Launching an international film festival could mean that Mansfield has graduated from small town Texas.
The city, which now boasts more than 70,000 people, is not only “minutes from everything” but also “second to none,” according to its website. And the inaugural Mansfield International Film Festival may set a stage to prove it.
The four-day festival takes place March 7-10 at the Farr Best Theater in the city’s historic downtown and will showcase a variety of shorts, documentaries and narrative features, as well as experimental and student films.
“We believe the film festival will further enhance the arts and culture of the city of Mansfield,” says MIFF co-founder Christopher Bryant. “We also look forward to filmmakers and film lovers from around the world visiting our city and getting to experience all that we have to offer here.”
Bryant had initially teamed up with filmmaker Thomas King and King’s wife, Monica, to start MIFF, but when Thomas King died in September, Bryant and Monica forged on, knowing Thomas would want it that way, says festival director Vivian Fullerlove.
“… To see this film festival come to fruition is amazing, exciting and heartbreaking at the same time,” Monica says.
Along with the shows, people will have a chance to hear guest panelists and mingle red carpet-style with celebrities, Fullerlove says, adding that actor Anthony Michael Hall, who played Bill Gates in Pirates of Silicon Valley, will be there opening night.
“We will be screening his film The Lears," she says of Hall. “He will participate in a Q&A following the screening with WFAA anchor Cleo Greene serving as moderator.”
The Lears is a take on Shakespeare's King Lear that follows the upheaval and antics of a family whose patriarch, a wealthy architect, announces that he plans to marry.
While the dramatic comedy sounds like a family struggling with real-time, big-city issues, the festival also offers a small-town gem in the lineup.
By Us is a feature documentary about a small town in the Pacific Northwest, its people and the way they do business. The film tells the story of the townspeople of Port Townsend, Washington, who say that they value community and quality of life over profit and took it upon themselves to sell stocks in Quimper Mercantile, their own startup store, after the town’s former store closed.
“We didn’t do it because we wanted to make money,” says one citizen. “We did it because we wanted to buy underwear someplace.”
Along with the mercantile store and other shops, there’s a farm that churns out hard apple cider, an organic brewery and a record store whose owner loves what he does enough to keep the doors open without drawing a paycheck.
And all that goes down fairly sweet until hit in the gullet by a curveball like The Witch Hunt, which was filmed in Papua New Guinea.
The film begins with an elderly man reliving a harrowing account, with the help of his son, about how he was burned with hot irons after being accused of witchcraft.
Dominika Kulczyk documented the issue of sorcery violence in the country where, according to the film’s webpage, victims of witchcraft accusations and violence outnumber those from medieval Europe.
Although the festival is an international event, according to MIFF’s website “The Big Man’s” category will also be introduced to spotlight Texas films.