Friday, May 11, 2012
LITTLE ROCK The sixth annual Little Rock Film Festival is almost upon us. The festival just announced its opening-night film, and for the first time it’s going with a documentary.
Jonny Mars’ America’s Parking Lot will screen at 7 p.m. May 29 at the Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock with the director in attendance. A tailgatetheme street party catered by Whole Hog Cafe will follow the screening.
The film follows two hardcore Dallas Cowboys fans as they attempt to hold on to their tailgating spot as the Cowboys move into the first ever billion-dollar stadium.
As one of the festival programmers, I’ve already had the chance to see the film, and I was impressed by its warts-and-all exploration of fandom. It compares favorably with Morgan Spurlock’s recent documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope that examined the annual geek pilgrimage that takes place in San Diego. Where Comic-Con glamorizes the fan culture, Parking Lot humanizes it.
I’m not much of a football fan, but the film’s realistic treatment of its subjects and exploration of the sociopolitical components of the story really won me over. By the end I was even “ready for some football.”
In addition to announcing its opening night film, the festival has announced the special guests attending this year. Being honored with the festival’s Diamond Award for extraordinary contributions to the field of filmmaking and Arkansas are natives Jay Russell and Jeff Nichols.
Russell, from North Little Rock, began his career making commercials for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism before directing Hollywood crowd-pleasers like My Dog Skip and Ladder 49 with Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta.
Nichols filmed his debut film Shotgun Stories and his most recent feature Mud in Arkansas. (Mud, his followup to the award-winning Take Shelter, will premiere at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.)
Russell and Nichols will also participate in a panel discussion of their craft with filmmakers at a time to be announced.
Lea Thompson, known for her roles in films like Back to the Future and Some Kind of Wonderful, is also expected at the festival, which will screen her new film The Trouble With Truth. (The film’s director, Jimmy Hemphill, will also be in attendance.)
Thompson and her husband, director Howard Deutsch, were featured panelists at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute’s inaugural Film Forum in March.
Dallas Cowboys season tickets are expensive, but an all-access Gold Pass to the festival is only $250 and gets you into everything — films, parties, panels, and award ceremonies. A Silver Pass ($100) will get you into all films, panels and parties except for the closing-night gala and award ceremony, the filmmaker lounge and Gold Pass only afterparties. A Bronze Pass ($40) gets you into all screenings except the opening-night film but does not grant access to any panels, parties, or award ceremonies or galas.
The closing-night gala will be held at the Clinton Presidential Center at 6 p.m. June 3. Tickets are $75.
For more updates on the Little Rock Film Festival including schedules, news and announcements or to buy tickets and passes, go to littlerockfilmfestival.org. The website has a menu for connecting with the festival on Twitter and Facebook.
Levi Agee is a programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival. E-mail him at:
MovieStyle, Pages 37 on 05/11/2012