When you think of Rockport, Texas, what comes to mind? Fishing? Whooping cranes? Perhaps the plethora of art galleries? Well for the last 13 years, the small coastal city has been home to the Rockport Film Festival which draws movie lovers and filmmakers from around the country to celebrate the diversity of cinema.
Each year, audiences are treated to a large selection of films made outside the mainstream Hollywood system. Independent films have smaller budgets so instead of blockbuster special effects, they focus on storylines, performances and content. From feature-length films to shorts, these are character-driven movies that feature terrific performances.
This year’s festival begins Thursday with a West Texas Tiki Fiesta featuring refreshments and food from local establishments plus live music by Texas Outlaw Folk artist The Last Knife Fighter whose songs are available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music. The performance will be followed by the film “Death in Texas” directed by Scott Windhauser and shot here in the Lone Star State. The VIP festival opener will be held at a private home on Copano Bay and while the event is sold out, there is a waiting list you can get on by calling 361-729-5519.
The screenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will take place at Movies, Inc. in Aransas Pass. The movie theater, 1277 SH35 N Bypass, just opened at the beginning of the year.
Elena Rodriguez, the director of the festival spoke about screening the films in the new venue, “We have been bouncing from home to home ever since Hurricane Harvey took out the theater in Rockport. First, we were at the Texas Maritime Museum and then we were at the Aransas County Airport for two years, so this is our first year since 2016 of being in an actual theater, which is super exciting.”
Single tickets are $5 for feature films and short film blocks. You can purchase tickets online at rockportfilmfestival.com or in person at the theater. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from ticket sales go toward the humanitarian efforts and scholarships of the Rotary Club of Rockport and the cultural programming of Rockport Center for the Arts.
While most film festivals this year went to a virtual format, the RFF committee decided to go the Safe Cinema route following COVID-19 protocols to provide a safe atmosphere. Ticket sales are limited so the auditoriums won’t be filled to capacity, social distancing will be in effect, and masks must be worn.
On holding an in-person event as opposed to a virtual one, Rodriquez said, “There’s something magical about watching a movie in a theater. It’s good for viewers and good for filmmakers, too. We’ve got quite a few that are coming down to do Q&As after the screenings. I think it’s good all around.”
Rodriquez also elaborated on the variety of this year’s lineup: “It’s really exciting and really diverse. We have nine international films, about 23 from the U.S., and 10 of those from Texas specifically. They range from full-length narrative and documentary features to documentary and narrative shorts, music videos, animation, and some student films.”
Spend some time in scenic Rockport this weekend. Take in the sights, hit an art gallery, check out the wildlife, enjoy good food, and catch some great films. Discounts at the Fairfield by Marriott and Hampton Inn are available to festival attendees.
For more information, to view the film schedule, and to buy tickets go to the website rockportfilmfestival.com.