DIFF 2017: The lineup

Part of what has made the last few weeks so crazy has been locking down a program. For the last eleven years, I’ve been lucky to be part of the programming team at the Dallas Film Society. This week we’re announcing the 11th festival program and I couldn’t be more proud of this lineup accomplished with my colleagues, James Faust (Artistic Director) and Daniel Laabs (Programming Coordinator).

I often compare the Dallas International Film Festival as being like a child for me. I’ve seen it birthed from nothing to supporting it through growing pains and now entering a new decade. This festival and it’s programming has been a big part of my life – I have met incredible friends, amazing artists, even my husband, through my work with DIFF. My experiences working with DIFF have helped shape me into the person I am today.

A lot of emotion and thoughtfulness goes into each film selected and where/why it plays within the entire event. It is a GIANT puzzle piece. Is this group/community/audience/voice represented? Is this topic covered? Will this film stimulate a conversation that needs to happen? How does it work counter to this other film? Are we piecing together any themes? Then you have to actually schedule them.

One of the hardest parts is keeping it a secret and containing my excitement around what I am working on. The announcement is like a breath of fresh air. To be working for months and finally having something to share is a thrill. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted.

Two very cool highlights to mention include a spotlight on one of the best years in cinema history, 1967, and L.M. “Kit” Carson Maverick Honoree, David Gordon Green.

Bonnie & Clyde
Bonnie & Clyde (1967)

My programming with DIFF focuses mostly on documentary features and shorts. While I’m proud of the whole festival program, I am particularly excited about the Documentary Competition, Showcase, Deep Ellum Sounds and Shorts Competition sections. These are films you’ll hear about later. Filmmakers that should be on your radar. My goal is to bring the best of what I see to Dallas audiences and this program reaches that goal and then some. The 2017 lineup includes a total of 122 films. That’s at least 122 friends being added to my DIFF family. What a great feeling.

Quest
Quest (2017)

Take a look at the 2017 DIFF program here. I’ll be discussing more about DIFF in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

I’d love to hear what you find interesting in this lineup or if you have any particular questions about the process you’d like me to cover over the next few weeks. Let me know in the comments!

 

Shorts & Snacks: Pink Grapefruit (2015)

If you’re feeling done with the cold and wet winter weather, then today’s short is the burst of brightness you need in your day.

Directed by Michael Mohan, Pink Grapefruit, tells the story of a young married couple who bring two of their single friends out to Palm Springs for a long weekend. It doesn’t go as planned. This romantic dramedy premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win a jury prize at SXSW. Michael Mohan is a talented filmmaker and one you should have on your radar.

He’s an expert at capturing the subtleties of a relationship. I first met him through programming one of his earlier shorts, Ex-Sex. (Sadly, this short is not available online to the public, but it one of my all time favorite films.) I remember a lively Q&A following an Ex-Sex screening with one very uncomfortable old man who was…frustrated by what he had seen. The experience was great (though, perhaps, difficult at the time) and one of the reasons why the film needed to be shown to an audience. In Pink Grapefruit, Mohan explores an earlier stage of relationships.

There are many elements I love about this short: the characters, the setting, the production design, the cinematography. But what I love most is the quietness. This desert air creates a space where anything can happen, despite whatever intentions were created at the beginning. Mohan plays with sound, allowing the awkwardness and curiosity to settle in. The camera glides through the house. The imagery, not words, reveal the characters’ thoughts and secrets.

You’ve probably been there. If you’ve ever been set up you have definitely been there. The feelings of doubt. Fear. Caution. Then perhaps your heart beats faster with anticipation or confidence. Pink Grapefruit is a beautiful example of those moments and how they blur together to make something memorable. Plus, there’s just something about Palm Springs that creates a strange kind of romance, right? (Maybe I’m just speaking from experience on that one.)

As the title suggests a perfect snack to eat while your watching is one of winter’s best flavors: a grapefruit. I’m partial to the old fashion sprinkling-of-sugar on top. That first bite of tartness is vibrant enough for me. But if you want to do something a little different, then why not try a Rum-broiled version?

Have you ever been set up by a married couple before? Experience a desert romance?
What’s one of your other favorite recipes that include grapefruit? (I like to throw them into salads too.) Let’s discuss!


Pink Grapefruit
Directed by Michael Mohan

2015 / 11 min / USA 

A young married couple brings two of their single friends out to Palm Springs for a long weekend. It does not go as planned.

*A word of warning, you may want to watch this one at home (and not in front of the kids).