Texas Film Fests

Film festivals that are in Texas but not greater Austin (Dallas, Marfa, etc.).

Dallas IFF Review: LUV

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LUV

It's a shame that a film like Training Day already exists, and although Denzel Washington deserves all of the accolades he received for that role, LUV is a very similar film with a similar feel but a much more impacting story. Rapper turned actor Common turns in just as good if not better a performance here in his role as a forced-upon mentor to a young child. The nine-year project of burgeoning filmmaker Sheldon Candis, who previously proved to be a very good short film director, LUV is a film that feels more genuine than Training Day. Although the comparison might be a bit unfair and definitely simplistic, it's a better film than even that obvious a description.

Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) is a shy 13-year-old who lives with his slightly senile grandmother. He puts up a good front to all those around him except for his uncle Vincent. Vincent (Common) is a recent parolee and when he realizes his nephew has a lot to learn about life and being street smart, he takes him along on a day when he's trying to set up a legitimate business. One thing leads to another and Woody gets a different type of education than he ever bargained for.

Dallas IFF 2012 Dispatch: Animal Style Friday

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In n Out Burger

Day 2 of my Dallas International Film Festival experience started on an interesting note. I'm used to waking up really early to begin my day, and when I realized that I didn't have to set an alarm because the first movie didn't start until 4 pm, I woke up sans alarm clock and it was glorious.

I woke up with enough time to get some work done and even partook in my first ever In-N-Out Burger. I sought advice from everyone who's ever been there before and was advised to get a neapolitan milkshake and my fries "animal style." My friends are all smart people and they did not steer me wrong. I'm not a foodie who normally takes pictures of his food, mainly because I don't eat all that healthy, but that's what my meal looked like in the photo at the top.

My first film of the day was Tonight You're Mine, a UK romantic comedy set in a music festival where two arguing musicians are handcuffed together by a peace-loving security guard. At first they hate each other, but eventually ... well, it's a romantic comedy, it's not hard to figure out what comes next. Fans of Attack the Block get to see Luke Treadaway in a lead role here and he does a really fantastic job in this film.

Dallas IFF 2012 Dispatch: Thursday Luv Compliance

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Dallas IFFI didn't have a lot of time to get situated on my first day of the Dallas International Film Festival. As soon as I arrived, I went to pick up my badge and get my bearings as to where everything is located (I've never been to Dallas).

I immediately went to find The Magnolia theater so I could see LUV, a film I didn't know too much about ... but I did know Common is in it, and he's one of my favorite rappers and actors. He didn't disappoint, and a full review will be coming soon.

I then met up with my good friend, the lovely Gwen Reyes (Reel Vixen, Red Carpet Crash), who treated me to some awesome gelato at the fancy West Village shopping center where The Magnolia theater is located.

Little did I know that the awesome was yet to come. We then went to the Dallas International Film Festival Lounge only open to press and filmmakers and what I saw there I couldn't believe. Free alcohol, free food, free wifi, a DJ playing all day, all in a dimly lit and relaxing environment. I'd live there if I could, and in that moment I decided I'd come back next year (I'm easy, what can I say?)

The lounge is right next to the Angelika Film Center, where I saw Compliance for a second time. That's a rough film to see for a second time but I was interested in seeing actor Pat Healy in a Q&A for it, as this movie elicits some intense emotions while watching. Sure enough, the Q&A got a little heated at times, but Pat kept his cool among the negative vibes in the room.

I'll be back tomorrow for a full day of The Dallas International Film Festival, and I'll even give an account my first-ever trip to In-N-Out Burger.

Dallas IFF 2012 Dispatch: Game Day Sunday

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Dallas IFFMy Sunday at Dallas International Film Festival started almost identically to Saturday: Get up, have a reasonably healthy breakfast downstairs in the hotel, write and edit until time for the first movie. And like I did on Saturday, I headed to the Angelika for my first film, although I had to dress for surprisingly cool and rainy weather.

I wasn't entirely sure what I was seeing, though. The Dallas IFF schedule had a "TBA" listed at noon, and I couldn't find any info on what the movie was. So I thought I might check it out, and if it wasn't to my liking, I could go to the Brooklyn Castle screening, 15 minutes later. It turned out the TBA film had been canceled, a volunteer kindly let me know at the theater. (Note to DIFF: That would be excellent info to post to your otherwise informative Twitter account, in the future.) But as I said, it was no problem at all to jump in the line for Brooklyn Castle -- the longest line I'd stood in so far.

Brooklyn Castle was also the only entirely full house I experienced at Dallas IFF -- and at noon on a Sunday, mind you. Most of the other screenings I attended were fairly full, but for this one, volunteers were helping people find any empty seats and groups were splitting up to sit anywhere they could. There were a lot of kids, too ... and it was an extremely well behaved audience, possibly due to the engaging nature of the film. Two little girls in front of me were sharing a seat.

Brooklyn Castle (dir. Katie Dellamaggiore)

I was really glad to catch this documentary after missing it at SXSW, where it won an audience award. Brooklyn Castle is about Brooklyn 318, a junior high public school that consistently turns out the best chess players and teams in the country. The school and its students are very proud of this, and the chess players don't fit the usual chess-nerd stereotype at all. The school has a strong afterschool program where students can brush up their chess skills and prepare for tournament play.

Dallas IFF 2012 Dispatch: Uptown Saturday Night

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DIFFSaturday was my first full day at Dallas International Film Festival. I started it with a perfect breakfast at my fancy hotel. This is the only place in Texas apart from the Steeping Room -- possibly the only other place in this country -- where I've had hot tea properly prepared. They put tea leaves in a teapot and brought it to the table, instead of giving me a tea bag and some lukewarm water in a container meant for cream. (Even the best Austin coffeehouses and restaurants do this, I am sorry to say.) I also had nice crispy bacon and steel-cut oatmeal with caramelized apples, much better than I can make myself.

I know, you don't want to hear about my breakfast, so let's talk about the movies. I walked over to the Angelika Film Center for my first film, or rather, collection of films.

Shorts 1 Program

The Shorts 1 Program at Dallas IFF included seven films, all of which were entertaining -- not a slow film or dud in the lot. Many of them had Texas connections, too.

  • Playtime (Spielzeit)-- An amusing short that shifts from subject to subject around a German town, including a standout sequence with a child in a cemetery. I understood the plot structure a lot better when Houston filmmaker Lucas Mireles explained that this short was a re-imagination of Billy Wilder's 1930 film People on Sunday.
  • Another Bullet Dodged -- This film is about the biggest jerk in the universe. I'll say no more.

Dallas IFF 2012 Dispatch: A Dashing Friday

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Cinema Six filmmakers

I hadn't been to the Dallas International Film Festival since 2007, the fest's inaugural year, when it was AFI Dallas and I roomed with Kim Voynar, both of us covering the event for Cinematical. Five years later and I'm back in Dallas to see Austin and Texas movies for Slackerwood.

I had a late start leaving Austin Friday morning -- in fact it was Friday afternoon by the time I got onto I-35. If you know me, this is not surprising. I told myself that the first film I wanted to see, at 4:30 pm, would also screen Saturday and it would be okay if I missed it, but then I remembered hearing the press office closed at 4 pm and I was paranoid that I wouldn't be able to get my credentials. Aw, hell. I floored it (which for granny-driver me means woo, 7 miles an hour above the speed limit) all the way up I-35 and pulled my car in front of the press office at 3:30 pm.

The press office was next to my hotel, and my plan was to grab my badge, check in at the hotel, not bother dropping off luggage, and jump back in the car to speed to the Magnolia Theatre by 4:30. I'd picked the official fest hotel (the Palomar) because even though it was pricey, it was across the street from one of the venues (the Angelika), and I figured that made it worthwhile. I'm not an experienced Dallas driver.

Insider's Guide: Dallas IFF for Austinites

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The Magnolia, Dallas

By Peter Martin

As a resident of Dallas for the past six years, and a longtime movie lover who's made semi-annual pilgrimages to attend SXSW and Fantastic Fest, I readily acknowledge the superiority of Austin as a specialty film town. Dallas is, however, more representative of mainstream film culture, a major metropolis that worships at the multiplex every weekend, the multitudes faithfully flocking to wide-release studio pictures, with smaller numbers seeking out independent and foreign-language movies.

Within that context, the Dallas International Film Festival (Dallas IFF) has established itself as a large yet refreshing event, one that invites the public to try something new -- and has largely succeeded. With far fewer badgeholders than SXSW, as well as a much smaller contingent of press, Dallas IFF attendees tend to be a wider variety of ordinary moviegoers than the usual festival crowd. They're happy to sample the program and/or turn out for films that appeal to their specific interests. For visitors, it tends to be easier to get into films, and, unlike downtown Austin, parking is almost always free!

That being said, there are a few caveats that first-time visitors will want to have in mind. The tips below are based on the likelihood that, as a visitor from Austin, you will have a vehicle at your disposal. It is possible to travel between venues without a car or truck, but it's tricky; Dallas is a much less pedestrian-friendly town than Austin.

Dallas Int'l Film Festival 2012: Austin and Texas Films

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Gayby film posterThe full lineup for the Dallas International Film Festival, which runs April 12-22 this year, was announced late last week. The films to be screened in Big D include more than a few movies with local and state connections. Here are the ones we found -- let us know if we're missing anything.

  • America's Parking Lot (Don's review)
    Austin actor/filmmaker Jonny Mars shot this documentary about die-hard Dallas Cowboy tailgaters and the impact of the changing economics of pro football games. (Debbie's interview)
  • Bindlestiffs
    In this 2012 Slamdance Audience Award winner, three high schoolers decide to head to the inner city to live out the plot of The Catcher in the Rye ... except none of them has read the book. Young director Andrew Edison grew up in Houston and currently hails from Austin.
  • Cinema Six
    Filmed last year in Lockhart, this film is a narrative about three friends who work at a small-town movie theater. This film features an Austin-heavy cast and crew. Jenn and Jette visited the set in 2011 when the film was called A Splice of Life.
  • Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope (Jette's review)
    This look at San Diego Comic-Con was directed by Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) and screened at Fantastic Fest 2011. The documentary features and was produced by Austin's own Harry Knowles (Mike's interview).
  • Gayby
    Jonathan Lisecki's  film is a downright hilarious take on the "let's have a baby" film genre. Straight thirtysomething gal Jenn asks her gay BFF Matt to help her make a baby. When I saw this one at SXSW, I laughed often and loudly. Although the film was shot in Brooklyn, DP Clay Liford is from Austin, as is the artist who created the comic-book art. (Jenn's interview)
  • Girl Model (Jenn's review)
    A behind-the-scenes look at the world of modeling scout Ashley and the girl she discovers in Siberia, this documentary was directed by former Texan David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. In Jenn's review, she says, "What's truly disturbing is Ashley seems to be the only one involved on the business side with any recognition of the hypocrisy she's spouting. The only clear thing is that that once the girls sign a contract, they are all but completely powerless." (Jenn's interview)

Dallas IFF's First Film Announcement is Texas-Heavy

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Dallas IFFThe Dallas International Film Festival has announced 15 of the films in its 2012 lineup, and not only does Texas make a great showing, but Austin is well represented. I'm hoping to attend the festival this year, the selections look so good so far. Some notable non-Texas films include Lawrence Kasdan's Darling Companion, which has former Austinite Mark Duplass in the cast; The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best, the directorial debut of actor Ryan O'Nan (The Dry Land), and Takashi Shimizu's Tormented.

Cinema Six, the latest feature from filmmakers Mark Potts and Cole Selix (S&M Lawn Care), will have its world premiere at the festival, which takes place from April 12-22 (corrected from original text). Jenn and I visited the set in Lockhart last year (when the movie was called A Splice of Life). The filmmakers aren't from Austin, but many of their cast and crew are: producer Kelly Williams, Director of Photography Clay Liford, editor Don Swaynos, and actors John Merriman, Shannon McCormick, Chris Doubek, Kerri Lendo and Byron Brown, among many others. Barry Corbin, who will be honored at the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards next month, has a cameo. Film Threat premiered the trailer today, which I've embedded with other trailers at the bottom of this article.

A couple of Austin-connected films that have played Austin fests will be at DIFF, in case you missed them. Local actor Jonny Mars' documentary America's Parking Lot, which premieres at SXSW, will make its way to Dallas -- appropriately, since it's about die-hard Dallas Cowboys fans. Austin Film Festival 2011 selection Sironia (Jenn's review), about a musician whose life changes as he moves from L.A. to the title town (which is really Waco), will also screen at DIFF. Filmmaker Brandon Dickerson made the move from California to Texas himself and now lives in Austin.

But wait, there's more. Bindlestiffs, which won an audience award at Slamdance this year, is from Houston filmmaker Andrew Edison, who started working on the movie in high school and is now a student at NYU. The comedy is about high-school boys, suspended from school, naively trying to be bad in the big city. Film Slate has a great summary and interview with Edison. The movie will be a midnight selection at DIFF.

LSIFF: Catch Local Favorites in Fort Worth This Weekend

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Five Time Champion

If you're looking to combine movies and a road trip this weekend, you couldn't do better than head to Fort Worth for the fifth annual Lone Star International Film Festival. The fest kicks off Wednesday night with The Descendants, Alexander Payne's latest movie starring George Clooney (and Austin actor Nick Krause), which recently played Austin Film Festival. The festival runs through Sunday night, November 13.

Austin film-fest regulars might recognize a fair number of titles in the LSIFF lineup. In fact, this is a great way to catch up on selections you missed at AFF and SXSW this year. In addition, the lineup includes a few features that have yet to play Austin, like Rampart, Collaborator, and the Jet Li film Ocean Heaven. One of LSIFF's programmers for 2011 is Austin producer Kelly Williams, who also programmed the excellent Texas Independents category at AFF last month.

Here's a list of movies with Austin or Texas ties that will screen at LSIFF next weekend. I admit when I started this article I expected to list a half-dozen films; to end up with so many is pretty amazing. And I'm not even counting non-Texas films that played local fests, such as The Innkeepers, Butter, The Artist and Shame.

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