FORT WORTH The Lone Star Film Festival returned downtown to the AMC Palace Theater for its seventh edition Thursday night and while it was a little more low-key than usual — no major stars in attendance on the red carpet as in past years — it was still meaningful to local film fans.
“This [festival] is so easy. It’s all here, just in this one place,” said Tracy Self of Fort Worth who, along with her husband, Joe, has attended every year. “And the movies are fantastic.”
She was joined by roughly 200 festivalgoers for the official opening-night film, Tim’s Vermeer, a documentary by Teller (of the magic duo Penn & Teller) about San Antonio tech company head Tim Jenison, who has become obsessed with the techniques of 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.
The rest of the lineup, running through Sunday, features major features that will hit theaters in coming weeks — such as Nebraska, starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte (and directed by Alexander Payne of The Descendants); Philomena starring Judi Dench; The Book Thief, with Geoffrey Rush; and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, with Idris Elba — and short, experimental films.
Tim’s Vermeer was well received Thursday night as Jenison and executive producer Farley Ziegler were on hand for a Q&A session after the screening. Jenison, who spent several years trying to show how Vermeer might have attained his unique style through the use of mirrors, said he became obsessed after being given a book on the subject.
An inventor by trade — his company, NewTek, develops software and hardware for video production — and most emphatically not an artist, Jenison wanted to use this method to see if he could reproduce Vermeer’s The Music Lesson. The result is a fascinating exploration of the nexus between art and technology, between inspiration and innovation.
It also helped that he was friends with Penn Jillette and Teller. It was Penn who asked him one day what he was doing and “I said I think I’ve discovered how Vermeer made his paintings,” said Jenison, who was thinking of just filming something and throwing it up on YouTube. Penn convinced him that it could become a feature-length film.
Asked before the screening what it was like to see himself as the star of a movie, Jenison joked, “It’s kind of creepy. You don’t expect see yourself 50 feet high.”
For more on the Lone Star Film Festival, see the DFW.com section.