Four films to watch at AFI Dallas


When filmmaker Topaz Adizes discovered a New York Times story about a young woman entering the Army, inspiration struck. In the article, Adizes found two high school seniors pondering military service. He captured their stories on film and the result is a powerful documentary that confronts America's superpower status and worldwide perception. "It's their story, but in a global context," Adizes says about his first feature. "What they're doing doesn't occur in a vacuum."

A young mattress salesman (Paul Dano) looks to bring meaning to his life by adopting a baby from China, but his plans are derailed by a misguided free spirit (Zooey Deschanel) who ignites romance when she falls asleep in his store. Oh, and there's a homeless hitman stalking our hero. "When you make something like this, people are always trying to make the story straighter," writer-director Matt Aselton says. "The challenge was making sure it stayed a little off-balance."

Growing up, writer-director Steve McQueen was transfixed by Bobby Sands and his impassioned fight for the rights of Republican Army prisoners in Northern Ireland's Maze Prison. McQueen's debut film takes on the explosive clash between prison officials and prisoners, centering on the last six weeks of Sands' life as he unveils his plan for the 1981 Irish hunger strike. "I want to show what it was like to see, hear, smell and touch in the H-block in 1981," McQueen says.

"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead"
Shakespeare, vampires, the Holy Grail and Ralph Macchio as a mafioso boss? To call filmmaker Jordan Galland's debut feature "out there" is an understatement. Asked how he conceived his comedy -- about a womanizer who lands a job directing a production of "Hamlet," somehow linked to an ancient conspiracy involving the Bard, bloodsuckers and the sacred Talisman -- Galland reflects, "That's a good question. What was I thinking?"
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