Guest blogger Bart Weiss is Artistic Director of VideoFest.
This weekend marked the inaugural Oak Cliff Film Festival. Since I have been trying to spend as much time as I can watching films for this year’s VideoFest, I could not get to as much as I wanted. But I did really enjoy what I got out to see.
With all the great fests we have in town, one might foolishly wonder why we need another one. The short answer is: The more festivals we have here, the more people go out and see good films, which raises the audience sophistication and awareness of indie film in town and around the world. This fest might be compared to the early Deep Ellum fest that morphed into the Dallas International Film Festival. In the early days of the Deel Ellum fest, they were really trying to work in the Deep Ellum neighborhood, which at the time was kind of cool. Now, the Cliff is where it is happening.
At the heart of this fest are four guys who love film and have put their love and money into the Texas Theater. There they show great quirky films and have a nice bar that helps build community in different ways.
So they started a film fest, and instead of just having it at the theater, they went all over the community: the Kessler theater, Oil and Cotton, Dallas Zoo, TeCo Theater, Turner House and the Belmont Hotel. For those not familiar with the area, these are all the cool places to hang out in the hood.
The films were mostly great. I personally did not enjoy the opening night feature, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, but many people there loved it. I did have two really wonderful cinematic experience at the fest. First was the screening of Sunrise, FW Murnau’s 1927 classic made long after sound film had established itself. This had all the beauty and visual sophistication of the silent film, and the live score by Austin band My Education was breathtaking.
The other film I really enjoyed was The Turin Horse, by legendary filmmaker Bela Tarr. Both films deal with living outside of the city and the joy and pain of village life.
For a fest that focuses on a smaller community in Dallas, where people know their neighbors art and cycling is as important as cool restaurants, this films seemed to be a good fit.