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The Warped, Twisted and Strangely Funny Reality in Your Own Backyard

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I know this didn't sneak up on you, but the AFI Dallas International Film Festival makes its bow tonight with the screening of Music Within -- the true-life tale of the Vietnam vet behind the Americans with Disabilities Act, starring Office Space's Ron Livingston -- tonight at the Majestic Theater, followed by a swanky shindig downtown, during which I intend to drink Lauren Bacall under the table. In this week's issue of the Observer, there's an abbreviated preview of the fest; sorry, but there just wasn't enough room to cover all 190 entries, long and short, so instead we touched on a few highlights and promise we'll get to a few others during this week and next, along with a few interviews with folks in town for the AFI. (Send your questions for David Lynch; seriously, do it now.)

Let's start close to home, with Matthew Killip's short, Sundance-approved doc Master of Reality, about a guy from Westchester -- "the wealthiest neighborhood" in Grand Prairie, so we're told, and I'll just go with that -- named Ronny Long, who started filming himself wrestling and doing other nutty shit from the time he was 9 years old. You can watch it here if you must; Sundance kindly made all its festival shorts available online this year. But it's one of those movies best shared with a roomful of strangers sitting in the dark: Folks giggle and gasp at the story of Ronny Long, who displays with perhaps a touch too much pride his obsessions with wrestling, cryptozoology and horror movies. His story is sort of a cross between, oh, Tarnation, American Movie and TV Junkie -- big shoes, perhaps, but appropriate for a dude who loves him some Bigfoot. And, really, you gotta love a guy who started making movies with such titles as Escape of a Mental Moron and Cannibals Indigenous.

"Ultimately, Master of Reality is about a kid growing up in the suburbs of Dallas who played out all the confusion of adolescence through these strange video fantasies," Killip tells Unfair Park, adding that Ronny's now 21 and still living in the metroplex. "He came with me to Sundance and got re-inspired to make movies again. In fact, he's started making another film called Bad Breed about a terrorist transvestite spy, a lethal virus and some killer robots."

Killip, who worked on the doc for some three years, like to say that Ronny's "inspiring," which is one word for it. If you want to check on Ronny's progress, you can always visit his -- what else? -- MySpace page. And you can see Master of Reality at the AFI March 29 at 5 p.m. at the Angelika or March 31 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center on the SMU campus. --Robert Wilonsky

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