Dallas — I guess anyone writing a column at this time of year has to address the top 10 list. I have never been a real fan of these lists, but people like them. I don't know why. Why do we click on one story with a headline like “The 7 things that…,” as opposed to one that talks about whatever those things were? Has USA Today, Buzzfeed and Letterman’s lists permeated our brains to the point where we crave these darn things? These lists seem arbitrary. I guess they reflect the values of the writer and it gives us a chance to motivate you to see something you might have missed. In some cases, list makers want to hit the Oscar picks; in others, they want to show just how esoteric they can be. I think you can guess where I fit in.
In the first year of the Dallas VideoFest, 1987, I read that film critic Jim Hoberman put the World Series’ Game 6 in his top 10 films of the year. Clearly the game had drama but this was his “up yours!” to the idea of doing a list. I took that as inspiration to do a program about the art and aesthetics of sports television, in a program I called sports as video art.
Let’s get to it. Instead of a Top 10 list of directors and actors and everything else, here are some films that I thought were worth seeing twice:
Ex-Libris, Frederick Weisman’s mediation on the NY Public Library system, shows how a master filmmaker can take his and our times to reveal the hidden world all things library. At a time when truth and knowledge is not supported by the government, having a powerful system that brings knowledge to everyone is critical. At their best documentaries show us these unseen worlds in a way that help us change our perception and perhaps our bias, and here we get to see beyond the stereotype of Marian the Librarian from The Music Man.
The rest of my list contains: A Ghost Story by Dallas’ own David Lowery, The Lost City of Z; Detroit (I preferred this slog into violence over Dunkirk’s), The Florida Project, Baby Driver, Dawson City: Frozen Time, Get Out, and The Salesman. It’s not a great film but there’s great animation in Loving Vincent. I also loved Endless Poetry.
Speaking of Endless Poetry, which showed at the Oak Cliff Film Festival, I wanted to say that it was a great year for people who love film festivals here in Dallas-Fort Worth. From The Dallas International Film Festival to the Asian Film Festival to the Sheed Persian Film Festival there was so much see this year. Several fests changed location: Texas Women’s Fest (really great year) moved to Studio Movie Grill and DIFF moved mostly to the Magnolia. We saw great films at the USA Film Festival, the South Asian Film Festival, the first Tuesday Social Justice Film Festival, the fests at the South Dallas Cultural Center, Flicks by Chicks really grew this year there is a great high school fest called the Pegasus Film Fest, and so many more. When we started, there was just the USA Film Festival, and now this area is blessed by many opportunities to see great film.
» Bart Weiss is an award-winning independent film and video producer, director, editor, and educator who has lived in Dallas since 1981. Mr. Weiss has taught film and video production at Texas A&M’s Visualization Lab, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Austin and Arlington, Dallas Community College District and West Virginia State College. He currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, serves on the Board of Directors of the University Film and Video Association, is a past Vice President of the Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals, founder and past president of the West Virginia Filmmakers’ Guild, and co-founder of VideoFest and the Video Association of Dallas. He has been a video columnist for The Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Times Herald, United Features Syndicate and KERA 90.1 FM Radio in Dallas. Mr. Weiss received an MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University in 1978 and a B.A. from Temple University in 1975. Bart can be reached at email@example.com.
» Film Notes with Bart Weiss runs on the first Monday of the month. (We moved it back a bit for this month, since Weiss was busy with VideoFest on the first weekend of November.)
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