The Lone Star Film Festival returns to Fort Worth this weekend, and there are more than 150 films screening before it closes out on Sunday. Unless you’re planning on a 72-hour movie marathon (the all access badge will cost you $300), you’re going to have to do some planning. Finding a few worthwhile indie films from a list of hundreds is a daunting task, though, so we did the legwork for you. Here are a few films that caught our eye and were backed by positive reviews.
General Magic | Nov. 14, 2:45 p.m. | AMC Palace Theater #8
This 92 minute documentary tells the story of ‘90s Silicon Valley startup General Magic, which made the first “smartphone”–or the closest thing there was to a smartphone–in 1994. Despite being ahead of its time with its ambitious vision, the company fell flat on its face soon after launching and is best remembered as a complete disaster. The feature includes archival footage and current interviews with the “Magicians.” It has 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
What Doesn’t Kill Us | Nov. 14, 9:30 p.m. | AMC Palace Theater #8
What happens when the zombie apocalypse gets…peaceful? A mockumentary created by a group of Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art alumni (it’s written and directed by Zach Schlapkohl and stars Peyton Paulette) explores a world in which rehabilitated zombies, a.k.a. Necro-sapiens, struggle to fit into a society ruled by the living.
17 Blocks | Nov. 15, 2:30 p.m. | AMC Palace Theater #8
Filmed over the course of two decades, this stirring documentary follows 9-year-old Emmanuel Sanford and his family as they navigate life in America’s most dangerous neighborhood, just 17 blocks from the nation’s Capitol building. It’s a story of struggle, addiction, and, ultimately, familial love. The film won the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Award for Best Documentary Editing.
Red Dog | Nov. 15, 10 p.m. | AMC Palace Theater #2
Country musician Luke Dick revisits his childhood growing up in the infamous Oklahoma strip club Red Dog, where his single, teenaged mom danced to make ends meet. The documentary introduces the many characters shaped Dick’s upbringing, from bartenders to strippers to drug dealers. The tagline is simple and smart: “It takes a village. Sometimes that village is a strip club.”
Just Mercy | Nov. 17, 8:30 p.m. | AMC Palace Theater #8
The grand finale of the LSFF is this star-studded drama featuring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, and Jamie Foxx. The movie centers around civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson and his groundbreaking fight to free a death row prisoner, Walter McMillian, who was wrongly accused of murder. Fair warning: the reviews are a bit mixed–it got 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 5.6 on IMDb.
If you want something more time efficient, check out the festival’s short films, shown in 17 blocks throughout the festival. There’s a family-friendly block of shorts screening on November 16 at 10:45 a.m. in AMC Palace Theater #2. There’s a LGBTQ-focused block on November 16 at 5 p.m. at Central Library. The programmers even selected a block of their favorite short films to screen on November 17 at 2:30 p.m. at AMC Palace Theater #2. And, finally, there’s one short film that was brought to my attention that’s too weird to ignore.
Wax Paul Now, a quirky mockumentary, follows three filmmakers’ efforts to get actor Paul Giamatti a wax sculpture in Madame Tussauds. That’s showing as part of Short Films Block 9 on November 15, 12:30 p.m. at Central Library. Despite their valiant efforts, there’s still no wax figure of the actor. If you want to get involved with the cause, click here.