Thin Line Fest, a Denton film, music and photography festival, is getting another run — this time on the small screen.
“Best of Thin Line” airs Thursday on KERA-TV (Channel 13) in the Dallas-Fort Worth market as part of the Frame of Mind series.
Frame of Mind celebrates independent film in Texas. The 2019 season explored a range of subjects — PTSD, Texas journalism, popular baked goods and the #MeToo movement.
Susan Carol Davis, the director of the film portion of the Denton festival, said the producer of Frame of Mind invited her to be an associate producer for the series.
“Bart Weiss, the co-founder of the Dallas VideoFest, has been a Thin Line juror for several years,” Davis said. “I think he looks this direction because he knows we have quality programing. He asked me to curate this episode. It has to fill an hour.”
Davis said Frame of Mind has to meet the network’s standards when its producers look for Texas films.
“To get your films on KERA, you have to have high production values,” she said. “Bart and I started with a list of about 12 or 13 films from the festival. We went back as far as we could to get films with good production values and find films by filmmakers who are still working.”
Weiss, who teaches film at the University of Texas at Arlington and produces a podcast about documentary film titled The Fog of Truth, said Thin Line has made a hefty contribution to the Dallas-Fort Worth cultural scene.
“Before Thin Line, there was no festival devoted to documentary film in the area,” he said. “And that’s important. Documentary film has given us a better idea of what’s happening in our world. The media we have tends to look at things in small bites. Documentary films take a long time to look at these issues, and they give us more context about what’s happening in our world. The other thing I think Thin Line has done is that they have expanded from documentary film into music and photography. Then they’ve done something extremely bold and have started not charging people to see the films. When it comes to film festivals, we’re pulling together these films we think people need to see. ... It is kind of a calling.”
Weiss inherited the series from two KERA employers who eventually “left for bigger things.” KERA producers contacted Weiss, who had contributed to Frame of Mind, and asked him to take the reins. Now in its 27th season, Frame of Mind mixes documentary with narrative film, and screens feature length and short films. Weiss said the series has both highlighted the wealth of indie film in Texas as well as tracked its growth.
“When you have been with the job that I have, running two festivals — documentary and dramatic — and the TV show and the podcast — I’m always looking for work and looking at work,” Weiss said. “I go to South by Southwest [Austin’s huge annual film and music festival], I go to festivals in El Paso and other places. It’s kind of my job to scour the state and see what’s going on. The show is really a compilation of pieces. Sometimes it’s a bunch of shorts, whether they are narrative or documentary. I try to have a theme. That’s what you do at a festival, whether you are putting together a show or a festival, you are trying to build a theme or a narrative. You’re editing.”
Weiss said he invited Thin Line to be part of Frame of Mind because the quality he’s seen on the jury. He commended both Butler and Davis for the work they do and the festival they’ve built.
“I’m always trying to think about what ways to and what kind of things I can add to the show,” he said. “I like to add content from festivals across the area. Doing jury work, I got to know Susan, who I think has been a very good job. She has really done a lot for the programming of the festival.”
For “Best of Thin Line,” Weiss and Davis whittled the list down to six titles that have screened at Thin Line over the years. They are short documentaries that deal with gun violence and journalism, football and wildlife, a topsy turvey Texas landscape and one pioneering woman.
Davis said the selected titles that show off the production values and sophistication of Thin Line programming.
“The film ‘Mineola Portraits,’ we just loved the beautiful camera work. It’s a Texas film, but it’s just dripping with Americana. The gazebo in the town square. The corn dogs and the barbecue. It’s just beautiful photography of that small American town, and its through the lens of this Texas town,” she said.
Frame of Mind airs on KERA live, but won’t stream elsewhere or air in an encore.