13th Annual Dallas International Film Festival LineUp Announced

Spanning April 11 to April 18 and presenting over 130 films from over 35 countries, DIFF is never likely to disappoint. 

Johnathan Brownlee is excited this year. Perhaps he should be. Considering the success of last year’s mini concerts in relation to musically themed films including Bone Thugs and Harmony, he’s expanded the idea to include seven music stages covering seven days of this flagship Dallas festival.

This year’s film lineup, powered by Capital One, includes five World Premieres, one U.S. Premiere, 37 Texas Premieres, and 15 Dallas Premieres.

The largest film festival in North Texas, will screen at Magnolia Theater, West Village in Uptown Dallas; Studio Movie Grill, Royal Lane; and Dallas Museum of Art.

For the first time at DIFF, all seats are reserved and tickets are available only through the Atom Tickets app or http://www.AtomTickets.com. Tickets will be available to pass holders beginning March 25 and to the public on March 27. For more information or to purchase passes, please visit go to http://www.dallasfilm.org,

But that’s not the only buzzworthy information about DIFF recently released from directors.

“At DIFF, we understand that film is the most relatable art form and connects individuals through shared experiences,” said James Faust, artistic director of Dallas Film. “Hundreds of hours went into hand selecting the films that will be screened at DIFF, and our goal is to offer a variety of fascinating, heartwarming, educational and insightful films that will be thought-provoking and relatable to DIFF festivalgoers. We have many engaging and entertaining events planned throughout the festival and are eager to provide a memorable festival experience for all who attend.”

This year’s lineup is extraordinary and is poised to bring Dallas screenings of performances by Elisabeth Moss, Lily Collins, and Zac Efron.

THE REPLACEMENT presents a creative concept and storytelling through stunning cinematography.

Future+Streets (1)

In the world presented by THE REPLACEMENT, clone 642, Abe Stagsen, has just become president. Not everyone is happy about this development, least of all the person who originated his existence, a janitor who has seen no benefit from the successes of all the fruit his genes have produced.

This short which integrates three parts portrayed by actor Mike McNamara seamlessly thanks to the magic of cloning and expert cutting (janitor, president, and newscaster) presents a creative concept that delivers in terms of storytelling that is able to capture audience interest.

This film is doubly fascinating because it speaks to contemporary problems in consideration of intellectual property and biomedical research. This problem surfaces in our current reality in the terms of Henrietta Lacks, John Moore, Ted Slavin — and to some the selectively-unrealized human potential that became HEK-293.

THE REPLACEMENT also speaks to all who labor and feel immobile in their position and the exploitative powers that they feel they can’t control.

That’s generally the hallmark of a good dystopian work. The cinematography presented by three-time Emmy winner Mike Bove is one of the most magnificent aspects of this film.

You can see director/producer team Sean Miller and Naz Khan’s latest release in two locations:

Chicago International Film Festival
Oct 25th – 5:45pm

Austin Film Festival 
Oct. 29 – 7pm
Nov. 1 – 2pm




ELLIOT is a remarkable low-fi commentary on surveillance society.

ELLIOT, a gritty dystopian Sci-Fi thriller, by director Craig Jacobson will have its London premiere at Deptford Cinema for one night only on Nov. 10 and a Chicago screening on Dec. 11.

In the world of low-fi and stubbornly analog productions, there’s a strange undercurrent of fascination with relics of the past amongst its fans. What were things like before media was available at the touch of a button and your Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket had a smart cuff made of Google Jacquard? Do we remember? Does anyone remember? Does Pepperidge Farm even remember?

We often think that the past was awesome. That’s the strange trick of nostalgia. Everything is (and was) FINE back then! Except for when it’s absolutely not (and absolutely was not).

Life was, of course, certainly simpler before digitization in terms of social relationships, sometimes simpler for the sake of not being data mined 24-7, sometimes for our ignorant bliss about the mechanization behind the power structures that obstruct more democratic sensibilities of governance. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that life was better.

The story has always been a tool of reflection of humankind whether the story expresses a fantasy for its improvement or reflects on a quality we’d prefer leave our collective consciousness.

ELLIOT as film reflects on qualities its storytellers find unpleasing about technology. It portrays the sense of isolation that we feel in a world where we often project our best selves into digital landscapes because realities that are unaugmented don’t present as many possibilities for reinvention.

So what to consider about a film shot entirely on VHS (not SVHS or Super 8, mind you which were at one time or another “broadcast quality”) but consumer-end VHS with all of its obligatory warts in considering it as a “film-stock” that intends to make commentary on this situation?

A few things, perhaps. The concept is brilliant. The execution creates an aesthetic that an audience will either find brilliant or obstructive to accessing the true nature of the content all depending on the member. Those who “get” this film are really going to “get” it — especially the elements of storytelling that are meant to reflect the larger ontological and social problem of physical isolation and digital interconnectedness they tackle.

The array of directorial choices made by Director Craig Jacobson in his first debut not shot in tandem with Cassandra Sechler out of their collective Dreams For Dead Cats Productions depict a world in disarray and a deep desire for more substantive human connection. There are mostly dark moments and some obscene moments, as is common fare for this production house.

This film is for those desirous of a specific, cathartic emotional quality who are dealing with their own desire to distance themselves from the phenomenon of being “plugged in” all the time who alsoenjoy gritty visuals.

I  think that, despite this not always being my specific aesthetic of choice, I “got it.”

International Mobil Fest Delivers a Democratized Experience In the Art of Film Production

This week I had the amazing pleasure of speaking with Susy Botello, the organizer and founder of a fascinating concept that democratizes filmmaking.


International Mobil Film Festival™ is a fest only for films shot with mobile phones. All brands of mobile phones qualify, all ages qualify. Submissions will require a fee this year to keep the festival going– but S. Botello is glad to be able to roll out a new category! Feature length films are due to her by October 19. If you have one in your pocket, now’s a good time to submit!

What inspired you to start your festival?
I get asked where my idea to start the film festival. But what truly inspired me and lead me to take that giant step is a story.

It’s a story about how I feel about storytelling and sharing. Humans are naturally storytellers. We begin to learn how to speak and share stories from the time we are babies. It dates back before we mastered language beyond cave walls. Today, our wall is on Facebook and our audience is all over the world in many social media platforms. Video and film was what I called a “limiter.”

Only certain people had access to the art of creating films and sharing them in limited platforms such as cable television and theaters. There were always film festivals but there were fewer than there are today, which I believe is attributed to more “mobile” cameras like DSLRs.

But still, there was the internet and the storyteller.

I envisioned a day when the phones would become the camera more accessible to human beings anywhere in the world. All humans are natural storytellers. What we needed to share stories between us was already here, the internet. But when social media became a thing, it was like the missing link. I wanted to ensure cameras on phones competed with each other to progress. I wanted to give the world the gift of filmmaking, which I believe is the best way to submerge someone into a story and deliver a message. I decided to dare everyone to do it. But not to put it online.

I wanted to give someone with a film shot with a mobile phone camera the same respect any independent filmmaker receives in a traditional film festival in order to create a “parallel” to the film industry. I believed this would catch on and as more people took on the challenge, more phone manufacturers would justify their investment in focusing equal time to the cameras on their phones as they did in the rest of their phone’s hardware and software. Where there is a demand there is a business working to fulfill it. We so share some of the films online in our YouTube channel after the festival in San Diego. Also, some filmmakers cannot share them online because there are still festivals forbidding filmmakers from sharing their films online. This doesn’t affect our film festival. But it does restrict progress and growth for individual independent filmmakers who are not famous Hollywood filmmakers and would like to build their following

When we shoot media, be it a photo or video, we share it online through social media. But guess what else we share? We share ourselves with that media. When a video or photo, a meme or whatever, goes viral…it’s the person who posted it or created it that receives attention as well. That is where social media is helpful to filmmakers who shooting films and videos using smartphones. You can edit a film using a computer and then sharing it, or you can edit your film right on your phone and share it. But you shoot it using the phone everyone has access to more than any other camera in the world. And I know that by creating a film festival exclusive to mobile phones does not leave out any one who has a camera because they too have smartphones. Sure, you can shoot using a great camera with great depth of field which eventually the best phone manufacturers will figure out how to fit one into a smartphone . . . but most films are about stories. And a good story should not be limited. It should be shared for everyone in the world to access. And it should also be told by everyone who has a camera everyone has access to.

I suppose that is a long answer to your simple question but I am very passionate about
democratizing storytelling through film. The process and the potential this has to make the world better for everyone is very inspiring.

It seems that a key point in your festival’s selection is the notion of democracy in
filmmaking. That anyone can make a film with the gear they have in their pocket. Can you tell me more about that?

I realize I answer the question of democratization with filmmaking using smartphone cameras. But to add to it, I’d like to point out something magical that happened in our last film festival. Last year we had filmmakers from Canada, Australia, Germany and Chile attend our festival in San Diego. We also had a couple local filmmakers who attended. On the red carpet and Q&A Panel there were about 8 filmmakers from different parts of the world and there, right there with them was an 82 year-old experienced filmmaker with an 11 year-old novice. Each and everyone of them shot their films with only smartphones. Can it get more democratized than that?

What awesome concepts have you seen people carry out on technology as simple as
smartphone? Any specifically awesome moments or shots?

I started to organize this in 2009 and by the time I had a venue to present the films on the big screen to hold our first film festival, I had already seen many films. At first, people experimented with music videos. There are many things you can get away with in music videos, from shaky cameras to pixelated visuals which add visual texture to music. It was an experimental medium. As time passed there were more narrative films that emerged. Between back then and now, I have seen so many films! We had over 260 films last year and I watched all of them at least three times. Yeah, I watch the films myself. Every single one of them. But there are many films,some which don’t even make it to our festival which are pretty amazing.

I am still going to give praise to Conrad Mess. Conrad Mess submitted his first mobile film shot with an iPhone 4 to us in 2011. It was our first submission. Finally a film submitted! It was epic. I asked him to cut it down in time to 3 minutes, which was our time limit during our inaugural festival. I featured his film to inspire people who wondered or were curious, or those who had doubts. There are many creative shots and videos I have seen over the years like people putting phones in different places where cameras would never make it, creating shots that are intriguing and they can do wonders in dialogues creating a sense of intimacy which can be difficult to accomplish with traditional cameras, there are even creative shots using more than one phone to shoot and
record audio for one scene and then there are many experimental films which use the natural mobile phone effects and limitations to their advantage. When it comes to the blockbuster film or the film you expect to see in the theater or on Netflix, for example…that’s where Conrad Mess blows your mind. He uses iPhones but I don’t limit filmmakers in our film festival to shoot with any one brand. The dare is to make the best film you can make using any mobile phone which includes cell phones and smartphones.

Is there anything in specific you want readers to know about this year’s fest?
We are accepting feature length films this year. I mean, 40-80 minutes in length. The deadline is very close! October 19 is the deadline for the Mobile Feature Film Competition. Our Mobile Short Film Competition is 1-5 minutes in length and the deadline for that is November 19. There is a lot to share with you about what we are planning for our film festival next year #MFF2018SanDiego.

Facebook: @MobilFilmFestival
Instagram: @MobileFilmSD

Twitter pages: @MobileFilmSD and @MobilFilmFest.

The main thing is this, if you made a film or are making a film using your
smartphone, our film festival in San Diego is one not to miss. We hold our film festival every year during the last weekend of April. 2018 is our seventh annual film festival and it’s going to be one you don’t want to miss. I am personally looking forward to meeting the filmmakers on our red carpet.

The red carpet is in your pocket!™

S. Botello leads a charge for democratized filmmaking:

edit 10/2: Submissions will require a fee this year, to keep the costs of the festival in check. The press kit will be updated to reflect that specific circumstance.

David Cave’s new short, GIRL AND A SCAR, makes some strangely fascinating statements on the female body.

Screenshot 2017-10-11 at 2.35.38 AM

Sometimes life is struggle, and in those times it is great struggle. Sometimes love is also a struggle. Sometimes that love brings new life into the world — but the creative forces behind it can also bear with them a certain sense of destruction.

Girl and a Scar, a gothic surreal short produced by David Cave, chronicles one goth girl’s relationship to life and death in a dialogue-free series of visual sequences that is sometimes horrifying, sometimes beautiful, and sometimes horrifyingly beautiful.

This short, which will soon see its World, International and German Festival Premiere, will screen at Obscura Film Festival in Berlin, Germany on October 29th, 2017. It will have its Maltese premiere at the Malta Horror Film Festival this Halloween.

It’s bound to take audiences by surprise as its visual composition does not tread lightly. There is, however, a strange beauty in which the interconnectedness of life and death are rendered.