2009 AFI Dallas Film Festival: 12 Films I Would Pay To See

AFI DallasThis year the AFI Dallas Festival will showcase 77 feature films and 96 shorts from 22 countries. Instead of waiting for the critics to review these movies, this year make it your own. Sure, it's a risk. The movie could be horrible and your night could be ruined (a bit drastic, but I've been there.) Don't worry. I've done the legwork, reading through all the film synopsis' (I'm currently only covering Feature Films) and hand selecting some of the good ones.

OK. It's still a risk. You don't even know my movie taste. But, I have that covered. This is a quick list of 10 films I've rated 5/5 stars on Netflix (in no order): The Big Lebowski, Babel, Sophie Scholl: Her Last Days, Fateless, The Darjeeling Limited, Barton Fink, Priceless, The Visitor, The Godfather, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly.

In short, I think the Cohen Brothers are genius, and I have a soft spot for depressing foreign films. If you're still with me (even somewhat), keep reading to find out the 12 Films I Would Pay To See at this year's AFI Festival.

Don't miss my next post (spawned on by this one) when I list the top tips for AFI Fest moviegoers.

Premier Series

  • Adam Resurrected (USA, Israel, Germany, 2008, 106 mins) Adam Steiner survives World War II’s concentration camps by working for the Nazis, performing his clown act while other Jews are sent to the gas chambers. After the war, he lands in a mental institution where he reads minds and confounds doctors. Sunday, March 29th 3:00pm @ AMC NorthPark 15 | Monday, March 30th 7:45pm @ AMC NorthPark 15
  • Like Dandelion Dust (USA, 2008, 100 mins) Karen Kingsbury's LIKE DANDELION DUST, based on the best-selling novel, is a compelling drama that explores the different meanings of being a parent through the grittily realistic lives of the struggling, blue-collar Porter's, and the privileged Campbell family. Their lives intersect, intertwine and collide, all for the love of a little boy. This film is wonderfully acted, bravely exposing the humanity in each character and reminding us that we each have the potential to be the best and worst versions of ourselves at any time. Tuesday, March 31st 7:30pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 5 | Wednesday, April 1st 10:15pm @ AMC NorthPark 15
  • Sugar (USA, 2008, 118 mins) When Sugar, a gifted 19-year-old Dominican pitcher, gets called up to the American minor leagues, it seems a dream fulfilled for him, his family and his community. But life on the road and under the glare of the lights carries more challenges than the young man imagined. Wednesday, April 1st 7:15pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 4
  • Hunger (UK, Ireland, 2008, 96 mins) Though ostensibly about the 1981 hunger strike initiated by Irish Republican Army leader Bobby Sands, this poetic-realist debut by Steve McQueen ventures into far deeper territory, seeking to visually articulate the very nature of oppression and resistance. Thursday, April 2nd 7:15pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 4

Documentary Showcase

  • Art and Copy (USA, 2008, 86 mins) Director Doug Pray explores the genesis of modern advertising. This look inside the creative and operational process peels back the wrapper of some of the most successful campaigns of our time and profiles some of the industry’s living legends. The film reminds us that good advertising isn’t a science; it’s an art. Tuesday, March 31st 7:00pm @ AMC NorthPark 15 Limited tickets available. Rush Line ONLY | Wednesday, April 1st 10:00pm @ AMC NorthPark 15
  • Food, Inc. (USA, 2008, 93 mins) Robert Kenner takes an unsalted look at America’s industrial food system — dirty cattle lots, genetically modified veggies, fast food chains and processing plants. Using hidden and handheld cameras, Kenner shows us shocking examples of both animal and farm worker abuse. They’ll make you reconsider where your dinner comes from. Monday, March 30th 7:30pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 5 | Tuesday, March 31st 10:00pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 3

Texas Competition

  • One Nation (USA, 2008, 111 mins) Texas Competition preceded by: Juror Number Six. Director Justin Wilson was too young to experience the Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, Richard Nixon’s election, the Olympics and the Vietnam War. But he takes images from TV, photographs and the music of the era and mixes the events of 1968 in a fresh and thoughtful way. Monday, March 30th 7:15pm @ AMC NorthPark 15 | Wednesday, April 1st 4:15pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 4

Environmental Visions Competition

  • Crude (USA, 2009, 104 mins) Crude explores one of the greatest environmental disasters of our time and looks at the conflict between Chevron and indigenous Ecuadorians who have lost their livelihoods due to billions of gallons of toxic waste dumped into the Amazon. Tuesday, March 31st 7:15pm @ AMC NorthPark 15 | Wednesday, April 1st 1:00pm @ AMC NorthPark 15

World Cinema

  • The American Trap (Canada, 2008, 110 mins) Charles Binamé takes the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination and adds an anti-hero and fleeting historical footage to create a story that will leave even conspiracy theorists paranoid. Lucien Rivard travels through the criminal and political underworld with Jack Ruby, the CIA and the Mob in a zero-sum game. Sunday, March 29th 7:15pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 4 | Monday, March 30th 4:15pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 4
  • Hellcats (South Korea, 2008, 114 mins) Hellcats is a sweet, sexy and smart romantic comedy that takes a realistic view of the modern Korean single woman from the viewpoint of three women of different ages who live together. Terrifically acted and confidently directed, this is a film that transcends the “chick flick” genre. Sunday, March 29th 6:00pm @ AMC NorthPark 15 | Monday, March 30th 4:30pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 5

Target Documentary Feature Competition

  • Americana (USA, 2008, 91 mins) Americana tells the story of two teenagers who wrestle with their decision to enlist in the U.S. Army, and is juxtaposed with portraits of people from all over the world to provide a unique and revealing insight into the cost of war and the forces in society that make those costs acceptable. Tuesday, March 31st 7:00pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 3 | Wednesday, April 1st 10:15pm @ Landmark's Magnolia 4
  • Whatever It Takes (USA, 2008, 100 mins) The film is an inside look at the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics during the struggles and triumphs of its first year. Principal Edward Tom and dedicated teachers take 107 9th-grade students from hardship to a meaningful learning experience while setting a new standard in education. Friday, March 27th 4:15pm @ AMC NorthPark 15 | Saturday, March 28th 1:00pm @ AMC NorthPark 15

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