Texas Filmmakers Showcase


One of the highlights of this year's festival is the presentation of films made by Texans.  The Texas Filmmakers Showcase at the USA Film Festival, which runs through Thursday at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, may be the best yet. EvenHand especially is the kind of fresh, well-crafted film we haunt festivals hoping to see. Staff critic Jane Sumner, who covers Texas filmmaking, takes a look at this year's offerings.


Rolling Kansas (7 p.m.): El Paso native Thomas Haden Church co-wrote and directed this wacky but essentially sweet-spirited tale of four friends who hit the road in search of a magical forest of marijuana. More low buffonery than high times. Shot in Austin, Coupland and Lockhart. In attendance: Mr. Church.


USA Film Festival
Through May 1 at the Angelika Film Center and Cafe, 5321 E. Mockingbird. Visit for a complete schedule and ticket information.
Also online
Festival mini-reviews
Texas Filmmakers Showcase
Tributes to filmmakers
America's Deadliest Storm (5 p.m.): A work-in-progress documentary of the deadliest natural disaster to hit the United States features historians, islanders and one of the last survivors of the storm that killed 6,000 people. Directed by Dallas veteran Ken Mandel. World premiere. In attendance: Mr. Mandel and producer Rick Leal. Also screening Monday at 7 p.m.

Evenhand  (7 p.m.):  With boffo performances, Joseph Pierson's sensitive direction and Mike Jones' subtly nuanced screenplay shot in his hometown of San Antonio two years ago, this comic-sad tale of a small-town Texas cop and his wild-cannon  partner is a satisfying, realistic must-see. Hal Hartley fave Bill Sage and stage actor Bill Dawes share thesp honors.  In attendance: Mr. Sage.

Breaking the Barrier (7 p.m.): Kate Dawson, who's made a living writing, producing and editing TV news programs, met Sid Steiner as a kid in first grade in Austin. When the charismatic steer wrestler with the good looks, flashy garb and tattoos gained notoriety as a rodeo rock star, she followed him on the circuit for a year, chronicling the double-edged sword of stardom. In attendance: director Ms. Dawson, Mr. Steiner and parents, Bobby and Jolene Steiner.


Shelter Dogs (5 p.m.): Houston native Heidi Reinberg produced this affecting behind-the-scenes look at the commitment and philosophy of animal welfare pioneer Sue Sternberg, whose New York kennel houses adoptable dogs in homey suites with furniture and music. Poignant and heartwarming. In attendance: Ms. Reinberg.


Hit (9:20 p.m.): In this wry "mocumentary," featuring the Fort Worth improv comedy troupe Four Day Weekend, a filmmaker tracks the diminishing fortunes of a once-feared crime family down on its luck. It doesn't all work, but when it does, the humor is laugh-out-loud delicious as when a wise guy wearing a Baby Bjorn carrier goes to collect an overdue debt owed the family. In attendance: director Blake Calhoun, cast and crew.
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