DIFF closes with awards ceremony

Posted on 10 Apr 2017 at 11:24am

The 11th annual Dallas International Film Festival concluded its 11 days of screenings, red carpets and events by presenting awards for excellence among the movies that screened.

The Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature went to The Relationtrip, about two loners who decide to take a platonic road trip together. The Grand Jury Prize for Documentary went to Quest, a portrait of an African-American family.

Two Special Jury Prizes were also presented: To Heartstone, pictured, for directing in the narrative category; and to Spettacolo for artistry in the documentary category. Heartstone revolves around two young boys, one of who is pursuing a girl while the other confronts his attraction for his best friend. Spettacolo is about a small Italian village that turns the lives of its town into a play.

The Texas Competition presented its Grand Jury Prize to Mr. Roosevelt, with a Special Jury Prize for Directing to Mustang Island.

In the shorts category, the Grand Jury Prize went to What Happened to Her with the Animated Prize going to Mr. Madila. Special Jury Prizes also went to Hairat and to Arin MacLaine for a performance in Spring. The Silver Heart Award went to City of Ghosts.

These followed the Audience Awards, which were presented Friday night at a banquet I attended. (I sat at the table with Chris Gabriel, co-director of The Relationtrip.) Narrative Feature went to the Texas-filmed Bomb City, about a hate crime; and Documentary Feature went to Dealt. The Short Film Award went to No Other Way to Say It.

At the same dinner, recognition was handed out; The Dallas Shining Star Award to Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall); the L.M. Kit Carson Maverick Filmmaker Award to Richardson’s David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express); and a posthumous presentation of the Dallas Star Award to the late Fort Worth native Bill Paxton.

Congrats to all the recipients.


Everybody needs a little Spayse

Posted on 07 Apr 2017 at 12:34pm

Late last year, Israel Luna — our DVtv video producer emeritus and a longtime friend — realized a dream when he opened up Spayse Studios, giving birth to a space where creative people from all fields can come together to create their art and, at the same time, create community.

After opening, Israel quickly filled up all the available office space and Spayse Studios has already expanded. New offices are filling up quickly.

Now Israel and the tenants of Spayse Studios invite everyone to come check out their space during their Open House on Sunday, from 2-5 p.m., Go see what Spayse has to offer you.

Need somewhere for a photo shoot or a video shoot? They have several infinity-wall rooms — white walls, black walls, gray walls, and a soundproof green screen room. There is available office space, and if you have a special event coming up, check out the gorgeous event room that ‘s available to rent.

You’ll have a chance to meet Spayse Studios tenants and even get interviewed during the live broadcast from the Spayse Station sound studio (home of DVtv in Spayse, streaming live every Friday at 4 p.m. on the Spayse Station YouTube Channel, right after Israel Luna’s Don’t Panic!).

This is a free event, with food and drink available, and you don’t want to miss it.

Spayse Studios is located at 1499 Regal Row, Ste. 505 (drive around behind the building the find the door). Call 469-779-2604 for information.


Whole lotta shit going on

Posted on 07 Apr 2017 at 7:35am

The new Podcast ‘S-Town’ paints a vivid portrait of a cynical small-town gay intellectual


“I’ve about had enough of Shittown and the things that goes on,” is how listeners are introduced to John B. McLemore, who identifies himself as living in “Shittown, Alabama,” though most of the residents prefer to call it by its real name, Woodstock. Woodstock is a sleepy little burg that, to McLemore’s mind at least, more closely resembles Lumberton in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet than the Mayberry of The Andy Griffith Show. This 1,000-person town straddling Bibb and Tuscaloosa counties near the center of the state is, by McLemore’s statistics, the sex-offender capital of the free world, where tattoos, meth and infidelity have joined hands with racism and ignorance to form a cauldron of lazy, slow decay — the death of the American dream. That is, Shittown.

And he’s got a point.

That’s the premise of S-Town, the most compelling new Podcast snaking its way across the interwebs. Whereas the aptly-named Serial drew us in to an actual criminal justice case, week after week surprising us with its real-life mystery, the real mystery of S-Town isn’t the murder McLemore alleges took place but went unpunished, but McLemore himself. And we don’t have to wait to learn anything, except for the amount of time it takes to binge all seven roughly one-hour episodes of this series. The entire Podcast went live barely a week ago, and if it took you more than 48 hours to finish it, that was probably just so you could catch your breath.

“Why did you not tell me Shittown was gonna be an emotional apocalypse?!” my friend Valentine emailed me after I recommended he download the podcast. “Is there a word for simultaneous extreme anticipation/apprehension?” That’ll probably be your reaction, too.

Because S-Town does not proceed like you expect it to. McLemore — who we learn (though it should be obvious early on) is a semi-closeted gay liberal intellectual antique clock-repairer suffering through Klan country with cynical observations and a Southern Gothic flair for drama — initially invites radio producer Brian Reed to investigate suspicious goings-on, but Reed quickly discovers no mystery is more compelling than McLemore himself. To say more would be to undermine the tremendous release that comes with exploring the podcast itself.

But what needs to be said is how profoundly the personage of John. B. McLemore digs into you, not because he is unique, but because you can recognize so much of what troubles him in other people you probably know. The collective effect is haunting.             

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Download the podcast on multiple platforms, or stream it from Stownpodcast.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 07, 2017.


Weinstein Co. to challenge MPAA rating on trans film

Posted on 06 Apr 2017 at 1:08pm

The upcoming film 3 Generations, starring Elle Fanning, Susan Sarandon and Naomi Watts, portrays the experiences of a transgender youth. The Weinstein Company, which secured distribution rights, submitted it to the Motion Picture Association of America to obtain a rating. To TWC’s surprise, the MPAA returned an R rating — meaning no one under 17 can see if without a parent.

Today, TWC announced it will appear the ruling. It had tapped David Boies — the Hollywood lawyer known for his work on the Bush v. Gore suit, as well as overturning Prop 8 in California — to advice on their dissent.

The R rating was based on “language and some sexual references.” The film is slated to receive a limited release next month.

The Weinsteins have a history of success with such appeals; they were able to known down the rating for their film Bully from R to PG-13, so that more teens could see it.


PHOTOS: Disney Village gives a taste of the Magic Kingdom for those pressed for time

Posted on 05 Apr 2017 at 4:11pm

On my recent trip to Florida, I actually started out in Orlando, attending the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association meeting.

We didn’t have time to do the full Disney/Epcot thing, but we drove over to Disney and spent a few hours at Disney Village (formerly known as Pleasure Island) to get our Disney fix.

The area is mostly shopping, but there are a few attractions, including a hot air balloon ride that I was perfectly happy to watch from the ground as it ascended 400 feet into the air. Windy City Times writer Matt Simonette waited on line an hour for the five minute balloon ride.

Disney Village is free with plenty of parking. It’s not the Magic Kingdom, but with just a few hours, it was worth a visit.

Matt Simonette, my counterpart at the Windy City Times

The world’s largest all-Disney department store



PHOTOS: Reconstructed wetlands attract diverse array of wildlife

Posted on 04 Apr 2017 at 2:51pm

The 50-acre Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach and the 100-acre Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach are two of the most beautiful water utility properties ever developed. I visited both on my recent trip to Florida.

Every day, 2 million gallons of treated waste water is filtered through Wakodahatchee and reclaimed for use in southern Palm Beach County. The water is filtered naturally with plants that have always filtered water gently flowing through the nearby Everglades.

Boardwalks meander through both facilities that were jointly developed by the water utility and the parks department.

Wakodahatchee, which is a decade older than Green Cay, has attracted a more diverse population of birds, alligators, turtles and other wildlife.

Wakodahatchee is on Jog Road north of Lake Ida Road. Green Cay is on Hagan Ranch Road south of Flavor Pict Road. Both are free and open dawn to dusk.

Green Cay Wetlands

Green Cay Wetlands nature center

Boardwalk through Green Cay Wetlands

Boardwalk through Green Cay Wetlands

Mom and her three chicks

Anhinga sunning himself after diving for breakfast

Woodstorks at Wakodahatchee fighting over nesting space

Surveying the area

Blue heron fishing

Woodstorks nest in clusters. Several are guarding as many as three chicks in their nests.

Alligator in Wakodahatchee, which is literally only blocks from my aunt’s house. But there’s no way they can get out. At least that’s what people who live in the area keep telling themselves.


PHOTOS: Driving down the Florida Keys

Posted on 03 Apr 2017 at 3:43pm

I spent a week with my family in Florida last week. One day we decided to take a ride from their house in Boynton Beach, about 60 miles north of Miami, to Key Largo for lunch.

But once we got to Key Largo, we decided to head for Islamorada, where we had lunch overlooking the beach.

Then Marathon. Oh, what the hell, let’s go to Key West.

Well, we never made it to Key West, which is 150 miles south of Miami on US 1, but we did make it as far as the Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, just past Seven Mile Bridge, about 30 miles before Key West. Here are some of the highlights.

(Oh, and watch for more vacation photos later in the week!)

This homemade boat carried 17 people, including five children, from Cuba in 2013.

Snowy egret

Pelican in Islamorada


Under the old US 1 in Bahia Honda Key

Sailboats in Islamorada

After a hurricane destroyed the Miami to Key West Railroad (1912-1936), the Overseas Highway (US 1) was planned. On this section, the road was built over the abandoned railroad tracks. This bridge was replaced in the 1970s, but this section still stands.

Section of abandoned railroad bridge

Old and new Overseas Highway

Key Deer live on Big Pine Key, No Name Key and a few other islands. The federal government has set aside 8,542 acres as a refuge for this endangered species, the smallest breed of deer in the world.

This female deer was cautious but came close to us. We spotted her on Watson Boulevard, about three miles west of US 1 on Big Pine Key.


Kibble and Cocktails returns for foodies favoring Fidos

Posted on 03 Apr 2017 at 2:21pm

dogDFW Rescue Me, which helps rescue at-risk dogs, is the beneficiary for the return food event Kibble & Cocktails on Tuesday, April 4, presented by Barking Hound Village (which will open its second location on April 20). The fundraiser and mixer takes place at Trinity Groves, and features bites and booze from restaurants based there, as well as Uchi, 18th & Vine and Stoli cocktails, among others. Tickets are available here; the event takes place 7–10 p.m.


Rainbow Lounge goes smoke free

Posted on 01 Apr 2017 at 5:50pm

Beginning tonight (Saturday, April 1), Fort Worth’s Rainbow Lounge is going smoke free.

According to a notice posted Friday afternoon, management of the bar, located at 651 S. Jennings St., said, “We want to satisfy all of our patrons, and will continue to provide a fabulous patio area for our smoking clientele.”

That sounds great to me.

I smoked for more than 35 years. Was an at-least-a-pack-a-day smoker. When I would drink, I smoked even more. I was quite indignant when Dallas passed its smoking ban, and was always glad I lived in Fort Worth where I could still light up a cig with my bourbon and coke at the bar.

But I stopped smoking just over four years ago, and during a recent visit to a Fort Worth bar, I realized exactly why my non-smoking partner and friends hated going out in Fort Worth. Within 10 minutes of walking into the smokey bar, my eyes were burning like mad and I was developing a killer headache.

These days, my partner and I don’t go out much — even though sometimes we really want to just hang in a bar and have a drink and chat with folks. Neither of us can tolerate the smoke, and driving to Dallas for a drink is just too much work.

But now, we have a closer, smoke-free option! And now, maybe I’ll get to see the amazing performers in Rainbow Lounge’s Saturday night Illusions of Drag show.


TITAS announces 2017–18 season

Posted on 31 Mar 2017 at 8:04pm

Herve Koubi’s muscular dancers return in 2018

At the opening night performance of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, TITAS executive director Charles Santos announced the 2017–18 lineup — which, once again, is all dance. All performances will take place at either the Winspear Opera House or the City Performance Hall. Tickets will be available at ATTPAC.org.

MOMIX. The company known for its elaborate costumes and and colorfully modern dance returns for its umpteenth encore, featuring Moses Pendleton’s evening-length work Open Cactus. Winspear Opera House, Aug. 31, 8 p.m.

Ballet Hispanico. This company fuses contemporary and classic techniques of Latin dancing with passion and theatricality. City Performance Hall, Sept. 15–16. 8 p.m.

Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. This troupe from Israel is one of the top touring dance companies in the world. City Performance Hall, Oct. 27–28. 8 p.m.

Malpaso Dance Company. With the borders now more open, this Cuban-based company makes its Dallas debut with a bold repertoire cultivated in its brief (five years) existence. City Performance Hall, Nov. 10–11. 8 p.m.

La Compagnie Herve Koubi. This French troupe, which made its Dallas debut a year ago as part of the 2015–16 season, and will kick off performances in 2018, this time at the Winspear. Jan. 20. 8 p.m.

Lucky Plush will make its Texas debut with this quirky, superhero-inspired production. City Performance Hall, March 9–10. 8 p.m.

L.A. Dance Project. Another Texas debut from this new Los Angeles-based company. March 30–31. 8 p.m.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet. The return of this powerful modern ballet company, which pulls from many traditions. Winspear Opera House, June 9. 8 p.m.

Parsons Dance Company. The New York company is known for its athletic and colorful ensemble. Winspear Opera House, June 30. 8 p.m.

In addition, the annual Command Performance Gala will take place at the Winspear Opera House, May 5. 7 p.m.