Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dallas International Film Festival - Opening Night

Yes, we are in day 7 of the Dallas International Film Festival, or DIFF as I like to call her, and I have yet to post a blog up to this point. But this is actually a good thing. The festival has been that entertaining. Plenty of good films, panels and red carpet events. Good free alcohol too, but that's besides the point. Lets get this started off right.

Opening night festivities were exactly what they should be for a film festival held in Dallas. Glitzy is the best word that comes to mind. Small but glamorous. We started the night off at the Winspear Opera house for a screening of Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey. If you just rolled your eyes at the thought of an Elmo movie, then you were me a week ago. "An Elmo movie, seriously. This is whats opening DIFF? I don't care how well it did at Sundance, Dallas is a Barney and Jimmy Neutron type of town", I thought.

I have to admit though, I really liked the film and it was a very positive, empowering way to open up the festival. Being Elmo is a documentary about the puppeteer who truly gave Elmo his "voice" and it's a great story of being true to one's self, despite the odds. I highly recommend it, if nothing else for the hilarious behind the scenes footage of Sesame Street outtakes where Elmo goes "diva" when other puppets can't get there shit together on camera.

And a quick word about seeing a film at the Winspear. If you've never been there, then you're probably as frightened at the prospect of seeing Opera as I am. Suffice it say, the Winspear is an amazing structure; a modern masterpiece of architecture that leads itself to so much more then just opera. That joint needs to be seriously utilized during off nights for film showings because even in the upper balcony where I was sitting, I could see and hear as if I was in the middle of modern cineplex theater. The immense size of the place gives an air of grandeur to the exhibition of film. It wouldn't make a bad film suddenly better but it would certainly make it feel like it should be a better film. Why else would you be in those plush seats?

So yeah, Ann Margaret was there to receive a Star Award (If you don't who Ann Margaret is, google her). She was amazingly awkward during her two minute speech. In true Hollywood starlet fashion she showed up wearing over sized dark sunglasses, spoke as if she was trashed and gushed about how much she loved Texas and Dallas. In her words, we Texans are a very polite people and therefore we are "patriotic". Take that communism!

After hearing from Ross Perot, Micheal King, James Faust and other Dallas Film Society figure heads, we were off to the opening night gala (a.k.a. afterparty). Free Stella Artios beer, tasty h'or devours, and plenty of film industry talk. My friend who accompanies me knows everyone at the party so it's non stop introductions and picture taking. I talked to Gary Cogill about his new film company and he jokes about how the picture of him and his film company cohorts looks like a picture of a boyband (which it kind of does). Chris Vogner, film reviewer extraordinaire, tells me that his favorite "Latino" film is El Norte. Great chocolate desserts are passed out which, in my opinion, are so delicious that they're more patriotic then Texans!

But the funniest part of the evening, which I teased in my previous blog, was a conversation I overheard at the Gala. I'm minding my business, enjoying some Barefoot Pinot Nior, when I heard a slightly drunken woman talking in a raised voice somewhere behind me. And she's saying something to this effect:

"I tried getting a hold of your publicist be she never returned my calls. You promised me an interview. What happened. That was so rude!"

The person who is on the receiving end of this says something like:

"I'm sorry I have no idea what you're talking about."

And the response from the miffed woman was something like:

"Whoopi, I talked to you directly about that interview!"

And so of course I turn around...who wouldn't. And I see a small group of people. And there is the slightly tipsy, frustrated woman. And across from her is Whoopi Goldberg. And Whoopi looks confused and amused at the same time. Why was she amused? Because this was not Whoopi Goldberg but a professional impersonator. This is her:

Looks just like Whoopi, right? And yes, the angry woman accusing her did not realize this was just a look-a-like. In fact I turned around just in time to see a friend of the angry woman lean in close to her and point out the fact that this was not the real Whoopi Goldberg. I'm sure she felt quite the fool ... and on the eve of April Fools Day no less.

Apparently, just the kind of stuff that happens at the DIFF. More to come....

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