New Film Festival Emerging In Round Top, Texas, Town Known As “Aspen Of The Lone Star State”


Sundance may be moving out of Utah, Hot Docs may be going away, and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival has dissolved. It’s a challenging time for film festivals in North America, but into this space comes a new cinematic event: the Round Top Film Festival in Texas.

The inaugural edition of Round Top will take place from November 7-10, screening an expected 40 narrative and documentary features, short films, “and special highlights on Music Videos and Texas throwbacks,” according to a release. The festival is now accepting submissions from filmmakers.

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“Founded by Shanna Schanen and Skylar Schanen, a dynamic mother-daughter duo, Round Top Film Festival embodies the spirit of creativity, education, and community enrichment,” the release noted. “Nestled in an idyllic stretch of road halfway between Houston and Austin, Round Top has evolved from a quiet retreat to a vibrant hub of year-round activity. The Festival will contribute to its cultural growth while celebrating and preserving the unique charm of this special place.”

“Launching the film festival here in Round Top isn’t just about showcasing cinema; it’s about honoring roots and nurturing connections,” said festival co-founder Shanna Schanen. “Growing up in La Grange, I’ve always felt deeply connected to this community, and after spending the last 17 years with a home here in Round Top, the ties run even deeper.”

The shrinking independent film market has increased the importance of festivals as a place of exhibition.

“Some films never see past the final edit; film festivals offer a vital platform for artists to create and exhibit their work, potentially launching careers in an industry hungry for fresh voices,” observed Round Top Film Festival co-founder. “We’re excited to welcome the film community to the best little town in Texas and eager to cultivate opportunities for networking, support, and celebrating the beauty of storytelling.”

Mickey Duzdevich speaks onstage at a screening of 'The Birdcatcher's Son' during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Lobero Theatre on January 22, 2020 in Santa Barbara, California.
Festival programming director Mickey Duzdevich
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF

Mickey Duzdevich serves as the festival’s programming director. “I’m excited to curate the inaugural Round Top Film Festival lineup,” he said, “promising a diverse array of captivating films, carefully selected to delight audiences. I eagerly anticipate unveiling this unforgettable cinematic experience in our one-of-a-kind location.”

Round Top Festival Institute in Texas
Round Top Festival Institute

The Round Top Festival Institute’s 210-acre campus, Festival Hill, founded in 1971 by concert pianist James Dick, will be the centerpiece venue of the four-day event. The location will double “as the host of the Opening Night party, and various ‘intermissions’ where passholders can enjoy culinary delights between films.”

Round Top is known as the Aspen of the Lone Star State, festival organizers say, a place “renowned as an escape for curious creatives, worldly wanderers and style forecasters… a beloved destination for those seeking a blend of culture, history, and Texas hospitality.”