Denton's Thin Line Festival is not just for "movie people."
The five-day event, which invaded venues around the square February 18-22, began as a film festival eight years ago and is still heavily focused around documentary screenings. But in 2014 - in absence of local music fest 35 Denton - organizers added live music to the lineup. Newer still were this year's photo exhibitions at nine businesses around town.
If it sounds like a lot of moving pieces, that's because it is. As a first time attendee, I was intent on answering one question: Can Thin Line Festival successfully provide all things to all people?
The short answer: absolutely.
This is due in part to how accessible the festival is, both logistically and in terms of content. From Wednesday through Sunday, documentaries showed at the iconic Campus Theatre, walking distance from venues such as Hailey's, Dan's Silverleaf, Banter and UNT on the Square, which hosted musical performers and Q&A panels with filmmakers and artists. Documentaries covered an array of topics, from shorts about poetry and art to two-hour features about marijuana culture.
No matter what the subject, however, Thin Line Festival showcased movies that resonated with more than just film geeks. The fest kicked off Wednesday night with a sold-out screening of Midlake: Live in Denton, TX, a concert doc directed and produced by actor Jason Lee, which attracted music junkies as well as proud Dentonites. Saturday, the body building community showed up in full force for what director Johnathan McFarlane called the "first real screening" of Gifted, a profile piece about athlete Phil Heath's journey to become Mr. Olympia, followed by a meet-and-greet with the star.
Everything is Terrible! proved one of the most interesting spectacles. Producers spliced VHS clips together in what's most easily described as a pre-Internet version of online video humor, creating comedy out of seemingly arbitrary public service announcements and instructional videos. The show was also interactive, as audiences had several opportunities to choose which videos they wanted to see next. Even this offering attracted cult fans, a couple of who brought nearly 600 Jerry Maguire VHS tapes to the screening. (Apparently the producers are known to build structures out of them.)
Crowds didn't dissipate when it came to music either. Headliners Devin the Dude, Black Joe Lewis and Seryn kept venues at or near capacity all weekend.
Somehow Thin Line Festival has flown under the radar for the entirety of its eight-year life; most the people I met during the event had never even heard of it before. But Thin Line deserves credibility for bringing films and their makers from all over the world to North Texas. And it deserves recognition as a legitimate festival - one of the area's best - with a little something to offer everyone.