Deep In The Heart Film Festival

A belated heads-up on a film opening today, Feb. 17, that some have been waiting for in the run-up to this year's Oscars: "Jackie," starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in the days surrounding President John Kennedy's assassination, will be shown at Premiere Cinema 6.

Portman's performance earned her a Best Actress nomination and leaves only Ruth Negga's performance in "Loving" as the only nominated performance that hasn't screened in Waco this year. In fact, in a "Things that make you go hmmm" note, every Best Picture nominee and the films of all acting nominees but "Loving" has been shown in Waco. 

Today and Saturday, Feb. 17-18, also sees the continuation of the Deep In The Heart Film Festival at the Waco Hippodrome. It opened Thursday morning with an encouraging turnout throughout the day. Louis Hunter, who with fellow filmmaker Samuel Thomas, has spearheaded the festival's organization, told me he was "shocked, astounded and pleased" at response to the festival's first day.

The Waco-filmed "Blur Circle" was the evening's showcased feature, directed by Baylor Film and Digital Media Department chair Chris Hansen and written by FDM faculty colleague Brian Elliott, and it played to an audience between 150 and 200, by my estimate. That audience represented a surprising (to me) cross-section of ages from the 20s to senior adults, which I took as a good sign of general film support in Waco. 

In pre-screening remarks, Creative Waco executive director Fiona Bond announced that the festival would be the first recipients of money from the newly-created Arts Match Program, designed to provide seed money for local arts projects.

Texas Film Commission marketing coordinator Taylor Hertsenberg also announced Waco's certification as a Film Friendly city — news appropriately shared with a crowd dotted with filmmakers. 

The feature "Quaker Oaths" gets screened tonight at 8 p.m. (I liked it) followed by a group of horror/suspense shorts at 10 p.m. that I suspect will be well-attended. Saturday morning's first group, which starts at 10 a.m., consists of family-friendly shorts (including the humorous Waco-made and prize-winning "The Tenor"). "What About Waco: A Mighty Wind," about the 1953 Waco tornado, is screened in Saturday's "Second Chances" group at 5 p.m.

Some observations on what I've seen so far:

  • It's possible to tell complete stories in 15 minutes or less (check out "Ya Albi" in Saturday's "Second Chances").
  • The films and shorts produced by Baylor's film faculty and their students ("Blur Circle;" "Shotgun," opening for "Tim Timmerman, Hope Of America" at 3 p.m. Saturday; "Light," opening for "Sweethearts Of The Gridiron" at 7 p.m. Saturday) show commendable attention to production values — lighting, editing, color balance, composition, etc. — that reflects well on the department.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor