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By Mark Bell | April 9, 2010

What to say about the opening night of the 2010 Dallas International Film Festival… so much happened, or at least I think so much happened. It’s a bit hard to piece together now; it made more sense at the time.

I made my way over to the Angelika around 6pm. The opening night red carpet was in full effect, and as folks huddled around said carpet taking pics, I wandered up the steps to the Angelika theater, where my vantage point allowed me to get a few candid shots from a more bird’s eye view. Or sniper’s eye view. Your call.

Dallas Film Festival Programmer James Faust in Action-Hair Pose!

Game Over, Dallas! It's Bill Paxton

After rousing festival introductions from Bill Paxton, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, festival director Michael Cain and head programmer James “One of My Favorite People On This Planet” Faust, it was time to watch some movies. While many folks filed into “Bill Cunningham New York” or “Multiple Sarcasms,” I took a road less traveled and wandered into “A Town Called Panic.” I am beyond thrilled that I did.

For one, the festival experienced some technical difficulties; a snowball that picked up more problems as it rolled downhill. Theater One, where “Bill Cunningham New York” was playing, was experiencing screen problems… then projector problems… then who knows. what I knew, sitting in Theater Eight, was that my film was being delayed too, because all hands were on deck for Theater One (my flick didn’t start until 45 minutes after Theater One anyway, so while that audience suffered under an hour+ delay, my delay wound up being something like 20 minutes). Simply, this is the world of film festivals. For as many things that do go off without a hitch, there’s far more that have difficulties). At least “Bill Cunningham New York” got to play out, eventually, and didn’t suffer the “Elektra Luxx” fate at SXSW (a film that got 3/4 of the way through before s**t hit the fan). I was blissfully ignorant for the most part, listening to updates on the delay and Twittering and text messaging away.

When my flick finally started, I was treated to one of the most randomly entertaining films I’ve ever seen. “A Town Called Panic” is a French Belgian film made up almost entirely of stop-motion animation of a bunch of plastic toys. The main story surrounds Cowboy and Indian, as they attempt to give Horse a memorable gift, after forgetting that it was Horse’s birthday. And that’s all I’m saying, because the film is f*****g off the rails from then on. For an example, I give you my favorite quote from the film: “Tidy your waffles.” Yup. I do think this movie is the type of flick where you should get a bunch of friends together, get them drunk and then screen the film. It’s hardly forgettable to begin with, but that would make an impression one would never recover from. Here’s the trailer:

After the film, I made my way outside of the theater for the open-air, opening night party. It was there that I met a ton of people and ran into a slew of old friends. I want to name everyone, but I know I’m going to miss a few, so out of respect, I’ll just say that it was a good mixture of online writers, filmmakers, film festival staff and volunteers and anyone else who was willing to strike up a conversation with me. Par for the course for most fests, honestly, but… I can go an entire SXSW and not meet more than one or two new people. Something about the laid-back atmosphere of the Dallas Festival just lends itself to nice, casual conversation with random people you know you should know, or think you should know, but just haven’t had the chance to meet yet. A solid evening all around.

Expect more tomorrow. I’m tired (it’s 1:30am), and there’s more to do. Going to try and catch “Red Chapel,” “I Am Love” and “Down Terrace” tomorrow, so I’ll share my thoughts then. Or, if you’re paying attention to the Twitter feed, I pretty much chat all day.

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  1. El Bicho says:

    I had a couple of friends come over, just after I had started “TCP”. They understandably reacted with “what the hell is this?” but by the time the party scene happened and that the farmer drank too much beer, they were in hysterics. Deserved an Oscar nom for Animation

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