The Dallas Film Society today announced the initial ten official selections for the 10th edition of the Dallas International Film Festival. The list of titles are led by the Centerpiece Gala selection of Chris Kelly’s OTHER PEOPLE and include two world premieres (Johnathan Brownlee’s THREE DAYS IN AUGUST and William Kaufman’s DAYLIGHT’S END), and a U.S. premiere (Asiel Norton’s ORION). DIFF has also announced a special event concert and screening of the family classic E.T. – THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, celebrating the career of legendary film composer John Williams.
Ten for ten: This is a great group of films to tease what’s in store for the 10th Anniversary of the Dallas International Film Festival this year,” said James Faust, Artistic Director of the Dallas Film Society. “Our first Gala selection is guaranteed to strike an emotional chord with our audiences. We have some amazing and powerful films making their world and U.S. Debuts; Dallas films, Texas films, and quite a few world renowned directors are represented as well. These ten films serve as a perfect sampling of the balance we have always tried to achieve for the film audiences at DIFF – entertaining, challenging, with big stars and newcomers, international, local, and independent – it should all be right here in April, once again.”
Chris Kelly’s feature directing debut, OTHER PEOPLE will be the Centerpiece Gala selection, screening at the Angelica Film Center (5321 E. Mockingbird Lane at Mockingbird Station) on Thursday, April 21. The film is about a struggling New York City comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, who moves to the West Coast to help his sick mother (played by Molly Shannon). Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David (played by Jesse Plemons) feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone (including himself) he’s “doing okay.”
Two films – both locally shot and produced – will make their world premieres at DIFF. Johnathan Brownlee’s THREE DAYS IN AUGUST was the result of the Sionna Project Screenwriting Competition, which was co-sponsored and supported by the Dallas Film Society and Studio Movie Grill, and won by Chad Berry and David Langlinais. The film stars Barry Bostwick, Meg Foster, and Mariette Hartley, in a drama about an Irish American artist who is forced to confront her past when both sets of parents come together over a weekend for her to paint a family portrait.
Willliam Kaufman’s DAYLIGHT’S END is the rare action/horror thriller that makes it into a non-genre competition at a film festival, as it screens in the Texas Competition. It stars Johnny Strong, Lance Henriksen, and Louis Mandylor in a hard-driving action-horror- thriller about a rogue drifter who agrees to put aside his mission of vengeance to help rescue a desperate band of survivors in an abandoned police station, as they struggle to defend themselves against blood-hungry creatures that used to be human.
Asiel Norton’s ORION will make its U.S. Premiere at DIFF. Starring David Arquette and Lily Cole, the post-apocalyptic tale takes place in a desolate, future world, where a wanderer fights to save a virgin mother from a powerful magician and, with her, searches for a mythical city containing the world's last survivors.
As in past years, DIFF will treat Dallas audiences to their first opportunities to see some of the top films out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, as well as a chance to catch the films they possibly missed in Austin at SXSW. Joining OTHER PEOPLE, additional films out of Sundance include: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s SONITA, the winner of the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Audience Awards, about a teen Afghani rapper facing the possibility she may be sold into marriage; Natalie Portman’s take on Amos Oz’s autobiographical tale, A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS; Werner Herzog’s exploration on how we are faring in the digital landscape and online world – LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD; and WEINER, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s documentary on embattled former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s campaign to be mayor of New York.
Keith Maitland’s TOWER will head north following its screening in Austin this month. Through archival footage and animation, the film recounts the mass shooting at the University of Texas in 1966. Rounding out the initial list of ten selections is Johnnie To’s OFFICE, as DIFF demonstrates its continuing commitment to showcase great Asian cinema and filmmakers with the legendary director’s first musical, based on star Sylva Chang’s hot stage play set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial collapse.
The Dallas International Film Festival has also built a reputation over the past decade for pulling out all the stops for one-of-a-kind special events with film and cinema as the theme. This year one of those events will be a special concert and screening celebrating the career of award-winning composer John Williams at the Dallas City Performance Hall on Saturday, April 16. The Dallas Winds, also honoring a significant anniversary – their 30th, begin the afternoon with a performance of some of Williams’s signature works. A Q&A with Dallas Winds Artistic Director and Conductor, Jerry Junkin, will follow as the Hall is prepared for a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s family classic, E.T. – THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL. The event is a nod to DIFF’s association with the American Film Institute during the first few years of the film festival, as Williams is this year’s AFI Life Achievement Award honoree.
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 will be available for Dallas Film Society members beginning Monday, March 21 at DallasFilm.org, and will open to the public on Thursday, March 24. The physical Prekindle Box Office at Mockingbird Station will open on Thursday, March 31.
The ten official selections include:
A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS
Director: Natalie Portman
Country: Israel/USA, Running Time: 98min
Based on Amos Oz's international best-seller, A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS is the story of Oz's youth at the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the State of Israel. The film details young Amos' relationship with his mother and his birth as a writer, looking at what happens when the stories we tell, become the stories we live.
DAYLIGHT’S END – WORLD PREMIERE
Director: William Kaufman
Country: USA, Running Time: 105min
Shot in Dallas and points ranging from East Texas to the West Texas town of Rio (pop.3) along the famed Route 66, the film is a hard driving action-horror-thriller starring Johnny Strong, Lance Henriksen and Louis Mandylor. It focuses on a rogue drifter who's on a vengeful hunt, years after a mysterious plague has devastated the planet and turned most of humanity into blood-hungry creatures. When he stumbles across a desperate band of survivors in an abandoned police station, the drifter reluctantly puts his own thirst for blood on hold and agrees to help them defend themselves, only to realize that his mission of revenge and theirs may in fact coincide.
JOHNNIE TO’S OFFICE
Director: Johnnie To
Country: Hong Kong, Running Time: 120min
Adapted by actress Sylvia Chang from her hit stage play “Design For Living”, the film is a musical set in a corporate high-rise immediately before and after the 2008 financial collapse. The story centers around two assistants starting new jobs at a financial firm. One naively enters the world of high finance with noble intentions, while the other harbors a secret. Chow Yun-fat, Eason Chan and Tang Wei star alongside Chang.
LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD
Director: Werner Herzog
Country: USA, Running Time 98min
In LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD, the Oscar-nominated Herzog chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination he previously trained on earthly destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole and the Australian outback. Working with NetScout, a world leader in real time service assurance and cybersecurity, Herzog leads viewers on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works – from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships.
ORION – U.S. PREMIERE
Director: Asiel Norton
Country: USA, Running Time: 110min
In a future dark age, after civilization has collapsed, there are rumors and prophecies of a savior to come. A hunter fights to save a maiden from a cannibal shaman and searches for the world's last city. The film stars David Arquette and Lily Cole
OTHER PEOPLE – CENTERPIECE GALA SELECTION
Director: Chris Kelly
Country: USA, Running Time: 97min
A struggling New York City comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone (including himself) he’s “doing okay.” The film stars Molly Shannon and Jesse Plemons.
Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Country: Germany/Iran/Switzerland, Running Time: 91min
Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, SONITA tells the inspiring story of Sonita Alizadeh, an 18- year-old Afghan refugee in Iran, who thinks of Michael Jackson and Rihanna as her spiritual parents and dreams of becoming a big-name rapper. For the time being, her only fans are the other teenage girls in a Tehran shelter. And her family has a very different future planned for her: as a bride she's worth $9,000. Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami poignantly shifts from observer to participant altering expectations, as Sonita's story unfolds in an intimate and joyful portrait.
THREE DAYS IN AUGUST – WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Johnathan Brownlee Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
Starring Barry Bostwick, Meg Foster, and Mariette Hartley, the film is about an Irish American artist who is forced to confront her past when both sets of parents come together over a weekend for her to paint a family portrait.
Director: Keith Maitland
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, TOWER reveals the action-packed untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.
Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
With unrestricted access to Anthony Weiner's New York City mayoral campaign, this film reveals the human story behind the scenes of a high-profile political scandal as it unfolds, and offers an unfiltered look at how much today's politics is driven by an appetite for spectacle.