AFI Dallas Fest Sneaks a Peek with Hunter S. Thompson, Ellen Page and Helen Hunt

Hunter S. Thompon's doc makes its Dallas debut at AFI in the spring.

The Sundance Film Festival's not quite wrapped in Park City, Utah; the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin is still some six weeks from opening with the real-life blackjack thriller 21. But this morning we bring news from the AFI Dallas International Film Festival, which kicks off its second year on March 27. This morning, Unfair Park received a list of 15 films scheduled to play the festival -- including one world premiere, two U.S. debuts and two currently on screens at Sundance, Alex Gibney's affectionate documentary Gonzo: The Life & Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and the Spanish-language on-the-cheap time-travel pic Time Crimes, about to get remade for Tom Cruise's United Artists.

Also on the short list: Helen Hunt's directorial debut Then She Found Me, which made its bow at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Though no guests have been announced for the AFI fest, it's likely Hunt could come to Dallas in the spring; she'll already be in Austin for SXSW. (Gibney, for that matter, will probably be in Dallas as well: Gonzo, like his earlier Oscar-nominated Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, was made for Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner's HDNet Films.) After the jump, the complete list of the 15 offerings thus far -- including three music documentaries (about Sonic Youth, Phillip Glass and Public Enemy), that film about the woman in Fort Worth who hit a man with her car and let him die in the windshield and movies starring the just-Oscar-nominated Ellen Page, Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman and Woody Harrelson. --Robert Wilonsky

2008 AFI DALLAS International Film Festival Presented by Target, Founding Sponsor Victory Park Announces Fourteen Titles in Official Selections

FILMS INCLUDE ONE WORLD PREMIERE AND TWO U.S. PREMIERES

Dallas, TX, January 23, 2008—AFI DALLAS 2008 International Film Festival Presented by Target, Founding Sponsor Victory Park announces fourteen films that will screen at this year’s festival (March 27 – April 6) including the World Premiere of THE LAST LULLABY, as well as the U.S. Premieres of two music documentaries; GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS and SONIC YOUTH: SLEEPING NIGHTS AWAKE.

Jeffrey Goodman’s THE LAST LULLABY is a noirish thriller about a former hit man whose struggle to cope with the unexpected restlessness he faces in retirement inspires him to become involved in the life of a new target in a way that could threaten his very own life. The film stars Tom Sizemore, Sasha Alexander and Randall Batinkoff.

GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS (produced in Australia) is directed by Scott Hicks (SHINE) and follows an eventful year in the career and personal life of distinguished composer Philip Glass as he interacts with a number of friends and collaborators, including Chuck Close, Ravi Shankar and Martin Scorsese.

SONIC YOUTH: SLEEPING NIGHTS AWAKE is culled from the footage shot by seven teen students both onstage and backstage during a Sonic Youth 4th of July concert in 2006. The film is directed by Michael Albright. A rough cut of the film screened previously at NoisePop, but the completed version will be making its official U.S. debut.

AFI DALLAS also announces two films currently playing at the Sundance Film Festival that will screen for Dallas audiences for the first time at AFI DALLAS in March and April – TIME CRIMES (LOS CRONOCRIMENES) and GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON. Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, the Spanish thriller, TIME CRIMES is a disquieting film about a man who tries to recover his life after accidentally getting into a time machine and traveling back in time nearly an hour. GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON is a detailed portrait of the journalist and iconoclast whose writings challenged the establishment as his legendary exploits confounded it. GONZO is directed by Alex Gibney.

“We are delighted to bring to Dallas audiences these initial fourteen selections, which display an exciting breadth of film work which challenges viewers from several standpoints: be it intellectually, visually or conceptually,” said Michael Cain, AFI DALLAS Artistic Director and CEO.

Additional announced films include:

BATTLE IN SEATTLE (U.S.A.)
Director: Stuart Townsend
Cast: Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson, Ray Liotta, Michelle Rodriguez
Activists arrive in Seattle, Washington en masse to protest a meeting of the World Trade Organization. Riots and chaos ensue as demonstrators successfully stop the WTO meetings.

CIRCUS ROSAIRE (U.S.A.)
Director: Robyn Bliley
Documentary follows the story of the Rosaire family, a 9th generation family of circus performers known for their unique and respectful manner of performing with animals, as they struggle to maintain their family heritage and adapt to the modern world of entertainment.

JUMP (U.S.A.)
Director: Helen Hood Scheer
Documentary follows kids in jump roping competitions, progressing from state competitions to the Jump Rope nationals and the world championships.

THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES (U.S.A.)
Director: Vadim Perelman
Cast: Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood
Based on the best-selling novel by Laura Kasischke, the dramatic thriller is about a suburban wife and mother (played by Uma Thurman) who begins to question what on the surface is a perfect life on the anniversary of a tragic high school shooting that killed her best friend. The film also stars Evan Rachel Wood.

MONGOL (Kazakhstan)
Director: Sergei Bodrov
Film recounts the early life of Genghis Khan and the barbaric tribal struggles including his enslavement which ultimately formed the man who would go on to conquer half the world including Russia in 1206.

PUBLIC ENEMY: WELCOME TO THE TERRORDOME (U.S.A.)
Director: Robert Patton-Spruill
Documentary takes a look at the 20 year history of the influential hip hop group, Public Enemy and their impact musically, socially and politically, as well as giving rare insight into the personalities that make up the group.

STUCK (U.S.A.)
Director: Stuart Gordon
Cast: Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea
Film pits a hit & run driver with her relentlessly surviving victim in a disturbing and provocative study of the loss and gain of humanity through an unfortunate and shocking incident.

THEN SHE FOUND ME (U.S.A.)
Director: Helen Hunt
Cast: Helen Hunt, Matthew Broderick, Colin Firth, Bette Midler
Film follows a New York schoolteacher as she hits a midlife crisis when, in quick succession, her husband leaves, her adoptive mother dies and her real one, an eccentric talk show host, materializes and turns her life upside down as she begins a courtship with the father of one of her students.

THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS (Canada)
Director: Bruce McDonald
Cast: Ellen Page
Film features a startling and innovative visual design, with Ellen Page starring as a teenager and social outcast wandering the streets of Winnipeg searching for her lost younger brother.

TRIANGLE (Germany/Hong Kong/Finland)
Directors: Ringo Lam, Johnny To, Hark Tsui
Film’s story is told in three 30-minute segments (by three directors), as three friends seek out the buried treasure of a mysterious stranger.

AFI DALLAS 2008 will run March 27 – April 6, 2008. Passes go on sale March 7. Passes and tickets will be made available via online (www.AFIDALLAS.com), phone (TBD), and in person at the Box Office located at the AFI DALLAS location at Victory Park.



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