Arts & Culture News

How to Place Your Bets for April's Clash of Two Dallas Film Festival Titans

Dallas cinephiles, we have a problem. Sort of. For the first time in history, two of Dallas’ biggest film festivals are happening at the exact same time. It's the clash of the celluloid titans. It could be disastrous, but lucky for you, you have us and we know which films at each festival you should prioritize.  

The Dallas International Film Festival runs from April 14-24, and the USA Film Festival from April 20-24, so there are a few days without overlap. Our suggestion is that you first see all the movies that are screening only once or twice at DIFF; you can circle back to the best ones with multiple screenings if you get a chance.

Here’s what we’ve seen and liked.

Dallas International Film Festival

The Master Cleanse
directed by Bobby Miller
See it 8 p.m Saturday, April 16, at Angelika Film Center; or 10 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at Alamo Drafthouse - Dallas

Mister Miller has one of the most deranged and fascinating imaginations in the film industry. His short film Tub premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival (I urge you to watch it here). Master Cleanse has Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) going on a spiritual retreat to heal his broken little heart — and he gets a lot more than he bargained for. The film also stars Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies), Anjelica Huston (The Adams Family) and Oliver Platt (X-Men: First Class).

Bacon & God's Wrath
directed by Sol Friedman
See it 7:15 p.m. Monday, April 18, or 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, both at Angelika Film Center
This is part of the shorts block and it has the greatest synopsis in the history of film: “A 90-year-old Jewish woman reflects on her life experiences as she prepares to try bacon for the first time.”

directed by director Jacques Audiard
See it 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, at Angelika Film Center; or 6 p.m. Sunday, April 24, at Alamo Drafthouse - Dallas
Audiard is responsible for the intense, Academy Award-nominated A Prophet (Un Prophète if you prefer French) and the two-time Golden Globe-nominated, intoxicating love story Rust and Bone. His new film, Dheepan, just won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, which is the big bad award there, and it’s nominated for nine César Awards (the French Academy Awards). 

Complete Unknown
directed by Joshua Marston
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, or 10 p.m. Saturday, April 23, both at Alamo Drafthouse - Dallas
This movie stars Michael Shannon, an actor who could stare at a wall for 90 minutes and I would be completely mesmerized. But here he plays a man whose wife throws him a birthday party where an unknown woman, Alice (Rachel Weisz) shows up, throwing his life into chaos. The film costars Kathy Bates (Misery) and “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit” Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon).

Kill Zone 2
directed by Pou-Soi Cheang
See it 10:45 p.m. Friday, April 15, at Angelika Film Center; or 7 p.m. Friday, April 22, at Alamo Drafthouse - Dallas
Tony Jaa (Ong-bak, The Protector) is back to kick everyone’s ass in the room. Here he is put in a dire situation and must decide to do the right thing or sacrifice his honest nature to help pay for his daughter’s urgent operation. Whatever he decides, no fool wants to be on the opposite end of his fists of fury or lightening-speed kicks.

Microbe and Gasoline
directed by Michel Gondry
See it 7:15 p.m. Friday, April 22, or 3:15 p.m. Sunday,, April 24, both at Alamo Drafthouse - Dallas
A new Michel Gondry movie! The great thing about a Michel Gondry movie is that you know you’re in for a transcending visual feast. The bad thing? He hasn’t made a good movie since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. However, I will always give this auteur a chance.

directed by Clay Liford
See it 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, at Angelika Film Center; or 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at Alamo Drafthouse - Dallas 
is a Texas movie made by a former Dallasite, so it’s kind of your duty to go and see this film. It premiered at SXSW to acclaim, which is good since critics can be dicks to low-budget Texas movies.

directed by Claire Carré
See it 10:15 p.m. Saturday, April 23, or 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 24, both at Alamo Drafthouse - Dallas
Carré needs to be on your radar and you need to make sure to catch Embers at the festival. This film has been sweeping awards at festivals all around the U.S. Why? Because it’s really damn good. It stars the underused Jason Ritter (A Bag of Hammers) as one of few survivors of a worldwide epidemic that wipes everyone’s memory.

A Tale of Love and Darkness
directed by Natalie Portman 
See it 12 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at Angelika Film Center
Academy Award-winning prodigy Natalie Portman also stars in her directorial debut, based on Israeli author Amos Oz's memoir of the same name. 

Passes to DIFF are $150-$750. To purchase and find the full schedule and lineup, visit the festival's website here

USA Film Festival

Love & Friendship
directed by Whit Stillman
See it 7 p.m. Sunday, April 24, at the Angelika Film Center
The only director in Hollywood with films smarter than the audience is Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Damsels in Distress, The Last Days of Disco). On Sunday, April 24, he'll bring his new film Love & Friendship, bravely adapted from the unfinished Jane Austen novella, to the USA Film Festival. Stillman will be in attendance for a Q&A following the film.

The Witness
directed by James Solomon
See it at 7 p.m. Friday, April 22, at Angelika Film Center
Numerous books have been written about the late Kitty Genovese, who was brutally murdered on a cold night in March 13, 1964, in New York. It became a sensation when The New York Times reported that there were over 30 witnesses, all watching out their windows, and none of them did a damn thing. That phenomenon has now been labeled the "bystander effect." Genovese's brother Bill, who co-wrote the film, we be in attendance for the screening.

For more information on screenings and surprises at the USA Film Festival, click here. Tickets to most screenings are $10, although some are free.