Thin Line Festival goes virtual amid COVID-19

Article Originally Published by Maria Lawson on North Texas Daily

The 13th annual Thin Line Fest took place March 25 – 29, but this year it had a new spin. Due to COVID-19, the festival was moved entirely online, consisting of a full virtual film and photography exhibition.

The festival takes place in Denton every year and features musicians, filmmakers and photographers. Because it was moved online, adjustments had to be made, including eliminating the music portion and getting approval from filmmakers to show their work through Zoom instead of in the theater.

“It was honestly purely out of the concern for festivalgoers and the public health of the Denton community,” said Kelsey Hawkins, Thin Line Fest publicist and Gainesville resident.

Moving the festival online was an adjustment, but still allowed the festival to support the artists who entered.

“I think that this will be allowing us to support the filmmakers, get their art out there, still have it accessible to the public, in a time where social distancing is necessary,” Hawkins said.

People who tuned in to this year’s virtual Thin Line Fest were pleased to have an outlet to view the art, even if it was not in person.

“I learned that Thin Line will find ways to be innovative and not let anything truly put them down,” said Gerardo Reyes, Thin Line Fest attendee and Denton resident.

Supporting local art festivals, especially during a pandemic, is important to the attendees.

“I love Thin Line and all the people that put it together, and I wanted to support it even harder this time because of current events,” Reyes said.

The event garners a total of 15,000 attendees over the five-day span from all over the world, including India, Mexico, the U.K., Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Israel and France. Thin Line wrapped up on Sunday with its virtual Awards Ceremony.

Film

Thin Line Fest provides an essential showcase for independent filmmakers to display their chops. In a conventional manner, Thin Line is usually a come-and-go event, providing theater experiences for most of their feature films. Due to COVID-19, the feature and short films were moved to an all-digital format with Q&A forums being accessible in the sidebar of the video player.

Films from all over were featured, from the informative Russian film “Sockeye Salmon/Red Fish” to the immersive Kenyan film “Softie.”

One of the films was a music documentary about Denton-based jazz outfit Snarky Puppy. The film weaved in and out of interviews between people of all cultures and live performances from the band in front of a studio audience.

“I used to work at the Greenhouse and I used to book jazz there,” said Andy LaViolette, director of “Snarky Puppy: Family Dinner Volume 2.” “Michael League would come in with a lot of bands. He eventually brought in Snarky Puppy and I fell in love.”

The film brought in an essence that captured what makes Thin Line unique, and was also one of the main feature films on the Thin Line website.

“They play almost constantly all over the world in every continent,” LaViolette said. “They’re known for bringing every culture in the world together. We don’t need a wall to keep people out, we need a wall to keep people in. That’s what they do with their music.”

The films on display could be both emotional and informative, giving virtual attendees a wide variety of subjects to choose from. Viewers from all over the world tuned in, from Australia to India and even the Marshall Islands. Many of the films will be making their way to video on demand in the coming months and some will even be getting DVD releases, so those who missed the live streams of the films will still have a chance to view them.

Photography

In addition to film, Thin Line Fest consisted of a five-day virtual photography exhibition and competition, and 220 photos were displayed from photographers across the world.

One photographer who competed in Thin Line this year is Austin resident Christopher Zebo, who photographed “Lake Moraine” and “Caddo Mussels.” He said he appreciates how the photography portion is an exhibition in addition to a competition. Last year, one of his photos took the top prize, but he said it is not all about the competition for him.

“I really don’t care to compete at all,” Zebo said. “As I’ve told friends over the past few years, it’s just a good excuse to be in Denton for a great time among other artists.”

Thin Line Fest is able to bring together artists from all over to bond over their work and learn from one another.

“Arts festivals in general are so important in this digital age because most people are experiencing art on their phones and not in real life,” Zebo said. “Festivals bring the real art and the real artist onto a real stage, so to speak. Art is so much better experienced in real life.”

The photographers featured in the festival took their photos to appeal to the audience and their emotions.

“The best photographer is one who can place the viewer not only in the scene that is being photographed but also in the sense of feeling that’s being felt by the photographer,” Zebo said.

After the pandemic is over, Thin Line Festival plans on exhibiting the photographers’ work at Golden Triangle Mall for people to see in person.

Winners List- Photography

Special Jury Selections/Stand-out Entries

 Michael Blachly, Landscape, Cityscape & Seascape Category, “Foggy Sunrise in Yosemite”

 Lina Nickell, Travel Category, “Rambutan”

 Connie Carr, Travel Category, “All Alone”

 Audience Awards

 Documentary, PJ & Street Honorable Mention, Gabriel Arreola, “Inmate”

 Documentary, PJ & Street Winner, Christopher Finch, “Giving Sage Advice”

 Landscape, Cityscape & Seascape Honorable Mention, Nick Williamson, “Cabin”

 Landscape, Cityscape & Seascape Winner, Christiane Menelas, “Night Sky in the Desert”

 Wildlife & Nature Honorable Mention, Misti Simms, “Ducks”

 Wildlife & Nature Winner, Misti Simms, “Koi”

 Lifestyle, Editorial & Photo-Illustration Honorable Mention, Kaitlyn Kilpatrick, “Blue Hour”

 Lifestyle, Editorial & Photo-Illustration Winner, Mary Joy Kocmoud, “Homebound”

 Sports, Action & Events Honorable Mention, Ismael Quintanilla, “STS9”

 Sports, Action & Events Winner, Ismael Quintanilla, “Jackie Venson”

 Travel Honorable Mention, Reba Jenson, “Saint Basil’s Cathedral”

 Travel Winner, Shilpa Khankal, “Sunset at Golden Gate Bridge”

 Juried Awards

 Documentary, PJ & Street Honorable Mention, Johnny Gammage, “Tides”

 Documentary, PJ & Street Honorable Mention, Christopher Harold, “Hawaii Summer”

 Documentary, PJ & Street Winner, Matt Simms, “Akha Boys Playing”

 Landscape, Cityscape & Seascape Honorable Mention, Brad Harrelson, “1897 Shipwreck”

 Landscape, Cityscape & Seascape Winner, Larry Petterborg, “Willamette Valley in a Fog”

 Wildlife & Nature Honorable Mention, Bridget Cline, “Silent Flight”

 Wildlife & Nature Winner, Klaus Mayer, “The Black One”

 Lifestyle, Editorial & Photo-Illustration Honorable Mention, Susan Stageman, “Wild Zebras”

 Lifestyle, Editorial & Photo-Illustration Winner, Brian Hamilton, “Looker”

 Sports, Action & Events Honorable Mention, Ismael Quintanilla, “Lizzo”

 Sports, Action & Events Winner, Henry Ford, “Pipe Dream”

 Travel Honorable Mention, Barret Candus, “Something Old, Something New”

 Travel Winner, Ricky Sanders, “Return to Port”

Winners List- Film

Student Short, Juan Ojeda, “Worthy of More”

Denton Documentary, Rania Elmalky, “489 Days”

Emerging Filmmaker, Cheryl Allison “Shatter the Silence”

Short Documentary, Ciara Lacy, “This is the Way We Rise”

Feature (Domestic), Jason Da Silva, “When We Walk”

Feature Documentary, Felipe Bustos Sierra, “Nae Pasaran”

Featured Image: Courtesy Thin Line Festival

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Source: North Texas Daily