First, though, the stars: Helen Hunt will appear in support of her directorial debut Then She Found Me, which will serve as the Opening Night Gala on March 27, and Charlize Theron and Woody Harrelson will walk the red carpet for the closing night presentation, Battle in Seattle. Sometime in between, Robert De Niro and Barry Levinson will come out hustling for their latest, What Just Happened? Special awards will be given to Hunt, Theron, Jack Lemmon (in care of the late actor's widow, Felicia Farr), Mickey Rooney (?!), and Todd Wagner.
AFI Dallas established itself on the local social calendar last year as a premium civic-boosting event. That's good for the city, but as a film buff, I'm glad to see more international films in the narrative competition, more docs, an expanded and ace-looking section devoted to music docs ("Deep Ellum Sounds"), an entirely recommended six-film "Mavericks" section (featuring the French Chrysalis and the Japanese Vexille), and a ton of shorts. There's a fair share of titles that are dragging around lukewarm notices (see What Just Happaned? above), but I'm glad that local audiences will have a chance to decide for themselves. Cinematical will be covering the festival, which begins on March 27 and runs through April 6.