Originally ran on FilmThreat.com on 04/08/08
At first, I wasn’t too keen on traveling to Dallas, due to my fanatic love of the Philadelphia Eagles. Having spent half of the 2008 AFI Dallas Film Festival in Big D, however, I’ve got to say the city isn’t half bad. It’s pretty impressive actually. Of course, it could be argued that I felt that way because I was in the most progressive and extensive urban center in the United States, and didn’t stray too far from the majesty of the Victory Park area, but I got around.
THIS ISN’T JUST A SHUTTLE, IT’S A LEXUS!
The screening venues for the 2008 AFI Dallas Film Festival, this only its second year, were very spread out. Some were in malls, some were in outdoor shopping centers, some were the giant screens outside of the American Airlines Arena. In order to see a flick, you had to catch a shuttle. At any other festival, a shuttle is just that: a tiny bus on a set schedule that rotates from stop to stop. At AFI Dallas, the shuttles are a fleet of various types of Lexuses… Lexi… Lexum… more than one Lexus.
Now, the comfort of being in a Lexus is one thing, but they were also being driven by some of the coolest people I’ve ever met at a festival. I’m generally fond of fest volunteers, I know how hard they work (been there), but these folks went above and beyond. If the highway was too congested, they’d weave their way through back streets any way they could to get you to your screening on time and, when I was dying of sinus congestion and generally being a big baby, a shuttle driver actually stopped by a CVS to allow me to buy some medicine before dropping me off at the theater. Eternally grateful, thank you AFI Dallas shuttle drivers for kicking so much a*s.
THE ONLY THING THAT COULD IMPROVE THE FESTIVAL!
The above being said, and I’ve been debating making this point solely because the last thing I want to do is cut into anyone’s extra income, especially when they’re so awesome, is that the festival could really benefit from one, central theater. Much like AFI in Los Angeles does with the Arclight, I could really see AFI Dallas benefiting from one multiplex in the Victory Park area centered specifically around the festival. Since Victory Park is still in active development, this does not seem inconceivable. Add the fact that Mark Cuban and Landmark are right there too and… it seems like a handshake away. Again, I don’t say this to take work away from the shuttle driving volunteers, but I felt bad for them when I’d get out of a screening after midnight and they’d be there waiting, obviously tired from the long day.
THE MOST FUN I’VE HAD AT A FESTIVAL IN A LONG TIME!
For only its second year, AFI Dallas delivered on an epic scale that I haven’t seen outside of the glitz of Cinevegas or the prestige of Sundance. The star power was in full effect, for those hoping to celebrity-spot, the films were aces and the parties and general atmosphere was fun across the board. To do a quick sum-up of the random bits that added up to an incredible whole: I played a professional Guitar Hero champion, saw a chimpanzee in the Filmmakers’ Lounge, hung out in my hotel room with Public Enemy’s Chuck D, got heckled at a Q&A, was almost seduced / hypnotized into killing children for the Polyphonic Spree and was close enough to get back-handed by Robert De Niro. I’ve had highlights at other fests, but not so many, so notable, in so few days.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MOVIES?
There was a strong contingent of films that had played previous festivals, but luckily they were the GOOD films from previous festivals (sometimes that’s just not the case). On top of that, there were a number of new films making their premieres and save maybe one or two, I don’t have many negative things to say about their quality. James Faust and Sarah Harris delivered an amazing program; real thought-provoking films on top of entertainment value, and that’s not an easy thing to do.
So much happened during this year’s festival, but let’s get to some visuals. Check out the pics Part 2 of Film Threat’s 2008 AFI Dallas Film Festival Wrap-up>>>