Countdown to DIFF part 2

11 03 2010

AFI Dallas 2008 was quite a busy 10 days for little ol’ me.   Robert DeNiro, Barry Levinson, Charlize Theron, Helen Hunt, and countless others.  I had exclusive one-on-one interviews with The Visitor’s Tom McCarthy, Vadim Perelman the director of The Life Before Her Eyes, and the gang that put out the wonderfully enjoyable Blood on the Highway.  2008 marked a massive change in “big name” people coming to Dallas and really pushed up the festival to new heights.

Tom McCarthy

Vadim Perelman

Blair Rowan and Chris Gardner from Blood on the Highway @ the Polyphonic Spree Closing Night Party.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall Director Nicholas Stoller.

The panel for What Just Happened Bob DeNiro, Barry Levinson, and Art Linson.

Then the closing night film was Stuart Townsend’s, Battle in Seattle.   The film starred Martin Henderson, Michelle Rodriguez and Charlize Theron.  All of the gang were out and about for the film Q and A.
Charlize   Stu   Serious Martin
Ana Lucia aka Michelle
Michael Cain giving Charlize the Star Award.
Also 2008 had the first meeting with PSD’s favorite writer/director – Mr. Guillermo Arriaga!!!  2009 would premiere his film The Burning Plain, which also stars the lovely Ms. Theron.
Caught this nice moment between Guillermo and Charlize
Ron Livingston  Jewel and her Hubby Ty
Funny man Sam Rockwell, there for his film Snow Angels.  Also he PARTIED it up at the GHOST BAR!!!  CHUCK D had a fun little performance that night.
I just wanted to give you my three favorite moments and the back stories of them.
# 3  – Tom McCarthy and Richard Jenkins Q and A.
AFI Dallas brought The Visitor’s Tom McCarthy and Richard Jenkins (Oscar Nomination for this film!!!) to do a Q and A at the Angelika Theater in Dallas.
I was able to attend the event and also held a phone call interview with Tom the next day (he had to fly back to LA).  Tom was extremely nice to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with little ol’ me.  Tom was really open about his acting career, specifically his run on the highly acclaimed The Wire series, and also on the process of making The Visitor.  He discussed the casting of the film, the importance of the music in the film, and also the mingling of different cultures.   Richard’s powerful (Oscar nominated) performance was also a fun topic.  Richard’s choice of outfit and particular his glasses was something Tom touched on.  Overall the 30 minute talk really brought out a lot of Tom’s views on the world and his hopes for the success of the film.  Have to say its become one of my all-time favorite interviews.  The film is about connecting to strangers, finding out the important things in ones’ life and also about dealing with the adversities that are in our lives.  Also have to shout out Tom for his writing work with UP.  The opening 20 minutes of UP maybe one of the most heart tugging I’ve ever seen in film.
#2 – The Greatest Film Screening…EVER!!
The premise of Blood on the Highway is simple – young visitors to a town filled with dimwitted vampires.  I’ll be honest the first time I heard of the film I was a little apprehensive.  Amazingly the fun started before getting into the theater.  I went with my camera person and we immediately met with confusion when we went to get our seats for the screening.  The screening was at the Magnolia Theater in the West Village.
We’d arrived early for the late night screening and were told that the place was sold out.  None, and I mean none, of the other screenings had done that before.  I talked to some familiar faces and found out that there was in fact space for us press people.  We hurried to get into the theater and got two of the last seats.  Now it was so packed that when the film makers (Blair Rowan, Chris Gardner and Barak Epstein) arrived they had to bring in seats from the bar area so they could watch the film.  Fire code issue?  Well maybe.  Sssshhhhh!
Not to call out one of those lovable three filmmakers out, but one of their dates was a bit loopy.  I saw her stumble and then run out after a really bloody scene and never returned to the screening.  This made for a wonderful question the next day in my one-on-one with Blair and Chris.  The film itself is extremely funny and goofy.  Overall its one of the more enjoyable horror spoof films I’ve ever seen.  This is not one of those crap spoof films that stars Carmen Elektra and one of the hundred Wayne family members or all of them.  Blood on the Highway is well written and extremely raucous.  After the film the crew held a wheels off Q and A session that concluded with a 15 minute standing ovation, it was an amazing experience to be part of.   I held my own interview with Blair and Chris the next day, at the AFI Target Press Lounge (loved the open bar, and so did they!).   I’ve never had an interview like this one that jump from fake blood ingredients, filming in small Texas towns,  sexual shenanigans, and how abortion jokes can go to far.
* Barak is producing another film called Earthling that will be at this year’s DIFF…Yeah I’m excited to see what happens too.
#1 – Bob DeNiro single afternoon in Dallas.
Now the appearance of Mr. Greatness had been rumored for a while, but the actual event was a crazy fun tale.  I first got word that Barry Levinson and Art Linson would do a few press things the night before the screening of their film, What Just Happened.  Bob’s appearance was something that was extremely hush hush.  Well arrangements were to have a screening of the film at Dallas’ historic Inwood Theater.  Supposedly Bob picked the place himself and last minute changes had to happen.
Now the timing of everything was pretty amazing.  Bob flew in early that morning.  He was greeted by the AFI crew and Todd Wagner.  Bob, Barry and Art would do a press junket for the local media in the Inwood’s bar area.
Immediately following that interview process the gang would premiere the film.   Now this is about when I arrived, I was standing in the dark in the back of the Inwood’s main theater room.  Now this is when it gets really interesting.  Its a pretty open area directly behind the film booth.  I was waiting with other members of press trying to find a place to spot up for the Q and A after the screening.  Well I feel a nudge on my shoulder and look to my right.  ITS BOB DENIRO!  He smiled at me and asked if I knew where he needed to go.  As I was about to escort him to my car…just kidding.  I pointed at the first person I recognized from AFI, Michael Cain.  Bob was briskly taken to his place and the film started to roll minutes later.  It was the wildest 10 minutes ever.  Immediately after the screening they held the Q and A.  It lasted about 40 minutes and the guys were really open to the slew of questions.
Now I exited the theater and was on my way out when I noticed two AFI SUVs leaving the Inwood Theater.
Ok, so yeah I’m openly admitting that I followed them like a crazed stalker.  I followed the vehicles to Love field and  drove into the back ally of some buildings and it amazingly lead to an entrance for the airport.  Never seen that before!! Well I couldn’t go any farther and parked my car and watched through the giant electric fence as Barry Levinson, Art Linson, and Bob boarded a private jet.  I couldn’t take any pictures since the security guard had noticed me.  He came over and gave me the riot act.  But it was still amazing to see the plane take off 30 minutes later.  The security guard was really cool after they took off and made sure I didn’t have anything crazy on me.  I immediately called everyone I could get hold of  on my phone.  Its still the wildest ride I’ve had covering an AFI Dallas event.



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