Dallas IFF 2013: The Wrap-up

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2013 - Day 3 - Red Carpet, April 6: Richard Jones (Talent), HutcH (Cinematographer) and Yen Tan (Director/Co-Writer) of PIT STOP on the red carpet for The Dallas International Film Festival 2013 at The Angelika! Photo by Lindsay Jones

After accomplishing attending Sundance Film Festival in January and SXSW last month, I thought for sure that I'd be burnt out on film festivals. However, my "one day on, one day off" approach to SXSW this year kept me rested enough to keep the pace going into my first Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF). I was only able to attend the first four days, but that was more than enough time to enjoy the hospitality and diversity of the Dallas film community. I also enjoyed seeing familiar Austin and Texas faces whom I met on the festival circuit before, including the Pit Stop crew of actor Richard Jones, cinematographer HutcH and director/co-writer Yen Tan (pictured above).

I was quite impressed by the overwhelming amount of enthusiasm and support from locals for the Dallas Film Society and DIFF. Well-dressed Dallas socialites calling out greetings across the theater to friends during seatings was rampant, a distinct contrast to Austin festival audiences. I also met and spoke with folks extremely active in the local film scene, including filmmaker and Dallas Producers Association (DPA) president Russ Jolly. The DPA offers frequent networking opportunities for its members such as "Third Thursday Breakfast" and mixers, as well as filmmaker conversations that are open to the public.

2013 Day 2 - Red Carpet, April 5 DIFF was a great opportunity for me to catch up on a couple of Texas films I missed at previous festivals, including This Is Where We Live (my review) and The Bounceback. I passed on seeing Mud (my review) since I'd watched the film at Sundance and it opens at local theaters April 26. Austin filmmaker Jeff Nichols and stars Jacob Lofland and Tye Sheridan were on hand for the DIFF screening, as seen above.

Since DIFF focuses a lot on international programming, I also caught a few foreign films in Dallas. The one that best represented the international category to me was Hannah Arendt, a powerful biopic about the German-American political theorist who covered the war crimes trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker in 1961. This movie was filmed in Israel, Luxembourg and Germany, with five different languages spoken. Hannah Arendt also featured formidable performances from women including Barbara Sukowa as Hannah and supporting actress Janet McTeer as Hannah's close friend, author and political activist Mary McCarthy.

2013 Day 3 - SWEETWATER Centerpiece Screening and  Gala @ Gilley’sSeveral other films at DIFF portrayed strong female characters and performances, including C.K. McFarland as Diane Sutton in This Is Where We Live. The number of women who turned out for the Dallas screenings was also impressive, as seen above at Sweetwater. I did not catch the film myself, but several viewers spoke highly of the performance of January Jones as Sarah.

My overall favorite female performance at DIFF was that of Genevieve Bujold in Still Mine of an elderly woman stricken by Alzheimer's disease. Don't dismiss this film due to its comparisons to Amour -- although its overall premise of fighting authorities to build a home may seem a bit Hallmark Channel-worthy, Still Mine is a very personal and semi-graphic look at aging. Suffice to say that seeing James Cromwell's naked butt was not something that I thought that I'd ever experience, but it was certainly worth his performance.

For those of you who need a less graphic image in your mind, here's a photo of the most well-behaved seatmate at a film festival screening -- DIFF sponsor Arthur E. Benjamin's dog Bandit. 2013 Day 3 - SWEETWATER Centerpiece Screening and  Gala @ Gilley’sFinal tips for folks interested in attending DIFF next year:

  • I had a 100% success and satisfaction rate with the AutoNation Volkswagen film shuttles and drivers.
  • Don't forget your hand sanitizer (at this or any film fest) -- I picked up a nasty bug the first night that was full-force by the weekend.
  • Check the website for deals for badgeholders -- Cafe Express offered half-off my lunch purchase!
  • If you don't manage to buy your tickets in advance, don't be leery of the "RUSH" status. I never saw anyone turned away from a screening so you'll most likely get in.

[Photo credits: Pit Stop and Mud photos by Lindsay Jones, all photos courtesy of Dallas International Film Festival.]