Up, Up and Away With 12 New Dallas Int'l Film Fest Titles and Avery Award Winner

Up writer-director Pete Docter will be honored during the Dallas International Film Festival.
Up writer-director Pete Docter will be honored during the Dallas International Film Festival.

I just returned from a South by Southwest screening to find in the in-box the latest batch of films from the Dallas International Film Festival, which you'll find after the jump and we'll get to in a second. But first thing's first.

The Film Festival Formerly Known as AFI Dallas International also sent word that Pete Docter has been named this year's recipient of the Tex Avery Award, so named, of course, for the North Dallas High School grad and animation legend. Good timing too, what with Toy Story 3 opening later this year -- Docter was among the writers of the first Toy Story (and is often considered Buzz Lightyear's "alter-ego") -- and Up, which he wrote and directed, the Best Animated Feature favorite going into this weekend's Oscars. (As a personal aside, Docter's also responsible for my favorite Pixar film: Monsters Inc.)

So, now, to the films, which include the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition A Surprise in Texas, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Winter's Bone, local filmmaker Clay Liford's Earthling and The Dry Land starring Ugly Betty's America Ferrera. Unfair Park has learned that Ferrera will attend the fest -- which makes her the first confirmed guest a month away from the Dallas International Film Festival's April 8 kick-off. The full list of films announced today follows; here as well are the first 10 titles announced last month.

The DALLAS International Film Festival Honors Pete Docter with Texas Avery Animation Award

12 Official Selections Announced Includes 3 World Premieres

Southwest Airlines Announced as the Film Festival's Official Air Carrier

Dallas, TX, March 3, 2010--The DALLAS International Film Festival (April 8-18) announces Pete Docter, director and writer of Academy Award® Best Picture nominee UP as the recipient of the 2010 Texas Avery Animation Award presented by REEL FX ENTERTAINMENT. 12 official selections were also announced, including 3 films (A SURPRISE IN TEXAS, THE RIVER WHY and WE ARE THE SEA) that will be making their world premieres at the film festival. DALLAS IFF also announced that Southwest Airlines would be taking a major sponsorship position, serving as the film festival's official airline.

Docter will receive the 2010 Texas Avery Animation Award presented by REEL FX ENTERTAINMENT, which honors lifetime achievement in animation filmmaking. Docter is the director and writer of the five-time Academy Award nominated film UP (Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing). Previously, Docter also garnered Academy Award nominations for his work on WALL-E (2008 - Best Original Screenplay), MIKE'S NEW CAR (2002 - Best Short Film - Animated), MONSTERS, INC. (2001 - Best Animated Feature), and TOY STORY (1995 - Best Original Screenplay).

REEL FX CREATIVE STUDIOS CEO and Dallas Film Society board member Ed Jones said, "As an animator, screenwriter, and director, Pete Docter has been integral to the success of some of the most memorable animated movies of all time. The industry has watched his talent and career grow at PIXAR, and is not surprised by what he has achieved. Pete is deserving of this honor and we are thrilled that he will accept this year's Texas Avery Animation Award. "

Making their world premieres at the DALLAS International Film Festival will be Peter Rosen's A SURPRISE IN TEXAS, Matthew Leuwyler's THE RIVER WHY and Neil Truglio's WE ARE THE SEA.

Directed by Peter Rosen, A SURPRISE IN TEXAS is a documentary focusing its camera lens on the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth Texas, where 29 young contestants come from all over the world to compete for the most prestigious prize in the music world. The film highlights the story of one of them, a 20 year old from Tokyo, Nobuyuki Tsujii, blind from birth.

Directed by Matthew Leutwyler, THE RIVER WHY is a drama based on the novel by David James Duncan about a man known as "the Mozart of fly fishing" who leaves his big city home in rebellion from his family. In the process he comes in contact with an assortment of eccentric characters who help him in his journey to adulthood. The film stars Zach Gilford, Amber Heard, William Hurt, Kathleen Quinlan and William Devane. DALLAS IFF will also screen the film GREENLIT, Miranda Bailey's documentary about the efforts of THE RIVER WHY's filmmakers to maintain a "green" shoot throughout their production.

Directed by Neil Truglio, WE ARE THE SEA stars Jeff Childress and Allison Savoy in a drama about a young English teacher returning from the brink of tragedy to find his life exactly where he left it -- in shambles. Turning cautiously to his friends, family, and even his students for guidance, he explores the possibilities for forging a future from a history of mistakes. The film features the music of Iron & Wine.

The list also features several selections from the recently concluded Sundance Film Festival, including award winners WINTER'S BONE (Grand Jury Prize Winner, U.S. Dramatic and Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award) and OBSELIDIA (Excellence in Cinematography Award, U.S. Dramatic and Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize). Other films included THE DRY LAND, JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD and SKATELAND.

"James Faust, Sarah Harris and the DIFF10 programming team have spent the year crossing boundaries both geographically and metaphorically in search of new discoveries. Traveling the globe continues to be key to the high level of programming found at the DALLAS International Film Festival. We are thrilled to bring this mix of exhilarating and emotive filmmakers to Dallas where they will tell you there are no more appreciative audiences," said Dallas Film Society Chairman, Michael Cain.

DALLAS IFF Founder and Chairman Emeritus Liener Temerlin was proud to announce that Southwest Airlines would be making its debut as the official airline for the DALLAS International Film Festival. "From the beginning of this film festival, a hallmark has been the exceptional group of talented filmmakers and stars that we have been able to deliver to the city of Dallas. Southwest Airlines will allow us to continue what I see as a grand tradition."

Southwest Airlines issued a statement saying, "We are honored to support the DALLAS International Film Festival where vision, inspiration, and passion are celebrated. The airline salutes the filmmakers who seek new horizons and embrace possibilities."

The twelve official selections announced include:

A SURPRISE IN TEXAS (USA)
Director: Peter Rosen
Directed by Peter Rosen, A SURPRISE IN TEXAS is a documentary focusing its camera lens on the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth Texas, where 29 young contestants come from all over the world to compete for the most prestigious prize in the music world. The film highlights the story of one of them, a 20 year old from Tokyo, Nobuyuki Tsujii, blind from birth.

THE DRY LAND (USA)
Director: Ryan Piers Williams
Cast: America Ferrera, Jason Ritter, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Suplee, Melissa Leo
Directed by Ryan Piers Williams, THE DRY LAND follows a young U.S. soldier, James (Ryan O'Nan), as he returns home from duty in Iraq. Having not found the direction and purpose he sought from the service, James hurls himself back into his old life and finds it no longer fits. He tries to reconcile his experiences abroad with his life in rural Texas, but despite the support of his wife (America Ferrera), his mother (Melissa Leo), and friend (Jason Ritter) he is unable to settle in. James turns to an Army buddy (Wilmer Vaderrama) for help and together they travel the country in search of redemption. Thinking that the war was behind him, James comes to realize that the fight for his life has only begun.

EARTHLING (USA)
Director: Clay Liford
Cast: Rebecca Spence, Peter Greene, William Katt, Jennifer Sipes Directed by Clay Liford, EARTHLING is a sci-fi drama following the events that occur after a mysterious atmospheric event aboard the international space station causes a small group of people to wake up and realize that their entire lives have been a lie. Now they have to make a choice. Live amongst men, or try to find a way back home.

GREENLIT (USA)
Director: Miranda Bailey
Directed by Miranda Bailey (Executive Producer on THE SQUID AND THE WHALE), GREENLIT follows the production of THE RIVER WHY as the filmmakers attempt to keep an environmentally friendly set thanks to the supervision of a "green" consultant. What starts off with great enthusiasm quickly devolves in this insightful and hilarious film about the difficulties of living up to good intentions.

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD (USA)
Director: Tamra Davis
A documentary by Tamra Davis, JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD is about the artist and phenomenon who became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and became best friends with Andy Warhol. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public, Basquiat was launched into international stardom. However, soon his cult status began to override the art that had made him famous in the first place.

KICK IN IRAN (GERMANY)
Director: Fatima Geza Abdollahyan
A documentary by Fatima Geza Abdollahyan, KICK IN IRAN profiles Sarah Khoshjamal, a 20-year-old Taekwondo superstar and the first female professional athlete from Iran to qualify for the Olympics. This skillful vérité portrait follows the unassuming Khoshjamal in the nine months leading up to the 2008 Beijing games. Living in an Islamic country, she is required to wear a hijab at all times and, unlike her fellow competitors around the world, cannot train with men; however, the power in her fighting resoundingly breaks down stereotypical barriers.

OBSELIDIA (USA)
Director: Diane Bell
Cast: Michael Piccirilli, Gaynor Howe
Directed by Diane Bell, OBSELIDIA is a romantic drama about a man writing an encyclopedia of obsolete things. In his quest to capture people, technologies, and ideas that are disappearing, he meets a free spirited cinema projectionist. Together they go on a road trip to Death Valley to interview a scientist who is predicting the eminent end of the world, and on their strange journey, they discover perhaps love is not obsolete after all.

THE RIVER WHY (USA)
Director: Matthew Leutwyler
Cast: Zach Gilford, Amber Heard, William Hurt, Kathleen Quinlan and William Devane
Directed by Matthew Leutwyler, THE RIVER WHY is a drama about a man known as "the Mozart of fly fishing" who leaves his big city home in rebellion from his family. In the process he comes in contact with an assortment of eccentric characters who help him in his journey to adulthood.

SKATELAND (USA)
Director: Anthony Burns
Cast: Shiloh Fernandez, Ashley Greene, Heath Freeman Directed by Anthony Burns, SKATELAND is a coming-of-age film set in 1983 centering on 'Ritchie', a worker at Skateland, the roller rink and local hangout of a small town. With Skateland due to close, the party scene getting stale, and his romantic life as cloudy as his future, Ritchie struggles to make sense of it all. When tragedy strikes his friends and family, Ritchie must face the music--and make the biggest decision of his life.

WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY (USA)
Director: Don Hahn
Directed by Don Hahn, WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY takes a look at the "rebirth" of the fabled animation studios of Walt Disney in the mid-1980s. The studio had fallen on hard times with artists polarized between newcomers hungry to innovate and old timers not yet ready to relinquish control. The conditions produced a series of box office flops and many believed the best days of animation were over. The film shines a light on an influx of new leadership and talent helped Disney regain its magic with a staggering output of hits--LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, THE LION KING and more--over the next ten years.

WE ARE THE SEA (USA)
Director: Neil Truglio
Cast: Jeff Childress, Allison Savoy
Directed by Neil Truglio, WE ARE THE SEA stars Jeff Childress and Allison Savoy in a drama about a young English teacher returning from the brink of tragedy to find his life exactly where he left it -- in shambles. Turning cautiously to his friends, family, and even his students for guidance, he explores the possibilities for forging a future from a history of mistakes. The film features the music of Iron & Wine.

WINTER'S BONE (USA)
Director: Debra Granik
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser
A drama set deep in the Ozark Mountains, Debra Granik's WINTER'S BONE follows the daring struggle of a teenage girl, 'Ree', who must go in search of her crystal-meth-making father, after he skips bail and goes missing. Unless she is able to find him, she and her young siblings and disabled mother will face destitution. In a heroic quest, Ree traverses the county to confront her kin, break their silent collusion, and bring her father home.


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