With its rolling fields of wildflowers and historic hot spots, the tiny Texas town of Fredericksburg makes a picturesque scene for an independent film festival. And so it will be, just over an hour's drive from Austin, during the first weekend of May. The fifth annual Hill Country Film Festival lineup is brimming with Texas pride as it celebrates country charm with seven feature films and more than 70 shorts in competition.
Shorts and feature-length screenplay finalists will also compete for awards, and several special out-of-competition screenings jazz up the schedule, including Richard Linklater's Bernie and Nirali Somaia's 2012 animated short, "Whale Song." Other gems include Before I Disappear, the SXSW 2014 Audience Award winner and feature-length expansion of the Academy Award-winning short film, "Curfew." Magical realism dances and romances at a Newfoundland Mummering of the early 1900s in "When It Is Dark," a lovely short by Canadian writer and director Kate Yorga. Hypothetical Dan and hypothetical Maggie reveal so many feelings at Coney Island when the real duo plays the Break Up Game in "Days Like This." Two Texas short films focus on siblings: "Easy," director Daniel Laabs' character study of the pains of brotherly adolescence; and "Where the Red Fox Lies," Jeff Ray's fiery counterpoint to the Frozen wave of sisterly drama.
The Hill Country Film Society, which presents the festival, offers year-round educational efforts to promote the wonders of film through programs that include summer film camp and vineyard screenings. Free screenings at Fritztown Cinema and a free, family-friendly screening at the outdoor Marktplatz set the festival stage, and the weekend promises parties, panels, and plenty of shoulder-rubbing with industry folks. Three ticket options still available: $125 buys an all-access badge, day passes for Friday or Saturday run $40, and individual screenings are $10 a pop.
Hill Country Film Festival, Steve W. Shepherd Theater and Fritztown Cinema, Fredericksburg. April 30-May 4. www.hillcountryff.com
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