You could say that the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is getting an early start this year.

At dusk on Thursday, the Denton Festival Foundation, the nonprofit that stages the annual arts and jazz festival, and Alamo Drafthouse Denton will host a free screening of the 2016 Academy Award winning film La La Land starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The movie follows the fraught love story of a pianist and an actress chasing their aspirations in Los Angeles.

James Wallace, the creative director of Alamo Drafthouse DFW said it was a natural move to team up with the local festival. Alamo Drafthouse Denton has partnered with both Denton Black Film Festival and Thin Line documentary film festival.

“I mean I guess how it really came about — to go all the way back — is that me and our Alamo Drafthouse Communications Manager Wylee Wooldridge went to [University of North Texas] and we know Denton,” Wallace said. “Any time we move into a new community, we look for ways to partner up with organizations. With a festival like Denton Arts & Jazz Fest being such an established festival and being so important to the community, we wanted to be part of it.”

Wallace said the cinema had a huge catalog of music-related movies to screen, but the organizers needed to be particular.

La La Land is a fairly new movie, and it won [five] Academy [awards],” Wallace said. “It had such a wide appeal. You can’t just show any movie when you’re screening something outdoors. La La Land has broad appeal. It was a movie even your grandmother who doesn’t really get out to the theater got up and went to see it.”

The movie screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Quakertown Park near the Jazz Stage, located at the corner of Bell Avenue and Withers Street. Attendees can bring blankets and lawn chairs.

Alamo Drafthouse will have free popcorn, and soft drinks will be available. Quakertown Park is located at 321 E. McKinney St.

La La Land is rated PG-13 and runs for 128 minutes.

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877 and via Twitter at @LBreedingDRC.

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