The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Waco Independent Film Festival

Grab Your Popcorn on July 18–21

3 weeks ago

By Avery Ballmann 

Operations Director Louis Hunter and Artistic Director Samuel Thomas of the Waco Independent Film Festival had a major problem — but it wasn’t a bad problem, it was actually a really, really good problem. Their festival has gained so much notoriety since 2016 that they received over 500 film submissions this year. The selection pool was not only great in number but also in quality — some films were from the Cannes Film Festival and others received Oscar nominations. The Waco Independent Film Festival have selected their films and are rolling out the red carpet for the in-person festival July 18–21.

“When you start doing something for a number of years — and we’re going into our eighth year — the people who submit to you becomes greater,” Thomas said. “When people hear of your reputation, they want to be a part of that as well, and so the quality of filmmakers has always been nice, but it’s just even more so. We decided this year, with so many to choose from, it gave us a chance to really focus on voices we might not have heard before.”

When looking at the festival’s film guide, they tag films not based on genre but by theme which are categorized into blocks called “Mixtapes”. These include blocks such as “Local Flavor” where attendees can discover area talent; or viewers can experience characters confronting emotional issues in the “Baggage Claim” block; and take a walk on the wild side with “If That’s What You’re Into.” These are just a small snippet of available mixtapes, but this festival truly has a film for every viewer.

“We try to make sure that in our programming, that we are representative of our community,” Thomas said.

Waco Independent Film Festival has also categorized films to make selecting a film to watch even easier. These categories include: Family Friendly, Deep Dive, Short Scripts, Crowd Pleasers, Feature Film and For the Curious and Adventurous. But this film festival isn’t just about the films — there are after parties, workshops and awards too.

“To me, the highlight of the festival is the parties. It’s the best way to get connected with folks, to decompress after a day full of films and meeting new people,” Hunter said. “It’s a really great opportunity to relax and connect with each other, so I highly recommend the parties.”

Hunter prefers the game night at Southern Roots Brewing not only for his personal love of board games but also because it provides an effortless opportunity to engage with filmmakers and attendees. Every night of the festival will include an after-party for VIP pass holders and filmmakers. Thursday night is the festival’s iconic red-carpet party with an after-party following; Friday night is Game Night; Saturday is Beers, Bulls & Brats with Brotherwell Brewing; and Sunday is the awards ceremony at the Art Center Waco.

For the filmmakers, the festival has incorporated several events specifically designed for them. This includes two filmmaking master classes, a Balcones Distillery tour and a Waco locations tour to showcase our beautiful city as a prime filming location.

The Waco Independent in-person Film Festival is the weekend of July 18–21 and the online encore is July 21–27. VIP Passes are $150 and give you access to all of the after-parties, films and the festival’s Lounge and Learn. It also includes free drinks at each party, t-shirt and festival swag bag. The Ticket Six Pack is six tickets for the price of five for $50. Individual film screening tickets are $10 and give you access to that film. To purchase your tickets and pick which films you want to see visit their website.

“I really do think the in-person festival is just awesome,” Hunter said. “You want to enjoy these things together and it’s such a community-building event. I definitely recommend that you join in person if you can.”