Film and TV

DIFF Will Screen Films Starring Oscar Winner Olivia Colman, Beto O'Rourke and Dirk Nowitzki

The documentary Running with Beto is one of the 150 films screening at this year's Dallas International Film Festival.
The documentary Running with Beto is one of the 150 films screening at this year's Dallas International Film Festival. Running With Beto

Familiar names like Jim Gaffigan, Elizabeth Moss and Dirk Nowitzki will appear in some of the more than 50 films screened at the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF).

DIFF released the full list of films that will get a screening at the 13th annual film festival, including five world premiere films and one U.S. premiere. The festival runs April 11-18.

"Every year seems to have its own dynamic and personality that develops as we go through things, and this year is shaping up to be an interesting mix of documentaries and features," says DIFF's executive director Johnathan Brownlee. "We're also playing more films than last year so this gives us more opportunities to do things we've never done."

The main features of movie screenings for the festival offer a mixture of serious dramas in war-torn parts of the world, documentaries about the lesser-known legends of the sports world and beloved, classic comedies of the cinema.

Some of the bigger crowd draws include the drama Them That Follow starring Walton Goggins as a Pentecostal snake handling preacher in an isolated part of Appalachia whose daughter played by Alice Englert prepares for her wedding under the glaring eye of Hope played by Olivia Colman. The wedding has been arranged for her, even down to the man her father wants her to marry, but a secret could send everyone's plans into a destructive spiral.

Documentary director Jacob Hamilton tells the story of one of the most influential contributors to the game of basketball. Jumpshot explores the life and influence of Kenny Sailors who developed the iconic toss known as the jump shot as a player for the Wyoming Cowboys who led his team to the Collegiate National Championship game in Madison Square Garden in 1943. Every major and minor player in the game has tried to replicate and master Sailors' inventive move and he finally gets the credit he deserves in interviews with former college coach Bobby Knight and Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki.

click to enlarge Chinese director Zhang Yimou's action film Shadow will be screened at the Dallas International Film Festival. - VILLAGE ROADSHOW PICTURES
Chinese director Zhang Yimou's action film Shadow will be screened at the Dallas International Film Festival.
Village Roadshow Pictures

Other films that will screen during the festival include documentaries, such as the U.S. premiere of the HBO documentary Running with Beto that follows Beto O'Rourke's run at Ted Cruz's Senate seat and director Michael Rowley's Hurdle about the perspective of a whole generation Palestinian youth who must grow up in a world of war and walls. The festival will also have the Dallas premiere of Chinese director Zhang Yimou's next blood pumping action film Shadow.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of The Muppet Movie, and the festival will host a special screening of the iconic, family comedy that brought Jim Henson's Muppets from the small to the big screen.

Brownlee says he and his crew aimed to make the festival more accessible to its fans and filmmakers by cutting down the lines. DIFF has partnered with Atom Tickets to help eliminate the need for lines.

"One thing I always hate about film festivals is standing in line," Brownlee says. "We've partnered with Atom Tickets to allow patrons to have reserved seating for every screening. I think that's going to bring in a different crowd that may not have been to a festival before who don't want to stand in line for three hours just to see a film."

The festival is still working on securing some of the stars from the films they plan to screen for post-Q&A sessions and appearances. Brownlee says the buzz is already building across the festival's schedule.

"It's like a big Tetris puzzle," he says. "You have to move things around and start inviting people. It certainly helps build buzz around the festival and I think it's also nice because it makes it more accessible. One thing we'll love about this festival is it's known as a filmmaker's festival." 
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.