There’s A Decidedly Local Bent Among The First 10 Confirmed Films To Be Screened At April’s Dallas International Film Festival.

As this year’s mildly chilly Texas winter starts giving way to a rainy spring, film festival season in Dallas is ramping up right on cue.

Last week, the 13th Dallas International Film Festival announced the earliest-confirmed films being screened at its April 11 to April 18 offerings. Per usual, these first-announced movies represent a mix of domestic and foreign films, as well as big and small ones, once again proving why DIFF is, year after year, a must-see for local cinephiles.

But this batch in particular feels exciting thanks to its decidedly local bent.

At DIFF ’19, audiences will catch world premieres for two notable locally tied films. Director Michael Rowley’s Hurdle documentary, which centers around the lives of two Palestinians in Jerusalem and was made possible thanks to a $10,000 North Texas Pioneer Film Grant, will debut at this year’s fest. So, too, will Josh David Jordan’s independent music narrative This World Won’t Break, which stars a number of familiar faces in the Dallas music scene (and even includes a very brief cameo from Central Track founder Pete Freedman in the below trailer).

But the local focus extends beyond just those two films.

The festival also features the Texas debut of the Live From Astroturf doc that follows Alice Cooper and his original band as they reunite for a once-in-a-lifetime show on the legendary green stage at Dallas records store Good Records’ suddenly former Lower Greenville home.

And, rounding out the Texas focus, the Dallas premiere of HBO’s Running with Beto follows the charming Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate on his journey from mostly unknown Congressman to beloved political underdog.

Check out the rest of the lineup below, with synopses courtesy of the Dallas International Film Festival itself. Head here for more information and to purchase passes for this year’s event, which start at around $100 for a pass.

DIFF ’19 Confirmed Film Synopses:

Her Smell
Premiere Status: Dallas Premiere
Director: Alex Ross Perry
Country: USA
Running Time: 134 Minutes
Synopsis: Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss) is a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted band mates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky’s chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success.

Premiere Status:
World Premiere
Director: Michael Rowley
Country: USA
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Synopsis: As the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories approached its 50th year, Hurdle reveals an important and intimate story emerging from the hearts and actions of Palestinian youth. The new generation responds to a world of walls, checkpoints and arrests in an unexpected and inspiring way. Hurdle’s protagonists, Sami and Mohammad, begin teaching the creative practices of parkour and photography, respectively, to the youth of their communities as a means to overcome the personal and political obstacles that often feel inescapable. Though these young men are separated by a wall, they are united in leading the next generation toward freedom and self-determination through non-violent, creative practices.

Premiere Status: Dallas Premiere
Director: Jacob Hamilton
Country: USA
Running Time: 73 Minutes
Synopsis: Jumpshot uncovers the inspiring true story of Kenny Sailors, the developer of the modern day jump shot in basketball. Introducing his never before seen ‘leaping one-hander’ to the masses on a national level, Kenny quickly grew to be a fan favorite while leading his Wyoming Cowboys to the Collegiate National Championship in Madison Square Garden in 1943. But after playing on several losing teams in an unstable, emerging league now known as the NBA, Kenny disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness only to be forgotten by the sport he helped pioneer. Now, nearly sixty years later, the multitude of people he has touched along the way have forced Kenny’s humble reemergence.

Live from Astroturf
Premiere Status:
Texas Premiere
Director: Steven Gaddis
Country: USA
Running Time: 58 Minutes
Synopsis: Alice Cooper reunites with the surviving members of the original lineup of the band to perform a blistering set on a small stage of pink astroturf at independent music store Good Records in Dallas, TX, 40 years after the band parted ways. Store owner Chris Penn pulls off the near insurmountable task of organizing the event and keeping Alice’s appearance a secret until the original shock-rocker hits the stage.

Running with Beto
Premiere Status:
Dallas Premiere
Director: David Modigliani
Country: USA
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Synopsis: This behind-the-scenes HBO documentary film follows Beto O’Rourke’s rise from virtual unknown to national political sensation through his bold attempt to unseat Ted Cruz in the US Senate. Embedded with Beto for the final twelve months of his campaign, the film follows his journey in real time through intimate access to O’Rourke, his family, and a team of political newcomers who champion a new way of getting to know a candidate — one Texas county at a time. The film reveals the challenges and triumphs of an unconventional campaign as Beto navigates an onslaught of negative advertising, inevitable strain on his family, and the pressure of delivering for legions of supporters. This film is creatively and financially independent from Beto O’Rourke and his campaign. It will debut later this spring on HBO.

Premiere Status: Texas Premiere
Director: Tim Tsai
Country: USA
Running Time: 68 Minutes
Synopsis: In 1979, a Vietnamese refugee shoots and kills a white crab fisherman at the public town docks in Seadrift, TX. What began as a dispute over fishing territory erupts into violence and ignites a maelstrom of boat burnings, KKK intimidation, and other hostilities against Vietnamese refugees along the Gulf Coast. Set during the early days of Vietnamese arrival in the U.S. “Seadrift” examines the shooting and its dramatic aftermath, and reveals the unexpected consequences that continue to reverberate today.

Premiere Status:
Dallas Premiere
Director: Zhang Yimou
Country: China
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Synopsis: With Shadow, director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) once again pushes the boundaries of wuxia action to create a film like no other, masterfully painting a canvas of inky blacks and greys punctuated with bursts of color from the blood of the defeated. In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a “shadow”, a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.

40th Anniversary Screening of The Muppet Movie (1979)
Director: James Frawley
Country: UK, USA
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Synopsis: While living the quiet life in a swamp, Kermit the Frog is approached by a Hollywood agent to audition for the chance of a lifetime. So Kermit takes this chance for his big break as he makes the journey to Hollywood. Along the way, Kermit comes across several quirky new friends including comedic Fozzie Bear, beautiful but feisty Miss Piggy and the Great Gonzo. But Kermit must also watch out for ruthless Doc Hopper, who plans to use him as his spokesman for his Frog Legs food chain.

Them That Follow
Premiere Status: Texas Premiere
Directors: Britt Poulton, Dan Madison Savage
Country: USA
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Synopsis: In the rugged wilderness of Appalachia, the members of an isolated community of Pentecostal snake handlers led by Pastor Lemuel (Walton Goggins) risk their lives to attest themselves before God. Lemuel’s daughter Mara (Alice Englert) prepares for her upcoming wedding to the young believer her father has singled out for her under the watchful eye of Hope (2019 Oscar winner Olivia Colman), while scrambling to hide a secret that has the potential to drive her father’s church to ruin.

This World Won’t Break
Premiere Status:
World Premiere
Director: Josh David Jordan
Country: USA
Running Time: 148 Minutes
Synopsis: A Texas troubadour’s quiet life is upset by the realization that he isn’t where he had hoped to be at this point in his career. He questions the decisions of putting off a family life in hopes to one day “make it” by isolating himself on the open road and playing small honky-tonks. Too late to stop following the dream and too early in his career to be a legend, Wes Milligan’s struggle for a better life begins to spiral out of control. In these darkest moments, he writes the song.

Cover photo of Beto O’Rourke by Pete Freedman.

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