Countdown to Dallas International Film Festival

4 03 2010

The AFI might be gone, but Dallas’ top film festival of the year is about to launch its fourth-annual showcase of film.   In just over a month D-Town will once again welcome a slew of talented filmmakers to show some quality art, answer some questions and party down.  Each year the festival has expanded and attracted more and more filmmakers.  Its our goal at PSD to help you catch up on the past festivals, get prepped for this year’s magic, and of course enjoy our witty observations.

Also expect interviews, pics, and video’s to accompany this year’s coverage.

*Also tune in the next few weeks as Mark travels to SXSW!!!

Que cheesy time travel music and think back to 2006.   Dubya is still in charge.  Pittsburgh Stellers are the Super Bowl Champs.  The Miami Heat ROBBED the Mavies of an NBA title.  Florida won both the National Championship in football  in basketball.  A freaking World Cup was going on and a fella named Michael Cain made some noise in the local film scene.

Michael goes way back in Dallas area when it comes to film (goggle Deep Ellum Film Festival).  Well MC would usher in the mighty American Film Festival to hold its Dallas festival.   Target jumped on board and bam fun times in the big city.   Well it was merely an announcement the actual event kicked off on March 22nd 2007 and ended on April fools day.  Big names got on board and Victory Plaza became the “home” base for the event.

The Magnolia theater in the West Village would also play a huge piece in the exposure of the festival for the next few years.

The 2007 festival was the only festival where Pearl Snap Discount didn’t have a connection, mainly because we only existed in Mark’s indie-music filled brain.   However, that doesn’t mean that we weren’t on the scene for some interesting moments.

Joey Pants was here!!  (not my photo thanks to film magic ) Yeah do you recognize Joey now?  Is this better…

or  maybe now…

Ok so here I was walking up to see where a film starring Morgan Freeman (don’t worry we’ll get to the greatest dude ever in a second) would be showing later that weekend.   By walking up, I mean the stairs of the Magnolia Theater and I meet this sprite fella with that adorable cowboy hat.  He’s not surrounded by publicists or crazy fans with posters of Tony Soprano on it.  Nope he was by himself leaving an early screening of his film CANVAS, which he co-starred with Marcia Gay-Harden.  Well I got a handshake and a “Loving this town” smile from Joey Pants.  Thus was the beginning of my journey through AFI Dallas 2007…as a fan.

AFI had movies, panels, events and parties all over Dallas.  AMC Northpark theater, the classic Inwood Theater (Bobby  DeNiro would personally request his film shown here in AFI 08′  – have pics of Bob in the next post), Victory Plaza, and SMU.    David Lynch, Lauren Bacall, Laura Dern, Sarah Polley, Jack Valenti, Marvin Hamlisch, Sarah Polley, Morgan Freeman, Bill Paxton and a whole host of talented filmmakers and artists were on scene of AFI Dallas International Film Festival 2007.

Music Within was the  opening night film for the festival.   Away from Her, directorial debut for Sarah Polley, closed the festival.  The first festival also ended with an exclusive party at the Ghost Bar in the W hotel.

Nope we didn’t make it in…but we did make it in the next two years!!

Over 150 films screened over the 11 day event.

But by far the highlight for PSD’s sake was the encounter with one our favorite people in the world.


Mr. Greatness was there for his small independent film 10 Items or Less.  So the film had a mid day showing that Morgan may or may not actually be attending.  I went out on a limb and decided to check it out.   I arrived with merely my good looks, mischievous thoughts, and enough money to possibly get a soda.   For certain I didn’t have enough for an actual ticket into a movie.  Futile you may say?

The Magnolia was packed with fans and press all over.  Hectic sums things up pretty amazingly.  Now I’m a huge Morgan fan and can recite Shawshank, Unforgiven, Seven and pretty much any film of Mr. Freeman.  So I decided to take the advice of my old professor, the legendary Bill Mercer.  “Guys and Gals some one more famous then me once said all you need is a notepad and a microphone and you can get in anywhere”.   Bill was trying to give us a lesson on how to seem more important then you may actually be.  Also he was giving us a way to “sneak” into places you shouldn’t be allowed.

Now I had neither microphone nor notepad.  Instead I searched the area for the sad sucker that had at least one of those.  I found better, a lady who had a microphone headset and a notepad. (Use your imagination…geez!)

The lady, who was obviously the one in charge, was commanding her ever wish to the horde of confused ushers, ticket stub holders, and fans waiting for just a site of Morgan.  I decided upon some names I felt would appear on the list.  Mary Kay lives in Dallas, Tom Hicks owns like half the town, The Perots actually have connections to the festival, Cuban has no kids, so I went with a generic Johnson as my last name.  I approached the gatekeeper and just as I was about to give her my whole life story, she looked away.  The notepad with all the magical names was easily open to my prying eyes and I found a name put my finger on it and when she turned around I smiled and said “ME”.   She asked if my two guests were going to make it.  “Of Course, there running a little late.”

She called over an usher over and introduced Mr. Gervasi to his seat.  (I’ll be honest I don’t remember the name I pointed to, but it was obviously of Spanish or Italian decent and I am so not either of those.)  In the end the usher placed me into a special line.

There were seven of us in the lonely line.  There was a lot of commotion going on around us all and I still had no pass or ticket for that matter.  I had a place in line, but that still may not mean anything.  O well time to move.  The line was escorted to the ticket stub girl.  Aw, no ideas about how to make this actually happen.   I noticed a restroom just off to the left of the line.  When the ticket stub lady got to me I asked if I could race to the little boys room.

When I got back to the line I noticed they had started to let the press people into the theater and the nice ticket stub lady had become ladies.  There was a lot more commotion going on.  I overheard some ladies saying how they had just seen Morgan walk by.  I slyly made my way over to the stub girls and thought here goes.  I acted rushed and gently took hold of the more bewildered looking girl’s shoulder.  “So Sorry, i’m with the Gervasi family and they just went in.”  With the line behind me getting bigger and bigger,  she just waived me on.

Yeah I know.    Not the greatest plan, but I was into the theater now so how bout them apples!  At the top of the stairs was another lady with another notepad, this one on a clipboard.  She also had a nifty headset microphone and a evil stare that meant that she was in charge.  So without a ticket, without a pass, and with no reason to have been let in, I strolled happily up to her.  She asked for my pass.  I scanned the crowd and said that there (pointing at a  small group of people talking ) was the party i was with.  She walked me over to the row and I waived over at the last guy in the group.  This is where my plan should have ended and I been kicked out, but…

The guy waived back and the lady told me to sit down.  I sat next to the guy and asked if he knew me.  He said nope, but that he’d noticed me prying over the names and was impressed I’d made it into the theater.  Lucky me.  Well the screening did have Morgan there and he did a Q and A session after the film.  My adventure was capped when after the film I got to walk with Mr. Freeman to his escort vehicle.  Well I’d gone outside and started walking with the same line from earlier.  These people got to walk the “red carpet” out to a group of AFI SUVs that chauffeured the talent and the friends of the talent.  I walked with the group who knew Morgan personally.  I got all the way to the car.  I opened the door for the group of people.  Morgan was just about to get in when he shook my hand and said… “Thanks, Son.”

And that was my adventure for AFI Dallas International Film Festival 2007.

Trust me, 2008 and 2009 were completely more involved.  Mark and I would now be… THE PRESS.




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