AFI DALLAS Announces Closing Night/Texas Day

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on March 19, 2009







DALLAS, TX, March 19, 2009 – AFI DALLAS International Film Festival Founding Sponsor Victory Park, Presenting Sponsor NorthPark Center announces James Toback’s TYSON and Louie Psihoyos’s THE COVE will share the Closing Night Gala Presentation spotlight on Thursday, April 2.

AFI DALLAS also announces that film legend Peter Bogdanovich will receive the AFI DALLAS Star Award in recognition of his career achievements in cinema. The presentation will be made during a special Texas Day celebration of film that will honor the rich history of movies in the Lone Star State. Presented by AT&T and the State of Texas, the Texas Day events will take place at Victory Park on Friday, April 3.

James Toback’s critically acclaimed documentary, TYSON takes an intimate and unexpected look at the former heavyweight champion boxer, Mike Tyson and his life. Toback manages to get the brutal and embattled man to speak about such topics as his marriage to Robin Givens, his rape conviction and his 1997 fight with Evander Holyfield which ended after he bit Holyfield’s ear.

Louis Psihoyos’s equally lauded film THE COVE tells the story of Richard O’Barry, creator of the original FLIPPER series who became an activist on behalf of dolphins. The film follows the efforts of an elite team to expose the cruel treatment and wholesale slaughter of dolphin in a small Japanese fishing village.

Both films will screen on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at AMC NorthPark 15 in Dallas with the directors attending and taking part in Q&As afterwards.

Regarding the choice of dual Closing Night Galas, Director of Programming James Faust said, “We have always made the programming and presentation of documentaries at AFI DALLAS a huge priority and by highlighting two of the most powerful and intensely emotional films in that category released this year, we are simply underlining that effort for both the filmmaking community and local film fans alike. We are also thrilled to be turning the spotlight toward the upcoming edition of our sister festival, SILVERDOCS.”

Prior to the screening of the Closing Night Gala Presentations, AFI DALLAS will hold a cocktail reception and awards ceremony at AMC NorthPark 15. Awards will include the anticipated presentation of the unrestricted $25,000 cash prize for the Target Filmmaker Awards in the Narrative and Documentary competitions, $20,000 in cash, goods and services to the winner of the MPS Studios Texas Filmmaker Award, and $10,000 to the winner of the Current Energy Filmmaker Award.

A new prize package will also make its debut in 2009 for the winner of the Grand Jury Prize-Animation presented by Reel FX Entertainment and Mass Animation. Selected by a panel of Reel FX judges along with the AFI DALLAS Texas Avery Award recipient, Henry Selick (CORALINE, NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS) and special guest judge, Yair Landau (Mass Animation), sponsored prizes for the winner will include a computer system powered by an Intel® Core™ i7 processor presented by Mass Animation and Intel and an NFR copy of Autodesk® Maya® Unlimited 2009 software presented by Autodesk Media & Entertainment.

The final 2009 AFI DALLAS Star Award honoree announced, Peter Bogdanovich will be presented with the award by Texas Governor Rick Perry during the Texas Day celebration held at Victory Park on Friday, April 3.

Bogdanovich’s classic THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (for which he was nominated for two Academy Awards™) will screen as a preview to the new monthly AFI DALLAS series, “Book to Film” at the Nasher Sculpture Center on Thursday, April 2 with Bogdanovich and Timothy Bottoms in attendance. The celebrated filmmaker’s credits include notable titles such as DIRECTED BY JOHN FORD (1971), WHAT’S UP, DOC? (1972), PAPER MOON (1973), SAINT JACK (1979), MASK (1985), TEXASVILLE (1990) AND THE CAT’S MEOW (2001), as well as appearances as an actor in MR. JEALOUSY (1997), INFAMOUS (2006), BROKEN ENGLISH (2007) and THE SOPRANOS television series.

“Honoring Peter Bogdanovich and screening THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, which we feel is a quintessential Texas film, couldn’t be a more exciting way to enhance the conclusion of the film festival, nor a more appropriate choice to lead into our Texas Day celebration,” said Michael Cain, AFI DALLAS Artistic Director. “AFI DALLAS is proud to join forces with AT&T and Governor Rick Perry to throw the spotlight on the many film classics that were filmed in this states and the many wonderful film artists who call Texas home.”

As a capstone event of the 2009 Festival, the goal of the Texas Day Film Celebration is to promote and bring awareness to filmmaking in the great state of Texas. The event will kick off with a luncheon and panel discussion at the AFI DALLAS Festival Lounge in Victory Park, sponsored by Women in Film Dallas and the Dallas Producers Association.

With Governor Rick Perry and other VIPs in attendance, AFI DALLAS will host a cocktail reception at The House in Victory Park sponsored by the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau, The Studios at Las Colinas and the Texas Association of Film Commissions. Red carpet arrivals at AT&T Plaza, Victory Park will then proceed Governor Perry’s declaration of Texas Film Day and his presentation of the AFI DALLAS Star Award to Bogdanovich in recognition of his extraordinary career in film and the unique, signature style his films have imprinted on the canvas of Texas and modern cinema. A screening of Great Texas Moments in Film on the superscreens in AT&T Plaza at Victory Park will provide the crowning event of the ceremony. The evening will be topped off with a star-studded gala and celebration fitting for Texas at the Downtown Neiman Marcus. All Texas Day events at Victory Plaza will be free and open to the public to participate and enjoy.

AFI DALLAS also announces late additions to its schedule of films for 2009.
Those films include the following feature length films:

DIR: Cliff McClelland and Tom Zembrod (USA)
The mysterious re-appearance of a girl that survived a massacre at the hands of supernatural forces spells doom for a group of vacationing teens in a cabin.

DIR: Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi (Italy)
Documentary profiles the struggle two gay men undertook on behalf of same sex civil unions in Italy.

DIR: Tisha Blood (USA)
Documentary focus on a girl born with Apert Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes skeletal mutation and her subsequent journey through childhood.

DIR: Keith Cossrow and Bennett Viseltear (USA)
Documentary profiles the Audi Sport race team as they attempt to win a fifth straight “24 Hours of LeMans” against Team Peugeot.

The following short films were also added to the schedule:

DIR: Lou Frederick (USA)

DIR: Rachel Lyon (USA)

DIR: Henry Selick (USA)

AFI DALLAS 2009 will run March 26 – April 2, 2009. Passes are currently on sale; tickets go on sale March 4. Passes and tickets will be made available via online (, phone (214.720.0663) and in person at the Box Office located at the AFI DALLAS locations at NorthPark Center and Victory Park.

AFI DALLAS Announces Robert Towne and 10 Official Selections

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on February 16, 2009

2009 AFI DALLAS International Film Festival

Presented by NorthPark Center, Founding Sponsor Victory Park

Robert Towne to Receive AFI DALLAS Star Award

Ten Titles in Official Selections

Dallas, TX, February 16, 2009—AFI DALLAS 2009 International Film Festival Presented by NorthPark Center, Founding Sponsor Victory Park announces that Academy Award® winner Robert Towne will be presented with the prestigious AFI DALLAS Star Award in recognition of his career as a filmmaker and screenwriter on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the cinema classic, CHINATOWN.

AFI DALLAS also announces ten films that will screen at this year’s festival. Those films include an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature (Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s THE GARDEN); and the Jury and Audience winner for Best Documentary at last year’s AFI FEST as well as the SILVERDOCS Award (Kief Davidson’s KASSIM THE DREAM).

Adding to the list of films making their US premiere at AFI DALLAS, will be Topaz Adizes’s AMERICANA and Charles Binamé’s THE AMERICAN TRAP.

Adizes’s AMERICANA is a documentary following the experiences of two young men from a small town in Arizona as they prepare to join the military to fight in Iraq. That preparation involves travel abroad and encounters with people from other countries with varying views on what America means to them, as well as how their close-knit community handles their imminent deployment.

Also making its US premiere will be Binamé’s dramatic thriller, THE AMERICAN TRAP. Set in a world of global intrigue and corruption, the film stars Rémy Girard, Gérard Darmon and Colm Feore in a tension-filled story of a man attempting to uncover the truths behind the JFK assassination.

The first selection in the Environmental Visions Competition, UPSTREAM BATTLE was also announced. Ben Kempas’s documentary chronicles the battle between Native Americans and an energy corporation as they seek to protect the salmon they depend on for their survival. Their struggle may trigger the largest dam removal project in history. The film will vie for the Current Energy Filmmaker Award and the $10,000 unrestricted cash prize that comes with that award.

The first 2009 AFI DALLAS Star Award honoree announced, Towne will be presented with the Festival’s AFI DALLAS Star Awards (the award is designed from Steuben crystal, courtesy of Neiman Marcus) prior to a screening of CHINATOWN, for which he won an Academy Award for his original screenplay in 1974. Towne was also nominated in the same category for SHAMPOO (1975) and for his screenplay adaptations for THE LAST DETAIL (1973) and GREYSTROKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES (1984). The prolific writer’s credits include notable titles such as PERSONAL BEST (1982) which he also directed, TEQUILA SUNRISE (1988), DAYS OF THUNDER (1990), THE FIRM (1993), LOVE AFFAIR (1994), MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (1996), WITHOUT LIMITS (also written and directed – 1998), MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II (2000) and ASK THE DUST (2006). Following the screening of CHINATOWN, Towne will participate in a special Q&A moderated by TIME Magazine’s Richard Schickel.

“It is a thrill to honor an accomplished artist like Robert Towne,” said Michael Cain, AFI DALLAS Artistic Director. “This is someone that had a hand in creating some of the signature films of the 70s—one of the legendary fertile periods in American film history, not to mention the other major films within his body of work. And to have an opportunity to see a classic like CHINATOWN on the big screen and then have one of the architects of that film discuss it afterward? That’s a date you automatically mark on your calendar.”

The ten announced selections include:

Director: Topaz Adizes
Documentary follows the experiences of two young men from a small town in Arizona as they complete their last semester of high school and enlist in the Army to join the fight in Iraq.

Director: Charles Binamé
Cast: Rémy Girard, Gérard Darmon, Colm Feore, Joe Cobden, Janet Lane
Thriller set in a world of global intrigue and corruption, as a man attempts to uncover the truths behind the JFK assassination.

Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki
Film is the first in a four-part series adapted and re-imagined from the legendary NEON GENESIS EVANGELION anime series.

Director: Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Documentary traces the events that led to the creation of a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles and the struggle between the urban farmers, the City of Los Angeles and a powerful developer who sought to evict them and build warehouses on the property.

Director: Kief Davidson
Documentary profiles Kassim ‘The Dream’ Ouma, who survived being a child soldier in Uganda to becoming a champion boxer.

Director: Jon Gunn
Cast: Mira Sorvino, Barry Pepper, Cole Hauser
Drama pits a couple versus a parolee father who seeks to take custody of their six-year-old adopted son.

Director: Derick Martini
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Kieran Culkin, Rory Culkin, Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon, Emma Roberts
Drama set in Long Island during the late 1970s, follows the intertwining lives of two families focusing on the teenaged children and their attempts to cope with the times.

Director: Carlos Cuarón
Cast: Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal
Drama about the turmoil between two brothers who compete against each other in the world of professional soccer.

Director: James Toback
Documentary takes an unvarnished view of the controversial former heavyweight champion boxer.

Director: Ben Kempas
Documentary chronicles the battle between Native Americans and an energy corporation as they seek to protect the salmon they depend on for their survival.

AFI DALLAS 2009 will run March 26 – April 2, 2009. Passes go on sale February 6; tickets go on sale March 2. Passes and tickets will be made available via online (, phone (214.720.0663) and in person at the Box Office located at the AFI DALLAS locations at NorthPark Center and Victory Park.

About AFI DALLAS International Film Festival
The AFI DALLAS International Film Festival celebrates films and their impact on society, honors filmmakers and recognizes their achievements and contributions in enhancing the creative community, provides educational programs to students to develop better understanding of the role of film in today’s world, and promotes the City of Dallas and its commitment to the art of filmmaking. AFI DALLAS is a presentation of the nonprofit Dallas Film Society.

About NorthPark Center
As one of the premier shopping centers in the United States, NorthPark Center ( proudly offers shoppers the best of the best in every category represented, including the finest in luxury retail and exclusives in the Southwest. Offering an unparalleled selection of international designers set amid timeless modern architecture and a world-class art collection, NorthPark Center has established a new standard in the United States for innovative retail destinations.

NorthPark Center is owned, managed, operated and leased by husband and wife David J. Haemisegger and Nancy A. Nasher. After a $250 million expansion in 2006, NorthPark Center became the largest shopping center in North Texas and one of the top shopping destinations in the United States. NorthPark Center will continue to open more luxury boutiques, exclusive stores and dining options throughout 2009 and beyond, culminating in more than 235 stores and restaurants.

NorthPark Center is located at the intersection of North Central Expressway and Northwest Highway in the heart of Dallas. Stores are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Department store, theatre, restaurant and spa hours vary.

About Victory Park
Victory Park is Dallas’ most dynamic urban neighborhood—and one of the most significant and innovative urban developments in the United States. The neighborhood is a carefully crafted collection of upscale retail shops, distinctive dining, modern office space, dramatic residential units, the W Dallas Victory hotel and signature entertainment venues, including the American Airlines Center and House of Blues. Victory Park is a development of Hillwood, a Perot Company. For more information on Victory Park, visit

Additional Sponsors
In addition to NorthPark Center and Victory Park, AFI DALLAS 2009 major sponsors include American Airlines, Bank of America, Barefoot Wine, Blockbuster, Brierley+Partners, CBS Radio, City of Dallas, Current Energy, The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, DG FastChannel, Dallas Film Commission, DART, DCVB, e-Rewards Market Research, Entertainment Partners, El Creative, Faulkner Design Group, Jones Day, KERA, MPS Studios Dallas, Neiman Marcus, Post Asylum, Premiere Video, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Pure Evil Music & Sound, Reel FX Entertainment, Screen International, Scott Yung LLP, Sony, The State of Texas, Studio Movie Grill, Target, Temerlin Consulting, Texas Film Commission, TM Advertising, 2929 Entertainment, Texas Association of Film Commissions, TXMPA, vitaminwater10, W Dallas Victory, WFAA, Whole Foods and WRR.

John Wildman
Director, Press and Public Relations
AFI DALLAS Presented by NorthPark Center,
Founding Sponsor Victory Park
Tel: 323.600.3165
Tel: 214.720.0555
Fax: 214.720.0551

AFI DALLAS – The First Blog

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on February 1, 2009

I just got into Dallas on Friday. I was welcomed to Texas just before I got here with a speeding ticket. Which I scored by going 80 in a 70 zone. The cop told me that if I had kept it to 8 MPH over, he would’ve ignored me. They say it’s a game of inches…Two years ago, I got a speeding ticket as I was heading home to L.A. So, I guess we’ll do one every other year now. Tradition.

The last two years I’ve been put up at this great apartment/condo building called South Side of Lamar. Very convenient – both in living style and location. This year, that isn’t available so I’ll be living in the guest house behind the home of David Gravelle, one of the AFI DALLAS Board members. Beyond having been the head of marketing for MCorp, the largest bank holding company in Texas for 11 years, Gravelle has climbed Mounts Rainer and Shuksan. Those are just a couple fun facts. And he is genuinely nice and welcoming. As is his wife and the daughter I met.

To have me stay there goes far beyond the call of duty. Especially, considering this is in a place called Highland Park where people have “Welcome Back Home, George W. and Laura!” signs on their lawns. And I’m the L.A. PR guy – which not only spells depravity, but the promotion of it (in a lot of conservative minds), I’m sure. But, you know, I wear a tie a lot and I’m white and a man so I can pass undetected in their midst fairly decently. Hell, I even did an event for the LAPD’s leading charity last year – talk about your hot bed of “we’re more moral than you”… I just hope David and his wife don’t get in trouble from some community watch group because they’re housing me. Should’ve kept the Dodgers cap at home.

The “guest house” is actually a glorified game room (complete with pool table) with a bathroom and a kitchenette area. I had to buy a microwave and a hot plate so I could prepare a basic meal. It’s made to order for a sleepover for some visiting businessman or dignitary. Not so much for someone in town for 10 weeks. There is also the unnerving plethora of life size Star Wars stand-ups populating the place. Every night, I’ll go to sleep with Darth Vader, Obi Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett standing guard nearby. I told my wife, Justina about this and she said if she ever had any reason to worry about on the road shenanigans that no one would get laid under those conditions. She’s right, there. But it will increase the likelihood that I’ll be that much more focused on the job at hand which is to help ensure that AFI DALLAS takes another step forward in year three of our existence, as opposed to a step back.

And that is a challenge this year. Like all film festivals, we’ve had sponsors bail and we face major budget shortfalls. There is less paid staff, fewer venues, and a couple days shaved off the schedule. The films we’ve lined up so far already are a nice selection, so that looks good. But frankly, the film festival is fighting for the proper kind of attention and support from AFI. Not that that is any surprise. There is a lot going on at AFI. All the time. A conservatory, various awards, events and several other exhibition programs all clamoring for their place at the big people’s Thanksgiving dinner table. And right now, the biggest advocates in L.A. for AFI DALLAS (and AFI FEST for that matter) are Rose Kuo, AFI FEST’s Artistic Director and myself.

Christian Gaines, the former Head of Festivals at AFI had sold me on the possibilities and potential of AFI’s “suite of festivals” (SILVERDOCS included). I bought into it conceptually and I would still love to see that potential realized – as a year-round circuit of film festivals, each with individual personalities and mandates, but collectively – adhering to an exceptional level of filmmaking, pushing forward the ongoing conversation on film, not to mention the careers of the best and most promising filmmakers. Because it would be one of a kind. We’d be leading the pack in the best way. And everyone wants to do that, right?

Or maybe not. Maybe that’s not a big deal. Maybe we’re all good with picking through choices at the multiplex like PAUL BLART: MALL COP (Kevin James? That’s a Number 1 movie? Really? Really?), BRIDE WARS (I’ll say it out loud – Anne Hathaway’s NORBIT), and another freakin’ UNDERWORLD movie (Are those films just like a World Series between Werewoves and Vampires? And, if so – can we just fast forward to Game 7?). Maybe we should just be content to hunker down at home with our Blu-Ray discs and Criterion collections.

No, I’d rather drive my ass to Dallas, recruit as many allies as I can, and keep being the one consistent voice in the AFI room to make sure this thing lives. And lives with style. That’s probably why they forgive the Dodgers cap…