North Texas Daily

UNT graduate filmmaker enters Thin Line Film Festival

UNT graduate filmmaker enters Thin Line Film Festival

February 07
23:06 2013

H. Drew Blackburn

Senior Staff Writer


The nurses and patients are both aware of the reality. The medication just eases the pain and serves as a remedy during the patient’s last days, and the hospice nurses are around to provide comfort and warmth for the terminally ill before they become the dearly departed.

The Man

Jim Crawford, a master’s student in the UNT Department of Radio, Television and Film, created a documentary about hospice nurses that will be shown at the Thin Line Film Fest this weekend, an 11-day showcase based in Denton and Texas’ only international documentary film festival.

His film is appropriately titled, “Hospice Nurses.”

Its morose subject matter developed from Crawford’s experiences surrounding his wife’s death. They were married for seven years when she died of cancer.

“She had hospice nurses coming into our home for about six weeks before she passed,” he said.

He said his wife’s death inspired him to return to college after a decades-long hiatus.

Crawford spent a semester at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas, got married, then served 20 years in the Air Force before heading back to school. He retired from the Air Force in 1996 and picked up work as a Global Repair Center Supervisor and operations supervisor for 10 years.

“All of my kids were grown and I was left at home with just me and the dog,” he said. “I didn’t really like what I was doing. I wanted to do something else.”

Crawford has been in school since 2007. He earned his associate’s degree from Colin College, his bachelor’s of science from the University of Texas and is now working on a master’s of fine arts at UNT.

“My whole point about getting out of work and going to school was to do something that I like,” he said. “I knew I enjoyed films and literature so I decided that was the path I was going to take.”

The Film

Crawford said that he wondered how hospice nurses dealt with the constant process of people dying around them and wanted to discover more of how they dealt with that.

The production crew for “Hospice Nurses” consisted of a team of RTVF graduate students: sound engineer Tingting Li, director of photography Yun-Heng Lee and editor Joe Brown.

Brown said production lasted three weeks but editing took a number of months.

“Jim picked an important topic about coming to terms with death and I felt like this was the most rewarding part of working on the project,” Brown said. “However, the seriousness of the topic also made it difficult at times. Especially since one of the interviewees did pass away after production.”

The crew documented three nurses from the Visiting Nurse Association of Texas while they were visiting their patients at home.

“It felt like they were a part of the family instead of a visiting nurse,” Lee said. “I enjoyed all the elderly we filmed, telling stories of their past. They reminded me of my own grandpa.”

The Festival

Director of photography Lee is no stranger to being part of the Thin Line Film Fest. As a senior at UNT in 2010, Lee won an audience award at the festival for her film “Crazy Diamond.”

“It’s a great honor to be part of the film that’s chosen to be screened in Thin Line,” she said. “Thin Line is a great platform for documentary filmmakers.”

Festival director and UNT alum Joshua Butler said that when selecting a film the most important attribute is the film’s entertainment factor.

“Then there are many other considerations such as relevance, quality, characters and story,” Butler said.

Butler studied film at UNT and founded the nonprofit Texas Filmmakers. Three years later, The Thin Line Film Festival was born.

“It has been a labor of love since, “ he said.

Texas Filmmakers serves as a resource to motivate and encourage filmmakers in Denton.

Currently the nonprofit offers two festivals: 48 Hours of Hell, a horror-themed video race held the week before Halloween, and The Thin Line Film Festival.

This year the festival will screen more than 70 documentaries from around the world.

“This year we are screening films earlier in the day Monday through Friday; many of which are second screenings,” Butler said.

Last year the festival ran from Feb. 15 – 20. The duration of the festival was expanded this year to eleven days so that more movies can be shown, Butler said.

For the second year, the festival will feature The DocuDenton 7K, a documentary video race, where teams draw a topic from a hat and then have five days to complete a short documentary.

“Completed films will screen at Thin Line on Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. and compete for up to $1,300 cash,” Butler said.

Extra info:

“Hospice Nurses” screens on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Campus Theatre (214 W. Hickory)

Pull Quotes:

“My whole point about getting out of work and going to school was to do something that I like,” he said.

“Jim picked an important topic – coming to terms with death and I felt like this was the most rewarding part of working on the project,” Brown said.

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