The Lone Star Film Festival celebrated its largest opening night ever on Wednesday at Bass Hall with about 1,000 moviegoers attending the world premiere of Virtuosity, a documentary about the 2013 Cliburn Competition.
It was the first time the festival, now in its eighth year, has utilized Bass Hall, which was last used for a film premiere in 2004 for Grand Champion. Additionally, Lone Star was holding a screening of the new drama The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, for roughly 250 people at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
“The most we’ve had in the past [for our opening night] has been 500,” festival director Alec Jhangiani said. “This is a big leap for us.”
The festival, which continues through Sunday at the AMC Palace 9 and the Modern, attracted several of those involved with Virtuosity to walk the short red carpet set up in the Bass Hall foyer. They included Cliburn gold medalist Vadym Kholodenko, who now lives in Fort Worth and is featured prominently in the movie.
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He says the film is valuable as it throws back the curtain between audience and performer. “Real life is different than we imagine,” he said.
For Los Angeles director Christopher Wilkinson, whose credits include The Miles Davis Documentary and screenplays for Ali and Nixon, coming to Fort Worth for the Cliburn was a bracing experience. “It’s my most personal film,” said Wilkinson, who is also a musician himself, “because of my relationship to music and my relationship to these kids.”
Jhangiani said before the showing: “We are so thrilled to have this opportunity to screen a film in a place like this. It is so demonstrative of our mission to elevate film to the same level as the other arts in Fort Worth.”
He was joined by the heads of the other two organizations presenting the screening, Jacques Marquis of the Cliburn and Dione Kennedyof Performing Arts Fort Worth, in welcoming the crowd.
The production of a documentary has long been a regular part of the quadrennial Cliburn Competition. Virtuosity is the 11th documentary to serve as a sort of video coda played long after the competition has finished.
Virtuosity will now go on to be screened at other film festivals before it airs on the PBS network on June 19.
For the full review of the film, go to www.dfw.com/movies.