DIFF showcased diversity in film


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John Landis, the director of 1978 Animal House, presents his film at the closing night of DIFF. (Photo credit: Rachel Hawkins NDG Staff Writer)

By Rachel Hawkins, NDG Staff Writer

Movie fanatics, indie producers, amateur student filmmakers, and film lovers of all types attended the 12th annual Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) from May 3 to May 10. DIFF was sponsored by The Dallas Film Society, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting film, filmmakers and film education through annual events. The event represented diverse producers from various countries.

Over the past 12 years, the festival has spotlighted more than 1,800 filmmakers from 50 countries. This year, close to 100,000 visitors event enjoyed over 110 films from 25 countries. These films ranged from documentaries to family-friendly, high school and college showcase, narrative, premier, shorts, and full-length films.

While most attendees focused on the more prominent movies presented at DIFF like 1985, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, and Jurassic Park, it seemed that this year other indie filmmakers took the spotlight. We also recommended five films to see at DIFF this year in an earlier story.

During the festival we decided to focus our attention on the indie films and enjoyed the following films:

Emmy-award-winning photographer and filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth entertained everyone as they watched her explore her latest documentary that not only shows her journey, but the global boom-bust economy, the corrupted American Dream, and the human costs of late-stage capitalism, narcissism, and greed. This film explored the lives of students in California, adult film actresses, businesses owners, and Botox-obsessed women.

People’s Republic of Desire, directed by Hao Wu was filmed in China and spoken entirely in Mandarin. The film followed the lives of various online stars whose entire lives and income are based on live-streaming.  The film goes through the live streaming showrooms, which have become virtual gathering places for hundreds of millions, from the rich who lavish performers with digital gifts, to poor migrant workers who worship them.

Co-directed by the Emmy Award-winning filmmaking team Hunter Robert Baker and Jordan Fein, The Blessing follows a Navajo coal miner and single father raising his secretive daughter while also struggling to come with part of the irreversible destruction of their sacred mountain at the hands of America’s largest coal producer. This film was captured over the course of five years and also follows the life of a young Navajo woman discovering her inner identity and managing the expectations of her traditional father.

Ram Nehari, an Israelite filmmaker, presented Don’t Forget Me, a dark romantic comedy. This film follows a couple escaping an eating disorder unit, and together they try to escape from their lives and all that is considered socially acceptable.

Cathy Yan, a Chinese filmmaker showed her first film called Dead Pigs. Based on true events, this film follows the lives of a bumbling pig farmer, a feisty salon owner, a sensitive busboy, an ambitious expat architect and a disenchanted rich girl converge and thousands of dead pigs that float down a river.

Eight Grade, directed by Bo Burnham followed the life of a thirteen-year-old named Kayla, and her last week of eighth grade and the situations she encounters.