Capturing The Outlaw Spirit

Stories from just outside the boundaries: Fourth Annual Billy the Kid Film Festival in Hico announces film lineup and special events for Nov. 4-6 featuring films of the trail less traveled

HICO – If it weren’t for the cars parked in front of the historic buildings in Hico’s downtown, you could easily imagine times gone by, with ladies passing by with their crinolines dresses holding up a lace umbrella against the searing Texas sun, and saddled horses tied to the hitching posts outside the saloon or livery stables, patiently waiting for their chaps-clad cowboys.

Instead of rugged cowboys and ladies clothed in taffeta, the picturesque town will be the backdrop for a film festival named after a notorious Western outlaw – The Fourth Annual Billy the Kid Film Festival with actors, film makers, film lovers and film patrons filling the streets Nov. 4-6. The popular film festival will offer screenings of feature and short films in different Hico locations like the Second Floor of Blue Star Trading, the Green Canoe Outfitters, Buzzed Brumbly and now defunct, historic Hico Jailhouse.

“This year’s edition of the film festival will filmmakers who have taken the trail less traveled — exploring the lives of the disenfranchised, the broken, and the outcast.” Festival founders and directors Philip Vasquez and Luci DiGiorgio said. “Whether the films are shot locally, in Texas, or anywhere around the world, we love exploring what it means to be an outlaw.”

What does it mean to be an outlaw? And they’re not just talking about a stand-off in the Wild West — they want the stories of any character who goes against the grain. Outlaw films explore the theme of being just outside the boundaries; facing challenges and not just the bad guys. They want the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Together with lead film programmer Justina Walford, Vasquez and DiGiorgio selected this year’s lineup of over 35 films -- many of which are shorts ranging from four – 20 minutes. The fun film festival starts Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. with a series of films followed by a Q&A with the film makers and a Meet and Greet. The film schedule can be found on the website at

The annual spotlight on outlaw-themed films, as well as Texas-shot and made productions, will feature a love and appreciation for horses this year, highlighted by the Closing Night screening of Steven Latham’s “The Mustangs: America's Wild Horses,” and a personal appearance by cowboy legend Ty Murray with Luke Linderman’s “Un-Tyed: Building Rosie.” The Opening Night selection is Mike Markwardt’s “The Birth and History of Western Swing.”

The BTKFF also celebrates Pine Moore Old West Studio, the famous Texas-based western and Old West location set and stages which has been utilized by countless films, television shows, commercials, and music videos for scenic backdrops. The film festival honors Dennis Moore and the studios contribution to western filmmaking, creating the Pine Moore Award going forward to benefit BTKFF award winning filmmakers.

The very affordable film festival passes and tickets to this unique festival with man special highlights are on-sale now through the website at

Friday night highlights Mike Markwardt’s The Birth and History of Western Swing. The film which is free to the public delivers the quintessential story of America’s most joyous dance music. Western swing got its start “where the west begins,” in a ramshackle dancehall in Fort Worth, during the depths of the Great Depression. It evolved absorbing a many music styles from black, white, rural, and urban influences to create an intoxicating musical gumbo. This groundbreaking documentary film traces its origins, development, and legacy utilizing original and contemporary voices from a cast of legendary stars and respected historians. The film will be preceded by a screening of Sherill Rogers short film, Just an Old Barn. Markwardt will be on hand following the screening for a Q&A.

Saturday starts with a 9 a.m. workshop with casting director and owner of Cast O-matic Kina Bale-Reed. Film screenings start at 10 a.m. with a Q & A with filmmakers at 11 a.m. Highlights will include Luke Linderman’s “Un-Tyed: Building Rosie” at 3 p.m. which stars legendary World Champion Cowboy Ty Murray detailing his special technique to horse wrangling and training. Murray will be on hand at the Buzzed Brumbly to meet fans and participate in a Q & A after his film screens.

The Bosque Film Society’s “Gal Manns Skrik” is featured in the Saturday afternoon Short Block starting at 5 p.m. Directed by J Matt Wallace and E Brett Voss, Mad Man's Scream is a uniquely original concept and narrative mashup short based on Edvard Munch’s art "The Scream” while re-imagining scenes from The Shining, Night of the Living Dead, Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, Silence   of the Lambs, and Scream. It’s an experimental film produced as an educational exercise by the a non-profit organization in conjunction with The Cliftex Theatre in Clifton, the longest continuous running movie theater in Texas showing film since 1916.

The Saturday evening’s feature at 7 p.m. is Steven Latham’s documentary “The Mustangs: America's Wild Horses,” executive produced by Robert Redford, Patti Scialfa Springsteen and Jessica Springsteen, takes audiences on an odyssey throughout America to places where more than 80,000 wild horses live on our federal lands and more than 50,000 in government corrals. Featuring music by Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson the film illustrates beautifully why the protection of our wild horses and our public lands are worth fighting for.

The BTKFF VIP Red Carpet and Reception on Saturday evening has become very popular in the brief history of the film festival as an event where film fans – especially western filmmaking fans – can spend more time with the filmmakers, actors, documentary participants and other attendees. This year’s Black Tequila and Tamale Filmmaker Awards Party celebrates the Pine Moore Studios. Founder and owner Dennis Moore will be on hand with filmmaking alumni to talk about the many productions that filmed there and went on to great success.

“The highlight of the Billy the Kid Film Festival has always been the Filmmaker Awards After-Party.” DiGiorgio said.

A rare Sunday afternoon 2 p.m. screening at the Blue Star Trading shows the spiritual journey film Camino De Santiago Faith Walk by Kristin Dickerson and Peter Fleisher. The documentary follows the Dickerson and Fleisher, who both carried multiple cameras, a laptop and a drone across Spain to capture their 500-mile spiritual pilgrimage. The screening is followed by the announcement of the photo contest winners.

The Billy the Kid Film Festival is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting film, filmmakers and film education through their annual event. The film festival’s mission to celebrate film makers from all over the world, while giving local film makers and residents a place to come together and appreciate the art of making movies.

The Billy the Kid Film Festival sponsors include: The City of Hico, Hico Chamber of Commerce, Tarleton State University, Cast-O Matic, Wiseman Chocolates, Blue Star Trading, Frank Kent Cadillac and The Bosque Film Society. For more information on the Billy the Kid Film Festival go to the website at


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