5 Films to Catch at Dallas International Film Festival in Its Last Weekend

Patti Cake$, about Patricia Baccio, an unlikely force in New Jersey's rap game, was the breakout star at this year's Sundance, where it was purchased for $9.5 million.EXPAND
Patti Cake$, about Patricia Baccio, an unlikely force in New Jersey's rap game, was the breakout star at this year's Sundance, where it was purchased for $9.5 million.
courtesy DIFF
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Whether you’ve been movie hopping for a week or plan to catch your first eyeful of DIFF this weekend, you’ll get a fresh crop of films filling the screens plus a chance for a few encores. Voting is currently underway for all of this year’s plucky competition categories, and the winners of each will get their victory lap screenings on Saturday.

That frees up the rest of this weekend’s screen time for films with larger release agendas, like James Gray’s new adventure adaptation The Lost City of Z, and Francois Ozon’s post-war mystery Frantz, and gives Dallas audiences a chance to see them here first, before they swing through the Angelika on April 21 and April 14, respectively.

But since those biggies will be available again so soon, let’s take a look at five screenings you won’t see anywhere else. At least not for a while.

Cheer Up
Every year the World Happiness Report get published, and every year Finland stays near the top. In fact, it’s remained the fifth happiest country in the entire world for the last few years. That seems like something to cheer about, right? But for the Ice Queens, Finland’s worst cheerleading team, happiness is evasive. Defeated and deflated, their “s-p-i-r-i-t” needs a pick-me-up.

So, the Ice Queens take the ultimate pilgrimage and travel to cheerleading camp in Dallas. Will they learn the tricks they need to get ahead? Develop the trust they need to stick those landings? Or at least master how to fake outer happiness? You’ll have to watch Christy Garland’s pom-pom shaker doc to find out.
See Cheer Up (or as I like to call it, “Friday Night Northern Lights”) 5 p.m. Friday at the Magnolia Theater.

North Texas College Shorts
If you’re missing the shorts blocks at DIFF, you’re really missing the shorts blocks at DIFF. This particular collection is a great way to see who’s currently doing what in the local college scene. Interestingly, while high schoolers have their own designated screenings, a few have work that was categorized into this section.

Atheena Frizzell, daughter of local filmmaker Augustine Frizzell, has a short that’s said to be pretty great in this block. (Her film, Better Late Than Never, was categorized with the college selections “due to content.”)
You’ll find it in good company, surrounded by two students from Booker T. Washington, and work out of SMU, UT Arlington and Art Institute of Dallas.

See college shorts (and go-getter high school films) 7 p.m. Friday at the Angelika Film Center.

Beach Rats
Eliza Hittman’s debut feature, It Felt Like Love, captured a young girl’s coming-of-age along an undefined swath of Brooklyn beach. Its follow-up, Beach Rats, occupies a similar cinematic landscape, but focuses on a boy in his late teens, who spends his shirtless days trolling the sand with his bros and macking on his girlfriend, and his moonlit nights secretly meeting older men through hook-up apps.

Moody, beautiful and a deep-dive into sex, sexuality and the exploration of each, Beach Rats solidifies Hittman’s continuing influence in modern filmmaking. And the film — snatched outta Sundance by Tim League and Top Quinn’s new distribution arm, Neon — doesn’t have a release date just yet, which makes this your chance to see it well before everyone else.

Stake out your piece of beach with Hittman’s newest 10:30 p.m. Friday and 9:45 p.m. Saturday at the Angelika Film Center.

Beach Rats is a coming-of-age story set on Brooklyn's shores.
Beach Rats is a coming-of-age story set on Brooklyn's shores.
courtesy DIFF

Whose Streets?
There are several Ferguson docs filing through this year’s festival circuit. Whose Streets? differentiates itself by turning its cameras on when the national media shut theirs off. After unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was gunned down by a cop in Ferguson, a community responded — and with that, planes full of news cameras touched down, lifted up and touched down again. We remember all of that footage: the riots, the pivotal moments, the heights of conflict.

Whose Streets? doesn’t rehash the headlines; instead it takes account of the locals forging their path through it all. The peaceful protests, met with rubber bullets and toothy attack dogs. The camera phone videos shot from inside the crowds. And a community attempting to be heard, all while keeping itself safe from those who vowed to keep it safe.

This one’s part of a larger conversation, so catch Sabaah Folayan’s Whose Streets? at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Angelika Film Center.

Patti Cake$
One of DIFF’s biggest narrative feature “gets,” the Sundance darling Patti Cake$, will close out the festival’s content on Sunday. It got picked up by Fox Searchlight for a cool $9.5M and is slated for a summer release — but who wants to wait until late July to see Patricia Baccio (Danielle Macdonald), aka Patti Cake$ take over the New Jersey rap game?

She’s an unlikely force in gangster rap. A plus-sized white gal spitting the single “mylifesfuckinawesome” in gas station parking lots, Patti Cake$, aka Killa-P, dares to be engagingly different in a world full of haters. And her home life isn’t the stuff of her MTV Cribs fantasies; it’s a dump of a den run by drunk mom Barb (Bridget Everett) and Nana Baccio (Cathy Moriarty). It’s going to take more than daily struggle to keep this good girl down, because Patti Cake$ has big dreams, a big talent and an ever bigger mouth — and she’ll need them all to make the world know her name.

This one gets just one screening, so make sure to grab your tickets in advance. Hop in the Patti wagon 8:15 p.m. Sunday at the Magnolia Theater.

The Angelika Film Center is located at 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. The Magnolia Theater is located at 3699 McKinney Ave. Tickets to individual screenings are $12. For more info about the festival and to purchase passes, visit dallasfilm.org.

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