The Best of Fests Combines Dallas' Top Film Fests Into One Mega Film Fest

The climate change documentary The Human Element that screened during the 2018 EarthxFilm festival is one of the 22 films getting another screening during the Best of Fests film festival.
The climate change documentary The Human Element that screened during the 2018 EarthxFilm festival is one of the 22 films getting another screening during the Best of Fests film festival.
courtesy EarthxFilm
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The Dallas film festival scene has exploded in a short time. It's gotten so big that occasionally they occupy the same space on the calendar.

"A few years back, we had a situation where a couple of festivals fell on the same date, which of course is not great," film festival promoter John Wildman says. "We had to make a Sophie's choice of what to cover, and discussions started happening on how to fix this so we don't run into this again."

That problem is what inspired the Best of Fests that runs from Thursday through Sunday, a mashup of screenings in one film festival weekend from local cinema events, such as the Dallas Video Fest, the Lone Star Film Festival and the Jewish Film Festival of Dallas.

"The idea has been floating around for almost 20 years to get all of the film festivals to create one festival," says Michael Cain, the co-founder of the Best of Fests along with Emily Hargrove, the president and co-founder of the EarthxFilm festival. "Myself and Emily were discussing the right time to do this and the thought of getting all the festivals together. Emily really pushed this through and set up the first meeting with the festival directors."

The goal of the Best of Fests is not only to unify all of Dallas' film festivals and communities, but also to grow the audience for each of them by offering moviegoers opportunities to see films they might not have known about or had time to watch.

"We're exposing people to stories that are going to change their hearts and minds, but we're also exposing them to all of the festivals so we can create a larger community," Cain says. "If you have someone come in who normally goes to the Dallas International Film Festival or the Lone Star, for them to see movies from the Women Texas Film Festival, Deep in the Heart Film Fest and 3 Stars Jewish Cinema, they can discover other options and organizations they can get behind."

The Best of Fests wrangled together 22 area film festivals, with each selecting a single feature-length or short film from their most recent gathering to screen at one of five movie houses: the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird Station, Cinépolis Luxury Cinema on Victory Park Lane, the Studio Movie Grill on Technology Boulevard and the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff.

"As it's introducing these film festivals to lots of people," Wildman says, "it may be introducing people to these theaters as well,"

Word about this unique film festival concept has even spread beyond the city and even the state's borders, Cain says.

"Although we're getting strong interest from people who want to attend or potentially sponsor us in the future, we've been getting calls from other cities outside of Texas saying this is something we've never heard of before and are interested in talking about how we might do that, how we might bring together these festivals in a non-competing fashion." 

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