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

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THE ACTOR’S CORNER – Jess Weixler (PETER AND VANDY)

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on March 27, 2009

Jess Weixler was the girl from TEETH. If you are one of the film fest faithful (or frankly, even if you weren’t) that’s what you heard. “Wait, a minute wasn’t that the film where the girl’s hooha had teeth?” And if you did more than just recoil at the thought of the film’s premise or giggle like a teenager at the idea and saw the film, you likely had a gotcha moment. And much of that was due to Jess Weixler and specifically her level, yet emotional performance. And now, in PETER AND VANDY, she follows up with a tortured romance opposite solid-as-they-come Jason Ritter. And when we say tortured, we mean the kind of torture that evolves when two people are not made for each other. Yet still love one another. It’s a simple equation that just doesn’t add up. And one of the reasons that ultimately make it tangibly tragic is that longing to make the relationship math work that Weixler conveys. I’ve been there. And you’ve been there. And Weixler does a damn fine job of reminding us how much it could suck while still holding on to the hope that it could all still be good again.

There is an admirable quality about the way the characters you and Jason Ritter play in PETER AND VANDY are presented that is more than willing to delve into the mismatched at best or unlikable at worst. How tough is it as an actor to fight against our natural urge to be liked or seen as attractive?
Thank you. Yeah, I would say the urge to be liked is one of the harder things about acting. You personally want to be liked, but what people/ characters want at a given point in time is not always admirable. What is likable about everyone is usually not the full story. Every character I play I want to be whole and flawed, but what’s good, is that usually people are trying to make their lives better, there is just no quick answer for that. Yeah – sometimes when I see myself do stuff on screen I think ‘yuck, what is your problem?’.

Was there an official ceremony where Zooey Deschanel handed you the indie girl crown she received from Parker Posey or has she not willingly surrendered it yet?
Ha! I would be hard pressed to say that Parker Posey or Zooey Deschanel have taken off their crowns, nor should they. I believe they are both still the queens of their own indie universes. I just want to hang with them.

Jay DiPietro has said that PETER AND VANDY is “just as much about what the characters are thinking as it is about what they are doing”. What do you think he meant by that?
I guess what Jay meant is that these two are not always saying what they are thinking. And very much like in life, you can usually tell what they are thinking anyway, it’s just hard for the characters to admit it to themselves or each other. I hope the audience can tell what we are thinking.

Your roles in TEETH, PETER AND VANDY and ALEXANDER THE LAST all share a degree of fearlessness. Have you turned down a role yet because you thought it was too risky?
Thank you again. I have not turned down a role because I thought it was too “risky”. But in my mind the idea of taking a risky role is, reading a script and thinking, “Oh, this is kinda bad and cheesy, but I’m gonna do it anyway because I need the money, and just hope it turns out”. That is risky.

Having top lined a series of films already at this stage in your career, what is the percentage to scripts being offered to you outright versus projects you are asked to audition for?
Uhmm, I’m not being thrown offers or anything, I audition for most everything aside from stuff that involves friends. PETER AND VANDY is an exception because I just took a meeting with Jay and he must have thought to himself that he trusted me for whatever reason. I’m very grateful for that. Honestly, auditioning is the pits. I’ve spent a decade trying to convince myself I like it, but I really think it depends on how people are wired. It’s a bit of a nightmare personally to try and smash lines in my head for a day or two and then walk into a room and act. I just think sometimes it takes longer to digest; so much of my energy goes into thinking “what’s my next line”. People don’t act in a movie or play the way they act in an audition room (at least not from what I’ve seen). For most people the idea of getting offered something is adream come true because it’s so difficult.

Choose which cross comparison people actually have made on IMDB that you are most happy with:
A) Meryl Streep and Kate Hudson
B) Natalie Portman and Alicia Slverstone
C) Kate Winslet and Sarah Polley
D) Joan Cusack and Sharon Stone
E) Heather Graham and Juliette Lewis

I’m totally flattered by most of those comparisons and I’m a fan of at least someone in every letter, but if I had to pick, weather it’s at all true or not … C. They are both amazing…Sarah Polley has a reigning indie crown too, right? I mean she directed AWAY FROM HER. Wow.

PETER AND VANDY screens Saturday, March 28 at 5:30PM @ NorthPark 7 and Sunday, March 29 at 10:30PM @ NorthPark 7.

Jess Weixler will attend the first screening and participate in a Q&A afterwards.