Written by: Gordon K. Smith
Now in its third decade, this year’s Dallas VideoFest, starting October 8th, 2014, looks to be the best yet. At a recent roundtable interview, the fest artistic director and all-around guru of Dallas video Bart Weiss discussed this year’s innovations:
“This being our 27th year we decided to do things differently . We’re going for two weeks, which we’ve never done before. Why? We’re crazy enough to do that. As someone who goes to a lot of festivals, you’re always wondering, ‘is this the place to be or is there something better going on next door?’ So instead of four things going on at the same time, we’ll have two, and not have things happening at two locations at one time. Since we’re going two weekends, instead of nothing going else going on between them, we decided to take the festival to the people.”
“For years we’ve been working with various communities – the Mexican-American, African-American, etc., so this year we decided to go where they are. On the Monday between the two weekends, we have a Native American program at the screening room at the University of Texas Arlington, which is by the way where I teach, and they have this incredible new 4K projector. This will be the first public event in that space. There’s a strong Native American community and we’re bringing that there. Tuesday and Wednesday we’re going to the South Dallas Cultural Center, which is really a wonderful facility. They do wonderful things there, and we’ve got two incredible days there. The second day, Wednesday, we have Charles Burnett, a very important filmmaker in the African-American cinema world. We’re showing KILLER OF SHEEP (1979), and having young African-American filmmakers see him is going to influence a generation of filmmakers. He’s very inspirational and the kind of work he made is very important. We’re lucky and excited to have him. The other day we have a collection of shorts including Ya’ke Smith’s DAWN, an incredible film…it’s played many places around the country but not Dallas yet. It’s about a woman who gets out of prison and has to readjust, just as others have to readjust to her. Also that day we’re showing the film 50 YEARS, which is by Christian Vasquez, who used to be our intern at the VideoFest. Christian was selected to go to Washington, DC for the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, and they had a lot of the original Riders there on a bus. This is a really powerful, moving event and he was the official documentarian and made this film for the U.S. Department of Education, who sponsored the event. We’ll have the premiere screening of that. Those are our midweek programs.”
“Officially, as you can see by my shirt, “ Bart continued, displaying this year’s fest shirt,, “The festival runs from October 8-19, but we have an event before then, on October 5th. This is the third time we’re doing Expanded Cinema, a program we do on the Omni Hotel wall, the largest screen in the Southwest. This year the program has been curated by Jenny Vogal. Jenny used to teach at UNT, and had done two pieces there, then moved to New York. She has gathered a group of New Yorkers and Texans to do original work that will be displayed. This screens at 8pm October 5th, Sunday. The sounds of the program will be simulcast on 91.7 KXT…there is nothing like this anywhere, a truly unique event. The official viewing spot is at the base of Reunion Tower. It’s not known as Reunion Park, since they don’t want people hanging out there thinking it’s a park. We’re calling it ‘The Place Bruce Springsteen Played’. It’s a great program, all quite beautiful.”
“Then when start on the 8th at Dallas Performance Hall in downtown Dallas. Last year I saw a performance with the Dallas Symphony, and was incredibly moved by the program they did with some short films. I knew I wanted to do something with them. We talked about what kind of program we could do and chose the silent Hitchcock film THE LODGER (1927). Most people consider it the first true Hitchcock film. We commissioned an original score by Douglas Pipes. I’m told that it’s really wonderful. This will be at Dallas Performance Hall, where we’ve never done an event before. This is truly live cinema! …The level of musicianship rises to the beauty of the film itself. You’ll be happy you live in Dallas, with such a beautiful space to see it in.”
“After that, a night’s sleep and Thursday we move to Alamo Drafthouse Richardson, with two rooms going Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and then the Monday through Wednesday I told you about. Then we go back to Angelika (Dallas) Theatre for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That is the scope of the festival!”
Bart went on to recommend some of his favorite individual events:
October 17: Actor, comedian, political satirist Harry Shearer receives the Ernie Kovacs Award;
October 18: STARFISH THROWERS, moving documentary examines how individuals make a difference in fighting world hunger;
October 12 & 16: ABOVE AND BEYOND, fascinating history of the Israeli Air Force;
October 11: THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TAO, strange story of the supposedly Chinese dish; and that’s just a few of the wide range of films and events happening during the fest.
Find out more at http://videofest.org.
PASSES and TICKETS: Available online at http://videofest.org/passes/#.
Opening Night tickets available online at http://www.showclix.com/event/