News Article | 2/28/2007

AFI film fest lineup announced

It’s been hyped as the biggest thing to hit the Dallas film scene since that Dallas movie that may or may not ever get made. And now we know what the AFI Dallas International Film Festival plans to show when it runs March 22-April 1 at venues throughout town.

Opening night at the Majestic Theatre will bring Music Within, a drama starring Ron Livingston (Office Space) as Vietnam vet Richard Pimentel, who returned from the war and began waging war on behalf of Americans with disabilities. The closing night attraction at the Inwood is Away From Her, Sarah Polley’s film starring Julie Christie as an Alzheimer’s patient trying to do right by her family. It generated good buzz when it showed at Sundance last month.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without awards. Among those to receive something called the AFI Dallas Star are Lauren Bacall, former MPAA honcho Jack Valenti, Ms. Polley, esteemed composer Marvin Hamlisch and David Lynch and Laura Dern, director and star, respectively, of Inland Empire, which will show at the Magnolia March 24.

Dallas filmmakers will be well represented. Locals on the AFI Dallas slate include Amy Talkington, who will show her new comedy The Night of the White Pants; Robert Edsel, co-producer of the looted-art documentary Rape of Europa; and Allen and Cynthia Mondell, directors of the State Fair of Texas doc A Fair to Remember. The festival will also include a Texas Competition, which encourages and promotes Texas filmmaking by showing both short and feature films produced and shot in Texas.

It’s too early to tell how AFI Dallas will impact the Dallas festival scene, which is currently highlighted by the USA Film Festival and the Dallas Video Festival. But for the time being, with 191 features and shorts showing at venues all over the city, it appears to be the big new kid on the block.

“This festival is about great films and filmmakers, and in that spirit we have worked diligently to form a strong and mutually supportive bond with Dallas’ other film festivals to help honor these new visions,” said AFI Dallas artistic director Michael Cain in a statement.

Other potential festival highlights include:

•King of Kong, a buzzy doc from the Slamdance Film Festival about two guys competing for the Donkey Kong record.

•About a Son, a doc cobbled from hours of interviews with the late Kurt Cobain.

•Fido, the heartwarming story of a young boy and his new best friend, who happens to be a zombie.

•Rocket Science, a coming of age story about a stuttering debater that was well received at Sundance.

•The Ten, a dark comedy divided into 10 tales, each based on one of the Ten Commandments. Jessica Alba and Winona Ryder are among the violators.

•Exiled, the latest action flick from Hong Kong favorite Johnny To.

•La Vie en Rose, a biopic starring Marion Cotillard as the French singer Edith Piaf.

•Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, an experimental documentary about the French soccer star.

For more information on the AFI Dallas International Film Festival, visit