News Column

Oak Cliff Film Festival kicked off with a toast

June 7, 2013

YellowBrix

June 07--DALLAS The second Oak Cliff Film Festival got under way Thursday night at the Texas Theatre in a very Oak Cliff fashion: two wildly divergent films and some beers.

The beer came first, appropriately enough, when some of the Aviation Cinema crew (the guys who run the festival) and Joe Swanberg, director of the opening film, Drinking Buddies, downed a cold one onstage before the screening of the film.

"I've lived in this city my whole life and I've never been so excited," said Aviation's Eric Steel.

He had reason to be. While the theater wasn't sold out, there was a good crowd for both films showing Thursday. And there weren't the usual festival trappings like a red carpet or lines of photographers to wade through. Instead, there was a DJ spinning tunes in the lobby bar and a band scheduled to play after the movies. Very OC.

Swanberg, from Chicago, was equally effusive about the local beers he had been trying since he got here.

His film is an indie rom-com about two couples who have their friendships and relationships tested when each person is attracted to someone in the other couple. Awkward.

Starring Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson, and Ron Livingston, Drinking Buddies is an enjoyable little film with some strong performances, especially by Wilde and Johnson.

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer was something else altogether. A documentary from Mike Lerner and Maix Pozdorovkin about the controversial female Russian punk band whose members are now doing hard time, it's a fascinating look at political and cultural turmoil and life under Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Pussy Riot's spontaneous demonstrations/performance art pieces -- in which they commandeer a public space wearing balaclavas and singing their anti-authoritarian lyrics -- were what ran them afoul of the law, especially when they did it on the altar of a Russian Orthodox church. While their music doesn't sound all that interesting in and of itself, what they represent -- a Russian spring of sorts -- is fascinating.

The festival continues tonight with a "secret screening" at 9:30 hosted by Dallas filmmaker David Lowery. Rumor has it that it's his new film, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, starring Casey Affleck. That follows Lowery's presenation at 7 p.m. of Robert Altman's classic 1971 western McCabe & Mrs. Miller.

The festival ends Sunday night.

For more information on the festival, go here.

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(c)2013 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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