Mixmaster's Guide to Getting Started at DIFF's Huge Buffet of Film

Categories: Film and TV

Words and Pictures
Wondering how the hell to navigate the more than 170 films gracing the screens of the Dallas International Film Festival? Well, how about some help from two DIFF-going veterans -- Merritt Martin and Jennifer Medina -- offering their best-intended, possibly challenging, but definitely enthusiastic assistance. Grab your hoodie (you'll need it), pack some snacks for line-standing in between films and check out these daily recommendations.

Pick one per day, or max out your viewing, but be sure to leave suggestions in the comments so you can help us help fellow DIFFers navigate repeat screenings. And on that note, we'll admit if we were real wrong. No shame, y'all. The fun of a film festival is trying to find your absolute favorite ... and the one that is soooo not.

Screening times and locations subject to change. Check diff2014.dallasfilm.org for the most current details.

Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo

Words and Pictures
7:30 p.m. at Dallas City Performance Hall
If you need a reason to dish out the bucks for this year's opening night gala and screening, we have two words for you: Clive Owen. If, for some unknown reason, you need more, then you're just crazy, but here you go: Owen stars in this story about two artistic adults making their way through their wrecked lives to debate the virtues of words and pictures, with the assistance of a bunch of precocious prep school students. It's going to be sweet, it's going to be tender, and it's going to be your first step into this year's fest. JM


Evolution of a Criminal
7:15 p.m. Friday and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Angelika
If there's any place to see documentaries, it's DIFF. This viewing experience comes with instant audience-friends you can vent/freak out/cry with, and when the doc is especially good, the theater just hums with emotion. Fairly certain Evolution of a Criminal is going to prove one of the more rewarding documentary experiences this year, especially considering its unusual perspective. Executive produced by Spike Lee and directed by the subject of the film, Darius Clark Monroe, Evolution examines how Monroe became a desperate teen who robbed a bank, served time and returned to the scene to make amends ... if such amends are possible. MM


Noon Saturday and 2:45 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at Angelika
Starring Mark Strong and Taissa Farmiga, Anna (also known as Mindscape in its original Spanish release) looks to have all the makings of an exciting thriller -- a possible criminal mastermind in the form of a teenage girl and a broken man who has the ability to enter people's memories. With a heightened sense of paranoia in our veins, we're already pretty sure that this is going to be an awesome choice, regardless of the outcome (and how much of a mindfuck it turns out to be). JM

Believe Me
7:30 p.m. Saturday at Texas Theatre and 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at Angelika
I'm gonna be honest: I'm not entirely sold on the plot of Believe Me. Kids create a fake Christian charity to raise tuition, it blows sky high, and maybe they start believing their own message. It could go schlock real fast. However! The presence of Nick Offerman in a film (often those filmed in ATX, as this one is) has proven a no-fail in five years of DIFF-ing, so this recommendation is based on his ability to pick solid projects. (Pro tip: The Offerman Method of Festival Film Picking also applies to character actors Chris Doubek and Alex Karpovsky, who sadly, as of yet have no films in this year's fest. I'm holding out hope.) MM

2:45 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at Angelika
Don't call it a comeback -- wait, you probably should. After winning the Audience Award for Narrative Feature in 2008 for his film Amal, director Richie Mehta is gracing us with yet another film: Siddharth. A poignant family drama set in the land of New Delhi's underworld of child labor, a father goes on a heartbreaking search for his missing 12-year-old son when he fails to return home for Diwali. JM

Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo
2:30 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at Angelika
Rodeo is so closely associated with Texas that, at least here in the Lone Star State, a doc on anything involving a lasso seems a little tired at first. Unless you're talking about a doc that follows the International Gay Rodeo Association. Being gay in a rural sport? The fact that most of us can't begin to imagine that struggle makes it clear we need to watch this. Challenging stereotypes and wading through the bullshit (literal and figurative) of the rodeo circuit, three IGRA competitors address various challenges in achieving their rodeo dreams. Belt buckles, optional. MM

Web Junkie
3 p.m Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, at Angelika
Internet addiction. It's something gamers -- or, more accurately, those who don't understand gamers -- often joke about. And yet, it's become such a problem in China, it's now an official clinical disorder. Web Junkie follows three teens in a Beijing rehab for their Internet addictions, as they participate in boot camp training, group therapy and intense bonding with each other ... as well as conflict with the parents who sent the boys there against their will. You and I might not spend 300 straight hours on WOW (don't act like you don't know), but if you've ever felt drawn to your electronics, this is one screen to stare at. MM

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