Anderson William, Assistant Technical Director, personifies the enthusiasm about the 2017 Hill Country Film Festival coming to Fredericksburg this weekend.

April 26, 2017–It’s Hollywood in the Hill Country.

This weekend, film aficionados from around the world will be drawn to the flickering screens of the Hill Country Film Festival.

The non-urban setting has grown to become one of the most appealing places for independent filmmakers to screen their work and for movie fans to see it, according to those involved at the very beginning.

When I interviewed director and founder Chad Matthews for the very first HCFF back in 2010, he speculated on what the event might become:

“This combination of some really interesting and special films, along with the city of Fredericksburg is just a win-win situation. We hope to grow into what we consider a destination film festival, and hopefully turn it into a really special Texas event.”

My question when I reached him this time was simple: Have you accomplished that?

“I think we have,” he said after what was only a short pause. “What I notice has changed from that first year is that we have grown to have a reputation that’s known throughout the film industry in Texas. That Hill Country hospitality has made it a lot of fun for out-of-town guest, so that people are putting it on their calendar as the one festival to attend.”

The growth in size over eight years is gratifying. From a two-day event using one screen, they now present more than a hundred films on two screens at Fritztown Cinema over four days. Those 100 films are chosen from a mountain of submissions, according to programmer Matt Ward. He personally watched 270 films for this event, which is no big deal as he once watched a movie a day for a year.

“I personally look for films that play well to this community,” Ward said of his selection process. “I’m always looking for something that is family friendly. And there is a quality aspect–it can’t be terrible cinematography or bad acting. That’s a subjective thing, and that is why we have a team of programmers.”

Organizers know that while the content is important, followers don’t just come to sit in a dark room and watch movies. One reason Matthews chose the Hill Country is that he and his sister, Amy Miskovsky, spent many memorable summers here as children.

“We really work the hospitality angle,” said Miskovsky, who is now the Festival Director. “When you come to the theater it’s like coming into our homes.”

There are also a number of tie-ins to the Fredericksburg this year, including the world premier of a full-length documentary about local sculptor Johann Eyfells called A Force In Nature. Recent resident Brandon Dickerson will screen his faith-based movie Victor, and Austin Community College student Gregg Baethge will show his short Unknown.

For the independent filmmakers, film festivals such as this give them access to screens and new audiences they might not reach otherwise. Programmers love to have the actual filmmaker or actors show up after screenings to answer questions and give more background on their work. This really makes the film festival experience different than binging on Netflix or attending a studio release.

“Originally the idea was just to screen great movies,” Matthews explained. “But over the years I noticed the best parts of the film festival was the ‘Q & A’ after the screenings. So we are trying to incorporate more education components.”

To that end, they have added panel discussions on filmmaking and screenwriting, a screenplay competition, and this year an interview featuring Emmy Award nominee Robert Walden, a veteran actor known for his work on the TV show Lou Grant.

“We realized we can’t always get the folks to the filmmakers, so we need to bring the filmmakers to them,” Matthews said. “Any festival experience for me is better than just going to a movie. People let their guard down so you can have a conversation. I prefer going to place where there is that interaction that you don’t have when you go to a movieplex.”

Proceeds from the festival also help support a summer filmmaking camp for area students. Beyond that, the Hill Country Film Festival is an event made for movie fans. Fans such as Matthews.

“I really do feed off showcasing these filmmakers,” he said. “I am inspired by them. That’s what keeps us going.”

It’s something the whole team enjoys, even though it is a lot of work.

“Had we known that first year how much work, I don’t know if we would have done it!”


The Hill Country Film Festival will take place at Fritztown Cinema in Fredericksburg, Texas, April 27-30, 2017. Festival schedule, information, and tickets are available at