The Dallas Movie Screening Group

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

USA Film Festival

http://www.usafilmfestival.com/images/usaff.flyer.2010.pdf


DRONES
Wednesday, April 28 7:00pm

Somewhere between “Dilbert” and Mars Attacks! lies Drones, a
very funny new office comedy where an unassuming corporate
lackey realizes his co-workers hold the very fate of the planet in
their hands. Brian (Jonathan M. Woodward, “Angel”) quite happily
keeps his head down at his job, working away as a faceless
non-entity, making copies, sending faxes, answering e-mails and
sitting through endless PowerPoint presentations. But all that
changes when his pal Clark (Samm Levine, “Freaks and Geeks”)
urges Brian to ask out officemate Amy (Angela Bettis, May).
Brian’s thrilled to have a girlfriend — and their co-workers immediately
dub them “Bramy” — but less enthusiastic to discover
that both Clark and Amy are actually aliens from two different
planets, and that’s the sort of thing that can really put a strain on
a new relationship. (When Amy tells Brian she’ll take him back
to her home planet after Earth gets destroyed, he responds,
“We’ve been dating a week—it’s too soon to talk about moving
in together.”) Can the planet be saved? And will someone do
something about the main office’s memo about spreadsheets?
This exceedingly droll and deadpan comedy boasts a terrific cast,
from its three charming leads to reliably hilarious character actors
like James Urbaniak (American Splendor, "The Venture Bros."),
Dave “Gruber” Allen, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, and Tangi Miller
(“Felicity”). Directors Amber Benson and Adam Busch — who
became a couple off-screen after his character Warren killed her
Tara on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — and screenwriters Ben
Acker and Ben Blacker brilliantly mesh two utterly different genres
(soul-crushing-workplace comedy and alien-invasion thriller) in
this witty and hilarious movie that will have you wondering what
your co-workers are really up to during those visits to the copy
room. 96 mins. Directors Amber Benson and Adam Busch
in attendance.

HARRY BROWN
Wednesday, April 28 7:00pm

Harry Brown (the great Michael Caine) has had enough. A retired
Royal Marine and widower, he lives alone in an older public-housing
complex in London, where his only company is best friend
and fellow pensioner Leonard (David Bradley). When Leonard is
brutally murdered by the vicious gang of young thugs terrorizing
the complex, and Detectives Alice Frampton (Emily Mortimer,
Match Point) and Terry Hicock (Charlie Creed-Miles) are unable
to apprehend his killers, Harry is roused into action. Compelled
by grief and determined to restore order in his violent, declining
neighborhood, he takes to the beleaguered streets to dispense
his own brand of vigilante justice. Caine leads a talented cast in
Oscar-nominated director Daniel Barber’s gritty, well-paced and
thrillingly suspenseful first feature. His performance in the titular
role is both sentimental and savage, and sure to leave an indelible
impression on audiences. 103 mins.

LA MISSION
Wednesday, April 28 7:00pm

There are two things in life that recovering alcoholic Che (Benjamin
Bratt) is proudest of: His sleek custom car and his honor-student
son Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez). Che spends his day driving a
bus, but in his off hours, he’s both a devoted father and a master
at turning old cars into gorgeous refurbished lowriders with a little
help from his neighborhood pals. But when Che learns that Jesse
is gay, the macho widower finds himself unable to deal with the
truth, plummeting him into rage and grief. Lashing out against his
son with physical violence, Che resists the pleas of those around
him — including his new neighbor Lena (Erika Alexander) — to
understand and love Jesse for who he is. The titular neighborhood
winds up being a character unto itself in La Mission, as
both a community haven and as a collection of mean streets
that aren’t necessarily kind to an openly gay teenager. Working
once again with his brother, writer-director Peter Bratt — the two
previously collaborated on 1996’s Follow Me Home — Benjamin
Bratt gives one of the most intense and nuanced performances of
his career. Che contains multitudes, from his personal struggles
to his devotion to his Latino roots, and Bratt brilliantly captures
this complex and fascinating character. La Mission balances its
hard-hitting family drama with a joyous sense of place, bringing
San Francisco’s Mission District — where the Bratt brothers grew
up — to vivid life against a soundtrack of R&B favorites and an
engaging look at lowrider culture. Boasting a talented ensemble
of actors, the film tells a very human story against a colorful backdrop.
It’s a heartfelt tale of love and hate, family and community,
redemption and resentment, and homophobia and tolerance, with
characters that will stay with you. 117 mins. Peter Bratt and
Benjamin Bratt in attendance.

8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION
Thursday, April 29 7:00pm
The 2008 battle over Proposition 8 — to overturn the right of same-sex couples to marry in California — was the most expensive campaign
in the state’s history, with $82 million spent by both sides. An overwhelming amount of the “Yes on 8” support came from the
Mormon Church, some in California but a great deal of it coming out of the religion’s home state of Utah. In this poignant and provocative
documentary, directors Reed Cowan — who performed his Mormon mission in Dallas in the early 1990s — and Steven Greenstreet
explore the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its crusade against same-sex marriage in California, Hawaii and elsewhere.
The church’s stridently anti-gay attitudes have a literal price tag — with members urged to donate huge amounts of money to anti-marriage
campaigns — as well as a spiritual one, as the film explores the epidemic of gay teen suicide among Mormons, and gay Mormon
teens forced to live on the street after being kicked out by their parents. While the LDS church tried to downplay its role in the Proposition
8 battle, political consultant Fred Karger received secret memos and documents highlighting the tens of millions of dollars that the church
funneled into California during the campaign. 8: The Mormon Proposition made the news while it was still in production, when director
Cowan got a Utah state senator on tape saying that gays were “the greatest threat” to America today. The film has also ruffled feathers
by focusing on a newly-married gay husband who is the descendant of one of the church’s polygamous founders. Whatever your take on
same-sex marriage, 8: The Mormon Proposition — featuring narration by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) — takes
a provocative look at the separation of church and state and at what happens when a tax-exempt body is allowed unfettered access to
the political process. 80 mins. Director Reed Cowan in attendance.

JACKIE CHAN IN
SHINJUKU INCIDENT
Thursday, April 29 7:00pm
Jackie Chan stars as Nick (Steelhead), a destitute Chinese peasant who arrives in Tokyo seeking his long-lost love Xiuxiu. Teaming
up with fellow refugees Jie (Daniel Wu) and Old Ghost (Lam Suet), they perform the grueling work no one else will and find themselves
caught between the cops and Yakuza, existing in a no mans land on the streets of Shinjuku. When Nick discovers that Xiuxiu
has adopted a Japanese identity and married Eguchi, a Yakuza chief, he forms an uneasy alliance with him and reluctantly agrees to
become an assassin in order to secure a work permit and help his fellow immigrants. But when Nick finds out his former compatriots
are being used to front the Yakuza’s drug business, Nick feels obligated to bring Eguchi down. Award-winning Hong Kong writer/director
(and actor) Derek Yee gives Chan a solid dramatic role and departure from his usual heroic portrayals in this fast-paced, thoughtprovoking
crime melodrama. 114 mins. Filmmakers in attendance.


8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION
Thursday, April 29 7:00pm
The 2008 battle over Proposition 8 — to overturn the right of same-sex couples to marry in California — was the most expensive campaign
in the state’s history, with $82 million spent by both sides. An overwhelming amount of the “Yes on 8” support came from the
Mormon Church, some in California but a great deal of it coming out of the religion’s home state of Utah. In this poignant and provocative
documentary, directors Reed Cowan — who performed his Mormon mission in Dallas in the early 1990s — and Steven Greenstreet
explore the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its crusade against same-sex marriage in California, Hawaii and elsewhere.
The church’s stridently anti-gay attitudes have a literal price tag — with members urged to donate huge amounts of money to anti-marriage
campaigns — as well as a spiritual one, as the film explores the epidemic of gay teen suicide among Mormons, and gay Mormon
teens forced to live on the street after being kicked out by their parents. While the LDS church tried to downplay its role in the Proposition
8 battle, political consultant Fred Karger received secret memos and documents highlighting the tens of millions of dollars that the church
funneled into California during the campaign. 8: The Mormon Proposition made the news while it was still in production, when director
Cowan got a Utah state senator on tape saying that gays were “the greatest threat” to America today. The film has also ruffled feathers
by focusing on a newly-married gay husband who is the descendant of one of the church’s polygamous founders. Whatever your take on
same-sex marriage, 8: The Mormon Proposition — featuring narration by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) — takes
a provocative look at the separation of church and state and at what happens when a tax-exempt body is allowed unfettered access to
the political process. 80 mins. Director Reed Cowan in attendance.


CARPET RACERS: A CRASH COURSE
Texas Filmmakers Showcase
Thursday, April 29 7:30pm

Welcome to the 99%-male-dominated world of “RC” -- not the cola -- radio controlled cars. Or more accurately, professional carpet road
course drivers -- carpet racers. Filmmaker (and TCU grad) Jay Thames’ and Mike Rooney’s three-year journey into the subculture of
grown men (and women) who never lost their love for the childhood hobby offers a fascinating glimpse into the high-voltage world of
racing cars the size of shoeboxes around tracks the size of tennis courts -- all at 60 mph! Beyond the professional racing events (the
Snowbird Nationals in Orlando and the International Indoor Championships in Las Vegas), and the filmmaker’s hilariously inept attempts
to control the tricky cars, this fun, family-friendly documentary also asks when do our hobbies become obsessions, and what drives
the drivers in their quest to be the best? Meet professional champ Mike Dumas (in person) and find out. 83 mins. Filmmakers in
attendance.

ONCE FALLEN
Thursday, April 29 7:00pm

Writer/director Ash Adams delivers a gut punch of gravitas in this ambitious narrative feature that follows Chance Ryan (Brian Presley)
and the struggles he faces to assimilate back into society after paroled from prison. Before he can start his new life, Chance must
confront Eddie (Peter Weller), the gambler he owes, Rath (Ash Adams), the crooked cop who won’t let him go, and his father Liam
(Ed Harris), who, through a violent reaction 20 years earlier, changed their lives forever. To further complicate matters, Chance soon
discovers that he is the father of a son he didn’t know he had and is forced to raise after his mother disappears. He finds strength in
his relationships with his aunt Rose (Amy Madigan) and new girlfriend Pearl (Taraji P. Henson), but will Chance be able to reconcile the
events of his past and escape the dangerous machinations of shady prison politics? In Adams’ intricate screenplay, there are no easy
answers. Also featuring Chad Lindberg, Alison Eastwood, Sharon Gless and Rance Howard. 93 mins. Writer/director Ash Adams
in attendance.

ONDINE
Friday, April 30 7:00pm

Master filmmaker Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire,
Breakfast on Pluto, Mona Lisa) returns to the familiar landscapes
of his native Ireland and teams with visionary and sure-handed
cinematographer Christopher Doyle (Rabbit-Proof Fence, The
Limits of Control) to craft a lyrical story imbued with myth and fantasy.
Syracuse (Colin Farrell) is a simple fisherman who, one day
while trawling off the jagged Irish coast, discovers a beautiful and
mysterious woman in his fishing nets. Initially presumed dead by
the unsuspecting Syracuse, the woman, Ondine (Alicja Bachleda)
comes to life before his very eyes. Syracuse’s ailing, yet irrepressible
daughter, Annie (Alison Barry), possesses a profound
attachment to folklore, and convinces her disenchanted father
that Ondine may be myth come true – a woman sent to change
his life. Ondine is a powerful force of hope and redemption, and
she and Syracuse fall passionately in love. However, the external
forces of the world soon intervene, as a terrible car accident and
the return of a dark and violent figure from Ondine’s past threaten
the stability of the beautiful fable their life has become. Suffused
with a rich story telling tradition, and featuring a haunting score
by Sigur Ros’ Kjartan Sveinsson, Ondine weaves a truly unforgettable
spell. 111 mins. Actress Alicja Bachleda in attendance.

HIS NAME IS BOB
Texas Filmmakers Showcase
Friday, April 30 7:00pm

He’s one of the most well-known and polarizing personalities in
town, often called the most famous wandering person in East
Dallas. The myths and legends surrounding him are numerous
-- tales of a mother who hit him over the head with a frying pan, of
a childhood spent in a mental institution, of a missing $86 million
inheritance. What is undeniable is that Bob is a 57-year-old man
who has spent his life defying the odds. He has been betrayed,
abandoned, beaten and abused, lived for years on the streets, yet
through all of this, Bob refused to live in fear. Filmmakers Lisa
Johnson, J. Sebastian Lee and Heather Lee spent six years discovering
Bob’s amazing life story, and reveal, in the process, the
shameless manner in which we treat our homeless citizens, and
the community which became a family of sorts for Bob. 108 mins.
Filmmakers Lisa Johnson, J. Sebastian Lee, Heather Lee and
Bob and other guests of the film in attendance.

STELLINA BLUE
Friday, April 30 7:00pm

Stellina Martin (native Texan Christina Mauro) leads a reclusive
and mundane existence; and that is exactly how she likes it.
Her life takes a drastic turn when she is shot during a failed robbery
attempt and left on the brink of death. After waking from a
month-long coma, Stellina is given a second chance at life and
an extraordinary gift that allows her to help and heal the people
around her. The normally reclusive Stellina now finds herself
having a tangible impact on the lives of those around her, while
discovering her own life for the first time. Writer/director Gabriel
Scott’s feature debut is a charming mix of harsh reality and magic,
beautifully brought to life by Mauro. Also starring Chris Kramer
and featuring a terrific supporting cast. 95 mins. Producer/
actress Christina Mauro in attendance.

ESREFPASALILAR
Friday, April 30 9:30pm

Adapted from a popular Turkish play and inspired by a true
story, Esrefpasalilar refers to the tough young men from Izmir’s
Esrefpasa neighborhood. In this comedy/drama, two friends
Tayyar, a mafia leader, and Davut, a neighborhood coffee shop
owner, fall for the same woman, Eleni. Tayyar marries Eleni, but
she is actually in love with Davut. Aware of the situation, Tayyar
decides to take revenge on his rival by encouraging Davut’s foster
son Nusret to become involved with the mafia. But when a hodja
(a Muslim religious teacher) is appointed to the derelict neighborhood
mosque, the course of events take another turn. Turkish
with English subtitles. 100 mins. Filmmakers in attendance.

SHORT FILM COMPILATION
TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE
Friday, April 30 9:30pm

A compilation of black-hearted short films from filmmakers
here and across the pond. From festival fave Bill Plympton’s
Plymptoons come three outrageous new animated comedies
- The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger and Horn Dog,
plus the satirical, subversive Santa: The Fascist Years. From
the U.K., we present Brett Foraker’s wicked thriller Natural
Selection, which pits youth and zeal against experience and
guile. Writer/director Scott Tuft presents actress Julie Hagerty
(Airplane!) in an unexpected role as intrepid cosmetics saleswoman
Dorris Hallens, who has so much more to offer in Make
Up. And from Dallas’ Eric Steele comes the story of a young
businessman from New York who visits a local diner in Topeka
(Kansas) that serves up a little culture clash with the coffee. Total
program time approx. 63 mins. Filmmakers in attendance.

DIRTY MARTINI AND THE NEW
BURLESQUE
Friday, April 30 9:30pm

NYC’s neo-burlesque scene is the hot ticket for celebs, locals
and tourists alike. Gary Beeber’s wildly entertaining documentary
explores the outrageous world of the “new burlesque” and the
performers who created it. Inspired by such burlesque icons as
Lili St. Cyr, Sally Rand, Dee Milo, and cult film star Tura Satana,
Miss Dirty Martini (a classically trained dancer), Jo Boobs and
other stars pay homage to their exotic idols while struggling to
pay the bills and find stable relationships. The film provides
an in-depth exploration of the relationship between sex work,
burlesque, and feminism as it chronicles the rise of Martini, as
well as Julie Atlas Muz, the World-Famous *BOB*, Bambi the
Mermaid, Tigger!, Scotty the Blue Bunny, and many others, from
drag shows and Coney Island side-stages to international stars.
An eye-opening look at the evolution of burlesque from titillating
striptease to a new form of performance art and political satire
that is being called “the new punk rock.” 60 mins. Director Gary
Beeber and Jo Weldon (aka Jo Boobs) in attendance.

THE 48 HOUR FILM PROJECT
Texas Filmmakers Showcase
Group A - Saturday, May 1 5:00pm
Group B - Saturday, May 1 7:00pm
Group C - Saturday, May 1 9:00pm

The 48 Hour Film Project’s 2010 World Tour kicks off in Dallas this year with
three dozen filmmaking teams competing for prizes and bragging rights.
Dallas is one of 80 cities worldwide participating in the Project’s expanded
tour, with a record 3,200 filmmaking teams worldwide expected to take part
in the planet’s largest timed filmmaking competition.
The finished films will be screened during the Festival on Saturday, May 1st,
and the Awards program will take place on Sunday, May 2nd.
The race weekend takes place April 23-25. Each team will be given a
genre, a character, a prop and a line of dialogue to incorporate into their film.
Filmmakers supply the inspiration, adrenaline and caffeine needed to accomplish
a completed work (between 4-7 minutes in length) in 48 hours.
The audience selects its favorite and a local panel of film professionals will
select the Best Film and other category award winners.
Final registration is open until April 21 (or until full, whichever occurs first).
For registration and other information, please visit
www.48hourfilm.com/dallas

SPECIAL WHEN LIT
Saturday, May 1 5:00pm

Remember the days when you had dinner at home and went outside the house for
entertainment? Its just the opposite nowadays -- We eat out and stay home to watch
TV, play video games and spend hours on the computer -- and something wonderful
was lost when we traded communal arcades and other group entertainments for those
isolating activities. Brett Sullivan’s engrossing rediscovery of a dying American icon
-- the pinball machine -- a product of the mechanical and electrical age, the quintessentially
American invention that swept the world, is also a fascinating snapshot of
American pop culture. Special When Lit features interviews with fans, collectors,
designers and champion players from across the globe who share a world many
thought no longer existed, introducing us to a cast of characters who have spent
thousands of dollars and hours playing and collecting these fascinating machines, and
who try to explain the “lure of the silver ball.” 92 mins.

BREAKING THE PRESS
Texas Filmmakers Showcase
Saturday, May 1 5:00pm

Writer-director Andrew Stevens presents this contemporary retelling of the Biblical
story of the prodigal son set in the world of Texas high school basketball. Coach
Joe Conaghey (Drew Waters, "Friday Night Lights") struggles to turn his school’s
team into a winning one, a task made difficult by the infighting and showboating of
his two adopted sons (Tom Maden and Chad Halbrook). Filmed entirely in the Dallas
area, produced in partnership with Charlie McKinney, Mark Cuban, Mike Modano
and their Heroes Foundation, and with support from Highland Park United Methodist
Church and Cornerstone Ministry, Breaking the Press features several established
Dallas actors, including Burton Gilliam, Morgana Shaw, Brian Massey, and Matthew
Tompkins. (Look for Donnie Nelson from the Dallas Mavericks and basketball greats
Rolando Blackman and Popeye Jones.) 99 mins. Director Andrew Stevens and
other guests of the film in attendance.

THE SQUARE
Saturday, May 1 7:00pm

Siblings Joel (screenwriter) and Nash (director) Edgerton spin an intricate yarn of
love, deception, blackmail and murder in their first feature film collaboration. The
Square hinges upon the adulterous relationship between Ray (David Roberts) and his
troubled, much younger neighbor Carla (Claire van der Boom). When Carla presents
Ray with the proceeds of her controlling husband Greg’s (Anthony Hayes) criminal
fortune, they devise a plan to take the money and run. However, their subsequent
plot to hire a professional arsonist becomes a fatal error, and their plans are soon
thwarted by mysterious blackmail attempts threatening to expose their secret. As the
blackmail efforts intensify, Ray and Carla must examine the nature of their relationship
and the lengths they are willing to go to in order to protect it. Nominated for seven
Australian Film Institute awards, this stylish neo-noir thriller is rife with suspense
and gut wrenching plot twists that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats.
Screened with Nash Edgerton’s award-winning short film Spider. 114 mins. Director
Nash Edgerton in attendance.

THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION
Saturday, May 1 7:00pm

“My parents always traveled in style” Anthony Hopkins’ character says in The City
of Your Final Destination. And so it is with Merchant Ivory films -- a rich journey that
completely transports the viewer. Based on Peter Cameron's novel, the film follows
Omar Razaghi (Omar Metwally, Rendition), an American graduate student whose
fellowship aid is entirely contingent on writing an authorized biography of deceased
Latin American author Jules Gund. When Gund’s estate unexpectedly denies Omar’s
request for authorization, Omar’s overbearing girlfriend Deirdre (Alexandra Maria
Lara, Control) persuades him to travel to Uruguay and convince the executors to
change their position. In Uruguay, Omar is reluctantly received by the eclectic cast
of characters inhabiting the isolated, declining Gund estate: There’s Jules’ widow,
Caroline (Laura Linney); his mistress Arden (Charlotte Gainsbourg); Arden’s daughter,
Portia; Jules’ brother, Adam (Anthony Hopkins) and Adam’s partner, Pete (Hiroyuki
Sanada). Omar’s arrival complicates the increasingly fragile relations of the estate’s
occupants, causing everyone, including Omar, to contemplate and reconsider their
individual circumstance and fate. Directed by James Ivory and featuring terrific performances
from a stellar ensemble cast. 118 mins. Hiroyuki Sanada in attendance.

Salute to
Hiroyuki Sanada

U.S. audiences first met Hiroyuki Sanada when
he beat up Tom Cruise in 2003’s epic The Last
Samurai, but in his native Japan, the actor has
been in front of the camera since age five.
Trained in the martial arts and stunts, as well
as the theater arts, Sanada has garnered an impressive list of awards (he was
nominated for the Awards of the Japanese Academy six times and won twice) and
accolades (he played with the Royal Shakespeare Company and was awarded
the MBE). More recently, Sanada has been seen on-screen in Merchant Ivory’s
The White Countess, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, in Chen Kaige’s The Promise,
with Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 3 and as Dogan, the temple master, in the final
season of “Lost.” As we celebrate his latest performance in The City of Your Final
Destination, the Festival is honored to welcome Hiroyuki Sanada to Dallas.

HAPPINESS RUNS
Saturday, May 1 9:30pm

Three of our favorite filmmakers -- Adam Sherman, Tatiana Kelly and Stephen Israel
-- return to the festival with Sherman’s semi-autobiographical story of a neglected teen
growing up on a commune. The film has been described as a “Woodstock meets Lord
of the Flies” tale, but this hauntingly imagined, multigenerational story is much more
complex. The talented young cast features Mark L. Young as Victor, a troubled, isolated
teen who has grown up in the Utopian hippie commune. When childhood sweetheart,
Becky (Hanna Hall), returns to take care of her ailing father, Victor makes plans
to escape with her from what has become little more than a polygamous cult. Friends
Chad (Jesse Plemons “Friday Night Lights”) and Rachel (Laura Peters) are also leading
meaningless lives of self-destruction, having been raised with no boundaries or
discipline of any kind. The preoccupied adults are oblivious to the teens’ unchecked
behavior, which escalates to violent and tragic conclusions, making escape a matter
of life and death. Also starring Andie MacDowell as Victor’s thoroughly indoctrinated
mother, Mark Boone Junior (“Sons of Anarchy”) as his disconnected father, and Rutger
Hauer as the enigmatic cult leader Insley. Warning for scenes of nudity, sexuality and
drug use. 88 mins. Filmmakers in attendance.

UPPER HAND
Texas Filmmakers Showcase
Saturday, May 1 9:30pm

Michael Nolan’s directorial debut Upper Hand follows a protagonist, known simply as
Stranger (played by Nolan), who rides into Dallas unannounced on his motorcycle
looking for work in the seedy criminal underground. In order to earn the trust of the
various gangs in the city, Stranger submits himself to physically demanding, often
violent pursuits. Once accepted, Stranger seeks to exploit and eradicate the gang
violence with skillful manipulation. Cinematographer Blake Clifton renders an exquisite,
otherworldly Dallas that is truly mesmerizing in this unconventional noir thriller.
95 mins. Filmmakers in attendance

DOWN FOR LIFE
Sunday, May 2 7:00pm

Writer/director Alan Jacobs’ (American Gun, USAFF 2002) extraordinary
new film is based on the true story (serialized in the New
York Times’ “Essays in Search of Happy Endings”) of a young
woman trying to leave a gang. The riveting, painful and hopeful
story takes place over the course of a single extreme day in the
life of fifteen-year-old Latina gang leader Rascal (Jessica Romero
in a star-making debut; cast in the lead role despite not being a
professional actress). Set in South-Central Los Angeles, on the
way to school, a violent encounter with a rival gang of African
American girls sets off a chain of events that push Rascal’s
already volatile home life to the breaking point. Rascal’s mother
(Kate del Castillo) doesn’t know her daughter is in a gang, much
less its leader. A compassionate teacher (Danny Glover) wants
to help Rascal leave her gang life, while the male gang members
who control the girls leave little doubt about what will happen if
she tries to leave, because once in the gang, you are “down for
life.” One of the year’s most compelling and surprisingly redemptive
films. 92 mins. Director Alan Jacobs, producer Scott
William Alvarez and actress Jessica Romero in attendance.

LETTERS TO JULIET
Sunday, May 2 7:00pm

Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) is Sophie, a young American
fact-checker for The New Yorker and aspiring writer who travels
to Verona, Italy for a vacation with her chef fiance (Gael Garcia
Bernal). In the home of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers
Romeo and Juliet, Sophie discovers a letter written to Juliet 50
years ago by a heartbroken woman named Claire (Vanessa
Redgrave). With the help of the “Secretaries of Juliet,” a group
of worldly Italian women who answer the lovelorn letters regularly
left under Juliet’s fictional balcony in the city square, Sophie
decides to try to reunite the long-lost lovers. Sophie’s plan sets
off a chain of events that brings love into both women’s lives,
as well as a number of unexpected outcomes. Also starring
Christopher Egan (“Kings”) as Redgrave’s protective grandson.
Director Gary Winick (13 Going on 30, Pieces of April, The Tic
Code, USAFF 1999) deftly brings the charming tale to life. 105
mins. Filmmakers in attendance.

SHORT FILM AWARDS PROGRAM
Sunday, May 2 7:00pm

Join our National Jurors for announcements and screening presentations
of this year’s winning short films as well as the winners
announcements for the 48 Hour Film Project.
Awards are given to the best in Animation, Fiction, Non-Fiction
and Experimental categories as well as awards for family fare,
Texas ties, student achievement, and more. Meet the Grand
Prize Winner (who is notified the day prior and flown to Dallas for
the show) as he or she presents the winning entry and receives
the cash award.
USAFF prize winners who were recognized early in their careers
include Alexander Payne, Todd Haynes, Jessica Yu, Wes
Anderson, Bill Plympton, Michael Almereyda, John Lasseter, and
many more. The USAFF is an Academy-qualified program and
many films recognized here have gone on to be nominated for
the Academy Award. Recent Competition-winning films that were
qualified for Academy consideration include 2007’s Academy
Award winner West Bank Story and 2010’s nominated Kavi.




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