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Dallas International Film Festival 2024

2024 marks the 18th iteration of the annual Dallas International Film Festival which ran from April 25-May 2. Why Does the Wilhelm Scream was lucky enough to be in attendance to take in all the different films. Below are a few films we especially hope you'll seek out. To hear our daily coverage, from DIFF check out the podcast. And follow Dallas Film for upcoming DIFF news.


Solo (Sophie Dupuis)

Théodore Pellerin as Simon

"Solo" follows Simon, a 20-something heart-on-sleeve type who is a vibrant and rising star in Montreal’s drag scene. A skilled and innovative makeup artist by day, he is most at home, and in love, on the stage performing as Glory Gore.

Simon has a supportive family: sister, father, and step-mother. His sister helps to design and tailor gowns for his performances; his parents cheer him on. Things start to devolve when Simon becomes involved with Olivier, a new performer at the club, and his birth mother, an opera star, re-enters his life. These two toxic relationships send Simon on a downward spiral that will eventually lead to a personal reclamation.

Dupuis does well to normalize this world. It’s not portrayed as spectacle, not played for laughs, or shown as culture that only exists in the shadows. And these toxic relationships are familiar and  are made more complex and interesting because of their context.

The final scene of "Solo", is one of joy and emancipation manifest in Simon’s performance. In the end, Simon realizes that he is on his own—not that he has been abandoned, but that he alone can lift himself up.


We Strangers (Anu Valia)

Kirby as Ray

"We Strangers" is a quiet portrait of socio-economic relationships in the United States. It examines a sense of place (how suspicion is cast on those who don’t look like “you”) as well as the desire to appear as an ally until it become just a little too inconvenient. Wrapped up in these themes are ideas of belonging, loyalty, and family.

Kirby plays Ray, a young woman in Gary, Indiana working for a cleaning company when she’s approached by Dr. Patel for extra work cleaning his home, and subsequently, his neighbor’s. Ray takes advantage of the invisibility of service workers to learn things about her employers that they, due to self-involvement instead of self-awareness, have yet to discover. She parlays this into a side hustle as a clairvoyant.

This is where the tension resides. As she falls deeper into her role as personal psychic, she neglects those she holds closest. It’s this realization that leads Ray to turn the “clairvoyant lens” back on herself and reconnect with those that really matter.


Electra (Hala Matar)

Jack Farthing, Maria Bakalova, Abigail Cowen, and Darryl Wein

All the performances in "Electra" are, for a lack of a better word, fun—sometimes unhinged in a good way. And those performances go a long way to support the vision of this film. Director Hala Matar has a keen sense of visual flair and directorial confidence, knowing the right times to deploy certain stylistic choices so they don’t get in the way, and instead add texture to a story.

At the center of "Electra" is a revenge story presented as a con job. Darryl Wein plays Dylan, a young man posing as a music journalist to get to close to rock star Milo(Jack Farthing). We're quick to find out his reasons are nefarious: he and the woman he's hired to play his girlfriend/photographer, Lucy(Abigail Cowen), plan to steal a painting from Milo. As the story progresses, the reasons for stealing the painting become darker.

The majority of the film takes place in an Italian villa owned by Milo's performance-artist girlfriend, Francesca (the always brilliant Maria Bakalova). It's here where tensions arise and characters become more complex and everyone and everything starts to unravel. Matar wears her influences on her sleeve to good effect as the film closes in the way you imagined it would—and all the better for it.

"Electra" is a sly, playful, and stylized study of performance. It's an impressive debut from a filmmaker that's going to be one to watchout for.


Brock Kingsley is a writer, artist, critic, and educator living in Fort Worth, Texas. His work has appeared in publications such as Brooklyn Rail, Paste Magazine, Tahoma Literary Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. He is a regular contributor at the Chicago Review of Books.


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