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5th Annual Thin Line Film Festival Kicks Off In Denton Friday

In its fifth year, the Denton-based film fest is the region's only dedicated solely to docs, and it boasts a particularly strong collection of short-subject films.
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Here’s a simple question: Have you seen the Oscar shortlisted documentary Battle for Brooklyn yet? Unless you traveled at some point last year to a film festival or caught the movie at one of its screenings in New York or on the West Coast, the answer is no. That’s because the movie is only making its Texas debut this Friday as the opening night film of the Thin Line Film Festival.

In its fifth year, the Denton-based film fest is the region’s only dedicated solely to docs. That will satisfy fans of the medium, who can take in as much non-fiction filmmaking as one can during the eleven day event that will screen more than 80 movies, including plenty of films you would never get a chance to see but for the festival. But the festival is also an encouraging indication that the region’s diversifying film-related events are able to find support. According to festival organizers, the lineup has strengthen as the number of submissions to the festival have increased. This year will see 21 feature films and 43 documentary shorts in competition. Another curious addition to the festival this year: the documentary race, which challenges entrants to create a film about a randomly drawn topic which just 7,000 hours to shoot.

Here are some of the films you should keep your eye out for at this year’s Thin Line Film Festival:

Battle for Brooklyn, February 10 at 8 p.m. (Campus Theatre): The opening night film, one of 15 movies shortlisted for the 2012 best documentary Oscar, follows Daniel Goldstein’s struggle against the planned redevelopment of his corner of Brooklyn for a new NBA arena. The product of eight years of shooting, the moving, life affirming Battle for Brooklyn has been compared to two Frank Capra classics, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s A Wonderful Life. Director and Producer Suki Hawley will be in attendance.

Shorts Block # 5 (Love), February 14 at 6 p.m. (Campus Theatre): The Thin Line Film Festival has a particularly strong — and diverse — offering of short subject documentaries. On Tuesday, the “Love” block of shorts brings together stories about a robot inventor who travels to Nepal after falling in love with a Nepalese woman over the internet; a woman obsessed with rubber ducks; a former woman’s professional wrestling champion; the intimate bond between a 6-year-old boy and his mother, who is dying of cancer; and the “oldest lesbian in the world,”  97-year-old Bobbie Staff.

Campania In-Felix (Unhappy Country), February 18 at 5 p.m. (Campus Theatre): If you haven’t seen  Matteo Garrone’s gritty 2008 film, Gemorrah, which takes place against a background of corruption and illegal dumping of toxic waste in Southern Italy, you should. If you have seen the film (or even if you want an introduction the setting), you’ll want to catch Ivana Corsale’s Campania In-Felix (Unhappy Country), a documentary about the decades-old efforts to thwart ongoing illegal dumping by mafia-backed waste management companies in and around Naples. The film will be preceded with the Texas premiere of the short doc “Among Giants,” about the clear cutting of California’s coastal redwood forests, making this an intriguing environmental double feature.

Photo: From “Love Hacking,” part of Tuesday’s Short Block #5 (Love) series.

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