Rodeo clown documentary shot in Highland Lakes wins best film


FREDERICKSBURG — Filmmaker Noessa Higa was simply happy that her sports documentary, “Man in the Can,” was chosen by organizers of the Hill Country Film Festival to be a featured flick.

After its world premiere May 1, however, organizers were so moved by the story of rodeo clown Ronald Burton that they chose “Man in the Can” as the festival’s Best Texas Film.

“I was very surprised but completely thrilled and honored,” Higa said. “It’s an honor to be acknowledged. There were a lot of other Texas films shot in Texas eligible for the award. Texas rodeo culture was almost a character in the film. It’s nice people thought we did a good job.”

The festival chose more than 30 films to be shown to moviegoers.

Higa said she sat with the audience as “Man in the Can” was being shown and noted attendees laughed and became emotional in the places she intended.

“It was very well received,” she said. “People felt emotion. They connected with the film. I couldn’t be happier.”

Burton and his family also attended the world premiere. Since some of the documentary was shot at the John L. Kuykendall Event Center in Llano, the Charley Taylor Arena in Marble Falls and the Burnet Rodeo Arena at the Burnet County Fairgrounds, many members of those rodeo associations and residents made the drive to watch the film, too.

“The rodeo community was very supportive, and they’ll travel,” Higa said. “That was demonstrated. People came and saw themselves in the film.”

Next up for “Man in the Can” is Hollywood. The documentary was picked for the Dances With Films festival May 28-June 7 in Los Angeles. The event is at the TCL Chinese Theatres on Hollywood Boulevard. The festival attracts more than 10,000 attendees each year and is one of the highest attended festivals in Southern California, Higa said.

And she believes a certain group will be part of the audience, too.

“Rodeo cowboys are headed to Hollywood,” she said with a grin.

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