Ask Bart: DIFF 2014

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Dallas VideoFest founder and director Bart Weiss has a unique open door policy that we have not seen at any other film festival.  This open door policy means anyone can email him directly to ask what films they should see at VideoFest.  They named this open door policy “ASK BART”. 

It is March and we are not approaching VideoFest (although the Dallas Video Race is coming up in May) but we are only days away from the 2014 Dallas International Film Festival and we thought we would ask Bart for his picks at DIFF.  Below is his advice and thoughts for us.

For our local readers, you might be thinking about coming to the upcoming Dallas International Film Festival, so I thought I would give you all some suggestions for films that I have either seen or know about.

There are many great programs that I will not mention because I just have not seen them yet.  I mentioned some of these last week in my notes from SXSW, which include Hellion (probably my pick hit of the festival), No No, a documentary, and Evolution of a Criminal. They are all great and I would have shown them at the VideoFest if DIFF had not.  However, we are sponsoring a few films at DIFF: Rich Hill, Copenhagen, Child Of God, The Congress and Hellion. Aside from Hellion, I have not seen these, but I hear that are VideoFest-like films.

As for shorts, I would recommend Dig, Molly, I Was a Teenage Girl, Easy (by our own Daniel Laabs), and Blur by Courtney Ware, who will be doing the video fest introduction this year. Also check out the high school shorts, the North Texas University shorts and the Booker T. Washington (Arts Magnet) shorts.

Other films I would recommend are Flutter, a really wonderful Texas film, similar to but very different from Hellion. Michael Cain has been working on his film, The Starck Club for years and Michael has done a nice job with this. About Mom and Dad, a feature made by former students of mine, is also definitely worth seeing.  A few films I have not seen, but have heard buzz about are I Believe in Unicorns, Ida, and Whitey: United state of America vs. James J Bulger.

Whitey is by Jo Bulinger who has made some great films and whose early work we have shown at the festival.  I heard about a controversial screening in Boston where this trial was held.  I think it will play differently here, but it's still worth understanding what happened.

The opening night film, Words and Pictures, is worth seeing, as well as the oldie, Stagecoach, a classic John Wayne, John Ford film. It is not the best of that duo, but well worth seeing with good print and an audience. Also re-seeing Paris, Texas in Texas will be interesting. How does this film feel 30 years later? Does it still resonate?

In the meantime, there are still things to see this week.The Texas Theatre has a new series called NY Film Critics Series. The first of these is Breath In, a film that Indiewire is all over. GUESTS: Felicity Jones (Amazing Spiderman 2, Like Crazy), Director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy), Guy Pierce (Memento) remotely, Amy Ryan (Capote) remotely.This is on March 25th and should be interesting. Also on the 25th, The Magnolia is showing Spartacus, which is great to see on a big screen. At the Angelika, go see Omar, then Bethlehem to understand two sides of the Middle East crises you usually don't see.

Obviously, there are many chances to see lots of great films, so get out there, sit in the dark and be transformed.

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