. A feminist kissing booth inspired by Make Out Party will also be part of the festivities.
“The feminist kissing booth puts the kissing decision in the hands of the women at the booth on whether or not they will kiss someone,” says WTxFF spokesman John Wildman. “It is intended to prompt conversations on how consent works.”
Other cool horror and weird comedy selections will also screen during the festival, he says.
Horror fans can experience a thrill with Carolina Hellsgård’s German zombie film, Ever After (Endgeist). The feature film follows two young women as they trek across a zombie-infused landscape searching for one of the few safe havens that remain. In addition, Amy Taylor’s film Hunter’s Weekend adds comedy to a terror-filled tale about the mega-fail of an elite hunting trip.
Among the shorts is Jennifer Howd’s Texas Annie: The Legend of the Moan Ranger, a 2-minute musical about a Texas outlaw smuggling dildos when sex toys become illegal.
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Each year, the festival tries to bring innovative ideas to the screen, Wildman says, adding that a sidebar of films focused, or touching on, medical topics will screen at Methodist Dallas with medical professionals participating in post-screening Q&As with the filmmakers.
Two Ways Home, directed by Ron Vignone, touches on the topic of bipolar disorder while Mickey and the Bear, directed by Annabelle Attanasio, details the struggle of a teenager as she deals with her veteran father’s addiction.
Each year, “WTxFF lines up films that explore topics such as psychological, medical, and sociological issues,” says the release. “WTxFF has built a reputation of programming documentaries and narrative films that take tough, uncompromising looks at subjects in this realm and then expand on the conversations those films inspire.”
For more information on the festival, go to WomenTxFF.org.