So many films, so little — well, there’s time if you have Thursday through Saturday free.
The first Deep In the Heart Film Festival makes its debut Thursday at the Waco Hippodrome with six features and 73 short films on its schedule, the latter arranged in 10 groups loosely linked by thematic connections.
Festival organizers Samuel Thomas and Louis Hunter, Texas filmmakers with a good amount of festival experience under their belts, suggest festival first-timers may want to “dip a toe” in a feature or two rather than jump headfirst into a group of 8 to 10 shorts. On the other hand, a generation honed on YouTube and social media video may have no problems at all with immersion in shorts.
Here’s a quick look at some of the offerings on the festival schedule that were available for screening.
”Blur Circle,” 8 p.m. Thursday.
Cameron Park and other Waco environs fill Chris Hansen’s “Blur Circle,” as well as local residents appearing as extras. Hansen, chairman of Baylor University Film and Digital Media department, directed from a script by fellow film faculty member Brian Elliott.
“Blur Circle” concerns mother Jill Temple (Cora Vander Broek, excellent in Hansen’s last film “Where We Started”), who can’t get past the disappearance of her young son during a park visit two years ago. She’s emotionally brittle and stuck in routine: posting fliers, phoning the police about suspicious characters, wearing the same warmup jacket, all in hope of her son’s return.
A laundromat encounter with a man, Burton Rose (Matthew Brumlow), who’s filming strangers there on his iPhone (it’s not what you think), makes her realize she’s not the only one trapped by personal tragedy. A later encounter with handyman Earl Ambrose (Ryan Artzberger) proves she needs repair as well, but through confession and forgiveness.
Like Hansen’s equally polished “Where We Started,” which dealt with relationship fatigue and temptation, “Blur Circle” raises rich questions for discussion: How should one handle open-ended grief? What’s the relation between guilt and forgiveness? How should one move past emotional trauma?
Preceded by Hunter and Thomas’ short, “Moving Day.”
”Quaker Oaths,” 8 p.m. Friday.
Louisiana Kreutz’s “Quaker Oaths” finds a clever premise for a movie in which relationships and the road play key roles. Joe (Alex Dobrenko) and Emily (Rede Rangel) are married in a Quaker ceremony, but when they decide to divorce five years later, they find they have to get the signature of everyone who signed their wedding certificate (not sure if that’s an actual Quaker tradition, but a great idea).
That quest takes them on a long road trip, one complicated a little when Emily’s new would-be fiancee, who’s trying to build the sport of unicycle football, joins them midway. The process of visiting friends and family to secure approval has its surprises and Rangel and Dobrenko have a chemistry that’s easy to watch.
”We Can’t Forget Vietnam,” 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
KWTX-TV’s award-winning documentary on Central Texas Vietnam veterans and their experiences in war and the return home holds up well as a theatrical feature. Produced by photojournalists Jim Peeler and Don Smith, “We Can’t Forget Vietnam” doesn’t lose its emotional impact in moving from the small screen to a much larger canvas.
Short films “The Jackrabbit” and “Everyday Heroes” open before the movie.
”What About Waco: A Mighty Wind,” “Second Chances” film shorts group, 5 p.m. Saturday.
Chris Scott III’s documentary series “What About Waco,” supported by Historic Waco Foundation and producers Matthew McLeod and Hobby Howell, screens the first episode, which concerns the 1953 Waco tornado.
It blends period photos, film and newspaper clippings with contemporary interviews that add detail and perspective. The result offers new information and insights even for those familiar with the storm that devastated downtown Waco, such as the possibility that the huge tornado may have hidden smaller tornados inside and the fact that some burials of tornado victims were delayed for days due to a shortage of coffins.