Years before AFI-Dallas, before Lone Star in Fort Worth, before the plethora of film festivals that have popped up in the past decade, the Dallas Video Festival was bringing adventurous programming to North Texas. Only the USA Film Festival is older.
As the video festival enters its third decade yet again anchored at a new venue, founder and artistic director Bart Weiss remains stoked by its place in the local festival scene — and by the scene itself.
“We were at the Dallas Museum of Art for 10 years and the Dallas Theater Center for 10 years. I guess for 10 years we’ll be at the Angelika,” Weiss says in anticipation of his 21st annual festival, which runs Thursday to Sunday on two screens at the Mockingbird Station arthouse. “More people going to more festivals is good for everyone. People get used to seeing unconventional work. And there’s a cooperative spirit. We all want each other to do well. It’s all good.”
Two-year-old AFI-Dallas is a sponsor, and Weiss sits on an advisory committee of the Lone Star International Film Festival, which unfurls its second annual event next week.
The video festival always has specialized in edgy, experimental work dealing with media, politics and pop culture as well as highly personal stories and new genres and sub-genres. This year is no different.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation production still
Among the highlights are a shot-by-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark made in the 1980s by three young fans; a retrospective of the Claymation character Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live; local photojournalism legend David Leeson’s ground-level Afghanistan documentary, At War, among more than two dozen pieces made by North Texas producers; Guest of Cindy Sherman, an inside look at the reclusive photo-artist; Moral Kombat, an examination of the effects of video games; and returning favorites like the London Advertising Awards, The Texas Show and the Albert Maysles Award, which this year includes a screening of the documentary pioneer’s Running Fence.
“So many of these things come out of reading the paper or someone mentioning something to me,” Weiss says. “I think about this stuff all year round.”
The Perfect Cappuccino
He recommends: The Perfect Cappuccino, a quest film that took the maker from Italy to Tulsa, Okla.; Quick Hands, Soft Feet, a half-hour drama about the dying dream of a minor league baseball player; and She Should Have Gone to the Moon, an expressionistic documentary about a 1960s female astronaut.
She Should Have Gone to the Moon
There are some new wrinkles at this year’s festival.
Weiss has only two screens and four days to work with instead of last year’s four screens and six days, making for tougher choices. That said, the festival spun off a video art series this summer at Conduit Gallery.
The festival also has added eight new awards in categories like narrative feature, comedy short and “meta-media.” And it will be projecting films through iTunes instead of using tape. Look for the details on that technological change at the Art&Seek blog, where I’ll also be highlighting work by North Texas producers, and Stephen Becker will be making daily picks.
Images courtesy Dallas Video Festival