John Cleese to be presented with Ernie Kovacs Award at Texas Theatre on December 4

Tickets $35+:

The nature of physical comedy over the intellectual and paired with the intellectual is, in theatrical history, generally paired with messaging meant to effect the working or less educated classes.

But this specific point of reference whether it is found in the Globe Theatre’s repertoire or the spectacle that entered all of our homes at the apex of the mid-century does not assume this form of comedy is declasse.

The physical effect of comedy, as tragedy or trope informative of natures, states, and conditions humanity might find deterrent when placed on the body as presented in a public performative space, operates as mirror for the individual among axes that may in some respects be described as an interactive, ideological space between the Panopticon and the Synopticon for as much as Foucault and Mathieson are worth without Marshall McLuhan’s elaboration on the Medium and the Message.

Buffoonery has much to teach the individual that cannot learn from a simple wagging eyebrow.

But now for something completely different: (that is actually quite the same)

Over the years, VideoFest has only shown short snippets of Ernie Kovacs’ work.

This year hosts of the Kovacs’ Centennial and Dallas VideoFest will present a full evening of Ernie Kovacs television work the night before the Award Event.

Celebrate the Centennial of the birth of offbeat comedy genius, Ernie Kovacs, with this hilarious retrospective of his greatest live gags on early television in the 1950s along with his career highlights, which have inspired the likes of Pee-wee Herman, Kids in the Hall, Amy Sedaris, Mike Nesmith, and Monty Python.

Hosted by Dallas VideoFest’s artistic director: Bart Weiss, Ernie Kovacs archivist: Ben Model, and Josh Mills, the son of Ernie’s wife, Edie Adams:

Dallas VideoFest 32 presents an evening retrospective of “The Ernie Kovacs Show” on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – Richardson (100 N Central Expy #14, Richardson). Admission – $5 voucher redeemable for food reserves your seat at Alamo – Richardson.

The following day, VideoFest awards the Ernie Kovacs Award to comedian John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Texas Theatre (231 W. Jefferson Blvd. – Oak Cliff/Dallas).

Admission – $35+ Tickets available –

Flannery is a documentary that details the life of an amazing writer who still resonates with the world.

Flannery previewed at DallasVideoFest Docufest to a riveted audience that appreciated the life and times of one of America’s most interesting writers.

There’s a particular energy that Elizabeth Coffman exudes when speaking on the subject of Flannery O’Connor and her Southern Gothic canon of work that exposed the prejudice of a nation.

Noting that what is often considered “Southern Prejudice” is really, honestly “American Prejudice” and “found all over,” Coffman stated that Southern Gothic is an artform that conveys a message for humanity, as she discovered in her documentary process as we spoke.

There has been no better time for a film that so deeply and accurately details the life of a famed writer through the work she inspired, the people she knew and the stories people told about her.

Look for it traveling the festival circuit this fall before it hits your local Public Access station. It has upcoming stops in Austin, Hot Springs and Austin.


“A Woman’s Work” by Yu Gu highlights the exploitative practices of the NFL against its barely-paid Cheerleaders.

There has never been a film that has made me more glad I grew up “acculturated against professional sports,” and in some senses “male,” than this one.

In high school, I played guitar and shredded better than most men. I knocked my peers on their feet in combat with my Sarah McLaughlin haircut that made people scream “Lesbo.” I made highest marks in Stoichiometry and AP History. I produced news content at the “student executive” level.

I slept with and broke the heart of any man I wanted, sometimes in an act of deliberate egocentricism. Some of them were running backs and quarterbacks — and wrestling captains. I laughed at trophies and brought home my letters and medals. My self-esteem never suffered. I knew the game was impossibly stacked and learned not to care about anyone or anything, deep down in that place inside that makes a person invincibly tough. A therapist and I figured out in my adulthood that — “schadenfreude and enjoyment at the emotional collapse of a male sex partner for the unfair expectations he possesses of the world to serve him,” is likely a difficult orientation to rehabilitate.

“So you only really sexually enjoy activity with men if you break them somehow.”


“But women?”

“No longer excite me. In my youthful experimentation, I was very kind, loving, supportive, and respectful of boundaries.”

“So you’re not attracted to them?”

“No. Not really, physically. In my youth I was always in one altered state or another and angry with men for the state of the world.”

“But you’re not asexual?”

“No. I orgasm six and seven times daily and am most classically described as oversexed.”



Before I joined the military in my 20’s, I almost took a job in the broadcast industry, aligned with my almost associate’s degree, selling advertising time during football and basketball games.

But a little inner voice I thought was “God” told me to turn it down, flatly, and enlist the same way my  college foray with the Cheerleading team asking me if I wanted to join resulted in laughter and my time in graduate school had me pledging a fraternity I didn’t finish out the requirements on.

That journey through the military a terrifying marriage and a husband who tried to re-acculturate me California Baptist “female” through a series of drugs and rapes supported by our nation’s mental health system, graduate school, communes, activist enclaves and watching my mother’s subsequent genocide by Evangelical Lutherans for being at her core raised by a Jewish, Feminist Atheist, has made me “unique.”

I see abuse for what it is — all over the system. It makes me untenable to a lot of people. Some still threaten forcible Kirkbride-era inspired medical treatment for talking about how factory farmed meat literally severs the arms of undocumented teenagers who can’t see doctors, because their charity really needs to feed unwitting AIDS patients spiral ham and Factory Farm Charoset for Passover with no intellectual challenge or organic non-GMO root beer at the table.

As YuGu so aptly highlights, women are literally making next to nothing and are paying thousands of dollars to appear in calendars they don’t get proceeds from while men make millions to give one an other concussions and create a programming block to place commercials that sell food made with coerced, undocumented child labor stolen from unstable countries.

These women are conditioned from childhood to find this rewarding while they are robbed of all personal power and identity in strength. Her storytelling ability is strong and all of the women in this film have always deserved much more in terms of identity and compensation.

I’m completely done Western Civ. There is simply nothing left to stick a fork into that isn’t patently exploitative to the world’s children, women, or the environment.

But if you’re going to do something this weekend, get a bar of fair-trade chocolate and see this film at VideoFest’s Docufest tonight along with a lineup of films highlighting the often overlooked careers of women.

The Re-Aninmator has a politic. It is not all a sexual politic.

The Re-Animator is a film that still speaks volumes on the subject of the locus of human spirit, intelligence and the problematic White Supremacist nature of the Classic Western/American medical system 35 years after its release serving as a vehicle of criticism that questions the often predatory nature of exploratory medicine through its very existence.

Producer Brian Yuzna’s recent commentary on the film and the state of sexual politics as part of a Fangoria screening, which brought out a surprisingly youthful audience is still quite pertinent to the work being done by scholars in many fields as the Genomics episteme is considered, in contrast, to the mid-century material turn and the gilded age discovery of the microbe.

Here you can see Yuzna formulating some of his thoughts about where “Re-Animator fits into the “Lovecraft” Canon in this interview before the #NTXFF screening.





The Laundromat is a complicated film with superb acting and a compelling narrative.

The North Texas Film Festival premiere of Netflix’s The Laundromat presented a complicated film that often breaks the fourth wall and presents human characters who show intense sides of humanity and propensity to vice.

It is complicated in the way a diamond-wearing, church going woman in the mid-Atlantic states losing her husband and the condo meant to remind her of him to a shady off-shore banking company involving African and Caribbean characters can be. It was never-the-less an engaging film that will capture the attention of audiences with superb acting by Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas and phenomenal portrayals by all else involved.

Power and corruption run rife in a global insurance, investments, real estate and banking industry as a suddenly widowed Ellen Martin attempts to make sense of her life. Her husband becomes suddenly deceased in a mass fatality shipwreck at Niagra Falls before he can hand her an anniversary present of a ruby. The condo she wants to remind herself of her husband who stole tickets to see The Supremes with is suddenly snapped up by a strange shell company with ties to a banking and insurance system that reroutes her calls and disconnects them.

Steven Soderbergh’s writing is a times a bit ham-handed and often times a bit too cognizant of the conventions it breaks as it tells a narrative clumsily asking for a restoration of liberty to a nation by policing its financial systems that operate as shadily in Delaware as they do in the Lesser Antilles.

It also does not present a balanced view of minorities, the accumulation of funds or goods by colonizing systems over the colonized and “fraud” in this framework or sense. It is a reasonable commentary on a need to regulate our systems of finance and capital, however, and should start many necessary conversations with its compelling storytelling.

David Schwimmer, Gary Oldman, Jeffery Wright, Nonzo Anozie, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Chris Parnell — honestly this list of talent is so long it’s hard to credit it well in passing in an article — all deliver masterful performances.

It’s decidedly a film to observe people who are living out situations, more than anything else.

New Film Selections, Shorts Blocks, Panels and Collab with Vans Announced for North Texas Film Festival

DALLAS, September 23, 2019 – With the first-ever North Texas Film Festival (NTXFF) quickly approaching, Dallas Film is pleased to release more updates regarding new films, shorts blocks, panels and collaborations. The festival will be held September 26-29, 2019 and is powered by Capital One. This year’s opening night film will be “The Laundromat” screening on Thursday, September 26 at 7:00 p.m. The closing night film will be “Two Popes” screening on Sunday, September 29 at 7:15 p.m. In addition, NTXFF is excited to release updates to programming associated with North Texas VetFest, EarthXFilm and Vans.  

“We are pleased to announce that the NTXFF will incorporate programming from North Texas VetFest, a festival which debuted last year and will be a stand-alone festival in 2020. This festival is affiliated with the Veterans Institute for Film and Media (VIFM), a Dallas Film program that prepares veterans for careers in film and media production through education, mentorships, and job placements,” said Johnathan Brownlee, CEO & president of Dallas Film and executive director of Dallas International Film Festival and North Texas Film Festival. “We are excited to note that proceeds from this year’s inaugural NTXFF will benefit VIFM. In honor of VIFM, the NTXFF will showcase “A New Leash on Life: A K9’s for Warriors Story” and a shorts block with films created by veterans or pertaining to military service.”

Films in the shorts block programming include “Now, After,” “The Fallen,” “Evidence Unseen,” “Waiting for the Sun” and “A Soldier’s Way.” From showcasing what it is like to live with PTSD or to recover from a traumatic brain injury to seeking treatment after combat and finding healing in art, these films touch on a variety of subjects many veterans and their families can will relate to. The shorts block will screen on Saturday, September 28 at 4:00 p.m. at Cinemark West Plano, and XD. Immediately following the shorts block, there will be a moderated panel featuring veterans, specialists and filmmakers including: Dr. Amy Williams, director of Cohen Military Family Clinic; Kyle Mitchell, director of Veteran and Military Policy for Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute; Richard Casper, founder of CreatiVets; Emily Casarona, military program manager for the Bush Institute; Drea Lewis, community outreach for North Texas VA; and Kate Hoon, chief of staff for Psych Hub. 

“We are pleased to welcome these veterans and special guests for the panel discussion,” said Maggy Croxville, director of the Institute and a former Marine. “Kyle will be able to speak on PTSD issues and depiction in film, while Amy can address how TBI and PTSD have similar symptoms. Richard and Emily can provide insight on veterans’ transitions into civilian communities. Drea will focus on the Public Health approach to suicide prevention and how we can engage with the veteran community, while Kate will be able to touch on Psych Hub’s efforts at engaging the community in issues regarding mental health, reducing stigma and creating more points of access on tough issues. This programming helps us comprehend where we are in understanding these difficult issues that affect our nation’s veterans and their families, and it showcases where people can seek help. Our goal is to create an open discussion regarding mental health, as opposed to being afraid to talk about it because of the stigma many people associate with these issues. We are looking forward to celebrating veteran artists and being enlightened through the discussion of these hard topics.”

In addition to the VIFM shorts block, EarthXFilm will have its own shorts block in the NTXFF on Saturday, September 28 at 12:00 p.m. EarthXFilm is an organization that puts on its own annual film fest to showcase films and emerging media that explore conservation, climate change, and the environment while honoring the heroes who work to protect our planet. The shorts block will include films screened during the EarthXFilm Festival 2019 such as: “There’s Something in the Water,” “Uniontown,” “Tungrus,” and “Detroit Hives.”

Wanting to put together a special event in honor of “The Tony Alva Story” screening, NTXFF is collaborating with Vans and 4DWN to bring a skateboarding exhibition to the Cinemark West Plano, and XD (3800 Dallas Parkway, Plano, TX 75093). This special event is scheduled for Sunday, September 29 at 2:15 p.m. The film’s directors Rick Charnoski and Coan “Buddy” Nichols will be in attendance, with plans to walk the red carpet prior to the screening and do a Q&A afterward.

“The first-ever North Texas Film Festival truly has a broad range of films that will speak to a variety of people and special interests,” said Brownlee. “From films pertaining sports to military service and veterans, to the environment, horror stories, family features and more, we are delighted to present the inaugural North Texas Film Festival. Our goal is to have a full house for each screening happening during the four-day festival. We welcome all lovers of film to join us as we celebrate the art of film and share experiences with one another.”

In addition, The Texas Archive of the Moving Image is conducting a pop-up event in partnership with the North Texas Film Festival, the Veterans Institute for Film & Media, and the Texas Film Commission. North Texas residents, organizations, and businesses are invited to drop off their old films and videotapes for free digitization at the TEXAS FILM ROUND-UP on September 29 between 12:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Cinemark West Plano and XD. To qualify for FREE digitization, participants must be willing to donate a digital copy of their materials to Texas Archive of the Moving Image’s (TAMI) archive, a digital collection at TAMI will digitize these materials in Austin and return them by mail to the owners along with a digital copy. For more information about how to participate, visit:

Tickets for the events at Cinemark West Plano and XD are on sale and can be reserved through Atom Tickets.

To view the full lineup please visit

For members of the media who are interested in covering this story or arranging an interview, please email Lauren Witt at or call (215) 378-7970 ext. 306.

About Dallas Film  

Dallas Film (, established as Dallas Film Society in 2006, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to celebrate the past, present and future of film in our community. The organization provides leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television, and digital media. Through a variety of screenings, educational programs, and festivals, Dallas Film raises awareness of the world’s most approachable and inclusive art form.

Additional film selections include (listed alphabetically):

Movie Title: A New Leash on Life

Festival Category: VetFest Documentary Film

Director: Nick Nanton

Country: USA

Running Time: 58 Minutes

Synopsis: Shari Duval was desperate for a solution to help her son Brett when he returned from serving in Iraq, suffering from PTSD. She stumbled on a story about a service dog helping a veteran and that story sparked an idea.

Movie Title: Evidence of Things Unseen

Festival Category: VetFest Shorts 

Director: Lukas Augustin

Country: USA

Running Time: 26:17 Minutes

Synopsis: An Iraq War veteran and former President George W. Bush share a past and a future, as both take an unlikely journey out of the brutalities of war.

Movie Title: First Person

Festival Category: Best of DIFF 2019 Shorts

Director: Michael Lang

Country: USA

Running Time: 3:53 Minutes

Synopsis: Don narrates a day in the life of Don. Don loves himself some Don, but doesn’t care much for anyone else.

Movie Title: Honey I Shrunk the Kids

Festival Category: Family Feature

Director: Joe Johnston

Country: USA, Mexico

Running Time: 93 Minutes

Synopsis: The scientist father of a teenage girl and boy accidentally shrinks his and two other neighborhood teens to the size of insects. Now the teens must fight diminutive dangers as the father searches for them.

Movie Title: Jhalki

Festival Category: South Asian Cinema

Director: Brahmanand S. Singh, Tanvi Jain (co-director)

Country: India

Running Time: 105 minutes

Synopsis: In a twinkle of an eye, a life-altering disappearance of her 7-year old kid brother sets Jhalki off on a mission to find him at all costs. Armed with an intimate folk-tale of a tireless sparrow and her own charming presence of mind, Jhalki embarks on a relentless journey to find and free her brother. Unaware and ignorant of the deep-rooted corruption and cobwebs of the system, Jhalki takes on the monstrous and the conniving with a purity of pursuit that is at once uplifting and inspirational.

Is Jhalki’s journey the start of a spiral that will change the lives of thousands for good? What price must she pay to get what she wants? Inspired by true events, with a backdrop of human-trafficking and child-labour, Jhalki becomes an atypical thriller of hope, courage, self-belief and perseverance in an inhuman world, seen through the eyes of a 9-year-old girl, who will not stop anywhere short of a triumph.

With stunning visuals, breakthrough performances and a beautiful soundtrack, Jhalki is a heartfelt drama of love, adventure and intrigue, which is at once thought-provoking and poetic.

Movie Title: Marriage Story

Festival Category: Premiere

Director: Noah Baumbach

Country: USA

Running Time: 136 Minutes

Synopsis: Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

Movie Title: Now, After

Festival Category: VetFest Shorts 

Director: Kyle Hausmann-Stokes

Country: USA

Running Time: 14:53 Minutes

Synopsis: Disturbing images and haunting flashbacks plague a young soldier recently returned from the war in Iraq. Re-adjusting to his former life as a college student proves to be more difficult than he ever imagined – connecting with veterans of wars past may be just what he needs.

Movie Title: The Fallen

Festival Category: VetFest Shorts 

Director: Ananth Agastya

Country: USA

Running Time: 9:29 Minutes 

Synopsis: A short sketch on the remaining soldiers in a platoon – running out of ammo – stuck in enemy territory – attempt to draw the enemy out from their hide-out. They desperately seek backup. But, their command center can’t provide backup and dictates a new mission to them: capture this high-value-enemy-target alive. What do the soldiers do? Who is this high-value-target?

Movie Title: Waiting for the Sun

Festival Category: VetFest Shorts 

Director: Christopher Eadicicco

Country: USA

Running Time: 8:14 Minutes

Synopsis: After being discharged from the military, Jeremy Andrews, a US Army Ranger suffering from post-war PTSD returns home for the first time in years. While visiting a therapist for the first time, questions come up about his adjustments to home life, as well as readjusting to civilian life. What he can’t seem to admit out loud, continuously plays in his mind.

North Texas Film Festival Sponsors Include:

Title Sponsor

Capital One

Official Sponsors

Dallas Film

Four Corners

The Point Group

Affiliate Sponsors

Atom Tickets


Embassy Suites by Hilton Dallas Frisco

Hidden Friends

Selig Polyscope


Contributing Sponsor

Commerce House

Sustaining Sponsors


Culture Map

iHeart Media

Thought Culture

Screening Sponsors


Bloomfield Knoble



IdeaMan Studios

Winston & Strawn

Supporting Sponsors


Cassaro Wines


Lightning Rod Events

Lincoln Event Center

Southern Glazers

Tommy Bahama

Visit Plano

Four Amazing DFW Short Films You Need to See Whether you Get Out this Weekend or Not.

This weekend is a packed festival weekend when it comes to “the Dallas scene” and its ever growing film community, and its gifted writers, directors and cinematographers are all getting their fair share of attention at local events. Here’s a short list of films that are “must watch.”

Nicholas Muthersbaugh has really brought an auteur sensibility to his work outside of news production. The emotional quality and visual storytelling of this short have already attracted a lot of attention (and two awards). Michael Gibson Jr. production work on this film is equally mentionable.

Service Animal
This amazing Wendy Pennington short features WIFD president Alicia Pascual’s expert direction in photography and very punchy writing transcending disability and the nature of human and animal attachment. It’s screening in Topaz Film Fest’s comedy block.

Daniel Montoya’s film chronicling ovbious reasons for ftm transition, Ethan’s journey as an activist, and the problematic nature of SB6 is screening at Frame4Frame in Arlington this weekend. It should screen far more often.

Yake Smith’s dramatic short Heavenly has some exceptional acting, his unique take on the lens, and drama that drives a narrative to the edge of audience engagement. I expect it to attract a lot of attention at Frame4Frame.

Video Association of Dallas’ 18th Annual 24-Hour Video Race Winners Announced

Sept 9, 2019 – The 18th annual 24-Hour Video Race concluded August 23rd, 2019, with teams congregating at the Angelika Film Center—Dallas for their final verdict. To memorialize Joel Rosenzweig, a filmmaker, and educator, Video Association of Dallas added a new award for the student divisions; Joel’s widow, Joan Rosenzweig, determined the Storytelling Award.   

This year, participants were required to include these elements into their short: 

Theme: Empathy
Prop: Any writing instrument
Location: Coffee Shop (interior or exterior)
Line of Dialogue: A line from Shakespeare  
ADDITIONAL ELEMENT: Something Biodegradable 

The elements video was presented on Friday night, August 23rd at 11:50 pm:
And, with a drumroll, here are the teams who crossed the finish line and placed in their categories.  

Joel Rosenzweig’s Storytelling Award Sponsored by the DPA LIV- Lake Highlands Wildcat Studio
Super 8 
(10th grade and under) 1st Place: The Escape -Richardson High School 

2nd Place –The Boys from Parish Episcopal School

Honorable mentions: 

“A Stalker’s Quarrel” by Reel Good Films

 The Dead Ghosts Society

16mm (11th and 12th grades) 1st Place:A Soul in Agony – Booker T Washington HSPVA

2nd Place:

Liv – Lake Highlands Wildcat Studios

 3rd Place: 

House Of Air –  Richardson High School

honorable mention 

“How it Feels”

Animal House Division (College) 1st Place: 

Empathy with an E -Mediatech 

Family 1st Place:
Assume Motion Arts – HUMANS

2nd Place: 
Vic’s First Day @RawLemonChannel 3rd Place: 
Minor Motion Pictures 

Congratulations to all of our winners and a big thank you to our judges:
June Owens
Tonya McMillion
Josh Butler
Suzanne Dooley
Rusty Williams
Laura Neitzel 
Brandon Oldenburg
Presley Oldham
Ginny Martin
Wes Sutton
Susan Kandell 

Video Association of Dallas expresses extreme gratitude for the support of our sponsors and their generous contributions. 

Food Sponsor:

Jersey Mikes on Greenville

Major Sponsors:

Texas Commission on the Arts

Dallas Film Commission

Joel Rosenzweig Storytelling Award Sponsor:

Dallas Producers Association

16 MM Division Sponsor:

KD Conservatory College of Film and Dramatic Arts

Family Divison Sponsor:

TM Television

Media Sponsors: 

Speak Pixels


Selig Polyscope Company

Kelly J Kitchens Media Relations/Entertainment Publicity

Angelika Film Center Dallas 

Graphic Designers:

Pegasus Film Festival


Race Angels:

Ditore Mayo Entertainment

AMS Pictures

Abernethy Media Professionals

Charlie Uniform Tango

Jim Nugent

Patricia Davis

And big thanks to our Projectionist (and former Video Race Winner) Christian Vasques and Adam Conway and the rest of the Angelika Film Center Dallas staff, and John “Doc” Strange of Selig Film News.

Jules in Light and Dark: An Interview with Director Daniel Laabs

Jules in Light and Dark is described by Daniel Laabs, its director, as ” “This was the small film that could, we came from nothing,” as he considers the way his original concept for a film became an idea that Kickstarter Contributors, Investors, and grant-giving organizations all supported at various percentages.

Daniel currently lives in Dallas, TX where he works as an editor and a festival programmer for the Dallas International Film Festival and previously the Oak Cliff Film Festival. In 2014 he co-founded Dallas’s first monthly LGBT film series at the historic Texas Theatre. He currently serves on the Austin Film Society Filmmaker Advisory Council.

We had an opportunity to speak with him before the fest about his passions, his takes on filmmaking, and more importantly, his views on storytelling and audience.

Jules in Light and Dark screens Sunday, June 9 at 6 pm, at Oak Cliff Film Festival

You say this is the little film that could: can you tell me more about your growth process? How did your vision expand from: “I have no idea how x will happen?” to “We did it and the unexpected happened?” 

The tallest hurdle for us was trying to shoot on-location in Pennsylvania. I spend years planning that version of the film and actually relocated out there twice only for production to fall apart at the last minute. One of the creative producers on the team suggested a plan to rebuild production in our backyards and film in Oak Cliff and the surrounding areas. It was an impossible creative transition from my point of view until we really dug in and found that the roots of the characters and stories were inspired by my experiences here in Texas. Once that clicked, the film became a lot more personal, and it was like a wave had washed over what had been built and we went about rebuilding. The story fundamentally changed because of location, but also because of us, we’d grown and the film is a reflection of that.
Oak Cliff and Texas are home to a lot of amazing people. The Texas Theatre is always very supportive of local art. Can you elaborate more on the local end of your journey? 
Every arts community has a hub, be it a bar or park or gallery, where on any given night you’ll meet a new a visual artist, a dancer/choreographer, a actor… and the Texas Theatre has been that and still is that for the Dallas area. There are so many friendships I have built just hanging out there. I spent a brief but lively summer working at Spiral Diner in my first month living in Oak Cliff and made a ton of friends. There are people who worked on the crew that are from that time, but a lot of those friends are in the film as extras.

What would you say your main impetus in filmmaking for this project was?

I wanted to try and continue to make personal films as my shorts had been. I didn’t want to take my coming out story and fictionalize it, that wasn’t inspiring to me, I knew I wanted to express some of those feelings of first loves, regret, and show characters reconciling deep private pain in healthy and not so heathy ways. I have always found that I grow more as a filmmaker when my subject feels or is very personal. I put more care into the film, and I fight harder for what matters to me.

Did you have any moments where the project seemed stalled and you had to fight for inspiration, or did it come naturally? 

The hardest part of any independent film is getting over what can’t be done and just doing it. Logistically most of our money came from grants and kickstarter and the rest came from investors who wanted to work with us. That took a lot of time. 

What are you most pleased about with this film and its developments? 

I am most happy with the acting, the cinematography and the way the score works within the narrative. I believe the characters are real people. The cinematography is very pleasing and very close to my paper vision. The score was written and performed by Brent Sluder who is a childhood friend who is just a total natural at crafting moments that weren’t previously there with a single unexpected note. I am also pleased with how it has prepared me to make future films. I tripled my post student onset experience as a director on this film. I have close to two hundred set hours now, before shooting Jules I had maybe fifty accumulated over seven years. How I move through set now is very different than before. I generally know how to trust my gut in ways I couldn’t recognize previously. The difference is knowing how to align variables better in favor of the vision.

What does your end of the LGBTQ community look like? It’s more diverse than people let on.

It feels very much like we are in a renaissance for LGBTQ film at the moment. At the same time I believe it is also a critical time to be making queer film especially set where I live in the South. Jules of Light and Dark is in many ways a film about loneliness and more specifically queer loneliness. It can be extremely isolating to know yourself and feel unwelcome in your surroundings. Growing up in small town texas there wasn’t a clear pathway towards coming out or living openly gay or even having progressive political beliefs for that matter. Things have gotten so much better, but there is still lots of work to do. There are corners of the queer experience that are still unreached by cinema. When you think about the thousands of films made for the straight white perspective in film, it is staggering. We are only just beginning to turn this tide. I long for a day when I go to pitch my queer thriller and it isn’t considered edge-y solely because the main character is gay. I still have a lot of fun with it, but it still happens. When I talk about Jules, I have to mention that it is a LGBTQ film, but I wouldn’t say that it is solely for the audience. It isn’t. I find going to festivals that the audience is very diverse, I almost never feel like I am screening the film to exclusively queer audiences. I am grateful for that because that’s the whole reason I made the film, to open a window on LGBTQ people and communities in small town Texas. It is a modest goal, but it is one that means something to me.

On the Burning of the Cathedral Notre Dame, Catholicism, and Colonization

When the Roman Catholic Church suffers any misfortune, and people have the nerve or freedom to say “it is God’s will,” I can only, in mind, be reminded of the films of the 1980’s and 1990’s that greatly question what the Papal powers and their relationship to the crown meant to the indigenous peoples they colonized in terms of a force of enslavement that profited Europe while equally failing to build a stable society in South America. I’m reminded as much of this as I am Sinead O’Connor tearing up pictures of the pope. The people of France may be troubled by damage to their landmark and less-than-troubled about the continued legacy of neoconglomerate ignored child slavery in its former colonist strongholds in Africa — but I am indigenous and someone whose family line’s rebellion against patriarchy made her a reluctant crypto-Jew in a combinant Catholic-Lutheran pattern that dominates South Chicago and its suburbs–and can’t remain silent.

This is why, today, instead of viewing something more contemporary, I was compelled to watch the 1986 Palme D’or Winner that inspired a good measure of my tastes and desires in storytelling: THE MISSION.

Roland Joffe and Robert Bolt take on a hefty historical narrative in this film which transcends our current senses of post-colonialism. It’s arguable that this film (though it is situated among other narratives that manage to break the mold of hegemonic storytelling of its period) is one of the first that supports the popular exposure of an industrial complex built by entities willing to exploit those most vulnerable to provide the labor that supplies a world of commanding countries with commodities that will not grow in their soils with little benefit to countries of origin.

Examining the politics of a pro-slavery Portugal attempting to take on free-born Spanish colonized indigenous tribes taught to do skilled labor as field slaves are laid bare in a breathtakingly composed epic shot on location in Colombia starring  Robert De NiroJeremy Irons, and Ray McAnally are more complicated in 2019 than one might suppose. Considering the U.S.’s own political implications with undocumented workers since the Eisenhower administration and the problematic landscape this has caused vis a vis American Military Action and Food and Factory Production, its message is enduring.

The notion that Pontiffs, Heads of State, and Tribal/Labor Leaders must always be at odds is deeply ingrained in our culture down to the systems that seed our identities — in Law, Religion, and Culture. The misfortune that is a society that develops on the exploitation of the indigenous rather than cooperation with them is palpable in the sweeping scenes that cinematographer Chris Menges composes and Jim Clarkintersperses to music written by
Ennio Morricone.

If only the hope of Reagan’s aspiration to the field of Humanities and President George W. Bush’s desire for programs to create amnesty and documentation were fully realized — we might know a situation better than the current one we can only properly call “The Great American Auschwitz.” Hundreds of thousands of people with indigenous ancestry are displaced from their countries of origin to feed the monster called “La Bestia,” while the Trump Administration posits they should be placed in the very Blue Dot cities that could not possibly abuse workers that are not marginalized to the same degree — and absolutely no one thinks of their integration seriously enough — as two administrations have built detainment camps and internment tent cities to contain the displaced.

It is refreshing to view anything at all dealing with this sense of politic — in the classic humanist storytelling arc the “profitable” World Epic has replaced in recent times. I will return to reviewing films from Dallas International Film Fest tomorrow after a sanity break.

I have found the substance I seek by traveling back in time to a more humanist period. I feel revived. Perhaps the systems of art and film production might additionally be so upon inspection.

My language may seem strong, in retrospect to some, I suppose, but I don’t mince words when it comes to what Eisenhower warned us about vis-a-vis the military industrial complex and the complex relationship Neo-Liberal policies have with world governments in terms of “worker supply.” It’s not far from AUSCHWITZ if you’re getting raped with no paycheck and living in a dirt dugout while state police look to detain and deport you if you don’t end up shot by Border Patrol. It’s no different in Africa, or any place this terrifying institution that molded any truth about what Early Christianity might have been as a Jewish Reform Movement to its image has touched.

Update: Walt Disney Corporation has offered to donate a large portion of funds necessary to repair damage at Notre Dame, which is its prerogative–but few are willing to actually untangle Cote D’Ivorie.