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AFI Launching New Texas Film Fest; Cain Artistic Director at AFI Dallas International Film Festival

AFI Launching New Texas Film Fest; Cain Artistic Director at AFI Dallas International Film Festival

In Dallas today (Wednesday), local leaders will join representatives from the American Film Institute to announce the launch of the AFI Dallas International Film Festival, a new ten-day event set to kick-off in Texas on March 22, 2007 (and continue through April 1st). The program will include 150 features and shorts, showcasing a range of international work, according to organizers. Boasting fundraising that has already topped $3.5 million, planners have secured Target as a presenting sponsor for the festival and have raised funds from local philanthropists.

Anchored at Victory Park and Victory Plaza in the city, the event will also present screenings at numerous city venues, including the Majestic Theatre, the Landmark Magnolia and Inwood Theatres, the Angelika Film Centre and the new AMC NorthPark Theaters, while discussions are ongoing with the Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, The Crow Collection of Asian Art and Southern Methodist University, among other sites.

Michael Cain is on board as the event’s artistic director and he said in a statement, “The AFI Dallas International Film Festival is a result of Dallas’s love of film and filmmakers. We welcome this opportunity to work with the Dallas film and film festival community to bring the international cinema spotlight on Dallas.” Cain, who directed the 2006 Sundance Film Festival debut doc, “TV Junkie,” is a Texas native who founded and previously ran the Deep Ellum Film Festival in Dallas (that event is expected to fade as the new fest emerges).

The move to create a major regional event in Dallas will no doubt make a few waves within the city’s film scene, which includes the 36 year-old USA Film Festival in Dallas, and the 19 year-old Dallas Video Festival. While some local festival organizers have bemoaned the move to create the event, organizers of the new fest are bolstered by the rapid growth in the region.

“Dallas is going through a great period of growth and change,” explained AFI Festivals Director Christian Gaines, during the conversation with indieWIRE on Tuesday. “This fits very well with their arts and culture community, we feel like we can contribute to that in a significant way.

AFI trustee Liener Temerlin, founder and chairman of the new festival, in collaboration with Cain from the Deep Ellum fest, invited the American Film Institute to serve as a consultant on the event and it is understood that Temerlin’s team has signed a three-year, $836,000 deal to secure AFI’s name and expertise in launching the new festival.

“Our aim is to provide a strong festival of record for the very best in international films,” explained Gaines, declaring an AFI mandate for high standards and calling this new event, “A film festival that has a committment to quality, not just the films but the quality of the experience.”

For AFI, the event marks its third film festival, joining its AFI FEST, the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival in November and SilverDocs, the AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival held in Silver Spring, MD in June. The American Film Institute also presents year-round film programming in both cities.

“We just want to create something that is solid, with a firm foundation,” Gaines noted, avoiding any hyperbolic statements about the new fest, “We want to create something that people will encounter and depart from feeling satisfied.”

Sponsor Target will present a pair of cash awards to winners of the festival’s competitions. $25,000 each will go to the winners in the narrative and documentary category as part of the event’s Target Filmmaker Awards. Other sponsors already on board include AT&T, American Airlines, Lexus, Neiman Marcus, W Hotel, Brinker International, One Arts Plaza, Jones Day, Aquafina, Central Market, DG Systems, The Richards Group, Richards/Gravelle, RBMM, T:M Interactive, and Temerlin Consulting.

Concluding Gaines added, “[The] mission really is to provide a comprehensive showcsae for the best in international film, to create a snapshot of international film for the southwest region.”

[For more information, please visit the AFI Dallas International Film Festival website.]

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