Stories of Corruption, Crime and Punishment at DIFF 2017 | 2017 Dallas International Film Festival—March 30-April 9
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Stories of Corruption, Crime and Punishment at DIFF 2017

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by Alex Garcia Topete

Traffic laws, taxes, the laws of nature, the Constitutions… Whether we want to or not, everyone deals with the forces of law each day. These 5 features at DIFF 2017 examine the perils of legal matters run amok.

On the documentary front, Steve James’s ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL follows the heroic challenge faced by the Sung family, owners of a small bank in New York’s Chinatown, as they confront charges against them during the 2008 mortgage crisis. The bank would be the only institution to be criminally indicted during the entire debacle, bringing into light the different treatment given to the “too big to fail” banks versus the ones “small enough to jail”.

Merging historical fact with cinematic fiction, Jameson Brooks’s BOMB CITY delivers a story that is equal parts legal drama and punk rock manifesto. Set in a small Texas town, punk rock and conservative values collide with criminal consequences and moral double standards.

Fully on the fictional front, Johnny Ma’s OLD STONE stands out as film with a realist, almost documentarian sensibility that soon becomes a cocktail of legal and criminal mayhem set in China. Bureaucratic quagmires and bitter revenge become the central points of this contemporary noir tale.

Set in China as well, Feng Xiaogang’s I AM NOT MADAME BOVARY takes its aim not only at bureaucracy and legal matters themselves, but also at male-female relationships and the power struggle than can arise as a result of male insecurities. At times dark, yet always funny, the film will make audiences both laugh and think harder about the issues at hand.

Finally, Kim Seong-hun’s TUNNEL has the intimacy of a claustrophobic thriller, the rush of an action film, and the charged commentary of a satire. The collapse of a major highway tunnel becomes a survival challenge for one of the victims, a national spectacle with the whole world watches the expensive rescue efforts, and a huge opportunity for the government to divert attention from their corrupt ways.

At the end of the day, films like these remind us how important it is not just to follow the law, but also to question it when legal matters get out of control, or out of the realm of human decency and common sense.


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DIFF2017 HONOREES

DALLAS STAR AWARD

Bill Paxton BILL PAXTON (POSTHUMOUSLY)

Bill Paxton was an award-winning actor and filmmaker from Texas. In 1992, he landed his first leading role in ONE FALSE MOVE. Paxton went on to star in several hit films including ALIENS (1985), APOLLO 13 (1995), TWISTER (1996) and TITANIC (1997)

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L.M. KIT CARSON
MAVERICK AWARD

David Gordon Green star awardDAVID GORDON GREEN

This year’s L.M. Kit Carson Maverick Award Honoree is writer/director David Gordon Green. David Gordon Green’s debut feature, GEORGE WASHINGTON (2000) won the Discovery Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and his second feature, ALL THE REAL GIRLS (2003) received a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

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SHINING STAR AWARD

Zoey Deutch ZOEY DEUTCH

This year’s Shining Star Award Honoree is Zoey Deutch. Zoey Deutch is an actress known for VAMPIRE ACADEMY (2014), EVERYBODY WANTS SOME! (2016) and WHY HIM? (2016). Most recently, Zoey Deutch starred in two films selected at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, REBEL IN THE RYE and BEFORE I FALL.

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