Marfa, Texas, is at least 200 miles from a public airport, and a seven-hour drive west from Austin. It's a small town near Big Bend National Park that seems to have become popular in recent years with artists looking for a quiet, low-key retreat. All I knew about it before last weekend was that it was the home of the Marfa Mystery Lights, and that my grandfather was stationed there during WWII. That's not altogether true. For the past couple of years, I'd heard that they throw one hell of a great film festival, and I was determined to see for myself.
The rumors were absolutely correct -- Marfa hosts a charming film festival -- not large, but very satisfying. Some of its selections have been making the festival rounds, but a few were world premieres. A surprising number were shot or set in Marfa or the surrounding regions.
The Marfa Film Festival takes up a lot of room in a small town -- many attendees camp out in tents since hotel rooms near the festival are scarce. A number of Austin people attend, so I kept running into people I knew whom I didn't realize would be there. Many residents worked in some capacity or other on There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men, both of which were shot in the area a few years ago, and souvenirs from those productions are often displayed in shops and restaurants.