Thin Line hosted its annual film and music festival virtually from Tuesday, March 23 to Sunday, March 28. Individuals watched more than 70 documentaries created by filmmakers from across the country and attended concerts featuring Jackson Scribner, Sunbuzzed, Simon Flory among other performers. This year marks 14 years of the international film festival’s entertainment for Dentonites. The fest is the oldest documentary film festival in Texas and is sponsored by Panavision and powered by Falcon Events.
Joshua Butler, Thin Line Festival Director and Denton resident, said the festival formed in the walls of UNT.
“I came to North Texas in 2003 to go to school, and while at the [film] program I started a student organization called Texas Filmmakers,” Butler said. “One of our founding goals of the nonprofit was to create a film festival [in] Denton within three years, and this was in 2004 and we did launch the first Thin Line in Labor Day weekend of 2007.”
Butler said the festival received more recognition in 2010. That year, the festival showcased multiple opening films, such as an international film that won the Short Film Jury Award at Sundance, along with Oscar-nominated films. The following year, the New York Times named the festival one of the most interesting things to do in Texas, and Filmmaker Magazine wrote a feature on Thin Line in 2012.
Paravision sponsors the awards and the awards are Best Feature Documentary, Emerging Filmmaker, Best Domestic/International Documentary, the Denton Award and Best Student Short Documentary. The winners receive a credit to Panavision, a TV and film equipment rental agency in Irving, Texas, to invest in their next project. Butler said local and regional filmmakers are placed on a high pedestal.
Nick Calpakdjian, an Indonesian-based producer and editor of the film “Help Is On The Way,” said he and his team were introduced to the festival by Filmotor, a film sales company based in Prague.
“As filmmakers, we like to know that our films and the stories we tell resonate with audiences and leave a lasting impression,” Calpakdjian said. “It’s such a subjective process so you try not to take it personally when your film is not selected. But, it is always great to get that email saying your film is one of only 12 international feature documentaries to be included in the festival.”
In order to differentiate from other film festivals, Butler wanted to mainly focus on documentary content and offer free admission for the event. He said some local festivals charge attendees high prices for tickets, he and felt the best way to distinguish Thin Line was to make the event free.
“We are a nonprofit festival, and so we’re not dependent upon ticket sales, so why not really take advantage of that?” Butler said. “Plus, our mission is to get the content out there — our mission is not to make money from ticket sales and make salaries. The entire organization [consists of] volunteers — no one gets paid here so there is really no need and we just wanted to grow the brand and grow the festival and grow attendance.”
Holly Wright, Denton County resident and Thin Line Festival volunteer, said she has been volunteering at the festival since 2014. Wright, who is also a full-time volunteer for Sundance, met a documentary filmmaker during the Sundance Film Fest who mentioned Thin Line. Wright said as soon as she returned to Texas, she inquired about getting involved as a volunteer for Thin Line.
“I love the fusion of music and film,” Wright said. “I hope that people are able to view films that educate them and make them aware of programs, people, circumstances that they were not aware of before. I am a big believer that the more we learn about each other, the less likely we are to have fear and hatred for each other. A lot of the programming also has Texas filmmakers strongly represented and it’s great to learn more about what people in your state are doing. It’s a great feeling to be some small part of helping that all occur.”
This year’s winners are as follows:
Best Documentary Feature
“Missing in Brooks County,” Directors: Lisa Molomot, Jeffery Bemiss
Asfanah Salari, Director of “The Silhouettes” and Producer of “The Forbidden Strings”
Best Domestic/International Documentary
“Punta Sacra,” Director: Francesca Mazzoleni
Best Denton Documentary
“A Rose By Any Other Name,” Director: Timothy Stevens
Best Student Documentary
“Team Meryland,” Director: Gabriel Gaurano
Best Documentary Short
“Huntsville Station,” Directors: Chris Filippone, Jamie Meltzer
Individuals who would like more information about the festival can visit its website at www.thinline.us
Courtesy Thin Line