Two years ago, film aficionado Thomas King spearheaded the idea of a film festival in Mansfield.
He enlisted help from his brother-in-law Chris Bryant, an events coordinator at the Mansfield ISD Center for Performing Arts, and started planning.
“His heart was films and directing,” Bryant said. “We wanted to do something to enhance the culture in the area of arts in the city. We met with the city last August and presented to the City Council for funding. They were on board immediately.”
In September, King died suddenly, putting all the hard work for the film festival in jeopardy.
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But Bryant wasn’t about to give up despite the pain of planning something that constantly reminded them of their loss.
“We decided we want to do this in his honor because he would want this to go on,” Bryant said.
Months of hard work will finally pay off with the first Mansfield International Film Festival, March 7-10 in the Farr Best Theater, 109 N. Main St., in downtown Mansfield. The festival will feature 28 films in six categories.
Festival goers can buy tickets online or at the door at the Farr Best Theater. The poster is all Texas, featuring the silhouette of a cowboy, the Dallas skyline, the Mansfield logo in the form of film strips and the slogan “Small town, big films.”
“We’re really excited about the festival because we have all of the elements of the larger festivals that have been going on in DFW,” said Vivian Fullerlove, festival director. “We’re looking to provide them with yet another cultural experience in the city of Mansfield.”
Bryant brought on Fullerlove because of her experience with her marketing firm, VLF Media & Promotions.
“With the death of Thomas happening unexpectedly, Chris and his wife Monica needed assistance. They decided it would be one of the best things they could do in tribute to Thomas.”
The six categories for the film festival are: shorts, experimental, student films, feature documentaries, narrative features and documentary shorts. They have submissions from Egypt, Brazil, England, Turkey and Mexico.
There will also be panel discussions on women in film, the business of filmmaking and from script to screen at the Mansfield Museum and Heritage Center, 102 N. Main St.
Actor Anthony Michael Hall, best known for playing Brian Johnson in “The Breakfast Club” and for playing Bill Gates in “Pirates of Silicon Valley,” will be there for the opening night gala.
The festival has already created a buzz around town as filmmakers started reserving hotel rooms in November and December for March, said Tim Roberts, marketing and promotions manager for the Mansfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“That’s unheard of unless you’re talking about a sports tournament,” Roberts said. “It’s actually been mind-blowing.”
The festival received $30,000 from the city’s hotel occupancy tax to help put on the event.
The MIFF is part of a larger Arts Week in Mansfield that goes from March 7 through March 17 and includes a host of other events. On March 15-16, there’s The World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza complete with concerts, parades, keg races, pet and baby parades and the always fun pickle queens.