Offering Something for Everyone, The Dallas Video Festival Returns For Its 24th Year
"I'll never forget: The first year when Scooter Smith did the introduction, he said, 'The first annual,'" Weiss recalls. "It never hit me we were going to do a second one. And then I went, 'Oh, we're supposed to do this again?' And every year my wife says, 'That's the last one, right?' And you'd think it gets easier. But, no, it gets harder. There's less money, and I want to do more, and I want to try to do things in different kinds of ways. And there's more noise out there -- a lot more film content -- so it's harder to be unique."
And, for Weiss, it's become harder to remain the lone maker of the video fest's schedule, which is why, for the first time, he's brought in a cadre of collaborators to assist with the selections -- among them other RTF profs, an art critic and the directors of doc fests, including Josha Butler, festival chair of Denton's Thin Line Film Fest.
"I'm 58 and needed to get some younger blood, so it's not just The Bart Show," he says with a laugh. "I kinda understand we need to go younger, but it still has my curiosities and interest." The result: one of the strongest lineups in years.
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Used to be Weiss could nail down one or two themes prevalent in each fest; this year, perhaps because of those outside collaborators, that's not so easy.
"There are some human rights things: films about immigration, women being sold into prostitution, like The Price of Sex; and honor killings," he says. "I mean, we have In the Name of the Family, about 'honor killing,' and you'll see that one of those srtories in Dallas, and the father is still at large." He's referring to Yaser Abdel Said, the cab driver accused of killing daughters Sarah and Amin in January 2008.
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"And then there's The Other F Word, which is about family and separating your personal and professional life and trying to find the peace in the middle. The fact it's about punk rockers only makes it that much more fascinating."
Among the bigger titles screening at the DVF you'll find Better This World, about Texas-born terrorists, which bowed on POV earlier this month; and Marathon Boy, about a 4-year-old runner in India, which will air on HBO. And Blood in the Mobile -- "an awesome movie," says Weiss, "about how mining for the materials in our cell phones is wreaking havoc in the Congo" -- will have a "special preview" at the DVF before its official bow at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October.
"And then there's the usual bizarreness, from Bucks to everything else. And all of them are this personal vision trying to explore something, as opposed to Hollywood films made by committee or compromise. There's not that here."
But everything else is.