Festival submissions welcomed as West Texas gets ready for film extravaganza

Shown here at the 2018 West Texas Film Festival are (L to R) James Fite, Harlan Whatley, and Jared Rush on Education Day. (Photo used with permission)
Shown here at the 2018 West Texas Film Festival are (L to R) James Fite, Harlan Whatley, and Jared Rush on Education Day. (Photo used with permission)

There’s an old adage, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” and it’s a fitting description for the West Texas Film Festival based in Odessa.

While local film festivals sometimes span only a day or two, the 2019 festival stretches across three days, beginning November 21 and ending November 23. The good news for producers is there’s still time to send in your submissions, and there’s even a small tip about something special the organizers hope to see.

Harlan Whatley, director and president of the festival, announced submissions are being sought through October 15, 2019. Asked about his top goal for this year’s event, Whatley answered and included a sort of tip for aspiring filmmakers:

“We would like to increase our attendance numbers, get more people from outside of Odessa, including Midland, and include more animation.”

This year’s festival begins on Thursday, November 21, with the Opening Night Gala at the Ellen Noel Art Museum. On Friday, November 22, panels and seminars tackle producing, documentary, and screen writing. Student films will also be shown that day. On the final day, “Worldview” features international films from abroad, including films from Asia, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom among others.

The festival’s website provides info about this year’s schedule, and new information will be added as content develops. Filmmakers considering entering the competition will find a list of past awards recipients, and this might give an idea what type of film would be well received. Then again, there’s always room for something completely new and unknown.

The festival also maintains a page on Facebook, and there’s information about sponsorships too. You can also read reviews of the festival from attendees, and they’re very positive.

Jared Rush, who heads up Third Man Entertainment in Jacksonville (FL), and who has been a driving force in indie films in that city, is serving as vice-president of the West Texas Film Festival. Rush spoke at the 2018 festival and he accepted the position on the board this year. Rush said, “The West Texas Film Festival gives you the opportunity to not just view a diverse group of films from the USA and other countries, but to also connect with humanity through the films and the people who are there.”

Odessa, where the festival is held each year, was ranked in 2014 as the third fastest growing city in the USA, with nearby Midland ranked as the second fastest growing. In an interview with Festival Reviews, Whatley said he hopes Midland will also be included in the festival in years to come. That interview has information filmmakers and attendees will find useful.

Indie Art South will cover the festival from start to after-parties. Stay tuned for more announcements.

(Kay B. Day/Aug. 15, 2019)

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