A FILM FEST WITH FOCUS: It would be untrue, and unfair, to say that most film festivals lack a focus. The top ones definitely do keep to a general focus of "top-notch films," even as they show a varied slate of cinematic treats, from documentaries to features to shorts to experimental films. But the subject matter tends to run the gamut, and beyond the gamut, and a movie seen early in the day might have little in common, thematically, with a film enjoyed later on. That is definitely not the case each and every October when the long-running -- or long-galloping, rather -- Lone Pine Film Festival breaks into a full trot for the Highway 395-based burg. If you know your film locations, and you know the Alabama Hills and Owens Valley and Mount Whitney, then you know exactly what the film festival is all about: Movies about the Old West and cowboy culture and the trail and the corral, with a particular focus on features made in and around the area. Nope, not every flick is strictly about ten-gallon adventures, but there are few cultural gatherings in California that hew as closely to a single genre. Which makes it a feast of the eye, ear, and mind for those mavens who can't get enough of Western moviedom and music. They'll be heading up or down beautiful 395, to Lone Pine, from Oct. 9 through 11 for three days of tours, screenings, meet-n-greets, and more saddle-ready celebrating.
"THE EARLY YEARS"... is the theme of the 2015 giddy-up gathering, so prepare to take a trip back in the annals of Western film history. "The Round-Up," a silent made in 1920, is on the schedule, as is four of the five versions made of Zane Grey's "Riders of the Purple Sage." (Yep, even way back the same stories were often remade multiple times.) Tours to famous film locations are a very popular part of the festival, and the 2015 festival will feature 22 in all. If you haven't yet been to the spectacular and scrubby and fairly alien Alabama Hills, but you have admired them on the screen in countless cowboy tales, prepare yourself: They do amaze. Special appearances, panels, the wonderful Lone Pine Film History Museum, and more movie goodness is in store for those who've packed their lasso and are ready to stride for Lone Pine.