The Deep In The Heart Film Festival will move to a warmer season next year with festival founders announcing an August date for the annual event.
Samuel Z.P. Thomas, the festival’s artistic director with co-founder Louis Hunter as its operations director, said next year’s festival would be held Aug. 6-9 at the Waco Hippodrome.
The festival, in its fourth year, defines itself as showing “heartwarming, heart-breaking, heart-stopping films.” Last year’s event offered seven feature films, more than 100 film shorts and several panel discussions with filmmakers and industry representatives. The festival debuted in February 2017 and has been held in March the last two years.
The date change will enable the festival to secure use of at least one of the Hippodrome’s newer screening rooms with their better sound systems, Thomas said.
“We had talked with the Hippodrome about using their newer theaters and they told us that due to their (film) distribution agreements, an easier time would be between August and October,” he said.
Organizers initially looked at October for the festival, but felt the month was too busy for another major event.
Moving the four-day festival to August also should make available some feature movies and short films shown at Texas festivals such as South By Southwest Film Festival, the USA Film Festival and the Dallas International Film Festival. In the past, the Deep In The Heart Film Festival found some potential entries tied up in screening obligations before or after those festivals, Thomas said.
An August festival would take place before Baylor University students return for the fall, but Thomas said Baylor students had not attended the festival as much as older film fans interested in independent film and others who liked the festival’s offerings in horror and suspense.
An August date also would provide more dependable weather than February or March for post-screening activities and events at restaurants and bars with outdoor patios, Thomas said.
“We were a little hesitant with the idea of heat in August, but we saw that the San Antonio Film Festival is held a week earlier,” he said.
Even before the date change, next year’s festival already had received more entries than expected. The upcoming festival also will feature a new screenwriting competition, and the move to summer will give script readers extra time for entries.
Carla Pendergraft, marketing director for the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted that moving the festival would ease booking Waco accommodations for festival guests and participants.
“Late February and March are some of the busiest times in our tourist season, and sometimes it’s hard to get good rates for our film folks,” Pendergraft said. “August tends to be a pretty slow month, and hotels are more available.”
As the Deep In The Heart Film Festival prepares to move to August, a new film event aims to make its debut in February. The Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival will premiere Feb. 6-8 at the Waco Hippodrome, featuring feature films, shorts, panel discussions and filmmakers Kevin and Sam Sorbo, who will be honored as the festival’s first “Champions Award” winners. The GB Lindsey Family Charitable Fund is presenting the festival.
For Pendergraft, Waco has room for more than one movie festival.
“I think trying new things is good. … It’s growing the arts in Waco,” she said.