Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

DocuFest Roundup

Here's what's happening this weekend at Dallas VideoFest's first Docufest, which is 16 documentaries over four days.

published Thursday, October 5, 2017



Dallas — Dallas video guru Bart Weiss is trying something different for this year’s Dallas VideoFest.  “For our 30th anniversary festival, I had to think about how to reinvent what we do, to go another 30 years,” he said at a recent roundtable discussion. “I decided to break it up into mini-festivals, what we’re calling our ‘fall season.’ ”

It started in September with the new season of Frame of Mind (the KERA-TV series featuring works by local filmmakers), with 11 episodes this year. Next is DocuFest, which runs Oct. 5-8 at the Studio Movie Grill on Northwest Highway.

“We’re making it easier this year to see what you want to see,” Weiss says. “Instead of 160 films, we have 16 this year. Instead of three films going on at one time, there’s just one.  More importantly from an audience point of view, you all go to film festivals, so you’ll like what I’m doing here. This is all in one place [only Studio Movie Grill-Northwest Highway in Dallas, instead of multiple venues], so there’s no reason you can’t see the whole thing, which should be kind of nice…in all the films we’re showing that are character-based, these are real characters.  You will love the people that you see.”

DocuFest will be followed by The Ernie Kovacs Award Presentation on Oct. 14, this year honoring Canadian comedy troupe Kids In The Hall.   Here’s a complete list of the Docufest Program, October 5-8, 2017.

Weiss talks more about DocuFest in his two most recent columns for TheaterJones, called FilmNotes. September is here; and October, which focuses on the world of Govenar, is here.




Films start at 7pm


Extraordinary Ordinary People

Dallas “Renaissance Man” Alan Govenar's documentary focuses on the National Heritage Fellowship, awarded annually since 1982. Featuring a breathtaking array of men and women who have been awarded the fellowship, including musicians, dancers, quilters, woodcarvers and more, the film demonstrates the importance of the folk and traditional arts in shaping the fabric of America.  Filmmaker in attendance.


Dare to Be Different

A wonderfully nostalgic look back at WLIR 92.7, the Long Island-based radio station on the cutting edge of music throughout the 1980s.  Filmmaker Ellen Goldfarb in attendance.




Films start at 7pm


Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

“Icon, Immigrant, Inventor.” Alexandra Dean’s film (with a double-meaning title) examines the fascinating story of the legendary Hollywood beauty (Samson and Delilah) who was also a wartime inventor whose work is still a part of today’s communications technology.  Executive produced by Susan Sarandon.


Badass Beauty Queen

Portrait of the controversial and outspoken Miss World Canada, Anastasia Lin. 

Dir: Theresa Kowall-Shipp.  World Premiere.




Films start at 11am


Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

The latest from veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman (Titicut Follies) is a stunning three-hour look at this legendary institution.    Texas Premiere.



Maineland follows the stories of two Chinese high school students who leave their country to attend boarding school in Fryeburg, Maine. While the documentary is primarily a coming-of-age tale, it is also an eye-opening cultural commentary on two seemingly opposite countries.  Dir: Miao Wong.


First Cowboys

Michael Meredith, son of Dallas Cowboys legend Don Meredith, retraces the history of America’s Team, and Dallas, in the turbulent ‘60s.  Features interviews with the surviving original Cowboys and archive footage, including of the infamous “Ice Bowl.” Filmmaker in attendance.


The Islands and The Whales

On the isolated North Atlantic archipelago of the Faroe Islands, the longtime hunting practices of the Faroese are threatened by dangerously high mercury levels in the whales, decimated seabird populations, and anti-whaling activists. Dir:  Mike Day


Bill Nye Science Guy

A famous television personality struggles to restore science to its rightful place in a world hostile to evidence and reason.  Filmmakers David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg in attendance.


Don’t Frack with Denton

The empowering story of how Denton became the first city in Texas to ban the drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) deep in the heart of the oil and gas empire.  Filmmaker Garrett Graham in attendance. (Trailer below.)





Films start at noon

Thelonius Monk: Straight No Chaser

Acclaimed 1988 documentary about the genius jazz pianist by the late filmmaker Charlotte Zwerin (Gimme Shelter).   Executive produced by Clint Eastwood. 


Documentary Shorts Block

Beto Vs. Cruz: The Fight For 2018   Dir:  Steve Mins

Friday Nights in Frederick Dir: Jonathan Quam

Election Night Dir:  Ryan Scafuro

Mono Generation Dir: Kell Troisi

Analog People in a Digital World Dir: Sarah Reyes & Daniel Driensky

Rabbit Hunt Dirs: Ivete Lucas & Patrick Bresnan

Two of Five Million Dirs: Socs & DZ Zavitsanos


Saving Brinton

In rural Iowa, a beloved history teacher uncovers the century-old showreels of one of America's first motion picture impresarios and sets out to premiere the films at the world's oldest continuously operating movie theatre.  Dirs: Tommy Haines & Andrew Sherburne.


Big Sonia

As one of the last surviving Holocaust survivors in Kansas City, Sonia is short (4’8”) but outspoken, one of the few to talk about her WWII experiences. Dir:  Leah Warshawski


Angel Wagenstein: Art is a Weapon

“94 Years, 52 films, 3 revolutions…” As a teenager in wartime Bulgaria, Wagenstein commanded a daredevil Jewish partisan brigade, surviving capture and torture by fascist police. When post-war dreams of a socialist utopia turned to dust, his films became a kind of covert resistance against the brutality of the Stalinist era. 

Filmmaker Andrea Simon in attendance.  Co-presented with Make Art with Purpose and 3 Stars Jewish Cinema.



Executive produced by Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Escapes blazes a wild path through mid-20th-century Hollywood via the experiences of Hampton Fancher — flamenco dancer, actor, and the unlikely producer and screenwriter of the landmark sci-fi classic Blade Runner. (Fancher also penned the story for its sequel, Blade Runner 2049.) A consummate raconteur, Fancher recounts episodes from his remarkable life — matched with a parallel world of film and TV footage wherein Fancher plays cowboys, killers, fops, cads, and the occasional hero. Escapes shows how one man’s personal journey can unexpectedly shape a medium’s future. Dir:  Michael Almereyda (Trailer at top of this story.)


All shows at Studio Movie Grill Northwest Highway (10110 Technology Blvd, Dallas, 76220).  Showtimes are always subject to last-minute change so check for updates. Thanks For Reading

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DocuFest Roundup
Here's what's happening this weekend at Dallas VideoFest's first Docufest, which is 16 documentaries over four days.
by Gordon K. Smith

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