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Hill Country festival focusing on Texas film fare

Matthew Odam

The Hill Country Film Festival in Fredericksburg celebrates its third year with its most robust lineup of films to date, with an emphasis on talent from the Lone Star State.

"Being a Texas film festival, we've always made an effort to screen Texas films. This past year, we took a big step toward emphasizing our Texas roots by forming the Hill Country Film Society," festival Director Chad Mathews said. "With this integration into the local film community, we find ourselves meeting more local filmmakers like Andrew Disney, director of ‘Searching for Sonny,' and Brandon Dickerson, director of ‘Sironia.' These films exemplify great Texas-made production."

Austinite Dickerson's "Sironia" serves as the fest's opening-night film. The Waco-shot, music-packed tale of a couple retreating to Texas from Hollywood in search of an authentic life stars the film's co-writer Wes Cunningham. Singer-songwriter Cunningham's songs give emotional texture and a narrative arch to the film, which won the Texas Independence award at the 2011 Austin Film Festival. Baylor University professor and playwright Thomas Ward also shares a screenwriting credit.

The Fort Worth-shot "Searching for Sonny," another 2011 Austin Film Festival entry, wraps a comedy in a mystery. Though made on an indie budget, Texas filmmaker Andrew Disney's story of old friends gathering at a high school reunion features a recognizable cast of TV stars that includes Minka Kelly ("Friday Night Lights"), Jason Dohring ("Veronica Mars"), Masi Oka ("Heroes") and Clarke Peters ("The Wire").

Fans of "True Blood" will recognize Janina Gavankar, who plays Luna Garza in the HBO series. Gavankar co-stars in "Satellite of Love," the latest from "Cowboy Smoke" director and former Longhorn football player Will Moore. The story of a simmering love triangle recently played the Dallas International Film Festival.

In addition to 14 feature films, the Hill Country fest will screen more than 40 short films and nine 3-D shorts.

The shorts program includes Andrew Bowler's "Time Freak," the only U.S. film nominated for a live-action short Oscar this year. Bowler's wife, Gigi Causey, a University of Texas Radio, Television and Film graduate, produced the story of a neurotic inventor who creates a time machine.

The farm-to-table movement has swept the national food scene and can be witnessed at Austin restaurants such as Barley Swine. Austin filmmaker Christian Remde's short doc, "Local," examines the growing movement and the true meaning of "organic."

"Local" is a piece of Remde's Twelve Films Project, the filmmaker's ambitious 2011 project of making one short film a month. Remde screened his short film "Sketch" at last year's Hill Country Film Festival.

The festival will also feature a series of family-friendly shorts, a free public screening at the Marktplatz and panels and talks.

Contact Matthew Odam at 912-5986

Hill Country Film Festival