KERA Arts Story Search

Looking for events? Click here for the Go See DFW events calendar.

DIFF Announces Opening Night Film, Additional Guests

by Stephen Becker 5 Apr 2012 11:13 AM

Laura Linney is headed to town to receive the festival’s Dallas Star Award.


We’re a week away from opening night of the Dallas International Film Festival, and now we have an opening night film.

Liberal Arts, which had already been announced as a part of the festival, will now open the event on Thursday at the Majestic Theatre. Josh Radnor wrote, directed and stars in this story of a thirtysomething who already feels his best days are behind him until he meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) while giving a speech at his old college campus.

Also noteworthy – the festival will honor Laura Linney with its Dallas Star Award. A Conversation with Laura Linney will take place April 21 at 11 a.m. at the Nasher Sculpture Center with a screening of her Oscar-nominated performance in You Can Count on Me to follow at the Angelika.

There are some other newsy bits in today’s news release, including the addition of a cool-sounding basketball documentary called The Other Dream Team. Keep reading for details:

Dallas, TX, April 5, 2012 – The Dallas International Film Festival presented by Boardwalk Auto Group Volkswagen Dealers announced today that three-time Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Laura Linney will be honored with a Dallas Star Award at the Dallas Film Society Honors. Todd Louiso’s HELLO I MUST BE GOING and Marius A. Markevicius’ THE OTHER DREAM TEAM will be screened in DIFF’s coveted Saturday and Thursday Centerpiece slots respectively. Also, the previously announced LIBERAL ARTS is confirmed as the Opening Night Gala presentation.

With the announcement that Linney will be honored with the Dallas Star Award for the remarkable contribution she has made to modern cinema, the Dallas Film Society Honors presented by the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation and supported by the Trinity Diversified Film Fund Advisors will bring Linney together with her co-star in “The Big C” Gabourey Sidibe on April 20, 2012. Linney’s portrayal of characters that have a surface beauty underpinned by deep emotional complexity has won her international acclaim and critical respect in the two decades since her debut in George Miller’s LORENZO’S OIL (1992).  The 1990s saw a steady rise to fame for her through superb performances in PRIMAL FEAR (1996), ABSOLUTE POWER (1997) and as Meryl Burbank and Hannah Gill in the much-loved, THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998).  At the turn of the millennium, Linney earned her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal as single mother Sammy Prescott in Kenneth Lonergan’s YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (2000).  Acclaimed performances in THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (2000) and MYSTIC RIVER (2003) were followed by a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for KINSEY (2004) and another Best Actress nod for her role as conflicted sibling Wendy Savage in THE SAVAGES (2007).  In 2008, Linney won the Emmy Award for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for “John Adams” and most recently has been nominated for another Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for “The Big C”. Linney has just finished production on Focus Features’ HYDE PARK ON HUDSON which will be released theatrically in December 2012.

“Laura Linney is a true star of the stage and screen – a star whose light shines brighter as each year passes,” said James Faust, artistic director of the Dallas Film Society. “She is an actress who consistently delivers powerful performances that never fail to bring you into the heart of her character.  She can be raw, vulnerable, powerful, enigmatic, poignant, comedic, dramatic and, at the same time, utterly beautiful.  She personifies what the Dallas Star Award is all about and it is a huge privilege for us all in Dallas to honor her this year.”

‘A Conversation with Laura Linney’ will take place at 11:00 a.m on April 21 at the Nasher Sculpture Center. A screening of YOU CAN COUNT ON ME will follow at 2:45 p.m at the Angelika Film Center in Mockingbird Station.

DIFF 2012 will kick off on April 12 with an Opening Night Gala at the historic Majestic Theatre.  Following a red-carpet entrance and a tribute to Cinemark USA’s Lee Roy and Tandy Mitchell, Josh Radnor’s LIBERAL ARTS will be screened to the 1,000-plus guests of Opening Night.  Starring Zac Efron, Elizabeth Olsen, Josh Radnor, Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney, LIBERAL ARTS centers on 30-something Jesse, who falls for a young 19-year old college student when he is invited back to his alma mater.  A hit at Sundance Film Festival, LIBERAL ARTS will provide the perfect tone to launch this year’s festival to the Dallas audience.

DIFF also confirmed that the Saturday Centerpiece will be the highly praised comedy HELLO I MUST BE GOING from actor, writer and director Todd Louiso (HIGH FIDELITY (2000); THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (2005)).  The new film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, stars Melanie Lynskey (WIN WIN (2011); UP IN THE AIR (2009)) as Amy, a recently divorced New York photographer who moves back in with her parents in suburban Connecticut, then shakes up her life by starting an affair with a young actor.  Co-starring Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott and Julie White, the film had its North American rights snapped up by Oscilloscope Laboratories in preparation for a theatrical release this year.  HELLO I MUST BE GOING will be screened at the Angelika Film Center in Mockingbird Station on Saturday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m.

Completing the Centerpiece line-up, THE OTHER DREAM TEAM is a perfect choice for a Dallas spotlight: the incredible story of the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team coached by Donnie Nelson, known now as the general manager of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.  The Lithuanian athletes struggled under Soviet rule, but they became symbols of Lithuania’s independence movement and against all odds they triumphed at the Barcelona Olympics.  Not since Steve James’ HOOP DREAMS has a basketball documentary created such compelling viewing. Members of the original team will join Donnie Nelson and director Markevicius at the Landmark Magnolia Theatre screening on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.

“We have been tracking all of these three films since we saw them at Sundance in January,” said Sarah Harris, senior programmer for the Dallas Film Society. “This is one of the many joys of this job – finding films in their infancy and helping create a buzz through the festival circuit in anticipation of their theatrical release. Screening THE OTHER DREAM TEAM in Dallas with Donnie Nelson in attendance will be a real highlight for anyone with even a hint of interest in sport.  We are thrilled that these three films will join MY WAY as part of our Centerpiece series: each one brings it own unique flavor to the festival and I know that our audience will not be disappointed.”

Finally, two additional screenings have been added to the film schedule:


Director: Richard Linklater

In small-town Texas, the local mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow but when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she’s alive. Starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine


Directors: Shana Sosin, Barbara Stepansky, Jennifer Chambers Lynch, Beth Grant, Tracie Laymon, America Young

Six filmmakers were awarded $1000 each to make a short film. The filmmakers were given only two rules: it had to be written, directed, produced, shot, and edited by women, and the finished product had to express what “feminine strength” meant to the filmmakers. GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS is the result of these terrific collaborations, a half a dozen short films that showcase the diverse and unique voices of young female filmmakers from around the country.