News Article | 3/18/2007

New film festival bringing big names to Dallas

Sixty thousand seats.

That’s what the AFI Dallas International Film Festival would like to fill, from the time it kicks off Thursday night through the final screening April 1.

And that’s just the movies, 190 including shorts and features. Parties, discussions and other events will pack in still more.

Michael Cain, artistic director of this inaugural fest, says it would be nice to fill 50 to 75 percent of those seats. Of course, he’d settle for more.

We’ll be covering the big new kid on the Dallas festival block from curtain to curtain. For now, here’s an overview of the action. For more information, including a full schedule, check the festival’s Web site at

Local flavor

It’s a Dallas festival, so it stands to figure that Dallas-area films and subjects will be in the house. Hockaday alum Amy Talkington brings her comedy, The Night of the White Pants, featuring such locations as Double Wide and the Swiss Avenue Historic District. Michael Ciancio’s documentary Anatomy of a Canvas, paints a portrait of Dallas’ Body Paint Ball. The dark indie Midlothia combines the talents of director Bill Sebastian, an SMU graduate, and actor-producer Randall Scott, a Bryan Adams graduate. The documentary El Mechanico Loco burns rubber with Dallas NASCAR driver Jeff Milburn. That’s just a sampling of the homegrown goods.

Around the world

As the title says, it’s also an international film festival. Among the represented countries: Hong Kong (Exiled, the latest from Hong Kong action favorite Johnny To); Germany (Running on Empty, about a businessman who goes off the deep end and cruises the Autobahn to no end; Japan (Linda Linda Linda, the story of a Japanese girl group); and France (La Vie en Rose, an Edith Piaf biopic featuring a highly acclaimed performance by Marion Cotillard).

Special guests

A host of Hollywood luminaries will descend on Dallas for the event, many picking up the inaugural Star Award. Director Sydney Pollock will present actress Lauren Bacall and songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman with their awards at the opening night screening Thursday. Gregory Peck’s wife, Veronique Peck, will accept the award for her late husband on Saturday at a screening of To Kill a Mockingbird at the Magnolia. Mr. Peck was the first chairman of AFI. Former head of the Motion Picture Association of America and native Texan Jack Valenti will pick up his award on Saturday at the Nasher Sculpture Center, while director David Lynch and actress Laura Dern will get theirs at a screening that night of their new film, Inland Empire, at the Magnolia. Rounding out the list is composer Marvin Hamlish, who will perform Tuesday night at the Nasher, and Sarah Polley, whose directorial debut, Away From Her, will close the festival on March 31. Many other directors, writers and actors are expected to attend screenings of their films.


AFI will take advantage of many of Dallas’ better film venues. The opening night screening of Music Within on Thursday night takes place at the Majestic Theatre downtown (1925 Elm St.). Then starting Friday, the Angelika Film Center (5321 E. Mockingbird), the Magnolia (3699 McKinney Ave.) and Inwood Theatre (5458 W. Lovers Lane) will serve as the primary venues. Other events and screenings will also be at the AMC NorthPark 15 (8687 N. Central Expressway), the Nasher Sculpture Center (2001 Flora St.), the Hughes-Trigg Theater on the Southern Methodist University campus (6425 Boaz Lane) and the Meyerson Symphony Center (2301 Flora St.) Free shuttles will be available to whisk you from festival headquarters at Victory Park to the Angelika and the Magnolia.


There are nearly as many ticket options as there are films at AFI Dallas. Single tickets range from $4 to $20, with discounts available for AFI members, KERA members, Arts Card holders and patrons who bring two cans of food for the North Texas Food Bank. Festival passes begin at $95 for a day pass and run to $795 for a pass granting access to all screenings and gala receptions.

Tickets may be purchased online at or at the AFI Dallas box office at Victory Park, 1155 Broom St. Day-of tickets are also available at the venues one hour before the first screening of the day. Note that seating is only guaranteed 20 minutes before the screening, even with a festival pass, so be sure to get there early.