The annual cycle of celebrating moving pictures kicks off at the beginning of the year—award season launches with the Golden Globes and carries on until the Oscars—but for those at the Dallas Film Society (DFS), celebrating film takes place all year long.
DFS honors films, filmmaking, digital media and their impact on society, recognizing storytellers for their achievements and also providing education programs and community engagement. The nonprofit organization promotes DFW and produces one of the largest film festivals in the Southwest, The Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF).
This year DIFF runs from May 3 – 10, and for the first time, takes place in one central location, Uptown’s West Village, which will promote greater connectivity between attendees, filmmakers, local restaurants and the community. Films will be screened at the West Village Magnolia Theatre, with additional events and experiential activations taking place at the nearby Canopy Dallas Uptown by Hilton and throughout West Village. Sony will host a 4K theater to screen short films and other 4K content, and demo new cameras and emerging technologies. Four Corners Brewery, a major sponsor, is the official beer of DIFF and DFS. Additional sponsors include: Mercury One, Central Market, Lucky Post, Reel FX, Panavision, Dallas Film Commission, EP, Studio Movie Grill, Commerce House, Prekindle, Simple Media and many others.
Johnathan Brownlee, the recently appointed president and CEO of DFS, was instrumental in moving DIFF to West Village as well as setting up a deal where the winning narrative feature film will receive a limited national theatrical release through its partner, Studio Movie Grill. Brownlee and artistic director James Faust are also curating a collection of the festival films to be screened in two Best of Fest mini festivals: Best of Fest Texas and The National Best of Fest, hosted by Studio Movie Grill theaters nationwide.
In addition to enhancing this year’s festival, Brownlee and Maggy Croxville have created the Veterans Institute for Film & Media (VIFM). Croxville, a former Marine, is the managing director, overseeing VIFM’s first offering, Film Basic Training. The program is 12 weeks long and fully sponsored, and provides honorably discharged U.S. veterans unparalleled access to an innovative curriculum taught by working film industry professionals. The institute provides education and resources and prepares them for entry careers in the film and digital media production industries. The program includes four weeks each of classroom instruction, paid internship time and placement with local DFW companies.
Another new program is One Story at a Time, for economically disadvantaged DISD students, giving them an opportunity to “tell and show” their own stories with easily accessible tools, such as smartphones. They curate their films into a community festival and online platform.
To support DFS education programs and year-round events become a member, starting at $50 a year. There is also a new free option. DIFF Passes range from $80 ($10/day) to enter all regular film screenings to the All Access Star Pass for $500, which is inclusive for all events, screening and parties.