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Arts & Entertainment

VideoFest Lives Again Alongside Denton’s Thin Line Fest

Bart Weiss, VideoFest’s founder, has partnered with Thin Line Fest to host two screenings that keep the independent spirit of VideoFest alive.
Bart Weiss, photographed during the height of his VideoFest. Courtesy of Dallas VideoFest

VideoFest, the longest-running independent film festival in Dallas, ended a 34-year run in 2021. Since then, founder Bart Weiss has been looking for opportunities to keep the festival’s legacy alive. This year, he has succeeded in his quest by partnering with Denton’s own long-running festival of documentary, music, and photography known as Thin Line Fest. Thin Line will open with a VideoFest programming block, screening two films championed by Weiss.

Thin Line Fest began 17 years ago as a documentary film festival. In the years since, it has evolved to also include music and photography. The five-day event, which runs April 24 through the 28, is free to the public and takes place in venues in and around Denton’s historic downtown square. 

According to the festival’s founder, Joshua Butler, Thin Line Fest 2024 will include 60 films, 22 of which will have their Texas premiere during the festival. The two opening night films, No One Asked You and Breaking the News, will be co-hosted by VideoFest. 

Weiss, who has long served as a member of Thin Line’s jury, feels that the collaboration is a natural way to keep VideoFest alive. “It’s a documentary festival. I love documentaries,” he says.

In addition to the festival itself, Weiss is rhapsodic about Butler. The two have known each other for years, and Weiss has tremendous respect for Butler’s festival, especially the way Butler has been able to apply his business acumen to managing it. 

“Josh has a background in retail. And I don’t have a background in making money,” says Weiss. “I think that Josh and I are very similar, have similar political and aesthetic considerations. The difference is, he knows how to raise money and I don’t.”

The respect is mutual. Butler says, “I’ve known Bart ever since I started doing film and video in North Texas, and he has always been supportive, always been somewhat of a guide.” When VideoFest came to an end, Butler says he knew there would be an opportunity to partner with Weiss in some capacity with Thin Line. “And then [Weiss] came to us with this idea…six months ago. And, of course, we loved it. And I think opening night is really a great opportunity to showcase everything that he would put into his own festival.” 

The first documentary being co-hosted by VideoFest is called No One Asked You, which stars Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, on a cross-country odyssey to support abortion clinics with Abortion Access Front

Next up will be Breaking the News, a documentary about a group of women and LGBTQ+ journalists attempting to provide a platform for traditionally-marginalized voices in news media. “It’s really about how voices from outside the media get to portray the stories that are really important to them,” says Weiss, who explains that he is drawn to films that are willing to thoughtfully discuss and critique the media.

“Generally, we like to show documentary films that appeal to a wide audience and that are encouraging, uplifting,” Butler says. “So I think it’s good to kind of set the tone like this on opening night. You know, we’re going to take a hard look at what is true in our world in ways that we don’t otherwise get to see.”

Weiss himself is direct about what audiences are going to get from the VideoFest screenings at Thin Line. “People should expect to be inspired,” he says, and promises a lively discussion on each film.

As VideoFest enters a new era, it’s clear that Bart Weiss retains the passion and dedication that kept it running for 34 years, and that Joshua Butler and Thin Line Fest have tremendous respect for VideoFest’s impact and legacy. 

“We’re thrilled to be a conduit of [Weiss’] creativity and his contacts and his resources, because it just brings more to our attendees and more to our festival. And, you know, we’re able to help him continue his work, which is awesome,” says Butler.

And so, Dallas’s longest running independent film festival lives on. It does so as a limited engagement for a complementary festival, but even in an abbreviated form, VideoFest remains committed to bringing relevant, thought-provoking films to North Texas.

Both No One Asked You and Breaking the News will screen at Denton’s Campus Theatre on April 24th at 6:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., respectively. Both screenings are free to the public, though attendees have to register for a festival badge to attend.


Austin Zook

Austin Zook