An interview rundown with filmmakers and actors from some of AFI Dallas’ standout movies.
For a second year festival, AFI Dallas has been putting on quite a show. With over 250 films showing over the course of 11 days, the Fest offers a little bit of something for everyone, ranging from lesser known indie fare to star-driven projects with the likes of Robert DeNiro, Charlize Theron, Helen Hunt, Sam Rockwell, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood, Mischa Barton, Bruce Willis and tons more. Did I mention that Public Enemy has also performed, Bulls-Eye the Target dog was on display at a party and a chimpanzee was even seen wondering around the press room yesterday? All true. Crazy stuff!
The stars and filmmakers have descended on The Lone Star state for the past week and we’ve been doing our best to see as many movies and interview as many people as possible.
In Today’s Part One of our AFI Dallas Coverage we will spotlight five films playing here at the festival. We were able to garner exclusive interviews for these projects, so we’ll let the filmmakers and stars tell you about the movies they are here to show.
Director David Modigliani
On the film: “It’s a doc about the town of Crawford, Texas and the 705 people that live there and what happens when George W. Bush moves in in 1999 just a couple of months before he announces his candidacy. [He] wins the presidency and takes this tiny, one stoplight town on an incredible rollercoaster ride. It’s a story with some very dynamic characters and the way their lives are impacted by his kind of creation of this folksy, small town guy and his sort of use of the town for political stagecraft.”
“It was very exciting for [the town] early on. The high school band went to the inaugeration and played. Every store on Main Street was sold the day that he announced he was moving in. But by 2005 and you have protesters showing up and counter-protesters and you have 20,0000 people in a 700 person town and at that point things got pretty dramatic. It’s been a real boom and bust for them.”
On the festival: “We premiered at South By Southwest just a couple weeks ago. This is our second festival. It’s really exciting. We got some great reviews in Variety and we got a standing ovation at South By Southwest. This is my first film, so it’s three years of work and its been very satisfying...”
Director Tom McCarthy
On the film: “The Visitor is my second film. My first film was a movie called The Station Agent. I had a great time. We shot in New York City, which was a lot of fun. As a smaller budgeted film, it was quite challenging, but we had a wonderful cast led by Richard Jenkins and I worked with a lot of the same crew and we’re really happy with the result.”
On the festival: “We premiered at the Toronto Film Festival which is where we sold it to Overture. Then we premiered it at the Sundance Film Festival when Geoff Gilmore invited us to come. It was a film that he felt very strongly about. And now we’re going city to city with it. The film opens in New York and Los Angeles on April 11th and then here in Dallas on May 2nd.”
Star Richard Jenkins
On his character: “I play Walter Vale who is a Global Economics Professor who is kind of going through the motions. His wife died seven years ago and he’s sent to New York to present a paper. He goes to his apartment that they’ve kept over the years and he finds two people living there - a young man from Syria and his girlfriend from Africa. They are totally different kinds of people than he’s ever met and they have a profound effect on him.”
Director Amy Redford
On the film: “My movie’s called The Guitar. It was shot in New York and it stars Saffron Burrows, Isaach De Bankole and Paz de la Huerta. It’s about a woman who is forced to confront her mortality. She’s one of the forgotten people of New York and part of that is an unrequited love affair she has with a 1963 Fender Stratocaster. It’s about her awakening and redemption.”
Stars Eden Brolin and Vincent Riverside
Riverside on his character: “I play a father who has broken out of prison to go find his daughter and to go on a journey to locate the mother...”
On working with Brolin: “Josh [Brolin] and I have a theater company and we’ve known each other since we were kids and we wrote a play last year called Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap based on the life of Bon Scott and the play followed the album track by track. So, we’re always coming up with stuff [and] when he wrote it he sent me the script and I love it... As a person who mostly plays cheap bad guys, it was great to have the opportunity for someone to let me play something other than that. Of course it takes a friend who knows what you can do to do that, so it’s just been an exciting, exciting time.”
Brolin on her character: “I play Jasmine who is his daughter and I’m kind of this toughie who’s trying to get around teenage-hood, because she’s sort of starting to deal with that as a 13 year-old girl...”
On working with her dad, Josh Brolin, as director: “He’s so much of a leader to me. He definitely worked with me on this but he let me do a lot of the work developing the character, but as a director he was just amazing and open to new ideas... It was nice... He had just seen this play that I did and it had this monologue and it inspired him to write [this part]...”
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson
Director Alex Gibney
On the film: “It’s about the Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and it takes a wild and wacky look at the great author. It looks at his wild antics, but it also looks a lot at his writing because we wouldn’t really care anything or know anything about him if he hadn’t been one of America’s greatest writers.”
On Hunter S. Thompson: “I wasn’t one of those guys who had read every word but I was a big fan of both of the Fear and Loathing books, so when the opportunity came around after he had commited suicide, I took it.”