News and Features

DIFF Takes Over Dallas

Beginning tonight, Dallas may feel a little like one big movie theater. That’s because more than 100 feature films and shorts will play over the next 11 days during the Dallas International Film Festival.

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Previous opening nights of the festival have featured long red carpets and stars like Helen Hunt and Adrien Brody showing their new films. Tonight’s event is more democratic.

Buy a ticket and you’ll pick among five movies at the new LOOK Cinemas in North Dallas. An Oscar-nominated documentary, a Mickey Rourke action thriller and the Fellini classic 8 ½ are all on the docket.

“It’s a broad mission, because we’re trying to be international, we’re trying to have some kind of local and state ties, and we’re trying to really bring some of the best films we’ve seen from other festivals,” says Sarah Harris, one of the festival’s programmers. “We’re not too keen on the premiere game – we just want to show really, really good films that may not otherwise have a chance.”

Variety is always a theme at film festivals. But this year, the Dallas Film Festival is casting an extra wide net for both films and venues. Special programs include showcases of Italian and Latin American cinema. And movies will be shown at both theaters and non-traditional venues. Klyde Warren Park will even host an outdoor screening of the family film The Sandlot.

This year, the festival will also hand out a pair of Star Awards. They’ll go to William Friedkin, who won an Oscar for directing The French Connection, and his wife, Sherry Lansing, the first female head of a major Hollywood studio. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who earned raves last year for her role as a recovering alcoholic in Smashed, will accept the festival’s Shining Star Award for young actors.

For more on this year’s festival, listen to the latest episode of The Big Screen podcast, featuring an interview with Sarah Harris and DIFF artistic director James Faust.