People watching Race with the Devil at the Devils Backbone Tavern.

Kicking off Lost River Film Fest in Fischer, TX

By Daniel Richter 
Web Content Contributor

Thursday was the opening day of the San Marcos Cinema Club’s third annual Lost River Film Festival. Throughout all of San Marcos Movie screenings, special events and happy hours took place all weekend long to celebrate film creators of all kinds. 

The festival began with Breakfast at Tantra Coffeehouse and was followed by full length and short foreign films which were screened at the Price Center Ballroom. These films were from all over coming from countries including Chile, Iran and Tanzania just to name a few. Once the screenings were over the festival shifted into the Hill Country for the opening night party.

The event took place at the Devil’s Backbone Tavern in Fischer, TX, located right outside of San Marcos near the notorious “Devil’s Backbone” windy strip of road on FM-32. If you have not visited the Devil’s Backbone overlook you should definitely check it out.

 The Devil’s Backbone Tavern is a dancehall that was built with stone 80 years ago. It was the perfect setting for a screening of the action-horror film Race with the Devil. This 1975 film thoroughly entertained the room full of movie loving attendees. 

The star of the film was the recently deceased Peter Fonda. Oddly enough, one of the active organizers for the film festival, Jordan Buckley let me know that the film was already scheduled to play at the event before Fonda’s passing. The film was chosen because many of the scenes for the film where shot in the Hill Country, where we were all viewing it. And it only seemed right to use this opportunity as a little tribute to Fonda.

The Holiday Indians playing at the Opening night of Lost River Film Fest.
The local band, Holiday Indians, kicked off the Lost River Film Fest at the Devil’s Backbone Tavern. Photo by Daniel Richter.

Before the screening took place, there was a barbecue, drinks, outdoor fun, as well as a performance from the Holiday Indians which was accompanied by vintage black and white stage projections. The drummer for the Holiday Indians, Steve Ornelas (known to everyone as Stevo), was also one of the event organizers as well as the man in charge of the captivating stage projections. 

Stevo told me that projection is what got him into the Cinema Club and he was the former projectionist for the popular band The Butthole Surfers. “Once I saw the visual effects that you could do over a band without just normal lighting, I got into it,” Ornelas said.  He also told me how the film festival as a whole has grown and he doesn’t see it going anywhere but up. “Every year has been getting better and better. San Marcos is loving it.”

City Council Member Lisa Prewitt and local filmmaker Anita Collins spoke just before the screening on the efforts being made to bring more filmmaking to the San Marcos area. Prewitt said, “The more the film industry and anything in the arts comes to our region it will enhance (our art) programs which only just brings people in to our region. 

She also spoke on why films are beneficial for reasons other than economic.  “The economic impact is great but the best part of films are what they do for our soul,” Collins said. Collins spoke on how her team recently registered 82 locations with the Texas Film Commission in 50 days in an effort to draw more productions to be filmed in our region.

After the screening the night wrapped up with a performance from the Rock Bottom String Band from San Marcos.

The event got everyone excited for the rest of the weekend and looking forward to where the Lost River Film Fest is headed in years to come.

Featured image by Daniel Richter.

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