Knowing that her great-grandfather, Zachary Taylor Faulkner, lived in Sunflower County, Mississippi, Sharie Vance wondered if she was related to the state's most famous Faulkner - the writer William Faulkner, who lived three counties away in Oxford.
In January 2013, Vance, a master of fine arts in documentary production in UNT's Department of Media Arts, traveled with her father to find out more information about her great-grandfather. While she didn't find a direct connection from her family to William Faulkner, Vance returned to UNT with touching footage of herself and her father tracing their roots for a film she created as part of her graduate studies.
Two years later, the film, Finding Faulkner, will premiere Saturday, Feb. 21, at Denton's Campus Theatre as part of Thin Line, a film, music and photo festival celebrating its eighth year. The film portion of Thin Line is dedicated to screening various types of documentaries. In addition to Finding Faulkner, which will be shown at noon, two other films from current UNT students in the documentary MFA program were selected for Thin Line this year.
The Bottom Rung by Ron Lechler will be shown at 5:00 p.m., Friday, Feb. 20, at the Campus Theatre. Critterman from second-year MFA student David Goodman will be shown at 10:00 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Campus Theatre. All three students will attend the screenings of their films.
Vance said that when she was creating Finding Faulkner, a theme of "being lost and finding yourself" emerged. Zachary Taylor Faulkner, her great-grandfather, had been lost in her family history because he died when his son -- her grandfather -- was only 16 months old. While filming, Vance found her great-grandfather's marriage license, which listed him as Z.T. Faulkner Jr.
"Now I know who his daddy was -- Z.T. Faulkner Sr.," she said. "Unfortunately, there were several Z.T. Faulkners back then, so more research is required."
Lechler's film is also autobiographical. A part-time stand-up comic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Lechler, who graduates in May, captured himself and two of his fellow comedians as they performed in Denton. One of the other comedians has since moved to Austin for more opportunities. "If you consider that success is like a ladder, and the most successful are at the top of the ladder, then we're on the bottom rung for comedy. There isn't a big comedy performance scene in Denton. We'll play in the basement of a pizza parlor," said Lechler. "Documentaries usually seem to only focus on those who are already famous, but there are talented comics who have different aspirations. The bottom rung is a term of endearment."
David Kleven, owner of Animal Edutainment Inc., a traveling zoo in Aubrey, is the subject of Critterman, his nickname. Goodman followed Kleven for one month as he went to schools and other locations to present programs about animals. Kleven will attend the screening with Goodman, who will graduate in 2016.