Family Friendly Films: Saving Land at Home & Traveling to Lands Unknown
by Sam Iannuzzi
A couple of classic American films and two foreign entries are some of the family-friendly offerings at the 2016 Dallas International Film Festival. All four films are stories of triumphant; tales of determination against the odds by humans, animals and creatures not of this world.
American classics LABYRINTH and ET – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL are featured in special event screenings, both on Saturday, April 16. ET, Steven Spielberg’s 1982 alien adventure, is being shown as part of a Salute To The Music of John Williams in an afternoon celebration at the Dallas City Performance Hall beginning at 2 p.m. The Dallas Winds will perform a special concert celebrating the career of Williams, the award-winning composer whose music was featured in many Spielberg classics, including ET. The movie screening is scheduled to begin at 3:15. Stick around after the screening for a special Q&A session with ET star Henry Thomas (Elliott).
LABYRINTH, originally released in 1986, is the cult classic from Muppets creator Jim Hensen featuring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. It will show later the same day during a special outdoor screening sponsored by Whole Foods Market at Klyde Warren Park beginning at 7:30. Come early to participate in our David Bowie look-alike contest!
Family friendly foreign film selections include the narrative feature TAKIM (The Team), by Turkish director Emre Sahin, about a family’s struggle to hang onto a treasured piece of land It is one of the World Cinema collection of films at DIFF this year, and Australia’s ODDBALL from director Stuart McDonald. ODDBALL is based on a true story of an underdog who is actually a dog, a misfit sheep dog who finds his niche very far away from sheep with the help of a farmer and his daughter.
In Spielberg’s E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL Elliott (Henry Thomas) is a troubled young boy who just happens to meet up with an alien accidently left behind by his ship on mission to earth. With the help of his siblings (look for a very young Drew Barrymore) and friends, Elliott makes it his mission to protect ET from the legion of scientists anxious to prod and poke the creature from worlds beyond and help him contact the motherland for a ride back home. A cosmic connection forms between Elliott and his alien guest, and along the way he discovers that a ride home isn’t just desired, it’s needed to keep ET alive. There are many memorable moments, special effects that were ground-breaking at the time, and award-winning music from John Williams. ET is one of those films that most can’t see enough of and those that haven’t seen it absolutely need to, especially with a young person at your side.
In light of David Bowie’s recent death, LABYRINTH serves as further confirmation of the rock star’s many talents. Bowie stars alongside a very young Jennifer Connelly (A BEAUTIFUL MIND) in a fairy tale about a teenage girl fighting time to save the same baby brother she starts out wishing would go away at the beginning of the film. Bowie plays Jareth, the human looking sorcerer who has ruled the goblins for thousands of years. Sarah (Connelly) is a teenage girl dealing with the birth of Toby, her stepbrother, after her mother remarries. The Goblin King kidnaps Toby and gives Sarah 13 hours to solve the labyrinth leading up to his castle. In true storybook fashion, Sarah encounters many interesting characters along the way. None of them are a tin man, a lion, or a scarecrow, but you get the idea.
From Australia, this lighthearted tale is based on a true story about a pure white sheep dog, appropriately named ODDBALL, that just can’t stay out of trouble. He is also happens to be woefully inept at herding sheep. Confined to the farm, Oddball seems out of options until a farmer (Alan Tudyk) and his daughter (Sarah Snook) hear about a penguin sanctuary that is being ravaged by foxes with an appetite for penguins. The locale becomes a sanctuary for penguins and one rambunctiously mischievous sheep dog that is way better at protecting birds than sheep.
In TAKIM brothers Turgay and Tufan are faced with the daunting task of figuring out a way to honor their father’s order to never sell off the family-owned land smack in the middle of an evil construction company’s path to “rebuild Istanbul.” The strong-armed tactics of the construction company cause the brothers and their family much grief. The plot of land in question is actually a for-rent soccer field in the middle of the city. Using their father’s notes on all the local soccer players, they assemble a team to compete in a tournament offering a big payday to the winners, enough to help the brothers out of their jam. TAKIM offers a mix of drama, tenderness and lightheartedness.
DALLAS STAR AWARDOscar-nominated cinematographer Ed Lachman’s selected credits as a cinematographer include the Emmy nominated HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce and films including DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, and the Academy Award nominated film, CAROL.
DALLAS MAVERICK AWARDOur inaugural honoree, director, editor and producer Monte Hellman, has a career that spans six decades. He has exemplified cutting-edge filmmaking across multiple genres, working with budgets, from high-to-low, and with casts featuring stars to complete unknowns.