The 43rd annual WorldFest kicks off this Friday. The "fiercely independent" film festival is one of the oldest international fests in the country, and the oldest independent festival in the world. Many directors you may have heard of received their first awards here, including Steven Spielberg, John Sayles, and the Coen Brothers.
The festival's signature point of pride is its refusal to accept any entries from major studios, rightly noting that many "independent" entries at Sundance and Cannes are merely the "indie" distribution divisions of companies like Warner Bros and Fox. This stance has unfortunately kept WorldFest from being mentioned in the same breath as other fests, but it definitely makes attending the festival an adventure, as anyone who sat through Patrick Swayze's One Last Dance in 2003 can attest.
However, each year offers a interesting assortment of features and shorts; among those generating buzz this year are:
American: The Bill Hicks Story -- April 14, 5:00 PM
Most people take Hicks' influence on comedy for granted at this point. What people tend to forget is how shitty stand-up comedy was back in the late `80s/early `90s, and what a revelation it was to have a guy up there talking about something other than the kooky differences between men and women and how difficult it was to set your VCR clock. Shot photo-animated style (like Riding Giants), it's the definitive Hicks life story. If you weren't able to see this at SXSW last month, now's your chance.
La Mission -- April 11, 7:00 PM/April 13, 7:00 PM
It's American Me meets Longtime Companion, or something. Benjamin Bratt plays "Che Rivera" (no, really), a pillar of San Francisco's Mission District community who must contend with his son's coming out of the closet. You'd think living in SF his whole life might've prepared the guy for the possibility, but whatever.
Der Rote Baron -- April 12, 5:00 PM
Manfred von Richtofen is credited with an incredible 80 air combat victories, so it's nice that someone decided the guy deserved a greater legacy than that crappy pizza. No word on if the Royal Guardsmen provide the soundtrack. Don says...
The Frost -- April 10, 7:00 PM/April 11, 9:00 PM
This uplifiting little number from Norway (based on Ibsen's Little Eyolf) tells the story of a couple whose marriage falls apart following the death of their son. The arctic setting really does wonders for the mood, too.
The Joneses -- April 9, 7:00PM/April 10, 5:00 PM
At first, I had to double check this was actually an independent film. David Duchovny and Demi Moore star as the mom and dad in a family so perfect, everyone wants to be like them, right down to their clothes and cars. Naturally, the family is a marketing gimmick. We'll have to wait and see The Joneses finally allows us to forgive Moore for Mr. Brooks, or Duchovny for the second X-Files movie.
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All WorldFest screenings are held at the AMC 30 Dunvale, between Westheimer and Richmond.
The Houston Press has ticket packages to the WorldFest for those who are fast with their fingers. E-mail us at email@example.com with your contact info and "WorldFest" in the header.
First one in gets a VIP Gold Pass, good for all films and all Master Classes (worth $395); second one gets a VIP Silver Screen Pass, good for all films (a $150 value) and third gets a VIP Film Buff Pass to any 11 films (A $100 value). Be sure the check the WorldFest website for info on using those passes.