UNT students' documentaries to be shown at this month's Thin Line festival

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Knowing that her great-grandfather, Zachary Taylor Faulkner, lived in Sunflower County, Mississippi, University of North Texas student Sharie Vance wondered if she was related to the state's most famous Faulkner – the writer William Faulkner, who lived three counties away in Oxford. In January 2013, Vance, a graduate student in UNT's Department of Media Arts, traveled with her father to find out more information about her great-grandfather.

While she didn't find a direct connection from her family to William Faulkner, Vance came back to UNT with touching footage of herself and her father tracing their roots for a film she created as part of her master of fine arts degree in documentary production.

Two years later, the film, "Finding Faulkner," will premiere Feb. 21 (Saturday) at Denton's Campus Theatre as part of Thin Line, a film, music and photo festival being held in Denton for the eighth year. The film portion of Thin Line is dedicated to screening various types of documentaries.

In addition to "Finding Faulkner," which will be shown at noon, two other films from current UNT students in the master of fine arts program in documentary production were selected for Thin Line this year. "The Bottom Rung" by Ron Lechler, who will receive his MFA this May, will be shown at 5 p.m. Feb. 20 (Friday) at the Campus Theatre. "Critterman" from second-year student David Goodman will be shown at 10 p.m. Feb. 21 (Saturday) at the Campus Theatre. All three students will attend the screenings of their films.

Vance said that when she was creating "Finding Faulkner," a theme of "being lost and finding yourself" emerged. Zachary Taylor Faulkner, her great-grandfather, had been lost in her family history because he died when his son -- her grandfather -- was only 16 months old. During the filming "Finding Faulkner," Vance found her great-grandfather's marriage license, which listed him as Z.T. Faulkner Jr.

"Now I know who his daddy was -- Z.T. Faulkner Sr.," she said. "Unfortunately, there were several Z.T. Faulkners back then, so more research is required."

Lechler's film, "The Bottom Rung" is also autobiographical. A part-time stand-up comic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Lechler captured himself and two of his fellow comedians as they perform in Denton. One of the other comedians has since moved to Austin for more opportunities.

"If you consider that success is like a ladder, and the most successful are at the top of the ladder, then we're on the bottom rung for comedy. There isn't a big comedy performance scene in Denton. We'll play in the basement of a pizza parlor," said Lechler, who will attend the screening with the other comedians. "Documentaries usually seem to only focus on those who are already famous, but there are talented comics who have different aspirations. The bottom rung is a term of endearment."

David Kleven, owner of Animal Edutainment Inc., a traveling zoo in Aubrey, is the subject of "Critterman," his nickname. Goodman followed Kleven for one month as he went to schools and other locations to present programs about animals. Kleven will attend the screening of "Critterman" with Goodman, who will graduate in 2016.

For more information about Thin Line, go to this website.

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