News and Features

Dallas International Film Festival Circles the Globe

The Dallas International Film Festival kicks off its 11-day run tonight. More than 150 feature films and shorts are on the schedule, including a number of foreign films. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports on the festival’s international offerings:

KERA radio story:

Nearly 25 percent of the films that will play this year’s Dallas International Film Festival come from foreign countries. Every continent but Antarctica will show at least one film.

James Faust is the festival’s artistic director. He says that giving North Texas a look at what’s going on around the world is part of the festival’s mission.

FAUST: “People here in Dallas might not ever get a chance to see these films. Not all of these are going to get distribution. Here’s a chance to show somebody that there’s other films out there than what you see at your regular multiplex.”

The festival is heavily weighted with films from Europe and Canada. Faust says he tried to book more films from Asia and Africa but ran into a variety of roadblocks. He says the festival is still building relationships with the film networks in those parts of the world. The fest has had more luck closer to home. A block of films celebrating Mexico’s bicentennial is scheduled for Tuesday.

Faust has been with the festival – formerly known as the AFI Dallas International Film Festival — since its inception. This is his first year as artistic director. The Grand Prairie native says the first foreign film he ever saw was Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. He remembers the experience vividly, and he hopes that others will have the same type of ah-ha moment when they check out the festival’s international fare.

“I was just so blown away by a different way of doing things. I had never heard of the French New Wave. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is great – and it’s in French, and I don’t care!’ I just think it’s important to support a world view. Especially if we’re a global city, we’re an international city.”

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Thursday Morning Roundup

BEHIND THE SCENES: Later this month, Theatre Three will stage [title of show], a musical about people writing a musical. The show’s writers documented its trip from Off-Broadway to Broadway in a series of Web videos. And so Theatre Three thought it would follow up on that idea by posting its own videos showing how the show goes from page to stage. The first one is posted above; we’ll be sure to let you know when future installments are ready to watch.

UPDATE: The second video is now available here.

ROLL CAMERA: So you might have heard, the Dallas International Film Festival starts tonight. (Take a listen to my preview that airs today here.) Star Telegram Movie Critic Chris Kelly thought that was a good reason to point out that North Texas is quite the hotbed of indie filmmaking. And the filmmakers from the area have various reasons for staying put. “There’s a lot to be said for working in a place where you’re comfortable, and I grew up here,” says David Lowery, whose St. Nick was an award-winner at last year’s AFI Dallas. “I do stuff here that I couldn’t do in Los Angeles,” Earthling director Clay Liford says. “In L.A., you get talked out of making films.”

COME FLY WITH ME: If you’re a kid who wants a career on the stage, these are good times for you.  Last week, the Dallas Opera auditioned boys between 4-8 for a role in its upcoming production of Madame Butterfly. And now the Dallas Theater Center is looking for “five talented boys ages 7-13 with excellent musical theater skills” to act in its upcoming It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman. If you or someone you know fits that description, auditions will be held Monday at noon, 3, 5 and 7 at Kalita Humphreys Theater. Bring a headshot, resume, prepared monologue, and one minute of an upbeat musical theater song to be sung a cappella. Questions? E-mail Laura Hix (

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DIFF: The Night Before Opening Night

The Dallas International Film Festival doesn’t officially kick off until Thursday. But Wednesday night, a preview party was held at the festival’s new headquarters – the Hotel Palomar.

A couple of newsy bits from the night:

  • Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) will attend the closing weekend of the festival and receive one of its Star Awards. One of his films (tba) will screen Saturday night at the Studio Movie Grill, and Darabont will take part in a Q&A after.
  • The horror film Walking Distance has been added to the lineup. It will also show on Saturday at the Magnolia.

Other than that, it was mostly a who’s who of local film luminaries mingling and drinking Stella, the official beer which has been as much a part of this festival as celluloid. Fort Worth native Bill Paxton made the rounds, as did many of the filmmakers showing work at the festival. I had a nice, long chat with Chris Howell, who spent seven years making Sweet Science. The documentary follows a couple of Oak Cliff boxers as they chase their dream of making the U.S. Olympic team. Howell says he has more than 600 hours of footage and that the original cut of the film was four hours, which he smartly determined was “way too long.” Be sure to watch the TV version of Think (Friday, 7:30 p.m.), when Jerome will talk to Howell about Sweet Science. The film screens Monday at 7 p.m. and April 15 at 4:30 p.m.

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Literary T-Shirts

pc-moby-dick-1-articleInlineThe New York Times Paper Cuts book blog reports that with warm weather here, it’s time to check out appropriate wear — like t-shirts, like literary t-shirts, like those offered by Out of Print Clothing, which specializes in classic book jackets for its images (right), or Kafkacotton, which casts its fishing net a little wider, employing literary references like “Yossarian!”

At any rate, the point of comparison was, of course, their Moby-Dick t-shirts. But doesn’t it look as if the whale is about to sing?

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'Corpus Christi' Has a North Texas Stage — But No Date Yet

The canceled Tarleton State University student production of Terrence McNally’s play, Corpus Christi, will be staged at Fort Worth’s Rose Marine Theatre. But no date has been set.

The play has been controversial since its 1998 New York debut  because of its portrayal of a Jesus-like character named Joshua who is gay. Texas lieutenant governor David Dewhurst condemned student director John Jordon Otte’s production at TSU as a “lewd display,” and TSU officials shut it down before it could be performed.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Rose Marine’s executive director Adam Adolfo is offering the theater free of charge to the students.

“It is not for everyone, and I freely recognize that,” he said of the play. “It is difficult for some people to digest, but that does not deny its value” . . .

Adolfo said one of his motivations was to ensure that the students’ work not be buried because of the criticism.

“This is about censorship,” he said. “I would show this support if it were any number of things. It’s not about gay, it’s not about religion. It’s about censorship.”

He said he expects some criticism but predicts the arts community in Dallas-Fort Worth will be welcoming to the students.

Theater Jones video interview with Otte is here.

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Video: Inside Guerilla Arts with Patrick Short

I recently caught up with Patrick Short, the owner and curator of Guerilla Arts. He was busy working on his upcoming exhibit, in between working on restoring and remodeling the building near Harwood and Munger in Dallas that houses Guerilla Arts.

The exhibit featured in the above video is What Thunder Said, an installation by artist Joshua Goode. Your last chance to see this exhibition is on Friday. Joshua will kick things off with an artist’s discussion about the inspiration behind his work.

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Dallas Opera Hires New General Director

The Dallas Opera has hired Keith Cerny, the 47-year-old head of Sheet Music Plus, as its new general director.  He starts May 24 as the DO’s seventh general director. He takes over from  John T. Cody, Jr., who has served as interim general director the past year. Before that, George Steel rather infamously came to Dallas — and quickly departed to try to earn acclaim reviving the near-moribund New York City Opera. He left the DO in the lurch after raising a lot of hopes.

In the opera world, Cerny is better known as the former executive director of the San Francisco Opera. He has also been a consultant for the English National Opera.

The full release is below the fold.

Read More »

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At SMU Concert, Audience Picks the Program

SMU Friday night will host a classical music concert with a twist – the audience picks the music. KERA’s Stephen Becker explains:

  • KERA radio story:
  • Online version:

When he walks into Caruth Auditorium on Friday night, Jack Delaney won’t know which pieces of music that he’ll conduct.

That’s because when concertgoers enter the hall, they will be handed a ballot and asked to narrow down a field of eight well-known classical pieces down to four. In the four matchups, they will chose piece A or piece B and text their picks to a device that tallies the votes.

Among the matchups are Bernstein’s Overture to Candide vs. Shostakovich’s Festive Overture

It’s the first time the Meadows Wind Ensemble has tried programming by proxy. Delaney, the ensemble’s director, isn’t even 100 percent sure that it will work.

DELANEY: “My graduate assistants are sworn to secrecy.  If the technology fails us, they are to stand up and proudly announce that the Shostakovich Festive Overture received 57 percent of the audience vote, and that’s what we play. And they are to take that secret to their grave. I’m not even to know it doesn’t work.”

The format is part of the ensemble’s continuing effort to reach out to new classical music fans. In the fall, the group played an all-Elvis program.

DELANEY: “You know, we can stay in the ivory tower and be snobs and say that all those people that don’t come to our shows don’t get it. That’s arrogant and stupid. The presenters have a responsibility to meet people where they are. And where they are is really, really sophisticated, really, really, bright, technologically savvy and looking for a relevant experience. They’re not looking for the same kind of concert experience that their parents and grandparents went to.”

But be prepared. You may hear a couple of cellphone rings if you go.

If you’re planning on attending, here’s a look at the choices you’ll have to make:

  • Festive Overture, op. 96, Dmitri Shostakovich vs. Overture to Candide, Leonard Bernstein
  • Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral from Lohengrin, Richard Wagner vs. Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier, Richard Strauss
  • Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, John Phillip Sousa vs. Florentiner March–Grande Marcia Italiana, op. 214, Julius Fučìk
  • Emblems, Aaron Copland vs. Suite No. 1 in E-flat, op. 28A, Gustav Holst
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Flickr Photo of the Week

Categorized Under: Visual Arts


Congratulations to Brian Knowles of Plano, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! He follows last week’s winner, Brian Lopiccolo.

If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took previous to the current week, but we are hoping that the contest will inspire you to go out and shoot something fantastic this week to share with Art&Seek users. If the picture you take involves a facet of the arts, even better. The contest week will run from Monday to Sunday, and the Art&Seek staff will pick a winner on Monday afternoon. We’ll notify the winner through FlickrMail (so be sure to check those inboxes) and ask you to fill out a short survey to tell us a little more about yourself and the photo you took. We’ll post the winners’ photo on Wednesday.

knowlesNow here’s more from Brian:

Brian Knowles

Title of photo: Room For One More

Equipment: Sony DSC-W80 point and shoot camera, B & W, ISO 400, 1/25th exposure

Tell us more about your photo: I happened to be traipsing around the city during this year’s earlier snowfall and ended up at Mockingbird Station. I carry my P&S with me everywhere as I find it easier to catch candid shots this way.

The shot was of the Northbound Red Line and there was NO getting in. Seizing the moment, I cried out “Cheese!” and there you have the moment captured. Was nice to see that as cold and crowded as they were that people still found time to smile.

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Wednesday Morning Roundup

‘XANADU’ IS A DO: If you questioned whether or not Xanadu could transfer from so-bad-it’s-good movie to actually good musical, you were right to be skeptical. I mean, there were the Tony nominations a few years ago. But … there was also that movie. The Dallas Summer Musicals touring version opened Tuesday night at the Music Hall at Fair Park, and Lawson Taitte happily puts your fears to rest. “Xanadu might just be the best time you have at a musical this season,” he writes in his review. (How long will it take for DSM to work that into its ads?) If that’s got you revved up to go see the show, be sure to check out this Theater Jones interview with Max von Essen, the lead actor.

MORE BUCKS AT BASS: If you’re planning on visiting Bass Hall next season, be prepared to pay a little more than you did this season. The venue is upping the fees that it charges its resident companies to perform there. And those companies still need to make the same level of profit that they make now. So you can guess who will be making up the difference. “I do see that we will have to increase single ticket prices … to make up for the anticipated loss we expect from the new fees,” Alann Sampson of the Cliburn Foundation tells Fort Worth Opera General Director Darren K. Woods voices similar concerns in the story.

HUMMING ALONG: Anyone who’s played a stringed instrument will tell you that it takes a while for them to break in and really sound their best. That’s part of the reason some musicians in the DSO and FWSO play instruments that are hundreds of years old in some cases. But now, an inventor has come up with a device that attaches to a new instrument and emits a noise that you can’t hear but that mimics the physics of playing the instrument. “You can’t take a cheap plywood guitar and turn it into a vintage Martin,” Ryan Frankel, chief executive of ToneRite, tells The New York Times. “But the fullness and the warmth of a good instrument will really come alive.”

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