Thursday, March 31, 2016

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)

ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW is an interesting footnote film. It’s a film that is more interesting for how it was shot rather than what it is. The fact that the film exists and can be seen is surprising considering that the whole thing was shot without permission at Disneyland and Disney World.

The film concerns a family on vacation at an unspecified theme park. The father’s job disappears but he doesn’t tell his family and they press on. However as the visit unfolds the father begins to become unhinged and it looks as if he may be part of some grand ominous experiment.

As a film it’s an okay little thriller. Engaging but never really tense, the film ends up getting a great deal of slack because of how it was filmed rather than for what it is. Had I stumbled upon the film on cable I probably would have been bouncing between channels while watching it. On its own terms it’s an okay film and kind of stayed with it to the end because I was watching it on Amazon and plunked down a couple of bucks.

Shot in guerrilla style using digital cameras and iPhones the film was planned out in great detail before a frame was shot. The filmmakers wanted to have it down so they looked like tourists and wouldn’t be arrested or thrown out. As it is incidents happened and somehow the film was finished. The film premiered at Sundance and there was little word what it was before it played the first time and sold out afterward. Everyone wanted to see the film which they thought would never get released.

Amazing Disney largely ignored the film figuring that not giving it any publicity would kill it and in a weird way it has. After lots of chatter when it premiered the film kind of has fallen into obscurity because there is nothing to fan the flames after initial explosion. The weird thing is that Disney acknowledges the film in it’s on line encyclopedia with a single line saying it was shot at the park without permission.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Radioland Murders (1994)

RADIOLAND MURDERS rolled over and died when it was released. Written and produced by George Lucas the film was a loving throwback to the 1930’s and 40’s movies set in and around a radio station, the problem was audiences in 1994 didn’t want to see it either because they were scared away by less than stellar reviews or they had no clue what the film might be.

The film is a madcap romp mixed about the first night of a new radio station. Everyone is trying to make sure everything goes smoothly in order to impress a new sponsor. Unfortunately there’s a murder and as a result craziness results as the idea that the show must go on collides with the search for the killer.

If you like the old musical comedies of the 30’s and 40’s like those done by Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope or Jack Benny then you’ll love this. Hell it has Rosemary Clooney and George Burns in performance cameos. Actually if you just want to put your worries aside for a couple of hours this is the film for you because very funny and extremely entertaining.

The reason the film works so well is that director Mel Smith had a stunning cast of pros to work with. People like Harvey Korman, Christopher Lloyd Jeffrey Tambour, Bobcat Golthait Michael McKean support the grossly under rated Brian Benben.Benben is a solid comic actor best known for the long running HBO series DREAM ON. While has done other series since than DREAM ON was the peak of his notoriety which was why he was cast in RADIOLAND. Benben is the perfect straightman to have all of the crazies circling around him and as a result the laughs keep coming

While far from being one of the great films of the 1990’s, it is one of the most unjustly forgotten. RADIOLAND is one of those neat little gems that just entertain the hell out of you and become a stopping point whenever you run across it on cable. Sadly this film is out of the current rotation despite its sterling cast and George Lucas parentage.

Track this one down

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Horror (2015)

There are very few films being made that seem to give a fresh approach to a genre. There are fewer still that are more than happy to do what they are going to do and to hell with the audience. Its going to do what it wants to and if you get it great, if not too bad.  THE HORROR is just that sort of a film. Its a film that shakes up the horror genre and doesn't seem to care if you get it or not.

THE HORROR simply put is the story of two twins who not long after the death of their parents go to the family's lake house to close it up for the season. Unfortunately while they are there some very bad things happen. A year later both are trying to deal with the aftermath of what happened.

The key to clicking with this film is going along with the way the story is told. Part found footage film, part confession to a shrink, part real time event and part flash back the film jumbles things up to the point where you have to work with it to fill in details and make sense of what you are seeing. I was confused at the start when what I thought was a kind of home invasion story begins with an attempt to call ghosts on a haunted bridge. I was wondering where this is going and if the people who sent me the film for review had sent me the wrong film.

They hadn't.

THE HORROR is a film that knows the story it is telling and it uses the fractured story telling to create a mood of dread and uncertainty. For much of the film there isn't horror so much as suspense and a nervous curiosity about what is going to happen next...or is it about what happened in the past? I'm not quite sure.

To be honest I'm not quite sure what I think of the film. This the type of film that you have to get through to the end before you realize what is going on. And while I'm intrigued enough about the film that I am planning on watching it again to see what I didn't catch the first time, I'm still not sure- and I mean that in a good way- how I really feel about the film. Its the sort of feeling I get when I see a film that I know is going to hang with me for a good long time,  It is one of the more intriguing horror films to run across my path in a good long while and I'm thrilled for that

That said, I know this film is not for all audiences. Its odd structure and pacing is not going to work for some people. I know if you want your horror films to go a certain way you are going to hate it. As much as the horror genre is a wide open one as far as what you can do with it, I find that many people tend to drift to certain sub genres because they have certain rhythms which appeal to them. Slasher films go one way, satanic films another, and some fans need things to go that way or else they  hate the experience- they need their fright controlled, visceral,  not cerebral and if you mess it up they can't handle the scares. They need the story to be one thing. THE HORROR isn't anyone's one thing.

Uncertainty on my part or no, this is a film very recommended for the adventurous film goer or anyone who wants their horror far from safe

The VHS release of The Horror ($20) will exclusively include an introduction by Jerry White III and a digital download of the film. VHX downloads of The Horror ($5) can be played on any home entertainment system, as well as Roku, AppleTV, Android, iOS, Chromecast, AirPlay and more.
Order The Horror on VHX Download
Order The Horror on VHS

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Australian film festival Stranger with my Face has announced all it's titles

Stranger With my Face announces 2016 films

including the Australian premiere of Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Evolution;

the Australian premiere of Bernard Rose's Frankenstein;

the international premiere of Ginanti Rona Tembang Sari's

Midnight Show

Hobart – The 4th edition of Stranger With My Face International Film Festival will take place in Hobart from 14-17 April, with a line-up of eight feature films, a shorts program, a symposium, workshops, panels and social events.

Stranger With My Face focuses on diverse perspectives in genre filmmaking and primarily screens horror films directed by women.

​ Evolution
The 2016 program includes the Australian premiere of Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Evolution and the international premiere of Midnight Show, by up-and-coming Indonesian director Ginanti Rona Tembang Sari.

Ginanti Rona Tembang Asri, who will be a guest at Stranger With My Face, previously worked as an assistant director and 2nd unit director on films including Killers, The Raid and The Raid 2.

French director Hadzihalilovic, whose previous full-length feature film is the acclaimed Innocence (2004), has cited influences from Narciso Ibañez Serrador’s Who Can Kill a Child? to Lovecraft to Philip K. Dick in inventing the strange and compelling world of Evolution. She will take part in a Skype Q&A after the SWMF screening.

Festival Director Briony Kidd says, “These two films sum up what Stranger With My Face is about. Evolution is a poetic and provocative meditation on themes around motherhood and the body. It comes to us from a highly regarded art house filmmaker at the top of her game.”

“Midnight Show, meanwhile, is a hardcore horror film made by a first-time director who's having a big impact at the Indonesian box office.”

“They represent filmmakers at different stages and with very different approaches, and yet both are working within a genre framework to explore humanity's deepest fears.”

The other feature films screening are:

The Australian premiere of Bernard Rose's stunning modern take on Mary Shelley's classic tale, Frankenstein, starring Xavier Samuel, Tony Todd, Carrie Ann Moss and Danny Huston;

​The Love Witch
The Australian premiere of Anna Biller's stylish retro thriller, The Love Witch, which is particularly notable for its lush 35 mm cinematography despite a modest budget;

The Australian premiere of Yolanda Torres's The Forsaken, an intense contained location thriller from Spain about a group of criminals trapped together in a house;

The Invitation, Karyn Kusama's chilling look at group dynamics and gas-lighting, winner of Best Film at Sitges in 2015;

Australian filmmakar Megan Riakos's debut feature film, Crushed, a thriller set in picturesque wine country;

and the dark yet charming coming of age story Girl Asleep, directed by Rosemary Myers and adapted from an acclaimed play produced by South Australia's Windmill Theatre Company.

Also screening is a line-up of outstanding short films from around the world:

· Nasty, directed by Prano Bailey-Bond (UK)

· Blame, directed by Kellee Terrell (USA)

· Thorn, directed by Soichi Umezawa and produced by Mai Nakanashi (Japan)

· Can You See Them? directed by Polly Staniford and Mike Staniford (Australia)

· The Betrayal directed by Susan Young (UK)

· ReStart directed by Olga Osorio (Spain)

· The Goblin Baby directed by Shoshana Rosenbuam (USA)

· Measure directed by Shelagh Rowan-Legg (Canada/UK)

· Abbaddon directed by Samantha Ferguson (Australia)

· Vintage Blood directed by Abigail Blackmore (UK)

· Innsmouth directed by Izzy Lee (USA)

· The Things You Take directed by Shaun Wilson (Australia, winner of SWMF'S 48-Hour Tasploitation Challenge in January 2016)

The full program, including the Mary Shelley Symposium and industry events can be found at Festival passes as well as individual tickets to events are available to purchase online.

All screenings take place in the Peacock Theatre, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart.

Stranger With My Face International Film Festival is supported by the Tasmanian Government through Screen Tasmania.


SOLD (2014)

Based on Patricia McCormick's young adult novel exposing child trafficing in Nepal. We watch as 13 year old  Lakshmi is sold and sent to Happiness House in India. Refusing to completely bow down Lakshmi does what she has to survive and to try and escape.

Great looking and well acted film has it's heart in the right place  but sadly isn't as hard hitting as it hopes to be. Yes, it is a well made film. Yes, it's a good film. But the problem is that it all looks too good. It feels sanitized. Frankly if we were to take the film on it's own terms it I would say it was a good film, but as the filmmakers will tell you they are trying not to tell a good story but move hearts and minds to stop human trafficking. The film's insistence on being a polemic overtakes the human drama so that I felt  like I was being lectured.

I think part of the problem comes from the fact that the film is based on a young adult novel which slightly tempers how far they can take things. We can not get into the real darkness and so much has to be implied. Its a problem that is completely understandable when bolder and more graphic films like the gut wrenching CHILDREN OF THE DARK  are so in your face that no one will watch them nor will anyone screen them.(and trust me you do not want to see CHILDREN). It's clear that the filmmakers have taken a gentler path,  which while allowing them to find an audience isn't likely to move enough of them to finally end the trafficking.

I genuinely do like the film and it's one that if you're interested in the subject you should see, however for me I wanted to feel like I was gut punched at the end instead of looking for the next thing to watch.

SOLD opensin New York April 1 and in Los Angeles April 8.

SOLD from Oscar-winning Director Jeffrey Brown, Producer Jane Charles and Executive Producer Emma Thompson from Jaya International on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Nightcap 3/27/16 Bring me the head of Sam Peckinpah starts Friday. random notes and Randi's links

Bring Me the Head of Sam Peckinpah is a series at Lincoln Center that is running every feature film that Peckinpah made. The man was a maverick and a one of a kind individual and his films are full of similar men.

The title comes from one of the bleakest films you'll ever see BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA which is filled with losers doing desperate things and ending up dead. The title is a joke but the film kicks you in the face. Actually many of his films do with THE WILD BUNCH and STRAW DOGS changing the way we see on screen violence.

I am not a huge fan of the director. I find that he made a bunch of classics and even more films that have great things in them but leave me wondering what he was thinking. And yet I am drawn back to the WTF film much more than the well known classics simply because they are so damn interesting.

If you haven't seen the classics or if you don't know the really odd ball films he made (CONVOY and OSTERMAN WEEKEND for example) go see something.

For tickets and more information go here.

After really going through the Batman V Superman reviews it’s clear that sites like Rotten tomatoes are killing film writing. Because they reduce everything down to good or bad there is no middle ground. The result is that films like BVS are vilified as being beyond bad but if you read the reviews you find that not the case. It’s not the bomb the low ratings portray but something much more complex.

Rotten Tomatoes is killing the need for film critics all together because its wiping out all need for opinion beyond yea or nay.


Allow me a snarky comment-

A  great mission accomplished to everyone in the world who screamed at Tribeca about the film VAXXED about the controversy over vaccinations (people are wrongly arguing about it so its controversial). Not only did you get the film removed from the film festival, where it was to pay at 40 bucks a seat as a special event (yea you!)  but you gave the film way more exposure than it ever would have gotten had you allowed it be be laughed off the screen by the six poodles and the orangutan who would have been dumb enough to pay to see it. (boo you!)

Sometimes its better to ignore something then shout it to the roof tops.

This week is a few new release, some new posts and other fun stuff
And now Randi's links

Why are people gullible
Lotto winners all pick 7's
Man arrested for renting FREDDY GOT FINGERED
The Killer Elite

Sympathy For The Devil: The True Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment (2015) Boston Underground Film Festival 2016

When I heard of SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL I was instantly intrigued. I had to see the film because for most of the 40 years I had been reading about The Process Church and hearing all sorts of horrible stories that linked it to the Manson Murders, The Son of Sam killings and any number of other terrible crimes. It seemed to be a shadowy organization that was the source of great evil. Gettin the chance to get to the bottom of it all sounded like a must see so when the chance came to see the film at the Boston Underground Film Festival I jumped.

The church was founded by Robert De Grimston and his wife who left Scientology and wanted to go in a differing direction. Setting up shop in ritzy area of London they gave lectures, showed movies and had a coffee shop. They members dressed in very formal robes and stared at you with great intensity. Their workshops were designed to break down how we react to each other. It developed a reputation as a cult, which it was. It also attracted the interest of of people like John Waters and George Clinton. Eventually the group left England and ended up in Mexico and America where the reputation spread and it got dark.

But what was it?

I'm still not sure.  Certainly it wasn't the dark Satanic evil that some people made it out to be.

Based on the film its clear that the group was a bunch of truth seekers who ended up on a kind on confrontational path that intentionally rattled cages. I think they were born button pushers who saw that as a key to finding their truth. They took the various ideas floating around in the late and early 60's and forged them into something they could believe in.

The problem for me is that I'm not sure the film tells the story the way it really should be told. Related by members who were there more or less from the beginning the film lets the stories spin out and then stops and goes back and lays on shadings and then goes on. Bits and pieces come and go in the story, Founder De Grimston disappears for a huge chunk of the film only to have his story dealt with towards the end.  Before going into the film I had a loose knowledge of the group and this telling kind of jumbled up everything. I definitely need and a want a second viewing. (I freely admit that my feelings toward the film are a mix of what I knew before clashing with what is in the film)

My own reservations or no, the film does a great service to the church and to history by straightening things out, such as why the group got linked to so many terrible events.  Its a must see for anyone who wants to know about how a "cult" comes together and how a small group of believers end up being influential on the world as a whole.

Chasing Banksy (2015) Boston Underground Film Festival

Frank Henenlotter steps away from horror films to make a full on comedy set in the world of art. Its a move that will surprise his fans who'll wonder why he didn't make the move sooner.

The plot of the film has a down on his luck street artist getting talked into leaving Brooklyn and going down to New Orleans to steal a Banksy original off the side of a building. He figures that since some of the buildings are abandoned after Katrina no one would miss it. Besides it would only end up getting painted over. The trouble is that attempts to find a piece that remains intact when he gets there is daunting.

While Henenlotter's films always had a comedic edge that frequently bordered on, if not crossed over into satire, here it's all characters and comedy and it hits the target much more squarely than in some of his earlier films. The target this time out is the art world and the numb nuts who think that they can make a fast buck. Its something that happens when ever a new work by Banksy appears and it was touched on in the HBO documentary BANKSY DOES NEW YORK  which showed what happened when New Yorkers went on a scavenger hunt for his works. Many people tried to steal the works so they'd have an easy payday.

Henenlotter was working on a micro budget which didn't allow for flashy camera work, This was a fortuitous thing since it forced him shoot the film in an almost documentary like style, The result is we feel as though we are in the places where the action is happening. Admittedly the film was shot in real locations, but they don't feel like they were dressed up for the film, they feel real. It all has a weight that more money might have taken away from the look of the film. We buy That these guys are actually chasing real Banksys

More importantly the writing is razor sharp. The lazer like way that Henenlotter dismantles the art world is frequently amusing. Watching all of the self important people taken down a peg or two is very funny, especially if you've ever spent anytime with artistic wannabes.  When I wasn't laughing I was smiling, which is not something that happens all that much with comedies these days.

I really like this film a great deal. CHASING BANKSY is one of the better comedies I've seen this year.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

THE LESSON is available in the UK on demand, with Icon Horror/FrightFest Presents

Earlier this week I had a lovely email conversation with Ruth Platt who let me know that if you are in the UK  you can see her film THE LESSON on the Icon Horror/FrightFest Presents on demand service (a US release is being ironed out as we speak). I know I didn't review the film all that long ago at Slamdance, but I thought the film could you another push.

THE LESSON is a great horror film that doesn't do what you think it will. Its not your typical horror film and if you go in expecting your typical mad slasher film you'e going to be slightly disappointed.  Platt is not interested in just giving you shock after shock and gallons of blood instead she is looking deeply disturb you and get you to think and feel about more than just body parts and violence. Its the work of  one hell of a filmmaker who is capable of making a film that you can't dismiss and can't shake-its been over two months since I've seen the film and I'm still trying to spread the word.

This is a film for anyone tired of the same old same old and who wants  more than just blood and bodies. If you do, and if you want to see the work of a director who is going to shake up horror films over the next few years see THE LESSON now.

(Look for an interview with director Ruth Platt  soon)

A bullied teacher with too much on his plate snaps and kidnaps two of his students in order to get revenge and teach them a lesson.

A surprising small scale gem of a horror film that is scary, intelligent and just damn amazing. Where the hell has this film been lurking and why the hell haven't I heard of it until now? No matter Slamdance has it and soon I suspect will the world, and we are so much better for it.

Director Ruth Platt has fashioned one hell of thrill ride that doesn't feel like any other horror film out there. Part social commentary, part torture porn, part theater piece the film has a great deal on it's mind and it manages to get it all out while making you wince and scream and feel. Its a brilliant twist on a well worn sub-genre that normally I avoid like the plague.

There is much to admire here.but the big deal here is the creation of mood and a head space. What Platt has done is assemble the film in such away that the audience is completely off it's feet, forceing them to dance and engage to get a grasp on what is going on, much like Fin who is tied to a table and forced to endure a lesson that may cost him his life. The opening sequences look like any number of socially relevant dramas coming out of the UK. There are black and white flash backs to Fin's childhood that fill in background. Right before the kidnapping the film feels like a coming of age film. The kidnapping is so low key and unexpected that you kind of have to process what we are seeing. It just happens kind of out of nowhere and is done. And then once the lesson starts the film becomes a kind of weird monologue as Mr Gale lectures and tortures and Fin drifts in and out of reality.

What amazes me is that for most of it's running time this doesn't feel like what we think of as a horror film. There is no build-up to shocks, there are no dark and scary places and all of the monsters are in plain view. I've seen the film, I've been disturbed by it but until the film moves  into the final 20 minutes this film steers away from most horror conventions. Yes the film has a bloody resolution, but at the same time the coda after the blood soaked climax is not what I even remotely expected. Platt isn't done messing with her audience's expectations until the end credits.

To be honest the film isn't perfect. There are some sequences that fall flat, a moment or two where the violence isn't handled perfectly. There are moments I admire more than I like, but at the same time the film is a kick is the chest at times as it all comes brilliantly together. It has a visceral power that gets under your skin and into your head and makes you wince- and, strangely for a horror film, think. Its a film that hung with me and which I mentioned to other writers giving them contact information for the film's producers because I was so blown away by the film I felt that I had to try and get the word out to even more people.

I suspect that the film is going to divide audiences. I know that there are a whole bunch of gore-hounds who are going to hate chunks of this film and others who are expecting typically constructed horror film who will be disappointed. However for anyone looking for a horror film that breaks the rules, that goes its own way and does so with a bravado that most other films are lacking, this film is going to be like finding a gem in the rough. This is going to be one of those films where we can note the emergence of a director who looks to be destined for great things (Note to Ruth Platt- Don't feel the need to give into studio pressure-keep following  your instincts because you were dead on here)

This is a real find. This is a genre bending blood bath that dips into the torture porn genre I hate and makes it something I love.

Highly recommended.

Gasparilla Film Festival starts Thursday

The Gasparilla Film Festival Starts Wednesday in Tampa.

I had not heard of it until I got a press release about it.

I mentioned it to my brother who was in Tampa for years and he said was the festival was really cool and that his friend had helped to found it.

In looking over the schedule it appears to be a super festival that were I not tied up with Tribeca I might consider covering but since I am tied to the festival here in New York a side trip isn't going to happen.

We've seen and covered four of the films they are screening


And there are a few more we might squeeze in remotely if things fall together.

If you are near Tampa and St Pete next weekend I suggest you give the film festival a try.

For the complete schedule and tickets go here.


This is the story of a man, his restaurant(Jiro’s restruant is an expensive one with a meal starting at around 300 bucks for a meal which can last as little as 15 minutes. Of course if you want to go you’re going to have to book a month or more in advance), his sons and his sushi.

It’s a loving portrait of a man who lives for his work and what it takes to be the best. Beautifully shot, with a heavy use of Philip Glass music this is a great little film that makes you want to go out and have some sushi (several people at the end of the screening were going to head across the street to get sushi.) This is a neat portrait of wiley old man who strives to always improve and be the best at making sushi and has been awarded with accolades from around the world as a result. A tough task master Jiro puts his apprentices and sons through rigorous training, and he freely admits that if it wasn’t for their preparation of the staff he wouldn’t look so good at preparing the food for the guests.(There is revelation late in the film about the Michelin award- which reveals how good his training is).

Sadly Jiro and his eldest son can kind of see the end of the road for them and their restaurant. As they note the amount of fish is rapidly declining due to over fishing thanks to the explosion of sushi across the world.Sushi was once an expensive delicacy but now is available everywhere.(This film is an interesting counter point to the Oscar winning film The Cove about the men who fish for the fish that become sushi.) I liked this film a great deal.

Friday, March 25, 2016

In Brief: Neon Bull (2015) New Directors New Films 2016

NEON BULL is the story of  a mother, her daughter and three men who transport bulls around Brazil.

That's about it. They travel around and that's it.

Well there's a sport that's essentially organized cow tipping, a sex scene, a hand job for a horse, a woman shaving her privates in the front of a truck and some weird dancing with a horse head rubber mask- and that's about it.

Sadly there isn't much drama which explains why the New Director New Films synopsis talks about the sex scene as being a highlight. And it is, but largely because it's one of the few things that actually happen during the course of the film. Does it lead to anything? Nope the film just fades out after one shot of of one of the characters after that.

To be honest this isn't a bad film but I have no idea what the point is. I could easily have not seen this film and slept an extra two hours.

The film plays tonight and tomorrow at New Directors New Films. For more information and tickets go here.

They're Watching (2016)

From Micha Wright and Jay Lender who wrote for TWO ANGRY BEAVER, PHINEAS AND FERB, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS not to mention a dozen or so video games comes THEY'RE WATCHING a send up of the found footage horror genre that manages to be neither funny nor scary and which probably no one will watch.

A film crew returns after six months to Moldova to see how an American artist made out with her extreme fixer upper that is part of a House Hunters style TV show. Immediately things go side ways as they annoy the towns folk by being rude at the funeral of three children believed to have been killed by a witch. Things go even more off the rails when its revealed that the person they are profiling is believed to be the witch since she lives alone outside of town and never goes to church.

Making a knowing spoof of a sub-genre that is largely a self inflicted joke is kind of pointless. Too many found footage films are funny unto themselves for all the wrong reasons and sending them up is neither hard nor prudent since the real films are much more funny even if its for all the wrong reasons.

To be honest the film might have worked had the film picked a tone, but it can't pick being either straight forward nor spoofy, with the result is it's neither. Clearly Wright and Lender know their genre since they have people constantly ponder why everyone is filming everything, and more importantly they give us a reason to be seeing the footage (Someone survives with the footage), but they can't make the knowing tone of the film match the fear of the characters on screen- especially when the towns people are pretty much cartoon sketches of typical angry villagers.

Actually they misstep badly by making most of the film crew unlikable. Yes it's par for the course of found footage genre films to have assholes as lead characters, but that's also a reason that many people, myself included, hate the genre, we don't want to watch assholes on screen, especially when they are only there to die-even in a comedy.

To be honest when I saw the film I had forgotten that it was supposed to be a horror comedy and I watched it straight on taking it as if I walked in not knowing what I was seeing. I kind of picked up that the film was kind of less than serious as it went on, but at the same time I never laughed nor was tense. When the film ended I read on the film and how it was a send up so I went back and rewatched (some of) it knowing it was a send up. Sadly it still didn't work the way it was intended.

Looking like a one of the TV productions the film is spoofing this film is waste of time- its not bad-its just not good enough to lose 85 minutes of your life to see it- which makes it the worst kind of film a time waster.This film is neither good enough nor bad enough for you to get anything out of it. You won't hate it to the point you can complain about this awful film nor is it good enough to make you feel like you spent your time seeing a story you really wanted to see. Mostly you're going to be left wondering why you bothered and how you can get that time back before consigning the film to the things to be forgotten part of your brain.

THEY'RE WATCHING hits theaters and VOD today and should be avoided

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Batman v Superman (2016)

I'm puzzled by the reviews I read before hand about BATMAN V SUPERMAN. What film did they see? Where was the confusion and random threads? Where was the story that made no sense? Where was this over riding set up for JUSTICE LEAGUE?

I was never lost, never confused. I think it's all on the screen. It all made sense to me. And the JUSTICE LEAGUE stuff was fleeting and if the two minutes were chopped it we'd never know.

Sue me I love BATMAN V SUPERMAN. I thought it was great. I thought it was the Batman movie I always wanted. Ben Affleck now is Batman for me, He nailed it. He's a younger version of Frank Miller's DARK KNIGHT

Okay I think I get what some of the reason that people hate the film- its a film that exists in the comic book world. Yes the film is a direct sequel to MAN OF STEEL but the film really exists in the world of comics. Whole plot lines are referenced in found objects- look no further than Jason Todd's Robin suit with the spray paint of the joker on it. Knowing what that is says volumes about Affleck's Batman. If you don't know then all of that story of pain and anguish is gone.

I know saying that the fact that the film spews out 75 years of comic history is asking the audience too much get. I complete understand that not knowing the references are going to make many people feel adrift. I read a review written by a friend who hated the film and I now know why she called it a noisy mess, simply because she doesn't read comics and she didn't know the references.

Say what you may this is not the Batman that has gone before- neither in the serials, the radio show, the TV shows, not either the Nolan series nor the one's started by Tim Burton. This is a story that springs from the comics.

Yes I know one of my pet peeves is a film must be all inclusive and explain everything. You get leeway if the film is part of a series. This film gets some leeway because of the series, and a bit more because Batman and Supeman are nigh 80 years old so they are part our culture. I freely admit if you hate the film because you don't get it all feel free, but I'm sure if I went back into my Batman archive and gave you a stack of stories you'd click with what is on the screen here.

I also get the sense that this film is going to play better in a couple of years.Once we get more stories with these characters I think this film will play wonderfully in retrospect since details will be filled in- like Wonder Woman's back story.

Yes Wonder Woman isn't given a great deal to do (hell we never know what exactly she is doing)- but god damn and sweet jesus she kicks ass. I adore the look of glee when after she gets her ass handed to her by Doomsday she stands up and dives right back in. And yes the audience really did cheer when she showed up in Wonder Woman regalia.

You want a female role model- this woman is it. Smart, charming and kick ass. She can play with the big boys and even out do them.

Yes the plot is warmed over- but what did you expect, we knew that Lex was behind it and we knew he let loose Doomsday-everything else was a foregone conclusion. Well not everything, there is a twist or two I didn't expect them to do- but it fits.

As much as I despise Jesse Eisenberg as an actor, I think he makes a very good Lex Luthor. To be certain he is not perfect, there is an occasional softness but the intelligence is there as is the sadism, He takes delight in being an evil god.

I thought the fights were excellent and easy to follow.  And some of the images if the final battle were truly iconic.

Actually there are many shots that were cribbed from the comics. I loved the desert Batman look. I also loved him standing on the crane. Even the shots of Superman just hovering had me mumbling WOW.

And again, yes, I am fully aware that what I like in the film are the comic steals.

I know some people are upset that Batman is trying to outright kill Superman and Batman never kills. I am aware of it, but if you read the comic  there were times when he considered it, though he never crossed the line (at east the Bruce Wayne version). Then again he doesn't do it here.

I know I'm going to be arguing about this film for weeks to come- Hubert is already penciling in our upcoming meetings as follow ups to the film. I don't mind. As long as you can argue your point I'm game to argue the film.

Ultimately though I know I will not be shaken in my love for the film because what I love about it isn't anything intellectual, its visceral. Watching the film I felt part of me was on the screen. This was some great lost comic story that was long a part of me and was now being brought to the surface. The subconscious was made conscious.

Yes my love for the film is emotional, Its some primal part of me that loves Batman being tickled to death. Its the part that made the two year old me press his nose against the TV screen and go "MATMAN MATMAN" when the Adam West show was in its first run.

What can I say I'm a hopeless Batman fan

Weiner (2016) New Directors New Films 2016

What was supposed to be a cinematic portrait of one time Congressman Anthony Weiner's run for the Mayor of New York City, instead turns into something else as Weiner's  misdeeds takes him out of the race as the media goes on a witch hunt.

Surprisingly sympathetic look at Weiner plays as a grand uncomfortable comedy. Weiner comes a cross an a lovable schmo who's mad texting two years before rippled through his campaign. What he's forced to do to remain in the hunt for higher office is at time quite silly. I suspect that the term Operation McDonalds will eventually find it's way in to our lexicon.

What amazed me about the film is that it's clear that the real villain was the media. They wanted to pull Weiner down and they were looking to take him down no matter what. What they found was one of the people Weiner had texted, a 23 year old blackjack dealer who was more than happy to  ride her connection to the story to short term fame and fortune. Nothing happened between them except texts but that didn't stop the media who blew a two year old story out of proportion and made  not telling the exact truth a hanging offense.

Seriously all Weiner did was not tell the paper how many people he texted and so he was vilified. Never mind that his wife had forgiven him. The worst thing they really could hang on him was refusing to answer the same questions they had asked a thousand times before.Or in the case of  the infamous shouting match in a bakery take an exchange where his wife was insulted out of context. Whats amazing is that we realize how wrong the pundits are as experts make grand pronouncements on video clips taken out of context- context WEINER gives

You will hate the news media with a deep passion when the film  is done.

Weiner the man isn't perfect, he is a bit self centered and bit of a twit but if nothing else he's a passionate fighter who seems to really believe in what he says. Watching the film I realized that Weiner would have been an excellent Mayor, certainly much better than the ineffective current one,

I really liked this film a great deal. I love that it revealed the true story of a story we thought we all knew but really didn't. Its a film that will go a long way in correcting an injustice and rehabilitating a reputation

One of the best films at this years New Directors

The film plays tomorrow and Saturday with a regular release later in the year.

For tickets to the New Directors screenings go here.

Happy Hour (2015) New Directors New Films 2016

HAPPY HOUR is the story of four long time friends who find relief from their lives and loves in the occasional meetings they have. In theory the four women reveal everything to each other, but when one of the women is revealed to have held back that is has been seeking a divorce the relationship between the women begins to crack since suddenly the one thing they could count on isn't as solid as they thought.

In doing reading on HAPPY HOUR after watching it I found that there were two things that almost everyone mentioned when seeing the film:

1- That the film runs five hours and seventeen minutes not including intermissions (the film is in three parts)

2- If you don't like films that are all talk stay away because this film is pretty much five hours and seventeen minutes of extended conversations.

The joy for some and the curse for others is that the film really is a series of slices of life and conversations. Things spin out as they would in a real life. There is no rapid jump cuts and or getting right to the point. The characters here talk to as they would making small talk before the important stuff comes in. We get a great deal of shading about their lives as well as the drama. We really get to know them in ways most films running an hour and half never manage.

And at this point I have to make something clear about how I saw the film because I know it very much influenced how I feel about the film. I saw HAPPY HOUR, not at a press screening for New Directors New Films but on the Festival Scope service and I broke the film up as if I was watching three separate films with long breaks in between and it made my feelings for the film very different than I know if I saw this in a theater in one go. The breaks were over night between the first and second part and a couple of hours between the second and third. Even the act of sitting at home and watching things on my laptop changed how I felt because my attention was drawn away from the film.

How is the film?

On a simple good and bad scale, its good, but really long. I'm suspect that I would have liked it more had I been in an isolation chamber with the film and not in my home.  I don't think I would have ever been one to wax poetic, as some have done, about the various wondrous things that the film does on all sorts of literary like levels but it's a good film.

To be honest the simplicity of this review is in direct response to most of the reviews I read that went on and on about all of the wonderful intellectual things the film did. I found them insightful but I didn't really come away with any sense of how the film was emotionally. They all loved the ideas but no one really said if the film moved them or made them feel anything. I found it odd that a film that is very much about human connection didn't inspire much human connection with the reviewers. They never said how it made them feel other than to say it didn't feel long.

Is this film for you?

That would depend on if you like films that slowly reveal life through conversation. For me it was something I enjoyed this one time through but I know I'll never revisit the film again because it's length and my lack of connection to parts of it makes it a film I doubt I'll ever have the urge or time to see again.

HAPPY HOUR plays this weekend at New Directors New Films.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Demon (2015) New Director New Films 2016

Groom meet spirit
When Peter aka "Python", goes to Poland to marry the sister of his best friend he moves into the old and some what abandoned farm once inhabited by his bride's grandparents. All seems well until an accident with an earth mover exposes a skeleton.  The discovery sets in motion a series of strange occurrences as the Peter becomes possessed by the spirit of a dead girl who refuses to believe she has died.

Based on a play called The Clinging the film is essentially one long set piece set at a wedding which becomes more and more weird as the supernatural intrudes more and more. I jokingly refer to the film as My Big Fat Possessed Polish Wedding, and in a weird way it really is. Its a big wedding in Poland that goes horribly wrong. Its a film that would have me thinking twice about having a wedding in the Polish country side.

This is a film that is filled with tension and a couple of chills. Things are the just right mount of off to keep you on the edge of your seat. It balances the strangeness with the oddness of a wedding. They are not normal parties and people behave oddly to the point it takes a while and some extreme behavior before anyone know anything is wrong.

Its also a film filled with humor as the oddness of the situation is played straight enough that we see the humor inherent in trying to cover up a far from normal event.. Rarely have I laughed at a horror film as much as this one. Hell I laughed more than I have at most horror comedies. The best part of the humor is it is organic and it doesn't seem out of place. It comes when you can't hwlp but laugh and it never comes at the expense of the tension.

The real story here is Itay Tiran as Peter. An amazing physical and vocal performance you'll get a good way into the film before it hits you that you are seeing one of those truly great performances that is in a film much too small to get an actor an Oscar. Yea it's nice to give Leonardo Di Caprio an Oscar for his a test big blockbuster, but at the same time people like Itay Tiran is doing things that put most recent Oscar winners to shame.

I absolutely love 99% of the film and if the film didn't insist on ending on a much too enigmatic note I would probably have put the film on my best of the year list, but things are a tad too unexplained with the political allegory becoming a tad too obvious.

Reservations or no this is one of the best films at this year's New Directors

The film plays Saturday and Sunday and is highly recommended. For tickets and more information go here.

In Brief: A non review of In The Last Days of the City (2016) NDNF 2016 (March 26)

Started in 2007 and shooting was completed in 2010 right before the Arab Spring upended everything.  The editing was then put on hold for three years before director Tamer El Said went back to shape the material.

The film concerns a film director struggling to make a film that reveals the life of Cairo, his city, just as it physically and socially is undergoing an upheaval.. As he tries to figure out what to do friends send him material from around the world

Deeply meditative work is going to either thrill you or bore you. Personally I was torn about the film, since I loved a great deal of it, it looks great, it has all sorts of great ideas kicking around, the trouble was that ten minutes in I knew I was in the wrong head space to see this film. Knowing I had one shot at the film I stayed with it despite knowing it was the wrong time to see and truly meet the film head on.

While I can't rightly review the film I can say without fear that this is a film you really must see. There is something about it that haunts you, even if you are like me and not in the right place for it. A heady mix of ideas and gorgeous images this is the perfect film for those who want more than just entertainment,  And be prepared to have a conversation after the film.

The film plays March 26 and 27. For tickets and more information go here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Baskin (2015) opens Friday and it will F-you up

A waking nightmare of a film concerns a group of five police officers who answer a call for back up and find that they have literally walked into hell. I would argue, other than the final ten seconds one of the years best films.

This dream like film is forever circling back on itself, either via locations, a fragmented narrative, motifs (visual, verbal and otherwise) or some other way. What we think is a throw away line or story comes roaring back in some demonic form later on. Its like being caught in a giant loop of destiny where all roads lead to destruction.

The nominal frame work of a bunch of cops stopping for a meal before heading home, only to get a call for help is on the face of it straight forward. However what director Can Evrenol does is to fill the simplest thing with a real sense of dread. The opening fifteen minutes where the cops are sitting and waiting for their dinner is incredibly creepy and tense despite nothing really happening. Its basically guys being loud and bawdy. However through the use of lights (reds and blues) and the manipulation of the soundtrack noises and music, he creates a sense of guys being in a place they really shouldn't be. We don't know where the guys are going but already we know they are doomed. Evrenol masterfully sets up a call and echo motif that carries through the entire film.

Once the men get on the road things become more surreal. Reality and our world logic disappears for what is a dream or nightmare logic. Events play over again, we are back in the restaurant as the new recruit talks to his boss about weighty issues, only to be drawn back to the now which gets more and more filled with weird images. The effect is to ratchet up our feeling of discomfort and fear. Nothing much has happened but we know hell, literally, is on it's way. The sense of pained anticipation is unlike any recent film.

Eventually the men reach an old police station. The car of the men they are supposed to be supporting is outside and what they don't know is that hell is on the inside.

From this point on the film get rather graphic with images and sensations that will burn themselves into your brain. I'm not going to say what happens, though I would argue that the reviews that have compare what we find to the cinematic worlds of SILENT HILL or Clive Barker are largely incorrect. While there are similarities BASKIN kind of scores over them in that the things we see and experience here are much more real,much more tactile. As one character says Hell is in each one of us and it's true. The horrors here are real world and not as fantastical as SILENT HILL or HELLRAISER.

While I suspect that what transpires in the final half hour is going to divide the audience, some people have called it torture porn, while other have not like the shift away from pure visceral dream to something more grounded,  I think it ups the ante and makes this a much more challenging film and one that is very much deserving of praise. The laying out of the philosophy of what we are seeing is what makes this film so disturbing. The things we are seeing are not random acts of torture, ala torture porn, but something more sinister. The only thing I can compare it all too is the original French version of MARTYRS which plays as torture  porn until you realize that there is a reason we are seeing all of these terrible things. To be honest we never really find out what all of the reasons are, nor do we understand why certain things are done (to the point the horror forums are going to be full of lengthy discussions) but at the same time we can see and feel that there is a reason for what we seeing which makes it even more fucked up.

To be honest this is probably one of the best films of 2016. I could and will argue its full force assault on our senses and logic make this a truly great film, but at the same time that doesn't mean I won't warn you that the film pushes the looping and dream logic too far and the film ends ten seconds too late with something happening that breaks the spell. Thankfully the end credits come up so we don't quite get the chance to deflate as much as we would had the film gone on any longer. Its a minor flaw but it has me wavering as to how great the film is over all.

The film hit theaters and VOD Friday and is an absolute must for anyone who likes horror and doesn't mind being deeply deeply disturbed.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Dallas Film Festival has announced the full slate

The Dallas Film Festival has me intrigued. If I hadn't committed to covering Tribeca I might have jumped on a plane and gone to Texas. But I can't go so I'm going to throw this out to you who are not going to Tribeca to go and enjoy.

In all seriousness the festival looks awesome based on the dozen or so films we've seen already. Its so awesome that I'm trying to figure out how to get access to a large double handful of films. I don't think it will happen but I'm hoping it does.

Right now I'm giving you the press release they sent out listing all the films-shortened to remove all the shorts. I've done this because if I don't you'll be reading until next Tuesday. I will follow this up with a curtain raiser linking to all our previous reviews and giving you word on the films that over lap with Tribeca

This is a festival you want to go to- you just don't realize it yet.


The Dallas Film Society announces the full schedule for the
10th edition of the Dallas International
Film Festival (April 14-24)

Academy Award-nominated DP Ed Lachman will receive the Dallas Star Award,
and legendary director Monte Hellman will receive
the first L.M. “Kit” Carson Maverick Award

USA Network’s Queen of the South debuts first episode
on the big screen as Centerpiece presentation

Nine world premieres include Shaun M. Colón’s A FAT WRECK,
Alix Blair and Jeremy M. Lange’s FARMER/VETERAN,
Ben Caird’s HALFWAY, Ciaran Creagh’s IN VIEW,
Jeff Barry’s OCCUPY, TEXAS, Willie Baronet and
Tim Chumley’s SIGNS OF HUMANITY, Jenna Jackson and Anthony Jackson’s
UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT, and the next episode in
Randal Kleiser’s VR series, Defrost

Dallas, TX (March 21, 2016) – The Dallas Film Society today announced the full schedule of film selections for the 10th edition of the Dallas International Film Festival. The list of titles and events are led by an Opening Weekend Celebration at the Dallas City Performance Hall (2520 Flora Street), Presented by One Arts Plaza on April 14-17. Centerpiece Gala presentations include the first episode for the USA Network’s locally shot new television series, Queen of the South, and the previously announced selection of Chris Kelly’s OTHER PEOPLE. The famed Dallas Star Award will be presented to Academy Award-nominated cinematographer, Ed Lachman, and the inaugural presentation of the L.M. Kit Carson Maverick Filmmaker Award to director Monte Hellman. The Opening Weekend Celebration will serve as one of the anchor events for Dallas Arts Week (April 10-17) as DIFF continues to put film on the arts pedestal in the City of Dallas.

Among the 113 films (63 features, 50 shorts), representing 31 countries, are nine films making their world premieres, including Shaun M. Colón’s A FAT WRECK, Alix Blair and Jeremy M. Lange’s FARMER/VETERAN, Ben Caird’s HALFWAY, Ciaran Creagh’s IN VIEW, Jeff Barrry’s OCCUPY, TEXAS, Willie Baronet and Tim Chumley’s SIGNS OF HUMANITY, and Jenna Jackson and Anthony Jackson’s UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT joining the previously announced THREE DAYS IN AUGUST (directed by Johnathan Brownlee) and DAYLIGHT’S END (directed by William Kaufman), as well as the world premiere of the next episode in Randal Kleiser’s groundbreaking VR series, Defrost. U.S Premieres include Livia Ungur and Sherng-Lee Huang’s HOTEL DALLAS, and Emre Şahin’s TAKIM (THE TEAM), as well as the previously announced ORION (directed by Asiel Norton).

Films in the Narrative Competition are: Carlo Lavagna’s ARIANNA, Maris Curran’s FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE, Ben Caird’s HALFWAY, Creagh’s IN VIEW, Diego Luna’s MR. PIG, Greg Kwedar’s TRANSPECOS, and Elizabeth Wood’s WHITE GIRL

Films in the Documentary Feature Competition are: Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe’s THE BAD KIDS, Garrett Zevgetis’s BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS, Blair and Lange’s FARMER/VETERAN, Nanfu Wang’s HOOLIGAN SPARROW, Patrick Shen’s IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE, Jessica Dimmock and Christopher LaMarca’s THE PEARL, and Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s SONITA.

The recipients of the 2016 DIFF awards will receive MOVIE MAGIC Budgeting and Scheduling software bundles from Entertainment Partners.

Films in the Texas Competition (with the winner receiving a camera rental package valued at $30,000 courtesy of Panavision) are: Berndt Mader’s BOOGER RED, Kaufman’s DAYLIGHT’S END, Brenda Greene Mitchell and Sam Wainwright Douglas’s HONKY TONK HEAVEN: LEGEND OF THE BROKEN SPOKE, Jeff Barry’s OCCUPY, TEXAS, Clay Liford’s SLASH, Keith Maitland‘s TOWER, and Jenna Jackson and Anthony Jackson’s UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT.

Films eligible for the Silver Heart Award (Presented by the Embrey Family Foundation and bestowed on an individual or film for their dedication to fighting injustices and/or creating social change for the improvement of humanity. The Silver Heart Award winner receives a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of the Embrey Family Foundation) include: Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger’s THE ANTHROPOLOGIST, Fulton and Pepe’s THE BAD KIDS, Blair and Lange’s FARMER/VETERAN, Wang’s HOOLIGAN SPARROW, Dimmock and LaMarca’s THE PEARL, Maghami’s SONITA, and Jackson and Jackson’s UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT.

The Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation Audience Awards will be presented to: Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, and Best Short Film.

“This year’s 10th anniversary edition of the Dallas International Film Festival appropriately does what we do best: present films from around the world, independently produced, and locally shot productions, that are entertaining, exciting, surprising, and challenging for Dallas audiences to see for the first and possibly the only time,” said James Faust, Artistic Director of the Dallas Film Society. “In our 10th year, we will once again bring to Dallas our favorite films from the festival circuit, as well as new discoveries, we’ll celebrate the work of film legends and amazing artists behind the camera, and we’ll add some brand new, fun wrinkles to our programming – like the debut of a locally shot television series. and the next episode of a new VR series, as well.”

As a nod to the vibrant film and television production hub that the city of Dallas has been over the past decade, DIFF will debut the first episode of the USA Network’s new series, Queen of the South as its Centerpiece presentation on Saturday, April 16 at the Dallas City Performance Hall. Based on the global best-selling novel “La Reina Del Sur,” by internationally-acclaimed author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Queen of the South is a thrilling drama following the journey and exploits of a woman (played by Alice Braga) who is forced to run and seek refuge in America after her boyfriend, a drug-dealer, is murdered in Mexico. As she faces new challenges and dangers, she teams with an unlikely figure from her past to bring down the leader of the very drug trafficking ring that has her on the run.

On Friday, April 15, DIFF will also make a special presentation of the world premiere of Willie Baronet and Tim Chumley’s documentary, SIGNS OF HUMANITY at the Dallas City Performance Hall. The film documents artist and professor Willie Baronet’s cross-country trip from Seattle to New York City as part of his ongoing campaign to purchase more than 1,000 homeless signs over the past 22 years, then use them to create installations to raise awareness about homelessness. Since the film festival’s inception, the Dallas Film Society has made a dedicated effort toward working with and contributing to local Dallas-based charities and non-profits, and once again, putting their “film festival” where their heart is, DIFF and The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center will utilize the screening of the film as a fundraiser to aid Dallas’ homeless community and those in need.

Three world premieres promise to be major events in Dallas, with the likelihood of more than a few emotional moments on screen and in-person. Caird’s HALFWAY looks at the systemic failure of the American prison system via a drama starring THE BLIND SIDE’s Quinton Aaron, and a supporting cast including Jeffrey DeMunn (The Walking Dead), Amy Pietz (Caroline in the City), and Gillian Zinser (90210), with several expected to be in attendance. Barry’s OCCUPY, TEXAS is a locally produced drama that follows a washed up Occupier who returns home after the death of his parents to find himself responsible for his two teenage sisters and his Texas-sized past. The film’s cast includes Gene Gallerano, Lorelei Linklater, Catherine Elvir, Janine Turner, Nikki Moore, Reed Birney, Paul Benjamin, David Matranga and Peri Gilpin with some expected to be on hand at the screening. Jackson and Jackson’s UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT, about a 2006 case where a four-year-old died mysteriously of salt poisoning and his foster mother was charged with capital murder, and sent to prison for life is almost certain to inspire an emotional response from the Dallas audiences.

A heartfelt drama, Ciaran Creagh’s IN VIEW, and a stirring documentary, Alix Blair and Jeremy M. Lange’s FARMER/VETERAN will also make their world premieres at DIFF. IN VIEW follows a woman’s extreme attempt to right a wrong, make peace with a past drunken indiscretion and placate her soul, while FARMER/VETERAN deals with an Iraq war veteran’s struggles to acclimate himself to life on the farm, as he is haunted by, and actually missing somewhat, the experience of war. Another documentary making its world premiere is Shaun M. Colón’s A FAT WRECK, which tells the story of founders Fat Mike (of the legendary punk band NOFX) and his ex-wife Erin Kelly-Burkett, spanning the birth, growth, struggles, and survival of the Fat Wreck Chords label.

Randal Kleiser’s VR series, Defrost, stars Tanna Frederick (who also produces), Harry Hamlin, Bruce Davison, Christopher Atkins and Carl Weathers, in a virtual reality experience of a woman who has been awakened after being cryogenically frozen for 30 years. She immediately finds her family has aged while she has not, and in some cases have become strangers to her now. The debut episode made a splash at Sundance, and this would be the first opportunity for the public to experience the next episode in the series – which places the viewer in the newly revived woman’s shoes and allows them to see the world as she sees it and her family and friends, as they interact with her. Kleiser, Frederick and one of the other stars from the project will be in attendance and participate in a special panel on storytelling in the VR world.

A hallmark of the Dallas International Film Festival has been presentation of the Dallas Star Award. Joining the illustrious group of legends and notable film artists that have received the award, will be cinematographer Ed Lachman. Nominated for an Academy Award this year for his sublime work on Todd Haynes’ masterpiece CAROL, and known for his masterful and influential work on films like DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, TRUE STORIES, LIGHT SLEEPER, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, ERIN BROCKOVICH, and LIFE DURING WARTIME, Lachman will receive his award during the DFS Honors Presented by the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation event at The Highland Dallas (5300 E. Mockingbird Lane) on Friday, April 22, as well as participate in a special Q&A following the screening of another of his classic collaborations with Haynes, FAR FROM HEAVEN, for which he received his first Oscar nomination.

This year will also mark the first presentation of the L.M. Kit Carson Maverick Filmmaker Award. Named after the iconic and influential Texas film artist (PARIS, TEXAS) who was a true friend of the film festival and frequent attendee, and designed to honor filmmakers that exemplify the unique visionary work that Carson was known for, the Maverick Award will first go to director Monte Hellman. In a career spanning six decades, Hellman has personified cutting edge filmmaking across multiple genres, working within budgets from high-to-low, and cast from stars to unknowns. Two films in particular, THE SHOOTING (1966), and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971) are examples of Hellman’s rare ability to take two vastly different genres - the western and the road movie, and deconstruct, strip them down, and make them into singular entries in what is a remarkably diverse filmography.
Hellman began working with legendary producer Roger Corman, debuting with BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE (1959), and later delivered another of his more notable films, RIDE THE WHIRLWIND (1966) for Corman, further cementing his reputation among critics, fellow filmmakers, and cinephiles, as a director with a singular and influential style. After an unusually long hiatus (more than 20 years), Hellman came back to the big screen with a vengeance with the visionary neo noir, ROAD TO NOWHERE (2010).

The Maverick section will include Ungur and Huang’s HOTEL DALLAS, which mixes fiction and documentary in a story set in the 80s, in the twilight of communist Romania, where Dallas is the only American show allowed on TV. The show inspires a man to build the Hotel Dallas, a life-size copy of the “Dallas” mansion, while his daughter immigrates to America, becomes an artist, and directs a film starring Patrick Duffy, as a soap opera character who dies in Texas and wakes up in Romania, in a hotel that looks just like home. And to continue the meta-theme, Duffy is expected to attend the screening. Norton’s gritty ORION stars David Arquette and Lily Cole in a sci-fi film set in a future dark age, after civilization has collapsed, where rumors and prophecies of a savior has survivors on edge. Meanwhile, a hunter fights to save a maiden from a cannibal shaman and searches for the world's last city. Arquette is also expected to attend the screening.

Previously announced, is a special concert and screening celebrating the career of award-winning composer John Williams at the Dallas City Performance Hall on Saturday, April 16. The Dallas Winds, also honoring a significant anniversary – their 30th, begin the afternoon with a performance of some of Williams’s signature works. A Q&A with Dallas Winds Artistic Director and Conductor, Jerry Junkin, will follow as the Hall is prepared for a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s family classic, E.T. – THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, which will also include a special Q&A with the film’s star, Henry Thomas.

Additional highlights among the feature film selections in this year’s edition of DIFF include Ben Wheatley’s highly anticipated HIGH-RISE, starring Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Elizabeth Moss, Luke Evans, and Jeremy Irons, ONCE’s John Carney’s musical romance SING STREET, Elizabeth Wood’s controversial semi-autobiographical WHITE GIRL., and another fascinating narrative/documentary hybrid, BOOGER RED. Directed by Berndt Mader, BOOGER RED delves into the American legal system, as it examines an investigation of purportedly the largest child sex ring in Texas history--inside of a swinger’s club in Mineola, TX.

Award winners from past festivals also dot the schedule, including recent SXSW winners, like Greg Kwedar’s TRANSPECOS (Narrative Film Audience Award), Keith Maitland’s TOWER (Documentary Grand Jury and Audience Award), and HONKY TONK HEAVEN: LEGEND OF THE BROKEN SPOKE (24 Beats Per Second Audience Award), joining the previously announced selection of Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s SONITA, which was the winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Audience Awards. Finally, the celebration of films enjoying anniversaries themselves along with DIFF itself include the 20th Anniversary of Julia Dyer’s delightful lesbian comic romance, LATE BLOOMERS (1996), and Mike Nichols’ acidic relationship parlor game, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (1966), celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Once again, the Dallas Film Society has teamed up with DART for their successful partnership called DART to DIFF. Many DIFF activities and events take place in the heart of Dallas and the partnership with DART will provide quick and convenient transportation for all festival attendees.
Online ticket sales will be available for Dallas Film Society members beginning Monday, March 21 at, and will open to the public on Thursday, March 24. The physical Prekindle Box Office at Mockingbird Station will open on Thursday, March 31.


Director: Chris Kelly
Country: USA, Running Time: 97min
A struggling New York City comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone (including himself) he’s “doing okay.” The film stars Molly Shannon and Jesse Plemons.

Queen of the South - Pilot
Director: Charlotte Sieling
Country: USA, Running Time: 42min
Based on the global best-selling novel “La Reina Del Sur,” by internationally-acclaimed author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, QUEEN OF THE SOUTH tells the powerful story of Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga), a woman who is forced to run and seek refuge in America after her drug-dealing boyfriend is unexpectedly murdered in Mexico. In the process, she teams with an unlikely figure from her past to bring down the leader of the very drug trafficking ring that has her on the run.


Director: Joshua Marston
Country: USA, Running Time: 90min
As a man (Michael Shannon) contemplates moving to a new state with his wife for her graduate program, an old flame (Rachel Weisz) - a woman who often changes identities - reenters his life at a birthday dinner party.

Director: Ben Wheatley
Country: UK, Running Time: 119min
HIGH-RISE stars Tom Hiddleston as Dr. Robert Laing, the newest resident of a luxurious apartment in a high-tech concrete skyscraper whose lofty location places him amongst the upper class. Laing quickly settles into high society life and meets the building’s eccentric tenants: Charlotte (Sienna Miller), his upstairs neighbor and bohemian single mother; Wilder (Luke Evans), a charismatic documentarian who lives with his pregnant wife Helen (Elisabeth Moss); and Mr. Royal (Jeremy Irons), the enigmatic architect who designed the building. Life seems like paradise to the solitude-seeking Laing. But as power outages become more frequent and building flaws emerge, particularly on the lower floors, the regimented social strata begins to crumble and the building becomes a battlefield in a literal class war.

Director: Chad Hartigan
Country: USA/Germany, Running Time: 89min
A heartwarming and crowd-pleasing coming-of-age comedy with a unique spin, Morris from America centers on Morris Gentry, a 13-year-old who has just relocated with his single father to Heidelberg, Germany. Morris, who fancies himself the next Notorious B.I.G., is a complete fish-out-of-water—a budding hip-hop star in an EDM world. To complicate matters further, Morris quickly falls hard for his cool, rebellious, 15-year-old classmate Katrin.

Director: John Carney
Country: Ireland/USA/UK, Running Time: 105min
SING STREET tales us back to 1980s Dublin seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old-boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents’ relationship and money troubles, while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool and beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in the band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band…yet. She agrees and now Conor must deliver what he’s promised – calling himself “Cosmo” and immersing himself in the vibrant rock trends of the decade, he forms a band with a few lads, and the group pours their heart into writing lyrics and shooting videos.

Director: Natalie Portman
Country: Israel/USA, Running Time: 98min
Based on Amos Oz's international best-seller, A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS is the story of Oz's youth at the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the State of Israel. The film details young Amos' relatinship with his mother and his birth as a writer, looking at what happens when the stories we tell, become the stories we live.

Director: Johnathan Brownlee
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
Starring Barry Bostwick, Meg Foster, and Mariette Hartley, the film is about an Irish American artist who is forced to confront her past when both sets of parents come together over a weekend for her to paint a family portrait.


Director: Carlo Lavagna
Country: Italy, Running Time: 84min
At the age of nineteen, Arianna still hasn’t had her first period. The hormones that her gynaecologist has prescribed don't seem to have any effect on her development. In the heat of the silent summer afternoons she spends in the family’s hunting lodge in Tuscany, she starts inquiring about her body and her past, to finally face with the true nature of her sexuality and her true identity.

Director: Maris Curran
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
Sherwin is a good man, flawed like any other, but deeply invested in his family and in love with his wife, Fiona. When she returns from visiting her estranged and ill mother and acts distant, he shows concern. Their conversations lead to fights, the worst in their marriage. Fiona no longer sees herself as a mother; she does not want children. Sherwin is confused and angry. The life they have built begins to break down. And before there can be resolution, Fiona dies, in an auto accident after driving distractedly on the freeway. Sherwin is devastated. All that is dear to him — his wife, his sense of self and his future, vanish. In the middle of his grief, Sherwin receives a phone call from the person he least expects, Fiona’s mother. She invites him to visit her in rural Maine, saying: “it might do us both some good.” Sherwin decides to go to Maine, and embarks on an unlikely journey of healing, compassion and empathy.

Director: Ben Caird
Country: USA, Running Time: 103min
Starring Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side) and Jeff DeMunn (The Walking Dead), HALFWAY tells the story of a recently released convict who faces the conflict of enduring ties with his old criminal world while struggling to adapt to life on probation as the only black man in a conservative white farm town. Among prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 roughly 68% were rearrested within 3 years with over 75% rearrested within 5 years. Halfway wants to bring to light that there is a serious systematic failure within the American prison system, where a lack of opportunity for those who have transgressed in their past seems to guarantee a future behind bars.

Director: Ciaran Creagh
Country: Ireland, Running Time: 93min
Ruth’s life is one of burgeoning guilt dominated by rage, alcoholism, depression and self-loathing which has its origins in a once-off drunken indiscretion with a work colleague some years previous. Having lost all that was dear to her, Ruth is still trying to seek out help but is coming to realize that there is only one course of action that may placate her soul. To end her life so as her organs can be donated to help others which will, in her mind, be payback for her perceived sins.

Director: Diego Luna
Country: Mexico, Running Time: 100min
Eubanks (Danny Glover), an old-school pig farmer from California, leaves his foreclosed family farm and sets off on a road trip to Mexico with Howard, his last beloved and very large pig. Ambrose must smuggle Howard across the border to find him a new home. As they embark across Mexico, Eubanks’ drinking and deteriorating health begin to take a toll, derailing their plans. His estranged daughter, Eunice (Maya Rudolph), shows up unexpectedly and joins them on their adventure. Driven by strong convictions and stubbornness in his old ways, Ambrose forges ahead to make sure he finds Howard the home he deserves and potentially mend many of the relationships that mean the most to him.

Director: Greg Kwedar
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
On a remote desert highway, a makeshift Border Patrol checkpoint is manned by three agents: Flores (Gabriel Luna): with an uncanny ability to track; Davis (Johnny Simmons): joined the Border Patrol with dreams of romancing señoritas and riding on horseback; Hobbs (Clifton Collins Jr): one of the old guard who believes a college degree can’t stop a bullet. It's like most boring days, but soon the contents of one car will change everything. What follows is a journey to uncover the surreal, frightening secrets hidden behind the facade of this lonely outpost. The end of the path may cost them their lives along a border where the line between right and wrong shifts like the desert itself.

Director: Elizabeth Wood
Country: USA, Running Time: 88min
Summer, New York City. A college girl falls hard for a guy she just met. After a night of partying goes wrong, she goes to wild extremes to get him back.


Directors: Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe
Country: USA, Running Time: 101min
At a remote Mojave Desert high school, extraordinary educators believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give at-risk students command of their own futures. This coming-of-age drama watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of these so-called "bad kids."

Director: Garrett Zevgetis
Country: USA, Running Time: 90min
Off a dirt road in rural Maine, a precocious 20-year-old woman named Michelle Smith lives with her mother Julie. Michelle is quirky and charming, legally blind and diagnosed on the autism spectrum, with big dreams and varied passions. Searching for connection, Michelle explores love and empowerment outside the limits of “normal” through a provocative fringe community. Will she take the leap to experience the wide world for herself? Michelle’s joyful story of self-discovery celebrates outcasts everywhere.

Directors: Alix Blair, Jeremy M. Lange
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
After three combat tours in Iraq, Alex Sutton attempts a fresh start hatching chickens and raising goats on 43 acres in rural North Carolina. Alex embraces life on the farm with his new love Jessica, but cycles between a state of heightened alert and “feeling zombified” from a cocktail of prescriptions meant to stabilize his injured mind. When Jessica becomes pregnant, the dark past Alex has tried to escape -the loss of his first family, the war he was forced to leave- closes in on him. The farm becomes another battleground. Farmer/Veteran attempts to reconcile the identity of a perfect soldier with the reality of a haunted man determined to hold onto the best chance at peace he has ever known.

Director: Nanfu Wang
Country: China, Running time: 84min
Traversing southern China, a group of activists led by Ye Haiyan (AKA Sparrow) protest a scandalous incident where a school principal and a government official allegedly raped six school girls. Sparrow becomes an enemy of the state, but detentions, interrogations, and evictions can’t stop her protest from going viral.

Director: Patrick Shen
Country: USA, Running Time 81min
In our race towards modernity, amidst all the technological innovation and the rapid growth of our cities, silence is now quickly passing into legend. Beginning with an ode to John Cage’s seminal silent composition 4’33”, the sights and sounds of this film delicately interweave with silence to create a contemplative and cinematic experience that works its way through frantic minds and into the quiet spaces of hearts. As much a work of devotion as it is a documentary, In Pursuit of Silence is a meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, sound, and the impact of noise on our lives.

Directors: Jessica Dimmock, Christopher LaMarca
Country: USA, Running Time: 97min
THE PEARL explores the raw emotional and physical experience of being a middle aged to senior transgender woman against the backdrop of post-industrial logging towns in the Pacific Northwest. The film leans into the struggle of those who were reared and successful as men and have reached middle age or later with a burdensome secret they can no longer keep to themselves.

Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Country: Germany/Iran/Switzerland, Running Time: 91min
Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, SONITA tells the inspiring story of Sonita Alizadeh, an 18-year-old Afghan refugee in Iran, who thinks of Michael Jackson and Rihanna as her spiritual parents and dreams of becoming a big-name rapper. For the time being, her only fans are the other teenage girls in a Tehran shelter. And her family has a very different future planned for her: as a bride she's worth $9,000. Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami poignantly shifts from observer to participant altering expectations, as Sonita's story unfolds in an intimate and joyful portrait.


Director: Berndt Mader
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
Booger Red is a hybrid narrative/documentary film where fictional journalist, Onur Tukel, investigates the true case of the ‘Mineola Swingers Club’ trials. In 2006, seven people were sentenced to life for purportedly running the largest child sex ring in Texas history--inside of a swingers club in Mineola, Tx. Onur, portraying a veteran reporter, interviews the actual defendants and lawyers involved in the trials. On his journey through the seedy underbelly of east Texas, Onur is forced to confront his own history with abuse while he discovers that the allegations at the root of his investigation might have never happened.

Director: William Kaufman
Country: USA, Running Time: 105min
Shot in Dallas and points ranging from East Texas to the West Texas town of Rio (pop. 3) along the famed Route 66, the film is a hard driving action-horror-thriller starring Johnny Strong, Lance Henriksen and Louis Mandylor. It focuses on a rogue drifter who's on a vengeful hunt, years after a mysterious plague has devastated the planet and turned most of humanity into blood-hungry creatures. When he stumbles across a desperate band of survivors in an abandoned police station, the drifter reluctantly puts his own thirst for blood on hold and agrees to help them defend themselves, only to realize that his mission of revenge and theirs may in fact coincide.

Directors: Brenda Greene Mitchell, Sam Wainwright Douglas
Country: USA, Running Time: 75min
George Strait, Willie Nelson, Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills, George Jones and Roy Acuff have all been regulars on stage at the world famous honky tonk, The Broken Spoke. With fifty years under its belt buckle “the last of the true Texas dance halls” has endured rapid urban growth and skyrocketing rents due to the passion and hard work of its charismatic, tenacious owners. More than a history of who played and when at this landmark venue, the film reveals a universal story about what it takes to maintain a family business in our increasingly corporate-driven society. Interviews include Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Dale Watson, James Hand, Jesse Dayton, the Waco Brothers and Alvin Crow.

Director: Jeff Barry
Country: USA, Running Time: 95min
OCCUPY, TEXAS follows a washed up Occupier (Gene Gallerano) who returns home after the death of his parents to find himself responsible for his two teenage sisters (Lorelei Linklater and Catherine Elvir) and his Texas-sized past. The cast also includes Janine Turner, Nikki Moore, Reed Birney, Paul Benjamin, David Matranga and Peri Gilpin.

Director: Clay Liford
Country: USA, Running time 100min
Neil is an introverted, questioning high school freshman. His main social outlet is the steamy erotic fan fiction he writes about Vanguard, the brawny, galaxy-hopping hero of a popular sci-fi franchise. When his stories are exposed in class Neil is mortified, but the fearless, effortlessly cool Julia comes to his defense. An erotic fan fic writer herself, Julia pushes Neil to publish his stories to an online “adult” forum, where they quickly grab the attention of the site moderator, Denis. When Neil is invited to present his work at a comic con live-read event, he has to face the fact that Denis’ interest in him may be more than simply professional… perhaps like his own feelings for Julia.

Director: Keith Maitland
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, TOWER reveals the action-packed untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.

Directors: Jenna Jackson, Anthony Jackson
Country: USA, Running Time: 108min
In October 2006 a four-year-old from Corpus Christi named Andrew Burd died mysteriously of salt poisoning. His foster mother, Hannah Overton, was charged with capital murder, vilified from all quarters, and sent to prison for life. But was this churchgoing young woman a vicious child killer? Or had the tragedy claimed its second victim?


Directors: Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger
Country: USA, Running Time: 80min
THE ANTHROPOLOGIST considers the fate of the planet through the eyes of an American teenager, whose mother is studying the impact of climate change on indigenous communities. Environmental anthropologist Susie Crate drags her teenage daughter Katie along with her to the farthest reaches of the globe. Featuring commentary from Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, the film explores how human beings adapt to catastrophic change.

Director: Roger Ross Williams
Country: USA, Running Time: 89min
LIFE, ANIMATED tells the remarkable story of how Owen found in Disney animation a pathway to language and a framework for making sense of the world. By evocatively interweaving classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life, the film explores how identification and empathy with characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel forge a conduit for him to understand his feelings and interpret reality. Beautiful, original animations further give form to Owen’s fruitful dialogue with the Disney oeuvre as he imagines himself heroically facing adversity in a tribe of sidekicks. With an arsenal of narratives at his disposal, Owen rises to meet the challenges of adulthood in this moving coming-of-age tale.

Director: Werner Herzog
Country: USA, Running Time 98min
In LO AND BEHOLD: REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD, the Oscar-nominated Herzog chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination he previously trained on earthly destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole and the Australian outback. Herzog leads viewers on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works - from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships.

Director: Joe Berlinger
Country: USA, Running Time: 115min
TONY ROBBINS: I AM NOT YOUR GURU, Joe Berlinger’s twelfth feature documentary, captures internationally renowned life and business strategist and best-selling author, Tony Robbins, in a revelatory cinéma vérité film that goes behind the scenes of his mega once-a-year seminar “Date With Destiny," attended by over 2,500 people, to give an insider look at how one man can affect millions. Granted never before seen access, this film is an emotional tour de force, pulling back the curtain on Tony Robbins and unveiling the inner-workings of this life-altering and controversial event, the zealous participants and the man himself.

Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
With unrestricted access to Anthony Weiner's New York City mayoral campaign, this film reveals the human story behind the scenes of a high-profile political scandal as it unfolds, and offers an unfiltered look at how much today's politics is driven by an appetite for spectacle.


Director: Attila Szász
Country: Hungary, Running Time: 88min
The story of three women - a famous prostitute, her housekeeper and their new maid - living in Budapest of 1910s, whose passionate, bizarre and complex relationship can only lead to one thing: murder.

Director: Jacques Audiard
Country: France, Running Time: 110min
Three Sri Lankan refugees pose as a family to flee their war-ravaged homeland for France, only to find themselves embroiled in violence in the Parisian suburbs. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Jacques Audiard's (A PROPHET) latest is a gripping, human, and timely tale of survival.

Director: Alice Winocour
Country: France, Running Time: 101min
Vincent, a French Special Forces soldier just back from Afghanistan, is suffering from
a post-traumatic stress disorder. He is hired to ensure the security of Jessie, the
wife of a rich businessman at their luxurious villa “Maryland.” As he starts experiencing a strange fascination for the woman he has to protect, Vincent increasingly seems to fall into paranoia. Unless he is right, and the danger is very real indeed…

Director: Johnnie To
Country: Hong Kong, Running Time: 120min
Adapted by actress Sylvia Chang from her hit stage play “Design For Living”, the film is a musical set in a corporate high-rise immediately before and after the 2008 financial collapse. The story centers around two assistants starting new jobs at a financial firm. One naively enters the world of high finance with noble intentions, while the other harbors a secret. Chow Yun-fat, Eason Chan and Tang Wei star alongside Chang.

Director: Cheang Pou-soi
Country: Hong Kong, Running Time: 120min
A undercover cop attempts to find the mastermind of a drug syndicate. When his cover is blown, he winds up in a Thai prison. Surprisingly, he is a bone marrow match for a guard's daughter.

Director: Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli
Country: Italy, Running Time: 94min
A sailing boat is at anchor in a bay off of a Apulian island. Naomi, a young Japanese woman, after having lost custody of her six year-old son, Ken, will be spending her last four days with him on board the boat of her father-in-law. In a hostile environment, Naomi faces the difficulty of approaching Ken under the controlling glare of the crew. Alex notices Naomi’s attempts to connect with Ken and eases his control, entering into conflict with the rest of the crew. When Naomi’s hopes seem lost Ken starts to take an interest in her, thus reducing the distance between them. The crew, in conflict with the captain, informs the boat’s owner. Alex, disobeying his employer’s wishes, takes Naomi and Ken to a beach where they can be alone and bond for the first time. Back on the boat, a timeless day magnifies the weight of their last goodbye and when Ken falls asleep, Naomi must leave. Watching the boat sail away, Naomi sees Ken for one last time wearing the mask she has made for him as a parting gift – the Japanese god of the sea.

Director: Julio Medem
Country: Spain/France, Running Time: 111min
Academy Award®-winning actress and producer Penélope Cruz delivers an extraordinarily emotional performance in ma ma, the newest film from acclaimed director Julio Medem (SEX AND LUCÍA). Honoring the high melodrama of Pedro Almodóvar and Douglas Sirk, ma ma follows Magda (Cruz) as she experiences tragedies and miracles alike. Just as Magda is diagnosed with breast cancer, she meets Arturo (Luis Tosar), a devoted husband and father in the midst of unspeakable loss. Their chance encounter leads both down a path of strength, grace, love, and rebirth.

Director: Jamie M. Dagg
Country: Canada, Running Time: 88min
In the south of Laos, an American doctor (Rossif Sutherland) becomes a fugitive after he intervenes in the sexual assault of a young woman. When the assailant's body is pulled from the Mekong River, things quickly spiral out of control.

Director: Emre Şahin
Country: Turkey, Running Time: 102min
Takim tells the tale of street soccer players from all walks of life in Istanbul who come together to save their favorite soccer pitch from ruthless developers. The story is loosely based on the very real urban phenomenon happening in Turkey today as corrupt construction giants bully the poor to move out and build immense buildings in their wake. Turgay and Tufan are up against the wall when they are threatened by a construction company to sell their family land, which also happens to be an hourly rental soccer field. Facing eviction from the bank on a loan gone bad, and with no options left, the two turn to the only thing they know: Soccer. Now they must build a strong team and try to win a famous tournament for the prize money for the sake of both their family and their land, all in a matter of weeks.

Director: Paddy Breathnach
Country: Ireland/Cuba, Running Time: 100min
Jesus is a hairdresser for a troupe of drag performers in Havana, but dreams of being a performer. When he finally gets his chance to be on stage, a stranger emerges from the crowd and punches him in the face. The stranger is his father Angel, a former boxer, who has been absent from his life for 15 years. As father and son clash over their opposing expectations of each other, Viva becomes a love story as the men struggle to understand one another and become a family again.


Director: Pedro Severien
Country: Brazil, Running Time: 71min
Iris lives alone in a spacious apartment by the sea. The green horizon seems to distance it from the city in comfortable isolation. At nightfall, the place hosts known and unknown in a frantic party flow. Iris is the main attraction. But on a hung over morning, she finds a corpse in the living room. As in the distorted reflection of a crooked mirror, Iris feels repeating steps of her childhood friend, Tiara, a medical student involved in an accident that resulted in death in the past. Tiara plunges into a spiral of self-pity, sentimental emptying and violence. The case is well known in town and Iris does not want to become another ghost in this dark repertoire of stories. In ALL THE COLORS OF THE NIGHT, reality works as a dimension of imagination, memory and madness.

Director: Julio Hernández Cordón
Country: Mexico, Running Time: 88min
I PROMISE YOU ANARCHY follows two teenage lovers in Mexico City who become embroiled in the city’s illegal, narco-run blood trade. Newcomers Diego Calva and Eduardo Martínez Peña, non-actors the director found on Facebook, give outstandingly honest and committed performances as young lovers Miguel and Johnny. They skate with their friends through the chaotic neighborhoods of Mexico City, they revel in their blissful sexuality, and they make a bit of cash in the illegal blood trade. A contact hooks them up with some narcos—drug traffickers who need black-market blood, since they can’t go to hospitals—and it seems like a perfect way to make a lot of money. But the scheme goes off the rails, and Miguel and Johnny are in over their heads, their eyes opened too late to the truly disturbing underground network of clinics servicing those injured in the drug wars.

Director: Salvador del Solar
Country: Peru/Colombia/Argentina/Spain, Running Time: 109min
Taxi driver Magallanes (Damián Alcázar) supplements his meager earnings with a job taking an old man (Federico Luppi) out on daily excursions. This old man is now senile and frail, but he was once a much-feared colonel in the Peruvian military during its bloodiest years of conflict with the Shining Path insurgency. Magallanes was his subordinate. One day a woman enters Magallanes' cab. Celina (Magaly Solier) doesn't recognize Magallanes, but he remembers her very well. Many years ago, Celina was a sexual plaything for the Colonel, who kidnapped the young indigenous girl and held her captive in a hotel room for an entire year. Magallanes has a photograph to prove this — a photo he can use to blackmail the Colonel's affluent son (Christian Meier). But can this aging cabbie suddenly transform himself into an extortionist? Or is Magallanes, still in love with Celina after all these years, in over his head?

Director: Joel Núñez
Country: Mexico, Running Time: 90min
A romantic comedy in which a male writer who writes under a female pseudonym falls for
a female journalist who writes under a male pseudonym. When love comes almost always takes us by surprise and nobody can object.


Director: Jim Henson
Country: USA, Running Time: 101min
Teenage Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) journeys through a maze to recover her baby brother (Toby Froud) from a goblin king (David Bowie).

Director: Stuart McDonald
Country: Australia, Running Time: 95min
The true story about an eccentric chicken farmer (Shane Jacobson) who, with the help of his granddaughter, trains his mischievous dog Oddball to protect a wild penguin sanctuary from fox attacks and in the process tries to reunite his family and save their seaside town.


Director: Shaun M. Colón
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
A FAT WRECK tells the story of founders Fat Mike (of the legendary punk band NOFX) and his ex-wife Erin Kelly-Burkett, spanning the birth, growth, struggles, and survival of the Fat Wreck Chords label. Half inspirational story of chosen family and community, half debauchery and occasionally involuntary drug use, the film blazes exciting new ground in the cinematic genre of puppet-driven punk rock music documentary filmmaking. Arguably the best film in the history of American cinema featuring a dominatrix spanking a puppet.

Director: Barbara Kopple
Country: USA, Running Time: 93min
Dreams never expire, but sometimes they are deferred. MISS SHARON JONES! tracks the talented and gregarious soul singer of the Grammy-nominated R&B band Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings during the most challenging year of her life. Confronting a cancer diagnosis and her own self doubts, she works to again find her voice and salvage the career that once eluded her for 50 years.

Director: Ido Haar
Country: Israel, Running Time: 80min
The true story of the incredible Princess Shaw and the enigmatic composer Kutiman, who discovers her from the other side of the world. By day, Samantha Montgomery cares for the elderly in one of New Orleans’s toughest neighborhoods. By night, she writes and sings her own songs as Princess Shaw on her confessional YouTube channel. Raw and vulnerable, her voice is a diamond in the rough. Across the globe, Ophir Kutiel creates video mash ups of amateur Youtube performers. Known as Kutiman, he is a composer, a musician, and a pioneering video artist embraced by the world of fine art. Kutiman “transforms sampling into a multimedia art”, whether at his home on a kibbutz in Israel or at a live performance at the Guggenheim in New York. Two strangers, almost 7,000 miles apart, begin to build a song. The film unfolds as Kutiman pairs Princess Shaw’s emotional performances in a beautiful expression of generosity and compassion, revealing the bonafide star underneath and her fight to never give up on her dreams.

Director: Keith Maitland
Country: USA, Running Time: 97min
Packed wall to wall with the greatest music from Texas and beyond, with performances from Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray Charles, Beck, Alabama Shakes, and Radiohead, A SONG FOR YOU: THE AUSTIN CITY LIMITS STORY is music to the ears of fans everywhere. This film highlights the PBS series’ evolution, proving that after 40 years, ACL is more relevant now than ever before. Featuring interviews with dozens of artists and fans, and untold insights from long-time producer Terry Lickona, A SONG FOR YOU transcends the TV show and gives audiences a front-row seat and backstage pass to the greatest performances of the longest running music show in television history.


Directors: Lily Baldwin, Frances Bodomo, Daniel Patrick Carbone, Josephine Decker, Lauren Wolkstein
Concept by: Dan Schoenbrun
Country: USA, Running Time: 81min
Five of independent film’s most adventurous filmmakers adapt each other's dreams for the screen. A man and his grandmother hide out from an ominous broadcast. The Grim Reaper hosts a TV show. The formerly incarcerated recount and reinterpret their first days of freedom. A suburban mom's life is upturned by the beast growing inside of her. And a high school gym teacher runs drills from inside a volcano.

Directors: Livia Ungur, Sherng-Lee Huang
Country: USA/Romania, Running Time: 74min
Playfully mixing fiction and documentary, HOTEL DALLAS is a surreal parable of capitalism, communism, and the power of art. In the 80s, in the twilight of communist Romania, “Dallas” is the only American show allowed on TV. Its vision of wealth and glamour captures the imagination of millions. Among them are Ilie and his daughter Livia. He is a small-time criminal and aspiring capitalist; she is in love with the show’s leading man, Patrick Duffy. After communism falls, Ilie builds the Hotel Dallas, a life-size copy of the “Dallas” mansion. Livia immigrates to America, becomes an artist, and directs a film starring Patrick Duffy, as a soap opera character who dies in Texas and wakes up in Romania, in a hotel that looks just like home.

Director: Asiel Norton
Country: USA, Running Time: 110min
In a future dark age, after civilization has collapsed, there are rumors and prophecies of a savior to come. A hunter fights to save a maiden from a cannibal shaman and searches for the world's last city. The film stars David Arquette and Lily Cole


Director: Steven Spielberg
Country: USA, Running Time: 115min
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world.

Defrost – second episode
Director: Randal Kleiser
Country: USA, Running Time: 10min
After being cryogenically frozen for 30 years, Joan Garrison awakens to meet her aged family. The VR series stars Tanna Frederick, Bruce Davison, Harry Hamlin, Christopher Atkins, and Carl Weathers.

Director: Todd Haynes
Country: USA, Running Time: 108min
The story - which crosses both sexual and racial lines - revolves around a privileged suburban family whose lives are filled with daily family etiquette, social events at the club, and an overall desire to keep up with the Joneses. The family is turned upside down when both husband and wife are faced with choices that not only create a gossip mill for the entire community but also change their entire lives forever.

Director: Julia Dyer
Country: USA, Running Time: 107min
Who would’ve thought a little one-on-one could get a girl in so much trouble? When high school basketball coach Dinah Groshardt falls for school secretary Carly Lumpkin, the uproar reverberates from classroom to locker room, from the principal’s office to the PTA. A film about true love, tolerance, and naked basketball, LATE BLOOMERS redefines family values. A movie for everyone who believes it’s never too late to fall in love.

Director: Cassie Bryant
Country: USA, Running Time: 75min
Medieval art treasures seized by the Nazis go missing at the end of World War II. Were they destroyed in the chaos of the final battles? Or were these thousand-year-old masterpieces stolen by advancing American troops? For over forty years, the mystery remained unsolved. A true detective story, THE LIBERATORS follows a dogged German art detective through the New York art world and military archives to the unlikeliest of destinations: a small town on the Texas prairie. The film raises intriguing questions as to the motivations of the art thief and the whereabouts of the items that, to this day, remain waiting to be discovered.

Directors: Willie Baronet, Tim Chumley
Country: USA, Running Time: 90min
Signs of Humanity is a documentary film that explores the inter-related themes of home, homelessness, compassion and humanity. Artist and professor Willie Baronet has purchased more than 1,000 homeless signs over the past 22 years, and he uses this collection to create installations to raise awareness about homelessness. During the month of July, 2014, Willie and three companions drove across the country, connecting with more than 100 people on the streets and purchasing more than 275 signs. Signs of Humanity is a film about that trip.

Director: Mike Nichols
Country: USA, Running Time: 131min
History professor George (Richard Burton) and his boozy wife, Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), return late one Saturday night from a cocktail party at the home of the college president, Martha's father. Martha announces that she invited another couple, newly appointed instructor Nick (George Segal) and his timid wife, Honey (Sandy Dennis), over for a nightcap. When the younger couple arrive, the night erupts into a no-holds-barred torrent of marital angst and verbal tirades.


Director: Danny Perez
Country: USA/Canada, Running Time: 94min
In a desolate community full of drug-addled marines and rumors of kidnapping, a wild-eyed stoner named Lou wakes up after a crazy night of partying with symptoms of a strange illness and recurring visions. Without being able to remember anything from the night before, she struggles to get a grip on the reality of her situation as unusual conspiracy theories begin to arise.

For more information and tickets go to the festival website here.