Dallas Film Festival offers wide variety of diverse programming
April 17, 2017
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As an avid fan of film, I try to see as many movies as I possibly can, especially smaller, independent ones. Ever since I first attended the Dallas International Film Festival a few years ago, it’s become something of a tradition. In its 11 years, the festival has evolved from only showing some of the smaller name films at festivals such as Sundance, to showing movies from all around the world, both big and small. Here are my favorites from this year’s festival.
Though it’s only nine minutes long, “Mr. Madila” is one of the most clever films shown at the festival. Following a young filmmaker who interviews a supposed “spiritual healer” after finding his card, the animated short is absolutely hilarious, and its minimal animation is surprisingly effective. The short works as both a mockumentary and a critique of the supposedly “deep” blockbusters of the past decade such as “Inception,” and the overall effect is a funny, smart film that sticks with you, unlike most other shorts.
A documentary filmed over the course of 10 years, “Quest” is a moving, intimate portrait of an ordinary family in North Philadelphia struggling to get by. Using archival news footage to show the passage of time, the film is incredibly moving, and over the course of the film you become incredibly attached to the family and root for their success. It’s one of the most unique documentaries in recent years, and is also socially and politically relevant as well.
The directorial debut of former SNL cast member Noel Wells, “Mr. Roosevelt” offers up both smart, uncomfortable comedy and genuine heartfelt moments. Following a young, struggling comedian who heads to Austin to retrieve her deceased cat from her ex-boyfriend, the film is extremely unique for a modern comedy, and its script is original and well-written. Shot on 35mm film, it’s absolutely gorgeous as well, which adds to the film’s overall charm.
“The Lost City of Z” isn’t quite a masterpiece, but it comes awfully close. Based on a true story, it chronicles the expeditions of explorer Percy Fawcett, as he attempts to find a mysterious abandoned city in the Amazon over 20 years. At over 2 hours long, the film’s pace and themes of adventure are reminiscent of the “epics” of the 1950s and 1960s. Its ambitious scope, gorgeous cinematography, and stunning action sequences make it an experience well worth witnessing in a theater, even if it’s lacking in some areas.
This short about the recording of a voice-over for a commercial is extremely comedic and wonderfully bizarre, with a major twist halfway through that makes the entire short worthwhile. It maximizes its potential as well, doing as much as it possibly can with a minimal concept in only seven minutes, showing that modern short films don’t have to be high-concept or technically impressive to succeed.
Overall, this year’s festival didn’t have any films that are likely to become breakout indie sensations like last year’s “Sing Street,” but what it lacked in films with major commercial potential, it made up for with smart, moving programming that will stick with its audience long after the festival has ended.