I spent three days at the very first Marfa Film Festival, plus two days in transit -- more than 1,000 hard miles of driving -- and it was worth every effort to get there; even the post-fest illness that felled me for an entire week. I saw wonderful outdoor screenings, enjoyed some good docs and short films, and witnessed the debut of two music videos directed by Heath Ledger. Oh, and met many friendly local residents, talented filmmakers, and visiting film lovers.

Located in West Texas, roughly halfway between El Paso and San Antonio, the town of Marfa (population 2121) has the rare distinction of being the setting for two recent films that won Academy Awards: No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Some of the sets for the latter film are still standing, and I traveled there on a sunny afternoon with a small group of intrepid friends over a bumpy, curving, tail-bouncing dirt road that stretched for miles across a ranch just south of town. After depositing our load of bottled water for the opening night reception that would begin a few hours later, we wandered around the fictional town of Little Boston.

As authentically aged and real as the buildings look, it's not a real town, of course, it's a set, meant to evoke Bakersfield, California, circa 1911. Check out the gallery for pictures of the Blood set, visiting filmmakers and other sights of the festival. Read on for more about the festival itself.

categories Cinematical