The Daily Update: Friday, April 1

April 2, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Texas roadways didn’t do well on their report card, Ranger’s ticket prices have sky rocketed and Kate Middleton won’t be putting a ring on it. All this and more on your Daily Update.

The Daily Update: Friday, April 1 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

A Few Not-To-Miss Flicks at The 2011 DALLAS International Film Festival

April 1, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Caroline Foster
cfoster@smu.edu

The fifth annual Dallas International Film Festival kicked off last night with an opening night celebration downtown in the Arts District. The festival will feature movies from around the world and comes to theaters throughout Dallas April 1 – April 10. Here are our top picks that you don’t want to miss.

1) “Beautiful Boy” directed by Shawn Ku is a drama about the difficulties a couple faces after their son kills himself and others during a school shooting spree. The Dallas Film Festival is the US premiere for the emotional piece that won the Prize of the International Film Critics at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival. The jury at the Toronto Film Festival remarked, “This film shows its audience that in a world of chaos and insanity, humanity is the only key to life.” The film will be screened on Thursday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center, and Saturday, April 9 at 3:00 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center in Plano.

2) “Africa Diary” is the personal journal of L.M. Kit Carson, a Fort Worth native and celebrated producer and journalist known for his work in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and “Paris, Texas” as he travels through Africa with producer Cynthia Hargrave. The duo used their cell phone cameras to shoot 3-5 minute diaries of people and images from Zambia, Mozambique, and South Africa. The short clips were added together to create a docu-work the New York Times describes as “semi-legendary.” The film’s free screening is Sunday, April 10 at 4:00 p.m. at Highland Park Village.

3) Cannes Film Festival award winner “Armadillo” follows Danish soldiers as they serve in Afghanistan. The documentary provides a real life look into battle as well as the soldier’s emotional reactions to their violent experiences. Director Janus Metz became close to the soldiers during filming the controversial piece that is sure to cause a stir in the US as well. The screening dates for this movie are Friday, April 1 at 10:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 2 at 5:00 p.m. both at the Angelika Dallas.

4) “Elevate” directed by Anne Buford is a documentary that follows four Senegalese boys who come to America to attend the SEEDS academy, a boarding school for basketball players founded by former Dallas Mavericks Scout, Amadou Gallo Fall. The boys hope to play in the NBA but they must first handle the struggles of high school and adapting to the culture of America. The film follows the athletes for three years as they work towards achieving their dreams. “Elevate” is showing Tuesday, April 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Magnolia Theatre and Wednesday, April 6 at 5:00 p.m. at the Magnolia Theatre.

5) “Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times” premiered at Sundance and will make its next major showing at the 2011 DIFF. Director Andrew Rossi brings us the Times like we have never seen before. The film brings to light the financial and professional struggles of the evolving media landscape – and what better way than to investigate the biggest name in print? Show times are Friday, April 1 at 10 p.m. and Saturday, April 2 at 1:15 p.m., both at the Angelika in Mockingbird Station.

6) “Wild Horse, Wild Ride” is a documentary about six men and women who train wild mustangs, co-directed by Alex Dawson and Greg Grucius. The trainers are given 100 days to transform these wild animals before the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge that occurs in Fort Worth. The story of the animals and humans bonding is a heart-warming one. This film will be screened on Sunday, April 3 at 5:00 p.m. at the Angelika in Mockingbird Station as well as Monday, April 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center.

Visit the Dallas Film Society’s website for the complete film schedule and other events.

DIFF Boosts Sales at Independent Theaters Despite Downturn

April 29, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Aida Ahmed
aahmed@smu.edu

Twenty-five movies in seven days.

That’s how many films Patsy Cartwright saw at this year’s Dallas International Film Festival. While curious onlookers surrounded the ticket table on the closing day of the festival at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas, Cartwright was checking off the 26th movie for the week, Thunder Soul, on her list of must-sees of the annual festival.

“It makes us want to see more films, it’s so exciting,” Cartwright said. “I like film art and art documentary film- the other things are just advertising and blockbusters.”

Cartwright isn’t just obsessed with movies, she lives for them. Since she has no cable or television in her house, she goes to the movie theater every weekend and only frequents the Angelika Film Center and The Magnolia for independent films.

“They’re the only good films,” Cartwright said. “This is the real stuff; a true spectrum of feeling and knowledge.”

A weak economy is said to be great for the movie business because movies serve as cheap entertainment. But in a time when everyone is watching where they spend their dollar, independent film theaters have had to count on regulars like Patsy Cartwright to keep coming back. And festivals like DIFF bring in business no matter the economic climate.

Omar Bacallao has worked at the Angelika Film Center for three years and as manager he says festivals really keep the theater alive.

“It definitely brings awareness of the Angelika,” Bacallao said. “It’s a different experience. They tend to know the Angelika and come back more and more.”
Still, Bacallao has seen that the economy has upset business.

“I have a lot more disgruntled customers because of ticket prices and concession prices going up,” Bacallao said. “All theaters went from $8 to $10, that’s just the economy.”

According to Box Office Mojo, a Web site that tracks box-office revenue, there was a decrease in ticket sales for 2007 and 2008, but in 2009 theaters surprisingly saw a 5.3 percent increase.

This all comes with a constant increase in ticket prices. The average ticket price in 2007 was $6.88. In 2010 it’s $7.61. And at theaters like the Angelika, is has risen to $10.

“It differs. It’s fast sometimes, then slow,” said Bacallao. “Independent movies people have heard about or made by a famous director will attract more people.”

Assistant professor of cinema-television at Southern Methodist University, Pamela Elder, says that even during the Great Depression people found money to go to the movies but to compare regular theaters to ones like the Angelika is wrong.

“They didn’t start out in the same place so you can’t really compare them,” Elder said. “They’re not red carpet, blockbuster movies. They are more concerned with the artistry of the film and not the money.”

But even independent film theaters need constant revenue to stay afloat. Elder says they are known by their brand and attract people who want their product.

Lancaster resident Suzi Weaver and her husband come to Dallas just to catch documentaries at the Angelika. Weaver sips on a soda in the Angelika Café while waiting for her husband. She likes the atmosphere of the venue and says it’s a nice change from the small town she’s used to.

“We only have to pay $2.50 for a movie in Lancaster, but it’s gotta be special for us to come to the Angelika and spend that,” Weaver said. “I would not come here to see a first run movie I could see at home.”

Making the trip to Dallas through traffic is worth it because she says the theater is the only place where she can see documentaries, like the movie she just bought tickets to see, “Sweet Grass.”

Even with dedicated movie goers like Weaver, Bacallao says his theater’s major competitor is the AMC Theater at NorthPark Center.

The Angelika plays independent films at a ratio of six to two, compared to mainstream flicks, but the Angelika crowd has always been very intimate. The Angelika staff is mixed with former Magnolia workers, and for them, it’s important to maintain a relationship with the movie goers that really come out for the independent films.

“The staff is held to a lot higher standard and we know almost all the regulars now,” Bacallao said. “We’re big on customer service and show a little more favor to our loyal customers to show our loyalty to them.”

The Angelika Film Center is devoted to independent and specialty film. Built in 2001, the Angelika houses eight screens and is located at the now booming Mockingbird Station. It doesn’t look like an average theater. Right off the DART and surrounded by fairly new shops and restaurants, the Angelika gives off the vibe of a film culture hub.

The theater features stadium designed seating, digital sound and wall-to-wall screens. They also differ from other theaters because they serve alcoholic beverages at the café in the lounge area. The film center also strives to be a part of the Dallas arts community by building awareness for independent films and filmmakers by hosting film discussion groups.

Everything they do is intimate, except for the festivals.

The annual festivals boost revenue and set the theater apart from their mainstream competitors.

Michael Cain, Chairman of the Board of the Dallas Film Society, said that the annual Dallas International Film Festival complements the area’s independent theaters.

“I think the theaters are doing well without us,” Cain said. “We just bring in an influx of folks over 11 days who take an interest in independent films.”

So when planning for the DIFF, Cain said the Dallas Film Society had many good reasons to pick the Angelika Film Center as one of the venues.

“For one, they have great production, sound and a sense of unity,” Cain said. “They also have their own unique audiences, art house audiences, that are perfect to get the word out to.”

The Dallas Film Society created the Dallas International Film Festival in 2006 to celebrate film and filmmakers, as well as to educate the community on the role of film. In the first three years, over 110,000 people attended the festival for over 600 screenings and events.

The 2010 DIFF offered 159 films from 25 countries, including shorts and features. Both festivals bring in new well-known actors and filmmakers, as well as give student filmmakers a chance on the big screen.

The festival and the Angelika seem to go hand in hand.

“People have recognized us as a higher class theater and a higher event promoter,” Bacallao said. “Most people who come to the festival have a hard time finding the Angelika, but once they come they find themselves being regulars.”

That’s how Glenn Oswald, who frequents Dallas film festivals, became an Angelika fan.

The devout movie buff has come to the festival since its start and was also first in line at the DIFF on closing night to see the documentary feature Thunder Soul.

“I’m supporting the film arts and the festival is a way to see film screenings before they open,” Oswald said. “There’s an opportunity to see films that aren’t otherwise commercially available. The everyday filmgoer is not the target audience.”

The Daily Update: Tuesday, April 13

April 13, 2010 by · Comments Off 

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Campus News Blog: SMU CTV Students Shine at Dallas Film Festival

April 12, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Monica Sharma

There are some topics that deserve more blogging time. One of them happens to be the Dallas International Film Festival.

It is still going on for a whole week so if you haven’t had the chance to attend, don’t fret, there is time.

What to see?

A few Meadows CTV students and alumni will have their chance to shine on the big screen, directing and producing films. Here’s a lineup:

“Crazy Pig” premiered in the Shorts Competition program. Directed by Juan Francisco de la Guardia, a current SMU graduate student, the nine-minute film screened this past Saturday and Sunday at the Angelika.

You still have the opportunity to see two other student films.

“Sin Ella”, a film in Spanish with English subtitles, is produced by 2009 SMU grad Dan Carillo.

“Obselidia”, produced by Ken Morris, a 2007 grad is also showing and competing in the Target Narrative Feature Competition.

For show times and locations, click here.

Campus News Blog: Dallas Film Festival Kicks Off This Week

April 6, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Monica Sharma

The stars are coming to town this week for the fourth edition of the Dallas International Film Festival. On Thursday, April 8, over 1,600 people will flock to the Angelika for the opening night of this 11-day movie event.

With over 200 films, there will be something for every taste.

The two centerpiece screenings are the Demi Moore/David Duchovny film, “The Joneses” and a Michael Douglas/Susan Sarandon film, “Solitary Man”.

Along with screenings, there will be galas, family friendly events, panel discussions and an awards program.

While tickets and passes went on sale last month, there are still plenty of opportunities to be a part of this cool event.

There are still tickets available for purchase on the website, or if you are into a more behind-the-scenes aspect, the Dallas Film Society is taking volunteers to help work all aspects of the festival.

This is a great way to network and meet people in the entertainment and film industry.

SMU students—take advantage of living in the great city of Dallas to see good film and meet interesting people.