In this week’s episode of Frame of Mind, the KERA TV series about independent films from Texas, we spotlight five films from the Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase (FWIFS).
More than ever, indie film festivals are essential for rising filmmakers. They promote collaboration, cooperation and viewership for the makers. And they put their work in front of an audience. FWIFS is assisting in all that.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, FWIFS carves out a place to gain attention for local or smaller based storytellers. For its seventh anniversary, the showcase offered a limited gathering and part-virtual festival for up-and-coming makers.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for filmmakers that have demonstrated the capacity to tell stories, to tell stories well,” said co-founder and filmmaker Bill Haas.
Watch Frame of Mind Producer Bart Weiss interview the makers in this week’s episode, Best of Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase:
Frame of Mind producer Bart Weiss curated a set of films from the past three years of FWIFS. Let’s look at the films in this week’s episode:
New Hope, Texas
In filmmaker Shelly Brandon’s New Hope, Texas, she explores enduring love and the relationship of an older couple who experience a life-altering event. The film was produced in the MFA film/video program at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2017.
The short dramatic film centers on a quiet, retired rancher, Bill, and his bubbly wife, Gloria. One morning, Gloria enjoys a lengthy phone conversation with a friend. Bill, careless about the convo, leaves to go fishing. Gloria continues with her day. But as she goes outside to refill the bird feeder, she has a stroke.
The event leaves the couple to grapple with dramatic changes in their relationship. Bill is now a full-time caregiver. He cooks. He cleans. He steps up. The older couple is played by Virginia Dunlap-Celantano and Dick Rowland.
“Things can change in the blink of an eye, and then how do you continue on?” Dunlap-Celantano said. “Not just, do you want to, but you’ve come to be with this person for so long.”
76105: Dr. King Won’t Rise
Former Texas Christian University student Brittney Cech looks into the realities of the Stop 6 neighborhood in Fort Worth. It’s full of history, but the neighborhood has become known for crime and little opportunity.
But World Wide P, a group of friends from Stop 6, started to change their environment one person at a time. In high school, the young crew stood with one another. They didn’t want to fall victim to societal stereotypes. Now, former WWP members Dante, Quinton, and Franklin created a support group called CommUnity Frontline, a brotherhood committed to addressing and solving racial and economic issues in Stop 6.
“Dr. King won’t rise from the grave, Malcolm X won’t rise from the grave . . . we have to rise up to fix what is wrong in our community,” said Dante Williams, member of World Wide P and a Community Frontline co-founder.
The film Truth, is an animated short about the famous speech of Soujourner Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?”
An African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Sojourner lived between 1797 and 1862. In 1851, Sojourner attended the women’s rights conference in Akron, Ohio. There, she challenged the racial and gender inferiority and inequality of Black women. It’s recognized as one of the most famous speeches on women’s rights and abolitionism.
Truth features the voices of Southwestern Adventist University’s communication students and staff members, along with professional actors. The film’s creators Kyle Portbury, Michael Agee and Glen Robinson each received an Emmy in 2018 for their work on the film. It won the category of Historic/Cultural—Program Feature/Segment.
Here’s a portion of Soujourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”:
“I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
Guest of Honor
Austin-based filmmaker and director Lisa Belcher delivers a film on loss and hardship.
Guest of Honor features a married couple who’s learning to live without their son. He was killed by a drunk driver. The couple goes ahead with their 21st-anniversary party, which was originally planned by their son the year before. Belcher plays the wife, Rebecca, and New York-based actor Lukas Hassel plays the husband.
At their anniversary party, an unusual guest arrives — and offers a little healing for the mother.
The film Alora premiered at CineSpace, a collaboration between NASA and Houston Cinema Arts Society. The film follows a mother, who’s a NASA astronaut, training for the mission of a lifetime. A possible Earth-like planet, A-107A, has been discovered within the Goldilocks zone near a star (“not too hot, not too cold, just right”). The mother has to make a choice between her dream space flight and the love of her daughter Alora, whom she’d leave behind.
The makers go above and beyond to capture the mother-daughter relationship with very little dialogue. When there is dialogue, it hits home.
“It’s just more powerful, stripping everything and leaving one line at the end that’s kind of the overarching message,” said filmmaker Nicholas Muthersbaugh.
Indeed, the film’s message is more than outer space and once in a lifetime dreams. It’s about loss and grief.
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