North Texas Daily

Thin Line Festival returns to in-person format after two year hiatus

Thin Line Festival returns to in-person format after two year hiatus

Thin Line Festival returns to in-person format after two year hiatus
April 02
10:29 2022

Denton’s 15th annual Thin Line Film and Music Festival took place from March 23 through March 27, featuring local music acts and films from across the globe. 

The festival, which moved online due to COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, was in a hybrid configuration for film screenings this year, combining in-person and online options to offer more flexibility to attendees. Musical performances were held at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio, Harvest House, Dan’s Silverleaf, The Gold Room and Andy’s Bar.

Over the course of the festival, more than 50 film screenings and 40 concerts were offered to the public free of charge. 

Documentary production MFA student Aaron Dyer started an internship with Thin Line in December of last year and managed volunteers at Movie Tavern, where all in-person film screenings were held. 

“A lot of people took advantage of the fact that they weren’t only experiencing the festival virtually or in-person,” Dyer, 27, said. “A lot of people did both, which I thought was interesting.”

Documentarian Susan Carol Davis has served as Thin Line’s director of programming for the past five years. She said that as a filmmaker, she is familiar with the triumphs and disappointments that accompany submissions to film festivals.

“It gives me such joy to pick up the phone after watching a film and go, ‘Hey, we’d like you to come to Thin Line,’” Davis said. “To be able to share that joy and know what it means has kind of healed up some of the wounds.”

Over the years, Thin Line’s film selections in general have gravitated toward intimate, human-centered stories. In her role with Thin Line, Davis heads up a team of five programmers who sift through submissions from filmmakers and distributors around the world. The group selected 26 full-length films and 28 shorts for screening at this year’s festival.

“We like very personal journeys,” Davis said. “We want it to be purposeful because we want to see a moment of cinéma vérité where you’re really in the life of that person or that group of people.” 

Thin Line is one of few festivals around the country to integrate documentary films and music of all genres. The festival has become known as a place that fosters the growth of local artists in the North Texas music scene, which draws performers and audience members alike.

Denton residents Brandon Nichols, self-proclaimed music connoisseur, and Alex Hastings, guitarist for Claire Morales and Edgar Derby, attended several performances during this year’s festival when not performing. 

“The film part of this festival has been really underplayed because it’s at Movie Tavern and not everyone knows about it,” Nichols said. “The music part has been great, too.”Although Hastings’ main focus during the festival was performing, the two also made time to check out a few films, including “Admiral Tchumakov,” which won the directing award for international features. Hastings and

Nichols met the director of the film, French filmmaker Laurier Fourniau, and showed him around Denton, Hastings said.

Chris Whetzel, Denton resident and employee at Dan’s Silverleaf, said he saw a higher-than-expected turnout at the venue. Whetzel has worked at and performed in different festivals in the past, such as South By Southwest, and has attended Thin Line as a guest, but this was his first time working during Thin Line.

“Just the fact that there’s a festival like this in Denton is a big deal,” Whetzel said. 

Several artists made their Thin Line debut this year, including Denton-based psychedelic rock band Blue Feel. Media arts sophomore Brendan Flanagan plays drums for Blue Feel as well as three other local bands.

“The Thin Line Festival is a great way to show off local bands from this scene and give them exposure,” Flanagan said. “It may be a little strange with multiple bands playing at once, but it means you get to pick which band name sounds the most interesting to check out.”

Country artist Joshua Ray Walker was one of the closing acts of this year’s festival. Walker, a Dallas native, previously played Thin Line with the band Ottoman Turks, but this was his first solo performance at the festival. During his set, Walker showed his appreciation for Thin Line, raising a toast to the festival between songs as the audience joined in.

At the end of the festival, Thin Lin announced their 2022 award winners including “Admiral Tchumakov” for directing an international feature, “Anchored Out” for best student short and “Little Palestine: Diary of Siege” for best documentary feature.

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FIT guitarist and vocalist Hunter Moehring sings beside guitarist Hunter Cannon at Rubber Gloves during Thin Line Fest on March 25, 2022. Owen Oliver

Featured Image: Calliope Musicals play at Rubber Gloves for Thin Line on March 24, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

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