In years past, the AFI Dallas International Film Festival -- which last year made its bow as the rebranded Dallas International Film Festival -- has doled out its Dallas Star Award to the likes of Lauren Bacall, Frank Darabont, Adrien Brody, Kathryn Bigelow and Peter Bogdanovich, amongst other bold-faced names. This morning, the DIFF released the name of its latest honoree: Ann-Margret, returning to the city in which she filmed the 1962 redo of State Fair.
Says Tanya Foster, president and CEO of the Dallas Film Society, in this morning's announcement: "Ann-Margret is a rare talent in that she has beautifully balanced live musical performances with incredible dramatic film roles throughout her career. It is a real honor for us to publicly acknowledge the contribution she has made to the art of film."
Two actual local-borns show up in the cast of one of the new titles announced this morning, adding to the dozen previously released: Thomas Jefferson's own Meat Loaf and Plano Senior High's Alan Tudyk, who co-star alongside Michael Sheen and Maria Bello in Beautiful Boy, about parents whose son goes on a murderous rampage at his college before taking his own life. It's among the so-called Centerpiece screenings announced today. And Sundance favorite Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey is among the titles vying for Target's $25,000 doc-feature prize. On the other side, the whole list released today -- including films starring the likes of Dennis Quaid, Colm Meaney, Martha Plimpton, Carrie Underwood and The Ghost of Norman Mailer.
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The official selections include:
BEAUTIFUL BOY (USA) - US PREMIERE
Director: Shawn Ku
In Shawn Ku's emotional drama, BEAUTIFUL BOY, a married couple on the verge of separation struggle to deal with their own personal loss whilst trying to find refuge from the public and the media after their son commits a mass shooting and kills himself. Starring Michael Sheen, Maria Bello, Alan Tudyk and Moon Bloodgood.
OK BUCKAROOS (USA) - WORLD PREMIERE
Directed by: Patrick Tourville
Patrick Tourville's documentary OK BUCKAROOS is the story of Jerry Jeff Walker whose music has led him from the nation's biggest arenas to hundred-year old honky-tonks. Walker is an artist who has been a cog in the wheel of the recording industry's star-making machinery and an involuntary pioneer on the frontier of artistic independence. Among those appearing in the documentary are Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson.
SOUL SURFER (USA)
Director: Sean McNamara
SOUL SURFER chronicles the inspirational story of surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her left arm following a shark attack and the subsequent trials that she and her family go through in both her physical recovery and her emotional battle to continue surfing. Starring Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Anna Sophia Robb, Lorraine Nicholson, Carrie Underwood, Kevin Sorbo, Jeremy Sumpter, Ross Thomas, Sonya Balmores Chung and Chris Brochu.
Target Narrative Feature Competition
GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD (Mexico)
Director: Jack Zagha
When a hard-working accountant is let go from his job because of the economic slump, he finds a new way of earning a living: becoming part of a criminal gang. ADIÓS MUNDO CRUEL is a creative comedy from Mexico that finds humor in a series of unfortunate events. Starring Carlos Alberto Orozco, Mónica Bejarano, José Montini, Lourdes Villarreal, Sandra Sánchez Cantú, Carlos Aragón, Justo Martínez and Pedro Gámez.
BOY WONDER (USA)
Director: Michael Morrissey
After witnessing the brutal murder of his mother, a young Brooklyn boy grows up obsessed with finding her killer. BOY WONDER challenges morality by exploring distorted perceptions of what is right and what is justified. The film stars James Russo, Zulay Henao and Tracy Middendorf.
JESS + MOSS (USA)
Director: Clay Jeter
A series of vignettes involving memories of companionship and sexual awakening shared by two second cousins, JESS + MOSS captures the evocative and haunting character of the dark fire tobacco fields of rural Western Kentucky. Cast includes Sarah Hagan, Austin Vickers and Haley Strode
PARKED (IRELAND, FINLAND)
Director: Darragh Byrne
A proud man living in his car decides to become a better person after being inspired by a young drug addict. Byrne's PARKED is a moving, uplifting film about friendship, trust and the need to feel truly at home. Stars Colm Meaney, Colin Morgan and Milka Ahlroth.
THE PRESENCE (USA)
Director: Tom Provost
Provost's stunning directorial debut, THE PRESENCE, is a darkly romantic ghost story that follows a woman's (Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino) relationship with an apparition in her isolated cabin in Oregon. With the unexpected arrival of the woman's boyfriend, the spirit's haunting becomes more obsessive. Starring Mira Sorvino, Shane West and Justin Kirk.
SMALL TOWN MURDER SONGS (Canada)
Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly
A modern, gothic tale of crime and redemption about an aging police officer from a small Ontario Mennonite town who hides a violent past until a local murder upsets the calm of his newly reformed life. Stars Martha Plimpton, Peter Stormare and Jill Hennessy.
SURROGATE VALENTINE (USA)
Director: Dave Boyle
Directed by Dave Boyle, SURROGATE VALENTINE is about a San Francisco indie musician who lives a life on the road, navigating friendships and relationships. The film stars Goh Nakamura, Chadd Stoops and Lynn Chen.
Target Documentary Feature Competition
BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER'S JOURNEY (USA)
Director: Constance Marks
The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Constance Marks' BEING ELMO uncovers the unlikely man behind the puppet -- the heart and soul of Elmo -- Kevin Clash. Featuring interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O'Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Carroll Spinney, Joan Ganz Cooney, Marty Robinson, Fran Brill, and Bill Barretta
Director: Anne Buford
From rural Senegal to American Prep schools, ELEVATE documents the basketball journey of four particularly tall African teenagers with NBA dreams.
THE GREATER GOOD (USA) - WORLD PREMIERE
Directors: Chris Pilaro, Kendall Nelson
Pilaro and Nelson's THE GREATER GOOD looks behind the fear, hype and politics that polarize people into emotionally charged pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine camps.
NORMAN MAILER: THE AMERICAN (USA)
Director: Joseph Mantegna
Mantegna documents the life and times of controversial, celebrated post-WWII American writer Norman Mailer as told through the people who knew him personally. Interviews include Muhammad Ali, Beverly Bentley and William F. Buckley.
PROSECUTOR (CANADA) - US PREMIERE
Director: Barry Stevens
A fascinating story with extraordinary inside access, PROSECUTOR follows the Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo through the first trials of the newly formed International Criminal Court. He's a hero to genocide survivors, but has bitter enemies on both the right and the left. Featured interviews include Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Mahmood Mamdani, Ben Ferencz, Silas Chekera, Sir Geoffrey Nice.
WILD HORSE, WILD RIDE (USA)
Director: Alex Dawson, Greg Gricus
WILD HORSE, WILD RIDE follows a handful of unforgettable characters who set out on a 100-day quest to tame a totally wild mustang for a Texas competition. This stunning documentary highlights the profound bond between people and animals.
ZERO PERCENT (USA) - WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Timothy Skousen
Skousen gives his audience rare access within the walls of the Sing Sing Correctional facility. The inmates experience the power of education while going through a rigorous college program called Hudson Link - with astounding statistical results.