Daily updates from the first annual AFI DALLAS International Film Festival presented by Target, founding sponsor Victory Park, March 22 to April 1, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Coverage Roundup: March 27


Free Performance by Marvin Hamlisch

Marvin Hamlisch's life in music is notable for its substance as well as its great versatility. The composer of more than 40 motion picture scores, he received an Oscar for his work in The Sting and two for The Way We Were - all in the same evening! Hamlisch is also the recipient of four Grammys, four Emmys, and a Tony.

Marvin Hamlisch will perform and receive his AFI DALLAS Star Award on Tuesday March 27. Admission is free and open to the public as space permits. Ticket required and available free at the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Live Performance by Marvin Hamlisch and
Presentation of AFI DALLAS Star Award
Tuesday March 27, 7:30 p.m.
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora St., Dallas, TX [Map]


In this 26-minute episode of Think, KERA-TV host Krys Boyd interviews Bob Mong, editor of The Dallas Morning News, then profiles the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival with Michael Cain, CEO and artistic director.

The AFI DALLAS segment starts at the 19:09 mark.


Images from Day Five

Scenes from around the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival on March 26, 2007:
Plus two bonus galleries from Opening Weekend:

What the Bloggers Are Saying

Coverage of the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival from posts around the blogosphere.
  • AFI DALLAS, Here We Come [Phil Abatecola] "James Crocket and I are heading to AFI DALLAS in about ten hours to promote our short film, The Chase!"
  • The King of Kong Review [Twitch] "Seth Gordon's film is not so much about the 'video' part of that word as it is about the games we play in our lives: games of self-deception, self-delusion, and self-involvement."
  • AFI DALLAS Screening Update [Making Movies in Flyover Country] "AFI DALLAS has set up a major event here - they really treat the filmmakers well."
  • Review: Beings [Cinematical] "There's nothing like a good midnight screening of an alien abduction flick to really get your film festival off to a good start..."

Interview with Director of Living & Dying

Director Jon Keeyes talks with Pop Syndicate. Read the interview here. See Living & Dying at the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival, Tuesday March 27, 9:30pm, and Saturday March 31, 7:00pm, at the Magnolia.


In the March 27 Daily News Print Edition

Daily News Cover March 27, 2007

Look for print editions of the official AFI DALLAS Daily News at venues and theaters all around Dallas. In the March 27, 2007, edition:

The Next Two Days

Things you don't want to miss during the next two days.

Tonight - BELLA Centerpiece Screening presented by VISTAS Film Festival (Dir. Alejandro Monteverde) - 7 p.m. tonight @ AMC Northpark - Monteverde’s thought-provoking story of a former soccer star and the relationship he develops with a waitress he’s never met, shows that the director & writer has a dynamic touch. And the cast, led by Eduardo Verástegui, is brilliant. Monteverde and Verástegui answer questions at a special reception.

March 28 - THE ORANGE THIEF (Dirs. Boogie Dean, Vinnie Angel and Artie Wilinski) - 5 p.m. @ Magnolia (and again March 31, 6 p.m.) - This Italian film by three first-time filmmakers and non-professional actors is soaked in the sun and dangers of living in Sicily - especially if you swipe citrus.

March 28 - AMERICAN FORK (Dir. Chris Bowman) - 5:15 p.m. @ Magnolia 5 (and again March 29, 10:30 p.m.) - Part of the American Visions series, an overweight, poetry-writing grocery clerk searches for fame while weathering his family’s good intentions and the comedy of everyday life.

March 29 - Deep Ellum Sounds - PUNK’S NOT DEAD (Dir. Susan Dynner) - 7:15 p.m. @ AFC (and again March 30, 5 p.m.) - KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON (Dir. AJ Schnack) - 10 p.m. AFC (and again April 1, 2 p.m. @ Magnolia) - Three-chords and a bad attitude can lead to success, but at what cost? Susan Dynner’s punk feature examines how the genre’s success has trounced its founding philosophies. And AJ Schnack’s portrait of Cobain follows an unusual route through audio conversations between Nirvana’s singer and music writer Michael Azerrad.

March 29 - JUST SEX AND NOTHING ELSE (Dir. Krisztina Goda) - 7:30 p.m. @ Magnolia (and again March 30 5:15 p.m.) - In this Hungarian film, a thirty-something playwright gets fed up with finding Mr. Right and places a personal ad "just for sex." Guess who responds?


Babies on Board, Like It or Not

BELLA and KAMP KATRINA deal with unexpected gifts – children.

To some, children are miracles. They are angels, precious treasures and the wondrous embodiment of all that is pure. To others, they are an unwanted burden, an accident and a life-altering mistake.

Two AFI DALLAS films in particular - one documentary and one gripping drama - depict characters who struggle with the unexpected arrival of one of these "bundles of joy."

In a true dose of reality television, KAMP KATRINA is a documentary by first-time director Ashley Sabin and David Redmon, which profiles a cluster of hurricane-displaced New Orleans refugees who take residence in the backyard of a woman named Ms. Pearl.

Earning their room and board by working in Ms. Pearl's construction company by day, the campers in this make-shift commune search for meaning, restitution and a way to get by.

Particular focus is placed on a young pregnant brunette named Kelley, whose sometimes-violent relationship with her husband Doug is only worsened by their mutual substance abuse.

Living in the tent for more than a year, the filmmakers' camera catches it all: drunken threats, curses, laughter, punches, prophecy, Mardi Gras and drugs.

Naturally, Sabin and Redmon say it was difficult to watch the well-being of Kelley and Doug's marriage, and unborn child, disintegrate before their lens.

"This film brings up many ethical questions as far as the role a filmmaker has. We did turn off the camera a number of times but, of course, the audience doesn't see this," says Sabin. "Once, David had a long conversation with Kelley, and he asked her if she felt OK with us filming when Doug was being violent. She requested that he film because the footage [could be used as] evidence."

BELLA is the story of three New Yorkers whose whole lives are changed in a single day. Jose (played by Eduardo Verástegui) is a former professional soccer player turned chef who now labors in an upscale restaurant. One afternoon, when a waitress named Nina (Tammy Blanchard) comes to work late for the third time in a row, her boss Manny (Manny Perez) cruelly fires her, compelling Jose to bail in the middle of an important luncheon.

What ensues is an engrossing, heart-felt twenty-four hours wherein it is revealed that Nina is pregnant, that Jose is still haunted from the accident which cost him his career, and that Manny is actually Jose's adopted brother.

"I believe that all of us will at least one experience in our lives that will somehow change us forever," says director Alejandro Monteverde. "And if it hasn't happen to us yet, it will."

BELLA Centerpiece Screening and Reception, presented by VISTAS, 7:00 p.m., tonight @ AMC Northpark (and again at 5:00 p.m., March 28 @ AFC)

By Chad Jones, Staff Writer


Little Boys, Big Issues

The kids in CANVAS, TOMMY THE KID and THOMAS IN BLOOM take on issues that are bigger than they are.

Never before - in any decade in any country in the history of the globe - has there been more public concern about the "quality of childhood" than in the 21st century United States. Today, more and more parents and politicians are worried that "kids are growing up too (darn) fast."

Citing increased parental divorce rates, overflowing school workloads, new technologies, T.V. and sexual education (either state-funded or "extracurricular"), these much older figures try to assume there is some sort of standard for adolescent life.

Whether you agree, or whether you don't, three AFI DALLAS films in particular feature empowering young men who are no doubt "mature for their age."

In CANVAS, a feature-length drama by director Joseph Greco (no affiliation to Joey Greco of Cheaters fame), Chris Marino is a typical nine-year-old Floridian boy who likes riding bikes, dislikes going to school and who finds his mom a little embarrassing.

But unlike normal, Chris (wonderfully played by Devon Gearhart) begins to realize his mother Mary's (Marcia Gay Harden) actions have escalated beyond simple maternal worrying and are, in fact, signs of a schizophrenia.

Soon, Mary is committed to a mental institution, leaving Chris and his father John (Joe Pantoliano) to not only support the house but to support each other.

What is it that keeps them both going, even when John is fired from his job and Chris is cruelly taunted by other kids? "In a word," says Greco, "hope."

TOMMY THE KID, a miniature modern western by Australian director Stuart Clegg, is the tale of, well, a rough-and-tumble kid named Tommy. Coming home from a strenuous day of rustling up imaginary Indians and outlaws, Tommy secures his trusty horse (actually his rusty bike) and hits the hay. But when he wakes the following morning, he finds his steed has been swiped.

Dawning his Clint Eastwood garb, Tommy sets out to dispense vigilante justice. And this time, it's personal.

"TOMMY THE KID is unashamedly feel-good and a bit of a laugh," says Clegg, tooting his own horn a bit but rightfully so. "I think people like to see kids overcoming the hurdles they encounter."

Finally, in the similarly-named short film THOMAS IN BLOOM, a young boy maintains a special bond with his hearing-impaired grandmother, despite the obvious communication barrier.

Played by the ridiculously-talented C.J. Sanders (who played a young Ray Charles in the 2004 Academy Award-winner), Thomas strives to answer the question: "can you hear life?"

To writer and director Jeff Prugh, THOMAS IN BLOOM is about how people rarely take the time to stop, listen and live. "Nowadays, with technology the way it is, we're all on-the-go and on fast forward," he says. "It's nice to stop once and a while and just listen."

Kids and adults both.

By Chad Jones, Staff Writer


Ten Burning Questions: Tony Quinn, THE LYCANTHROPE

Werewolf movies. From Lon Chaney to John Landis, countless gentle souls have gone animal under the harsh light of the full moon. And Tony Quinn gives a home-video-cam-on-your-best-friend-getting-all-twitchy feel to his contribution to the genre. Starring Zayra of Rockstar: Supernova fame, THE LYCANTHROPE (5:15 p.m. today @ AFC) will inspire you to keep your best buddy from going after some "strange," on that next trip out of town, lest he start acting murderously "strange" when the next lunar cycle hits.

1. Why do you hate campers?

I don't hate campers, it just seems to be the best scenario/setting to have people meet their demise. Dark, creepy and isolated. I used to go camping in my teens, I don't much anymore. Too many things can go wrong.

2. Other than your film, what is your favorite werewolf movie and why?

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. John Landis had the perfect combination of horror and humor. And that transformation scene holds up over time. I prefer it to some CGI stuff I've seen Props to Rick Baker!

3. What is the best thing about having your film at AFI DALLAS?

EVERYTHING! Exposure! Everyone has been really nice to us and if it helps us get a wider audience, that's what it's all about, right? Plus, we want to sell it, so it helps in that area also.

4. Who or what inspired you to want to make films?

I actually started out wanting to do animation for Disney and got sidetracked. I just figured, "It can't be that hard to make a movie." It is! So I found myself doing it. I'm inspired by anyone that is a good storyteller. I like Mira Nair, Spielberg, Lee, Tarantino, Rodriguez, Brewer. I recently met Craig Brewer and it was refreshing to hear some of his anecdotes about his filmmaking process.

5. What should a director do that they never think of until it's almost too late?

Too many things to list. In fact, that's it! Make a "to do" list and refer to it often. With your attention on so many things during a production, it's easy to forget something.

6. What is more difficult for you to pull off as a director: The big scare or the big laugh?

"Scares" are way easier than laughs. Writing humor takes a special skill. I can create funny situations, but that's a different thing. Lots of the laughs in THE LYCANTHROPE are unintentional. People find different things funny. I don't complain as long as they are entertained.

7. What's the most underrated job on the set?

Production assistant or production manager. People look at them as "go-fers," but without them going to fetch things we forgot and all the other tasks we give them, we would be lost. They deserve props!

8. Was working with the prosthetic special effects fun for you or a necessary pain in the ass?

FUN! I'm a big kid when it comes to that stuff and the whole process of creating something is a blast for me. It might be a pain in the ass for the person getting the mold made of their head, but I would do it as long as it doesn't go up my nose.

9. What was your favorite Zayra costume from Rockstar: Supernova?

Without question, the skintight blue cat suit thingy!

10. Popcorn or candy?

Neither. I usually eat before or after I go to the movies. Besides, have you seen the prices of that stuff lately?

By John Wildman, Staff Writer


Actor's Corner: Ricki Lake, PARK

Kurt Voelker's film, PARK (Screening Wednesday, 3/28 at 7:30PM and Thursday, 3/29 at 9:45PM) plays like a multi-character comedy of manners West Hollywood-style. Set in a handful of different cars parked but with several places to go. Among an eclectic cast including William Baldwin, Cheri Oteri and Treach is none other than Ricki Lake. Making a return to the big screen after eleven years, Lake teams with Oteri as a woman and her best friend spying on her cheating husband , which launches her into the possibilities and risks of a major life change.

Q: After several years focusing on television, what was it about PARK that brought you back to film?

A: After completing 11 years on my talk show, I was very excited about the idea of getting back into acting. I have two sons (ages 9 and 5) and I made a commitment to them to not go on location for long periods of time. Park turned out to be a wonderful script and just so happened to shoot in Los Angeles. I also loved the character of Peggy and could identify with her.

Q: You have had great success both acting and hosting - if you could only do one, which would you ultimately choose?

A: That is a really tough question. Hmm. I have been so lucky in my career that I have not had to choose. So many people think of me as solely a talk show host. People don’t know that I have worked on more than 15 films and a dozen TV shows. These days I can also be called executive producer. I have a documentary called The Business of Being Born premiering next month at The Tribeca Film Festival.

Q: How many takes were ruined because Cheri Oteri made you break on camera?

A: Cheri and I cracked each other up constantly. She is hilarious and a really good actress. We laughed the most during our lesbian kiss. I think she spit in my mouth a couple of times.

Q: What has the reaction been to your role from your gay and lesbian friends?

A: My friends, gay and straight thought my character's sexual identity crisis was very believable. My lesbian friends thought it was hot!

Q: Kurt Voelker said that your first day on the set included one of your most emotional scenes. How do you personally ramp it up with no warm up (so to speak) to pull off a scene like that without a couple scenes in character already under your belt?

A: I don't know. I think I just focused on my past memories from my own very difficult divorce.

Q: Because of the nature of everyone shooting scenes in their various cars, are there any cast members you have yet to meet?

A: I have since met the entire cast but I hadn’t met a lot of them during the shooting.

Lake will appear at PARK's first screening on Wednesday, March 28.


AFI DALLAS Partners with North Texas Food Bank

From its inception, the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival has looked to collaborate and partner with other film, arts and cultural organizations in the area. For this first festival, AFI DALLAS has aligned itself with a number of these organizations - from other film festivals in the area, to film and video professional groups and other cultural and community organizations to support their good works in building a stronger, better community.

The North Texas Food Bank is one of those valued Community Partners. The North Texas Food Bank has distributed to its clients and agencies 1,500 free family passes to the Festival's family-friendly programming. AFI DALLAS is also supporting the North Texas Food Bank's programs by offering a ticket discount to any audience member in exchange for canned food they bring to the theater.

Patrons can take two canned food items to the Central Market on Lover's Lane and receive a coupon at the Information Desk for $2 off the general admission price for any AFI DALLAS screening. They can also bring their cans straight to the theaters and receive their discount at the Magnolia or Angelika.

Join AFI DALLAS in supporting the excellent work done by the North Texas Food Bank.


Spotlight on the Texas Competition

In Eric Chaikin's A LAWYER WALKS INTO A BAR, the director examines what it takes to pass the bar exam and what that means to American Culture.