Films of Investigative Journalism and Nail Biting Suspense at DIFF 2017
by Sam Iannuzzi
When you want to get your heart pumping while eating popcorn, what better way than to see a movie that has any combination of the following: fights, cars chasing each other, natural disasters, martial arts, and good battling evil. Several films offer the thrill of a good action and suspense movie at this year’s Dallas International Film Festival. There are documentaries that investigate water contamination and the world of undercover journalism’s role in fighting injustice. Not to mention international thrillers from Hong Kong and South Korea in the World Cinema category and a Premier Series offering about a Marine facing tough odds on a tactical mission.
WHAT LIES UPSTREAM
Drinking a glass of water may never be the same once you see this detective story from filmmaker Cullen Hoback. Hoback’s film chronicles his investigation into one of the largest chemical drinking water contaminations in history. Persistent journalism and the need for it in our society are never more evident as some of the shady dealings are uncovered by federal regulatory agencies after years of digging deeper. All of which are topical considering the world climate.
A U.S. Marine sniper Mike, played by Armie Hammer (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Birth of a Nation) is stranded in the desert when something goes wrong with a tactical mission. He must survive without water, communication or GPS with little hope of rescue for days. Additionally, Mike is hunted down by the enemy, must deal with brutal sandstorms, unfriendly animals and a landscape of hidden mines. The struggle to survive gives the soldier time to reflect on his own life and gives him a renewed inspiration to come out of it alive.
CITY OF GHOSTS
The film tells the story of Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), a group of citizen journalists who take great risks in documenting and releasing video, photographs and written testimony of Islamic State atrocities in their home city. Director Matthew Heineman, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary Cartel Man, returns to DIFF with an intimate look at this groups unique approach to combating the evil of ISIS and its effect on their fellow citizens.
News of a major tunnel collapse rocks South Korea as the government frantically rushes to come up with a rescue plan that will minimize the catastrophic potential of the event. Rescue team leader Dae-kyung is tasked with using any means possible to get access to the tunnel as quickly as possible but faces one obstacle after another. Meanwhile, one of the trapped worker’s wives sends him messages of support through one of the only radio stations he can hear while maintaining hope that he will return.
SKY ON FIRE
The chief security officer at a top-secret medical facility finds himself caught in the middle of an explosive battle when a young thief and his accomplices steal a medication with the secret to a potential cure for a deadly disease. After discovering the true origins of the medicine, the officer must decide who the bad guys really are and who he can trust to keep it from falling into the wrong hands to prevent an all-out war.
DALLAS STAR AWARDBILL 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)
L.M. KIT CARSON
DAVID 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.
SHINING STAR AWARDZOEY 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.