Oct. 30--One of the first major events after the opening of the new Sundance Square Plaza will be the seventh edition of the Lone Star Film Festival, and this thrills fest director Alec Jhangiani.
Running Nov. 7-10 at the AMC Palace, it will offer many festival-goers -- some of whom will be coming from outside Tarrant County -- their first peek at Fort Worth's latest attraction.
"I think we're going to benefit a lot from it," says Jhangiani, "and, hopefully, they'll benefit from us being down there during that time."
But, when it comes down to it, what's going on inside the theater is the key to attracting film fans, and, in that area, Lone Star doesn't disappoint. This year's lineup includes a solid schedule of indie films, a few that are generating Oscar buzz, plus an appearance by Lyle Lovett, who will accept the festival's Stephen Bruton Award, given each year to a Texas musician who has contributed to the world of film.
Some of the notable movies being shown this year include:
-- Tim's Vermeer, a documentary by magician Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) profiling a Texas man obsessed with the work of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.
-- Nebraska, the latest film by director Alexander Payne ( The Descendants, Sideways), about an alcoholic father (Bruce Dern) and his adult son (Will Forte) on a road trip.
-- August: Osage County, based on the popular play about a dysfunctional family, starring Meryl Streep.
-- Little Hope Was Arson, a documentary about East Texas church burnings.
-- Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a biopic starring Idris Elba ( Pacific Rim, The Wire) as the South African leader.
-- One Chance, based on the true story of Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts and directed by David Frankel ( The Devil Wears Prada).
-- The Book Thief, a WWII-era drama starring Geoffrey Rush.
-- Philomena, starring Judi Dench as a woman searching for the son she gave up for adoption many years before.
Festival watchers will note two significant changes to this year's event. There are no panels aimed at filmmakers regarding production and distribution.
"That's about to become something else," Jhangiani explains. "We want to do a completely virtual lab so you could have all these filmmakers [online]."
And while Lovett is being honored with this year's Stephen Bruton Award, there is no actor being honored, unlike in past years. Instead, the festival opted to honor more behind-the-scenes names: Louis Black, the Austin-based co-founder of South by Southwest, and Stephen Murrin Jr., the legendary Fort Worth figure -- known for his cowboy hat and bushy mustache -- who was instrumental in the restoration of the Stockyards.
For next year, festival-goers can expect even bigger changes. By then, the Palace will be completely remodeled, a process that was to have begun earlier this year but was put on hold until after the film festival.
Plus, Jhangiani expects to make use of Sundance Square Plaza, something he originally wanted to do this year.
"Our main idea was to get a big musical act, but that didn't work out, and then we were going to do outdoor screenings. [Sundance and Lone Star] shied away from that because it would have been the first outdoor screenings. There'd be new equipment," thus potential for problems and delays, he says.
By 2014, though, those issues should be worked out. "Eventually, we will have the resources to do concerts and screenings," says Jhangiani. "It's going to be incredible."
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