Even the most dedicated film fans will struggle to catch all 130 features, docs and shorts at this year’s Dallas International Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday. It’s the movie version of the 72-ounce steak challenge: you can try to take it all in, but you’re probably better off loading up your plate more reasonably.
To that end, might I recommend:
Building the American Dream: Texas is home to five of the nation’s 15 fastest growing cities. And all of those people moving in means a boom in construction. In this documentary, director Chelsea Hernandez profiles the workers building all of these new homes and office buildings – 20 percent of whom have been denied payment by their employer, according to the Workers Defense Project. And as 50 percent of this workforce is undocumented, fighting for those earnings and a safe work environment means potential immigration trouble. This is a film that gives a face to the faceless and will leave you with a greater appreciation for the people whose labor is in part powering the state’s economy. (Friday and Saturday at 4:30 p.m.)
Alive Cooper, Live From the Astroturf: The makeshift stage at Dallas’ venerable Good Records has hosted early performances by everyone from Queens of the Stone Age to Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. But for superfan and store owner Chris Penn, one artist ranked above all others in his booking dreams: Alice Cooper. Part portrait of obsession, part concert film (not really a spoiler given the title), this one will have you wishing you were there in person. (Tuesday at 10 p.m. and Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.)
Her Smell: Sticking with the musical theme, this narrative stars Elizabeth Moss as a rock goddess done in by her life of excess. If you only know Moss as Peggy from “Mad Men” or June from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” this one probably will resemble neither of those characters. (Saturday at 12:15 p.m.)
Running With Beto: Beto O’Rourke spent the better part of 2018 crisscrossing Texas, hitting every county during his senate campaign to unseat Ted Cruz. David Modigliani was along for much of the ride, and he captures the ups and downs of all that stumping – including the toll it took on the O’Rourke family. As he fires up the campaign machine again, this looks like a solid behind-the-scenes portrait of the man who could be president. (Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and Monday at 4:30 p.m.)
Ophelia: Daisy Ridley puts Rey from “Star Wars” on the shelf to take a trip to medieval Denmark. This time, though, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is told from the perspective of the film’s title character, the potential wife of the prince. Also along for the ride are Naomi Watts and Clive Owen. (Sunday at 8 p.m.)