Earlier this year, Jette Kernion and I covered the inaugural year of the AFI Dallas Film Festival. I was quite impressed with the job the AFI Dallas team did in pulling the fest together; they had a pretty solid lineup, especially for their first year. It takes a while to shake out all those kinks, but the staff was knowledgable and enthusiastic, the press office was organized and helpful, and overall they did a solid job. But, the work of a film fest staff is never done, and so, just a few months after the first fest ended, AFI Dallas is already making plans for 2008, and I'm pretty pumped to see what they do with it -- especially now that I'm living in Oklahoma City, just a three-hour drive from Dallas.

Says the fest's senior programmer James Faust (a super-nice guy who, I swear, must have had a cloning machine hidden in the fest office somewhere, because I saw him introduce countless screenings at both main venues), "After a stellar first year, we hope to expand our programming to include more film education, more music, increase our international film content, stretch the imagination with new and amazing animation, and continue to showcase that great Texas hospitality to all of our filmmakers and festival goers."

The expanded programming will be featured in categories including World Cinema, Dallas Premiere Series, Deep Ellum Sounds (that one will focus on music and honors the culture of Dallas' artsy Deep Ellum neighborhood), Mavericks (aka, those films that make you go, "hmm ...."), Family Friendly (self-explanatory), American Visions, and Midnight Specials (those are always a nice break from the more serious fest fare).

Last year's fest had 194 films; this year they're aiming for 225, so all you filmmakers out there itching to get your film into a fest, it's time to shake a leg and submit your film to AFI Dallas. The early deadline (with reduced fees!) is October 26, final deadline is December 7, with decisions announced no later than February 27, 2008. More info is available at the official AFI Dallas website.