DIFF unveils first 10 films at festival, including one about gay rodeos

WADE_PRIDE_FLAGThe Dallas International Film Festival released the names of the first 10 films confirmed to show at the festival next month, and among them is one about gay rodeos. Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo chronicles a season with the IGRA from the start to the world finals.

Among the other films announced are Joe, from North Texas native David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express); Words and Pictures, the newest film from Australia director Fred Schepisi; Hellion, starring Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul; and the world premiere of Believe Me with Nick Offerman. There will also be a 30th anniversary screening of Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas at the Texas Theatre.

The festival takes place April 3–13. Tickets and more information available at DallasFilm.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gays clean up at DIFF

I noted a few weeks ago that the Dallas International Film Festival was very gay this year. Well, hopefully the organizers will realize how beneficial that is.

film-04Two gay-themed films — the Texas-shot gay drama Pit Stop by former Dallasite Yen Tan and the documentary God Loves Uganda, about anti-gay efforts in the African nation, pictured, — won two of the top prizes at DIFF this weekend.

Pit Stop won the Grand Jury Prize in the Texas Competition. That comes with the plum award of the festival: a $30,000 Panavision film package. For indie filmmaking, that’s huge; Tan’s budget for Pit Stop — a romance about two closeted gay men in small-town Texas — was $22,000, which he raised online.

God Loves Uganda received the $10,000 (cash) Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature award from DIFF. It was also a hit at Sundance earlier this year.

Other winners announced this weekend:

• Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature: A Teacher

• Embrey Family Foundation Silver Heart Award: Tomlinson Hill

• Audience Award for Narrative Feature: The Kings of Summer

• Audience Award for Documentary: The Crash Reel

• Audience Award for Short Film: Head Over Heels

• Other short film winners include Black Metal and The First Hope; honorable mention went to The Dirties (about school bullying), Laurence Anyways (also with queer themes) and Very Small Things.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas International Film Fest gets really gay — including me on the dais

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The Dallas International Film Festival continues today (and through Sunday), following a spate of uber-gay films for the past few days, including Ash Christian’s Petunia and Michael Urie’s He’s Way More Famous Than You, pictured, just last night. Tonight gets even gayer — though they are mostly competing with each other. You can start with Laurence Anyways at 1 p.m., a sort of Wuthering Heights with a trans character, then you can hop over to Urie’s Famous at 4 p.m. Then it starts to get messy.

The screening of C.O.G., based on the writing of David Sedaris, starts at 7 p.m.; at the same time, Cry screens, with local actors like Denise Lee and honorary Dallasite Del Shores featured; then God Loves Uganda, a documentary about all the anti-gay legislation (promoted by American fundamentalists) in the African nation at 7:15 p.m. All are worth a look, but you’ll have to pick!

And you can learn even more about two more movies just before 7. From about 6 to 7 p.m., I’ll be interviewing the filmmakers with two of the hotly discussed films at this year’s fest: The Dirties and Diving Normal. Best of all? Neither film screens until 10 p.m., so you can attend the interviews (conducted on the stage outside the Magnolia Theater in the West Village, between it and Mi Cocina), see one of the 7 p.m. films and then make one of the others.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

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It’s a busy, exciting weekend in Dallas — especially for the gays! First off, our Spring Sports Issue is on the stands, with cool stories about the lesbian tennis group Sets in the City and the newest gay rugby team. And that comes right on the heels of Mavs owner Mark Cuban giving the gays a shout-out on Fox Sports. Just after Magic Johnson endorsed the idea of an openly gay player in Los Angeles, Cuban said he’d be “honored” to have the first out player in Dallas. Read about it here.

That’s just some of the fun, though. At the premiere of the Dallas International Film Festival this week, artistic director James Faust bragged to me that he programmed this year’s seventh annual event with lots of gay content in mind. It starts this afternoon at 4:15 p.m. at the Angelika, with Del Shores in attendance for the screening of the film Cry, in which he has a featured acting role. It gets even gayer next week with the local debuts of Ash Christian’s gay rom-com Petunia with Michael Urie, Yen Tan’s Pit Stop and Laurence Anyways on Monday, and the David Sedaris comedy C.O.G. and the gay doc God Loves Uganda on Wednesday. Check out the full schedule here. And I’ll be blogging reviews during the fest, so come back! For music lovers, recording artist Frankie will be performing her new single three more times in Dallas this weekend, with appearances tonight at Plush at 11:30 p.m., then another an hour later at 12:30 a.m. at the Round-Up Saloon, plus another late-night performance on Saturday at 11:30 p.m. inside the Rose Room. Or you can check out gay artist Owen Pallett at the Palladium Saturday, with gay band Grizzly Bear, pictured, also on the bill.

In theater, you still have a chance to see John Michael and the Order of the Penix, a one-man performance piece at the Magnolia Lounge that’s pretty damn fearless. You also definitely need to catch Rx, the new hilarious comedy about love and other drugs courtesy of Kitchen Dog Theater. Once again, Tina Parker delivers a not-to-miss performance. And Uptown Players’ latest cross-dressing spoof, Re-Designing Women, opens for a seven-week run at the Rose Room, with author Jamie Morris in the role of Julia Sugarbaker.

The stage musical of Priscilla Queen of the Desert doesn’t open in Dallas until next month, but you can get a sneak peek of sorts. On Saturday from 2 to 3:30 p.m., Dallas Summer Musicals and the Cupcakery on McKinney Avenue team up for a taste competition with three local drag queens on hand for an event called Priscilla Queen of the Desserts. You can even win tickets to the show. And if you’re really interested in desserts on Saturday, there’s still time to attend the No Tie Dinner, a benefit for AIDS Services of Dallas, at the Frontiers of Flight Museum starting at 7 p.m.

A final option for foodies: Dishcrawl, a national movement where you get to know your culinary choices within a given neighborhood, debuts in Dallas with the Uptown Crawl on Sunday, with eight restaurants (among them, Meso Maya Uptown, Pop Diner and Momo’s) participating. Proceeds benefit the North Texas Food Bank. Tickets are $40 in advance or $45 on-site.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DIFF announces some films in its lineup, a few with gay interest

yen TanThe Dallas International Film Festival doesn’t open for more than a month, but organizers have already announced 10 films on the slate — several with gay content.

God Loves Uganda, a hit at Sundance, addresses the anti-gay policies of the African state, including the American-based Christian activists calling for draconian penalties for those who are gay or HIV-positive.

Pit Stop is former Dallas filmmaker Yen Tan’s (pictured) crowd-sourced movie about gay love in rural Texas. We previewed the film here.

Individual tickets go on sale March 14. A complete schedule of screenings will eventually be released on its website.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DIFF winners announced over the weekend

This weekend, the Dallas International Film Festival awarded its prizes for the best of the fest. Among the winners was Wolf, which we profiled here, about the inappropriate relationship between a minister and a young member of his church. It received a $30,000 camera rental Grand Jury Prize for the Panavision Texas Competition. Also a winner was First Position, which we reviewed here (and pictured), which took the Audience Award for Documentary Feature.

Other winners include:

• Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature: Faith, Love and Whiskey.

• Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature: Tchoupitoulas.

• Grand Jury Prize for the Whole Food Environmental Vision Competition: Dirty Energy, about the Deepwater Horizon disaster (awarded two years to the day after the spill).

• Silver Heart Award ($10,000): The Invisible War.

• Audience Award for Narrative Feature: My Way, a Korean war movie.

• Audience Award for Short Film: Nani.

• Best Short Film: Aaron Burr, Part 2.

Best Student Short: Nani.

Best Animated Short: A Morning Stroll.

Special citations were given the Michael Rainey Jr., Luv, for breakout performance; Kim Kold, Teddy Bear, the acting; David Zellner’s Kid-Thing, special mention for Texas filmmaker; and The Love Competition for short filmmaking.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Gayby” screens Tuesday and Wednesday at DIFF

There’s not too much gay programming at the Dallas International Film Festival, but what is featured is pretty darn gay. Case in point: Gayby, which screens tonight and tomorrow at the Angelika.

Matt (adorkable Matthew Wilkas) and Jenn (Jenn Harris) are a Will-&-Grace-like couple — straight girl, gay guy — who each want something more in life: She wants a baby (but, as a friend notes, is barren), he wants a relationship more meaningful than a Grindr hookup. It’s not three minutes in before the two decide to have a baby together — not with a turkey baster, but old-fashioned sex.

That’s the premise for the short film on which this feature is based (and which played in Dallas at OutTakes a few years back); it basically ended with them getting it on. Here, it’s more a jumping-off point for the witty, dry humor of writer-director Jonathan Lisecki.

The film screening at the Angelika April 17 at 7:15 p.m., and April 18 at 1 0 p.m. Check it out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones