DIFF 2015 Recap: A Few Films That May Have Flown Under Your Radar

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headerColey Clay // Film Critic

Summing up a successful film festival is a difficult task, especially when the events are as eclectic as the ninth annual Dallas International Film Festival.

DIFF honored over 150 films from 32 countries in just 11 days. But, this is a great problem to have, especially in the carefully curated hands of the Dallas Film Society. Not to mention the countless red carpets, key notes and the Dallas Star Awards, honoring talents such as Blythe Danner (appearing in I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS), John Landis (THE BLUES BROTHERS), and filmmaking partners Phil Lord and Chris Miller (THE LEGO MOVIE), who were bestowed with the Texas Avery Award for achievement in animation.

Now, of course, it’s impossible to see the majority of the films screened, but this is one half of notable projects we saw at the fest, and a few films that may have slipped under the radar.

23871675209908414RAIDERS! THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FICTION FILM EVER MADE

Don’t worry about the tongue-tying title that has no regards for brevity, RAIDERS! is a sweet little nugget about the passion that goes into filmmaking. It’s a wonderful documentary that gets off to a rocky start about a group of teens in the ’80s who do a shot-for-shot remake of the iconic film RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

But, after the directors Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen establish the narrative, the film turns into a heartfelt homage to youth and film fandom.

You can read our full review here.

238716752099083107 CHINESE BROTHERS

A peculiar film, but a quirky one that swarms its way into your heart by way of a misanthropic quick lube attendant (Jason Schwartzman). Texas based filmmaker Bob Byington creates a film that’s difficult to completely grasp, but his witty script and the low-key delivery of Schwartman make this film one of the best independent releases of the year.

An adorable pooch can add level of emotional resonance to a film. Byington and Schwartzman decided to feature some chuckle worthy interactions between Schwartzman and his real-life French Bulldog, “Arrow Schwartzman,” to this irresistibly truthful indie picture.

23871675209908404THE OUTFIT (SHORT)

With the popularity of TimeHop in the realms of social media most people cringe can find at least one photo of them in a awesomely bad outfit. Well, that problem is taken to the nth degree when a congressmen (AJ Bowen) is being ridiculed by the media for an ensemble that they claim make him look like a homosexual.

At only 11 minutes long, director Yen Ten and writer Don Swaynos put a simple idea into practice that is both relevant and wickedly funny. This clever conceit plays with the importance of image bias in many thought-provoking ways.

23871675209952741THIS ISN’T FUNNY

The only thing filmmaker/star Paul Ashton got right was the title. It’s basically last year DIFF favorite OBVIOUS CHILD told from the male perspective and with less honesty. It follows comedian (Kate Page) who is down and out trying to find her place until she intersects with a dishy guy (Paul Ashton). Annoyance blossoms into love for the two stars through several mundane scenes that try to obtain the semblance of Noah Baumbach, Jim Jarmusch and the legendary Woody Allen.

Even though the film employs several indie comedy clichés, Ashton directs his actors – including Anthony LaPaglia, Danielle Panabaker and Edi Gathegi – to a few genuine moments, but the direct parallels to OBVIOUS CHILD (and others) were too much to overcome.