The fifth annual Women Texas Film Festival bravely returns for 2020, and like pretty much everything going on, it will take place under totally different circumstances.
Acknowledging the impact of COVID-19 in Texas, organizers of the Dallas-based festival have transformed the event into a virtual experience, with panels and films taking place online.
The festival will run from August 13-16, and all films can be viewed for free, with an option to donate.
The lineup focuses solely on the work of visionary female filmmakers, including many based in Texas. There's also an emphasis on documentaries and on LGBTQIA+ themes.
The opening film is Tahara, a teenage comedy by Olivia Peace, and the closer is Gossamer Folds by Lisa Donato.
Tahara, which has been screened at festivals such as Slamdance and Frameline, follows two best friends who are dealing with the suicide of a Hebrew school classmate. "The school's attempts to help the students understand grief through their faith immediately leads to awkward places, but after an innocent kissing exercise changes everything for one of them, the best friends find themselves distracted by the teenage complications neither of them even remotely anticipated."
Gossamer Folds is set in 1986 and follows a 10-year-old boy whose parents are having marriage troubles and who finds solace in a friendship with his next-door neighbors: a retired college professor and his transgender daughter, Gossamer. It's a high-wattage cast with Alexandra Gray, Sprague Greyden, Shane West, Ethan Suplee, Jen Richards, and Yeardley Smith.
Other topics covered over the course of the festival will include sex trafficking, immigration, religion, death, art forgery, and even the pandemic. So topical.
Some films will be exclusive screenings with a set time, but most can be viewed at any time, starting August 13 at 5 pm until midnight August 16. Q&As and panels are still to be announced, and will be posted online at wtxff.eventive.org/.
In prior years, the festival has taken place at multiple locations across DFW, such as Alamo Drafthouse Cedars, Texas Theatre, Methodist Dallas, and Wild Detectives.
But fear not: Once the dreaded virus has passed, they'll be screening 2020's winning entries in person, along with their usual bodacious parties and splashy red carpet events.
Founder and artistic director Justina Walford says in a statement that the mission — to give dynamic female filmmakers a platform — is the same whether it's on a big screen or your laptop.
"We feel going all-virtual this year makes us emphasize the work we are curating even more so since there are no physical events or parties to distract us even for a moment," she says.
"Our goal has always been to show the range of the female storyteller, and the depths to which women can take us via their work in film — whether it be emotional, visual, introspective, startling, shocking, and horrific," she says.
In other words, maybe it's even better online.