The AFI Dallas International Film Festival 2007 gets underway Thursday night with a screening of Music Within at the Majestic Theatre you can't attend, unless you already possess a ticket, and a party at Neiman Marcus you can't attend even if you have an invite, unless you've already RSVP'd. And of the nearly 200 screenings scheduled to take place from March 22 through April 1, some 10 percent "have door sales only," says AFI's managing director, Tearlach Hutcheson, which means they're essentially sold out well in advance. (Among the popular titles: Helvetica, a documentary about the typeface, and The Bracelet of Bordeaux and The Night of the White Pants, both of which have estimable local ties.)
"The whole situation has me pleasantly surprised," Hutcheson says. "We never knew, to be honest, what would happen, so we never had any expectations. This is not a city that has been trained to pre-purchase tickets for film festivals." Nonetheless, there was, from all accounts, a lengthy line outside AFI's box office Friday morning, when tickets went on sale. And several events have done exceptionally well: As we've noted before, AFI had to add a second screening of David Lynch's Inland Empire, and word that the makers of the Brit comedy Hot Fuzz (Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost) will be in town with their movie has turned that into a hot ticket as well.
"When we started out with this process and sent invites out, we were told to expect 30 to 40 filmmakers to come support their movies, and it ended up being over 70," Hutcheson says. "And there have been a lot of faces who said they want to come support their films: Ricki Lake is coming to support Park, Music Within's bringing in a good contingent of people. So we've been surprised by a good many things. We were surprised when we opened our box office and people were waiting outside to come in. We've never seen this done in Dallas before, so all these things we do, we're continuously surprised about." --Robert Wilonsky