This weekend marks the 19th annual Gulf Coast Film & Video Festival, an ongoing, award-winning tradition described by the Houston Press as the city’s “best film festival.” No, it's not a ritzy, Hollywood Hilton black tie affair, but that's sort of the point—you don't need Warner Bros. at your back to make something great.
“The festival’s main goal is to get people to realize that there are truly great films out there that are independently made, not by major studios,” says founder Hal Wixon. “And I think,” he adds, “we’ve proven that over the years.”
When asked what he believes makes his festival the best in Houston—a fairly bold statement given the size of the city and the number of festivals held every year—his answer is simple: quality. This year’s roster features films with titles like If I could bark and The Night Stuffed Animals Attacked are enough to pique the interest of even the most casual moviegoer. For Houstonia, Wixon broke down some of the films he's most excited about.
The Gold Line: “This film is one of our finalists this year. It’s all shot as a drone film, which is an interesting approach, but it’s the tone of the movie that stands out. In some ways it reminded me of waking up and realizing it was a perfect day, a day to spend with my friends, a perfect day to discover myself, a day when everything comes together. People will inevitably look back on a certain time in their life while watching this film and realize it’s still the life their leading now.”
Antidote for the Wicked World We Live In: “Director Margo Stutts Toombs has made several music videos, she’s won many awards, and she’s made several types of films. She never sticks to one genre. Most people that like modern music will enjoy this film a lot—people who enjoy rap will enjoy this. And her camera work is amazing, she uses a lot of striking angles that come together to make this a standout piece.”
The Neighborhood That Disappeared: “This is a feature-length documentary, and it’s probably one of the best documentaries we’ve seen at the festival. It’s shot in a neighborhood in upstate New York that has seen a great deal of ups and downs, and the interviews with the people who lived there are stunning. It’s a film that deals with gentrification before that concept really had a place in the modern vocabulary. The people in this neighborhood are finding it hard to adjust. It’s shot in black and white which really helps highlights the hardship this neighborhood underwent during the 1960s.”
The Night Stuffed Animals Attacked: “Directed by award-winning filmmaker Joseph Clark, this is a comedic horror film. It’s fairly short but it’s one of those types of films that, even if you’re not into horror or comedy, it will still appeal to you. I really liked this short film; I found myself with a grin on my face the entire time. It’s a little quirky and people will get that and, I feel, respond well to it. I can definitely say that most people will walk out smiling and will be talking about this one for a while after they view it, it really sticks with you.”
Gulf Coast Film & Video Festival, Sept. 29-30. Tickets from $5. Nassau Bay Hilton, 3000 NASA Pkwy. For a complete schedule and additional information, visit gulfcoastfilmfest.com.