North Texas Daily

Thin Line, Denton Makers Festival join efforts, connect with community

Thin Line, Denton Makers Festival join efforts, connect with community

Thin Line, Denton Makers Festival join efforts, connect with community
May 04
13:00 2023

Thin Line Festival, the longest-running film festival in Texas, held its 16th annual run in downtown Denton April 26 through 30. Over 40 musical acts spread across seven venues, and 46 films were shown throughout five days.

The “thin line” in the festival’s name refers to the line separating reality and fiction, as well as subject and filmmaker. Claire Dejarnette, Fort Worth resident and Thin Line film programming director, said this year, organizers aimed to embrace that moniker.

“We’ve kind of morphed to reflect the city of Denton in terms of our theme, so this year, we were really trying to emphasize music as a theme,” Dejarnette said. “We have an entire block of short films that have music as their theme, we have a feature that’s basically an elongated music video and this is the first year we have a music video category.”

Thin Line also saw several other changes in its 2023 format. This year, all performances and screenings were held in the downtown area to make the event walkable, whereas last year’s screenings were shown at Movie Tavern on University Drive, two miles from the Square. Also new to this year’s festival was a collaboration with Denton Makers Fest.

The second annual DMF was held on Saturday, April 29 on the Square. DMF was started last spring by university alumni Madison Mercer and David Baker, who wanted to create an event where local creatives — big and small — could sell their goods. When Thin Line and DMF were scheduled for the same venue at the same time this year, the festivals’ organizers decided to combine their events.

“We were going after the same venues, so we decided to make that a positive thing,” Mercer said. “We joined forces. Thin Line has been having concerts all over downtown [and] at Rubber Gloves, where we had our event last year, so we decided to move the market part over here to the Square.”

Mercer said DMF had grown significantly since its inaugural year, with over 200 vendor applications received. There are plans to combine Thin Line and DMF again in the future.

“It means a lot to me […] seeing Denton come together and all of the artists really come together and support each other and creating more of a community,” Mercer said.

The event drew visitors and volunteers from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, namely Denton locals. 

Thin Line is completely volunteer-run, from organizers like Dejarnette to volunteers like Harleigh Nelson, a university alumna who handed out festival passes and checked guests into screenings at the Campus Theatre. Nelson previously worked with Thin Line as a virtual format volunteer and also had films featured in the festival as a university student. However, this was her first time volunteering in person.

“I really like getting to meet all the people here, and a lot of my friends are screening stuff here,” Nelson said. “[Thin Line] is really community-based, and the fact that you get to see that and how it’s reflected is really cool. It also allows me to make more connections with other filmmakers in the area.”

Integrative studies junior Allison Renfro attended DMF on Saturday after finding out about it through a social media flier.

“[The festival] looked cool and like something I was interested in,” Renfro said. “I love art and music. I enjoyed the positive atmosphere and all of the creative people I met. It was truly such a beautiful experience.”

Around 90 vendors, from tattoo artists to food vendors to painters, filled the grassy area surrounding the Courthouse-on-the-Square and Hickory Street, which was closed for the festival. The UNT Metals Club was among the vendors set up, selling goods created by university students.

Avery Lyda, Metals Club president and university metalsmithing and jewelry senior, said she saw DMF’s call for vendors in February and filled out an application for the club. While the club has vendored at other local events, this is its first time being part of DMF.

Dejarnette said being a Thin Line volunteer is a never-ending, year-round job — planning for next year’s Thin Line Fest begins the day after the festival ends. 

“The turnout has been amazing,” Lyda said. “We’ve had a great experience so far, and we would love to keep up this relationship with the festival.”

Featured Image Denton Makers Fest attendees listen to King Booty Disco perform at the Denton Square on April 29, 2023. Madeleine Moore

Holly & The Mystery Lights perform as a part of Thin Line Fest at Dan's Silverleaf on April 28, 2023. Madeleine Moore

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Kaitlynn Hutchins

Kaitlynn Hutchins

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