The Dallas Film Society today announced Steven Caple Jr.’s THE LAND will be this year’s Opening Night Gala selection for the Dallas International Film Festival, kick starting the Opening Weekend Celebration at the Dallas City Performance Hall (2520 Flora Street), Presented by One Arts Plaza on Thursday, April 14. Fourteen additional films have also been added to the schedule for DIFF, including more hits from major fests, as well as some exciting anime and Asian martial arts titles.
The feature film directorial debut of Steven Caple Jr. and executive produced by Nas, THE LAND focuses on a young man trying to do the right thing, yet being pulled in all the wrong directions. Set in Cleveland, the film follows Cisco, who is desperate to find a way out of his dead-end home and school life. He and his friends spend their free time skateboarding and filming tricks and stunts and looking for a way out of the dead-end neighborhood. After robbing a mid-level drug dealer one night, Cisco hatches a plan to make even more money off the drugs stashed in the trunk of the dealer’s car and use the profits to enter a major skateboarding competition. However, Cisco’s plan places him in the crosshairs of Momma, a middle-aged white woman who hides her drug enterprise behind a legitimate food-stand business making her the neighborhood’s feared crime boss. The film’s cast includes Erykah Badu, as well as Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Linda Emond, Colson “Machine Gun Kelly” Baker, Kim Coates, and Michael Kenneth Williams.
“THE LAND is a gritty, exciting film featuring new talent that challenges audiences in a great way, as well featuring one of our city’s favorite home grown artists in the cast,” said James Faust, Artistic Director of the Dallas Film Society. “DIFF has built a reputation of creating the best balance we can on the narrative front between crowd-pleasing comedies, heartfelt dramas, cutting edge indies, extreme genre films, and tough lyrical dramas like THE LAND. Once again, we think we have come up with an Opening Night Gala selection that will set the tone for the film journey DIFF audiences look forward to taking every Spring. We are also more than thrilled at the other additions we have made to the schedule as well. These 14 films are as wide-ranging and diverse as it gets. Which is just the way we like it.”
Like THE LAND, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s documentary, NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU about the legendary creator of such television series as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and many others, Matt Johnson’s OPERATION AVALANCHE, about a shocking NASA cover-up, and Baba Anvari’s UNDER THE SHADOW, about an Iranian mother struggling to protect her daughter from a malevolent spirit, were each buzz-worthy films at Sundance this year.
Similarly, Deepa Mehta’s gangster film set in the Indian Sikh community, BEEBA BOYS, Michel Gondry’s MICROBE AND GASOLINE, about two outcasts that set out for a road trip in a car they built themselves, Bobby Miller’s THE MASTER CLEANSE, about a man discovering more than he ever wanted to know about the toxins inside his own body, Shaina Allen’s documentary THE REBOUND, about a team competing in a wheelchair basketball league, Kazik Radwanski’s HOW HEAVY THIS HAMMER, about a middle- aged married man who finds his only outlet in online gaming, Mark Potts’s SPAGHETTI MAN, about an unorthodox superhero, and Claire Carré‘s award-winning (Best Narrative Feature – Oxford Film Festival) sci-fi art film EMBERS, about society dealing with a virus that erodes memory, all received notice at fests like the Toronto Film Festival, Berlin, SXSW, the Miami International Film Festival, and the Oxford Film Festival.
The Dallas International Film Festival has always been a great showcase for the celebration of Asian films and filmmakers, and DIFF has added to what was already a strong selection of films from Asia with; Takashi Nakamura and Michael Arias’s anime HARMONY, about high school girls that fight against the suffocating utopia forced upon them; Roy Hin Yeung Chow’s RISE OF THE LEGEND, delivers the martial arts goods in a tale about a young man avenging his father’s death as he tries to bring justice back to his home town. Finally, the Midnight section gets two additions with Takashi Yamazaki’s PARASYTE 1 and PARASYTE 2, about a teen caught between a battle between human and human-eating parasites that have taken human form.
Once again, the Dallas Film Society has teamed up with DART for their successful partnership called DART to DIFF. Many DIFF activities and events take place in the heart of Dallas and the partnership with DART will provide quick and convenient transportation for all festival attendees.
Online ticket sales ae currently available for both Dallas Film Society members and the public at http://secure.dallasfilm.org/diff2016. The physical Prekindle Box Office at Mockingbird Station is also open to the public.
FILMS AND DESCRIPTIONS
OPENING NIGHT GALA SELECTION THE LAND
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Country: USA, Running Time: 97min
THE LAND tells the story of four teenage boys who devote their summer to escaping the streets of Cleveland, Ohio to pursue a dream life of professional skateboarding. But when they get caught in the web of the local Queen-pin, their motley brotherhood is tested, threatening to make this summer their last.
Director: Deepa Mehta
Country: Canada, Running Time: 103min
Jeet Johar (Randeep Hooda) is a devoted family man and observant member of the Jat Sikh community. He is also a merciless gangster who fronts a pack of nattily dressed young toughs known as the Beeba Boys. Competing with other local Asian gangs for supremacy in the Vancouver drugs-and-arms-trafficking racket, Jeet leads his boys into battle to fight for their piece of this lucrative pie and for the respect they believe they deserve. Yet Jeet also finds time to mentor a volatile new gang member (Ali Momen) and seduce a beautiful woman serving on the jury at the neophyte's murder trial.
Director: Claire Carré
Country: USA/Poland, Running Time: 85min
After a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory. Five interwoven stories explore how we might learn, love and communicate in a future that has no past.
HARMONY – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Directors: Takashi Nakamura and Michael Arias Country: Japan, Running Time: 119min
In a future ruled by an unwavering dedication to good health and societal harmony, three high school girls, led by the defiant Miach Mihie, attempt suicide as the ultimate act of rebellion. One of the girls, Tuan Kirie, survives but can’t shake the hatred she has for the “perfect world” she lives in. Thirteen years later, in an effort to escape the oppressive Utopia, she takes a job that sends her to the front lines of an active warzone. But when a terrorist group with a familiar message attacks Japan, Tuan suspects her supposedly dead friend Miach must be involved somehow. Desperate for answers, Tuan returns home hoping to find Miach and help her save the world from the suffocating monotony of peace.
HOW HEAVY THIS HAMMER
Director: Kazik Radwanski
Country: Canada, Running Time: 75min
Erwin (Erwin van Cotthem), a family man who spends most of his time playing computer games, makes a drastic shift in his life when he suddenly decides to leave his wife, yet finds himself in the same rut as before.
THE MASTER CLEANSE
Directors: Bobby Miller
Country: USA, Running Time: 81min
Down, out, and heartbroken, Paul attends a spiritual retreat to cleanse himself and fix his broken life but soon discovers that the cleanse releases more than everyday toxins… a lot more. The feature debut from Bobby Miller (TUB), THE MASTER CLEANSE is a humorous, weird, and soulful fantasy that examines how we deal with the things that weigh us down in life, ultimately asking the all-important question: given the opportunity to literally face your demons, what would you do?
MICROBE AND GASOLINE
Directors: Michel Gondry
Country: France, Running Time: 103min
The latest cinematic adventure from Michel Gondry follows two teen outcasts who hit the road in a car they built themselves. As the boys’ quest for independence hits some potholes so too does their friendship, and Gondry’s whimsical take on the buddy comedy gives way to a touching celebration of individuality. touching celebration of individuality.
NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU
Directors: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady Country: USA, Running Time: 91min
Arguably the most influential creator, writer, and producer in the history of television, Norman Lear brought primetime into step with the times. Using comedy and indelible characters, his legendary 1970s shows such as All In the Family, Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons, boldly cracked open dialogue and shifted the national consciousness, injecting enlightened humanism into sociopolitical debates on race, class, creed, and feminism.
Director: Matt Johnson
Country: USA, Running Time: 93min
In 1967, during the height of the Cold War, two young CIA agents (Matt Johnson and Owen Williams) go undercover at NASA to investigate a possible Russian mole. In disguise as documentary filmmakers, they tap phones and break into offices while purporting to learn more about the Apollo project. But when they end up uncovering a shocking NASA secret — and a major government cover-up — they decide to embark on a new mission that may put their own lives at risk.
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Country: Japan, Running Time: 109min
The humanity is suffering from murders all over the globe, called "Mincemeat murders". High school student, Izumi Shinichi has a parasite living off him, having replaced his right hand, and he might be the discoverer of truth.
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Country: Japan, Running Time: 117min
Humanity is under attack by human-mimicking flesh-eating alien parasites. One parasite bonds with his young high school student host, and he convinces the parasite to help him stop the others.
Director: Shaina Allen
Country: USA, Running Time: 60min
After a disappointing loss during the national championships, local wheelchair basketball team the Miami Heat Wheels are ready to come back together and give their all in the forthcoming season. However, a lack of funds and personal problems threaten to put an end to the dream before the season reaches its tension-riddled conclusion.
RISE OF THE LEGEND
Director: Roy Hin Yeung Chow Country: China, Running Time: 131min
A martial artist with extraordinary skill (Eddie Peng) returns to the town where his father was murdered to face off against a ruthless crime boss and bring justice back to the people.
Director: Mark Potts
Country: USA, Running Time: 88 min
After waking up with powers from a radioactive bowl of spaghetti, Clark Kant learns that with great power – comes great opportunity to profit.
UNDER THE SHADOW
Director: Babak Anvari
Country: USA, Running Time: 84min
In 1988 Tehran, Shideh’s attempts to rejoin medical school after getting married and having daughter Dorsa are thwarted as a consequence of her politically active history. Her husband is sent off to serve in the Iran-Iraq War while Iraqi air raids draw perilously close to their own apartment. As she is left alone with Dorsa after neighbors and friends flee from a city in chaos, her daughter becomes increasingly ill and seemingly disturbed. Shideh initially dismisses Dorsa’s tantrums over a missing doll, but she reluctantly comes to suspect that they’ve been targeted by djinn—malevolent spirits that steal from those they seek to possess.