Monday, April 1, 2013

Dallas International Film Festival Unofficial Survival Guide

When it's your first time going to a film festival, it can be a tad overwhelming. What movies do I see? How do I get from location to location? Where can I find some delicious food? Why is this random person in line talking to me? Reading guides created by locals has helped us in the past with the ins and outs of festing, especially when you're coming from out of town. So, here's our personal guide to making the most out of this years Dallas International Film Festival. 

- Plan enough time between screenings

This should be a given, but I am always amazed at the amount of people showing at the last minute to a screening. Press included. Give yourself at least 45 minutes between screenings and up to 1.5 hours if you have to leave either the Magnolia or the Angelika Dallas during the weekend rush hours. There are always at least ten minutes worth of bumpers before the films, and most films usually have a Q&A after, so most films will start later than their scheduled time. And unless you're from out of town or have limited passes, don't worry about making all of the weekend screenings. Most movies play at least twice, so you can give yourself some downtime by not making your schedule jam-packed. 

- Bring a reusable water bottle plus some vitamin C

This should be a requisite to any nerdy event. You are in a room full of people of varying degrees of hygiene (seriously people, how hard is it to shower?), and you are all sitting next to each other when you have very little to no sleep, add in drinking, and any potentially bad eating, and your immune system will hate you when it's all said and done. So do yourself a favor bring some vitamin C rich foods as well any of those Emergen-C packets. Use this along with a reusable bottle, like one of those trendy aluminum ones. The water bottle is a great way to keep hydrated and quench the thirst without having to resort to buying soft drinks at the concession stand. By the fourth or fifth movie in a row, you will be glad you are well hydrated.

- Have some good snacks on hand for in between films

Let's face it, unless you're at the Alamo Drafthouse, the food in movie theaters is pretty lame. It's all popcorn and junior mints for seven days. It doesn't help that you're sitting the whole day, so go to either Whole Foods at Park Lane, which also has a great bar full of local beer, or Central Market nearby and get yourself some of their bulk snacks like some raw, unsalted almonds, Clif bars, or fruit.

- Mindful of parking. Parking garages are your best friend.

Don't be like a certain someone and get towed, without a cellphone, and having to get your car at 2 am from an impound lot. Be mindful of the parking around a few different venues around the festival. While the main part of the festival will take place in Mockingbird Bird Station and the Magnolia, there's plenty of parking in both of the parking garages. However, Texas Theatre area can be a little tricky.

With the Uptown/Magnolia area, it's very easy to forget that you're in a popular bro-bar area and everybody tows. There is a parking garage, but that can fill up fast on the weekends. If you're going to be going to the Magnolia and can help it, go there for your first screening and either stay there all day or go later to the other venues because trying to find parking for a midnight film there is the biggest pain.

With the Texas Theatre the key is to get there early enough so you don't have to park in the back alley. I've heard (not experienced) of people's cars getting broken into. So just beware, and of course, be mindful if you leave valuables in your car.

And while it's easy to forget due to the movie- haze you will be in, you are dealing with ridiculous Dallas traffic. Leave your self enough time for the trek on the highways.

The festival also provides shuttles for Festival Passes and badge holders to each of the venues including Family Day at Klyde Warren Park. All that information can be found here.

- Talk with people around you. Make new friends.

If there is one thing most enjoyable is the social aspect of movie festivals. This makes sense of course, you are standing and possible sitting next to people for up to three hours at a time. Why not make a friend or two? Obviously you have at least one thing in common, so swap stories of the films you've seen and you might make a new friend/contact. Don't be scared. Movie people seem to be pretty nice all around. 

- Food/Drink suggestions

This the most delicious tip! Even if you're trying to fest on a budget, save some money to try at least one of our suggestions in each area. All these places you can easily walk to from their respective theatres. And of course, this isn't a full list, just a few of our favorites.  

  • Mockingbird Station:
Urban Taco serves great Mexican food. The atmosphere is cozy, and they have a nice shady spot towards the evening in the patio. Try their Chips & Salsa Trio with the Spicy Peanut Habanero dip.

Trinity Hall is a great Irish pub where Damon (@zombiefreak) plays all the time. They have great beer, good atmosphere, and it's literally next to the Angelika. 

Mockingbird Tap Room is a fairly new bar in the area. It has a fantastic beer selection, which includes plenty of local breweries, and if you're feeling dangerous, they have "y.g.h.u.t." (you're going to hate us tomorrow) wings in which you have to sign a waiver to eat. 

Cafe Express is great, and they have a wide variety of food. A lot of it is pretty healthy, plus they have wifi, lots of outlets, and spacious seating. The food can be a tad pricey, but it's a nice option if you want something light to eat. 

  • West Village:
Union Bear is a great pizza place with a fantastic patio and amazing selection of beer, all of which are $6! Checking out this place is a must!

Village Burger Bar is a trendy burger bar right around the corner from the Magnolia with some great gourmet burgers. 

Pop Diner is a brand new diner that has all American food, full bar, and serves breakfast all day. It has a retro atmosphere, plus an arcade to pass the time.

Qdoba is across the street from the Magnolia. 
It's a fast burrito place much like Chipotle and Freebirds that you can pick up some quick food that will sustain you for almost the whole day. 

That's it from us for now. Keep checking us out for all of our full reviews this week and next. We've listed our most anticipated films here and here. You can also follow all of us on twitter at @Wdyms, @AngJonesy, @JaviFuentes, and @zombiefreak. And if you spot us around the festival, say hello!

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