Victoria TX Film Fest kicks off (w/video)
Clinking wine glasses and laughter-infused chatter resonated Thursday night inside One O'Connor Plaza's top floor, the VIP dining room at The Sendera.
With the third annual Victoria TX Indie Film Fest in motion, organizer Anthony Pedone was all smiles, welcoming guests over the microphone before inviting them to line up for the buffet.
"We're a well-oiled machine. We had a lot of help," this year, he said. "We have 60 guests coming in, and despite - literally - 15 airplane cancellations and debacles, we were able to even muddle through that and still get all the venues set up."
The festival has grown exponentially since its inception three years ago.
David Way, a guest at the VIP event at The Sendera on Thursday night, praised Pedone and the city of Victoria for embracing the festival and encouraging it to grow.
"Three years ago, it was just a bunch of us at one table at Huvar's," said Way, associate executive director of Gulf Bend Center. "The film fest has become a guide post for other cities who now look here to see what Anthony and this group is doing to build it up."
The Sendera kickoff welcomed about 250 filmmakers, film enthusiasts, actors and other domestic and international guests.
"I'm looking forward to opening night films," Pedone said, mentioning the festival's first documentary Thursday night, "Walter," which screened at 8 p.m. at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts.
Mary Virginia Jacobs, a guest of the VIP dinner, said she was looking forward to viewing "Walter" and generally investigating the films offered at the festival.
"It's very energetic, all these people from out of town, exposing them to Victoria," she said. "I'm so excited. ... It's getting bigger and better every year."
Jacobs, a retired nurse, said she's surprised Victoria is able to attract so many film buffs, but she's pleased the event is offered in the Crossroads, and she hopes it continues to grow and entice travelers to the city.
"It's great. The event is a cultural breadbasket," she said.
VTXIFF boasts more than 50 features, shorts and documentaries this year, which will be viewed at various venues in downtown Victoria including Golden Gecko, Downtown Bar and Grill and the Nave, among others.
So after months of planning and preparation, Pedone and the rest of his staff and jurors are ready to sit back and enjoy the festival as film enthusiasts and supporters of the arts.
"Everything's great, and we're ready to go," Pedone said.