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Waco's smaller screens will host three independent films — well, two films and a television special — Wednesday and Thursday that showcase subjects that normally don't get a lot of attention.

The first comes Wednesday night at the Waco Hippodrome when Waco-rooted "Texas Music Cafe" celebrates its 20th anniversary at 7 p.m.  with a screening of "Rising Stars and Lone Star Legends," a program requested by Central Texas public television KNCT for an upcoming pledge drive.

Twenty years of anything is an achievement and to keep a television/video series, one involving live music, no less, is testament to the vision and zeal of co-founder and producer Chris Ermoian, who created it with his brothers T.J. and Jeff.

I remember when "Texas Music Cafe" started with tapings in a Franklin Avenue recording studio, with audiences, bands and Ermoian and volunteer cameramen all rubbing elbows in close quarters. It was new, learn-as-you-go operation that flew on faith and shoestrings.

Over the next 20 years, it would move locations and distribution platforms, change supporting partners, air on different channels and — most important to Ermoian and his crew — connect viewers to live Texas music, performed both by fresh groups and grizzled veterans. This month's Waco Today has a solid piece by Leslie Rascoe's that's worth the read.

True to form, Wednesday's celebration offers a healthy dose of live music, rock from Armenian band Vordan Karmir, who will play following the screening. Admission is $7.

The story of farmer, writer and activist Wendell Berry takes the Waco Hippodrome screen at 3:30 p.m. Thursday with the screening of the documentary "Look & See." The film, directed by Laura Dunn, premiered at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival and rereleased the next year at the Sundance Film Festival.

The movie looks at Berry, a writer who moved back home to Henry County, Kentucky, to farm in 1967, beginning a lifelong defense of small-scale farming and its values of land stewardship and conservation, sustainability, simplicity and attachment to place — values he saw as becoming more threatened by increasing urbanization and the growth of industrial agriculture.

Admission is free, but tickets must be reserved in advance. Tickets can be reserved online here.

Increasingly harsh immigration enforcement is the subject of "Out Of Reach," hosted by actress America Ferrera and shown by Waco Immigrants Alliance at 7 p.m. Thursday at Common Grounds, 1123 S. Eighth St.

 Ferrera, daughter of Honduran parents, traveled to Texas in the last months of the Obama administration to talk with undocumented immigrants and American citizens to talk about how the change in immigration policies, and the rhetoric surrounding the change, will affect them personally.

A question-and-answer session will follow the film, which is being screened across Texas in an effort to build opposition to SB4, the new state law addressing sanctuary cities and immigration enforcement.

Admission is free, but organizers ask that those planning to attend respond at this Eventbrite link.


Tribune-Herald entertainment editor