Arts & Culture News

Local Artists Spice Up Hollywood Fare At This Year's Dallas International Film Festival

It's not Cannes, but Dallas still has a killer film festival with films such as Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, whose cast is pictured above.
It's not Cannes, but Dallas still has a killer film festival with films such as Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, whose cast is pictured above. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
It's festival season again. After a jam-packed summer of blockbuster films such as F9, Black Widow and A Quiet Place: Part II, the coming months promise an exciting slate of high-profile award contenders. Hopefully whatever film takes home Best Picture this year will be closer to Parasite or Nomadland, and we can forget about Green Book altogether. This is the time to put your “serious film fan” cap on again if you can manage to not be too pretentious.

The Dallas International Film Festival is one of the best opportunities local cinephiles have to get a sneak preview of the best upcoming films. The festival has been a local staple for years and returns to in-person screenings after a virtual festival last year. Unlike past celebrations that ran for multiple weeks, this year it’ll be a three-day festival from Oct. 8- 10 at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Cedars.

The briefer festival, however, is not short on awesome movies to check out. DIFF artistic director James Faust and his team mined over 1,500 entries to select an awesome lineup. As usual, you get your fare of buzzy studio releases mixed in with stories that spotlight local talent. Here’s a preview of each.

Industry Bigwig: The French Dispatch

As a new Wes Anderson movie, naturally, the director's latest has an ensemble that includes half of Hollywood. In addition to local Owen Wilson, this one’s got Timothee Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Elisabeth Moss, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Angelica Huston, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Henry Winkler, Willem Dafoe, Jeffrey Wright and Liev Schreiber among others. We wouldn’t be surprised if the ghost of Marlon Brando popped up too.

Local Spotlight: Caged Birds

Here’s a gripping story of race, revenge, and high school pranks gone awry from young up-and-coming filmmaker Frederich Leach, who is scheduled to attend DIFF. The Southern Methodist University film school graduate shot Caged Birds entirely in Dallas.

Industry Bigwig: Belfast
He may have gotten his start in Shakespearean theater, but lately, Kenneth Branagh has been "Mr. Blockbuster” with popcorn vehicles Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Cinderella and Murder on the Orient Express. With his latest, Belfast, Branagh returns to his dramatic roots with a personal story of an Irish family in the 1960s.

Local Spotlight: No Future
If you’re down for what will surely be an emotional viewing experience, No Future tells a gripping story of how addiction affects family dynamics. No Future was shot in Fort Worth, and the DIFF screening will be attended by producers Jonathan Duffy and Lisa Normand.

Industry Bigwig: The Humans
Based on the award-winning one-act play, this Hollywood adaptation is bringing together a few generations of stars. Steven Yeun and Beanie Feldstein join classic Hollywood favorites like Richard Jenkins and June Squibb for this intimate family drama. Playwright Stephen Karam makes his directorial debut, adapting his own work for the big screen.

Local Spotlight: The Blazing World
Among the films competing in DIFF’s Texas Features competition, The Blazing World has one of the wildest premises. Writer/director Carson Young’s unusual story follows a troubled young girl (playing herself) who becomes trapped in another dimension while searching for her departed sister.

Industry Bigwig: C’mon, C’mon

It's absolutely bonkers that after decades of starring in sensitive, artistic dramas such as Walk the Line, The Master, You Were Never Really Here, Her and Inherent Vice, Joaquin Phoenix would win his Oscar for playing a Batman villain. In C’mon, C’mon, Phoenix returns to his roots with a performance as an idiosyncratic artist taking his nephew on a cross-country adventure.

Local Spotlight: Cat Daddies

Cute cats, ICYMI. SMU graduate Mye Hoang will be at DIFF to discuss this heartwarming documentary about men who use their beloved furry companions to help them cope with the unprecedented events of 2020.

Industry Bigwig: Jockey
Clifton Collin Jr. may not scream “movie star,” but the veteran character actor has been grinding in Hollywood for two decades, appearing in Star Trek, Munich, Westworld, Traffic and Man Down. He’s finally getting a lead role in Jockey as a former equestrian racer facing what could be his last time in the saddle.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.