By Deb Silverthorn
The very best of Dallas’ film festivals will hit the screens Jan. 10-13, during the first Best of Fests at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, Studio Movie Grill and the Texas Theatre.
Features from 3 Stars Jewish Cinema, the Dallas Jewish Film Festival and 20 other festivals in Dallas, Fort Worth and other North Texas cities will be shown — some chosen for their popularity, others chosen to represent the essence of film festivals.
“Dallas is blazing trails with Best of Fests, and I am personally thrilled to be part of it. Our participation means sharing ‘The Body Collector’ with audiences much wider than our own,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, Aaron Family JCC director of Israel engagement and Jewish living and producer of the JCC-sponsored Dallas Jewish Film Festival. “The Jewish Film Festival of Dallas has worked hard to partner with other organizations and festivals in the past, and Bests of Fests will really enhance those options for all involved. We are all excited to connect with each other and the film going audience.”
Previously screened for the Dallas Jewish Film Festival, “The Body Collector” is based on a true story about an investigative journalist who fights to unmask a prominent art collector as a murderous Nazi war criminal.
Meanwhile, 3 Stars Jewish Cinema will screen the documentary “The Last Laugh,” which posts the question about comedy’s ultimate taboo, the Holocaust, to survivors and comedy legends including Mel Brooks, Judy Gold, Gilbert Gottfried, Carl Reiner, Jeff Ross, Harry Shearer, Sarah Silverman and Alan Zweibel. The results of the conversations offer fresh insights into the Holocaust and other tragedies, determining what is or isn’t off-limits.
“Just about 15 years later, 3 Stars is still showing great films and creating community while providing lectures and discussions connected to our screenings,” said 3 Stars founder Bart Weiss. “At Best of Fests, we get to widen the scope of our audience and introduce our niche to so many filmgoers.” 3 Stars provides a unique Jewish experience, different from a classroom or synagogue, regardless of observance level.
Weiss also founded the Dallas Video Fest, which is screening “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress,” directed by Dallas Jewish community member Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck, as well as “MOSCA,” about a wayward teen reconnecting to her cousin, despite her family’s wishes.
Other films included in Best of Fests are the Asian Film Festival of Dallas’ screening of “Rampant”; the Crossroads of Texas Film & Music Festival’s “Lonesome Dove”; Czech That Film’s “8 Heads of Madness”; the Dallas International Film Festival’s offering of “Tejano”; Deep in the Heart Film Festival’s screening of “Blur Circle”; the Denton Black Film Festival’s “Steps”; EarthxFilm’s screening of “The Human Element”; and Festival de Cine Latino Americano’s screening of “1950: The Nationalist Uprising.”
Also, Flicks by Chick’s selections “After Words: The Opposite of Foreplay,” “Imago” and “Tightly Wound”; the Fort Worth Independent Film Showcase selection “Apache Warrior”; the Lone Star Film Festival’s offering of “The Last Whistle; Oak Cliff Film Festival’s “End Times and Relaxer”; and Pegasus Film Festival’s “America,” “Field Trip,” “Louise,” “No Name,” “Only Child,” “Phonies,” “The Last Spring” and “Transcending Politics.”
Also, Q Cinema’s screening of “Devil’s Path”; Sons of the Flag Film Festival’s “Act of Valor”; the South Asian Film Festival’s “Journey Within”; Thin Line Film Festival’s “Big Paradise and The Modern Jungle”; and Women Texas Film Festival’s presentation of “Abducted in Plain Sight.”
“The Texas Theatre is proud to be the host of opening night of Best of Fests, and the Oak Cliff Film Festival has chosen prime examples of new works from prominent independent filmmakers, examples of those we like to showcase,” said Barak Epstein, operator of the Texas Theatre and director of the Oak Cliff Film Festival screening, “End Times” and “Relaxer.”
Said Weiss: “We believe no other city in the country is hosting an event bringing so many festivals together. There’s no competition between us, just a really beautiful support —the more people coming to one festival, the more who can be exposed to others. Each festival’s entry exudes its culture, its history, its aesthetic and reason for being — it’s really a buffet and introduction of all of Dallas’ best film offerings, and we are very excited, proud and really looking forward to it.”
Best of Fests is made possible by presenting sponsor EarthxFilm along with Alamo Drafthouse, Arts OnePass, Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, Kelly Kitchens PR Prekindle, Selig Polyscope, Studio Movie Grill, Texas Theatre and Wildworks PR.
“The Best of Fests is exactly what collaboration looks like — with 22 of the 25 local festivals coming together and sharing experiences and films that many in the community wouldn’t know existed without our cross-promotion and collective enthusiasm,” said Emily Hargrove, producer of the EarthxFilm Festival and a Best of Fests organizer. “These films provide breadth and depth from varied sources, cultures and countries, yet they demonstrate the universal magic and power of storytelling though cinema. This sampling of these incredible festivals really is a gift to all film lovers.”
For event schedules or to order tickets, visit bestoffests.org.