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.


“I haven’t fallen in love yet, but I would sleep with PAPER HEART”

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on January 20, 2009

Back at Sundance – Day #1

After two years away due to the initial AFI DALLAS launch and scheduling issues the second year, I’m back in Park City to get a head start working on the films we’ll be picking up, get some face time with the journalists in town and possibly help Artistic Director Michael Cain and the programming dynamic Dallas duo of James Faust and Sarah Harris maybe find a couple more must haves that they somehow didn’t catch in their exhaustive non-stop movie search. Oh – and I’m also doing a Sundance story for Envy Magazine as they continue to stretch the boundaries of the “local social/ entertainment” magazine.

First impression – the reminder that you can’t park a car in Park City. Unless of course, you have a roll of bills like a mobster at hand to pay or you won the parking lottery. Point is – they don’t want you to park here. They don’t want you to have even owned a car. Ever. It’s understandable why. I mean, of course, I get it. And the public transpo is great. But there’s kind of an angry aggressiveness about the parking moratorium. And the tow trucks? Like sharks. Trolling for cars left behind by the weak-willed and desperate to make a movie or a meeting.

Scary. If you happen to have a car here – like me.

Anyway, if you’ve been here before then you know the drill and if you haven’t, you’ll learn fast. And ultimately, you won’t care because it’s all about the movies. Because if you’re here, even if it is for work, you likely view movies a little differently than the general public. At my first press screening, I asked a guy what he had seen that he had loved. He said, “I haven’t fallen in love yet, but I would sleep with PAPER HEART.” He also said he would have a one-night stand with LYMELIFE. Which leads me to think he would also buy PAPER HEART dinner a couple times as well.

The first film I saw was BIG FAN. The film follows a sad sack parking lot attendant who loves his New York Football Giants like no other. Until a disastrous incident occurs during a flukish meeting with his all-time favorite player, that is. I’m interviewing Patton Oswalt, the star of the film, tomorrow – AND I had insider info that it was gonna be a good one so I was looking forward to it. And it didn’t disappoint. It’s funny in a “real” way and it’s not afraid to go to some serious places you wouldn’t expect of Mr. Oswalt. But not earnest Oscar grab kind of going to those places. Probably because that sort of play would never enter Patton’s head in the first place. Written and directed by Robert Siegel with the same unflinching look at both the humor and you have to say it – pathos, that he brought to the script for THE WRESTLER. There’s also a nice understated turn by Kevin Corrigan as Oswalt’s character’s partner in fandom. The film draws conclusions that may not be the best on paper for all concerned, but (and I’m going to hate myself as I write this) that’s why they play the game. Finally, BIG FAN has, hands down, one of the best payoffs I have seen in a very long time.

Nice start, huh?

Film number two was THE COVE. Again, I was looking forward to this one from the moment I heard about it. The film is an expose’ on the dolphin industry and in particular the wholesale slaughter of dolphins that takes place in a little cove in Taiji, Japan. And it is as riveting as it gets as we follow a group of activists who hatch and execute an elaborate OCEAN’S 11-type operation for the express purpose of filming and documenting what goes on there. Led by Ric O’Barry who has been on a crusade for some 35 years to thwart an industry he feels greatly responsible for inspiring due to his work as a dolphin trainer on the original FLIPPER TV series, the group and the film work toward unmasking the many wrongs – animal cruelty to the nth degree and the willful spread of mercury poisoning to the entire country (with an emphasis on their children) among them. THE COVE invites immediate comparisons to SHARKWATER, which we had at AFI DALLAS in 2007 and which won the prize for Best HD Feature. And that comparison weighs very heavily in THE COVE’s favor. While SHARKWATER’s campaign against the illegal shark finning industry was easily just as genuine, it was burdened by the weighty ego of its filmmaker and “star.” O’Barry and the principals involved with THE COVE never waver on where their focus and concern lies –with a species with an intelligence and self awareness that could possibly exceed our own. And our kind’s typical bent to destroy that. Don’t miss this film when you get the chance to see it.

Number three? Chris Rock’s documentary, GOOD HAIR. This was an eye opener. Black women’s (and some men’s) love affair with relaxer (or “creamy crack”) and weaves is equal parts hilarious and frightening. Not surprising, mind you. Not when, as Nia Long describes the desire for “white hair” – there has long been a steady drumbeat for generations of black women to seek “the lighter, the brighter, the better,” as she says. To see what the principal chemical component in relaxer can do to a coke can in 3 or 4 hours is bad enough. Realizing that same stuff is being put on the heads of children after hearing the horror stories of the scalp burn from people like Ice T (yes, that Ice T), places it in a whole other arena. And then there are the secret societies of women with weaves, descriptions of how they pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for those weaves and how women in India literally have their hair “stolen” – cut off while they’re asleep or watching a movie in a theater – to fulfill that demand/obsession. It’s a lot to take in. And while I laughed throughout, I actually have gained much empathy for the men who must negotiate their way around their woman’s weave. Because, Rock makes it very clear – she may be worth it, but that’s some heavy lifting.

Finally, it was off to Slamdance to see a film we are romancing to bring to AFI DALLAS – ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD. First off, there was a gift bag on the seat for everyone attending the premiere with a poster, fangs, t-shirt, etc. Thoughtful. Vampire thoughtful. And the film was proceeded by a short film – bonus, right? Entitled HORSEFINGERS 3: STARFUCKER, it was everything you would hope from a twisted bizzaro little short about romance and tough it is already to date without also having to work around having two giant hooves (or “horsefingers”) on your hands.
While describing the film, the director (Kirsten Kearse) had the second best quote of the day, “People are boring. But put them in animal outfit…”

As far as the feature presentation is concerned, what can you say about a film that follows a theater director’s struggles as he finds himself caught in the middle of a two thousand year out conspiracy involving Shakespeare, the Holy Grail and vampires? It was funny, it was silly, it was inventive. That’s what you can say. You can also say it starred Jake Hoffman (displaying some natural dead pan talent), Devon Aoki, Ralph Macchio and Jeremy Sisto among an eclectic cast. And music by Sean Lennon. Mind you, I saw the film during its world premiere which might have doubled as a cast and crew screening so it was a mad house and a very happy, giddy mad house. But Jordan Galland’s dead little valentine would have held its own regardless and brought the funny. This will be a fun movie to have in Dallas and a great cast to have on a red carpet.