AFI Dallas International Film Festival promises unique viewing experiences

March 26, 2009
By TOM MAURSTAD, Media Critic
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Blog: AFI Dallas on The Screening Room

The spotlight may be on the stars dropping in on the AFI Dallas International Film Festival - Adrien Brody, Peter Bogdanovich, Rinko Kikuchi - but when all is said and done, film festivals are about film.

The original idea of film festivals may have been for people to get a chance to see films they hadn't seen before and otherwise may have never seen. But with the proliferation of festivals, that notion seems quaint, even naive. Forget Cannes; never mind Toronto and Sundance. Here in Texas we just had South by Southwest, and after AFI comes the USA Film Festival. Descriptions like "new" and "unseen" can start to seem like endangered species.
But wait, there's hope.

"The reality is," says Michael Cain, AFI Dallas' artistic director, "out of the hundreds of films being shown between South by Southwest and us, the number of films being shown at both is only 15."

For those cinematic-edge seekers looking for first-time viewing experiences, AFI Dallas will present the world premiere of nine feature films.

CHRIS CARLSON/The Associated Press

Actor Adrien Brody will be on hand, but the emphasis will be on film variety.

Here's a rundown of the films you can see here before they're seen anywhere else.

Bollywood Beats - Into this post-Slumdog world comes this sweet story of Raj, a dancer with dreams, and the people - young and old, gay and straight - whose lives are changed by joining his dance class. Sunday, 3:30 p.m., AMC NorthPark, and Wednesday, 10 p.m., Magnolia.

Desdemona: A Love Story - Shades of love are explored in this film about two brothers (one adopted) who kidnap a rich man's wife to raise the money to bury their father. Monday, 10:30 p.m., Magnolia, and Tuesday, 4 p.m., AMC NorthPark.

Houston, We Have a Problem - Documentary examines the energy crisis through the prism of Texas oil producers. Friday, 10:30 p.m., Magnolia, and Saturday, 4 p.m., Landmark Magnolia.

Lock & Roll Forever - Musical comedy in which a young American (Lucas Grabeel of High School Musical) convinces a Japanese all-girl band that he can make them famous in America. Saturday, 11:15 a.m., AMC NorthPark, and Sunday, 12:15 p.m., AMC NorthPark.

One Nation - A cinematic collage of 1968 - the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Summer Olympics - mixing TV news, photographs and music. Monday, 7:15 p.m., AMC NorthPark, and Wednesday, 4:15 p.m., Magnolia.

The Other Side of Paradise - A road-trip comedy-drama in which a trio of young people drives across Texas, meeting odd characters. Sunday, 9:15 p.m., AMC NorthPark, and Tuesday, 10:15 p.m., Magnolia.

Pearl -Film based on the life of Eula "Pearl" Carter Scott, a Chickasaw American Indian. She got her pilot's license at 13 and went on to become a barnstormer and aviation pioneer. Saturday, 11:30 a.m., AMC NorthPark, and Sunday, 3:15 p.m., AMC NorthPark.

Rock Prophecies - Documentary explores the life of rock photographer Robert Knight from his early days shooting Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones to his search for the Next Big Thing. Friday, 7:30 p.m., Magnolia, and Saturday, 4 p.m., Magnolia.

Whatever It Takes - Documentary tells the story of a Bronx principal and teachers fighting to raise the standards of education for their students. Friday, 4:15 p.m., AMC NorthPark, and Saturday, 1 p.m., AMC NorthPark.

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