DALLAS INTL FILM FEST Announces Texas Avery Honoree & 12 Official Selections

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on March 5, 2010

The DALLAS International Film Festival Honors Pete Docter

with Texas Avery Animation Award


12 Official Selections Announced Includes 3 World Premieres

Southwest Airlines Announced as the Film Festival’s Official Air Carrier

Dallas, TX, March 3, 2010—The DALLAS International Film Festival (April 8-18) announces Pete Docter, director and writer of Academy Award® Best Picture nominee UP as the recipient of the 2010 Texas Avery Animation Award presented by REEL FX ENTERTAINMENT. 12 official selections were also announced, including 3 films (A SURPRISE IN TEXAS, THE RIVER WHY and WE ARE THE SEA) that will be making their world premieres at the film festival. DALLAS IFF also announced that Southwest Airlines would be taking a major sponsorship position, serving as the film festival’s official airline.

Docter will receive the 2010 Texas Avery Animation Award presented by REEL FX ENTERTAINMENT, which honors lifetime achievement in animation filmmaking. Docter is the director and writer of the five-time Academy Award nominated film UP (Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing). Previously, Docter also garnered Academy Award nominations for his work on WALL-E (2008 – Best Original Screenplay), MIKE’S NEW CAR (2002 – Best Short Film – Animated), MONSTERS, INC. (2001 – Best Animated Feature), and TOY STORY (1995 – Best Original Screenplay).

REEL FX CREATIVE STUDIOS CEO and Dallas Film Society board member Ed Jones said, “As an animator, screenwriter, and director, Pete Docter has been integral to the success of some of the most memorable animated movies of all time. The industry has watched his talent and career grow at PIXAR, and is not surprised by what he has achieved. Pete is deserving of this honor and we are thrilled that he will accept this year’s Texas Avery Animation Award. “

Making their world premieres at the DALLAS International Film Festival will be Peter Rosen’s A SURPRISE IN TEXAS, Matthew Leuwyler’s THE RIVER WHY and Neil Truglio’s WE ARE THE SEA.

Directed by Peter Rosen, A SURPRISE IN TEXAS is a documentary focusing its camera lens on the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth Texas, where 29 young contestants come from all over the world to compete for the most prestigious prize in the music world. The film highlights the story of one of them, a 20 year old from Tokyo, Nobuyuki Tsujii, blind from birth.

Directed by Matthew Leutwyler, THE RIVER WHY is a drama based on the novel by David James Duncan about a man known as “the Mozart of fly fishing” who leaves his big city home in rebellion from his family. In the process he comes in contact with an assortment of eccentric characters who help him in his journey to adulthood. The film stars Zach Gilford, Amber Heard, William Hurt, Kathleen Quinlan and William Devane. DALLAS IFF will also screen the film GREENLIT, Miranda Bailey’s documentary about the efforts of THE RIVER WHY’s filmmakers to maintain a “green” shoot throughout their production.

Directed by Neil Truglio, WE ARE THE SEA stars Jeff Childress and Allison Savoy in a drama about a young English teacher returning from the brink of tragedy to find his life exactly where he left it — in shambles. Turning cautiously to his friends, family, and even his students for guidance, he explores the possibilities for forging a future from a history of mistakes. The film features the music of Iron & Wine.

The list also features several selections from the recently concluded Sundance Film Festival, including award winners WINTER’S BONE (Grand Jury Prize Winner, U.S. Dramatic and Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award) and OBSELIDIA (Excellence in Cinematography Award, U.S. Dramatic and Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize). Other films included THE DRY LAND, JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD and SKATELAND.

“James Faust, Sarah Harris and the DIFF10 programming team have spent the year crossing boundaries both geographically and metaphorically in search of new discoveries. Traveling the globe continues to be key to the high level of programming found at the DALLAS International Film Festival. We are thrilled to bring this mix of exhilarating and emotive filmmakers to Dallas where they will tell you there are no more appreciative audiences,” said Dallas Film Society Chairman, Michael Cain.

DALLAS IFF Founder and Chairman Emeritus Liener Temerlin was proud to announce that Southwest Airlines would be making its debut as the official airline for the DALLAS International Film Festival. “From the beginning of this film festival, a hallmark has been the exceptional group of talented filmmakers and stars that we have been able to deliver to the city of Dallas. Southwest Airlines will allow us to continue what I see as a grand tradition.”

Southwest Airlines issued a statement saying, “We are honored to support the DALLAS International Film Festival where vision, inspiration, and passion are celebrated. The airline salutes the filmmakers who seek new horizons and embrace possibilities.”

The twelve official selections announced include:

A SURPRISE IN TEXAS (USA)

Director: Peter Rosen

Directed by Peter Rosen, A SURPRISE IN TEXAS is a documentary focusing its camera lens on the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth Texas, where 29 young contestants come from all over the world to compete for the most prestigious prize in the music world. The film highlights the story of one of them, a 20 year old from Tokyo, Nobuyuki Tsujii, blind from birth.

THE DRY LAND (USA)

Director: Ryan Piers Williams

Cast: America Ferrera, Jason Ritter, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Suplee, Melissa Leo

Directed by Ryan Piers Williams, THE DRY LAND follows a young U.S. soldier, James (Ryan O’Nan), as he returns home from duty in Iraq. Having not found the direction and purpose he sought from the service, James hurls himself back into his old life and finds it no longer fits. He tries to reconcile his experiences abroad with his life in rural Texas, but despite the support of his wife (America Ferrera), his mother (Melissa Leo), and friend (Jason Ritter) he is unable to settle in.  James turns to an Army buddy (Wilmer Vaderrama) for help and together they travel the country in search of redemption. Thinking that the war was behind him, James comes to realize that the fight for his life has only begun.

EARTHLING (USA)

Director: Clay Liford

Cast: Rebecca Spence, Peter Greene, William Katt, Jennifer Sipes

Directed by Clay Liford, EARTHLING is a sci-fi drama following the events that occur after a mysterious atmospheric event aboard the international space station causes a small group of people to wake up and realize that their entire lives have been a lie. Now they have to make a choice. Live amongst men, or try to find a way back home.

GREENLIT (USA)

Director: Miranda Bailey

Directed by Miranda Bailey (Executive Producer on THE SQUID AND THE WHALE), GREENLIT follows the production of THE RIVER WHY as the filmmakers attempt to keep an environmentally friendly set thanks to the supervision of a “green” consultant. What starts off with great enthusiasm quickly devolves in this insightful and hilarious film about the difficulties of living up to good intentions.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD (USA)

Director: Tamra Davis

A documentary by Tamra Davis, JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD is about the artist and phenomenon who became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and became best friends with Andy Warhol. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public, Basquiat was launched into international stardom. However, soon his cult status began to override the art that had made him famous in the first place.

KICK IN IRAN (GERMANY)

Director: Fatima Geza Abdollahyan

A documentary by Fatima Geza Abdollahyan, KICK IN IRAN profiles Sarah Khoshjamal, a 20-year-old Taekwondo superstar and the first female professional athlete from Iran to qualify for the Olympics. This skillful vérité portrait follows the unassuming Khoshjamal in the nine months leading up to the 2008 Beijing games. Living in an Islamic country, she is required to wear a hijab at all times and, unlike her fellow competitors around the world, cannot train with men; however, the power in her fighting resoundingly breaks down stereotypical barriers.

OBSELIDIA (USA)

Director: Diane Bell

Cast: Michael Piccirilli, Gaynor Howe
Directed by Diane Bell, OBSELIDIA is a romantic drama about a man writing an encyclopedia of obsolete things. In his quest to capture people, technologies, and ideas that are disappearing, he meets a free spirited cinema projectionist. Together they go on a road trip to Death Valley to interview a scientist who is predicting the eminent end of the world, and on their strange journey, they discover perhaps love is not obsolete after all.

THE RIVER WHY (USA)

Director: Matthew Leutwyler

Cast: Zach Gilford, Amber Heard, William Hurt, Kathleen Quinlan and William Devane

Directed by Matthew Leutwyler, THE RIVER WHY is a drama about a man known as “the Mozart of fly fishing” who leaves his big city home in rebellion from his family. In the process he comes in contact with an assortment of eccentric characters who help him in his journey to adulthood. 

SKATELAND (USA)

Director: Anthony Burns

Cast: Shiloh Fernandez, Ashley Greene, Heath Freeman

Directed by Anthony Burns, SKATELAND is a coming-of-age film set in 1983 centering on ‘Ritchie’, a worker at Skateland, the roller rink and local hangout of a small town. With Skateland due to close, the party scene getting stale, and his romantic life as cloudy as his future, Ritchie struggles to make sense of it all. When tragedy strikes his friends and family, Ritchie must face the music—and make the biggest decision of his life.

WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY (USA)

Director: Don Hahn

Directed by Don Hahn, WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY takes a look at the “rebirth” of the fabled animation studios of Walt Disney in the mid-1980s. The studio had fallen on hard times with artists polarized between newcomers hungry to innovate and old timers not yet ready to relinquish control. The conditions produced a series of box office flops and many believed the best days of animation were over. The film shines a light on an influx of new leadership and talent helped Disney regain its magic with a staggering output of hits—LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, THE LION KING and more—over the next ten years.

WE ARE THE SEA (USA)

Director: Neil Truglio

Cast: Jeff Childress, Allison Savoy

Directed by Neil Truglio, WE ARE THE SEA stars Jeff Childress and Allison Savoy in a drama about a young English teacher returning from the brink of tragedy to find his life exactly where he left it — in shambles. Turning cautiously to his friends, family, and even his students for guidance, he explores the possibilities for forging a future from a history of mistakes. The film features the music of Iron & Wine.

WINTER’S BONE (USA)

Director: Debra Granik

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser

A drama set deep in the Ozark Mountains, Debra Granik’s WINTER’S BONE follows the daring struggle of a teenage girl, ‘Ree’, who must go in search of her crystal-meth-making father, after he skips bail and goes missing. Unless she is able to find him, she and her young siblings and disabled mother will face destitution. In a heroic quest, Ree traverses the county to confront her kin, break their silent collusion, and bring her father home.

The DALLAS International Film festival will run April 8 – 18, 2010. Passes are currently on sale and tickets go on sale March 18. Passes and tickets will be made available via online (), and phone (214.720.0555).www.dallasfilm.org

“When I was in my dark place, I watched a lot of LAW & ORDER”

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on March 15, 2009

South by Southwest – Day 1

Day one for the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival and it is raining and it is freezing. And I hate the cold – so it was all about that today. But if there was any warmth, it was delivered by the press department here since due to some stereotypical bad journalist lameness and laziness on my part, I showed up today with no info and little idea of where to go and what to do. I won’t even pretend I was testing them. I was just an ass.

See, I had been sent some official coupon code to enter into an online form to secure my press pass and of course I filed the e-mail, then pulled it up the day-of and way too late. If anyone should know better, it would be me. But instead, I was the annoying “can you help me even though I clearly don’t deserve your consideration” guy. And to the absolute credit (and my benefit), the Head of PR – Rebecca Feferman – peeled herself away from other crises to walk me over to Jarod Neece, who took care of me in short order.

I have to say that I have a lot of big brother pride seeing Rebecca kicking PR butt here in Austin, injecting organization into a film festival that defies the very idea of that to its core. I was with Rebecca during some of her formative PR years in the trenches at IDPR and had more than a few long talks with her about how this stuff worked and how to navigate her way around the nonsense to get to the real job we were being paid for and she’s light years ahead of where I was at her age.

The charm of SXSW is rock n’ roll indie filmmaking and you-saw-it-and-heard-it-here-first sensibility, but there is a very welcome growth and character adjustment in just a year under Festival Producer Janet Pierson and Rebecca. It’s a cliché way to put it, but Janet is a breath of fresh air as a Festival Producer. She has an open “How am I doing?” approach to this that is a pleasure to be in the company of. The film festival world can be a very clique-ish, insiders kind of thing that can be irritating to have to deal with from the outside in and it’s nice to have people like Janet and Kelly Williams of the Austin Film Festival as the AFI DALLAS counterparts to the south. Soon, I think you’ll see some joint ventures here in Texas that will boggle the minds of some old-school and tired competitive folks elsewhere.

The first film tonight was John Hamburg’s I LOVE YOU, MAN. But before I could get into the movie I had to wait in a huge-ass line that wound around the block. I hadn’t been in a line this long since BEVERLY HILLS COP II opened in Westwood. I should’ve known better then, I definitely do now. And the admission I did that for that movie is even more embarrassing than my clueless journalist behavior was. Okay, maybe a tie.

Anyway, so while I’m in line this guy passes by and does the time honored film festival “I know you but don’t know your face so I’ll try to scan your badge as I walk by just in case I need to stop and say hello and then ask you to screen my film, buy my film, sell my film, write about my film, film, film, film, me, me, me” move. I mean, I recognized the guy and couldn’t place his name either, but damn…

So – we finally are all ushered into the Paramount Theater. Which is great. It’s beautiful, ornate in the right way, intimate yet seats a ton of people apparently. I have to image that it’s a died and gone to heaven moment for a filmmaker to screen a film in that indie cathedral.

The film will take its rightful place in the Apatow comedy family tree. It’s got clever takes on the dynamics of male-male bonding and Paul Rudd, Jason Segal and Rashida Jones are supported by an insane top loading of comedy talent. It’s one thing to have ace players like Jon Favreau and Jaime Pressly at your service in supporting roles, but every other moment another former member of The State or Broken Lizard or The Daily Show was being trotted out in a supporting role. After awhile I felt like I needed to push myself away from the table because the Jewish casting mother wouldn’t stop feeding me comedy cameos.

Honestly, I sat down to watch the film resisting what is starting to feel like an assembly line of these types of comedies – some male bonding and either drug humor or poo + pee = teehee stuff which is all balanced by a lot of heart – but in the end it wins. I give up. It’s funny. I cared. Okay? Stop it already.

Next up was EXTERMINATORS. Directed by John Inwood from Suzanne Weinert’s script, the film stars Heather Graham, Amber Heard and Jennifer Coolidge as three women with some anger issues thanks to the men in their lives. The story takes off when a couple of them decide to make a career out of male pest removal. As Coolidge’s character says in their anger management group, “I’m Stella and I use my car as a weapon.” Inwood comfortably infuses the proper mix of his SCRUBS skills with Weinert’s lines – which skew a little more to the twisted side of town: “When I was in my dark place, I watched a lot of LAW & ORDER.” Or a woman dismissing Graham’s predicament after she had punched a guy over a blouse in a sales bin: “All that trouble for a synthetic blend.”

Inwood also mined the SCRUBS team for Sam Lloyd as the film’s antagonist – an IRS agent with a pervy, videotaping fetish. He plays it like an extra creepy, hold the dreamy version of James Spader’s SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE role. As much as I personally enjoyed it, I think that ultimately, the film will go as far as your appreciation of Graham, Heard and Coolidge. And for me – Jennifer Coolidge turned loose trumps all.

Even the freezing rain.