Dallas International Film Festival has a successful opening weekend

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The 2017 Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) is here. The Dallas Film Society presents the festival in April annually.

SMU’s very own Liener Temerlin founded the Dallas Film Society and DIFF with Michael Cain and served as the Chairman and Festival Director from 2006-2008. Overnight, the Festival became the largest film festival in the southwest, with more than 193 films from 25 countries, filling 30,030 seats.

This year the Magnolia Theatre in West Village hosted the event, although there are additional screening venues at the Angelika Film Center, Texas Theatre, Dallas City Performance Hall, Main Street Garden, the Grove at Harwood, and SMU’s Meadows Museum. The DART rail line reaches most venues, and all venues are Uber accessible.

Post film Q&A session. Photo credit: Cynthia Mclaughlin

Various independent films involved — from narrative features to documentaries. Each film is entered in a competition, such as the Best Short Film, Narrative Feature and Documentary Feature to name a few. Many films are low-budget, but one filmmaker managed to raise $150,000 for his film through a Kickstarter campaign and several investors.

“The Big Spoon”, directed by Carlyn Hudson, made an appearance March 31 and April 1 at the Magnolia. This film is entered in the Texas Feature Competition, a juried competition of films either shot in or relating to the Lone Star State. Six other films are entered in the Texas Feature Competition; “Tower” was the former Grand Jury Prize winner for this competition.

Ticket before seeing The Big Spoon Photo credit: Cynthia Mclaughlin

“The Big Spoon” is a non-romantic comedy. The screenwriters strived to create a film that was not only low budget, but also relatable to viewers. Actress and screenwriter Mallory Culbert got the inspiration for the film from her friends in long-term relationships. The movie is intended to be for 30-somethings that either are happy to be in their relationship and don’t relate to the movie, or they do relate and are grateful for the movie.

Many viewers knew Culbert’s feministic, go-getter personality before seeing the film, including Elyssa Halford.

“I anticipate a non-traditional romantic movie, knowing the producer’s style,” Halford said, “Other than it being a feature-length film I expect it to have an interesting twist rather than something you’d typically see in a box office film.”

While the film didn’t scream “girl-power,” feminist values were prevalent. The girl doesn’t keep the man in the end and she is better off because of it.

When asked about the difference between producing an independent film and a big box-office movie, Hudson was very positive about the process of working with a small crew.

“I’m answering to me and my team,” Hudson said. “I didn’t have to answer to my studio. I got to answer to myself.”

The most impressive aspect of the movie is that only four people put it together. Culbert not only played a lead role, but also co-wrote the film.

“I even did my own stunts – reversing in the airport pick-up lane,” Culbert said.

The atmosphere of the film festival is refined. Your movie ticket not only gets you into one of Dallas’ most luxurious theaters, but you also get a complimentary pint of Stella Artois.

Before the film, many moviegoers enjoy a meal at one of West Village’s several restaurants. The businesses welcome the heavy foot traffic and the hustle-and-bustle that comes with the festival.

The event is ongoing through Sunday, April 9. Passes are on sale now and can be purchased at dallasfilm.org.

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