Category Archives: News

Local filmmakers and events; film festivals and openings; trailers, clips and images.

Announcement: The First Annual North Texas Film Festival

There exists a phenomenon here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where people are reluctant to puncture their bubble and travel elsewhere. For Dallasites, it’s pretty much anything north of 635, which (apparently) is akin to traveling beyond the White Wall from Game of Thrones. As someone who’s lived and worked at least a county away from both work and/or school since moving to Dallas almost 18 years ago, I never quite understood this division.

Hopefully, the upcoming North Texas Film Festival will entice some people to penetrate their comfortable surroundings and head to the Cinemark West Plano from Thursday September 26, through Sunday, September 29. And if one lives north of 635, then you have no excuse not to embrace the first-ever film fest experience within 10 miles of you.

Comprised of films from several blocks — including horror film premieres and classic retrospectives, the best films from this year’s Dallas International Film Festival and a variety of shorts and experimental works — the North Texas Film Festival showcases something for everyone.

Some highlights include:

The Lodge (2019) — Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s atmospheric horror film starring Riley Keough as a woman experiencing supernatural terrors in a snow-bound cabin.

This World Won’t Break (2019) — One of the fastest-selling tickets at this years’ DIFF, Josh Jordan’s This World Won’t Break details the lonesome road of a Texas bluesman yearning for world-renowned fame.

Mack Wrestles (2019) — Award winning documentary about a transgender wrestler and the hardships he faces in competition.

Poltergeist (1982) — Tobe Hooper’s classic chiller about a family’s encounter with some very angry spirits. Come for the say-along with the little girl, leave terrified no matter how many times you’ve seen it.

Alice Cooper: Live From the Astroturf (2019) — I doubt this presentation will match the exuberance of its DIFF premiere, where the theater became a rollicking party with balloons and giant bouncy balls (plus a post-film Q&A with Alice Cooper band members), but this slice of regional history deserves to be seen on the big screen.

To see the first 15 announced films, purchase tickets and stay up-to-date with breaking news about this event, visit NTXFF. The event will be held at the Cinemark West Plano September 26th-29th. Stay tuned here for reviews and news as the festival unfolds.

Alamo Drafthouse Opens in Lake Highlands

Five years ago, the idea of a movie theater that also served food was not a new concept in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. When the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema opened its first location in Richardson, in fact, a Studio Movie Grill stood barely a mile away.

Overcoming the initial reluctance of many moviegoers in the area, who didn’t particularly like the idea of anyone telling them they couldn’t talk during the movie — a long-standing and steadfast rule of the Alamo Drafthouse chain — the Richardson multiplex steadily developed its own audience, a growing mass of people who appreciated a movie theater that made watching movies in a respectful environment a priority. And if you wanted a burger or pizza or beer, too, that’s fine.

The Alamo Drafthouse chain originated in Austin, but the North Texas franchise is owned locally. A location near downtown, known as Cedars, opened just over two years ago, and now a long-promised expansion is happening all over the area, with locations in Las Colinas and Denton opening later this year.

First, though, comes Lake Highlands, located at 6770 Abrams Road in Dallas, at the intersection of Abrams Road and Skillman Street. It’s near a Top Golf and across the street from the low-income, low-regarded Vickery Meadows neighborhood, where I live.

What a difference a street makes, though! The Drafthouse was formerly a somewhat run-down grocery store that has been beautifully transformed into a multiplex, complete with an attached bar known as the Vetted Well. The shopping center which it anchors looks far better now than it has in years past; like the Richardson multiplex, the new theater promises to attract more retailers who will help spruce up the center and enliven that part of the neighborhood.

The Lake Highlands location distinguishes itself immediately with its foyer, which should be helpful during rainy season. The lobby itself is not huge — it looks smaller even than the Cedars location — but it’s fitted out with cashier stations and multiple ticket vending machines that should help accommodate the expected crowds.

The individual theaters are spread out nicely, and several feature two entrances; again, that’s a new feature for the chain locally. During an advance media tour last week, we were able to visit several theaters.

The two smallest auditoriums, Theater 2 and Theater 3, both feature 30 seats, but feel more spacious than the smallest Richardson theaters. In part, that’s because of more space between the rows, which is to make room for — the reclining seats! Yes, the seats recline and are definitely more comfortable and well-padded.

The layout follows the Cedars example rather than the old-school style Richardson. In other words, while Richardson features a long row-length bench on which you can park any food or drinks you order, Cedars and now Lake Highlands feature small tables at each seat. That makes it more convenient to get into and out of your seat. In the small theaters, each row is elevated above the row below, which improves sight lines over the smallest Richardson auditoriums.

We also toured the largest auditorium, Theater 6, which has 191 seats and feels absolutely gigantic. Again, that’s because of greater distance between the rows.

Lake Highlands can also boast of the first U.S. installation of the new Sony 4K Digital Cinema Laser Phosphor Projectors (DCLPP). I’ve yet to try that out, but it sounds very … new.

Our media preview concluded with a visit to the Vetted Well, which features 31 craft beers on tap, including 17 local Dallas brews, according to the press materials. For me, it’s best feature were the windows that face the White Rock Trail, as well as a balcony with seating outside. That should look spectacular once the trees bloom. The bar also has bike racks located along the Vetted Well patio, so perhaps that will encourage more people to ride their bicycles to watch a movie.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Lake Highland has tremendous potential to help the neighborhood, which has definitely seen better days. I love the Richardson location, which I’ve visited many, many times, but having a new theater so close by is an irresistible temptation. And being able to see new movies in a new, friendly, theatrical environment is, in a word, fantastic.

The theater opens today on a limited basis with staff training days scheduled to run through next week. The grand opening will be held next Wednesday, March 28, with Ready Player One. Visit the official site for more information.

Festival Files: 2017 DFW South Asian Film Fest

Celebrating its third year, the Dallas/Fort Worth Asian Film Festival (DFW SAFF) kicks off this weekend. With an impressive slate of shorts, documentaries and feature films, the festival will also feature a variety of Q&A sessions with stars and directors. All access festival passes can be purchased for $175 and individual film passes can be purchased on the day of the selected film. Visit their website here for further information and ticketing info. Stay tuned to coverage all weekend at Dallas Film Now.

From the SAFF press release:

Now in its third year, the Dallas/Fort Worth South Asian Film Festival (DFW SAFF), taking place from March 3rd to 5th at the Perot Museum (downtown Dallas) and AMC Village on the Parkway 9 (Addison), will showcase 19 shorts, documentaries and feature films, over a three-day-period.

The closing night film will be the North American premiere of Ananth Mahadevan’s Marathi biopic “Doctor Rakhmabai,” starring Tannishtha Chatterjee, the queen of independent cinema, in the title role. It is the story of India’s first practicing lady doctor, social rebel and medical pioneer who paved the way for a fight against gender discrimination. “Not only will this be our closing night film, it will also nicely round out the women’s programming at our festival,” said founder and director, Jitin Hingorani.

The entire festival schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 3rd – Opening Night Screening, Red Carpet & VIP Reception
Perot Museum (downtown Dallas) from 6 p.m. to midnight:

Yellow Tin Can Telephone” (short) followed by
A Billion Colour Story” (Opening Night Film)
*Followed by Q&A with director Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy &
producer Satish Kaushik

Saturday, March 4th – Shorts, Documentaries, Centerpiece Programming
AMC Village on the Parkway 9 (Addison) from 11 a.m. to midnight:

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Youth Programming
India in a Day” (documentary)
*Followed by winning videos of Parish School’s
“One Minute Smartphone Video” contest & scholarships

1:15 to 3 p.m.
Khoya” (feature)
*Followed by Q&A with director Sami Khan & actor Rupak Ginn

3:15 to 6 p.m.
Indo-Pak Programing (Zeal for Unity Films)
Silvat” (short)
Lala Begum” (short)
Guddu Engineer” (short)
*Followed by Q&A with director Mehreen Jabbar

6:15 to 9:15 p.m.
Men’s Programming
Mochi” (short)
Babu’s Dilemma” (short)
Azaad” (short)
Lathe Joshi” (Centerpiece Film)

9:30 p.m. to midnight
Centerpiece VIP Party (ticketed event)
Saffron House – Village on the Parkway

Sunday, March 6th – Children’s & Women’s Programming, Closing Night Film
AMC Village on the Parkway 9 (Addison) from noon to 10 p.m.

Noon to 1 p.m.
Children’s Programming
Priyanth” (short)
Jacob’s Pond” (short)
Mast Qalandar” (short)
Syaahi” (short)

1:15 to 3 p.m.
The Journey Within” (documentary)
*Followed by Q&A with director Mian Adnan Ahmed

3:15 to 6:15 p.m.
Women’s Programming
Amishi” (short)
Leeches” (short)
Doctor Rakhmabai” (Closing Night Film)
*Followed by Q&A with actresses Tannishtha Chatterjee and Sayani Gupta

6:15 to 10 p.m.
Closing Night Party (private event)
W Hotel Penthouse – 28th floor (downtown Dallas)

“The highlights of our programming this year are a focus on Marathi regional cinema with one short and two feature films in that language,” said Ambica Dev, the festival’s artistic director. “You’ll also notice themes of Indo-Pak (Hindu/Muslim) programming sprinkled throughout, given that 2017 is the 70th anniversary of India and Pakistan’s independence. Finally, we are proud to say that almost one-third of our films have a child as the central or prominent character.”

Actors, Directors & Producers in attendance at the festival include:

Satish Kaushik – actor/producer/writer/director

Viveck Vaswani – actor/producer/writer

Tannishtha Chatterjee – actor

Sayani Gupta – actor

Rupak Ginn- actor

Mehreen Jabbar – director

Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy – director

Mian Adnan Ahmed – director

Sami Khan – director

Festival Files: ‘It Came From Dallas 10’

As someone perennially interested in regional filmmaking and tired of all those palm tree or East Coast concrete jungle settings in movies, the idea behind “It Came From Dallas” sounds like an ‘eyetastic’ event! And, because it takes place on Thursday, February 23rd at the Richardson Alamo Drafthouse, I can’t imagine a more entertaining and conducive atmosphere to soak up the B-movie ‘gloriousness’ the event always delivers:

“It Came From Dallas 10” is the Dallas Producers Association’s 10th celebratory gesture towards filmmaking and filmmakers in North Texas. If you’ve never experienced it, you’ll walk away from the evening’s showcase, scratching your head and asking, “Did someone actually get to produce those things?”

Presenting Sponsor for “It Came From Dallas” is Replicopy.

“It Came From Dallas was created to not only honor the trailblazers of the Dallas film industry, but also to serve as an annual Dallas Producers Association fundraiser that helps benefit the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, a group founded by DPA which has been integral in supporting the Texas Moving Image Industry Rebate Program. Over the years, it has been responsible for bringing film and television production jobs to Texas, as well a benefitting in-state producers, too and encouraging them to keep the work at home.

The event kicked off in 2005 with a look back at Dallas’ glorious B-movie past including hysterical clips and trailers from films such as The Giant Gila Monster, Rock Baby Rock It, The Killer Shrews and Don’t Look in the Basement. Shows in subsequent years have included clips from commercials and documentaries produced in Dallas and put the spotlight on many of the more prestigious motion pictures to film in North Texas.

For this latest version of It Came From Dallas, the show’s producers have compiled a jam-packed retrospective featuring “The Best Of” It Came From Dallas’ nine previous incarnations.

In addition, a traditional highlight of the evening’s proceedings will continue with the presentation of the Dallas Producers Association’s Film Pioneer Award. The recipients of this prestigious award will be Kathy Tyner of the KD Conservatory and Robert G. Redd (posthumously).

A good time for all is guaranteed when you come to realize that It Came From Dallas.  Seriously!”

It Came From Dallas 10 will be hosted at:

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Richardson Heights Village
100 South Central Expressway
Richardson, TX 75080

Thursday, February 23, 2017
7:30pm (doors open at 6:30pm)
Suggested Donation: $10

Indie Weekend: ‘Amy,’ ‘Batkid Begins,’ ‘Cartel Land,’ and More

Seven independent features are opening this weekend. Seven! How will you decide what to see? Here are my priorities:

  1. Amy. A documentary about a popular singer who killed herself? A lot of sadness is inherent in this effort by Asif Kapadia (Senna), but if you can deal with that. this is also one of the most highly-touted indie films of the moment. Angelika Dallas.
  2. Strangerland. We’ll have Joe Baker’s review up shortly. Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving star. AMC Grapevine Mills.
  3. Accidental Love (Nailed). Jessica Biel gets a nail in her head in this wacky comedy. This is the David Russell-directed production from a few years ago that ran out of money; the producers finished the film and supervised the editing, while Russell removed his name. Angelika Dallas.
  4. Batkid Begins.The Make-A-Wish foundation helps a little boy give a Batman performance and the city of San Francisco plays along in this documentary. Angelika Dallas.
  5. Meet Me in Montenegro. “A comedy about a failed American writer who enters into an affair after a chance encounter with a European dancer. Texas Theatre.
  6. Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot. Dirk speaks German in this documentary. Landmark Magnolia.
  7. The Suicide Theory. Suicidal man hires demented killer yet somehow survives each attempt on his life. Studio Grill Spring Valley.

Opening Wide: ‘Self/Less,’ ‘Minions,’ ‘The Gallows’

Three films are opening wide in theaters throughout Dallas tomorrow. Are any of them worth your dime?

  • Self/Less. Ben Kingsley is a wealthy New York real-estate developer who is dying. Then he hears about a company that promises the transference of consciousness to a lab-grown body. Presto, gizmo, he dies and wakes up in the body of Ryan Reynolds. Cool, right? Eh, not so much. Director Tarsem Singh (The Cell) makes many pretty pictures before the thoughtful tale devolves into a second-rate thriller. Reviewed at TwitchFilm. Recommended with reservations.
  • Minions. The silly tiny supporting characters in the Despicable Me movies get their own starring roles in a new animated adventure. Advance word has not been positive, though it definitely sounds like very young children will relate.
  • The Gallows. Teenagers, school, found footage, something horrible from the past has come back, and so forth. The found-footage approach has become wearisome to me, but I’m curious to hear how this one turned out.