Since 2017, the Reel East Texas Film Festival has made Kilgore a destination for film lovers, as directors and film crews from Texas and around the world have submitted their creations to be screened in the heart of East Texas.

Once again, RETFF is breaking new ground in 2020 by offering a virtual film festival experience as well as hosting an in-person, socially distanced film festival at the historic Texan Theater in Kilgore.

RETFF will be screening 65 independent films at the Texan Theater at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 through 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15.

“We’re extremely excited that we are able to move ahead with the annual Reel East Texas Film Festival, we have some very special sponsors and dedicated staff and board members that are making this 2020 festival happen”, explains RETFF board president, Sonya Waters.

“We have had some amazing submissions and we can’t wait to share these films with Kilgore and the East Texas community.”

Among the international and national submissions are a number of Texas films, including locally filmed action thriller “The Runners” by Hallsville native, Micah Lyons. Another must-see Texas film is the documentary “Pant Hoot” which tells the story of a genocide survivor who transcends overwhelming odds to become a master chimpanzee linguist.

This heart-warming short documentary features the world’s most foremost expert on chimpanzees, Dame Jane Goodall, best known for her 60-year study of wild chimps.

“The caliber of films that are submitted to RETFF has been increasing each year and 2020 is no exception. We did have less submissions than last year due to COVID-19 but we’ve also seen films made because of the pandemic,” said Chip Hale, RETFF Director.

Kilgore will be welcoming 25 filmmakers over the festival as well as drawing attendees from Dallas, Shreveport and the East Texas area. The Texan Theater is a large enough venue to safely socially distance and the audience and patrons will be asked to wear a mask and utilize hand sanitizer while at the event.

The Old Post Office just across the street from the Texan will be open as the event lounge, a great place for visiting filmmakers and attendees to rest and relax. However, there will be limited numbers admitted to the lounge at any one time.

Reel East Texas will also be hosting a one-day Student Film Showcase next Saturday, Nov. 7 which features films from high school and college students. This event will also take place at the Texan Theater.

The Reel East Texas Film Festival has grown significantly since its inception, attracting hundreds of films to be submitted for consideration and also hosting panels featuring representatives from Texas Film Commission, who encouraged local aspiring filmmakers to shoot their projects in East Texas.

It’s all part of Hale’s vision to transform Kilgore, and the East Texas area in general, into a movie-making hotspot.

In keeping with this vision, RETFF has inspired changes in Kilgore, including a massive overhaul and restoration of the historic Texan Theater, as well as inviting filmmakers to tour the city in hopes of encouraging them to film here.

Tickets are on sale now through Eventbrite and on the Reel East Texas website. A film screening schedule for the four-day festival can also be found at www.reeleasttexas.com.

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