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Thin Line sets opening-night record

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

Documentary film fest runs through Monday at sites around Denton

Thin Line Film Fest organizers celebrated a record-setting opening weekend, but realize they still have many more documentary minutes to screen before they sleep.

In its sixth year, the all-documentary film festival continues to educate and entertain attendees and leave many filmmakers feeling the Denton fest is more warm and personable than its big-city contemporaries.

“The first weekend was huge for us — our biggest opening night ever,” said festival organizer Josh Butler. “We had 280 people in the Campus Theatre. It only holds 299. Right before the screening, I had to do something I never had done before. I had to ask the audience to scoot towards the center.”

Butler credited the opening-night film, Blood Brother, as part of the reason for the attendance because the film had a lot of momentum following its screening at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Then, we just had good attendance throughout the weekend, and we’re just building towards next weekend.”

Butler said that once organizers got through the first weekend, they dug in, realizing they had eight more days to go.

The other reason for the big turnout, Butler said, was community involvement.

“Almost every single film that screened had a community partner. [That] activity engages the community in our content and gives them some ownership over the individual film. When you have motivated community partners, it helps to generate interest in the local community.”

When asked what the draw is for festivals like this, filmmaker Fredrick Stanton said he thinks that sometimes truth can be stranger and more interesting than fiction.

“The human element is always a draw in any documentary. The ability not only to be entertained but learn more about our world at the same time — it’s something you don’t find in fiction in the same way.”

Stanton’s film, Uprising, about the revolution in Egypt through the fall of Mubarak, will screen this evening.

Butler said it is, indeed, a conscious effort from the organizers to be open and friendly with filmmakers at the festival and offer them treatment they may not get in larger cities.

“It is a thing we have that the other guys don’t. We can focus on quality; we can focus on the individual experience, the individual filmmaker,” he said.

Filmmakers praised the Denton festival for the courtesy and availability of the staff and volunteers. Harper Robinson, the lead producer and co-writer of Beyond Pollution, said he found Thin Line among the most organized of the festivals his team’s film has been in.

“They’ve been really professional,” Robinson said in a previous interview about Beyond Pollution, which screens at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Campus Theatre. “We’ve been in 11 festivals, most of them in America, and Thin Line has been great. We were in a festival in Los Angeles, and a week before, they still weren’t quite sure when they’d be showing the film. For this one, right up the road from us, they told us we’d been accepted, and we knew like a month ahead of time when the screening was going to happen.”

More than one filmmaker noticed the interest among audiences at Thin Line. It’s not unheard of, said Shawn Small, for audiences to fall silent when directors and producers are available for questions.

“Just so you know, nothing is worse than for no one to have any questions after a screening,” said Small, who directed the short documentary Ru: Water is Life, which screened Sunday afternoon.

Vanessa Crocini, director of Get Together Girls, said Thin Line’s e-mail etiquette was superior to other festivals.

“I loved seeing ‘Your film has been accepted by Thin Line Film Fest in Denton, Texas,’” Crocini said. “I hate that when you get a rejection and you have to read about how many wonderful documentaries were submitted. I knew right away.”

Documentary filmmakers in general aren’t treated like the superstars at the big festivals, Butler said, but in Denton, everyone is treated like a star.

Butler said this year the festival was paying for two hotel nights for every filmmaker. And beyond that it was about making sure they had a good experience.

“We pick them up from the airport; we bring them to the nicest hotel in town. We make sure they have transportation to and from festival venues and try to accommodate any special request,” he said. “So, we take a lot of care with our filmmakers and it’s starting to pay off — here we are, six years into it. It’s really started to get around, the type of festival we put on.”

Staff Writer Cindy Breeding contributed to this report.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is .


Texas Filmmakers’ documentary film festival continues through Feb. 18. Tickets cost $8 each, or $6 for students, seniors and military. Passes are also available. Visit , call 1-888-893-4560 or visit the Campus Theatre box office, 214 W. Hickory St.



Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.

 3:30 p.m. — Snarky Puppy: Ground Up

 6 p.m. — Shorts Program 4

 8 p.m. — Uprising



Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.

 3:30 p.m. — Beyond Pollution and There Is No Place for You Here

 6 p.m. — Shorts Program 5

 8 p.m. — Eleanore & the Timekeeper



Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.

 3:30 p.m. — Wampler’s Ascent

 6 p.m. — Shorts Program 6

 8:30 p.m. — The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

Fine Arts Theatre, 115 N. Elm St.

 6:30 p.m. — Much Ado About Knotting

 8 p.m. — Corporate FM

Cool Beans, 1210 W. Hickory St.

 7 p.m. — Heart Attack and The Burning of Fry Street

 9 p.m. — Underexposed: A Women’s Skateboarding Documentary



Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.

 3:30 p.m. — The Lost Reunions and Part of the Change

 6 p.m. — Seadrift vs. the Big Guy

 8 p.m. — 4 Nights in December

 10 p.m. — Shorts Program 7

Fine Arts Theatre, 115 N. Elm St.

 6:30 p.m. — Drawing Dead

 8:30 p.m. — Backyard Blockbusters



Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.

 11:30 a.m. — Shorts Program 8

 1:30 p.m. — DocuDenton 7K films

 3:30 p.m. — Brothers on the Line

 6 p.m. — The House I Live In

 8:30 p.m. — The Informant

Fine Arts Theatre, 115 N. Elm St.

 Noon — Swingman

 2 p.m. — Stories from Lakka Beach

 5 p.m. — Bat City USA

 7 p.m. — Invisible Young

UNT on the Square, 109 N. Elm St.

 10 p.m. — Award ceremony and closing night reception. Tickets cost $15.

Siam Off the Square, 209 W. Hickory St., Suite 104

 3:45 p.m. — Panel, free admission.



Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.

 2 p.m. — The Anderson Monarchs

 4 p.m. — In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter

 6 p.m. — Central Park Five

 8:30 p.m. — Building Babel



Fine Arts Theatre, 115 N. Elm St.

 1 p.m. — Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

 3 p.m. — 4 Nights in December

 5 p.m. — Audience Choice

 7:30 p.m. — Best Documentaries