Next week, makers - and lovers - of independent film will be converging upon the Permian Basin for the 2005 edition of the Desert Reel Film Festival. In addition to the website link (above), you can also go to the Odessa-based blog, Bull Durham's Hot Corner, for more information about film screenings, workshops, panel discussions, visiting filmmakers and more.
This is just the second year for the festival, but it's already attracting lots of attention. It's still a small festival ... but so was Austin's South by Southwest Festival, once upon a time. And some of us are old enough to remember when the Sundance Festival was just a quaint little eccentricity up in Utah.
Speaking of SxSW, a recent report on NewsWest 9 featured an interview with Midland filmmaker Rick Owens, whose "Mind's Eye" will be among the features screened at Desert Reel this year. Among other things, Owens discussed how his experience at SxSW (including a meeting with Robert Rodriguez) led to his own decision to get into filmmaking. Owens also expressed his hope that Desert Reel will inspire others, that the Basin's own film festival can have the same impact on future filmmakers.
If an exhibit in Odessa is any indicator, there may some fertile ground for sowing that inspiration. It's in the Cardozier Gallery, in the Visual Arts Studios on the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus, and it's the entries in this year's Rio Grande Computer Animation Competition & Festival. The festival itself is over with, but you can still see and hear the entries in a special screening room in the gallery.
According to this festival's website, "this regional competition invites entries from secondary and college students in Texas, New Mexico, Chihuahua, and Coahuila to compete in the Secondary School, Community College, or Open Divisions. Categories for the competition include narrative stories, design or commercial shorts and experimental animations."
Some works are those of individuals, while others are team efforts. Some document a view of history, while others explore one realm of fantasy or another. Each, in its own unique way, is the result of someone with a story to tell, a view to offer, an alternative to suggest ... and the technical ability to bring all that to some semblance of life in a compelling manner.
Along the way, they are developing the skills that could someday serve in film production. The future of filmmaking being explored at Desert Reel? One view of that future may very well be just down the road. I would recommend a stop at UTPB, on your way to Desert Reel activities in Odessa next week.