The fourth edition of the Lone Star International Film Festival opens tonight with an unusual choice: a documentary.
Typically, festivals program a narrative film with mass appeal – something all the big wigs and festival diehards in the audience are sure to like. Lone Star is taking a more daring approach in showing Marwencol, a doc about a man who copes with a tragedy by building a scale model of a World War II Belgian town.
Not that anyone should worry about whether or not it will be well-received – Marwencol has snapped up awards this year at pretty much every festival it has played, including a Grand Jury Prize at South by Southwest in March. When the Lone Star staff knew they had secured the film, it seemed only natural to show maybe the best film in the festival on opening night.
“Part of our objective is to show and represent the trends in film, and independent film especially,” Lone Star Artistic Director Alec Jhangiani said by phone on Tuesday. “The documentary form is pushing boundaries and evolving as an art form and we wanted to represent that and represent in some way its evolution and the fact that it’s becoming more substantial as an art form and not just an education piece.”
Documentaries have always been one of Lone Star’s strong suits. And this year, a mini trend runs through the schedule, as four of those docs examine elements of moviemaking:
- Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff looks at the cinematographer who photographed everything from War and Peace to The African Queen. Along the way, he was nominated for four Oscars, winning for Black Narcissus. He was also awarded an honorary Oscar in 2001. (Thursday, 7 p.m.)
- Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies shows how the two famed artists – both film fans – influenced the movies and vice versa. Martin Scorsese, Julian Schnabel and other artists provide the commentary. (Sunday, noon)
- Great Directors is a film Jhangiani says he also considered for the opening night slot. In it, filmmaker Angela Ismailos has conversations with some of the world’s greats, including David Lynch, Richard Linklater and Stephen Frears. (Sunday, 1:30 p.m.)
- Visionaries inspects the life and work of the father of American avant-garde cinema, Jonas Mekas.
“An objective of the film society is to expose and shed light into what many people is a mysterious thing,” Jhangiani says about the decision to program the moviemaking docs. “And any time we can do that – educate, but in an artful way – we’re going to take advantage of it.”
Visit Art&Seek this week for daily festival picks plus a report from Jeff Bridges and T Bone Burnett’s joint performance on Friday night.